Bedtime Story

Saturday morning of Malice and I am up at this ungodly hour because I have a very early (for me) panel, the Agatha Awards Best Children’s/Young Adult nominees panel. I still don’t believe I’m an Agatha finalist–that won’t sink in completely until after I lose tonight at the banquet (the noms never seem real to me until I lose). I am very grateful to everyone who voted for me to be nominated, and yes, it is absolutely 100% true that the nomination in and of itself is an honor. I’m definitely not the first queer author with a queer themed book to be nominated for an Agatha; there are two of us this year for sure (yay for Rob Osler!), but the past? Hard to say with any certainty without going back and reading everything that has ever been a finalist, but I’m still pretty proud of myself. The queer kid who used to dream big in his bedroom in Kansas has now been nominated for four Anthonys, a Lefty, a Macavity, and an Agatha, among others, and all of these have been a shock and a surprise–very very pleasant ones, at that–because it never even crossed my mind that any of that was even potentially possible for me, ever. Awards aren’t something I think about when I write anything (the very idea of hmm this might win me some awards is a completely alien concept for me; I think that’s the case with every writer. I could be wrong), but they are absolutely lovely.

And I try not to let the egomaniacal narcissist at the core of my being to get caught up in the competitive mindset. I learned that lesson the first time I was ever nominated for anything, when Murder in the Rue Dauphine was nominated for a Lammy. Oh, how I wanted to win that goddamned Lammy! I was still new to the business and very raw; still adjusting to the reality that everything I’d ever wanted in and for my life was happening, and I was still scarred from years of thinking (and being told, repeatedly) that my dreams were unrealistic and would never happen. I think I wanted the validation of winning an award more than the award itself; it was another opportunity to flip off the people who’d always tore me down and belittled me, made me feel unworthy of anything good. But when my name wasn’t called after the ritual opening of the envelope, I was overcome with disappointment and the thought still not worthy flashed through my head as the winner walked up on-stage to accept his award. But as I sat there, listening to the winner thank people, seeing how genuinely moved he was, and remembering he’s such a nice guy, I realized I was genuinely happy for him. The dark clouds parted and the sun started shining again. I’d been a finalist. Many writers are never nominated for anything; I’d say the vast majority of us are never finalists for any kind of award. Some only get nominated once and then never again. My little debut mystery novel that no agent wanted to represent had been picked by judges as one of the best five gay mysteries published in that year. It earned out and sold well. I should be grateful, not competitive. I don’t really like that competitive mentality that springs up in my head around this kind of thing, so I always try to stomp that mentality out whenever it rears its ugly head.

That first book started a career that now spans over twenty-one years, forty novels, fifty short stories, and over twenty anthologies edited. I’ve been nominated for so many awards over the years that I can’t even remember them all. I’ve even won a few times, which is incredibly humbling. I’ve shared a table of contents in anthologies with major writers whose work I admire and respect–and can call some of them friends. I am so incredibly lucky and blessed, and sometimes (frequently) I forget that. I have an amazing life. I live in a city I love with the man I love doing the work I love–both writing and the day job. The day job can be exhausting, but I actually do work that makes a difference in people’s lives, and I am not the kind of person who can be happy doing a job that I don’t feel makes positive change in the world. My day job has also been an incredible education; I’ve learned so much from my co-workers and my clients that it kind of seems wrong that I get paid. I have the most amazing friends in the world; incredibly smart and talented and kind and supportive people, the kind of friends I used to dream about having when I was that lonely kid in Kansas that everyone whispered about (some said it to my face, but while painful and awful at the time, I kind of respect them more than the ones who pretended to be my friend while mocking and laughing at me behind my back. For the record, it was a very small school and everyone talked, so I knew then who you all were and I still know it now. Have never once regretted getting out of that shit-hole state.). I know so many wonderful people now; so many that I really want to get to know better–what a marvelous problem to have, right? I know so many amazing people that I can’t get to know them all as well as I would like.

The kind of problems I never dreamed I’d ever have. Lucky, blessed, and charmed. Awards are really just lagniappe.

And on that note, I am going to get ready to go forage for coffee and get ready for my panel. Have a great Saturday, Constant Reader–and I will be very happy and proud for whoever’s name gets called tonight.

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