Can I be really honest with you? It's been almost two months since I accepted the Spur Award for "Best Western Romance Novel" from the Western Writers of America and I still don't know how to feel about it. Here are ten emotions vying for top billing, but there are at least twenty-five more trying to get out:
startled- because this was a big deal, and I didn't understand just how big until I was there
unworthiness - because The Promise Bride is a co-authored story so Gina Welborn, my writing partner, really should have been there to accept with me
pride - because this was a big deal
amazement - because people wanted to meet me and buy our book
star struck - because I got to meet some famous people
shocked - because those same famous people were congratulating me
idiotic- because I bumbled through my acceptance speech
thankful- because of the huge number of people who've poured into me allowing me to stand behind that podium, award in hand and gratitude swelling my throat, while their faces swam before my eyes making my vision blurry
stuck - because what if the next two stories in the series aren't as good?
overwhelmed - because of all of the above
I put off writing this post waiting for the emotions to settle so I could eloquently express them. If two months didn't give me enough time, another two won't help. This was my first--and perhaps only--award. Even though I had months to prepare and rehearse a 90-second speech (I mean, really? How am I supposed to fit everything that needs to be said into a minute and a half?), all that practice went right out of my head the minute the award was placed in my hand. I walked to the podium in a daze, stared down at the award, and thought, "I don't know what to say. What am I supposed to say?" As best I can recall, this is what came out:
"My writing journey began in 2010 when my husband deployed to Afghanistan. On his way out the door, he took my face in his hands and said, 'This is not going to be a wasted year. You will--do you hear me?--you will do something about all those stories you've written over the years.' Now what was I supposed to say to that? I saluted him and said, 'Yes, sir.' Two months later, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers group and met Kimberley Woodhouse who taught me how to write for publication...which is a very different skill than writing for the fun of it. Three years later, the army moved us to Oklahoma where I met Gina Welborn, co-author of The Promise Bride. As proud as I am of this story and our partnership in it, I'm even prouder to call Gina my friend. I wish she could be here tonight to accept this award with me. Both of us are deeply grateful to win an award with such a long and prestigious history behind it, and we are deeply humbled to be the inaugural winners of the Romance Novel category. But as grateful as we are to the Western Writers of America, we are even more grateful to be part of the Kensington Publishing family, and particularly to Selena James, who believed in us and this story enough to submit it for the Spur Award. Thank you--all of you--for honoring us with this award. We are truly grateful."
What you can't see in the above is how long it took me to start, how shaky my voice was, and the tears in my eyes by the time I was done. Even typing it out makes my heart race and my eyes water. I am so grateful I got to attend.
But next time, if there is a next time, I'm writing out my speech!