Only after that did I bother slipping over to my computer. There was a message flashing for my attention on Facebook, from a writing friend (she will remain anonymous for the protection of her cat, tee hee hee). It said:
Congratulations on your Christy nomination for The Lost Heiress!!!!!!!! Dani Pettrey just shared this and I scared my cat squealing so loud...
My oh-so-eloquent reply:
I soon saw for myself.
Needless to say, I got very little accomplished after that. I answered a lot of messages and comments and emails.
And I had plenty of time to think.
I've blogged before about contests and the twisty paths to our dreams. I wrote the post in 2012, and it's mostly held true for me. I've had to keep a constant rein on my emotions when it comes to contests, because I'm a competitive person given to pride, and I do NOT want to ever make winning an award my goal in my writing life. In 2012 I stated that God hadn't called me to give up contests.
Here's how that's progressed.
First, He made it clear it was something I shouldn't put my money into, as I had other places that needed it more. I only entered when my publisher offered to pay for it.
Next, He made it clear that I could only enter this one particular book one year, for this one particular reason.
This year, He said, Do you really need that?
And I said, "No. I don't. I'm done entering contests. If ever you want me to have anything to do with another one, Lord, it'll have to be one that someone else nominates me for."
You see, I'd asked my agent about them, and she gave me her wise experience--that they don't boost sales; they're largely just bragging rights. And lemme just tell you, I do NOT need to slip into bragging, LOL. I know how cranky I get when finalist lists are published, even when I didn't enter the contest. (No, that's not pretty. Which is why I grant myself exactly two seconds to be not-pretty about it, confess my not-pretty to my best friend who understands completely, and then congratulate the finalists and move on. I really am happy for my friends who final--really, really, really. It always just takes me a second to remember that I'm not pursuing that, because it makes me not-pretty.)
So here I am on the Tuesday following the announcement of the Christy Award nominations. I have that beautiful meme with the award seal and my book beside some other truly fabulous books. And I reread my post from 2012, and I think, "How do I feel about contests today?"
Well, in some ways no different at all. The fact remains that even if I win, it's not going to change anything. Books aren't going to fly off shelves. My old mini van isn't going to morph into a limousine. My kids certainly aren't going to stop asking me to make their lunch or scowling at me when I tell them to do their schoolwork. My life won't change in the slightest, except that, if I won, I would get to put Award-winning author of The Lost Heiress before my name.
But a few new thoughts have surfaced.
First and foremost, I am so honored that my publisher entered my book. Pubs don't tell authors who they enter and who they don't, for obvious reasons. So as an author, we can't even know if we're under consideration until that list comes out, and then we only know if we're on it. Not being on it could mean we just didn't make the cut, or it could mean our publisher didn't submit it.
Bethany House submitted it. They invested money and faith in me. That . . . that right there means so much. It humbles me. And it makes me smile. I'm so incredibly blessed to be working for this company, to be on my second series with them.
Next thought--I love this industry. Not because of the companies or the awards or the anything--I love the people. Because within minutes, Tamera Alexander had emailed me and Jody Hedlund and Elizabeth Camden to congratulate us all, encourage us all, and say what an honor it is to be on the list with us.
Insert Roseanna laughing, because we all know that if anyone's honored to be on the list with anyone else... ;-) Seriously, these ladies rank as some of my favorite authors. And even more so now, as we exchanged a few emails. There was no sense of competition. Just a comradeship. A sense of "We're in this together, and let's celebrate getting this far together!"
What a beautiful thing. What beautiful people.
Am I happy? Sure. It's an amazing surprise to get on a Monday morning. But that's all it is. A happy surprise. An afternoon with an extra piece of chocolate and a lot of comment-answering to gobble up my time. It doesn't change my book. It doesn't change me. We're both still what we were before that list came out. And my goal is still, always, to write to win hearts, not awards. To follow His call.
I'm probing deep inside now, making sure that I really, honestly don't care if I win or lose. Because in the past, I haven't been quite okay. Mostly okay. But there's always been a pang. And I guess we'll see if that pang is still there when the winner is announced in June. But right now...right now I feel free of that. I'm just grateful. Just honored. And just as certain as ever that it doesn't matter. Not the award or the potential for it.
But there is something that matters in all this.
There is Bethany House, who believe in me. There are readers who were judges, who saw value in a story into which I poured 20 years of my heart. There are Tammy and Jody and Dorothy, who are amazing women I get to sit beside at this virtual table. There are friends and readers who took the time to get in touch with me yesterday to offer their congratulations.
And there is, always, my Lord. Who shows me that as with everything else in life, the real reward is in the people. The relationships. Never in the gold seal.