What’s it like to win a book award during a pandemic?  

I got a phone call. That’s it.  

Normally (pre-Covid), I would have attended both of the award ceremonies and received a medal or something shiny to put on the shelf next to a soccer trophy from 3rd grade that was handed to me for standing around as a fullback for 12 games and maybe once touching the ball because I was lucky enough to be on a team that had boys with mustaches.

Last week, my debut novel NOT YET was awarded the Silver Medal in the Living Now Book Awards in General Fiction for “books that have changed your life”.

Also, found my name on the CIPA list of winners for the 26th Annual Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) EVVY Book Awards.  A few days ago, CIPA held a live event on YouTube complete with tuxedos like the Emmy’s and read off the names of winners.

To be honest, I probably would not have attended the banquet because I was happy just to be named as a Finalist and never imagined I would win.  I didn’t want to stand around all night, giving that golf clap/fake smile when your name is not mentioned and someone else is jumping around like an irritating firecracker three days after the Fourth.  Sure, we’re happy for them, especially if it’s our friend, but inside our creative muse is drowning. 

Instead, I hung out with friends who put up the event on their big screen and we got high while playing the game Pandemic (during a pandemic!) and occasionally I would glance over at the screen to see what category they were announcing (my favorite – Christian-Romance/Gothic/Western, seems very specific) . . . and I forgot about the ceremony until suddenly my friend snaps her head towards the screen and yells out, “I think they just said your name!”

We rolled the video back and sure enough at 24:00, they were announcing the 2020 CIPA award winners in Literary & Contemporary Fiction and I took 3rd place.

Wonderful to be with friends instead of alone at home or in a crowd of strangers, and after we celebrated with a cheap bottle of champagne, we went back to playing table-top games . . . they even let me win! Good friends indeed.

After three years of writing a novel then getting very lucky to have it published then promoting and marketing and spending quite a bit of money, more than I care to admit, on $100 entry fees for each book award contest — 8 of which I never heard back and 2 that I won an award for which I am so grateful! I had expected not to place in any of these contests, maybe it’s better to have zero expectations and simply live in a state of perpetual gratitude.  

The reward:  Living Now is mailing me an award package which contains a Silver Medal which I expect to be about the size of a quarter and a roll of 20 silver stickers to place on the cover of my book.  And a lo-rez photo of the award to place on a soon-to-be-redesigned cover of my novel, which my publisher can not even use because of the low quality. 

As for the other award, I laughed because I had to buy, for five bucks, my own Bronze Medal.  And it’s not even tangible, merely a virtual (at least it’s hi-resolution) award that my publisher is very happy with because they can paste this one on the new cover.

Now onto creating a publicity event because if you don’t promote your award, then it never happened. The library said they would provide a background of books and people with suits in masks.  Invite the local newspaper and I’ve just created the illusion of an award ceremony . . . which is the same thing, right?

And all this for what, to sell a few more copies or boost my ego as a writer?  Hope there’s a deeper meaning but I really don’t know . . . not yet.  (*Seriously, that joke is getting old.)