Exactly 10 years ago this month, I received an email telling me that my first novel, BY BLOOD POSSESSED, had been nominated for an Agatha Award. My heart started thumping and the adrenaline rush gave me a headache for 3 days. Agatha nominees are chosen by the folks registered for the annual Malice Domestic Convention, so it's very much a people's choice award. This means that, rather than a small committee judging my book, a big bunch of mystery fans had read it and deemed it award-worthy. I can't tell you how reaffirming and encouraging that feels.
The same morning I got that email, I was scheduled to teach public school students about mystery plots and historical research. Distracted as I was, I still had to do an hour commute and focus on the day. You can't walk into a classroom in a daze. Kids figure out the art of pack hunting in second grade. You can't come across as a maimed gnu.
Fast forward to a few nights ago, when I received my second Agatha Nomination communication, this time about my latest book, DAME AGATHA'S SHORTS: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion. Heart started thumping again. First thought: SOMEONE ACTUALLY READ MY BOOK! Second thought: ohmygosh, I have to lose weight and buy new clothes by May!
Since this call came at the tail-end of a major blizzard, I still had to deal with getting my car down an alley of 5-inch thick, crater-ridden ice the next morning, so I could get to my day job and earn the money to pay for healthcare--and for a new PC monitor, because that same day, my screen took on a pink tint. And I still had to make sure entries to my uncle's WW2 blog got posted daily. And finish rewrites to my last project. And dig out a path to the cellar door for the electrician coming to fix my basement lights. And I HAD get to a grocery store because more snow is predicted for this week.
In fact, when that call came the other night, after the week I'd been having, I was definitely in "What NOW?" mode.
Polly Whitney is a fellow author, dear friend, and someone who also knows what it's like to wear that "Agatha Nominee" ribbon at Malice Domestic. She told me to remember how Julia Roberts, when accepting her Oscar, told the band to shut up because who knew when she'd be at that podium again.
This week, I feel like asking the chaos in my life to shut up, so I can savor the moment. But it won't. And it shouldn't. Because what would I write about if it did?
To the fans and registered attendees of Malice, thanks, not only for DAME AGATHA's nomination and for the other great books you chose to be honored this year, but for reading and loving mystery books and short stories. We authors are bupkis without you.