At 3:00am, I turned off the computer and tumbled into bed. I fell into an exhausted sleep, slept right through my alarm--and at some point realized the phone was ringing. Snaking one hand from beneath the covers, I fumbled for the phone. "Hello?"
I tried not to sound as if I'd been sleeping. That's so embarrassing, being caught in bed when the day is calling. The voice on the other end was chipper and identified itself as Allison Kelley.
I blinked, trying to make sense of it through the fog. Allison Kelley? As in Executive-Director-of-RWA-Allison-Kelley?
Then it hit me. It's March 25th. RITA finalists. A surge of adrenaline flooded my body. I'm not certain, but I think I said something like, "Get out."
I heard the smile in her voice. "I'm about to make your day a lot brighter." Or something like that. I honestly can't remember because then she told me. Tiffany Girl was a finalist for Best Long Historical in the RITAs.
I flung the covers off. One hand held the phone, the other tried to cram itself into the sleeve of my robe. I gave up and simply walked throughout the house with half my robe on, the other half dragging behind me. (Don't worry. We're empty nesters. I didn't frighten any children.)
Allison and I talked. (She's one of my favorite people.) I got choked up. And she congratulated me again, but had to go. She had a few more calls to make.
I stared at the phone in my hands. Had that just happened? Was I really standing in the middle of the living room half dressed and with the worst bed-head ever? Was Tiffany Girl really nominated? For Best Historical??
I was stunned. You see, this is my fifth nomination. I've never brought the girl home, though, and my nominations have always been in the Inspriational Category. But I'd crossed over with these last three books and I now write mainstream. And, frankly, I just never expected to get nominated. I don't write about Scottish lairds or Regency dukes and duchesses. I write about everyday women in America who struggle to break out of society's molds. You know, women who want to do more than stitch and have babies. (Not that there's anything wrong with stitching and having babies. I love to sew and I love having babies. But if that's all I was allowed to do? Um, no. Shoot me now.)
Bottom line, my books are not your usual historical fare. Sure, maybe back in the '80s, '90s, there were plenty of American-set historicals. But these days? Not so much. And don't get me wrong, I love those Scottish lairds and hunky dukes. I just re-read Julie Garwood's, Saving Grace, which involves a fabulous Scottish laird. And Sherry Thomas's books? Ohmygosh. Love, love, love her Regencies.
But when it comes time for me to sit down and write, I'm simply fascinated with all the stories that happened right here in our own backyard. So this nomination? It was huge to me.
The next few hours of my morning were spent answering congratulatory calls, emails, texts, and social media posts. Things are now beginning to slow down. So here I sit ... with you. I have finally gotten dressed. Even washed my hair. But as for work? Not happening. Not today. Today is a day for popping the champagne cork.
My only regret is I won't be able to share today's bottle with my fellow nominees. I was thrilled to discover two of the other nominees in my category are from my hometown chapter--West Houston RWA (Go Shana Galen & Olivia Drake!)--and are VERY dear to my heart. But we live on polar opposite sides of the city and getting together for a quick toast would take lots of planning, fighting lots of traffic, and investing lots of time that, alas, none of us has.
I'm not sure where Sabrina Jeffries lives. She and I don't know each other well enough (yet) to be BFFs, but we have many mutual friends and acquaintances and often cross each others' paths. So perhaps this will be the time when I'll get to know her a little better. Grace Burrowes is the only one I don't know at all. But I will get to know her. If nothing else, I'll get to know her when I enter into her world by reading her book. :)
None of this would be possible, though, if it weren't for you, the reader. You are the treasure. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You are the reason I sit down and put pen to paper. Thank you. And I really mean that. From the very bottom of my heart.
The RITA Finalists for BEST LONG HISTORICAL are:
Bella and the Beast by Olivia Drake
St. Martin’s Press
Jennifer Enderlin, editor
Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen
Deb Werksman, editor
If the Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Micki Nuding, editor
Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
Simon & Schuster, Howard Books
Beth Adams, editor
Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes
Deb Werksman, editor
Congratulations to these fellow nominees and to the nominees of all the other categories. Good luck everyone! See you in San Diego for the award ceremony!