Those of you who are following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (all the social media venues!) may have already heard that I just got back from a three day trip to St. Louis to attend the Christy Awards Dinner and the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS).
My first novel, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words, was nominated for a Christy Award for the Young Adult Category. When I first heard about a month and a half ago, my world was rocked. The Christys are like the Academy Awards of the writing world! I couldn’t believe that a book that I had written when I was fourteen years old, on my bed in the evenings after I finished up my math homework, was up against some of the greatest authors in the Christian writing world. It was just mindblowing.
Zondervan flew me and my dad out to St. Louis this week to attend the award ceremony. I got to wear a pretty dress, force my dad to don a coat and tie, and enjoy a beautiful evening surrounded by so many inspiring authors, agents, editors, and other legends of the Christian publishing world. I hugged Janette Oke, and Kristen Heitzmann, and brushed shoulders with dozens of award winning authors who light up my world. And as I was sitting there at my table, surrounded by friends from Zondervan and other prolific writers and editors, I had this mind-reeling thought: “I am one of them now.”
And it was a notion that completely humbled and inspired me. Because even though my book may not have won big this year (I lost to the incredibly sweet Marilyn Sue Shank’s “Child of the Mountains”, which I cannot wait to read!), I was still there. I was a part of something big and beautiful and significant. Because even though most of these people had been writing and publishing books longer than I’ve been alive, I was able to stand by their side on stage and get my medal alongside them.
I was sitting on the windowsill in our hotel room the morning after the award ceremony, holding the medal in my hand and swimming through the sea of memories from the night before. Had I really hugged Jannette Oke? Had Steve Laube really shook my hand and congragulated me and said how he remembered me sending him my first ever query letter when I was only fourteen years old? Had the manager of the American Christian Fiction Writers guild really sat across from me at supper and encouraged me to join some networks and meet other writers and spend time with them in Indianapolis this fall? Had I really shook hands with and hugged and been complimented by so many brilliant writers and agents and editors that I held so much respect for? It must have all been a dream.
But it wasn’t! It was real! And I thank God for the opportunity to have been able to spend that wonderful evening with other writers who praise His name and who just want to spend their lives writing stories that point others to Christ. Just like me.
It was an amazing, incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I left the Christys feeling inspired and encouraged. Now I just want to write, write, write, and to find a network of writing friends who will continue to encourage me along the way. Let’s all do that for each other!
(Sorry for the poor-quality pictures! Since my computer is still broken and I can’t edit any photos, I’ve just been using my phone a lot)