I'm still walking on air... kind of.
Since yesterday's announcement that my debut novel, His Last Hope was named the Christian Small Publisher 2016 Book of the Year in the Romance category, I've been tempted to pinch myself several times, but I have enough aches and pains already.
I mean... Book of the Year... seriously? Are you kidding me here? I'm kind of waiting for the CSPA to write back and say, "Gotcha!" or for Ashton to appear out of nowhere with the dreaded words, "You've been Punk'd!" What other explanation could there possibly be for the fact that eighteen months ago, I wasn't even sure I'd ever finish the book I'd started somewhere around 2009... and today it has been elevated to an award-winning title, dragging me (its award-winning author? Seriously?) along for the ride? There has to be some mistake!
Now, since the moment my editing-client-turned-writing-consultant read the sad, sad first draft and pronounced that the book had potential, I've been sure that the hand of God has been on it. The only reason I'd sent it to Terri in the first place was for her to tell me if I needed to hire a ghostwriter to write it properly. She said it needed a lot of work, but that I could do it myself because I was a good writer.
So after setting it aside for a few months, I buckled down and did the work. With God's help and Terri's hand-holding.
And less than a year and a half later... this happened.
Book of the Year.
It goes without saying that I give all glory to God, but I'm saying it anyway! I'm so humbled that He would use a wretch like me (and I don't use the term lightly, believe me!) to be a channel that would bless so many people. There's a song that says, "He knew me, yet He loved me," and I feel as if I could have written those words myself. He loves me in spite of myself, and He used me in spite of my unworthiness. I am awed by Him.
Even though I fancy myself a writer these days, I cannot find sufficient words to express my gratitude to Terri for her input and encouragement. She is the kind of person who feels like a dear friend and biggest cheerleader, although we have never met in person. In December 2014, with my manuscript in hand, she borrowed my title of "the Purposeful Nitpicker" and took my work apart, but at every step of the way, she provided the tools for me to build it back again. I am beyond grateful.
This might sound a bit cliché, but this is as much Terri's award as it is mine. If I were accepting an Oscar for this book, it wouldn't be enough for me to mention her in my acceptance speech; I'd link arms with her and drag her up there with me, and she'd have her own 45 seconds to thank her own people. That's how much of a difference she made to this project.
Terri is a fantastic consultant. She is also a great writer (she wrote my book description and author bio because after writing 89,000 words of a novel, I couldn't write 250 words to describe it) and a published award-winning novelist herself. But right now, her main focus is on inspiring young people to write. How awesome is that?
Please send some love to my friend, my inspiration and God's vessel, Terri Whitmire by liking her Facebook page, following her on Twitter, and signing your kids up for her online writing course this summer at FunCreativeWriting.com.
As we say in Jamaica, walk good!