Saturday, May 12, 2012

Words in unexpected places

A few days ago I blogged about the ethics of asking for reviews and I mentioned some of the reviews I had received in the past.  My intention was to scan some of them and add to the blog.  But a funny thing happened.

I found one of the original reviews for Firefly but then forgot to scan it.  I'll remedy that later.  It was, of course, unsolicited, because authors didn't do that.  Publishers did.

But then I went looking for the letter and certificate I had received from Barbara Keenan of Affaire de Coeur informing me that Firefly had been selected Best Historical Romance of the Year.  I couldn't find them.

Now, one of the things I hate about moving is that things end up in different places.  Before I moved from Buckeye to Apache Junction six years ago, I knew exactly where that certificate and letter were.  This afternoon when I tried to find them, I had no clue.  There was nothing to do when faced with this kind of dilemma but dig into all the logical places.

Somewhat to my surprise the letter from Barbara Keenan turned up in the folder with most of the rest of the documents for Firefly such as correspondence with my agent, with my editor, and so on.  The letter, but not the certificate.  To my knowledge I had always kept them together.

So there's the letter.  Where was the certificate?

In the process of searching I found a few other bits of paper that weren't where I expected them to be, such as the certificate for my Illinois State Scholarship Commission scholarship from 1966, which was reasonably important, and an essay I wrote about reincarnation in the early 1970s, which was totally unimportant.

The Affaire de Coeur certificate eluded me.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized there were other things missing as well, items that would have been in the same place in the old house but now had been put somewhere else in the new house.  But where?

One of those other missing items was the certificate I'd received for participating in the Chicago Daily News Spelling Bee when I was in junior high.  I knew that if I could recall where it was, the Firefly certificate would very likely be in the same place.

I'm not quite sure what finally prompted me to look in the bookcase drawer.  The certificates had never been there, but there were other similar items in that drawer, so I thought I might as well look.

Not only was I surprised to find them there, but they were on the very top of everything else. 

So there it is.  Nothing fancy, no monetary award, just a little bit of honest recognition for a story I loved.

There are lots and lots and lots of review sites now.  Authors send out their digital ARCs to dozens of reviewers, dozens of websites, always hoping for a good review.  At what point does this reach the level of begging?  And at what point does a requested review lose its integrity?

At any rate, that's the award that allows me to call myself an "award-winning" author. 

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