Friday, October 14, 2011

National Book Award Finalist

That one, my friends, deserves all capital letters.

The little-book-that-could has been nominated as a finalist for the National Book Award. I never thought this would happen. I actually thought that I'd spend the rest of my writing days sending my book-children out into the world to be admired by a few, scorned by a dozen, and muttering to myself in this Blogger corner.

Whenever I speak to audiences about my fiction, inevitably I'm asked about rejection. How many times did you face rejection, they ask. And I tell them: many times. My first novel was dead in the water for 3 years, three years of submission and rejection, and I had exactly one story published during that time. I was working at the University of New Orleans during the years following Hurricane Katrina. Driving through New Orleans East for work, through that wasted landscape, the houses rotting and spray-painted, the empty streets, the waste from the flood still sitting where the water deposited it when it receded subdued me so thoroughly I didn't write a new sentence for 3 years. Fine, I thought, I'll shut up now. I told despair: You win. I began looking up the pre-requisite courses I'd need to enter a nursing program, began plotting my return to school, my leave from writing.

And then Doug Siebold of Agate Publishing said yes to Where the Line Bleeds. Two years later, my editor at Bloomsbury Publishing said yes to my second novel Salvage the Bones. And now, the folks at the National Book Foundation have said yes.

So many can tell you no, I tell my audience, but you only need one person to say yes.

Say yes: read Salvage the Bones.