They were calling my name, but it didn’t register; I just sat there at the banquet table picking on my pan-fried- chicken-with-spring-vegetables (I’m sorry, but carrots and zucchini are not “spring vegetables,”) and wondering why all my dinner mates were poking me and hissing “You won! Get up there!”
It turns out the Independent Book Publishers Association had seen fit to give “Chomp” the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Memoir/Autobiography of 2014—and I’d not even known it was nominated! I knew the book had already won silver for the “Best Inspirational” (which rather puzzled me, as being mauled by a bear doesn’t strike one as being particularly inspiring,) but that award was further down the program and at that moment my mind was a thousand miles away wondering what Jax and Daisy might be tearing apart on my lawn back at the ranch.
The MC was reading the next category when it hit me that I was “Allena Hansen,” and I’d come all the way here to IBPA’s PubU in Austin, TX for just such an eventuality, so I’m told I rose from the table, shouted “Wait! Wait! That’s me!” and sprinted to the podium on adrenalin and high heels to accept the award (accompanied by a great deal of laughter and applause from the audience.)
Emboldened by their reaction, I thanked the board for the award and blessed the amazing gals at WiseInk who’d shepherded the project. Then I thanked The Bear for helping me to finally find my writer’s voice. I told it I hoped its effing eye still hurt, shook hands with the presenter, and floated back to my table in a daze.
“What just happened?” I asked my dinner companion, the charming Lynn Boughey, who later won for his wonderful teen nonfiction “Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.” (Lynn is co-owner of the Spy Museum in Washington, DC and had flown in that afternoon having just argued a gay rights case before the North Dakota Supreme Court that morning.) “They loved you,” said Lynn, “and now you can put that pretty gold sticker on all of your books. Have a bite of cheesecake.”
So I did. AtheistGod help me, I ate the whole damned thing.
*Fifty years ago my high school honors English teacher informed me that my writing was “as unconvincing and overwrought as your classroom chatter.” He was right, of course, but it’s nonetheless gratifying to be validated in my assessment, then as now, that the man was . . . shortsighted.