A NEGRO AND AN OFAY
I realize I may owe everyone some clarification. I've missed a few posts, one unintentionally and one or two an intended act of self-care, which is unprofessional, but until I get myself some staff for this sort of thing, it really was the writing equivalent of being on empty in a bad neighborhood waiting on AAA to find me with a gallon of fuel. Like, "Oh, no, ma'am. No need to keep me on hold. A nice team of Black Gangster Disciples have arrived. I'm sure they'll be able to help me."
Okay, perhaps not that dire, but sometimes things got mean, and I felt bad, and then I had doubts which so many of you helped me soothe with reassurance I could work through it for the good of my writing. Thanks for that, my friends.
Still, no one else is able to string a few no-call/no-shows together and keep their position. I'm aware I am repurchasing your attention with my account of two controversies of the past few months. Sara J. Henry, my editor for the next Elliot Caprice novel, is expecting a chapter per day. I got my marching orders an hour ago. I don't have enough time to lie or otherwise juice this up. I've got to hit it and quit it and get back to what matters most. Please forgive my stream of consciousness-style takes. I just want to close the matter on a couple of things in this space so maybe I can be less afraid to fill it.
THE ANTHONY AWARD-NOM DISQUALIFICATION
PLEASE NOTE: No official confirmation from the Bouchercon board for any nomination for my book was ever received. What I did receive doesn't seem unofficial, but it doesn't appear to be some communique from an organizing body. Just one of the really nice people who have a lot to do to pull off the conference for us every year. He or she may make themselves known if they see fit. Please just know they were trying to cushion the blow.
Going on the assumption I was disqualified from the best first novel category, with apologies to the nominees in that category, I never said anything because I knew it wasn't my year anyhow. I never wanted the disqualification to get out because I knew Jordan Harper and Kellye Garrett wrote books that changed the game. The Anthony went to Kellye, and it was written all over her from the moment we met in person. My granddaughters have flipped through Hollywood Homicide, attracted to the beautiful black woman with the look of mischief on the cover painting. My daughter and Kellye met. They could've been cousins. Kellye made her feel welcome to be her friend. After she was off to the next get-down, Ashley said, "She's working hard, daddy."
I said, "Three times as hard, hm?"
Ashley nodded, slowly.
What truly matters is there was room for me to be disqualified and another book by an author of color win. That's a far cry for there only ever being one black author of the moment. We have a long way to go, but a way is plain, behind Kellye Garrett and her wonderful book.
There is no controversy. Y'all could've nominated Raymond Chandler. He'd have lost, too. Kellye Garrett's book changed the game. I have my predictions it'd be a hit to soothe me. I knew she was fast on the come up, and her vector is holding. Congratulations, Kellye! Best to your team and your family!
Now, if it's still of interest to anyone:
The Double Life Press edition, however brief in its life cycle, was the thing that denied me the Anthony nomination this year. As has been openly speculated by folks more hip to the game than me, it likely was the cause of the lack of a shred of a snowball's chance in you-know-where of getting on the Edgar shortlist for A NEGRO AND AN OFAY.
With respect to the Anthony, it's a blessing to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I received from my friends, fans, readers, and even some foes who respected my hustle, enough Anthony Award-nominations to have been short-listed for at least one category for my novel. It was a goal of mine to work hard enough and do enough good to be recognized with such an honor. Although rules are rules, and multiple publication dates are indeed grounds for disqualification, kind people backstage found me crying in my dressing room and told me I got a standing ovation and I should be proud.
I am. Thank you for allowing me to have that in my heart. It was a deep kindness and really soothes the hurt. I'll work hard to write another book worthy of the Anthony ballot. I agree with my disqualification and respect the matter as closed. Thanks for caping for me, y'all. It means everything.
A special note of thanks to my agent, Liz Kracht, and everyone at Kimberley Cameron and Associates, for going hard in the paint for me—all Liz on that one. She took every foul, and made every free throw. She was Scottie Pippen, basically. Last time I felt this supported, I lost the oratory competition at the ACT-SO awards in tenth grade. That was a really tough weekend. I saw one judge's scorecard. They dinged me on appearance. Prolly why I spend so much on clothes, now. Anyhow, my speech team coach wasn't nearly the help you were through all this, Liz. Not as tough, either. Thank you.
THE BOUCHERCON PANEL SITUATION
My one takeaway is it took a significant length of time for folks to consider I may have been hurt or felt attacked and needed to prioritize my own well-being and chose leaving a situation I tried improving for 35+ minutes because I needed a safer space. I have, at this moment, still not found that space within crime fiction. This part has to change for the good of all these people who are coming behind Kellye Garrett. They won't be white, either. We have to dialogue this out. I'm down for a beer summit, if you don't mind me having root beer. We have to start talking.
So, many thanks to Erin Mitchell and other Bouchercon insiders for offering to unpack my experience of the panel. For the record, my only experience is, after agreeing to sit on the panel as a trusted professional, I ended my participation prematurely and, thus, behaved unprofessionally.
I also neglected to recognize that Paul Marks was standing next to his spouse during our exchange at the base of the stairs leading to the lobby. I would not have wanted a member of my own family to look upon our discussion. For that, I apologize. I should have recognized it wasn't appropriate to continue, and excused myself.
Speaking to the mass body, crime fiction definitely has some things to talk about, but we seem to be talking, or attempting to talk. Thanks for your concern, whatever concerns you may have. Alas, I shall only add I commit to frank and honest discussion with the Bouchercon board as I serve them in an advisory capacity for issues related to award nomination policy. I shall also be assisting with solutions for diversity and inclusion. I graciously thank Erin Mitchell for her foresight and I'll strive to be useful.
I hope this clarifies things from my point of view. I'm willing to discuss further. I'm completing my next novel at a fast pace, so my responses may be somewhat delayed, but I'm present. I promise to respond in due course.
For those interested in the works to which I frequently refer, check out these titles at your local bookseller, your local library, or online where you enjoy purchasing your print and e-books. As always, thanks for your support and encouragement.