Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is that a Derringer Award or are you just happy to see me?

I'm going to list some names and I want you to try to guess what they have in common: J.A. Konrath, Dave Zeltserman, Doug Allyn, Earl Staggs.

If you guessed these are all authors who can out-write my ass with half their brains tied behind their backs, you probably wouldn't be far off, but that's not what I'm getting at. All of the above-mentioned authors have earned Derringer Awards from the Short Mystery Fiction Society at some point in their careers (some more than one).

Other Derringer winners have been Richard Helms, Mike Wiecek, Chris F. Holm, Dave White, Julie Hyzy, Toni LP Kelner and a number of other unbelievably talented writers. Jeffery Deaver was a finalist. So was the incomparable Sophie Littlefield. The list goes on and on.

And you want to hear something cool? I'm now one, too!

My seven hundred word flash fiction story, "Lessons Learned," which ran at the outstanding noir fiction site, Shotgun Honey, last July, was voted the 2012 Derringer Award winner for Best Flash Story, rendering me stunned, humbled, and excited as hell to be included among such an incredible array of talent in the crime fiction community.

And the competition was fierce, too. The Derringer is awarded annually in four categories: Best Flash Story (under 1000 words), Best Short Story (1001-4000 words), Best Long Story (4001-8000 words), and Best Novelette (8001-17,500 words). Judges chosen from SMFS volunteers score each nominated story to come up with five finalists per category, and then the SMFS membership votes to determine a winner in each category.

As a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society I read all the stories which were selected as finalists in each category and then voted (and yes, of course I voted for my own story, are you crazy?), and there wasn't a bad tale in the bunch.

I'm not new to the Derringer Awards, having been selected as a finalist three previous times, twice in 2009 for Best Short Story ("Independence Day" and "Regrets, I've Had a few")and once in 2010 for Best Novelette (Uncle Brick and Jimmy Kills"). But this is my first Derringer win and I would be lying if I said it tasted anything other than incredibly sweet. Again, all you have to do is take a look at the names of the previous Derringer winners to see what an honor it is.

A few months ago I made a light-hearted comment on Facebook about an award I was in the running for or something and a gentleman made the following comment in return: "If you write to win awards, you're a bigger asshole than you know."

I didn't say much at the time, simply unfriended the person and moved on, because his comment was so ridiculous and unnecessary I couldn't see wasting a lot of energy on it. I don't write to win awards and find it hard to imagine anyone would - there aren't enough awards out there to even make that a legitimate goal, and the ones that are out there are so hotly contested, the odds of ever winning any of them are so prohibitive you might as well try to win $640 million at Mega Millions.

But just because awards aren't the reason I write, that doesn't mean I don't appreciate winning one. Everyone likes validation; anyone who claims otherwise is lying, either to you or to himself.

In the business of writing fiction, if you don't find a way to deal with rejection you're not going to last long, so when people - especially people who specialize in either writing or reading the type of fiction you write - make an effort to recognize your work, it's a hell of a good feeling, one which I intend to savor for a while.

But, like anything else in life, as a writer you're only as good as your last book, or your last story, or maybe even your last sentence. So with that in mind, congratulations to the 2012 Derringer Award winners in the other three categories: Best Short Story, B.V. Lawson; Best Long Story, Art Taylor and Karen Pullen; and Best Novelette, Earl Staggs; as well as to all of the finalists in all of the categories.

Now it's time to get back to writing.


Toni L.P. Kelner said...

Though it's music to my ears, I have to confess that I have never been a Derringer winner, though I've been a finalist twice. But thank you very much for the shout-out, and congratulations for your WIN!

Les Edgerton said...

CONGRATULATIONS! This is a richly-deserved honor, Allan!

What that guy said reminded me of something I saw in one of the forums online where he said "Only good writers write for their lifetime. All of the truly greats weren't discovered until they were dead."

Where do these people come from?

Don't answer--I already know...

You rock, guy!