Inside the Outside: Paris Book Festival Grand Prize Winner!

I'm in a state of shock. Numb is probably more accurate.

No, no... overwhelmed is more apt.

Inside the Outside, my debut novel, won the Grand Prize in the 2012 Paris Book Festival. I found out a couple of hours ago and, quite frankly, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this tremendous honor.  It's nearly two o'clock in the morning as I type this and there's no telling if I'll ever get to sleep again. Between you and me, I don't want to go to sleep, just in case this is all a dream.

This is the first major award for Inside the Outside and, even if it turns out to be the last, I'll still be satisfied. Along with the honor itself, the award comes with a cash prize and a flight to Paris. I've never been anywhere near Europe, let alone Paris.  And to think that my first trip there will be to accept my first major literary honor...

I just can't find the words.

I hope folks like Will Entrekin, Kat and Cara (The BiblioBabes), Joanna Penn, and everybody else who loved this book when it seemed like nobody else would pay attention to it will enjoy this honor with me. I hope writers all over the world who are struggling to make a mark and feel like their break may never come will find some glimmer of inspiration in the knowledge that, not too long ago, I'd nearly lost all hope of ever having a writing career.

As is the case with many writers, I sought to get published through the traditional route of acquiring a literary agent who would get me a book deal. After sending out dozens of query letters and receiving dozens of rejections, I found myself at a crossroads. I believed strongly in my book and I knew there was an audience for it, so I had to decide if I wanted to keep trekking down the traditional route or if I wanted to take the risk of publishing my book independently.

It was a terrifying decision, but, after much consideration, I decided to gamble on independent publishing. Part of my concern was the general stigma that is still attached to indie publishing. I worried that my novel, right or wrong, would be adversely affected by this stigma.

Even when I made my decision and began taking steps to move forward, I still questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing. And even after I published Inside the Outside, I still had occasional doubts. So, as much as anything else, this award offers me tremendous validation, not only of my novel, but of my decision to publish it on my own.

Of course, a trip to Paris won't be so bad, either.