I won a thing! And gave an extremely emotional speech at the Sisters in Crime breakfast last Friday.
Transcript (not verbatim, but close), per my mother's request:
[KELLYE GARRETT INTRODUCES ME]
I knew she was going to make me cry! I don't know why I wore mascara today. I wanted to start off by also recognizing Eleanor Taylor Bland. I'm from the Chicagoland area, but unfortunately I've never had the chance to meet her. But after it was announced that I won the award, many people reached out to me, not just to congratulate me, but to let me know what a wonderful woman she was. And how she was a great friend and mentor and writer and teacher, and so I understand the true honor of this award.
I want to thank the Pitch Wars community, which is a mentorship program, which is how I met Kellye Garrett. They've always been there for me and they are proof that one of the best things about being a writer is the people you meet and the community you create.
I also want to thank a fellow Chicagoan who's not here, but without her I wouldn't be, Lori Rader-Day. She was my first teacher, and she's someone who has an amazing amount of things on her plate but she always takes the time to support people, she always reaches out to me to see how I'm doing, lets me know about new opportunities. I probably wouldn't have applied for this if it wasn't for her. This was actually my third time applying. I wasn't going to because I figured what was the point, and she was like, "It's free. You have something completed, why wouldn't you?" And I'd get emails from her asking, "Did you do it yet? Did you do it yet?" So thank you Lori, wherever you are right now. I did it!
On the topic of Chicago, I also have to thank the OG, big sister to all of us, one of the founding mothers, Sara Paretsky. As much as I love your character, V.I., I especially love the fact that, as a woman who grew up in a house full of boys, you finally gave me the sisters I always wanted.
[I GOT SO CHOKED UP HERE]
And finally, my mentor, Kellye Garrett. I've never met someone who gave so much of herself; her time, her energy, her expertise. She is so supportive to up-and-coming writers, and asks nothing in return, she does it out of the goodness of her heart. And most importantly, she uses her writing, and her voice, and her talent to speak out on issues that many people won't. And I feel it's so important to continue the conversation, and I really, really hope to follow in your footsteps. I know you're not that much older than me, but when I grow up, I want to be you.
And to finish off, I want to leave you with these two words from the Tagalog (Philippine) language. Isang bagsak. Literally translated, it means "one fall" or "one down." The Farmers Workers Union, before every meeting, would do a unity clap and they would chant this phrase. To them, it meant, "When one falls, we all fall. But when one rises, we all rise." So I want to thank you all for giving me, and others like me, the chance to rise. Thank you.