Thursday, June 4, 2015

Julie Sondra Decker, award-winning author

People keep asking why I went to New York--usually guessing it was just a vacation or just to see family--and when I tell them I scheduled the trip around attending three awards ceremonies for which my book either won or was nominated for an award, they seem perplexed or confused (or maybe impressed?). On the one hand, I usually claim it's really not that big of a deal--ah, humility--but then I figure it's kind of insulting to the award organizations and the others who won awards/nominations if I say it isn't important, so that's kind of rude, right?

So here's my post about why it is a big deal.

Three of the four awards I was selected or nominated for were indie awards. That does not mean they're worthless or not important to mainstream readers/book people. It really is an honor to have someone read my book and say, "This one. This one's special. I like this and I want to recognize it with an award." It didn't just happen. People made this decision. People I by and large have not met and probably won't. People who thought my little book mattered.

That's why we write, isn't it?

And to have someone who reads a lot decide my book deserves recognition? That's huge. Even if the award is not, in the scheme of things, particularly huge in itself.

The Next Generation Indie Book Award
I won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in my category, LGBT. I got a lovely gold medal and a cash prize, and though most of the opportunities available to winners were not applicable to me because my publisher handles marketing and I already have a literary agent, it was still very exciting to be recognized.

The IPPY Award
I won the Silver Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) in the Sexuality/Relationships category. They had a lovely little party for us (and offered us photo shoots with their spokesmodels, so hey, why not!). 

The Lambda Awards
I was named a finalist in the LGBT Nonfiction category in the 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards. If you did not hear elsewhere . . . I was not selected as the winner in my category. That honor went to Martin Duberman, who wrote Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS. It sounded like an incredible book based on what the author said in his acceptance speech. It is very difficult to compare different types of nonfiction, since they were all so different and we didn't really have subcategories the way the fiction categories did. But though I was disappointed to not win, I was absolutely not surprised. I had my doubts as to whether it was even appropriate to enter the Lambda Awards since the category available to me was LGBT Nonfiction and asexuality isn't even in that acronym. It was amazing to be recognized at all.

Actually, on that note, I'll say something a little uncomfortable. John Waters was one of the speakers; he received the Excellence in Literature Award and his speech was comical, but I wasn't entirely comfortable with the joke he made about asexuality. I took it as I hope it was meant--delivered in fun, as he was also goofing around about how "radical feminist" is a synonym for "man-hating lesbian"--but he joked that he didn't see why asexual people need "gay acceptance" since there is nothing oppressive about "not being horny." (He then went on to pontificate about whether autosexual people are cheating on themselves if they go on a date.)

The reason I kind of shifted uncomfortably instead of laughing is that the majority of the LGBT community does not yet recognize that asexual people aren't "people who don't get horny," and that we aren't looking for support within queer circles because we're shrieking about oppression (nor is "not getting horny" one of the things we generally DO get harassed for). I'm fine for a little good-natured ribbing, but it's frustrating to tolerate when the jokes sound literally exactly like the things people say to silence us and they are being delivered in company that does not necessarily understand the joke (like we all of course understood that radical feminists and man-hating lesbians are not the same thing). LGBT people sometimes do say those things to us in complete seriousness, and characterizing us as whiners claiming oppression for "not getting horny" does function to frame us in the worst light amongst people who would usually be our natural allies. So while I still believe he said what he said in the spirit of good humor, I do wish he hadn't said it.

Highlights of the ceremony included pretty much all of Kate Clinton's MCing, Lauren Patten's song from Fun Home, and Toshi Reagon's musical performance (she mentioned one of the songs being associated with an upcoming opera based on Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, one of my favorite authors!). Also of course really loved seeing Janet Mock, Alison Bechdel, Gloria Steinem, Rita Mae Brown, and Liz Smith!

The Lammy after-party
My host/friend/ex-roommate John came with me to the after-party and we had a pretty great time. I got to chat with a few other writers, have a few drinks (well, I drank orange juice and Diet Coke), and enjoy the atmosphere. The weather wasn't even that terrible; I had been worried about whether the rain would wreck my hair or my dress but it all turned out fine. Except for the fact that I literally get lost every time I leave the house and this whole shebang was no exception even though I took a cab so that wouldn't happen and it did anyway but I'm not talking about that now.

There is still one award that I am a finalist for and it hasn't had its winners announced yet. I'm a finalist in the Family & Relationships category of the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year. I'll find out June 26 if I'll be promoted to "winner" or get any of the other prizes.

Considering my book was submitted to five awards and I got selected as a finalist or medalist for four of them, I'm considering this whole thing a smashing success. I don't know if these awards actually increase sales or reputation, but I feel like it was worth it to compete. And though attending all these events and feeling like a big shot was kind of a nice change of pace . . . to be honest I'm happier to be home again so I can jump back into writing, in my computer chair where I belong.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the wins and nominations :D sorry about having to hear those stupid jokes at the expense of asexuals D: Even as just an ally, I always feel really uncomfortable when people make increadibly ignorant comments or jokes about asexuality, I can't imagine how much worse it could be for you.

    (I also don't think I'd find the feminist joke that funny either. It doesn't seem to have much of a punchline outside of "here's a super obvious and annoyingly common misconception about your movement." But idk, I wasn't there.)

    Anyways, I do hope there's a boost in sales or attention >.> All the awards can't hurt, right?

    Congrats again~