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My Acceptance Speech for an Award I Haven't Won

A friend recently told me that though trauma bonding is a real thing, there’s an even stronger bond formed when we celebrate together. For this reason, my friend keeps a bottle of champagne for emergency celebrations.

The only time I ever had champagne waiting for an emergency celebration was when someone sent me a pink glitter bottle during breast cancer treatments. We planned to save it until the day I was cancer free. When the nurse called with the good news, all I had to say to my husband was, “We’re breaking out the champagne!” It was a celebration to remember.

I celebrated again last month when I found out my novel Husband Auditions had been named a finalist in the Christy Awards. I was actually listening to titles be announced on my way to a routine checkup with the oncologist. When I heard my name, it felt like as big a miracle as beating cancer, and I started sobbing. I had to get it together before going into the hospital so people didn’t think I was dying or anything.

Next week, I'm going to Nashville for an awards ceremony. I don’t expect to win the category of contemporary romance, but I already feel like a winner. So let’s do some celebration bonding.

Here’s who I have to thank, whether I get to make a speech or not:

First off, I must thank my readers. I love sharing my stories with you, but I also love getting ideas from you. You especially came through for this novel. When I had to rewrite the whole 1950s list of ways to find a husband, I felt completely overwhelmed. But you gave me so many ideas that the book turned out even better than before.

Like you, I love books. My love of reading started with my mom who always put autographed books in my Christmas stocking. She took me to writing conferences while still in high school, and I shared her dream of writing before it ever became my own. I sold my first article to American Cheerleader Magazine at the age of sixteen only because she showed me how. She was my first editor.

My dad isn’t a writer, but he’s a storyteller. More than once, he’s accidentally pocket dialed me, and I was able to listen in as he told stories about me and raved about my writing. He’s also who I turn to when I need help adding spiritual depth to a manuscript.

Then there’s my grandma who has so much faith in me that the time Angela Thomas won Woman of the Year, she just assumed I was the Angela they were talking about me. She believed in me when I forgot how to believe in myself. I may have married into the Strong family, but she has been my example of strength.

As for Mr. Strong, I couldn’t write enough books in the world to share the beauty of the way he loves me. He’s made sacrifices to support my writing, and when I questioned whether I was chasing pie in the sky, he said, “It’s not pie in the sky. It’s just the sky, and you’re flying in it.”

My kiddos have encouraged me in their own ways. They pretended to be raving fans at my first book-signing. “Look! It’s Angela Ruth!!!” My son took my elementary school writing class. My oldest daughter dressed up like me one Halloween. My youngest taught me how to use Instagram Stories. They inspire me every day with their humor and fresh perspectives.

Bonding with me over the celebrations of everything from motherhood to career milestones is my writing group. This group of wonderful women brought me meals when I was going through cancer, traveled on research trips with me, and helped me see the blind spots in both my writing and in my own life story.

My very first critique partner, Christina Tarabochia, became my editor for Husband Auditions. I used to dream of working with an amazing editor one day, not realizing that I’d had one all along.

There’s also Janyre Tromp who acquired my book for Kregel. Both these ladies are brilliant and enthusiastic and make me feel like a VIP when the truth is that nobody would be reading my novel without them.

I’m also very thankful for Sarah Freese who sold Husband Auditions to Kregel. When she wasn’t patiently teaching me how to write, she was sending me jokes and dying her hair pink to support my battle with cancer. It’s not every agent who will dye her hair pink for you. There should be an award just for that.

My life as well as my writing has taken me on a journey, and it only seems appropriate that my publisher Kregel was the very first publisher who requested my manuscript when I began writing in 2006. They rejected it then, but they took a chance on Husband Auditions to make it their very first romantic comedy. Part of their reasoning had to do with people needing something light-hearted to read through the pandemic, and I couldn’t agree more.

Being able to offer humor fits with the whole idea of emergency celebrations. It’s like the movie Monster’s Inc where the monster world could run off the electricity generated by children’s screams, but children’s laughter turned out to be so much more powerful. Joy is powerful stuff.

One of my favorite quotes comes from C.S. Lewis who said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” So as I thank everyone listed here for sharing in my joy, I must also thank the Author of Life who gifted me with each of you. You've filled my world with celebration.



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