Quick update! I’m incredibly honored to have been considered in the final round of entries (the top 18) in the 2022 James Jones Fellowship Competition, which is co-sponsored by the James Jones Literary Society and Wilkes University. They received 584 total entries this year.

Beenish Ahmed, 2022 James Jones Fellow

The winner, Beenish Ahmed, is a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom who has so many amazing accolades. Her book Every Song an Elegy sounds incredible. The fact that I was placed anywhere near someone who’s worked at NPR and is currently a Spencer Fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism is kind of … mind melting?! I highly recommend reading about the top winners, which also include singer-songwriter Raquel Z. Rivera and communications director at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy Bora Lee Reed. These are some insanely qualified, talented authors who I hope to read the work of soon!

Right now, I’m just amazed that anyone would be interested in my queer little book about sad millennials in New York. (Who am I kidding? It’s not little.)

In Another Realm

For the record, a few years ago I was crying on the floor at my friend’s apartment and stuffing my face with Moe’s. And the last few years have been … humbling, We’ll call it humbling, sure. When you query during ordinary circumstances, it can be soul sucking, and this past year saw major editor strikes, publisher consolidation lawsuits, and major industry shifts. Not to mention, I’ve also had some severe personal losses in the family. When I told a relative about this placement, she said, “Of course you placed! You’re awesome!” But this year, I have felt decidedly less than awesome. There’s not been a wind in my sails.

So, I’m really happy that this book did so well, despite the long word count, despite the dour tone, despite the less-than-likeable characters, despite the plot structure, and despite the ending. When the world tells you, “We don’t want anything like this,” you tend to doubt its quality. I’m sure there’s still a ways to go and major edits to be made, but this type of recognition is precious and rare.

Even if I never get traditionally published, it’s certainly nice to feel the wind again.

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