04 June 2010

In which I thank some people

This was a momentous week, no doubt. I received a major writing honor, which marks the biggest event so far in my creative life, and also a major milestone in my aspiration to be a career author. Howard Jones at Black Gate was kind enough to post the news on the magazine’s website, making it the first time I am a subject of a Black Gate post, instead of its author.

The awards ceremony and the publication of my winning story, “An Acolyte of Black Spires,” in The Writers of the Future Volume XXVII won’t occur until August of 2011, giving me ample time to think up an acceptance speech. I could go the Joe Pesci route: “Thanks, it’s my privilege. [That’s it.]” Or the Anna Paquin route: (hyperventilating). Most likely I’ll end up with something a bit more in-depth, but I feel I should throw out a few notes of thanks right now, in the heat of the moment.

(Here’s something to ponder in great jubilation: By the time the Twenty-Seventh Writers of the Future Awards Ceremony comes around, a Captain America film will have come out in theaters and will probably still be playing! Way to go, Cap! Beat that Red Skull to a pulp!)

First, writer and fellow Black Gate blogger Bill Ward deserves very specific gratitude. Bill did the critique on my winning story, and he caught a number of things that no doubt would have caused the story not to win had they stayed in there. Having someone like Bill, a sympathetic and sharp-eyed critic who knows your chosen genre well, is one of the most valuable assets a writer can have.

Howard Andrew Jones, the Managing Editor of Black Gate, is easily the VIP of the way my writing has increased during the last three years. Howard was the man who first invited me (after an introduction by the talented John C. Hocking) to start writing reviews for the online magazine SwordAndSorcery (now gone) and then invited me to be one of the regular bloggers and reviewers at Black Gate when editor John O’Neill picked him as Managing Editor. Howard has encouraged me every step of the way to keep trying and keep putting my work out there. He was an early supporter of this strange idea I had called “Ahn-Tarqa” and looked at the earliest stories to come from this science-fantasy setting. He’s introduced me to many wonderful writers in the SF&F community. When my first novel is published, Howard A. Jones will get the dedication. Guaranteed.

Zachary Kelley may wonder why I’m listing him here, but the Devious Mastermind of The Lightning Bugg’s Lair is a very inspiring chap just because of what he does. When I came across his blog about two years ago, I suddenly started taking my own blog writing, and consequently more of my other writing, with greater seriousness. To show you what sort of person Zack is, look at this recent post where he tackled a piece of very ugly sexism on the web and turned around with a counter-post that was something inclusive and positive. We need more of this sort of blogging out there. Zack show how it’s done.

Now, of course, mea familia. I’m the only writer in my immediate family; most of my relatives are involved in medicine and health care: a pathologist, a future anesthesiologist, an RN, and an occupational therapist who is currently a full-time mom to her first child. But they’ve always been supportive of the off-center weird oldest child who was off in his own world with dreams of dinosaurs, spaceships, and blood-soaked fields of battle. So Mom, Dad, Colleen, and Reed, I love you. (And you too, Diego, although you’re too little to read this right now. Even in German)

I want to make a specific mention of my younger brother Reed. (Mom, Dad, and Colleen, please don’t get upset that I’m singling him out right now . . . you’ll understand when you read a bit further.) Until a month ago, my brother was Mr. Reed Harvey. Now he is Dr. Reed Harvey. He received his M.D. from Emory Medical School last month, and is heading to Stanford to do his residency and then off to a future in anesthesiology.
Reed’s progress through medical school has always been a source of inspiration for me. I can’t comprehend the sort of work it would take to become a physician. I know I couldn’t do it. (And if I somehow managed to squeak through, I’d end up accidentally killing the first patient I got. Medicine just isn’t my thing.) It shows focus, dedication, hard work. It’s that sort of work that makes a writer as well, and seeing Reed graduate reminded me of how hard I have to work to make the same sort of mark in my chosen career. To have a major pay-off in my writing career occur less than a month after my brother got hooded as a doctor simply cannot be a coincidence.

Reed, I love you, you are the best brother anybody could have, and I hope to be as successful a writer as you will be a doctor.

“All right you sons of bitches. You know how I feel. I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle, any time, anywhere. And that’s all.” [Cue the Jerry Goldsmith theme to Patton. Man, I miss Jerry. He would have been the ideal man to score Captain America.]