Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

One of Life’s Unbelievable Moments

Sometimes life delivers unbelievable moments. Those times you have to pinch yourself to make sure that something is really happening.

Usually, for me, those moments have happened when I’ve been traveling. I’ve pinched myself a zillion times in Paris, at each new iconic view.

At the Eiffel Tower,

Also in Venice, walking by a beautiful canal or catching the sunrise slowly illuminate the Piazza San Marco.

Sunrise, Piazza San Marco

I pinched myself sitting in the car, after learning I’d just sold my first book. And last week I pinched myself a few times, when I looked up the results of the Book Buyers Best Contest.

This contest had already given me a pinch-myself moment, when I saw that two of the three finalists for contemporary single title romance were my books. I was especially shocked because I technically don’t write single title romance. Single title romance is the authors who write for Montlake, HQN, Kensington and Avon. Not people like me who have only written what are technically called ‘category’ or ‘series’ romance. Books grouped by sub-genre, like Superromance, or Harlequin Intrigue, that Harlequin puts out in set numbers each month. Books that are often considered less than, or not as good as, single title romance.

But the thing is, Superromance books are long, while most category romances are fairly short. My books don’t always fit in the category romance word limit for contests like The Book Buyers Best. So I often have to enter my stories in the single title category of contests, and until this year they didn’t make the finals much.

But there they were on my screen the other night when I looked up the final contest results. Home Free in first place. Return to Marker Ranch in second place.

Screen shot of Book Buyer's Best Results

And, perhaps the most unreal part of all, Home Free’s cover featured on the top of the page, because it had been selected as the Top Pick of the entire contest. Of all the first place winners in each category, paranormal, suspense, inspirational, mainstream fiction and more, there was my book, considered the best of the best.

Screen shot of Home Free as Top Pick of the Book Buyer's Best Contest

Me heart pounded when I saw it and I had the strangest feeling that I was dreaming. That this couldn’t actually happen to me. Because I’m not someone who’s won a bunch of stuff, or taken first place in things. I’ve done well sometimes, I’ve accomplished things in my life, but I haven’t excelled at much, honestly.

Yet there was Home Free with the words Top Pick written clearly above it.

I closed my browser, convinced there must have been a mistake. (Yes, perhaps I have a few wee issues with self confidence!) I waited. Checked again. The results were still there.

Then came the pinches, several of them to my forearm. Yup that was me, awake, sitting at my desk. This unbelievable moment was really happening.

I texted my husband, who was at a movie with a friend. And emailed my sisters and step-mom because it was late at night and I couldn’t call anyone. And then I got up from my desk, scooped up scruffy Chauncey, our dog, and did a little happy dance around my study. Quietly, so I wouldn’t wake my son.

Chauncey’s fur was prickly against my cheek and he looked annoyed at being woken from his dog bed. He’s not one for celebrating things, unless it’s a walk, or meeting another dog or human who he loves. So I set him back down, gave him a pat, and he went back to bed and I went back to work.

My books had won. I took a deep breath and my unbelievable moment morphed into amazed acceptance. There was work to be done, words to be written. So I wrote on, with a new warmth in my heart.

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