In the evening of November 6, I received a phone call that said “Caller ID Blocked.” Under normal circumstances, I would not have answered, but since everyone on the Forum (which I may have mentioned was helpful) was in the midst of twitching about expecting results soon, so I answered.
It was Joni Labaqui from the contest to tell me that I was a Finalist.
I remember strange details from this conversation. I was watching the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers get smoked by the Detroit Lions. My wife was sitting on the couch with me. When I answered the phone and received the news, she pantomimed a person writing with a pencil. I gave her a thumbs up, and she physically reacted with excitement while I tried really hard to stay professional on the phone.
Joni gave me a quick rundown of what being a Finalist meant. My story would be going to a few other judges along with the other seven Finalists, and then 1st-2nd-3rd would be decided, and either way, she would be calling to let me know the results. She said something along the lines of: “Is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to come to L.A. in April? Because we have this super-awesome conference and the artists make art for the stories and its really sad when an author can’t be there. Oh, and since we need to get the book to the printer soon, we’re going to try to get the winners picked in record time.”
And then the call was over.
That left me to mull over the implications of being a finalist. This was something that really wouldn’t sink in right away.