Thursday, April 6

Winning Awards: 50 States Earns Its Fourth Honor


A few weeks ago, 50 States was honored with a 2023 Book Excellence Award. Out of thousands of books entered in this competition, 50 States was selected for its high-quality writing, design, and overall market appeal in the category of short stories. You can find its listing here

This isn't the first award 50 States has earned. It won first place for short stories in the Spring 2022 BookFest Awards; first place in the ABR Book Excellence Award for literary fiction, psychological thriller, and short stories; and was named a finalist in the IAN Book Of The Year Awards. 

For me, the honor isn't one of achievement as much as real affirmation. Debut authors tend to read all the reviews. Some are flattering. Some, not so much. And although we all know the score — even the best literary works in history have their 1-star critics — it's nice to see the work resonated with someone, somewhere. And in this case, it's nice to know that the first award wasn't a fluke or happy accident. Lightning might strike twice, but not four times. 

Writing 50 States 

When I first set out to write 50 States, it was never about winning awards. It was a two-year project to teach myself how to write for myself instead of everybody else — something I've done for more than 30 years (and still do today). As a teaching tool, 50 States has been invaluable to me — both in writing the stories and in marketing what most book publishers will tell you is a hard sell. 

Right. A collection of multi-genre short stories isn't on anybody's reading list (until it is). Fortunately, I've found readers anyway — with more than 2,000 copies sold to date (and counting). It's the kind of sales that propels you to push forward and finish work on your debut novel, especially when you are only a few months away — the editing complete, blurb written, and book cover finalized.

Writing a novel is something I would have never been able to do without 50 States and its brisk 10-story companion, Ten Threads. This is doubly true because one of the stories in Ten Threads was the springboard for it, just as 50 States will be the springboard for most, if not all, of my subsequent novels.

Plainly stated, the stories that make up 50 States might stand alone, but there is more to share about each of them. I think about them all the time. What will happen to the Idaho farmer who aches for absolution after a tragedy and is given one more chance at redemption? What about Liam Olsen? Will he ever know what is going on at the nightmarish government biohazard area in Utah he and his girlfriend stumbled into? Do my Maine characters, Billy and Jessica, ever find common ground after spending several years apart in two different worlds, with him never leaving home but her living in New York? Or, more importantly: When, where, or how deeply will all the stories inside 50 States interconnect?

They will, eventually. And it all starts with 50 States.

Finding 50 States

50 States was released by Copywrite, Ink. in January 2022, when it broke into the top 100 bestsellers for literary fiction short stories on Amazon for three consecutive months. It has found itself there, on and off, several times, even breaking into the top ten on one occasion. 

As a collection, it's perfect for readers with fifteen minutes or so to read a single story. A few have told me they like to read a few stories from 50 States when they're between novels. It's a good idea, given that so many stories qualify as dark literary fiction, regardless of genre.

You can still find 50 States anywhere books are sold. Ten Threads is a Kindle exclusive. Most sales seem to happen on Amazon, but you can order a copy from Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, or elsewhere. There are even several indie bookstores that have signed copies in stock. I've given them shoutouts here and on Facebook. The audiobook edition can be found on Audible and iTunes. It's read by Emmy-wining narrator Brian Callanan.
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