Essay–Winning The Parsec Award

PrintIt’s been a pretty long road. I’ve been podcasting since 2007, although really didn’t come into its own until 2008. What have I podcasted? Besides interviews, rants, essays, and reviews, the following stories have appeared in the feed:

  • Momma
  • Canvas
  • Ghosts of 1900
  • The Things I Do For Love (no longer available)
  • Breakers
  • Tattoo
  • Closet Treats
  • The Hunt
  • Afterimage
  • Legends of Garaaga (as 4 separate stories and then as a cohesive unit)
  • Lovers (A Garaaga novella included in Daemons of Garaaga as “Drimesh”)
  • The Street (1 short story, 2 novelettes)
  • Marker (both episodes recorded live at Balticon)
  • Mimes
  • Lamashtu
  • The Black
  • The Black: Arrival (currently running)

While that isn’t exactly a large number of stories for 7 years of work, nearly every story was nominated for a Parsec Award.

Tattoo was the first tale in serious contention and it was up against some amazing competition. If I had understood the Parsecs were not only about story quality, but audio quality, I would have known I didn’t have a chance. The version of Tattoo I submitted, and still available, was poorly edited. Very poorly edited. I’ll be damned pleased when the new version is available (hopefully in November). Alas, I digress.

My short stories probably never stood a chance either. After all, they were always up against the best tales that Pseudopod, EscapePod, and Starship Sofa had to offer. And believe me, there are some truly amazing writers featured in those podcasts every single week. Also, damned talented narrators and producers. The fact I ever made finalist in that category still amazes me.

When I saw the competition for this year’s award, I knew I was going to lose. I mean, shit, I was up against Mur Lafferty. MUR! If you don’t know her work, you need to fix that. NOW. Regardless, I knew I couldn’t win. I didn’t even bother sending in an acceptance speech since I wasn’t going to Dragon*Con.

I was sitting at my desk and editing the audio for The Black: Arrival and listening with half an ear to the live Parsec Award audio stream. It kept dropping out so I wasn’t paying much attention. And then it flipped back on and I heard my name mentioned along with Mur’s. So I expected them to say her name again. They didn’t. They said mine.

About 30 seconds later, my phone exploded. I had more Twitter DMs, IMs, and Facebook instant messages than I knew what to do with. It was very surreal. I guess it still kind of is.

I spent that night watching horror movies and working on plotlines. I didn’t drink. I didn’t celebrate. It was just another normal-ish evening other than attempting to keep up with all the crazy on social media. And it was pretty crazy. The Fiendlings came out in droves to congratulate me. And it was…strange. And wonderful.

I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m not one of the original fiction podcasters. Far from it. I just got in at the right/wrong time and refused to give up doing it. For some damned reason, I just kept doing it. I started out with an audience of 9 folks and now it’s well over a thousand. I’m still small potatoes when compared to Mur, Sigler, Brand Gamblin, or Nathan Lowell. And maybe I always will be. And that’s okay with me.

Even my “commercial” stories are chock-full of Cooleyness (whatever that is). They’re not for everyone. And I don’t write them for everyone either. If that were the case, my writing would be an unremarkably bland affair. My stories might be unremarkable, but at least they’re not bland. See, I do have some self-confidence.

It’s been a few days since the awards were announced and nothing has really changed. I’m still fighting through a draft of FlamesThe Black: Outbreak, and desperately wanting to get those two done so I can move on to a special project just for me. Let me say that again–a project JUST FOR ME. It probably won’t sell, but shit, that’s been the case with most of my work. I’m used to it. But it’ll be another effort out of my comfort zone. And I’m ready for it.

So here’s the deal, Fiendlings. I’ll keep podcasting these suckers. After Arrival finishes its run, it’s doubtful you’ll hear me narrate again (unless it’s a Street tale), but I’ll keep hitting the feed with new content. So that’s not going away. With any luck, it never will.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll write something I feel is worthy of a Parsec Award. The Black was a fine effort, but hardly my best. As far as I’m concerned, the stories in the Garaaga series contain my best words and the better part of my soul. They don’t sell, but I’ll keep writing them anyway because some of you out there are reading them. And love them. So do I.

Next year, the Parsec Awards will doubtless have another round of extreme competition from fantastic authors, narrators, and audio producers. Any story that makes the finalist category is something you should listen to. If you’re a writer, every tale the committee takes notice of should be one you study. Regardless of “genre,” these are great writers doing what they do. And occasionally, a shmuck like me sneaks through.

The Black series sells well, it has a lot of devoted readers, and I’m happy as hell it’s been well received. Those of you who send me emails, comment on the blog, and converse with me via social media, have kept me going all these years. Hopefully The Black series is the beginning of my real career. It’s definitely assisting in my quest to become a full time writer. But I’m still a long way away from my ultimate goal–becoming the best writer and storyteller I can. No award can help me reach that. Only hard work and toiling at these keys can make that happen. That said, I better get back to it.

Again, thank you to the Parsec Awards Committee and all that they do for the podiofiction art-form and doling out the recognition so many rarely receive. And thank you, Fiendlings, for listening, for being passionate, and for making me feel successful even on my darkest days. Without you, I wouldn’t have continued in this sisyphean endeavor. So, thank you.

8 thoughts on “Essay–Winning The Parsec Award”

  1. Fantastic. And well-deserved. Congratulations, Paul – just don’t let it all go to your head. 😛 Keep on keepin’ on!

  2. Your podcasts are what started me on your work. IMHO you are a 1st rate story teller. Even once I have read the EBooks, I still listen t the poscasts.

    I am very happy for your long deserved success.


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