I’ve just been informed that Dangerous Jade won the 2012 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction.

Thank you all so much. Thank you, fans and friends, for the support. Thank you, Meesh, for being an amazing artist to work with and giving Jade such wonderful illustrations. And, especially, thank you Kyell Gold, for all the support and friendship you’ve shown me over the years.

The first time I can be sure I ran across the Ursa Majors was in 2006/7, when Kyell’s wins were still new news, and I’d just run across ‘Jacks To Open’, which won the 2006 UMA in short fiction. I’m not sure, but I think at that point I’d already been eyeing the Ursa Majors for awhile. I started writing furry material in around 2005, and four years on in 2009, after going through the usual cycle of posting my stuff up for free in a variety of places, I met Kyell. (And, get this, he introduced himself to me after running across one of my stories. I thought I’d never top that!) In the years since, I’ve watched him win these things with a mixture of bemusement, awe, and pride in my friend’s accomplishments. And, yes, a slight hint of envy.

After all, we all ‘know’ that the Ursa Majors aren’t all that important. They’re a popular award open to the public, and as such have more to do with support of friends and fans than anything else. But what’s easy to forget is that there are hundreds of members of the fandom voting in the UMAs, and that as far as our little growing niche of the SF/F fandom goes, they’re our big leagues, our Hugos. Our awards may not be the biggest, the brightest, the most prestigious, but they are ours. And ever since I really took notice of Kyell Gold through his UMA win in 2006, I wanted to win one too.

This past year, Kyell recused himself from consideration in the Ursas. He spoke very eloquently about his reasons for doing so, part of which was because he has something like twelve of them, and part of it was because he wanted to let the Ursas do what he felt they’re for: Showcasing more of the great work being done in the fandom. I’m honoured to be part of that showcase, and especially for Dangerous Jade — my first book, though it’s a novella, and a piece I view as some of my best work in recent years — to be up on the shelf of Ursa winners. But much as I’m honoured, I don’t want to lose sight of what I consider an obvious fact — Kyell is one of the fandom’s treasures. One of his works that would have been eligible this year — Green Fairy — is, in my opinion, one of his finest novels so far, it deserved awards, and even though Kyell’s had the spotlight on him for years, I want to share a little of my five seconds of time under the spotlight to recognise his work unofficially, since it can’t be officially recognised.

And here I am. Six, almost seven years on from when I first set my eye on the goal of winning an Ursa Major Award. Things have changed a lot from when I started writing — what used to be a hobby is a profession I’m pursuing, both in and out of the furry fandom. Other things haven’t changed at all — writing is hard, I usually feel like my work never has any merit, and every day brings a new set of writing challenges that seem insurmountable. It’s funny, standing here now, only to realize that I’ve hurdled those challenges for the better part of a decade without noticing that I’ve been up to the challenge every time. But even though I didn’t notice it, you did. UMA voters, fans, and friends alike noticed it when I didn’t.

Much as I’ve wanted this for years, though, this isn’t the end of the story. Even if these five seconds under the spotlight are a one-off occurrence, Dangerous Jade is still only my first book. I have a lot more in me to write, and hopefully give to you all. Ultimately, I hope that this is the beginning of a whole new journey for me, and I look forward to finding out where it takes me.

So. How does it feel to win an Ursa Major Award? It’s hard to explain. It feels a lot like having a lot of great fans and friends pulling for me, giving me praise, and believing in my work.

Thank you all so much.