Reflections on the world of award submissions
Written by
Rita Gardner
June 2015
Written by
Rita Gardner
June 2015

It’s already summer; how did that happen? This particular June solstice brings with it a desire to look back and reflect upon the head-spinning events of the past few months, post-publication. By December 2014 I'd done some research on which awards to submit to, and had taken a deep breath and sent my book out to the most promising awards programs.

In early spring I learned that The Coconut Latitudes was a finalist in the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards, an event sponsored by Independent Book Publishers Association. The winners would be announced at a ceremony in Austin, Texas. While I didn’t expect to win, I thought it would be a fun trip. I’d meet other authors, see Brooke Warner (who was presenting at IBPA conference), and have a look at the city. So after an embarrassingly long shopping trip to find shoes that wouldn’t shout “Sensible-sandal-wearing California earth mother”, I packed my suitcase. Well. I won Gold Award for memoir category, and two days later I had to unpack my bag at the airport when leaving Austin. My crystal award and its sharp obelisk shape, not surprisingly, caught the eye of the TSA agent as it went through the scanner, reflecting potential danger. I had noticed the big sign behind him: “NO pointed objects allowed on the aircraft.” Oddly, my shiny (and also pointy-toed) shoes didn’t get his attention. He did let me keep my glass trophy; I guess he figured I didn't look like someone who would wield it as a weapon.

In May, after planning a trip to the East Coast to visit friends and family, I learned my memoir had won a second Gold Award, this time in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Awards, and the presentation would be in New York City. I first decided not to go, but my friends kept saying "GO!" After all, as they sensibly pointed out, I’d already be in the general neighborhood (well, Boston.) And I had the shoes. And so I went. I attended BEA and enjoyed seeing Brooke again, plus Kamy Wicoff and other sister authors at the She Writes booth. The Indie awards ceremony was lovely, and I was joined by writer Barbara Donsky, whose memoir will be coming out soon. The reflections at night in New York City simply took my breath away. Buildings glowed orange in the dusk. Raindrops mirrored the skyscrapers and sidewalks. The night glittered with magic as potent as starlight on a moonless night far from city lights.

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, letting me know that my book is a finalist in their awards program. The winner will be announced in July at an event in Seattle. I don’t think I’ll reflect on that too long, other to than to express my gratitude and say: Yes, I will be there.

It doesn’t matter if I win or not; what is precious to me are the connections made, new friendships, introduction to new worlds of words, and not the least – the gift of reflection in all its myriad definitions. 

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