Three outstanding New Mexico women writers were honored for their work in fiction on Saturday, April 27, at the Courtyard by Marriott, Journal Center, in Albuquerque. The 2013 Zia Book Award winner was Nancy Wood for The Soledad Crucifixion. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl for A Growing Season and Lynne Hinton for Pie Town.
The award is presented by New Mexico Press Women. The awards were presented during the organization’s annual conference, “Riding Out the Storm: Communications in a Changing Market.”
WINNING BOOKS AND THEIR AUTHORS
“The Soledad Crucifixion” (UNM Press)
“This is a beautiful story, told in prose that is almost poetry. The cast of characters paints a compelling picture of the historic roots of New Mexico,” writes one of the judges.
Nancy Wood has produced more than twenty-five books and 25,000 photographs of the Southwest. She writes fiction, nonfiction, children’s fiction, and poetry. Her work chronicles the daily life of the people of Taos Pueblo, Ute Mountain and Southern Ute communities, Colorado ranches and small towns, and Pie Town, New Mexico, in the 1970s and 1980s, a time before casinos, cell phones, and factory farms.
About “The Soledad Crucifixion”: High in the New Mexican village of Camposanto, a priest is tied to a cross as its uneasy Indian inhabitants wait to bid him farewell. It is a chilly Good Friday in April 1897, but for Father Lorenzo Soledad there will be no resurrection. He alone knows why. Into his fading consciousness flashes the truth of his existence. For the Calabazas, who gather at the base of the cross, Father Soledad represents a different kind of reality. Is Soledad a martyr? A saint? A suicide? This sweeping tale of sin, guilt, and redemption captures the ironies in social and religious graces.
“A Growing Season” (UNM Press)
“I loved this book. The characters were complex and multi-layered. The story is heartwarming,” writes one of the judges.
Authors Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl work at the University of New Mexico, Sue as a registered nurse and Mare as a mental health technician. They grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa, where they began writing stories together at the age of ten. After high school, their paths diverged as each married and they pursued different careers. In 1980, they reconnected and by 1990 they were both living in Albuquerque, where they reignited their passion for co-writing fiction.
About “A Growing Season”: The town of Esperanza, New Mexico, faces a devastating drought that threatens the farming community’s survival. Vultures circle in the form of developers who see failing farms as ripe pickings. Court battles pit the endangered silvery minnow against the farmers as the once mighty Rio Grande shrinks from its banks even as demand for its precious water increases. Abby Silva and her adopted son Santiago must heal from the violence of the past to claim their futures. CeCe and Miguel Vigil must care for CeCe’s octogenarian Jewish parents, who disapprove of their marriage. Their daughter Rachel finally confronts the Jewish half of her ethnicity. Love is risked and secrets are revealed as the community struggles to preserve its traditional way of life despite overwhelming odds.
“Pie Town” (HarperCollins)
“A wonderful story of redemption and love cast against a small New Mexico town. The town’s geography didn’t play a huge part, but its size and characters made me hope, cry, laugh, and believe,” writes one of the judges.
Lynne Hinton, a retreat leader and writing teacher, lives in Albuquerque. She has written a book of meditations and fourteen novels, one of which was a New York Times Bestseller. She also writes the Shady Grove mystery series, under the name Jackie Lynn.
About “Pie Town”: Pie Town, New Mexico, was once legendary for its extraordinary pies. But it’s been a while since these delectable desserts graced the counter at the local diner. The townspeople—a hearty mix of Anglos, Hispanics, and Native Americans—like to think of themselves as family, especially when it comes to caring for Alex, a disabled little boy being raised by his grandparents. But, unforeseen by all, Pie Town’s fortunes are about to take a major turn—due to the arrival of a new priest, Father George Morris, who seems woefully unprepared for his first assignment, and the young hitchhiker Trina, who some townsfolk just know is trouble.
Each entry was read by two of the following judges:
Judith Schiess Avila worked as a social worker, an air traffic controller, and a computer consultant before discovering writing. “Code Talker,” a memoir she co-authored with World War II veteran Chester Nez, won a 2012 Zia Book Award for nonfiction.
Sarah H. Baker works as a civil engineer for the US Forest Service in Albuquerque. She writes mysteries under the name S.H. Baker and romance novels under the name Sarah Storme. Her book “Murder in Marshall’s Bayou” was recommended for an Edgar Award.
Pari Noskin Taichert has garnered two Agatha Award nominations for her mystery series “The Socorro Blast,” “The Belen Hitch,” and “The Clovis Incident,” all of which humorously celebrate the Land of Enchantment while exploring the deeper human condition. She founded the Anthony-nominated blog Murderati.com, and she is an award-winning freelance features writer.
Sabra Brown Steinsiek is a native New Mexican who worked as a librarian until she took a chance in 2003 and quit her job to focus full time on her writing. She writes fiction, nonfiction, children’s fiction, and poetry. Her books have won several awards, including Best Romance in the 2008 New Mexico Book Awards.
The Zia Award was started in 1953 to honor an outstanding woman in New Mexico media. Each year the award rotates to one of three categories: nonfiction, fiction, and children’s literature.
The 2014 Zia Book Award will be given to the author of an outstanding children’s book published in 2011, 2012 or 2013. The contest is open to all sub-genres of children’s literature. Details will be posted on NMPW’s Web site in the fall.
NEW MEXICO PRESS WOMEN
NMPW, New Mexico’s largest inclusive media organization, is open to both men and women. It is an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women, providing professional development, networking and First Amendment rights protection to professional journalists and communicators.