2017 Zia Book Award Contest announced

An outstanding New Mexican writer will be honored for her work in children’s literature next spring when her book receives the prestigious Zia Award given by New Mexico Press Women.


New Mexico women writers are invited to submit their children’s books for consideration of the award, given each year at the annual New Mexico Press Women spring conference luncheon. The 2017 conference luncheon will be held April 22, 2017 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Finalists are required to attend the award luncheon to read from their work.

Each year the award rotates to one of three categories: fiction, children’s literature, and non-fiction. To accommodate this schedule, a book published in the last three years is eligible. Any children’s book published in 2014, 2015, or 2016 will be accepted for consideration of the 2017 Zia Award.

Publishers or authors may submit a book entry. Membership in the association is not required, but the writer must be a woman. Authors must also live in the state, or have a strong connection to New Mexico, however the book can be published anywhere.

Early bird entry is $20 for members and $25 for non-members if the entry is postmarked by December 31, 2016. After December 31, 2016, regular entry is $25 for members and $30 for non-members. Membership in NMPW is $13 annually. Entrants submitting the membership fee at the time of book-entry submittal are eligible for the member entry price.

For consideration please submit:

  • A cover letter with contact information (include email) containing the following:
    • Author’s biography
    • Author’s connection to New Mexico
    • Description of the book
  • A copy of the book
  • Entry fee and optional membership fee, payable to “New Mexico Press Women.”
  • Entry fee and optional membership fee may be paid online (scroll down to Zia Book Award Entry).

Mail to the following address:
Jessica Savage
Zia Award Contest Chair
1612 Ralph Dr.
Las Cruces, NM 88001

Entries must be postmarked by Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. 

An acknowledgement letter will be emailed upon receipt of the entry.

Book entries are considered a donation to the organization and are not returned. The books will be part of the silent auction, held at the annual spring awards banquet, to raise scholarship funds.

For more information on the contest please send correspondence to the address listed above or email at: jsavage@cybermesa.com.


Three New Mexican women were honored for their outstanding fiction books at the New Mexico Press Women annual spring conference, held this year at the Bosque Conference and Retreat Center in Albuquerque where the theme was “Shaping the Future of New Mexico: Our role as citizens and journalists.”

The Zia Award is given annually to one or more woman book author who lives in or has ties to New Mexico. Each year the contest focuses on one of three genres: fiction, children’s literature or non-fiction.

Receiving the 2016 Zia Book Award for fiction was Denise Chávez for The King and Queen of Comezón, her novel about the fictional border town of Comezón “Itch” New Mexico where the denizens work through their dreams of longing. The “Itch” refers to longstanding desires that will never be fulfilled.

“It is my manda, my mandate to write about our borderland corridor and the stories that inhabit our reality,” Chávez said.

The story is both hilarious and melancholy, and captures the life of a small community between the time span of two fiestas, Cinco de Mayo and Deis y Seis de Septiembre, in a multicultural setting that is found in many areas of our enchanted and beloved state.

Diane Thomas was named First Runner-Up for In Wilderness, her novel that is set in the Appalachian Wilderness and explores the power of nature to heal. In the winter of 1966, suffering from a mysterious illness, 38-year-old Katherine Reid moves to an isolated cabin where she plans to hole up until death finds her. Eventually she realizes she is not alone in the wilderness. Watching her every move is Danny, a 20-year-old Vietnam Nam veteran suffering from PTSD. When these two souls collide, passion is ignited, as well as obsession.

Lisa Lenard-Cook received an Honorable Mention for Dissonance, her reissued paperback novel about Anna Kramer, a Los Alamos piano teacher who inherits the journals of a composer and Holocaust survivor.

“Of my many novels, Dissonance is the one of which I am proudest,” Lenard-Cook said in a written statement. “My intention for the book – that it explores love, war, prejudice and forgiveness without preaching – became a reality through the leitmotif that music theory provided. “

A native New Mexican, Chávez was born and raised in Las Cruces where she still lives. Her other novels include Loving Pedro Infante, The Last of the Menu Girls, and Face of an Angel, and her non-fiction books include her memoir Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture. Chávez was the Executive Director of the Border Book Festival for 20 years. She currently owns the Casa Camino Real Book Store & Art Gallery in Las Cruces.

“My life has been spent seeking and understanding the nature of mercy and love,” Chávez said. Her novels and books, “attest to my deep interest in all that binds us together as sentient beings in the glorious world that is New Mexico.”

The King and Queen of Comezón was published by University of Oklahoma Press and is Volume 13 in their Chicana & Chicano Visions of the Américas series.

A Georgia native who moved to Santa Fe in 2009 from the mountains of north Georgia, Thomas first novel was The Year the Music Changed: The Letters of Achsa McEachern-Isaacs and Elvis Presley. In Wilderness, published by Bantam Books, was recently released in paperback and has received a number of accolades including being selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of 10 great thrillers for beach reading. It was named an Amazon “Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Best Book” and a Random House Australia Book of the Month. Thomas has worked for the Atlanta newspaper The Constitution and the Atlanta magazine Atlanta.

Lenard-Cook has lived in the Albuquerque area continuously since the late 1990s, and she has set both of her published novels Dissonance and Coyote Morning, as well as her upcoming novel, Her Secret Life in central and northern New Mexico. She is a popular conference faculty member who also serves clients as a writing teacher and coach. Lenard-Cook has published two writing guides, The Mind of Your Story: Discover What Drives Your Fiction and Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir, with Lynn C. Miller. Dissonance was published in paperback by the Santa Fe Writers Project, who will also publish her upcoming novel. Coyote Morning is a previous finalist for the Zia Book Award.

The 2017 Zia Book Award will be given to one or more women authors of an outstanding children’s book. Eligible titles will have been published in 2014, 2015, or 2016.