2017 Zia Book Award Contest results announced

Four outstanding New Mexican writers were honored for their work in children’s literature at the 2017 NMPW conference when their books were recognized in the prestigious Zia Award program of New Mexico Press Women.

Finalists (runners-up) and the winner (first place) for this year and previous years can order stickers for books.

Joan Livingston was named Second Runner-Up for The Cousins and the Magic Fish/Los Primos y el Pez Magico. Cousins Diego and Sofia go on magical adventures with their Grandpa Roberto. This time they catch a talking fish, which grants them a wish after they let it go. In the end, the cousins and their grandfather choose the wisest wish. Teresa Dovalpage did the Spanish translation: Los Primos Diego y Sofía se embarcan en aventuras mágicas con Abuelo Roberto. En esta ocasión atrapan a un pez parlante, que les concede un deseo cuando lo dejan irse. Al final, los primos y el abuelo escogen el más sabio de los deseos.

Caroline Starr Rose was named First Runner-Up for Blue Birds. Alis and her parents make the long journey from England to settle the New World. But it doesn’t go as planned and Alis, her parents, and the others of their small community soon find themselves at odds with the Roanoke tribe. As tensions rise between the settlers and the Native peoples, twelve-year-old Alis forms an impossible friendship with a Roanoke named Kimi. Despite language barriers, the two become as close as sisters, risking their lives for one another until Alis makes a decision that will change her life forever.

Cynthia Reeg won the 2017 Zia Book Award for From the Grave. Monster is as monster does, but Frankenstein Frightface Gordon is totally the wrong shade of ghastly green—pale, baby blue, in fact—and he’s more concerned with keeping his pants neat and tidy than scaring the pants off his victims. But when a new law is passed to rid Uggarland of misfits such as Frank, he must decide if he will become the monster his parents can be proud of or be the monster he can be proud of. Trusting the monsterliest monster he knows, Frank looks to the grave and his dead grandmother to make his choice, entering into an adventure that will either seal his doom or prove he is truly monster enough.

Betsy James received a special Chair’s Award for Roadsouls. The book explores the power of art and creativity for transforming not only one’s own life but also the world one lives in. Timid Duuni has spent her life as abused and guarded property. Blind, arrogant Raím is determined to be again what he once was: hunter, lover, young lord of the earth. Desperate to escape their lives, the two lift up their hands to the passing Roadsoul caravan, and are flung together naked. Each of them soon learns that saying yes to the Roadsouls is more than just accepting an invitation to a new life–it’s a commitment that can’t be reversed. For Duuni and Raím, nothing is as it was. Lost to their old lives, hating each other, they are swept out of their cruel old certainties into an unknown, unknowable, ever-changing world of journey and carnival, artists and wrestlers and thieves. Behind them, inexorable, pads a lion. Inexorable, too, is Duuni and Raím s inevitable encounter with it, an encounter that will change everything.

The 2018 Zia Book Award will be given to one or more women authors of an outstanding nonfiction book. Eligible titles will have been published in 2015, 2016, or 2017.

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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.

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