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Minnesota Book Awards 2014 at the Union Depot in St. Paul.

Minnesota Book Awards 2014 at the Union Depot in St. Paul.

First I need to mention: 960 people at the Minnesota Book Awards! Can your state beat that?

People seated for the ceremony.

People seated for the ceremony.

I was honored to be in such great company in the memoir/creative nonfiction category. The other books:

  • The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder and the Light from an Ancient Sky by Kent Nerburn (New World Library)
  • Prairie Silence by Melanie Hoffert (Beacon Press)
  • Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner with Cheryl Reitan (University Press of Kentucky)
Me and Melanie Hoffert. When we finally connected on Facebook a few months ago, we discovered we had a couple of dozen mutual friends. This is not uncommon in the Minnesota literary community. We also both had worked with the esteemed and uber-talented essayist and teacher Barrie Jean Borich.

Me and Melanie Hoffert. When we finally connected on Facebook a few months ago, we discovered we had a couple of dozen mutual friends. This is not uncommon in the Minnesota literary community. We also both had worked with the esteemed and uber-talented essayist and teacher Barrie Jean Borich.

How fun to sit at the finalists' table and sign books!

How fun to sit at the finalists’ table and sign books!

I was so nervous before they announced the category’s winner! I usually don’t mind crowds, but the thought of talking in front of 960 people made me quake in my boots! I didn’t have to worry about it, because Melanie won for her fantabulous book, which I read more than a year ago when it first came out. Her description of where she grew up in North Dakota resonated with me. Since my grandpa grew up in Lansford, N.D., I consider myself an honorary North Dakotan.

Writers up to no good!

Writers up to no good!

A few people from my writing group. From left: Angie, Kirstin, me, and Becky.

A few people from my writing group. From left: Angie, Kirstin, me, and Becky.

It’s always been a dream to be nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. This state is home to amazing writers who are doing wonderful and beautiful things. It’s home to several small presses that routinely have nominees in national contests. To have been chosen one of 32 finalists out of more than 200 nominees is such a privilege, especially for my first attempt at memoir. To be a winner would have just been icing on the cake. Nothing changes the incredible year I’ve had since my book came out, and nothing changes what lies ahead in the future. God willing, I’ll be invited back to the Minnesota Book Awards!

Me and my supportive mom and sister! Renee was even wearing heels! I always feel like I tower over them :)

Me and my supportive mom and sister! Renee was even wearing heels! I always feel like I tower over them 🙂

But please, everyone should come to this annual event. It’s such a party, and you can rub elbows with the state’s literary stars!

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