Thursday, October 27, 2011


If I had been wearing socks with my sling-back black suede pumps last Saturday night in Orlando, Florida, they would surely have been knocked off. That's because "Fabulous in Flats" was named published "Book of the Year" in the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest, which is put on by the Florida Writers Association.

Yes, I was a long way from home. And for such a great reason! WOO HOO!!!

A word about this competition, and how I ended up sitting at a table at the Lake Mary Marriott hotel that night. It all started with a link to Chicago, my home town. I'm a member of the Chicago Writers Association, clinging to my expatriate ties. A few years ago, the Florida writers group reached out to the Chicago membership, asking for book donations for a silent auction the group was holding for its literacy foundation. Instead of sending a book or two, I sent some matted photographs for the auction. And somewhere along the line, I'm pretty sure somebody down in Florida nudged me into joining the FWA so that I could enter their literary contest.

And now another word about this contest. It is a very exacting competition!!!! This is the only awards contest I've submitted essays and books to that judges everything entirely blind. In other words, the authors have to format their works into plain vanilla typed manuscript submissions, with all identifying markers (names, publishers, past credits) removed. So the playing field is really and truly level. No hoping to dazzle a judge with a cover design, or some kind endorsements. What an honor it is to win in that arena! Plus, it sounds like something straight out of "Casablanca," with palm fronds and oriental rugs and Humphrey Bogart in a white dinner jacket watching the action.

I've had my first book, "Running with Stilettos," and a couple of essays before this earn "finalist" status in the contest, but that was all. And I certainly never boarded a plane to Florida to sit at a pricey dinner in the hopes that I was going to win anything. But this year, there were a few cryptic hints from the folks in Florida that I might be pleased if I came down this time, and so I finally threw caution to the wind and booked the flights. These folks guard the names of the award winners with the same seriousness of the Academy Awards. It can drive a person crazy!
Total for the night: both my book "Fabulous in Flats" and my essay "Mink Recycling" took first place in their categories early in the awards ceremony, letting me sit back and think "okay, that was good. Now I'll finish my dessert!" Cheesecake that has chocolate involved always commands my full attention. But when the Book of the Year award was announced, I was quite humbled, and very happy, and very grateful...and really glad I'd flown to Orlando on a guess and a hope.

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