Sunday, November 12, 2023

Meet the big winners of the 2023 Arizona Literary Awards

 GRAND PRIZE - Picture Book
Winnie Goes to School by Joy Ball

Find it on Amazon HERE

Winnie longs to discover the magic of books, but to become part of the story she will need to sneak into the school. What could possibly go wrong?

Follow Winnie the curious Cactus Wren on this whimsical story filled with adventure and fun. Will Winnie become a part of the story and learn how to behave in school? Grab your copy to find out.

Winnie Goes to School is a fun and educational story that is perfect for every home and school library. Along the way, look for other interesting plants and animals you will see inhabiting the Sonoran Desert.

What a thoughtful gift for your child's classroom!

Joy K. Ball is a pediatrician, wife, and mother. Her favorite hobby is traveling and spending time going on adventures with her family. She spent several years living in the beautiful Sonoran Desert and loved exploring the variety of plants and animals found there. Having spent most of her life in the Southeast, she was amazed to see the desert bloom in spring! Her first children's book, Winnie Goes to School, was inspired by an event that occurred one dazzling spring day when a feathered friend attempted to join her daughter's first grade class.

FIRST PRIZE Oldie But Goldie category
Red Romeo
Stasi Gigolos and the Spy Hunter of Germany
by Peter Bernhardt
Find it on Amazon HERE

The summer of 1977 finds divided Germany locked in a fierce espionage battle. West Germany’s premier spy hunter, ambitious SABINE MAIER, faces off against ruthless Stasi General WERNER HEINRICH. Sabine has filled half a prison with her prodigious arrests of communist spies. Heinrich is the mastermind behind a small army of spy gigolos who prey on lonely women working in the West German government’s most secret divisions. Caught in the middle is ladies’ man STEFAN MALIK, a reluctant Romeo, forced to do the general’s bidding or rot in a Stasi prison.

For Peter Bernhardt, writing has been a life-long pursuit. At age 23, he emigrated from Germany to the United States, attended law school, graduated at the top of his class and was law journal editor-in-chief. After a litigation career with the U.S. Department of Justice, he retired and published his first novel. His novels, The Stasi File and Kiss of the Shaman’s Daughter were first and second place prizewinners in the 2022 Arizona Authors Association Literary Contest. His novel, Red Romeo, features spy gigolos seducing West German women to spy for communist East Germany, a story inspired by actual events. 

FIRST PRIZE Picture Book category
Elephants Are Not Artists 
by William Hart
Find it on Amazon HERE

What does it mean to be an artist? Ruby is an elephant who loves to draw on the ground with her favorite stick. She dreams of getting to use colors one day. When others tell her that she will never be an artist, she must choose between believing them or believing in herself. Discover how determination, practice, and forgiveness help Ruby along her journey.

Born and raised in the state of Georgia, William Hart currently lives in the Phoenix area with his family. He proudly has kept a bit of a Southern drawl that comes out regularly. He has received master’s degrees in human development and technical writing. His family, including two dogs, enjoy traveling, swimming, spending time in the Pinetop/Lakeside area of Arizona, and exploring kid-friendly hiking trails across the state. William writes children’s picture books including Elephants Are Not Artists.

FIRST PRIZE Oldie But Goldie category
Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops
by Allison Hong Merrill

Allison Hong is not your typical fifteen-year-old Taiwanese girl. Unwilling to bend to the conditioning of her Chinese culture, which demands that women submit to men’s will, she disobeys her father’s demand to stay in their faith tradition, Buddhism, and instead joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then, six years later, she drops out of college to serve a mission—a decision for which her father disowns her.

After serving her mission in Taiwan, twenty-two-year-old Allison marries her Chinese-speaking American boyfriend, Cameron Chastain. But sixteen months later, Allison returns home to their Texas apartment and is shocked to discover that, in her two-hour absence, Cameron has taken all the money, moved out, and filed for divorce. Desperate for love and acceptance, Allison moves to Utah and enlists in an imaginary, unforgiving dating war against the bachelorettes at Brigham Young University, where the rules don’t make sense—and winning isn’t what she thought it would be.

Taiwanese immigrant Allison Hong Merrill is a loveaholic and a Wall Street Journal best-selling author. She earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appears in The New York Times and has won national and international literary prizes. Her debut memoir, Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops, has won over 40 independent book awards. She is a keynote speaker, instructor, and panelist at various writer’s conferences nationwide and in Asia. She also appears on TV, radio, and podcasts; in magazines, newspapers, and journals. More at

SECOND PRIZE Fiction category
Sisters of Castle Leod
by Elizabeth Bernard
Find it on Amazon HERE

inspired by a real Scottish castle, Castle Leod. The two sisters who lived there at the turn of the twentieth century were among the most fascinating and talked-about women of their era.

Lady Sibell Mackenzie is a spiritualist, a believer in reincarnation, and a popular author of mystical romances. Petite and proper, she values tradition and duty. Her younger sister Lady Constance, swimming champion and big game hunter, is a statuesque beauty who scandalizes British society with her public displays of Greek-style barefoot dancing. The differences between the sisters escalate into conflict after Sibell inherits their late father's vast estates and the title 3rd Countess of Cromartie. But it is the birth of Sibell's daughter that sets in motion a series of bizarre and tragic events, pitting sister against sister and propelling Sibell on a desperate mission to challenge the power of fate.

Sisters of Castle Leod, by award-winning author Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, is the emotionally charged story of two sisters torn apart by jealousy and superstition, and the impossible leap of faith that could finally bring them together.

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard’s latest novel, Sisters of Castle Leod (2023), was selected as the Historical Novel Society Editors' Choice (Feb. 2023). The novel is a #1 bestseller in Amazon’s Historical Biographical Fiction and Biographical Literary Fiction categories. Ms. Bernard is the winner of the 2023 Maxy Award for Historical Fiction and Adventure, and a 2022 American Writing Awards Finalist in Historical Fiction. Her 2017 The Beauty Doctor was an Eric Hoffer Book Award, National Indie Excellence Award, and AZ Literary Award finalist, and is a Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion Honoree.

SECOND PRIZE Non-Fiction category
To Travel Well, Travel Light
by Mary Coday Edwards
Find it on Amazon HERE

To Travel Well, Travel Light is a two-part memoir of an outward journey and an inward journey. Part 1 tells the story of the joys and pitfalls of living and working abroad with children in tow. A USAID program brought educated young Afghan men to the Midwest to instruct them in public administration. Mary and Mike befriended them through a community friendship program, and these mujahideen persuaded this adventurous family to move to Peshawar.

Flagstaff, Arizona, resident Mary Coday Edwards is a 2023 Nautilus Book Awards Silver medalist for her book “To Travel Well, Travel Light.” Of the twenty years she lived abroad with her family, eight were in Pakistan, where she worked in Afghan refugee post-conflict repatriation and reconstruction projects. She is an internationally published writer and edited and wrote for English daily newspapers in Jakarta and Mexico. She has a BS in engineering technology, an MA in energy and environmental studies, and post-graduate studies in ecological justice. She is a trained spiritual facilitator and a nonsectarian ordained minister through Denver's People House.

SECOND PRIZE Picture Book category
Freester’s First Easter
by Kris Benny
Find it on Amazon HERE

"Freester's First Easter" is an adorable picture book that captures the magic and excitement of Easter through the eyes of a little rabbit named Freester. Aimed at children aged 3-8, this book is filled with colorful illustrations and enticing rhymes that will capture their imaginations and keep them engaged from start to finish.

Kris Benny is the author of Freester's First Easter. As a mother, she understands that the best way to teach is to package learning into something joyful and playful like a story, poem, painting, or a song. The medium that comes naturally to her is storytelling! She loves reading and writing. She was born in a tropical city in the southern part of India and grew up hearing stories from her father and melodious songs from her mother. She loves both her sisters dearly. She currently lives in Henderson, Nevada with her beloved husband and two wonderful boys.

THIRD PRIZE Picture Book category
Marcus - King of the Dandelions
by L. Malungu
Find it on Amazon HERE

This story, as with the other books in the Marcus series, invites young readers to explore their natural world and experience its wonders through the eyes of its loveable protagonist. The syllabic highlighting of text provides young readers greater ease in applying phonetic understanding to decode new vocabulary. The rich vocabulary is intentional, and awakens the mind to an exciting linguistic adventure that will be experienced by the young reader as a challenge overcome. It is the author's heartfelt desire that this story be an initial spark igniting a life-long passion for reading and unlocking the power of literacy for its readers.

As an educator and educational researcher, L. Malungu is concerned that our media savvy youngsters are losing the chance to experience the As an educatmagic of reading, preferring instead to rely on a more passive, media-rich exposure to literature— while entertaining, movies are someone else’s interpretation of a story. She has never forgotten how her own love for reading was ignited at the age of 5 during her first visit to the school library, when the librarian whispered in her ear — “Reading is magic and opens the door to everything and anything you want to learn!

THIRD PRIZE Fiction category
Rescue Ranch Rising: Book 3
by Heidi Thomas
Find it on Amazon HERE

Samantha Moser rescues horses…horses with the power to heal. She’ helps troubled teens and veterans with severe PTSD through her passion and her equine friends. Harsh Montana winters, abandonment by her fiance, in addition to limited finances, dishonest contractors, and a disastrous barn fire turn her dream of a healing center to ashes.

When the man she loves doesn’t appear to share her feelings, she’s left to overcome a mountain of doubt and fear alone.
Once again, Samantha is at a crossroads in her life. Can she reignite her romance while resurrecting her dream from ashes, or will she have to choose between them?

Heidi Thomas grew up in eastern Montana, riding and gathering cattle. Her parents taught her a love of books, and her grandmother rode bucking stock in rodeos. She followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana. Heidi has published ten books and received two WILLA Literary Awards and four Will Rogers Medallion awards, among others. Heidi lives in Chino Valley, where she writes and works as a freelance editor. She is a member of Arizona Authors Association, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Women Writing the West.

THIRD PRIZE Young Adult/Juvenile category
Daughter of the Trolls
by McKenzie Catron
Find it on Amazon HERE

Are you afraid of the bogeyman?
Eighteen-year-old Sparrow can’t remember a time when she wasn’t. And neither can her mother—or the trolls, imps, gnomes, and faeries who all live in the Glade and call it home. Though Sparrow’s weak heart keeps her wheelchair bound, she and her mother have dedicated their lives to protecting the Glade, especially from the worst bogeyman of them all: the skin-stealing, poison-ingesting witch called Black Annis.
But one night, Sparrow makes a terrible mistake, and everything she once held dear is taken from her. The Glade is no longer a sanctuary, and the only way Sparrow can save her mother and her friends is to journey out into a monster-ridden world that wasn’t made for her or her wheelchair. Joined by her half-goblin friend, Rush, Sparrow will have to confront her fears before the ones they love are lost forever.
A Daughter of the Trolls will appeal to fans of European folklore and the darker Grimm Brother’s fairytales. This is a spine-tingling young adult fantasy adventure about evil witches, monsters, and the imperfect heroes who face them all. You’ll join Sparrow and her faerie friends on a life changing journey where they face not only their outer demons, but their inner ones as well.

McKenzie Catron is a wheelchair bound, autistic, award-winning YA fantasy author of the Numina Parable series and co-author of A Traveler's Guide to The Lucky Gryphon: Recipes & Regalings. An Arizona resident for more than two decades, she lives with her doggy soulmate and service beast, Grimm. McKenzie is also a full-time creative makeup artist and alternative model, fighting against disability stigmas one creation at a time. When not spending her anxious days writing novels or taking photos in her studio, you can find her over on Instagram sharing her art as @mckenziecatron.

FOURTH PRIZE Young Adult/Juvenile category
The Map of Orbis Terrarum
by DJ Schneider
Find it on Amazon HERE

Her fate rests with the map...
It is 1967 and Fifteen-year-old Melanie Simpson's life has been ripped apart and is lying in shambles. With a mother near death, and her relationship with Frankie faltering, regaining footing, then faltering again, Mel must try to keep a balance between death, love and deceit—afraid to know which will win out.

Someone then steps into her life, changing it forever. She may need to leave home and lose her close friends; possibly forever. She also learns of a truth she refuses to believe and runs from it
. But from what, and into what?

Still, she continues her quest, driven by the destiny of a connection with the Sky People and a link to the stars. She resumes her search for the mysterious Orb, a device given to her father by an alien. Now that her father has died, it is up to her to locate the Orb and finish his work.

She finds a professor who filmed him with the Orb. It shows a hologram of a sixteenth-century map, the 
Map of Orbis Terrarum, and displays points of energy around the world her father was studying. Could the map reveal the purpose of her quest?

But in her efforts to reach the professor, death and destruction find their hold.

The many layers of Melanie Simpson continue to unfold, driving her along the path of destiny.

DJ Schneider studied creative writing at San Francisco Art Institute, and later at the Log Cabin Literary Center in Boise, Idaho. He served as a professional writer/producer in advertising for radio, television, and print, having owned an advertising agency at one point. He is a member of SCBWI, the Alliance of Independent Authors, and Northwest Independent Writers Association. Currently nearing the Orion Nebula as he conducts research for his next Melanie Simpson novel, when he returns to earth he will continue work on Melanie’s next great adventure and other novels in his writing cave in Oregon. 

FOURTH PRIZE Young Adult/Juvenile category
Torment: Descension
by Daniel Foster
Find it on Amazon HERE

David and Grace are happy new parents. Their lives couldn't be better, until their baby becomes deathly ill. How far would you go to save your child, your family? Join David on his supernatural journey as he struggles with his own morality in the choices he must make to save his infant son in this classic tale of good versus evil.

Full-time software developer Daniel Foster is a lifelong artist and student of the sequential art discipline. Growing up he filled his hours with reading comic books, drawing his own comic book pages, or playing pickup basketball games at the park. Currently, he spends time cheering for his Philadelphia sports teams with his beloved children, taking his crazy dog on walks, or working at the drawing table on his Torment trilogy. Daniel hopes that people enjoy reading his graphic novel as much as he enjoyed creating it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment