Category Archives: Awards

Indiana Authors Award Nominations

Writer friends, it’s that time of year again when nominations for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award are open. IAA logo

Eligible nominees must either have been 1) born in Indiana or 2) lived here for at least five consecutive years.

Full details and the nomination form are available online.


2016: Top Ten Books

It’s our Top Ten Books lists!

To refresh, we pick our top 10 from the things we read this year, publication year is irrelevant to us.

Bethany’s list:

10. Charlatan’s Boy, Jonathan Rogers
9.What You are Now Enjoying, Sarah Gerkensmeyer
8. In an Uncharted Country, Clifford Garstang
7. The Motion of Puppets, Keith Donohue
6. Gentlemen and Players, Joanne Harris
5. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
4. In the Woods, Tana French
3. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
2. Time and Time Again, Ben Elton
1. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

Part of me wanted to include Station Eleven twice because I read it twice and it was that good. This year is the first, I think, where three Indiana Authors Award winners made the list — two from this year and one from last year. One-time Hoosier Ben Winters also made the cut with his inventive and relevant Underground Airlines. Lastly, this year’s somewhat dark horse is Jonathan Rogers’ “Charlatan’s Boy.” I met him, briefly, and decided to look up his work and this one at least was well worth the read.

Stacie’s List:

10. Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo
9. And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
8. Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott
7. The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
5. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (plus The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages)
4. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz
3. Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas
2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
1. The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

Most of these are books I recommended to someone during the year, and out-right pushed on a couple of people.  I’m really thankful to people who recommended books to me, especially when I love them enough to put them on the top ten list.  Finding good books, that have characters that resonate for weeks (or months) after, is always my goal with reading.

2016 Indiana Authors Award

At the day job, we announced the winners and finalists of the 2016 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award. Web collage - winners - finalist v2

So far, I’ve read one from Karen Joy Fowler and have Edward Kelsey Moore’s book on deck next in my TBR pile. Click the photo for more info.

If you’re in Indy, you can hear all the winners and finalists on October 29 at the Indy Author Fair.

2015 Best Discovered Author

It’s the annual Word Nerd Awards!  Today we are revealing Best Discovered Author.  Remember, the only rule is that it be an author discovered in 2015, not necessarily a first time published author.

Stacie:  My vote for Best Discovered Author is Patrick Rothfuss.  A coworker suggested the trilogy after a wild discussion of reading habit.  We discovered that while we had similar interests, neither had read each other’s favorite series (mine being Dresden files, his being Patrick’s.)  We rectified that by exchanging books over the summer.  Now, I’m anxiously awaiting the final installment in The Kingkiller Chronicle.

The story telling for this trilogy is what pulled me in.  The characters are good, but the spinning of the tale is what makes the series great.

Bethany: I really struggled with this category this year, not having delved into a new series that I devoured. I guess my reading in 2015 was a lot of safe choices. That said, I will vote for Adrian Matejka for this year’s Best Discovered Author. I would not have discovered him without the Indiana Authors Award. I would have never suspect I would fly through a book of poetry about a boxer, but he completely pulled me in. I do want to challenge myself to read more of his work.

Call for nominations

IAA logoIt’s time, once again, to nominate authors with Indiana ties for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award.

If you are a writer who was a) born in Indiana or b) have lived here for 5 or more consecutive years, you should nominate yourself. Authors with self-published works are eligible for nomination.

Through my day-job, I provide some support for the Award and have no role in determining the winners. The Award Panel picks the winners and I will say they put a lot of time and thought into the process.

Nominations are open through March 20, 2015.

Best of 2014 — Top Ten Books

While we agreed on Best First Book in a Series, Stacie and I agreed to disagree on the rules for our Top Ten Books of the year and the ability to repeat. Whatever rules we go by, this was a great year for books. We each read more than 100 and whittling the list down to the top 10 was no mean feat. One reminder, this is from what we read this year, publication year is irrelevant.

Stacie’s List:  I inserted a rule for myself – no repeats.  If it was a best series or a best author, I wasn’t going to put them on the list.  Thank goodness because I read some really amazing books this year that made it challenging to pick only ten:

10. Bad Little Falls by Paul Doiron
9. Hyperbole & a Half by Allie Brosch
8. Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
6. Personal by Lee Child
5. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
4. Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
3. I’ve Got your Number by Sophie Kinsella
2. Brillance by Marcus Sakey
1. Skin Game by Jim Butcher


Bethany’s List: I said repeats were permissible. I only shuffled these around a zillion times trying to get the order right.

10. The Player, Brad Parks
9. Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgewick
8. The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo
7. The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith
6. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
5. S., J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
4. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
3. The Rook, Daniel O’Malley
2. World of Trouble, Ben H. Winters
1. Gods of Gotham, Lyndsay Faye

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Best of 2014 — Best Discovered Author

Best Discovered Author isn’t about getting hooked on a new series, but about finding an author who we’d read anything and everything they ever did. They could hop genres, kill off characters and more and we’d be right there.

last policeman trilogyBethany’s Pick: Honestly, for me, I shuffled around Best First Book in a Series and Best Discovered Author a bunch of times because the authors and the books they’ve written are just dang good. But after much shuffling and perhaps a bit of eenie-meenie-miney to just get these awards sorted, I’m picking Ben H. Winters for Best Discovered Author. I devoured his Last Policeman books, am excited that he’s writing something new and want to go read other things he’s written, especially his spoof, “Android Karenina.”

anonStacie’s Pick:  Mary Louise Kelly and her book, Anonymous Sources.  Again, another great title selection from Bethany.  I was pulled into this title and am eagerly anticipating her second book, The Bullet.  I really connected to the characters in this book, which for a stand alone is unusual.  I love this gal though.  She seems like the kind of woman I can have a coffee with, do something that is equal part brilliant and stupid, then laugh about it over some more coffee.

Best of 2014 — Best First Book in a Series

For the first time in the Word Nerds history, we have a double, two-way tie for Best First Book in a Series.

We’ve been contemplating our picks, waffling between two choices each, and then finally realized we were mulling over the SAME TWO first books, so since there are two Word Nerds and two books, we’re declaring them both winners from both of us. (Isn’t all this togetherness nice?)

So, the joint 2014 Best First Books in a Series are:

      gotham                                                  deadharvest

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye               Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm

The great thing about these titles is each of us read one first and convinced the other to pick it up. Bethany stumbled on Gods of Gotham and started pushing it on others, Stacie included, right away. We both heard Chris at Murder and Mayhem 2013, but Stacie got to this book in her TBR pile first and encouraged Bethany to pick it up.

Both of us have gone on in both series and are eagerly anticipating other works from these authors.


Dubious awards

The season for “best of” book lists is upon us.

Goodreads has their Choice Awards contest going and is already into the semi-final round of reader voting.

I know I’ve seen at least one Best of 2014 list already, even though it was barely after Halloween. (If retail is putting out Christmas decorations, I guess the literary world can declare the “best” too.)

The Word Nerds are planning our annual awards as well.

And then there’s the Literary Review’s annual award, the Bad Sex in Fiction award.

As the website says, they aren’t looking for descriptions in pornographic or erotic literature. No, they have a clear set of criteria:

 The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them.

This is the 22nd year for the award, so it seems they still have their work cut out for them to banish poorly written passages of horizontal mamboing from fiction.

I haven’t read any of the books in question but Literary Review (@lit_review) is helpfully tweeting snippets from the short list, such as this one:

A dark red heat poured from him. She noticed that he was lying heavier on the bed beside her.#BadSex

(This only makes me ask the question, is gravity suddenly different one of the people in this encounter?) Be warned, other tweets include more detail, clinical body parts and all. So while it’s literature, you might want to be a bit circumspect about viewing it at work, depending on the words that a co-worker or a boss might suddenly see on your computer screen.

From what you’ve read this year, anything you’d suggest for this award?




Indiana Authors Award reads

This is my week, apparently, to gush about the Indiana Authors Award.

I do most of the communications for the Award as part of my job, assist with the Award Panel and things. I do not select the winners. Most of us on staff read one of the books from each of the Award winners and finalists since we’ll be spending a day with them.

Here were my picks from the works of this year’s finalists:

Graham Greene: The Enemy Within, Michael Shelden

It’s been years since I picked up a biography but of Shelden’s work, I figured his volume on Greene was my best choice since I like Greene’s works so much. Shelden’s a heck of a researcher and writer, putting together a compelling read about Greene. It was a disappointing read, not because of Shelden’s writing, but what I learned about Greene that I would have been happier not knowing. The book was aptly titled  and even though Shelden didn’t write much about Greene’s “The End of the Affair,” as I read that one in August for book club, I saw the themes Sheldern had talked about elsewhere in Greene’s life and writing come through.

Catholic Boy Blues, Norbert Krapf

If it’s been years since I picked up a biography, it’s been even longer since I read a book of poetry (try that paper about Yeats I wrote in AP English my senior year of high school). Catholic Boy Blues is about the sexual abuse Krapf suffered from a Catholic priest and his healing from that experience. Powerful pieces, but I had to read in short spans because it was too gritty to do a lot at once.

Letters from Skye, Jessica Brockmole

In her blog post for the Award, she talks about loving epistolary novels like “Dear Mr. Henshaw” and “Griffin & Sabine.” Me too, Ms. Brockmole. Me too. I will never not love a novel told in letters and was quickly hooked into the voices of the different letter writers. The mystery of the plot lends itself to the format as the reader has to wait on the post for news and updates and clues. This is the one book from this year’s bunch that I’m trying to convince Stacie to read.

What the Zhang Boys Know, Clifford Garstang

Back in graduate school, I had this idea that someday I’d write a collection of short stories all set in the same apartment building and while I don’t think I told anybody that idea, Clifford Garstang stole it right out of my head! His interwoven collection features the residents of a former tenement building in DC — the Chinese man with two sons who lost his wife in an auto accident, the painter, the sculptor, the writer, the building owner and others — as they deal with the big and small upheavals in life, love lost and found. Reading quickly made me suffer from some character whiplash, but I didn’t want to leave the building to wait between stories.

Where am I Wearing, Kelsey Timmerman

Truth, I read this last year because Timmerman was a finalist in 2013. I stand by everything I said then. I have all kinds of good intentions to get to “Where am I Eating?” before the Award Dinner day, but in reality, if my current TBR pile toppled over on me, it would probably be fatal and Timmerman’s second book would then never get read and I’d be leaving my colleagues short-staffed for the event.