On Saturday, May 17, 2014, I was honored to receive the Silver Feather Award from the Chicago chapter of IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association). The ceremony was held at the downtown Union League Club, a venerable institution with REAL Picasso paintings on its walls.
Judges for the 2014 Mate E. Palmer award included Max Ashrafi of Villa Park, a graphic designer at Triton College and College of DuPage; Dave Berner of Chicago, associate professor of radio at Columbia College Chicago, author, and former news reporter and anchor for WBBM Newsradio 780 in Chicago; Irina Cline of Oak Park, an employee of the University of Illinois in Chicago who is currently translating Bori Mikhailovich Eikhenbaum’s “Literary Mores” from Russian to English; Synoma Hays of Melrose Park, who is on the board of the North Riverside Players; Mike Knezevich of Downers Grove, who is Vice President of Regional Radio Sports Network, the play-by-play announcer for Indiana scholastic baseball, basketball, and soccer and announcer for the Chicago Bandits pro softball team; Henry Kranz of Oak Park, one of Chicago’s most active and tenured poets; Kelly Lucia of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who is a web content specialist; Ashley Mouldon of Seattle, Washington, who works for Youth in Focus and, also, for the dog rescue organization Old Dog Haven; Mark R. Trost of Hennepin, MN, who is an author, essayist, editor, humorist and communications consultant, as well as a blogger; and Bill Vint of East Troy, Wisconsin, who is a freelance journalist with more than 40 years of newspaper and magazine journalism and marketing experience.I mention these impartial, objective judges because so many groups to which I belong (and I belong to A LOT of writers’ groups) do not have impartial, objective voting by outside judges. The entire contest degenerates into a thinly veiled popularity contest. As a result, the entire awarding of a prize or trophy becomes an exercise in the “Good Old Boy” network of vote trading, cronyism and nepotism. It was a real thrill to know that acknowledged professional experts in their fields judged my work (and that of the other entrants) solely on the basis of the work—not on whether I was this week’s Flavor of the Month or “traded recommendations” or some other totally biased method. It was refreshing—and different— to say the least. (And not the norm, at all.)
Now, on to the actual articles and books that won the Silver Feather this year for me, for the second time in three years. (I did not enter in the intervening year, as the deadline saw us in Australia/New Zealand and I was releasing RED IS FOR RAGE from far, far away.) There were 22 individuals who were honored, but only one trophy is awarded. The announcement of the IWPA member awards and those of the students present from schools around the area followed a luncheon and a speaker. This year, the competition was computerized for the first time, which meant an enhanced bit of difficulty for many members, including me. (There are always bugs and glitches the first time through something like this, but it was handled masterfully by those in charge.) In all, contestants entered 70 different categories. First place winners compete for NFPW (National Federation of Press Women) honors to be announced this summer, and I have at least something that will be in additional competition.
The areas that my work was awarded recognition included the following:
1) Advertising, including posters, billboards and banners, as well as Pinterest Book Cover Boards and the Quad Cities’ Learning site (www.quadcitieslearning.com).
2) Young Adult Novel RED IS FOR RAGE
3) Writing/News Story, Online Publication: “Rock River Flooding in Illinois Sets Record” and “Mississippi River Flood is 13th Worst” (Yahoo; this story has had over 10,000 “hits” on Yahoo) and I currently have over 1,000,000 hits total.
4) Writing/Personality Profile: “William F. Nolan on 60 Years of Friendship with Ray Bradbury” on www.WeeklyWilson.com.
5) Writing/Specialty Articles, Hobby or Craft: “Flugtag Flying Competition in Chicago on Saturday, September 21, 2013” (WeeklyWilson.com and Yahoo)
6) Writing, Personality Profile: “Blowback by Valerie Plame and Sarah Lovett,” in the ITW (International Thriller Writers’ newsletter and on WeeklyWilson.com.
When judged without considerations of vote-trading, popularity or any of the nepotism that mars so many awards, my writing for the year 2013 earned the highest accumulated number of points, and the lovely star-trophy went home with me. (I also received certificates attesting to the above.)
Thank you, Judges and IWPA, and I hope to see you at Printers’ Row at the IWPA Tent on June 7/8 (from 2 p.m. on) when I will have 10 different books on sale to interested book browsers at the Midwest’s largest book outdoor book fair.