Last Saturday night, over 800 readers, writers, and publishers came together to celebrate the year’s “best books by Minnesotans” at the 27th annual Minnesota Book Awards. More than 250 books were nominated and 32 were selected as finalists.
My latest book, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, was selected as a finalist in the “Genre Fiction” category, which includes Mystery, Thrillers, Romance—anything that would have a separate section in a book store. (There are several other categories as well, including “Literature and Short Story.”) I have been a finalist twice before over the years, but had never won. Every time I have finaled, the other three finalists in my category have been male mystery writers. So I didn’t expect to win this year either. But I looked forward to the evening, especially since my publisher generously sponsored a table and several people from my publishing team came out to support me.
The MBA gala is a big event here in Minnesota: wine and hors d’oeuvres, musicians, tv cameras & screens, followed by a dessert reception. Very fancy. My husband even bought a new suit for the occasion. My good friend and first reader, Cari, came with her husband. As well as my intern, Anna, with her sister. With so many people there to cheer me on, I really wasn’t looking forward to “letting them down” again. So I was surprised and extra happy (read: giddy) when my name was called.
In my acceptance speech, I acknowledged the award organizers and my fellow finalists, thanked my husband and friends and my entire team at Bethany House Publishers, including my wonderful editor, Karen Schurrer. I told them I shared the award with all of them. (Though only figuratively of course. It’s staying on my desk.) It’s a hand blown glass sculpture mounted on granite, and easily the most beautiful award I’ve ever won.
No, this is not a national award. But it means a lot to me. Because here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (most often frozen) we take books seriously. In fact, this year Minneapolis was named the nation’s “Most Literate City,” according to an annual survey. And St. Paul wasn’t far beyond at # 4. I’m proud to live in a state that values literature. We Minnesotans are people who love books. But then again, unless you ice fish or snowshoe, what else do you have to do on those long winter nights? 🙂
Whatever the case, I am grateful to have won. And even more grateful for friends and readers who cheer me on and support me in so many ways. Including all of you! Thank you!