Friday, April 5, 2019

The Book-Awards Game of Chance

by Linda Rodriguez

Next week at this time I will be on my way to Oklahoma for the Oklahoma Book Awards. My newest book, Dark Sister, is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in Poetry. Needless to say, I am both delighted and excited.

Dark Sister is truly a book of my heart, focused on my family and my ancestors, and since it was published right as I went down hard with this shattered right shoulder and destroyed rotator cuff and continued with severe illness this past winter, I have not been able to do what I would have wanted to do to promote this book. It essentially was just dropped on the world without much notice, and that has broken my heart. Consequently, seeing it get this kind of recognition from the knowledgeable judges of a major award is wonderful. There are so many fine books published every year that it becomes pretty much a throw of the dice whether or not your book will have a chance at awards recognition. I have to admit I have been much luckier in this regard than most people, for which I am truly grateful.

One of the happiest elements of this situation is that two dear friends of mine are also finalists for this book award in other categories. Sara Sue Hoklotubbe is a finalist in fiction for her fourth Sadie Walela mystery novel, Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch, a terrific mystery that I had the pleasure of blurbing. Traci Sorell is a finalist for her beautiful and ALA-award-winning bilingual Cherokee-English children's book, We Are Grateful/Otsaheliga. We think it may be the first time that there have been three Cherokee finalists for this book award.

Next week, I will be traveling down to the award ceremony with lots of anticipation and trembling. The other finalists have very high-quality books and simply being included among them is a terrific honor. Whatever the final outcome of the ceremony, I intend to be celebrating in a huge way with my friends and the new acquaintances I will make that evening. That this ceremony takes place in Oklahoma where I have many friends and relations is simply the icing on the cake. I intend to have one heck of a good time, with a much-anticipated visit afterwards to Tahlequah where I spent many summers with my beloved grandmother as a child.

So next week at this time, give me a thought and maybe cross your fingers for me and my lovely book, as well as for my pals, Sara Sue and Traci. Whatever the outcome, we are going to PARTY—in a responsible, old-lady way. Given my physical condition, I may come back a total wreck, but I will certainly be a happy one.

Linda Rodriguez's Dark Sister: Poems is her 10th book and is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, were published in 2017. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery featuring Cherokee detective, Skeet Bannion, and Revising the Character-Driven Novel will be published in 2019. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, Every Last Secret—and earlier books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.  

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at