pleased thrilled ecstatic to announce that on April 1st I was informed that my YA manuscript about a rower who has a secret romance with her crew coach, CONTROL. CRUSH., won the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award! I’m sure that this was not an April Fools joke because soon after, I began to get wonderful congratulatory notes from other writers in our community whose work I respect and admire.
So what’s the big deal about this award and what is PEN New England anyway? The Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award honors emerging writers and illustrators and is given to a New England resident for an unpublished work. This year, the award was given to TWO emerging writers. I’m so happy to say that I’ll be sharing this award with Katherine Quimby. I’ve known Kathy for many years through SCBWI. Kathy and I share an alma mater, she’s in her third semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts; I graduated in July of 2011 – we’ll share this award!
Kathy and I will read from our manuscripts at the awards ceremony tentatively scheduled for Sunday, May 19th at 6:30 pm at Lesley. If you are in the Boston area, I hope you’ll come. If you’re not able to make it, don’t worry. We’ll both be at the NESCBWI Annual Conference in Springfield. Please stop me and say hello!
As part of the award, our manuscripts will be submitted to a participating publisher. I’m so thankful to the committee for this opportunity to get my work in front of industry professionals. I’ve been on this journey for over ten years – long enough to know that I’d write even if I never got published. Perhaps that’s the moment when things begin to change for a writer. Still, I can tell you that I’ve had plenty of dark and doubting moments when I thought I should just give it all up.
There is something to be said for making your dreams known the universe, for putting yourself out there, for taking a chance. I’d wanted to submit manuscripts for this award for the past three years and missed the deadline. This year, the deadline snuck up on me again. Luckily, through a snafu, I was able to get my work to the committee, and I’m so glad I did! The email about this award came at the perfect time, and I couldn’t be happier.
PEN (poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists) New England is the most active chapter of PEN American Center which is part of PEN International– a literary community celebrating literature and protecting free expression. “The P.E.N. Club,” founded in London in 1921 by Mrs. C. A. Dawson Scott, a Cornish novelist, and John Galsworthy, a well-known literary figure, was borne out of Mrs. Dawson Scott’s “unshakable conviction that if the writers of the world could learn to stretch out their hands to each other, the nations of the world could learn in time to do the same.”