Look what landed in my hands, just in time for Christmas - a first place in literary fiction ribbon from the 2019 Somerset/Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBAs). As book prizes go, the CIBA ribbon is the largest and most beautifully crafted memento I have seen, a wonderful adornment for my tree.

Some may recall that I entered my novel, Cooperative Lives, in the CIBAs shortly after publication. By January 20, 2020, it had advanced from the "infamous slush pile" (the award committee's actual phrase) to the long list. Cool, I thought. Two more strokes of good fortune and I'll book a flight to the Chanticleer Author's Conference and Award Banquet in Bellingham, Washington, held each year in April. Alas, COVID struck, the conference was postponed twice, and it was eventually replaced by a series of remote Zoom lectures, cocktail parties and award announcements. Many of the lectures were excellent, but nothing beats meeting fellow authors in person.

To stretch the suspense, CIBA issued a Somerset short list announcement February 6, semifinalist announcement February 14, finalist announcement July 13, first place announcement September 5, and the physical prizes on December 6. Thank you, Kiffer Brown and everyone at Chanticleer, for the lovely award and the care you took in winnowing down the contestants. I am incredibly humbled and grateful.

To be clear, I did not win the grand prize for the Somerset categories of Literary, Satire, Contemporary and General Fiction. That honor belongs to Donna LeClair, author of The Proprietor of the Theatre of Life, a manuscript. Congratulations, Donna LeClair! I look forward to reading The Proprietor of the Theatre of Life when it is published.

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3 January 2020

Cooperative Lives promoted from
"infamous Slush Pile" to Long List

2 February 2020

13 February 2020

13 July 2020

5 September 2020

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3 January 2020

Cooperative Lives promoted from
"infamous Slush Pile" to Long List

2 February 2020

13 February 2020

13 July 2020

5 September 2020

CIBA Award Process

Finally, there are many book categories other than literary, satire, contemporary and general fiction. There are fiction genres, including science fiction, romance, crime, historical fiction and young adult, there are children's books, and there are various categories of non-fiction, for example, self-help, biography, history and journalism. Chanticleer developed contests for authors of those books as well. So yes, there is an annual overall grand prize for the best book of any kind, which, I believe, the judges are still hotly debating - a hopelessly challenging task. Good luck, judges! And thank you, again, for the first place award in literary fiction. I am thrilled!

SOMERSET Book Awards for the Best Contemporary and Literary Novels – 2019 CIBAs

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