CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE 2022 AWA WINNERS AND FINALISTS!
Cara Achterberg is the author of four novels and two memoirs. Her novel, Blind Turn, was a Reader’s Choice Silver Medal winner and the Maxy Awards Book of the Year. Her memoir, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs was a People magazine ‘people’s pick’ and featured on the Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show. Cara is the cofounder of Who Will Let the Dogs Out, a nonprofit initiative to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. Cara lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three rescue dogs, and a rotating cast of foster dogs and cats. For more information visit CaraWrites.com.
David Bush is a medical doctor specialized in hematology. He was born in Malta but left for the U.K. at a young age. He returned to his first home in 2003, where he still practices hospital medicine. In addition, he is the co-founder of a support group for patients with blood cancers. Since he gave up his private practice, he has had more time to spend with the family. He enjoys reading, swimming, travelling, and doing any type of D.I.Y. job. He has published a medical book, and many papers in international peer-reviewed medical journals. He also writes analytical opinion articles for a satirical political blog. “General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms” is his multi-award winning debut novel. It was voted IAN Fiction Book of the Year in 2021. The book has garnered thirty awards so far, sixteen of which are first place. His second middle-grade novel, “The Joyous Adventures of Whizzojack” has also been critically acclaimed, winning four awards so far.
Richard has taught children for almost two decades in inner city and title I schools. He has also worked as a District Wide Behavior Specialist and a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program Principal and has spent many hours with both troubled and non-troubled young people.
Richard comes from a family of storytellers. He grew up as the offspring of two noted gospel singers in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite a happy childhood, his life as a child was often interspersed with the grim aspects of inner city violence. As a small child, Richard’s mother read traditional bedtime stories or told him family bedtime stories passed down over many generations. Although they filled him with an absolute terror of the Big Bad Wolf (and boy did it take awhile for him to recover from that), they also offered him an escape from inner city life. Richard maintains his family’s reverence for a well-turned tale. He hopes his departed mother and uncles look down at his work and that they’re smiling.
From Martial Arts master inducted in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, to a singer who has sang on the stage as a member of The Platters, to a corporate outside sales representative who left corporate America to teach inner-city children in Washington DC., Richard Ceasor brings a wealth of experience to his writing.
After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Technical Theater, Michele Kwasniewski spent over fifteen years in film and television production. Starting out as a film set assistant on movies such as INDEPENDENCE DAY, FACE/OFF, PRIMAL FEAR, and EVITA. Michele eventually switched to the small screen and worked her way up the ladder to production manager, gaining experience on television shows such as BIG BROTHER, ADOPTION STORIES, EXTRA YARDAGE and MEET THE PANDAS. She is also a proud member of the Producers Guild of America. Michele's colorful experiences in the industry inspired her to write THE RISE AND FALL OF DANI TRUEHART series. Michele lives in San Clemente, California with her husband, their son, and their disobedient dachshund.
RISING STAR was awarded Finalist in the category of YOUNG ADULT FICTION for the 2021 BEST BOOK AWARDS and 2022 INTERNATONAL BOOK AWARDS. RISING STAR also was awarded Finalist in the categories of GENERAL FICTION and YOUNG ADULT FICTION in the AMERICAN FICTION AWARDS.
Allison Hong Merrill is a Taiwanese immigrant and the author of the multi-award-winning memoir, Ninety-Nine Fire Hoops. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and writes in both Chinese and English, both fiction and creative nonfiction, which means she spends a lot of time looking up words on Dictionary.com. Allison is an instructor, a keynote speaker, and a panelist at various writer’s conferences. She also appears on podcasts, in TV shows, magazines, and journals. Visit her at: allisonhongmerrill.com to sign up for her short monthly email.
Christopher Nelson is the author of The C.R. Patterson and Sons Company: Black Pioneers in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939. While primarily known for becoming the first Black-owned automobile manufacturer when they built their first car in 1915, the Patterson story of overcoming obstacles and breaking color barriers extends into many areas such as education, sports, business, politics, and helping Booker T. Washington in founding the Negro Business League. Mr. Nelson originally conducted the research as part of a 2009 master’s thesis, which has now been majorly redeveloped and expanded into a book released in 2022. Based on the research for the book, plans are currently underway by a film production company to bring the Patterson story to the big screen.
Mr. Nelson has a background in Archaeology and History and has worked in those fields for nearly two decades. He has a strong interest in the history of transportation, particularly during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and has worked on multiple projects within this topic during his career. Mr. Nelson has taken a recent interest in expanding his storytelling activities. This has come through various stages of involvement in filmmaking. Mr. Nelson is serving or has served in the role of Executive Producer or Associate Producer on several films including both feature length and short films. Mr. Nelson resides just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
For further information about the book and Mr. Nelson, please visit: www.crpattersonandsonscompanybook.us
Meg Nocero, a magical manifester, is a former federal prosecutor, an inspirational speaker, a transformational coach, and the award-winning author of The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss and Sparkle & Shine: 108 M.A.N.T.R.A.s to Brighten Your Day and Lighten Your Way.After she was brought on stage in Miami with Oprah Winfrey in 2014, she was inspired to manifest the life of her dreams and founded Butterflies & Bliss LLC and S.H.I.N.E. Networking Inc., a nonprofit that provides educational scholarships to young innovative leaders in her community. She holds a BA in Spanish from Boston College, an MA in International Affairs from the University of Miami, a JD from St. Thomas University School of Law, and a Happiness Certificate with the Happiness Studies Academy. She is also a Certified Federal Law Enforcement Instructor/Mentor and a Love Button Global Movement Ambassador. In addition to being named Miz CEO Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019, Nocero appeared on CNN Español with Ismael Cala and hosts her own You Tube channel and a podcast called Manifesting with Meg: Conversations with Extraordinary People. She lives in Miami, Fl. Visit https://megnocero.com/ to learn more about Meg Nocero.
Author, speaker, and businesswoman, Mitzi Perdue holds a BA with honors from Harvard University and an MPA from the George Washington University. She’s a past president of the 40,000-member American Agri-Women, and her television series, Country Magazine, was syndicated to 76 stations.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, her Scripps Howard weekly column, the Environment and You was the most widely-syndicated environmental column in the United States.
Mitzi Perdue’s biography, Mark Victor Hansen, Relentless, tells the story behind the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and how Hansen entered the Guinness Book of World’s Records for selling half a billion books. The book provides both inspiration and encouragement for readers to make the most of their gifts.
She has an interesting lens through which to view Mark’s success. Her father was the president and co-founder of the Sheraton Hotel Chain and her husband was the chicken magnate, Frank Perdue. As someone who’s fascinated by people being all they can be, Mitzi studied what factors Mark had in common with these two mega successful men.
Every penny of the royalties from Mark Victor Hansen, Relentless will go to support anti-trafficking efforts in Ukraine.
Author i.b. casey cui, a.k.a. Maritza Roño Refuerzo, is a Cal Berkeley alumna and current pickleball student at her local recreation center. She received her MFA at Mills College, where she studied fiction writing and English literature, as well as enjoyed magazine and newspaper feature writing classes under the tutelage of a former senior editor at Mother Jones. Casey Cui has been a copy editor for tech-media companies GameSpot, Ziff Davis, CNET, and InfoWorld. She co-heads a foundation whose mission is to advocate programs that promote the well-being of dogs and provide children with language and arts enrichment. Ms. Cui is a well-nigh 27-year colon cancer survivor. Her debut novel, Groovy Girl, is about a young, feisty Filipino-American girl whose 19-year-old wunderkind sister is diagnosed with colon cancer, amid the chaos of an animated, dramatic extended family. Partial proceeds of Groovy Girl will benefit four nonprofits, one of which is the Strides for Life Colon Cancer Foundation.
Puja Shah is a visionary poet who shares her voice through written and spoken word, guided meditations, and teaching. Born in Queens, New York, to immigrant parents, she defied teachers who questioned her English skills by winning countless poetry and short story awards in her youth. She has completed over a dozen trainings in various forms of yoga, meditation, and ancient wisdom. With over 10 years of nonprofit experience and a long public health career, she has aligned with girl trafficking awareness causes for her debut novel, For My Sister. More information at www.formysisterbook.com.
David Michael Slater is an acclaimed author of nearly thirty books for children, teens, and adults. His picture books include Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus and The Boy & the Book; his early chapter book series include The Super Doopers and Mysterious Monsters, which is in development for an animated series; his books for teens include Sparks, and the Forbidden Books Series; and his newest title, The Vanishing, a Holocaust fantasy, released 9/29. The book has been praised by Holocaust authors, professors, professionals, and six National Jewish Book Award winners, and discussions are underway with a major Hollywood production company for its film rights. David's nonfiction includes We're Doing It Wrong: 25 Ideas in Education That Just Don't Work--And How to Fix Them and Wingnuts: A Field Guide to Everyday Extremism in America. David teaches middle school in Reno, Nevada. For more, see www.davidmichaelslater.com.
Linda Sheehan is the author of Fore Play, the novel Kirkus Reviews calls “A seamy, steamy comedy of errors”. She’s also the author of Decanted, winner of the Reader’s Favorite Bronze Award for Cultural Fiction that Kirkus calls “A highly enjoyable story of love, wine, and passion". Linda began her career in Manhattan where she worked for the CBS Television Network before moving to Los Angeles where she wrote and produced commercials and trailers for movies and television. She now lives in Napa, California, where she's the co-owner of Poe Wines that makes highly acclaimed Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Rosé. Besides indulging her passion for great wines, she is an avid horseback rider and golfer.
Ashe & Magdalena Stevens reside in Los Angeles, CA with their daughter, two cats and a dog. Ashe studied Theatre and Writing at the California Institute of the Arts. Magdalena, after her successful career as a fashion model, studied Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and ultimately graduated from medical school and is now a practicing physician.
Their first published book, Lost in Beirut, is a bestselling, mesmerizing true story of Ashe's remarkable journey in the Middle East. They're currently writing their second book. In their spare time they love to travel, collect art, watch independent films and read books.
Follow the authors' journey on their instagram: @lostinbeirutbook
For more information and press inquiries visit: www.lostinbeirut.com
Tom Trondson’s debut novel Moving in Stereo was published by Calumet Editions. The story revolves around Richard Blanco, a colorful yet troubled professional tennis player navigating his final year on tour. Kirkus Reviews called Moving in Stereo “a throwback 90s tale with a compellingly dysfunctional tennis-playing protagonist.” Trondson taught tennis all over the world (including the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida), was a stay-at-home dad, and learned how to cross-country ski during the pandemic. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, he holds a graduate degree from Hamline University’s MFA program, where he teaches creative writing. He lives with his family in Minneapolis. Find him at tomtrondson.com.
Made entirely of rum and snacks—International Bestselling Author, Tracy A. Ball, is a native Baltimorean and veteran West Virginian, whose family is a mashup of cultures. She writes real and raw interracial romance with an intensity that burns because she has been busting stereotypes while teaching interracial/generational healing for more than a quarter of a century.
Her published works include: Blood Like Rain, The Other Shore, “Mercury Chain Thomson,” If By Chance: A Shorts collection, Welcome to BBs, Death’s Desire, Big Guns & Bullsh@t, “Imogene’s Flowers,” “Thorns,” “Black’s Magic,” “Truly, Madly, Kiss Me,” “Cumberland Christmas,” Civil Warriors, Dragonfly Dreams, KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse, The Tiger & The Snake, The Right Way to Be Wrong, Mail Duty, White Russian Lies, and Sons of the Nephilim: Honor’s Choice.
Award-winning writer and scholar (Fulbright nominee) Kevin L. Gingrich, PhD, is the author of numerous publications, ranging from The Sons of Chester to children's stories, feature articles, and columns to scholarly articles, including his dissertation, Parechesis in the Undisputed Pauline. Kevin played Division I basketball, and was known as "The Ball-Handling Wizard of the Westwood Gym," performing halftime shows at basketball games and camps all over the Midwest. His greatest trick was "The Impossible Catch," which, as the name suggests, was impossible: catching a basketball behind his back, arms between his legs. Kevin did it with two basketballs at once!
Sepehr Haddad is the grandson of composer Nasrosoltan Minbashian who was the director of the Iranian Conservatory (Tehran Conservatory of Music). A Hundred Sweet Promises is his debut novel which is currently a Top 20 best-seller in Russian historical fiction. Sepehr is also a Universal Music Group (UMG) recording artist, with the Billboard chart-topping duo Shahin & Sepehr. He lives in the Washington DC metro area. For further information on Sepehr, visit: SepehrHaddad.com
Christy Alexander Hallberg is the author of the novel Searching for Jimmy Page, from Livingston Press. She is a Teaching Professor of English at East Carolina University, where she earned her BS and MA in English. She received her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Goddard College. She is Senior Associate Editor of North Carolina Literary Review. Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and interviews have appeared in such journals as North Carolina Literary Review, The Main Street Rag, Fiction Southeast, Riggwelter, Deep South Magazine, Eclectica, Litro, STORGY, Entropy, storySouth, Still: The Journal, and Concho River Review. Her creative nonfiction essay “The Ballad of Evermore” was a finalist for the Sequestrum 2020 Editor’s Reprint Award. Her flash story “Aperture” was chosen Story of the Month by Fiction Southeast for October 2020. Find her at www.christyalexanderhallberg.com/
By day, author Brian Kaufman is a curriculum editor for an online junior college. By night, he’s an award-winning fiction writer with six published novels to his credit. His latest, Dread Tribunal of Last Resort (Cengage, 2021) is a Civil War novel focused on an unusual aspect of the war—rocketry. Coming in 2023 from Black Rose Writing, A Shadow Melody is a historical novel with a horror twist: In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Browning each worked on devices to contact the dead through scientific means. Only one succeeded…
Kaufman lives with his wife and dog in the Colorado mountains, dividing his time between various passions, including writing, blues guitar, and book-hoarding. Find Brian at: https://authorbriankaufman.com/
Rebecca Miller is the multi-award-winning author of Touch: a work of literary fiction with a sharp contemporary edge, meant to stir questions about a topic not often spoken about. Though there isn’t much in her background to suggest she would ever write a book, the characters jumped into her head one day and wouldn’t let go until their story was told. She is a true believer that everything happens for a reason and has used that mantra to get through life. She lives on a farm in rural Rhode Island with her husband, two children, and a plethora of animals. She is also a realtor and professional photographer.
Frederick Douglass Reynolds is a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Sergeant. He was born in Rocky Mount, Virginia and grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he became a petty criminal and involved in gangs. He joined the US Marine Corps in 1979 to escape the life of crime that he seemed destined for. After a brief stint in Okinawa, Japan, he finished out his military career in southern California and ultimately became a police officer with the Compton police department. He worked there from 1985 until 2000 and then transferred to the sheriff’s department where he worked an additional seventeen years, retiring in 2017 with over seventy-five commendations. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Lauren and young son, Desmond. They have six other adult children and nine grandchildren.
A former English professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina, Jeannée Sacken is a photojournalist who travels the world documenting the lives of women and children. She also photographs wildlife and is deeply committed to the conservation of endangered species. When not traveling, she lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin with her three cats, named for her favorite photographers. Behind the Lens is her debut novel. The second novel in the Annie Hawkins Green series, Double Exposure, is slated for publication in October 2022.
Visit https://www.jeanneesacken.com/home/ to learn more about Jeannée Sacken.
Dan Whitfield is a multi-award-winning direct mail copywriter and novelist living in St. Petersburg, Florida with his wife, three daughters, and hundreds of books. Originally from the United Kingdom, Dan’s debut novel, Eagle Ascending, was published by TouchPoint Press in 2021. He contributed the short story Sometimes, They Come Quickly, to TouchPoint’s horror anthology, Nightmares of Strangers, in the same year. Dan’s next novel, The Spider’s Revenge, will be released in 2023.