In January of this year I self published my second book, through my own publishing house, CreativeInk Publishing. When I wrote Letters to My Daughter I knew that it was going to be a book worth recognizing because I put my heart into writing that book. As a virtually new mother (my daughter is 19 months old), I wanted to leave her legacy that she could be proud of. Letters to My Daughter is my legacy. It is a collection (written in prose and poetry) of all of the things that I want my daughter to know as she gets older. It is about love and culture, but most of all it is about pride; it is about knowing who you are, where you’re from, and learning to love yourself despite what life may throw your way. Love is taught and pride is instilled. That is what I believe.
So, when the International Latino Book Awards Finalists where announced this week (March 18th) and I saw my name amongst the list of finalists in the category for Best Poetry Book – One Author – English I couldn’t help but cry. My body shook involuntarily as the tears flowed uncontrollably down my face. The only other occasion that I have cried tears of joy like that was when my daughter was born.
In my office, as the voices of my colleagues filled the air around me, I sat there honored and grateful; honored that my hard work had been recognized and grateful for the honor of being selected as a finalist. I have never needed validation to know that my work is good, but it sure feels wonderful to be acknowledged.
According to Kirk Whisler, co-founder along with Oscar winning actor Edward James Olmos of Latino Literacy Now, the organization that founded the awards, 2014 is an amazing year for books for Latinos – and the market’s rapid growth is merely one reflection of how solid the market is. Latinos in the USA will purchase over $500 million in books in both English and Spanish.
The 2014 Finalists for the 16th Annual Int’l Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. This year’s number of entries was 41% more than the previous record year. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had 123 judges, nearly double the number from 2013. The vast majority of the judges glowed about the quality of the entries. The Awards celebrates books in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Amongst the 231 finalists are well known writers like Isabel Allende, Alma Flor Ada, Edna Iturralde, and Rick Najera. Other honorees include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and celebrities like TV chef Pati Jinich, the late singer and actress Jenni Rivera, singer Linda Ronstadt and TV personality Lilliana Vasquez. Finalists are from across the USA and from 18 countries outside the USA.
In recognition of the quality and variety of books now available, Latino Literacy Now, the organization that oversees the Awards, is carrying out the 2014 Award Winning Author Tour. Displays of the Finalists books and Award Winning Authors will be presented at events like American Library Association Convention; CABE, the largest Latino teacher conference in the USA; the Chicago Latino Book & Family Festival; the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books; the NCLR Annual Conference; the San Bernardino Latino Book & Family Festival; and other key events.
The Awards themselves will be held June 28 th in Las Vegas as part of the ALA Conference. The Awards are produced by Latino Literacy Now, an organization co-founded by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler, and co-presented by Las Comadres de las Americas and Reforma, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos.
Best Poetry Book – One Author – English Finalists:
A Mirror In My Own Backstage, José Angel Figueroa, Red Sugarcane Press
A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, Laurie Ann Guerrero, University of Notre Dame Press
Chopper! Chopper!, Verónica Reyes, Floricanto Press
Letters to My Daughter, Nancy Arroyo Ruffin, Creative Ink Publishing, Inc.
So Spoke Penelope, Tino Villanueva, Grolier Poetry Press
Sueño, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Wings Press