Monday, April 16, 2012

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award

Have you ever heard of it?  The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award is "an annual award in the United States for a book that exemplifies literary excellence, widespread appeal, and a positive approach to life in young adult literature."  (Source: Wikipedia).  I had never heard of it myself, but I stumbled upon it, looked it up, and thought wow, THAT is the kind of award I would be proud to win.  So I looked it up and actually had to go to a lot of work to find contact information.  The hosting website wasn't working too well, but I was dying to know how to find out more about it.  Thanks to Google, I was able to find a contact from the award, who got back to me the next day.  She was so kind, and let me know that if I could get copies of my book to the committee members within five days, my book could be entered into the running.

Here are the submission guidelines:

Context and Criteria

Established in 2008 to honor the wishes of Amelia Elizabeth Walden, the award allows for the sum of $5,000 to be presented annually to the author of a book selected by the ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (AEWA) Review Committee as “the title of the year most relevant to adolescents and having enjoyed a wide and appreciative teenage audience.” 

Per Walden’s request, the selected title must:
1)    be a work of fiction, ideally a novel (novels that are part of a series must be able to stand alone);
2)    be published within one year prior to the call for titles (in this case, 2011);
3)    be published in the United States but may have been published elsewhere prior; and
4)    possess a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit (please see below for additional guidance):

A Positive Approach to Life

Submitted titles should:
§  treat teen readers as capable and thoughtful young people
§  offer hope and optimism, even when describing difficult circumstances
§  have a credible and appropriate resolution
§  portray characters involved in shaping their lives in a positive way, even as they struggle with the harsh realities of life

Widespread Teen Appeal

Submitted titles should:
§  be intended expressly for readers aged 12-18
§  have universal themes that transcend time and place
§  have themes that resonate with a wide variety of readers, regardless of race, culture, class, gender, and sexual orientation
§  provide readers a window to the world and/or reflect their own experiences

Literary Merit
Submitted titles should:
§  contain well-developed characters
§  employ well-constructed forms suitable to function 
§  include language and literary devices that enhance the narrative
§  suggest cogent and richly-realized themes
§  present an authentic voice

Do I have any chance at winning?  Or even at runner-up?  That depends on so much.   Primarily, it depends on whether or not the committee agrees that my book fulfills the "positive approach to life" requirement.  In my opinion, it does, but it's subtle.  Especially the part about difficult circumstances. Nothing terrible or unusual or terribly unusually bad happens to my protagonist, but she does face the sort of challenges that normal, everyday teenagers face.  

Even if I won "runner up" of this prize, I would be incredibly honored.  The criteria of the award is essentially an outline of what I want to write.  So, what kind of writer do I want to be?  I want to write books that would be eligible for this award.

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