Sarton Literary Award

I had a grand four days in Austin, Texas.

Jill Kandel, So Many Africas, In-Between Culutres, Austin, SartonSarton Award, Jill Kandel, Austin, Pool, So Many Africas: Six Years in a Zambian Village,

First of all, Texas is not North Dakota. The trees were blooming and the outdoor pool called my name. I had three free hours before the conference welcome and I spent it getting in a great swim and obtaining a fairly substantial sunburn. I mean, I just didn’t think to bring sunscreen. Oh, well. Pink is a nice color, right?

Sarton Winners, Jill Kandel, Barbara Stark Nemon, Austin, So Many AFricas

(Susan – Me – Barbara – Tammy)

I met the other Sarton winners and finalists.

Barbara Stark-Nemon: Author of Even in Darkness and winner of the Historical Fiction Award. And roomie! 

Susan Signe Morrison: Author of Grendel’s Mother and finalist in Historical Fiction.

Tammy Flanders Hetrick: Author of Stella Rose and finalist in Contemporary Fiction.

Susan Albert Witting, NYT best-selling author, and President of Story Circle Network, welcomed us to the conference. After supper, the awards were presented by Paula Yost and Barbara and I spoke for just a minute to say thank you.

Keynote speaker, Brooke Warner, gave an interesting talk on women and publication. As founder and Executive Editor of She Writes Press, Brooke was well informed as she spoke about the community of women writers, the need to champion each other, and the celebritization of the publishing industry. So many books being published by “famous” people who are getting big contracts, but really, might not be great writers. Sad commentary on our society. And thus a need for writers to write. And write well. And find our way by supporting each other.

Brooke Warner

I stayed up way too late talking with Barbara: we didn’t cover much. Just the history of Judaism, current Jewish Passover rituals, her fam., my fam., our next writing projects, and stuff like author promo work, publishing, presses, and She Writes Press. Fun stuff! And always amazing to learn from another author’s experiences.

Story Circle Network Panel, Jill Kandel, Barbara Stark Newman, Tammy,

(Tammy – Susan M. – Me – Barbara and moderator Susan W.)

Barbara, Susan, Tammy and I spoke on a panel the following day. Moderated by Susan Witting, the panel addressed the topic, “Crafting a Winner: Sarton Winners and Finalists Discuss Their Work.” We discussed our road to publication, our writing processes and problems, and our next projects. One of the panelists takes a week off work, once a year, and goes to a rental and writes. Then she spends the year rifting off of that week’s work. One woman writes “whenever.” We get the work done with a great deal of variety. It’s not how, or when, or where. It’s the fact that we write that makes us writers.

My favorite part of the conference was the lunch hour reading. Each finalist and winner read from her book. I love listening to women read their work. It solidifies the voice in the book and makes such a strong impression. I wanted to go out and buy every book! As I walked down from the podium, Brooke was holding two thumbs up and smiling. I love connecting!

Reading, Sarton Literary Award, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas (Photo credit to Jane Steig Parsons)

Next, I put my brand new gold shiny stickers on my book. 

Sarton Memoir Award, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas, gold sticker, book award, So Many Africas, Jill Kandel, Sarton Literary Award, stickers on book, book awards, Memoir

And sold out! It’s always such a question … how many books should I bring? Well, I stuffed my hand-luggage full. And it wasn’t enough. Happy Days!

Jane, Sarton Literary Award, Jill Kandel, in-Between Cultures, So Many Africas, book signing (Photo Credit to Jane Steig Parsons)

I had a serendipitous meeting with Cinda Adams Brooks, who grew up in Africa and has written Heartprints of Africa.

Heartprints of Africa, Cinda Adams Brooks, Cinda Brooks, Jill Kandel. So Many Africas

We laughed ourselves silly over shared experiences. Cinda is an eleven time gold medalist in the World Police and Fire Games Biathlon! A woman who runs while shooting a pistol. That’s someone I’d like to be on the good side of!

That evening I had supper with Linda Joy Meyers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers! 

Linda Joy Meyers

We had such a great conversation and she asked if I’d be on her NAMW Podcast later this year. YES! What an honor!

I stayed one extra day and spent it with Karen who graciously picked me up, took me to a local farm to table restaurant, and introduced me to friends of hers. The next day, we were up at 4:30 a.m. to brave the rain and get me to the airport.

The Austin Airport security lines took two and a half hours! My plane was scheduled to leave in one and a half. But I sauntered over to the gate to see if it might still be there, and yes it was! It had been delayed for an hour and a half due to weather. I hopped on board and had the bumpiest airplane ride I can ever remember. But made it back to Minneapolis in time to connect to Fargo.

Austin Airport, jill kandel, so many africas

I’m thankful to be home. I’m thankful for the award. And I’m blessed to have met so many writers and authors. Meeting other writers and connecting to their lives is invaluable.

I met Brooke Warner! (And she’s reading my book!) I met Linda Joy Meyers! (And will be on her podcast!) I met Barbara Stark Newman. (And we are friends now!) And Susan and Tammy! And I came home with a few too many books. So. Yup. Life is good. And writing friends are very, very special indeed.

AND I got a really nice award to set on my desk. A little bling to show off. And now? Now it’s back to work. I’ve got words to write and a story to tell.

Sarton Liteary Award, Memoir, Jill Kandel, statue, So Many AfricasAustin, Sarton Literary Award, Jill Kandel, in-Between Cultures, So Many Africas,

Many thanks to the Story Circle Network and all the women who worked so hard to put this conference together.

Jill Kandel
  • Jan VanKooten
    Posted at 11:24h, 27 April Reply

    Congrats again, Jill … your trip to the conference sounds like such fun. How cool to hobnob and glean from other writers … AND to get to be somewhere sunny/warm to boot!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 09:20h, 28 April Reply

      Thanks, Jan. Yes, it was fun and the sun was just a pure extra bonus. I’m not complaining!!

  • Beverly Sondag
    Posted at 16:29h, 27 April Reply

    So proud of you and your accomplishments.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 09:20h, 28 April Reply

      Thank you, Bev!! It was a fun week. And gave me a lot of energy to come back and get to work on the next one!

  • Susan Albert
    Posted at 14:21h, 30 April Reply

    Jill, it was a delight to meet you and hear about your book, your writing process, and your plans for future work. Congratulations again–I look forward to reading the next book!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 07:44h, 02 May Reply

      Thank you, Susan. The delight is mutual. I look forward to your next book, too!

  • Jude Walsh Whelley
    Posted at 10:31h, 01 May Reply

    It was a pleasure to hear you read. I am sorry you ran out of books because I didn’t get one! Story Circle Network is an extraordinary organization and the Sarton Award just one of the many things they do to support and encourage women writers. Congratulations on your award!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 07:45h, 02 May Reply

      Thank you, Jude. It was really fun to read at SCN! If you still want a book, you can order from Amazon or right here on my website. Either way works. Amazon has a Kindle version also. Happy Writing!

  • Susan Morrison
    Posted at 11:20h, 01 May Reply

    Great post–so wonderful to remember this amazing conference. Hope to see you in two years!
    Susan Morrison

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 07:46h, 02 May Reply

      Hi Susan, Glad you liked the post. I really enjoyed meeting you at the conference and hearing about your book. I love the concept of a story on Grendel’s Mother! Happy writing! And congrats, too.

  • Mary Jo Doig
    Posted at 11:48h, 05 May Reply

    I have enjoyed re-visiting the wonderful conference last month through your blog post. Thank you! And, warmest congratulations on you Sarton Award! I was a reader for the contest but was not assigned your book, so am very much looking forward to it. I so enjoyed our conversation at the book signing table! How very cool that you sold out!
    I have read and enjoyed Cinda’s book, Heartprints of Africa, and it was such fun to meet you both. I look forward to your next book.
    All the best,
    Mary Jo

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 08:39h, 09 May Reply

      Thank you, Mary Jo. It was wonderful meeting you, also. I feel like that was the best part of the conference, all the remarkable women I met. Thank you for your kind words!

  • Maya Lazarus
    Posted at 14:03h, 10 May Reply

    Just finished your book, Jill. I was one of the lucky ones to buy it early at the StoryCircle Conference. I’m in love with your writing style–poetic, personal, honest, with a sense of immediacy. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I’ll write up a review on Amazon.
    I also want to tell you about a friend’s organization that you might be interested in. I met her through a poetry course at StoryCircle.

    VoiceFlame is a non-profit organization that believes one way to change the world is to teach girls and women to write. They are committed to literacy development as a way to empower women and eliminate discrimination. They lead writing workshops in the US and Malawi, Africa, and publish the works of disenfranchised women and girls who would otherwise have no opportunity to be heard. VoiceFlame also trains Malawian women and teachers in the Amherst Writers and Artists method.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 21:26h, 10 May Reply

      Hi Maya, Thank you for the information on VoiceFlame. It sounds really interesting. Wow. What a good work they are doing. Thank you also for what you said about my book. That is really special to hear. Thank you! And thanks for the Amazon review, too. Take care and all the best with your writing!

  • Jeanne Guy
    Posted at 15:53h, 01 June Reply

    Can’t stop thinking about you, your presentation and your book. Guess I need to download it. 🙂 Congratulations, What a pleasure it was to meet you, Jill.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 11:33h, 02 June Reply

      Thank you, Jeanne. A pleasure to meet you, too! If you like the download…there’s a Kindle version available at Amazon.

      • Jeanne Guy
        Posted at 16:21h, 20 June Reply

        I’ll be downloading it today. We’re going to read it for our July Austin Reading Circle! Ta dah!

        • Jill Kandel
          Posted at 09:57h, 21 June Reply

          I hope you enjoy it, Jeanne!!

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