2011 Annual Writing Awards

New York, NY -- The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) today announced the recipients of its annual writing awards, honoring the outstanding nonfiction work produced on a freelance basis during the past year.

"Compelling writing always grips us. No writer can peruse a story or book on this list without thinking 'I wish I'd written that,'" says Salley Shannon, ASJA president. "It's a pleasure to recognize and honor the best in nonfiction writing, as we have for more than 60 years."

The awards will be presented on April 29 during the 40th Annual ASJA Writers Conference, which will be held in New York City, April 29 - May 1, 2011.

ASJA is the only professional association focused on independent nonfiction writers, an often isolated segment of the media world. Members share expertise, ideas, opportunities, and inside information critical to success in a constantly changing environment. Through services such as a member-to-member rights and fees database, contracts and grievance guidance, and diverse educational programs, ASJA membership gives writers the confidence and connections to prosper.


Outstanding Book Awards


General Nonfiction


Winner: Murder in the High Himalaya (Public Affairs) -- Jonathan Green

Honorable mentions:

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and their Tale of Rescue and Redemption (Gotham) -- Jim Gorant

The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women (Berkley Books) -- Deborah J. Swiss




Winner: Crossing the Heart of Africa (Harper Perennial) -- Julian Smith




Winner: Green Sense (The Taunton Press) -- Kevin Daum

Honorable mentions: A Baby at Last (Simon & Schuster) -- Mark Fuerst

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing (Writers Digest Books) -- Marilyn Ross




Winner: My Orange Duffel Bag (Operation Orange Media) -- Echo Garrett


Outstanding Article Awards




Winner: "Take us to the River" (Fast Company) -- Michael Fitzgerald

Honorable Mentions

"Zinc Fingers: Entry Fee" (Proto) -- Rachael Moeller Gorman

"How to Save the Grasslands" (Time.com) -- Judith Schwartz


First-person (personal experience or dramatic narrative)


Winner: "My Mother's Brain" (D Magazine) -- Beatriz Terrazas

Honorable mention:

"Do it Yourself Genetics" (Duke Magazine) -- Barry Yeoman




Winner: "A Strange and not Unpleasant Experience" (Bicycling Magazine) -- Florence Williams

Honorable mention:

"Timeless Sardines" (Leite's Culinaria) Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco


Personal essay/opinion/op-ed


Winner: "Taking Grief Step by Step" (Whole Living) -- Judi Ketteler

Honorable mention:

"Hometown Exile" (Texas Observer) -- Beatriz Terrazas




Winner: "How Mya Saved Jacob" (Spirit Magazine) -- Kate Silver

Honorable Mentions:

"Little Bill Clinton: Easing into a Comfort Zone" (The Christian Science Monitor) -- Mary Wiltenburg

"Looking for a Greener Way of Death" (Salon.com) -- Rachel Dickinson


Reporting on a significant topic


Co-winners: "Where Are We Headed? New Energy: climate change and sustainability shape a new era" (The Christian Science Monitor) -- Douglas Fox

"The African Divide" (The Christian Science Monitor) -- Jina Moore

Honorable mention:

"Confronting Rape as a War Crime" (Congressional Quarterly Press Global Researcher) -- Jina Moore


Service Article


Winner: "Understanding Depression at Mid-Life" (Woman's Day) -- Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

Honorable Mentions:

"Your Brain on Meditation" (Yoga Journal) -- Kelly McGonigal

"Between the Lines" (Better Homes and Gardens) –Leslie Pepper




Co-winners: "Mindfulness and Weight loss" (IDEA Fitness Journal) -- Kelly McGonigal

"When IT is Asked to Spy" (Computerworld) -- Tam Harbert


The Arlene Eisenberg Award for Writing That Makes A Difference


Winner: "School of Hard Knocks" (Good Housekeeping) -- Barry Yeoman

Honorable mention:

"Finding Ann Marie" (Bethesda Magazine) -- Christine Koubek


June Roth Memorial Award for Medical Journalism


Winner: "Hot Zone -- A Warming Planet's Rising Tide of Disaster" (Discover Magazine) -- Linda Marsa


Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism


No winners.

Honorable mentions:

"Risky Play: NYC's Fake Grass Gamble" (City Limits) -- Patrick Arden

"A Return to Baghdad"(Gay City News) -- Michael Luongo


ASJA Founders' Award for Career Achievement – Grace W. Weinstein


Grace Weinstein has written for many years about diverse financial issues within her area of expertise, a specialty that she says, she didn't choose so much as it "chose her." Grace's writing has educated readers about many aspects of a topic that many people find challenging and has helped to make a significant difference in people's lives.

Grace was the first freelance writer elected to a three-year term on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board, through which she helped to make regulations affecting consumer credit. She has also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Financial Writers Association and of the Copyright Clearance Center.

Since joining ASJA in the 1970s (when it was the Society of Magazine Writers), Grace has held many posts within the Society, including serving as its first two-term president. Grace is also the treasurer of the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (WEAF) and a member of its board, where she has worked tirelessly to help needy professional writers get back on their feet after illness, disability, infirmity or an extraordinary professional crisis left them facing financial hardship.

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson