2009-04-24: American Society of Journalists and Authors 2009 Writing Awards

New York, NY / April 24, 2009 -- The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) announced the recipients of its annual writing awards, honoring the outstanding nonfiction work produced on a freelance basis during the past year. ASJA is the professional association of independent nonfiction writers. Founded in 1948, its more than 1300 members have each met exacting standards for professional achievement.

"The ASJA awards are part of the organization's ongoing effort to support, encourage, nurture and reward excellent nonfiction writing," says Russell Wild, ASJA president. "In these times especially when complete nonsense born on the blogosphere and spread through the Internet (‘Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen') can pass for truth, we must do everything in our power – and more – to foster quality journalism."

ASJA also recognized two of its members for extraordinary career achievement and service to the organization. Robin Marantz Henig, the renowned science writer, received the Founders' Award for Career Achievement. The recipient of ASJA's Extraordinary Service Award was Cecil Murphey, author of 112 books. The awards were presented on April 24 during the 38rd Annual ASJA Writers Conference in New York City.


ASJA Outstanding Book Awards


General Nonfiction


Winner: Kimberly Lisagor and Heather Hansen — Disappearing Destinations (Vintage, 2008)

Honorable Mention: John Rosengren — Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty & The Say Hey Kid (Sourcebooks, 2008)

Honorable Mention: Russell Leigh Sharman and Cheryl Harris Sharman — Nightshift NYC (Univ. of California, 2008)

Service/Self Help


Winner: Kathy Seal and Wendy Grolnick — Pressured Parents, Stressed Out Kids (Prometheus, 2008)

Honorable Mention: P. Murali Doraiswamy, Lisa Gwyther, and Tina Adler — Alzheimer's Action Plan (St. Martin's Press, 2008)

ASJA Outstanding Article Awards


First Person, Essay, or Personal Experience


Winner: Margie Goldsmith — "In a Way, He Took Our Lives, Too", WashingtonPost.com, January 28, 2008

Honorable Mention: Kristin Ohlson — "Watching TV in Kabul", New York Times Magazine, July 20, 2008)



Winner: Shari Caudron — "Uncorked" 5280, Denver's Magazine, June, 2008

Honorable Mention: Todd Pitock — "The Toughest Adventurer?" Discovery Channel Magazine, April/May 2008

Honorable Mention: Andrea Cooper — "Am I Nothing But What I Remember?", Neurology Now, July/August 2008



Winner: Florence Williams — "Is it Safe to Heat Food in Plastic?", Good Housekeeping, November 2008

Reporting on a Significant Topic


Winner: Siri Carpenter — "Buried Prejudice", Scientific American Mind, April/May 2008

Honorable Mention:


Florence Williams — "The Runner's Footprint" Runner's World, November 2008

Honorable Mention: Michelle Nijhuis — "The Doubt Makers", Miller-McCune, June-July 2008



Winner: JoAnn Greco — "La Vida Local", Planning, March 2008

Honorable Mention: Michele Meyer — "When Old Meets New" IIDA Perspective, Fall 2008

Honorable Mention: John Rosengren — "Lakers vs.. Globetrotters—1948" Mlps. St. Paul, March 2008



Winner: Michael Fitzgerald — "Clawing Back", Boston Globe Magazine, December 14, 2008

Honorable Mention: Michael Fitzgerald — "Hotbed", Fast Company, April 2008

Honorable Mention: Michele Meyer — "The Secret Power of Tweens", USA Weekend Magazine, August 8, 2008

June Roth Memorial Award for Medical Journalism


Winner: Linda Marsa — "Acid Test", Discover, June 2008

Honorable Mention: Douglas Fox — "The Private Life of the Brain" New Scientist, November 8, 2008

Honorable Mention: Katherine Eban — "Your Hospital's Deadly Secret", Portfolio, March 2008

Founders Award for Career Achievement: Robin Marantz Henig


The ASJA Founders' Award for Career Achievement is given to Robin Maranz Henig, who specializes in science and medicine. An award-winning staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, she has written articles for numerous magazines and several books, including Pandora's Baby, which chronicled the history of in vitro fertilization, A Dancing Matrix about emerging viruses, and The Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel.

Robin has received fellowships from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the Knight Foundation for Science Writing, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Marine Biological laboratory, and lectured widely at such institutions as the Columbia University School of Journalism, New York University, Boston University Knight Center for Science Journalism, Johns Hopkins, the Smithsonian Institution, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Extraordinary Service Award: Cecil (Cec) Murphey


Early in Cecil Murphey's freelance career, he made two vows: to never stop learning about his craft and to do anything he could to help other writers. One way he's recently honored that pledge is by donating $50,000 to ASJA's Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (WEAF)—by far the largest gift WEAF has ever received. He also recently launched a nonprofit foundation that gives needy writers scholarships to attend professional conference so they can network, sharpen their skills and gain inspiration. His charity also provides grants to aid writers in marketing their published work.

A sought-after speaker and writing instructor, he's taught at hundred of writers' conferences, as well as mentored dozens of aspiring writers. The author of 112 books, including the New York Times bestsellers, 90 Minutes in Heaven, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story and a sequel, Think Big, he has received a number of awards, including the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Silver Angel Award, the Gold Medallion Award and the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists' Author of the Year award.

  • 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