ASJA's Annual Writing Awards

Congratulations to our 2020 winners! Our judges worked hard to select from the abundance of great submissions. Our members are so talented! A special thanks to the members who volunteered their time to judge. ASJA thanks you! 

Thank you to our judges! 


Blog Post/Personal: 
“The Emotional Debris from An Abusive Father,” by Margie Goldsmith.

Business/marketing: “How Sovereign Citizens Helped Swindle $1 Billion From the Government They Disavow,” by Ashley Powers.

Excellence in Reporting: “Shot in the Dark,” by Laura Beil. 

First Person Essays: “Still Life with Dick Van Dyke,” by Marian Sandmaier. 

Health Articles: “When Measles Arrives: Breaking Down the Anatomy of Containment,” by Apoorva Mandavilli. 

Honorable mention -- “Our Skulls Are Out Evolving Us and That Could Mean A Public Health Crisis” by Katherine Lewis.  

How-to Articles: "How to Teach Consent to Boys -- Without Shaming Them," by Jennifer Fink.

Honorable mention: "How to Bullyproof Your Child," by Estelle Erasmus.

The June Roth Memorial Award for an Outstanding Medical Article: “Bite Marks,” by Bobbi Dempsey.

Lifestyle Articles: “The Survival of Japan's Music Rests on Artificial Ivory,” by Rachel Nuwer.

Honorable Mention: “Secret Life of a Mermaid,” by Maureen O’Hagan. 

Profile Articles: Randy Rainbow's Witty World,” by Margaret Engel.

Reported Essays: How can I wean my children off their new habit of playing ‘musical beds’?” by Sarika Chawla.

Honorable mention: “The silver Christmas tree, an icon of Space Age kitsch, turns 60,” by Kate Silver. 

Science: "A Significant Problem," by Lydia Denworth.

Technology: "Social Media Has Not Destroyed a Generation", Lydia Denworth

Trade: "Opioid Crisis Spurs New Strategies for Cancer Pain," by Darcy Lewis.

Travel: "How Palermo Became a Host to African Refugees" by Ashley Powers. 

Honorable Mention: 'The Risky Fame of a Rare Island Wildcat,' by Rachel Nuwer. 


Fitness & Sports: "Women Deserve to Run Without Fear," by Christine Yu.

Food & Drink:  "Please Don't Call This Cultured Nugget ‘Lab Meat," by Jenny Splitter.

Opinion/Op-Eds: “Chernobyl, the HBO miniseries: Fact and Fiction,” by Robert Peter Gale

The Arlene Award for an Article That Made A Difference: How Japan Undermines Efforts to Stop the Illegal Ivory Trade,” by Rachel Nuwer.

The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism: Worse Than a Death Sentence,” by Rohini Mohan. 


Biography/History Books: "The Lost Brothers by Jack El-Hai". 

Honorable Mention: "Battle for the Marble Palace: Abe Fortas, Earl Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Forging of the Modern Supreme Court", by Michael Bobelian. 

Children’s Books/Young Adult Books: "Enemy Child, the Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II", by Andrea Warren. 

Honorable Mention: "Eclipse Chaser, Science in the Moon’s Shadow", by Ilima Loomis

General Non-Fiction Books: "Bottle of Lies: the Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom", by Katherine Eban.

Memoir/Autobiography Books: "Your Heart, My Hands: An Immigrant's Remarkable Journey to Become One of America's Preeminent Cardiac Surgeons", by Arun K. Singh, MD, with John Hanc

Service/Self-Help Books : Sex After Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved, by Joan Price

Salley Shannon, ASJA Past President and Janine Latus

Past Award Winners

2020 Awards Categories



The Arlenes: Articles That Make a Difference

ASJA member Howard Eisenberg established the Arlene Eisenberg Memorial Fund to honor his late wife, the author of What to Expect When You're Expecting and other bestselling books that made a difference in the lives of mothers worldwide. Income generated by the fund allows ASJA to give monetary awards to winners of "Arlenes," which are given annually for articles and once every three years for books. The winning book or freelance article must have "made a difference" by inspiring positive action within a locale or community, society, or the world. In the past, the award has been given for articles or books that inspired readers to do such things as lobby for legislation or to form an advocacy group. Past winners also have stirred officials to launch an investigation, correct an injustice, or remove a hazard.

The Arlene Article Award is presented annually for an article published within the prior two years. For 2020, eligible articles must have been published in 2018 or 2019.

To be considered for an Arlene, articles MUST be:

  • Published in the United States within the stated period
  • Freelance written
  • Accompanied by documentation supporting the positive impact of the book or article. This may include evidence of media coverage, testimonials, or other public recognition.


The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism

This award honors ASJA's third president, a noted investigative writer. Articles entered should demonstrate outstanding writing and organization plus new or hitherto unrevealed research. Or if the topic frequently gets attention, it should show it in a new light.

The work of any writer may be nominated so long as it is freelance-written and published or released in the United States during the eligibility period. (Staff-written work does not qualify.)

If the work was supported by a grant or payment from a foundation or other organization, or the author was otherwise aided (such as in data collection or statistical analysis) we ask that this be noted at the time of submission, along with the time period for any such support. This is solely for the purpose of establishing that the work was freelance-written.

Outstanding Article Awards

These awards honor writers whose articles, produced on a freelance basis, have demonstrated excellence in writing, research and clarity of presentation.


  • Fitness & Sports - This includes pieces on running, fitness, and any sport or specific sporting event. Profiles may be entered here or in "Profiles," but not both.
  • Food & Drink - This includes articles about food, wine, beer, a restaurant or restaurants, a vineyard, cooks and the like.
  • Opinion /Op-Eds - Category may include blog posts published by third parties. In addition to the writer’s opinion, entries must include reported evidence/research.


June Roth Memorial Awards for Outstanding Medical Article

The June Roth Memorial Fund was established by her late husband to honor our 31st president, a well-known medical writer. Income generated by the fund provides monetary awards to ASJA members whose articles or books represent exceptional achievement in health and medical writing. The June Roth Article Award is offered every year.

For 2020, eligible articles must have been published in 2019.

Outstanding Book Awards

These awards are conferred upon ASJA members whose nonfiction books are deemed significant, exceptionally well-researched and skillfully written.

Open to members' books published in the United States during calendar year 2019. Entries may be written by an individual author or may be collaborative works. Self-published books, ebooks, and traditionally published books may be nominated.

The categories:

  • Biography/History
  • Children/Young Adult Nonfiction
  • General Nonfiction
  • Memoir/Autobiography
  • Service/Self-help
  • June Roth Award for a Medical Book

Outstanding Article Awards

These awards honor ASJA members whose articles, produced on a freelance basis, have demonstrated excellence in writing, research and clarity of presentation.


  • Blog Post, Personal - This is intended for posts, or a collection of no more than three related posts on the same topic, published on personal blogs. [Articles appearing on third-party blogs should be entered in Opinion/Op-Ed or Reported Essays.]
  • Business, including marketing - This category is for any business-related article.
  • Excellence in Reporting - The category was formerly called "Reporting on a Significant Topic." Consideration will be given to the relevance and universality of the topic, as well as overall excellence.
  • First-Person Essays - The category includes personal essays that are entirely based on personal experiences, reflections or observations. [See Reported Essays.]
  • Health - Any piece on a health topic is eligible, no matter where published.
  • How-To - Formerly "Service" articles. These may include advice, self-help, or how to do something.
  • Lifestyle - includes articles on matters of culture, style, leisure and home pursuits (including decorating and companion animals), art and music criticism and reviews.
  • Profiles - The category includes all profiles, no matter where published. Formerly, members entered profiles appearing in trade journals in the "Trade" category.
  • Reported Essays - This category is for personal essays that incorporate research supporting the topic.
  • Science - Articles on any science subject may be entered.
  • Technology - Articles on any tech subject may be entered.
  • Trade - This category includes pieces that appeared in a specialized industry or professional publication intended for members or those who work in a specific field.
  • Travel - Any narrative travel article is eligible.
  • 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