Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Recap of the 2014 YALSA Morris Award Celebrations!

Me, signing books with Carrie Mesrobian.
I'm back from the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, where I received the chance to celebrate being a 2014 YALSA Morris Award finalist, along with Carrie Mesrobian, Evan Roskos, Elizabeth Ross and 2014 Morris Award winner Stephanie Kuehn. Although my job is all about putting words and sentences together, I'm at a loss for how to sufficiently sum up the intensity of this experience.

On Sunday night I had dinner with all the Morris Award finalists, as well as the 2014 Morris Award committee (which included Booklist senior editor and YA horror author Daniel Kraus). We all chatted about books, favorite TV series, Frozen, spirit ectoplasm, and various other entertaining topics, but I still felt like I was in a surreal, can't-quite-completely-process-what's-happening state of mind.

Early Monday morning, my editor, Maggie Lehrman, my publicist, Laura Mihalick, and I headed over to the ALA Youth Media Awards at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the anticipation was palpable. I've watched webcasts of past Youth Media Awards and knew the announcements entailed loud whoops and gasps of joy from the audience, but actually sitting in the middle of the event blew my mind.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds on the screen.
Eventually, we came to the Morris Award part of the ceremony, and all of the finalists' covers were flashing up on a screen in the front of the room. Titles, author names, and publishers were announced in alphabetical order, according to the authors' last names. My cover came up last, and I remember holding up my phone to take a picture of it, but I don't remember the actual announcement of my title and name, even though I know it happened. It felt sort of like passing out without actually passing out. Stephanie Kuehn's Charm & Strange was announced as the winner, which I loved, because I had just finished reading her book on the long ride across the country. It's a powerful shocker of a novel.

After all of the awards, including the Newbery and Caldecotts, were announced, Maggie whisked me off to the Abrams booth, where I signed copies of In the Shadow of Blackbirds for an hour and hungrily collected advance reading copies of my fellow Amulet Books authors' novels. One book I grabbed was Sarah Skilton's upcoming YA noir, High and Dry, which I read and loved during the plane ride home. 

Maggie and I then headed to YALSA's Morris & Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation, where every winner and finalist gave a short speech. I believe transcripts of all of our speeches will eventually be available at http://www.ala.org/yalsa. Here are some photos from the presentation:

Me, being introduced before my speech.

At the podium! Fellow finalist Evan Roskos is on the far right.

The next and last stop was signing books for the attendees of the presentation. I walked over to my table, and I saw a sight that finally made everything seem right-there-in-the-moment real: the Morris Award finalist seal was attached to every copy of my book.

My eyes welled with tears. I didn't actually lose my composure and ugly cry in front of everyone, but I was most certainly moved. Seeing the jpeg of my cover with the sticker back in December was astounding enough, but to have the actual three-dimensional book in front of me and be able to run my hands over the words on the seal, that's a moment I'll never forget.

YALSA also presented me with a gorgeous plaque:

Thank you YALSA for creating this award, thank you 2014 Morris Award committee for selecting In the Shadow of Blackbirds as a finalist, and thank you Abrams for sending me to Philadelphia so I could partake in this incredible experience. As you can tell from the smile on my face in the photo above, I'm ecstatic!


Elisabeth Dahl said...

Oh my gosh, you've come so far! It's really exciting.

Cat Winters said...

Thank you, Elisabeth! The experience was so incredibly unbelievable.

Sharon Biggs Waller said...

Congrats, Cat! So well deserved.

Cat Winters said...

Thank you, Sharon!

Claire Caterer said...

Thanks for posting the recap! I don't suppose the speeches were webcast, were they? I'd love to see yours. Congrats, Cat!

Cat Winters said...

Thanks, Clare! I don't think they filmed the speeches, but I believe PDF copies of our remarks will eventually show up on the YALSA website.