25th October 2016 was a big day for book awards. There was the Man Booker award announcement, the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards shortlists were announced and the Carousel Aware Prizes for Irish Indie books award night was held in Dublin. Guess which one I was at?!
Carolann Copland was the brainchild behind Writing CAP, determined to bring recognition to the quality of independently published books and she also thought it would be great if the charity Aware could get some much needed funds from it too. She got Easons and Dubray Books on board to sponsor the event (both have numerous bookshops across Ireland) and they agreed that they would stock the books of all winners. There are five categories: NonFiction, Novel, YA, Junior and Short Story Anthologies. All those entering paid a fee of €50 which went to Aware.
Once I sent in my copy of How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife to enter the NonFiction category, I kind of forgot all about it. Carolann had had a number of operations during the year and I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had postponed the event but she’s a determined and hardworking lady with a wonderful committee. It was during the week of the Ploughing Championships that I heard my book was shortlisted and decided that come hell or high water, I was going to make it to the awards night. I really enjoy meeting up with other authors, many of whom I haven’t met in person but know from social media.
So, off I went to the Big Smoke, popping into Easons on O’Connell Street to see if they had my book on a shelf and yes, there it was in the humour section. I also picked up a copy of Farmers Weekly and was delighted to see that my article got a mention on the masthead of the front cover.
On to the Teacher’s Club, opposite the Rotunda hospital, where hugs and congratulations and greetings were exchanged and we settled down to hear about the first award around 7:30. I had heard that the NonFiction was going to be the last to be announced so I was quite relaxed. I had read some of the other shortlisted books and apart from wondering how on earth Tony Canavan of Books Ireland magazine was going to decide, partly because the books were so diverse and partly because they are so good. I had dreamt the night before that each shortlisted author had to sing on stage and as I am tone-deaf, I came last. The fact that I knew I wasn’t going to have to sing probably helped with the relaxation!
By the way, Books Ireland magazine is a wonderful bi-monthly publication all about yes, you guessed it, books in all their glory, available in print and as an app, and they really support Irish writers so do check it out. They really supported CAP by advertising the competition well and of course, Tony giving his time and expertise in judging a category.
Some winners and judges shared their own stories of depression, reiterating the importance of fundraising for Aware. We heard talks about self publishing and assisted publishing. There was an interval when we got to chat to other authors and then the raffle. I won a copy of All About Home Economics. This was our Home Economics text book in the 1980s and as I probably shredded or burnt my original copy (not appreciating its true worth at all), I was tickled pink to get this copy, republished in 2011, at an age when I can appreciate it – especially now when I’m trying to convince others I’m a perfect farm wife!
The winners of the other categories were Orna Ross of Best Novel, Kevin Doyle of Best Short Story Anthology, Brendan O’Connell of Best YA and Aisli Madden of Best Junior. It was time for NonFiction announced. Tony Canavan, editor of Books Ireland magazine, spoke about all the books in general and yes, he’s read a few books in his time! I was all ready to give my “failed Oscar” smile and yes, while it would have been a huge plus to win, I was genuinely happy to be shortlisted and then my name was read out. So yes, for a split second, I was wondering why did I dress for comfort rather than style. But up I jumped to receive my trophy, absolutely chuffed to bits.
My speech was very short, thanking the committee, thanking Brian for farming so I could become a perfect farm wife and of course, thanking my editor, Sally Vince, for putting the polish on the book. Without her editing, proofreading and formatting, the book wouldn’t have had a hope of winning.
It was a wonderful event and I’m sure it will go from strength to strength. If you have self-published a book and live in Ireland or have Irish connections, do keep an eye out for their call for entries in 2017. A huge thanks again to the CAP committee, all the sponsors and the judges for making it all possible.
And I can now describe myself as an “award winning author” rather than a “farmer who writes a bit”!