Another literary feat of one of our self-published talents calls for a toast here on the Xlibris Blog. Xlibris author Jack Shakely recently won in the fiction category of the 2014 Oklahoma Book Award for his book Che Guevara’s Marijuana & Baseball Savings & Loan.
As indie writers just don’t have the marketing privilege afforded to traditionally published authors, Jack offers a blueprint – join book competitions and prepare to do the “heavy lifting.” A firm resolve to show one’s work and risk shame, but carry on anyhow, sets one self-pubbed author apart from many others who stop once their books are published. He also shares his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, which served as an inspiration for writing his story.
Sharing his victory
On April 12, my novel of the early days of the Peace Corps, “Che Guevara’s Marijuana and Baseball Savings and Loan,” was named the 2014 Oklahoma Book Award winner for fiction.
I am deeply honored by this prestigious award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book on a number of levels. First, as a native Oklahoman and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, I am humbled to share this award with fellow Oklahomans and past winners such as Scott Momaday, Timothy Egan, Joy Harjo and S. C. Gwynne.
Second, of my three novels, all set in Oklahoma, this is by far the most autographical. Laying yourself wide open and being rewarded for it is extremely gratifying.
Finally, and probably of most interest to other Xlibris authors, I took the Peace Corps novel, turned it inside out and got away with it.
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica in 1963-1964. Over the years I read every Peace Corps memoir, autobiography and novel that came down the pike. Most of them made me slightly ill. They were all winning-hearts-and-minds-of-the-natives stuff or Dr. Tom Dooley saving babies in the bush.
Certainly there were acts of compassion and diplomacy among the thousands of Kennedy Kids, as we were known in those days. But we were young, adventurous, maybe a bit arrogant, and ready to take on the world. I wanted my novel to touch on the rowdy, rambunctious bunch of volunteers who learned from their mistakes by making a few, even a few whoppers. The Oklahoma Book Award signals that at least on some levels, I succeeded.
Just a note about book contests: books don’t enter themselves. As self-published authors, you and I must do all the heavy lifting. It’s not easy entering book competitions. There is always a modest entry fee, often long and cumbersome submission forms, the mailing of multiple copies of your book, and the long wait that can take months. But because there are so few book stores anymore, about the only way most authors can generate recognition is through doing well in contests. My first novel, “The Confederate War Bonnet,” won the gold medal in the 2008 Independent Publishers Awards (the IPPYS), and sales of my book increased five-fold. Besides, that letter telling you that your book is a contest finalist is one of the flagship moments in a writer’s life.
I am deeply honored to be named the winner of the 2014 Oklahoma Book Award for fiction.
Jack earned another recognition at the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His book was awarded bronze in the Mid-west – Best Regional Fiction category.
Congratulations, author Jack Shakely! Here’s to more books and literary awards in the future!