Last year we had a great turnout, and we hope this year is even better. (To learn about last year’s winner and finalists, click here.) It’s wonderful to see so many fine writers tackling the issues of the environment and animal protection through great stories, novels, memoirs, and essays.
This year, we’re delighted to have Ann Pancake as our final judge. (If you haven’t read her amazing novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, about mountaintop removal mining, get yourself a copy right now; this gorgeous, important novel is among the best of contemporary environmental literature.)
The 2015 prize winner will receive $1,000, a four-week residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.
Also, please note that we will be closing for regular submissions as of March 15 in order to focus on prize submissions — so if you’d like to submit a non-prize entry, feel free to do so before the Ides of March. (Regular submissions will open again after the prize closes.)
With traditional media cutting book editors and reviewers, “book bloggers” are becoming a popular and often very successful way for books to get noticed. While not all book bloggers are professional critics, they are all passionate readers, and if they have a good following on their blog (as well as social media), a good review could lead to great word of mouth for your book.
Because not all book bloggers read every type of book, be sure to look at their review policies before contacting them. And there are dozens and dozens of other book review bloggers out there, so while this list offers a start, it is far from comprehensive.
Also note that while most publishers reserve the majority of ARCs for major media, they do occasionally send out ARCs to book bloggers – so check with your publisher before contacting book bloggers to ensure that there’s no overlap.
A few tips for contacting book bloggers:
Always check out their reviews to make sure your book is a good fit
Make sure the blogger has an audience—look for a large number of followers (in the hundreds, at least); look for comments that show that the blog has an active community of readers; check its Facebook page and Twitter feed to make sure it has a good number of followers
If the blogger does giveaways, this is a good way to get more potential readers interested; you may be able to ask the blogger to donate his/her review copy, or you may need to send two books (consider giving away e-books as well)
If the blog features author articles or interviews, offer to do a guest post or a Q&A; this will give you excellent additional exposure
Always remember to offer a bio, an author photo, and a book cover image
Try to coordinate posts/reviews with events you’ll be doing, for additional exposure
Go beyond book-review blogs to blogs on topics that relate to your book (for example, if your book involves travel, find a travel blog and pitch a guest post; the blogger may also be happy to review the book if it’s a place he/she has visited)
When the review/article/interview appears, share it far and wide, in emails to friends and family as well as social media—word of mouth is the single best way to find new readers!
I’m struck by the number of books that equate fishing (particularly fly fishing) with “being one with the environment.”
Personally, I find this idea to be a total crock.
Yes, I’ve fished. And fishing was a great excuse to get out into nature.
But I vividly remember as a child when I caught a rock bass and was then expected to cut it up for dinner. I wanted to put that fish back in the water. But that wasn’t how it worked.
You fish. You catch the fish. You eat the fish.
And because I so hated killing that rock bass, that became the last time I did fish.
I understand the whole “man vs. fish” dynamic. It is exciting on some level.
But it’s not exactly a fair fight. And it’s not environmental.
If you needed fish to survive, then it makes sense.
But if you use fishing as your excuse to leave home to go out into the great outdoors, perhaps you should pack some food instead. Go for a hike. Go birdwatching. Or just stand at the shore and identify the fish that swim past.
Why do human activities so often get benchmarked against what we take from nature?
Is nature a theme park? Or is nature something else? Something better?
If you’re a writer and you want to write about fishing, perhaps you can consider some of these issues? As a press, we want to see writing that pushes the envelope on what environmental should be and can be. That’s a major reason why we founded The Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature.
We are delighted to announce that New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler has chosen Mary Heather Noble’s memoir PLUMES: ON CONTAMINATION OF HOME AND HABITAT as the winner of the 2014 Siskiyou Prize.
Of PLUMES, judge Karen Joy Fowler writes: “I was impressed from the first page with both the beautiful writing and careful intelligence of PLUMES. This book takes on one of our most troubling issues, the increasing toxicity of our polluted world, to create a narrative that is both personal and universal. PLUMES neither minimizes the complexities of these issues nor overstates its conclusions, but leaves the reader with much to think about. An exceptional book.”
About the winner: Mary Heather Noble is an environmental scientist and writer whose work is inspired by environmental health issues, the natural world, family, and place. Her essays have been honored with first prize in Creative Nonfiction’s The Human Face of Sustainability Contest, and second prize in the 2012 Literal Latté Essay Awards. Her writing has also appeared or is forthcoming in About Place Journal, Fourth Genre, High Desert Journal, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Minerva Rising, Pithead Chapel, and Utne Reader.
Noble is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program with the University of Southern Maine. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from The Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in environmental science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She spent six years working in the technical environmental sector before leaving the field to pursue creative writing. Noble currently lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters.
We hope you join us in celebrating the environmentally themed work of these fine writers!
We’d also like to extend a very special thanks to all of the writers who entered the contest … your support makes this prize possible.
Please stay tuned for updates on next year’s Siskiyou Prize, which is open to unpublished, full-length prose manuscripts, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. The winner will receive a cash award of $1,000, a residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication by Ashland Creek Press. For more information, visit the Siskiyou Prize website.
For those readers not familiar (yet) with EcoLit Books, check it out here. It’s a great resource, thanks to our wonderful contributors, for both readers and writers: Subscribe to get book reviews, calls for submissions, and other news in the world of environmental literature.
I believe that we—readers and writers alike—must redefine environmental writing to give it a wider scope in focus and in form, and a more pressing mandate. In other words, we need environmental writing that is less concerned with how one describes the landscape than with how one protects that landscape.
This essay takes a look at environmental writing past and present and how it needs to keep evolving…and we hope to be a part of this journey.