Altamont Augie takes Silver Medal in ForeWord Reviews 2011 Book of the Year Awards

June 23, 2012 | Categories: Altamont Augie, Literary Awards | Tags: , , , , , ,
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Quite a day.

I am honored to say that I was in attendance on the floor of the American Library Association’s annual meeting in Anaheim today when my novel Altamont Augie was named a Silver Medal winner in the category of Historical Fiction at the ForeWord Reviews 2011 Book of the Year Awards. Here’s a condensed version of the press release ForeWord put out following the awards:

“At a ceremony today at ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, California, ForeWord named…Book of the Year Award winners in 54 categories. These books, representing the best independently published works from 2011, were selected by a panel of librarian and bookseller judges…who are experts in the subject matter of the books they judged, and who make purchasing decisions daily for their collections or bookstores. ForeWord’s founder and publisher, Victoria Sutherland, spoke at the awards ceremony and announced the winners. ‘After fifteen years of recognizing great books with this award process, I still have an enormous sense of admiration for the title assortment and I’m so thankful for the help of our readership, booksellers, and librarians who help sort out the top choices based on their experiences.'”

From the ForeWord website: “ForeWord Reviews, a journal dedicated to reviewing independently published books, was established in 1998 and serves as the flagship periodical of booksellers, librarians, agents, and publishing professionals who want to access the best titles from small presses.”

Here’s a link to the complete list of BOTYA 2011 winners, and another link to the BOTYA 2011 winners in Historical Fiction. There were eleven Historical Fiction finalists. ForeWord reviews about 2,000 titles a year in its bimonthly magazine. Here’s a link to ForeWord’s complete review of Altamont Augie.

Thank you to everyone at ForeWord Reviews for taking the time to so graciously host these awards, and for considering my book in your competition.

Altamont Augie wins Silver Medal in 2012 IPPY Regional Book Awards

May 3, 2012 | Categories: Literary Awards | Tags: , , , ,
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Results of the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), both National and Regional categories, were announced today and I am pleased to post that my novel Altamont Augie was awarded a Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction in the West/Pacific region. Over 2,000 authors and publishers competed in this year’s contest.

The Regional Awards consider books with a regional focus and spotlight the best regional titles from North America, Australia, and New Zealand. My book qualified in the Pacific region (including books from or about Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego) on account of its setting in and around San Francisco and because the book was written by a California author.

I am deeply appreciative of this distinction and would like to thank the IPPY Awards for recognizing my story.

Altamont Augie wins 2011 eLit Book Awards Gold Medal for Literary Fiction

April 27, 2012 | Categories: Altamont Augie, Literary Awards | Tags: , , ,
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I am pleased to announce that the e-book edition of my debut novel Altamont Augie has been named the Gold Medal winner of the 2011 eLit Book Awards for Literary Fiction. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals were awarded in each of some fifty odd categories. The eLit Awards are dedicated to honoring the best independently published e-books of the year. The competition was open to all English language electronic titles (e-books) published in 2010 or 2011, from large, multi-title publishers to micro press houses with a single title. Judging was based on content, originality, design, and production quality. This year’s judging panel included industry professionals from the fields of editing, design, reviewing, book selling, library science, and publishing. Winners will be featured in a future issue of Independent Publisher  and in their monthly newsletter, which has more than 20,000 subscribers worldwide. The awards are intended to showcase the growing importance of digital books.

I would like to thank eLit Book Awards for recognizing Altamont Augie for this humbling distinction.

Author Signing Event: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

April 10, 2012 | Categories: 26th Marine Regiment, Medical Education | Tags: , ,
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I will be at the 2012 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books from 1-3 p. m. on Saturday, April 21, signing copies of my novel Altamont Augie. The Festival is being held on the campus of USC this year, a terrific venue for what has become the biggest book festival in the country. Over one hundred thousand expected. I will be in booth #762, just down the row from the Tommy Trojan statue. Stop by and say hello!

Altamont Augie a Finalist in ForeWord Reviews’ 2011 Book of the Year Awards

April 2, 2012 | Categories: Altamont Augie, Literary Awards | Tags: , , , ,
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Today ForeWord Reviews posted its list of finalists for ForeWord’s prestigious 2011 Book of the Year Awards. I am delighted to announce that my novel Altamont Augie was named an award finalist in the category of Historical Fiction. The jury of judges that determined this year’s finalists included editors, professional book reviewers, booksellers, librarians, and other book industry professionals. Winners–including the Editor’s Choice Prize for Best Fiction, a $1500 cash prize for which Augie is now eligible–will be announced on the conference floor of this year’s American Library Association meeting in Anaheim, CA, Saturday, June 23 at 10:00 a. m.

Here’s a link to ForeWord’s web site announcing this year’s finalists and another describing the awards.

I would like to thank the editors and reviewers of Forward Reviews for this humbling distinction.

Altamont Augie named to list of Top Books of 2011

November 12, 2011 | Categories: Uncategorized | Comments: 1 Comment

I am delighted to announce that my novel Altamont Augie has been selected as one of Conversations Book Club’s Top 150 Books of 2011.

Each year at this time, the cutting edge literary group Conversations Book Club, founded by Cyrus Webb, publishes its highly anticipated Top Books list in Conversations Magazine, a monthly publication devoted to books, entertainment, fashion, food and health. Mr. Webb, whose radio interview of me on his fine show Conversations Live! can be accessed elsewhere on my web site, believes any book worth reading should provoke a “conversation” about the subject matter of the book. Altamont Augie was written for precisely that: to contribute to the national dialogue about the meaning of the 1960s.

Conversations’ Top 150 Books of 2011 will be featured in the Dec./Jan. issue of Conversations Magazine on November 28, 2011. Mr. Webb personally reads each title on the list and interviews its author on his popular radio show.

Thank you again to Cyrus Webb for his thoughtful take on my story, and for including it as one of Conversations’ Top 150 Books of 2011!

Author Event

October 30, 2011 | Categories: Altamont Augie | Tags: ,
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I will be at the Carlsbad Street Fair in Carlsbad, California on November 6 from 1:30-4:00 pm signing copies of my novel Altamont Augie. Stop by my booth and see me at what is always a very entertaining event.

See you there!

Altamont Augie added to permanent collections of over 80 public libraries

October 22, 2011 | Categories: Altamont Augie | Tags: , , ,
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This week the Philadelphia and Vancouver, Canada public libraries added my novel Altamont Augie to their permanent collections. This brings the number of public library systems that have purchased Altamont Augie to over 80 and counting, including the public libraries of Seattle, San Francisco, Marin County, Sacramento, Palos Verdes, Los Angeles, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Buffalo, Atlanta, Omaha, Jacksonville, Orlando, Louisville, and many more.

Click the link to view some, but not all, of the libraries so far that have added the book to their collections.

Libraries purchase books almost exclusively on the merits of trade reviews. The official book review journal of the American Library Association is called Booklist. Booklist receives about 5000 submissions for reviews each month, most from large New York publishing houses. Of these, they choose to review about 10%, or 500 or so books a month. However, a review by Booklist is considered a buy recommendation to public libraries. We had the good fortune last May of having Altamont Augie selected by Booklist for a review. Library orders for the book have been accumulating ever since.

Click the link to view the Booklist review of Altamont Augie.

It is extremely gratifying and humbling to know that my exploration of the 1960s has been preserved for posterity and will take its small place in the national dialogue about this colorful, turbulent era and its meaning to our country. Thank you to all the acquisition librarians who have made the choice to add Altamont Augie to their libraries!


Writing the Opening Sentence of a Novel

September 28, 2011 | Categories: On Writing Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Check out my guest post about writing on this literary blog:


Organ Harvesting After Euthanasia: I’m not making this up!

September 5, 2011 | Categories: Bioethics | Tags: , , ,
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I have previously written in this space about the remarkable case of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine who in 1995 suffered what is known as “locked-in syndrome”—a stroke resulting in quadriplegia and speechlessness, but with preservation of consciousness and intellect.

Bauby chose to deal with this incredibly cruel medical circumstance by writing a book—The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—that he “dictated” by blinking out a code with his left eyelid to a bedside scribe.

I recently came across an article about another patient with locked-in syndrome who chose to deal with her circumstance in quite a different, though no less admirable, way.

The case occurred in Belgium, which along with the Netherlands and Luxembourg are the only three countries in the world to date to legalize euthanasia. The United States has three states—Oregon, Washington, and Montana—that allow physician-assisted death (the prescription to a patient of Nembutal, modern-day Hemlock that the patient then self-administers), but not physician-conducted, active euthanasia. Here’s an excerpt from the journal reporting the case, Transplant International.

A 44-year-old woman was suffering from locked-in syndrome after brain stem vascular accident [4]. She was fully conscious and communicated only with eyelid movement. She spontaneously breathed through a tracheostomy and was fed through a gastrostomy. After 4 years of this assisted life, she asked for physician-assisted suicide according to the Belgian law. She was examined by a psychiatrist and a neuropsychologist who excluded depression and confirmed preserved cognitive function, and by an independent palliative care physician who confirmed dismal medical prognosis and the patient’s willingness to die. Euthanasia was granted and scheduled for a month later, as required by the Belgian law.

The day before the euthanasia, the patient expressed her will of after-death organ donation. The ethical and legal possibility of combination of the two separate processes, physician-assisted suicide and after-death organ donation was then considered and agreed by the institutional ethical committee president.

The intravenous euthanasia procedure was performed according to the regular protocol, in the presence of the patient’s husband, in a room adjacent to the operative room. The patient was in her regular hospital bed. No member of the transplant team was present during the euthanasia. When the patient’s death was declared by three independent physicians after 10 min of absence of cardiac activity, her cadaver was placed on the operative table. The liver and both kidneys were harvested and transplanted according to the regular Eurotransplant organ allocation rules for after-death organ donation [3].

Currently, more than 1 year later, all three recipients are enjoying a normal graft function.

This case of two separate requests, first euthanasia and second, organ donation after death, demonstrates that organ harvesting after euthanasia may be considered and accepted from ethical, legal and practical viewpoints in countries where euthanasia is legally accepted. This possibility may increase the number of transplantable organs and may also provide some comfort to the donor and his (her) family, considering that the termination of the patient’s life may somehow help other human beings in need for organ transplantation.”

The issue is this: is the linkage of organ donation to euthanasia unethical because it gives society (in the form of patients on the waiting list for organs and transplant centers wanting to do transplants) a stake in the deaths of those with terminal conditions? Or, for patients who want euthanasia in countries that allow it, is voluntary organ donation following euthanasia a life-ending but life-affirming altruistic act that allows another human being to benefit from the Gift of Life? And, if you believe the latter, does it then follow that patients in Oregon, Washington, and Montana who avail themselves of “the Nembutal” should be permitted to voluntarily donate their organs as well?

As committee chairman, I will be posing these fascinating ethical questions at my local hospital’s next Bioethics Committee meeting, but there’s no reason to wait until then for the debate to begin.

What do you think?