I love, love, love the Whitney Awards Program. I love the idea, I love how it inspires authors to up their game and to really dig deep as they hone their craft, and I love how it's increasing the awareness of the quality of LDS fiction. There were so many good titles this year, it was hard to pick my favorites. I really had a hard time in a few categories when it came to casting my ballot.
As I mentioned in my last post, my handsome honey was with me at the ceremony. It was so nice to sit and have a nice dinner with him ... but it was anything but leisurely. I was one of the live bloggers for the event, and we had a few technical difficulties getting me online. I made it at last, though, and happily blogged throughout the entire event. You can read the transcript here.
There were many touching moments throughout the evening. Rob Wells, president of the Whitneys, read portions of a quote by Orson F. Whitney, for whom the award was named. I can't even summarize this quote in a way that would give it justice, and so I link to it, here, and encourage you to read it, beginning to end. What a powerful way to start off the evening.
As the winners were announced, I couldn't help but notice the wide variety of writing styles represented and the diversity of the finalists. We have truly expanded the scope of LDS literature.
Toward the end of the evening, the members of the Whitney Academy came on stage and were honored, and then the Executive Committee of LDStorymakers came on to the stage. We had a sad task to fulfill as BJ Rowley announced that Rob Wells was stepping down from his role as president. Rob has been an incredible instigator and figurehead for these awards, and this was a sad blow. But, as BJ announced, the program is left in good hands with the placement of Kerry Blair as the new president.
It definitely was an evening of emotions. And I can't wait for next year.
As a final thought: I am often asked two questions about the Whitneys. 1. Why isn't there a category for nonfiction? 2. Why isn't there a category for children's picture books?
These two genres are definitely valuable and the Whitneys are not slighting them. But when you look at the goals of the Whitney Awards, which include raising the bar for LDS fiction and making the public more aware that this bar has been raised, you can see where these two categories don't really fit. LDS nonfiction has always sold well, it's universally agreed to be high quality, people don't go to blogs and rant about how much they hate it, and honestly. Can you see it? Two doctrinal nonfiction books go head to head. Would you vote for the Jeffrey R. Holland or the Boyd K. Packer? There's really not a way to do it. And at this point and time, the picture book market is still fairly small, in addition to the reasons mentioned above.