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In conjunction with BookFest, the Billings Public Library hosts the High Plains Book Awards to recognize regional literary works.

Nominations for the 2019 High Plains Book Awards open Jan. 11 and will be accepted through March 8. Books must have been published for the first time in 2018 to be eligible for an award.

The 2019 awards include 12 categories: art and photography, children’s book, creative nonfiction, fiction, first book, indigenous writer medicine/science, nonfiction, poetry, short stories, woman writer, young adult.

New this year, the Big Sky Montana book that will be selected from category nominations.

Books considered for the award must either reflect life on the High Plains or be written by an author who lives in the region.

Winners of the 12th annual High Plains Book Awards in 12 categories were chosen from 207 submissions. Each author selected for an award received $500 and a plaque.

At an awards banquet in October 2018, Ellen Horowitz, who won in the Children's Book category for "What I Saw in Glacier" said just being named one of the three finalists was the greatest honor should could have imagined.

"Tonight, for me, winning this is beyond my wildest expectations," Horowitz said to the roomful of people.

Other winners included: 

Art & Photography: Rick Newby, "Theodore Waddell: My Montana." 

Creative non-fiction: Doug Ammons, "A Darkness Lit by Heroes: The Granite Mountain-Speculator Mine Disaster of 1917."

Fiction: Sebastian Barry, "Days Without End." 

First Book: Becky L. Mandelbaum, "Bad Kansas." 

Indigenous: David A. Robertson, "Strangers," Book 1, The Reckoner trilogy. 

Medicine and Science: Chris Turner, "The Patch: The People, Pipelines, and Politics of the Oil Sands." 

Nonfiction: John Clayton, "Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon." 

Poetry: Emily Ursuliak, "Throwing the Diamond Hitch,"

Short Stories: Aaron Parrett, "Maple & Lead." 

Women Writers: Marlis Wesseler, "The Last Chance Ladies’ Book Club." 

Young Adult: Matthew P. Mayo, "Stranded: A Story of Frontier Survival." 

The Billings Public Library board established the High Plains Book Awards in 2006 to recognize regional authors and/or literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains. The region includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

All nominated books are read and evaluated by community readers. Finalist books in each category will be announced in June 2019. Winners in each category will be determined by a panel of published writers with connections to the High Plains region. 

Winners will receive a $500 cash prize and will be announced at the awards banquet that is held in conjunction with the High Plains Book Fest, which takes place Oct. 18-19.

Information and nomination forms, as well as a list of 2018 winners, may be found online at www.highplainsbookawards.org. For more information about the High Plains Book Awards, contact Shari Nault, president, at 406-672-6223 or via email at shari2redlodge@gmail.com.

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Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Arts & Entertainment Reporter at The Billings Gazette.