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High Plains Book Awards

A few of the finalists for the 2019 High Plains Book Awards are pictured at This House of Books, 224 N. Broadway. A record 228 books were nominated for awards this year, first read and evaluated by community readers and narrowed to 38 finalists. Winners in 12 categories are determined by a judging panel of writers with connections to the High Plains region, announced in an awards banquet on Oct. 12 at the Yellowstone Art Museum.

Finalists for the 2019 High Plains Book Awards — recognizing regional literary works from seven states and three Canadian provinces — will participate in readings and discussion panels from Oct. 10-12 in downtown Billings. 

A record 228 books were nominated for awards this year, first read and evaluated by community readers and narrowed to 38 finalists. Winners in 12 categories are determined by a judging panel of writers with connections to the High Plains region, announced in an awards banquet on Oct. 12 at the Yellowstone Art Museum.

Among the finalists, 11 writers are from Montana, including Billings authors Donna Cochran and Danell Jones, and Rodney Gottula, of Shepherd.

The High Plains BookFest began in 2002 under the direction of the Writer’s Voice, and the awards were established in 2006 to recognize regional authors and/or literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains, a region that includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Events are free or donation-based, with the exception of the awards banquet. 

Thursday, Oct. 10

A Reading of Their Own, 7 p.m., MoAV Coffee, 2501 Montana. Featuring nonfiction stories from writers that challenge the audience to connect to their experiences. Short memoirs and essays read by participants, including High Plain Book Award finalists, hosted by Billings Area Literary Arts

Readers include:

  • Shelley Smith Jones, author of “Petting Tigers: My Life as a Witness of Jehovah” and finalist in Creative Nonfiction;
  • Danell Jones, author of historical nonfiction book “An African In Imperial London: The Indomitable Life of A. B. C. Merriman-Labor,” which is up for the nonfiction award;
  • Henrietta Goodman, finalist in the poetry category for the collection, “All That Held Us”;
  • Tanajsia Slaughter, actor, model, bead worker, writer, singer, and Miss Montana for America 2019;
  • Sue Olp, former reporter and staff writer for the Billings Gazette and fellowship recipient from the Association of Health Care Journalists;
  • Charlene Sleeper, a multimedia artist and Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s advocate;
  • Kat Hammond, marketing specialist and coach at Townsquare Media;
  • Lisa Kopanski Harmon, minister at Billings First Church focused on healing and community transformation.

Friday, Oct. 11

Reading, Science and Nature, noon at Western Heritage Center: Featuring author Leslie Patten discussing her book, “Ghostwalker: Tracking a Mountain Lion's Soul through Science and Story.”

Reading and discussion, Indigenous Writers, 2 p.m. at Western Heritage Center: Featuring Dallas Hunt, author of “AwÃsis and the World-Famous Bannock”; Susan Devan Harness, author of “Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption”; Valerie Guillemin, author of “An Honest, Genial and Kindly People”; and Chris La Tray, author of “One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World At Large.”

Adopting A Child Of A Different Race? Let's Talk, 7:30 p.m. at Billings Public Library: Susan Devan Harness, author of “Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption,” will host the keynote address and a community discussion. 

Saturday, Oct. 12

Reading: Creative Nonfiction, 10 a.m. at Billings Public Library Community Room: Featuring Shelley Smith Jones, author of “Petting Tigers: My Life as a Witness of Jehovah” and Christine Wortman-Engren, author of “West to Montana.”

Reading for Children, 10:30 a.m. at Billings Public Story Tower: Featuring “Double! Not Half,” by Rodney Gottula; “My Buddy, Dido” by Marion Mutala; and “Prison Paws: Max's Story” by Donna Cochran. 

Reading for Young Adults, 11 a.m. at Billings Public Library, second floor computer classroom: Featuring “Wolfe in Shepherd's Clothing: A Shepherd and Wolfe Mystery” by Counios and Gane.

Reading: Short Stories, 11 a.m. at Yellowstone Art Museum: Featuring Thomas McGuane, author of “Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories”; Maxim Loskutoff, author of “Come West and See: Stories”; and James Trettwer, author of “Thorn-Field.”

Reading and Conversation, noon at This House of Books: Danell Jones, author of “An African In Imperial London: The Indomitable Life of A. B. C. Merriman-Labor,” will host a conversation with Merriman-Labor’s great-nephew, Melbourne Garber. 

Reading: Nonfiction Writers, 1 p.m. at Billings Public Library Community Room: Featuring Francie M. Berg, author of “Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains: The Last Great Hunts and Saving the Buffalo” and Matthew J. Kauffman, author of “Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming's Ungulates.”  

Reading: Fiction Writers, 1:30 p.m. at Yellowstone Art Museum: Keith McCafferty, author of “A Death in Eden”; Elisabeth Hyde, author of “Go Ask Fannie”; and Ellen Notbohm, author of “The River by Starlight.” 

Reading: Woman Writers, 3 p.m. at Billings Public Library Community Room: Featuring Susan Devan Harness, author of “Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption” and Ruth Chorney, author of “Buried.”

Art and Photography Presentation, 3 p.m. at Yellowstone Art Museum: Featuring “Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West”; “Bert Riggall's Greater Waterton” by Beth Towe; “Plains Indian Buffalo Cultures: Art from the Paul Dyck Collection" by Emma I. Hansen; and “An Honest, Genial and Kindly People” by Valerie Guillemin.

Poetry Reading, 3 p.m. at This House of Books: Featuring Henrietta Goodman, author of “All That Held Us”; Randy Lundy, author of “Blackbird Song”; Joy M. Brown, author of “Heavy”; and Emily Ursuliak reading from “View from True North” by Sara Henning.

The event ends with a dinner an awards banquet Oct. 12 starting at 6 p.m. at Yellowstone Art Museum. For more information, visit highplainsbookawards.org or email info@highplainsbookawards.org

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