Midest Independent Publishers Association – Call For Entries



It’s official: I’ve been selected to judge the 30th Annual Midwest Book Awards!

How did I get myself into this?  I responded to a general call for judges that went out to librarians.  And I was accepted, no questions asked (other than the initial application).  Just shows they’ll take anybody!

Seriously though, I am looking forward to stretching my review skills to include more constructive criticism.  If you follow this blog, you know that I only post reviews of books that I like.  So what I write about is all the really good stuff in a book.  Usually it is things like characters, events, humor or emotion, with few comments on things like writing style, consistency, etc. even though those things often vary from book to book.


Lets get back to the title of this post which includes the words “Call For Entries’.  I am copying the Rules Tab from the Call for Entries page on the MiPA website:

Publishers based in the Midwest are invited to enter the 30th Annual Midwest Book Awards competition for excellence in books published in 2019. The awards recognize creativity in content and execution, overall book quality, and the book’s unique contribution to its subject area.

Who May Enter

  • All entries MUST carry a 2019 copyright and an ISBN. If an entry has a 2020 copyright date, documentation must be provided showing the book was released in 2019. There are no exceptions.
  • All entries must have a copyright page that includes publisher’s name and address, copyright notice, and ISBN.
  • New editions (including the new ISBN) of previously published books are eligible. Reprints do not qualify.
  • Entries must be published by publishers located in the 12-state region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • A single title may be entered in up to three (3) categories. Only print books may be entered. No eBook or app submissions will be accepted.


Deadline for receipt of books and entry fees is December 31, 2019. There are absolutely no exceptions.

Awards & Benefits

  • Three (3) finalists are selected in each category. From those, one (1) winner is chosen. Finalists and award winners receive certificates and tickets to the Midwest Book Awards Gala. Winners will also each receive a bronze medallion.
  • Both finalists and winners may purchase foil seals for use in marketing efforts and will be featured in the Midwest Book Awards Gala Program, in MiPA press releases, and on the MiPA website.
  • Judges’ individual book evaluation sheets will be provided to all entrants after the awards are announced.
  • Award will be presented at the Midwest Book Awards Gala in 2020. More details to come.

Judging Criteria

Each entry will be judged by three independent judges. Finalists are determined by totaling the scores from all three judges. The winning entry is the title with the top score. The judges’ decisions are final. Please note: If the entries in a category do not meet the standards for quality as set by the Midwest Book Awards, no award will be given in that category for that year.

Judges will consider the following:

  • Content and quality of writing and images
  • Overall quality and creativity in book design and production
  • Originality and contribution to the subject area

See Judging tab for more information about judging criteria.

Questions: Contact Verlene Birger by email (bookawards@mipa.org) or call 605-366-9894.

Here is a link to the entry form: https://mipa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Call-for-entries-2019.pdf

Checkout the MiPA website for further information, including a list of categories and previous winners.


So, something new for me.  The judging takes place from January through March.  I am assuming it will take much of my free time, so I have already stopped taking almost all review requests.  There may be one or two exceptions especially in the case of series that I am serious about reading.  I told myself to stay away from NetGalley and other review sites.  When January comes around and I learn how many books I will be judging, I will re-evaluate taking on new book reviews.

If you are a Midwest independent publisher, I invite you to check this out.  This is a chance for independent publishers to show what they’ve got!  If you know someone that should enter, please share this information with them.

Redshirts by John Scalzi – Review


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About Redshirts by John Scalzi

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.
Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:

(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.


Review of Redshirts

I’m just going to start out by saying that if you are not a Star Trek TOS fan, you are probably not going to get Redshirts. Well, maybe you will, but only if you read the entire book! If you a fan of the original series, you will immediately grasp the way of things.

TOS fans will latch onto the plotplot very soon into the book. I just made that compound word up: plotplot. It needed to be coined. Kind of like a plot within a plot, but more like a plot that is made up of a plot. Hmmph. Yeah, that did not make sense to me as I typed it, but it does make sense to me in terms of the story of Redshirts. All I can say is, read it. And feel free to use my new word.

Redshirts have a rep. I know it. You know it. Unless you are a chief, if you wear a red shirt, your life is on the line every time you step onto that transporter pad. Ensign Dahl is a redshirt. Or as they are called in the book – ensign.

Dahl quickly learns that other crew members are somewhat aware of their very precarious place on the Intrepid and have devised a system to make life just a little bit safer. This inspires the intrepid ensign to take his scientific curiosity and apply it to his life on (and off) the Intrepid.

As a nearly life-long fan of Star Trek, I loved the references to the characters, ships, missions and monsters of TOS. Finding and anticipating the parallels became a game, to see if I was right about who was who and what was what.

The ending postludes were amusing, but I actually think I could have done without them. Rather than add to the story, they actually told different stories – which were marginally interesting.

Star Trek TOS is both revered and ridiculed by fans all over. Redshirts is like a TOS fan, reverent of the show, but also poking much fun at the series. Mostly, poking fun. Can fans who only love and adore TOS appreciate this book? Doubtful. If you read Redshirts, bring your ability to laugh at this sacred icon of science fiction television.

My review copy came from the local public library.  I had to give it back after two weeks.  This review is my honest opinion.



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Alien Redeemed (Zyrgin Warriors, #7) by Marie Dry – Review


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About Alien Redeemed by Marie Dry

On a harsh alien planet, in a faraway galaxy, Sarah, a gentle human woman, is determined to start a new life, far away from the hardship she endured on Earth and the pitying glances of her friends.

Once on Zyrgin, Sarah finds that, instead of being the empress and helpmeet at the side of the Zyrgin leader, she is merely his breeder. She is trapped in a gilded cage, not allowed to go out and interact with the other women on the planet, until she’s proven her loyalty to the empire by birthing Zaar’s child. After her traumatic experiences in the raider camps, and the resultant PTSD, Sarah doubts she could ever make love to her Zyrgin warrior.

Zaar assures her he has a superior plan to cure her of her problem. But is he able to reach through all the barriers Sarah has erected against true intimacy?


Review of Alien Redeemed

Sarah has gone through some terrible things in her past and, although Zaar is of the opinion that the people who wronged her deserve the worst, he is at a loss as to how to “fix” her.  Zaar thinks he is able to fix everything.  He is THE Zyrgin after all. Hmmph! 🙂

Sarah and Zaar have so much to learn about each other.  My favorite part about the Zyrgin Warriors series is where the Zyrgin warrior and the human woman must overcome vast cultural differences.  Sometimes it is frustrating, sometimes it is funny.  It is always entertaining.

Zaar says things like “walk a step behind me, you are my breeder, I am the ruler of all the know galaxies and soon to be ruler of the unknown galaxies.”

Sarah responds with, “no, call me parena (empress)”, and an eye roll.

It takes a bit to get them speaking the same language.

And then something terrible (danger) comes between Zaar and Sarah.  Of course, there must be some peril to overcome – and a way for Zaar to prove that he is the ruler of all the know galaxies and soon to be ruler of the unknown galaxies.  I love his arrogance, whether it is deserved or he is merely exaggerating his skills.

Between the escape from peril and the end of the book, Sarah was overly sentimental.  Yes, it was probably in character for her, but it made the ending drag a bit.

The Zyrgin Warriors series is such a fun series.  I recommend it for anyone that enjoys Scifi Romance with heart and humor.  Alien Redeemed is great addition to that series!

Thanks to the author who provided a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.



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