This is my Exodus

National Book Award long list nominee

I’ve had a fantastic few weeks!

Thanks to my publisher, Bloomsbury, I had a multi-city book tour that gave me lots of exposure and allowed me to visit kids’ schools in three states. Amazing! Also, there was the little matter of being recognized along with nine other nationally recognized authors. 

The National Book Award Long List for children’s literature was released. It comprises 10 books:

Kelly BarnhillThe Ogress and the Orphans
Algonquin Young Readers / Workman Publishing

Isaac Blum, The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
Philomel Books / Penguin Random House

Traci Chee, A Thousand Steps into Night
Clarion Books / HarperCollins Publishers

Johnnie Christmas, Swim Team
HarperAlley / HarperCollins Publishers

Anna-Marie McLemoreSelf-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix
Feiwel & Friends / Macmillan Publishers

Sonora ReyesThe Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Publishers

Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud AnyabwileVictory. Stand!: Raising My Fist For Justice
Norton Young Readers / W. W. Norton & Company

Sabaa Tahir, All My Rage
Razorbill / Penguin Random House

Sherri WinstonLotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution
Bloomsbury Children’s Books / Bloomsbury Publishing

Lisa Yee, Maizy Chen’s Last Chance
Random House Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

I cannot believe my little book, Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution, made the list. It’s unbelievable. I want to thank the National Book Award judges for seeing something good and worthwhile in my work. And I want to congratulate my fellow nominees. The short list will be announced Oct. 4, culminating in an awards dinner and top selection in November.

It’s been a tumultuous 10 months for me. The death of my daughter in November really rocked our family and was a boulder on my soul. Add financial setbacks, chronic health concerns and a week-long hospital stay right before my wonderous book tour, it’s been rocky.

But you know what? The struggles make pausing to smile in the light all the sweeter. Through it all, many times I’ve wanted to quit. Hide. Recede into the background. Instead, I’ve held onto my faith and my belief that life is for the living. Just keep going. 

Gospel singer LeAndria Johnson and the Donald Lawrence Choir’s performance of “Deliver Me” is like a soothing testimony for my soul. Thank you, LeAndria and the Donald Lawrence Choir, for your amazing gifts and for being with me when I needed uplifting.

I don’t expect to make it to the finals, but then again, I never ever saw myself on the long list this year. As Leandra sings, “This is my Exodus!” And you can’t have an Exodus without movement. So, no matter what, I’ll keep on moving, dreaming, writing, loving, living.

Thank you, NBA, for giving me this wonderful moment in the sun. Authors, it is my honor to join you all on the long list.

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