Pen/Hemingway Recognition

Pen/Hemingway Recognition

Every writer has a dream award, the one that she knows would change life forever. Pen/Hemingway, an award for first fiction book, has always been one of those for me. It’s the kind of award that you can get only when you are starting out. Only first-time fiction writers are eligible. It’s a fairy tale award. A Cinderella story award. A happy ending for a first book, and a beginning for just one lucky writer a year–plus a powerful nod to finalists and honorable mentions.

Founded by Mary Hemingway in 1976 to honor her husband Ernest, and to recognize “distinguished first books of fiction,” the award is administered by the wonderful PEN organization for writers.

Some of my favorite writers have won this award, here are just a few:

1981 – Joan Silber for Household Words

1985 – Josephine Humphreys for Dreams of Sleep

1993 – Edward P. Jones for Lost in the City

The recognition that comes from this award starts careers, lets the world know you are writing something worth reading. Plus, how cool is it to have your name in the same paragraph with Hemingway’s?

Yesterday afternoon I got the confirmation that Accidental Birds of the Carolinas was selected for Honorable Mention for the Pen/Hemingway award.

I am still so excited that I’m not quite breathing right. Today I celebrate by calling friends, doing a little yoga, and taking the dog for a very long walk, a glass of wine with a friend. Tomorrow, it’s back to writing the next thing. But ahh, the sweetness will linger through my days. Thank you, Mr. Hemingway, and your lovely wife Mary.

To read about this year’s winner, finalists, and honorable mentions, see


Accidental Birds garners SIBA Nomination!

Accidental Birds garners SIBA Nomination!

This has been an amazing year for me, and one of the reasons is independent bookstores. Their support for my fiction debut — Accidental Birds of the Carolinas — has been nothing short of heartwarming!

Bookstores in the Southeast have made it a staff pick, written nifty little reviews on small paper tags, and placed it in the hands of my amazing readers, whose fan letters read like love letters. Here are just a few:

Now that things have calmed down here, I’ve had a chance to begin reading your stories. I was mightily impressed by “Accidental Birds” and “The Clearing,” but last night I read “Rapture” and was completely blown away. This is a remarkable collection. With collections like these, Press 53 will soon have the prestige of Knopf or Algonquin, and you’ll be the one who made it happen. –Ellyn Bache, author

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! Hudson has absolutely captured the Carolina I first encountered and fell in love with back in the day. I wish I had the writer’s vocabulary to describe my feelings about the stories, but for now I will just say that they are resonating with me in a marvelous way. I know when I finish I will be wanting more!—Jennifer Gillis, librarian

Today I took myself to lunch with Enoe-Will from the Haw Tribe to reread his story, New World Testament. Another day this week, in a long and lonely hour out in the world, I read a different episode in Accidental Birds. Little does Marjorie Hudson know, her characters are my companions and their stories my songs, woven in and out of my life. I salute her and her friend W Whitman, ‘up from the mystic play of shadow’. — Sharon Blessum

There’s been wonderful media attention—TV and public radio interviews, magazine features and journal reviews—and the title story was instrumental in garnering me a coveted North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship. Whew!

Now, the best news of all, it has been nominated for a SIBA Fiction Award!

Sarah Goddin at Quail Ridge Books says in her nomination:

This is an amazing collection of short stories which really capture the essence of the South and the experience of people transplanted here, accidentally or on purpose. A book of national importance and quality published by a very small southern press.

Thank you, Sarah, and all my readers and indie bookstore friends! Please light a candle for this little boat as it floats into the bigger current–and if you have a favorite indie bookseller, please ask them to vote for Accidental Birds!


Those Little Bookstore Tags

Those Little Bookstore Tags

Those Little Bookstore Tags

I have always loved those little notecards that slip onto the side of a book on display at a bookstore. A staff person has read the book and hand-written a mini-review–but only if they really love the book. You can peer at the neat square of text and get a sense of the soul of a bookseller. And a book!

Sometimes bookstores post these on line. Here are a few I was delighted to see attached to Accidental Birds of the Carolinas, first week after release! Thank you, Katherine Pinard, Nancy Olson, and Sarah Goddin.

McIntyre’s Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC

Wow! This story collection marvelously captures “home” (the Southern part of heaven) for so many of us who have migrated to North Carolina from afar. You feel the morning mist, smell the pungent woods, and hear the sweet birdsong. What a love song sung by a variety of (human) birds—each with its distinct, pure voice. Marjorie Hudson is a writer I’ve been waiting to find! Bravo!
— Katherine Pinard, bookseller at McIntyre’s

Nancy Olson, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

This NC resident is one talented writer. The characters in these beautiful, connected stories are desperate for a place to be safe and they land in North Carolina for healing and renewal.  This is a fully satisfying book.”—Nancy Olson, owner, Quail Ridge Books, named Bookseller of the Year by Publishers Weekly in 2001

“It takes no time at all to fall in love with such a place, if you are paying attention,” says Elizabeth in the first of  these seven extraordinary stories (and one novella). The same can be said for this collection: Pay attention and you will fall in love. In each story someone ends up in Carolina for a different reason and finds something or someone unexpected. Marjorie Hudson is a gifted writer with a pitch-perfect sense of place that will resonate with anyone who has spent some hot days in the South. Her characters are full of heart and soul, ones who will latch on to you and not let go.—Sarah Goddin, General Manager, Quail Ridge Books

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