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Local Black authors celebrated for excellence, perseverance

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The first Indy Author Awards event wasn’t meant to be an exclusive celebration of Black authors, but that’s what it turned into after only Black authors submitted their work for consideration.

Eight authors will be recognized at 5 p.m. Aug. 16 on the Canal Walk outside of the Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St. Guests are invited to attend as long as they wear masks and practice social distancing.

The idea behind the awards, hosted by Marguerite Press, is to help give a boost of confidence to local authors. The eight authors represent eight different categories, ranging from self-help to Christian nonfiction.

“I wanted to really encourage them and spotlight them locally in front of a hometown crowd,” said Delores Thornton, founder and president of Marguerite Press.

This is the first time Denise Hill will get an award for her work. She’s being recognized in the suspense category for her fiction novel, “The Window,” which features a young girl who dreams of getting out of her neighborhood that’s plagued by poverty to study astrophysics at Michigan State University.

Hill said she realized how much she enjoys writing when she entered two essay contests when she was 14 and won trips to Toronto and Washington. She was inspired as an adult to pick up writing again after reading books by African American female authors.

“I could come up with something like that,” she thought to herself, “so I just started writing.”

Hill’s first book was published in 2014. She mostly writes romance novels but also enjoys thrillers, mysteries and science fiction.

Gloria Lewis-Vaughn won first place in the Christian nonfiction category for “Cost of the Oil: Becoming Authentically Alive in the Presence of God.”

Lewis-Vaughn said she and her sisters have always liked writing poetry, and she even remembers some parts of the first poem she wrote in fourth grade — called “Cowboy at the Rodeo.”

As a pastor, Lewis-Vaughn sees books as another medium to do ministry. “Cost of Oil” is about her journey to learn the cost of “anointing oil,” Lewis-Vaughn said, which she believes is a universal lesson for anyone.

“It means the world to me,” Lewis-Vaughn said of the recognition, “because that was a work that I prayed over each and every step of the way, each and every page. To have it validated just confirms that my prayers were answered.”

Mira Cassidy will be recognized in the general nonfiction category for her book, “Bounce Back from Tragedy,” which is about five women facing life-altering decisions.

Cassidy kept a journal as a child and enjoyed writing. She went back to college in 2015 and took writing courses, which was an “aha” moment. Cassidy started writing poetry and short stories and realized this is what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

“Everything just came into place,” she said.

Cassidy’s ultimate goal is to one day be on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

INDY AUTHOR AWARDS

Eight local Black authors will be recognized at the Indy Author Awards. Guests are invited to attend but must wear a mask and practice social distancing.

• When: 5 p.m. Aug. 16

• Where: Outside of the Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St.

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