We returned home Thursday evening after a seven hour drive from Tallahassee. Wednesday night’s Florida Heritage awards ceremony, which included the Florida Book Awards Gold Medal winners, was quite special. After a successful book signing sponsored by the Tallahassee Museum, we were ushered into a “green Room” for snacks and pre-ceremony instructions, In addition to the Book Awards (“Rabbit in the Moon” won for Genre Fiction), legendary country singer/songwriter Mel Tillis and Harry Crews, prolific author of novels, short stories, essays and screenplays were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Margery Kinnan Rawlings (her niece accepted for “Aunt Marie”) and Gene Patterson, Pulitzer Prize winning editor of the St. Petersburg Times, were among four Florida Folk Heritage Award winners. When it was our turn to pick up our award, we had to squeeze out of our seats (several winners had brought en entourage of friends and family) and bolt onstage to smile for camera and shake the hands of Governor Charlie Crist and Secretary of State Kurt Browning. Governor Crist whispered that with a theme about China, “Rabbit in the Moon” couldn’t be timelier – that was very nice.
According to the program, “Florida Heritage Month is celebrated from March 15 to April 15 and is the time when [we] recognize the importance of our state’s culture and heritage as well as the contributions of individuals and organizations.” The Florida Book Awards is coordinated by the Florida State University Program in American & Florida Studies, and co-sponsored by the Florida Center for the Book; State Library and Archives of Florida; Florida Historical Society; Florida Humanities Council; Florida Literary Arts Coalition; Florida Library Association; “Just Read, Florida!”; Governor’s Family Literacy Initiative; Florida Association for Media in Education; Florida Center for the Literary Arts; Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America; and the Friends of FSU Libraries.
Even though we both wrote “Rabbit in the Moon”, we only received one gold medal between us. When we left the stage, the governor asked us who would be wearing it. “I’ll wear it now,” Deb said. “Joel can wear it on the drive home.” And he did!!