Indie Book Awards ceremony honors two Chicago writers

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TRINA SOTIRA (L), and Michelle Duster (R) were honored by the Indie Book Awards.

Michelle Duster and Trina Sotira received the honor of having their book “Shifts: An Anthology of Women’s Growth Through Change” selected as one of the five finalists for 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Women’s Issues category. They were presented with award medals at the national book awards ceremony at the Newberry Library on May 11, 2016.

The anthology, which was also a 2015 USA Best Book Awards finalist, features poems, short stories and essays by 35 women who represent diversity in age groups, geographic locations, marital status, parenting status, professions and sexual orientations. It highlights the strength of women as their life shifts ultimately lead to increased confidence and internal peace.

The work in the anthology addresses divorce, becoming parents, children leaving home, job situations, losing loved ones and many other pivotal experiences that create change in the lives of women. Both editors, Sotira and Duster have faced their own transformative shifts in life and found the writing of the other women to be healing and inspiring. “There’s a sense that even if we’ve never met, we, as women, are one community that has common experiences,” said Sotira.

Sotira and Duster developed the anthology as an extension of the group, MuseWrite, that they originally founded in 2009 with two other women to conduct writing and publishing seminars. Duster stated, “We realized that historically a lot of women’s stories have been told through the lens of someone else. We decided to create a book that gives women the opportunity to tell their own stories.”

The Indie Book Awards recognition gave the two Chicago writers national exposure through the Book Expo America (“BEA”) which took place in Chicago May 11-13. The expo is the largest gathering of booksellers, librarians, retailers, publishers, rights, licensing, and book industry professionals in North America.

Sotira and Duster have five published books between them and are both involved in helping others hone their writing skills, as well as making presentations to schools, churches and other organizations.

Trina Sotira is an assistant professor of fiction writing, creative writing and composition at College of DuPage. A former television news producer, she writes stories for young adults, publishes articles on writing, and actively presents academic research at conferences. Her first novel, In Her Skin, received recognition for revealing the struggles of a transgender teen.

Michelle Duster has an extensive background in marketing and teaches writing for business courses at Columbia College Chicago. She co-authored the popular children’s history book “Tate and His Historic Dream” and has written articles, essays and published two books that include the original writing of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells – journalist, civil rights activist and suffragist. Her forthcoming book (March 2017) is an anthology she co-edited about the response that African American women have to the media portrayal of Michelle Obama.

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