DENTON (UNT), Texas — Kim Horner of Richardson, communications manager at the University of Texas at Dallas, received the top prize of $3,000 and a provisional book contract with the University of North Texas Press in the Book Manuscript competition sponsored by the 2017 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.
In her manuscript, "Probably someday cancer," Horner wrote about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after discovering that she has a gene mutation that significantly increases odds of developing breast cancer. She was tested years ago when she was a reporter at the Dallas Morning News, and she later wrote about breast cancer and genetic testing in an article that was printed during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2010.
The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference is hosted each July by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism in UNT's Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. The conference brings together more than 400 participants who are interested in writing narrative nonfiction to learn from renowned journalists and storytellers in different genres. This year's conference was July 21-23.
From its first years, the conference has held its Personal Essay, Book Manuscript and Reported Narrative contests to recognize extraordinary literary journalism and creative nonfiction from writers of unpublished works. This year's conference awarded $3,000 each to the first-place winners of the Personal Essay and Reported Narrative, as well as in the Book Manuscript competition. The second-place winners in all three categories each received $2,000, while the third-place winners in all three categories each received $1,000. The winners were announced July 22 at the conference’s Literary Lights Dinner, which featured Sebastian Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea," as speaker.
The first-place Book Manuscript prize was sponsored by Voice Media Group. The second- and third-place winners of the Book Manuscript competition, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. of Dallas, are:
•Second place — Seema Yasmin, Dallas Morning News medical reporter and contributor to CNN. In "The Professor and the Virus," Yasmin tells the story of Joep Lange, a Dutch physician and trailblazer in research on HIV/AIDS. Lange fought for access to life-saving medicines before being killed by pro-Russian rebels in 2014. Yasmin previously won the second-place Book Manuscript prize in 2015, and the third place Personal Essay prize in 2016.
•Third place — Ione Hunt von Herbing, UNT associate professor of biological sciences and director of UNT’s Marine Conservation and Aquatic Physiology Laboratory. In "Saving Neptune's Children," Hunt von Herbing tells of her life's work as a female marine biologist, her struggle to rise to the top in the patriarchal academic world and how she found success through learning compassion for herself and others.
All six winning Personal Essay and Reported Narrative entries and four runners up selected from these two categories will be published in Ten Spurs, a literary nonfiction journal published by the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism. The edition featuring this year's contest winners will be published just before the 2018 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. The winners are:
•First place, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News — Adam Rhew of Charlotte, North Carolina, the associate editor for Charlotte magazine. In "Ms. Judy the Comforter," Rhew relates how Judy Williams started Mothers of Murdered Offspring, a Charlotte organization, to help a friend whose daughter was murdered by a serial killer nearly 25 years ago. "Ms. Judy" has since mourned with the families of hundreds of murder victims.
•Second place, sponsored by Anna and Nick Ricco & Ricco Family Partners — Meagan Flynn of Houston, a staff writer for the Houston Press, for "Life After Deportation."
•Third place, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. — Richard Rejino of Carrollton, account manager for Madeleine Crouch & Company, for "The Reluctant Soldier."
•First place, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News — Debbie Williams of Abilene for "Duet." Williams, a professor of language and literature at Abilene Christian University, describes her experiences as a caregiver for her parents and other family members while also attaining her educational goals, getting married and raising three children, including an adopted child.
•Second place, sponsored by Anna and Nick Ricco & Ricco Family Partners and Dorothy Bland, dean of the Mayborn School of Journalism — Brent Jones of Flower Mound for "Pictures Worth a Thousand Silences."
•Third place, sponsored by Joe Dealey Jr. — Christina Hughes Babb of Dallas, publisher and editor of the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate, for "Karma Police." Hughes Babb previously won first place in the Personal Essay category in 2011.
The four runners up entries that will be published in Ten Spurs are:
•"Lidice, Remembered" by Elizabeth Clark of San Marcos
•"Brony Up" by Jamie Friedlander of Dallas
•"150 Banana Slugs" by Rick Jurgens of White River Junction, Vermont
•"Untethered" by Jen Tota McGivney of Charlotte, North Carolina