Andrew Ceroni, author of Meridian, is a Finalist for the Outskirts Press 2016 Best Book of the Year

Every year Outskirts Press has the honor of publishing thousands of amazing books, and every year we nominate a small percentage of those for submission to the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards. And every year, a percentage of those official nominees win an EVVY Award, thereby representing the best of independent publishing as determined by a committee of 3rd party judges from the publishing community.

From among all our EVVY winners, we select 3 finalists for our own Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards.  These finalists compete head-to-head-to-head in a public poll to see who can garner the most votes.

Because this is a public vote on this blog, the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award not only demonstrates to agents, editors, publishers, and readers that the author is the talented writer of a technically and artistically award-winning book (as evidenced by the EVVY win) but also that he or she knows how to successfully market a book. The Best Book Finalists also introduce brand new and remarkable books for the public to read and review in order to cast their votes.

This year, Outskirts Press won 22 EVVY Awards, the most among all participating publishers, and all excellent books from excellent authors in their own right.  So selecting three finalists is never easy. Yet, every year, we must systematically narrow down all our published books from the past year to select three finalists for the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards and its $1500 Grand Prize.

Our first finalist is Andrew Ceroni, author of Meridian.  Meridian won a 1st Place EVVY Award in the Action/Adventure category and a 2nd Place EVVY Award in the Science Fiction category.  Mr. Ceroni has had a distinguished career as a special agent, conducting global counterespionage and anti-terrorism operations.  While this may sound like the biography of the main character in a high-octane thriller, it is actually the author’s real-life biography. Andrew received his B.S. Degree from the US Air Force Academy; M.A. Degree from Case Western University; and studied several foreign languages at the University of Maryland.  So to suggest he writes adrenaline-filled action/adventure novels filled with intrigue based upon his true-life experiences would be an understatement. He lives in Colorado with his family.  He is also the author of a previous Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award, Snow Men.

Introducing Meridian, by Andrew Ceroni, one of the finalists in the 2016 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards.


It is the biggest of America’s big secrets—MERIDIAN, the deepest black and most intensely protected program since the Atom Bomb. The MERIDIAN program contains the furthest leading edge of weapons technology and with origins more profoundly startling than the technology itself. Governments will stop at nothing to get it. Laszlo Csengerny, a Russian–controlled spy, a man haunted by demons from his past, has uncovered the key to destroying the program. In this prequel to SNOW MEN, CIA agent Pete Novak is racing to Europe with orders to stop Laszlo, to kill him if that’s what it takes. Several agents have already died trying. Novak’s dedicated security escort, J.T. Brannon, former assassin unmatched in the art of killing, is leery of Novak’s assignment and warns him of its danger. As Novak unravels the alarming secrets behind the MERIDIAN program and his path converges with Laszlo’s desperate pursuit to annihilate his demons, Novak and his family are swept into the cross-hairs of rogue Agency assassins. Only Brannon can save Novak’s family, and he is committed to sacrificing his own life to do so. The final confrontation and profound revelation of MERIDIAN explode into a deadly struggle over what may be the very future of mankind itself.

As a finalist, Andrew Ceroni has already won a book video trailer. Take a look!

Sound intriguing? It gets better!

As one of three finalists, Andrew Ceroni and his book Meridian will be competing head-to-head-to-head with the other two finalists in a public poll on this blog September 9th through September 14th. Andrew has already demonstrated he has the writing chops to win this prestigious award, as evidenced by his EVVY Award win. Does he have the marketing prowess to make it as the Best Book of the Year author in this digital age (for the second time)?

Stay tuned tomorrow and Wednesday for the announcements of the next two finalists and then come back September 9th through September 14th to cast your vote for the book you believe to be the best among the three. Order it now to help you decide!

The Best Book of the Year Finalists are Coming!

Happy Labor Day! Did you do some writing? Did you do some reading? Did you do some marketing? Did you do some eating? Use the “Comments section” to tell us how you spent this Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day

All this week we will be announcing the three Finalists in the 2016 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year contest.  Our first finalist will be be announced tomorrow, the next on Wednesday, and the final finalist on Thursday.  The three finalists are selected from among our recent EVVY Award winners.

Then, on Friday, the public polls open for everyone to vote on their choice for the winner of the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year and its $1,500 Grand Prize. Good luck, everyone!



An Interview with Award-Winning Author Ellen Deery Freeman, author of Just George

Ellen Deery Freeman has just won a 1st Place EVVY Award for her most recent book, Just George, published by Outskirts Press in December 2015. Her next book, Duke (Plus One)  will be published soon.  Will it also be nominated for a coveted EVVY Award? We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Ellen Freeman is a retired public-school science teacher who has always loved animals. In fact, she has rescued many over the years, including a Pileated Woodpecker, several Mocking Birds, baby possums, and even a baby deer! Her classroom always housed live animals, including snakes. In 2005 she moved into her Grandmother’s 100-year-old home, fulfilling her lifelong dream of living in the country where she can enjoy nature to its fullest. She lives there with her husband, Buddy, and two rescue dogs, Duke and George.  Ellen is donating ten percent of the profit from the book sales of Just George to the current management of the Hampton County Animal Shelter in Varnville, South Carolina.

In honor of World Animal Remembrance Month all September long, Outskirts Press has donated $1000 to the Dumb Friends League at this link and invites other animal lovers to join us.  In the meantime, we had an opportunity to ask Ellen Freeman a few questions about her award-winning book, its sequel, and her love for animals:

OP: Your story, Just George, is heart-wrenching as well as heart-warming. How long did it take you to write your story?

EDF:  I am not sure how long the writing of Just George took, but probably in the range of six to eight months. Because it is a true story, the writing consisted of remembering and describing the events of his first year after being rescued and correlating the pictures with the script….which was possibly the most difficult part!

OP: You’ve rescued a baby deer? Tell us about that…?

EDF: I did, indeed, rescue a baby deer, but that’s one chapter in the sequel to Just George, entitled  Duke (Plus One), and you need to read it!

OP: What advice would you give to someone who discovers an injured animal in need of rescuing?

EDF: In Just George I stressed a strong warning to children when it comes to sick or injured animals and told them to NEVER attempt to help, but to CALL AN ADULT and let them take care of the situation!

OP: How can others help in the support of animals?

EDF: Buying a copy of Just George and the soon-to-be-published sequel, Duke (Plus One) is one quick way you can help homeless animals, because 10% of my profit from every book sold goes to the Hampton County Animal Shelter in Varnville, S. C.

OP: Any additional books about animals in your future?

EDF: Yes! Duke (Plus One) will be published in the next few weeks. It is the true story of Duke’s life, as told by Duke, and if you’ve read Just George, you can probably guess who the “plus one” is! I hope that everyone reading this will get a copy of Duke (Plus One), and of Just George if you haven’t already. Both are books that will be enjoyed by animal lovers from the school-age child to senior adults!

OP: We’ll have to read them both! Thank you, Ellen.

MYW: Thank you! This is so exciting!

Click the cover for more details or to order…

An Interview with Award-Winning Author Marie-Yolaine Williams, author of Old Dog, New Tricks

Marie-Yolaine Williams is the award-winning author of two juvenile fiction books from Outskirts Press, both of which play a part in her Shelter Dog Series.  Her first book, Old Dog, New Tricks, was published in November 2015 and just won a 1st Place EVVY Award in the Juvenile Fiction category. Her second book, Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo was just published this past June.  Will it also be nominated for a coveted EVVY Award? Only time will tell.

Marie-Yolaine Williams is an attorney who loves kids and dogs. She has one child, a 7-year-old boy named Langston, and two senior dogs, Fenster and Keaton, both of whom were rescued. She wrote the Shelter Dog Series in hopes that it will encourage people to adopt dogs from shelters and consider dogs that are frequently overlooked by adopters. She resides in Atlanta with her family and a portion of her royalties will be donated to Lifeline Animal Project and Susie’s Senior Dogs, an organization that provides exposure to older dogs in shelters looking for their forever homes

In honor of World Animal Remembrance Month all September long, Outskirts Press has donated $1000 to the Dumb Friends League at this link and invites other animal lovers to join us. Marie-Yolaine Williams holds all animals near and dear, and we had an opportunity to ask her a few questions about her award-winning book and her Shelter Dog Series:

OP: Your story, Old Dog, New Tricks, is a heart-warming illustrated children’s story with a valuable message. How long did it take you to write it?

MYW:  Thank you. I wrote it in about a month. The technical aspect took me a bit longer, but the idea came from a statement that my son, Langston, who is now eight, made to me one day. There was a dog (Keaton) who caught my eye at our local shelter, and I explained to him that if we adopted the dog, she may only be with us a year or two because she was older. Langston replied that even if the dog only lived two more years, that is actually fourteen years in dog years. I had never looked at it from that perspective – from the dog’s point of view. And that’s when I realized I had been looking at things all wrong. This gave me the idea to write a series of books told from the point of view of an undesired shelter dog. The goal is to encourage shelter adoption of course, but also, to encourage adopters to consider dogs they may otherwise overlook. It seemed fitting to begin the series about an old dog, because they are so often passed over in favor of puppies.

OP: The story rings true.  Is the story of Boscoe the shelter dog based upon one of your senior dogs, Fenster or Keaton?

MYW: It’s about both of them, but it’s especially about Keaton because I adopted her last year and she was already nine. We have no idea how Keaton ended up at Fulton County Animal Services here in Atlanta, only that she was picked up as a stray.  But she’d obviously had a family before. She already knew all of her commands, was housebroken, and later on we discovered that she is an excellent READ dog. She loves her story time. I think in my generation, there’s a common perception that the “good” dogs are at the breeder, and the aggressive or bad dogs are at the shelter. And that’s absolutely not true. Most dogs end up at the shelter through no fault of their own.  Sometimes they were unlucky and just had an irresponsible owner. Other times, their owner passed and there was no one to take the dog in. There’s also eviction, or serious illness for the owner – all things that are not caused by the dog. It’s especially heartbreaking when a senior ends up at the shelter. I saw Keaton’s picture online and it broke my heart. She just had the look of a dog that had given up hope. We feel really fortunate that we are part of her second act – because everyone deserves one.  When we brought her home, she ran from room to room celebrating.

OP: What advice would you give to a family that is considering adopting an older pet?

MYW: I would say go for it! Because often young families think a puppy is the best fit for them, but in fact an older dog may actually be a better fit. At the time we adopted Keaton, Langston was reading.  He was really into the Harry Potter series. Either Fenster or Keaton would sit and listen to him read. They did so attentively and without being a distraction.  So I would especially encourage it if you have a child that is learning to read. Older dogs are a captive, non judgmental audience.  I noticed that when I was the one my child was reading to, he was more self conscious. No matter how encouraging I was, he seemed more nervous, like he was scared to make mistakes. I made the decision to have him read to a dog while I busied myself in the room ironing or folding clothes. He started soaring. It got to the point where he would ask, “Keaton, do you know what accelerate means? Okay if you don’t know it’s just a fancy way of saying go faster.” He actually got so confident he would stop to explain concepts to the dog he was reading to. In the book, the young boy, Max, reads to Boscoe, his newly adopted older dog, exactly how we do at home.

I’d also say, even if you don’t have a child who is reading, it’s a wonderful thing to teach a child – to look at things from the point of view of the dog. Older dogs are so grateful for their second chances. So even if that dog is only with your family a short while, it’s a lifetime for that dog. That second chance is everything in the world to them.  It teaches children to be selfless and care for those who have been forgotten, and I think that’s a good value to instill in them.

And if you don’t have children, older dogs require a lot less. They are perfect for someone who works a lot. They are just happy to have a warm place to lay their heads. On days I can’t be home, my dogs sleep the day away. They don’t chew furniture and are very laid back. We still enjoy walks with them and they are quite active, but they are much easier than puppies.

OP: How can others help in the support of animal adoption?

MYW: In the book, I try to encourage kids and adults to support animal rescue. Sometimes that means adopting or fostering a dog or a cat. Other times it’s just not the right time to have any pet in the house. There may be a member of the household who is allergic, or it’s just not the right time.  So I try to encourage kids to do things that help their local rescue.  Rescues always need newspapers and pet food, so collecting those items really helps. Or earning the money to sponsor a dog or a cat and donating it to their local shelter.

My father used to say everyone has to do their part. In other words, if I have 12 dogs, I’ll tire myself out and get burned out. I’m supposed to do a little bit and encourage others to do the same. So it’s all these little things that add up to big changes. A few years ago my son turned five, and we decided to forego the birthday gifts and just ask people to sponsor a dog or a cat at our local rescue. It led to an actual dog adoption, and many animals got what they needed instead of us being overloaded with toys we didn’t really need.

Here at Fulton County Animal Services, they have a great program called “Dog for a Day.” You can take a dog for a day on a hike, a walk, to Piedmont Park or home while it wears an “Adopt Me” vest. It’s great for the dog who gets out of the shelter for a day and gets exercise. And the exposure from the vest may lead to an adoption. There are so many ways to help even if you cannot take a dog home. I hope it’s this message (everyone does a little bit and what they can) is what people take away from the book.

OP: Tell us about the additional books in the Shelter Dog Series?

MYW: There are five books in the series. The first four have been written.  The next one will be out in the spring and I’m quite excited about it. It’s called “From Shelter Dog to Graduate – The Incredible Story of Clara Henri.” It tackles breed discrimination, and it’s written from the point of view of a Pit Bull. In fact, they are all written from the point of view of an undesired shelter dog.

The first book, “Old Dog, New Tricks” is about an older dog, Boscoe, who ends up at the shelter when his owner passes. The second book is called “Super Mia and the Good Luck Duo – Rescued is the New Black,” and it was published in late June 2016. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a number one hot new release in all three of its categories its first month on Amazon. That book is about black dog syndrome (which causes some people to fear black dogs) and superstition, which causes black cats to also be overlooked.

You can read the books out of order, and I do bring some characters back. My formula for the books is pairing invisible dogs with invisible people and having the invisible people be the heroes that save the day.  By “invisible people” I mean people you often don’t see in children’s books. I have all kinds of families in the series. The idea is to be as inclusive as possible. In “Super Mia” the adopter, Mia, has MS, and some days she needs to be in a wheelchair. The illness is only a small part of the story. She’s an amazing lady who is from Greece.  She rescues animals and runs a shelter, and she just happens to have MS. Heroes have varying degrees of agility and mobility, and sometimes they are differently abled. I think it’s important to expose children to that.

I’m very excited about the whole series, and my hope is that people see their family reflected in the series.  So if you’re being raised by Grandparents, a foster family, an adoptive family, or if your family is mixed race, you see yourself in the series.  I also have differently-abled characters and different faiths. You may see someone who is hearing impaired, or someone who suffers from seizures. It’s a blend of people who are all happy to be interacting with each other. I didn’t want the books to be segregated. I wanted them to reflect the world we live in today in 2016.

When you get to the end of the series, you see that many of the adopters and their pets know each other – I won’t say how though!

OP: We’ll just have to read each of them when they come out! Thank you, Marie-Yolaine.

MYW: Exactly! Thanks so much. Have a wonderful week!


Click the covers for more details or to order…

Join Outskirts Press in celebrating World Animal Remembrance Month

September is World Animal Remembrance Month, a time for all of us to remember and honor the memory of our passed animal friends. As human beings, we have an obligation to respect and care for all animals on our planet; and as authors, we have the special ability to pay tribute to our furry (and sometimes not-so-furry) friends through the written word.

Outskirts Press authors are a particularly animal-loving bunch, as demonstrated by two of our recent 1st-Place winners in the Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards.

Ellen Deery Freeman, author of 1st-Place EVVY Winner Just George, has rescued countless animals over the years, including a woodpecker, several mockingbirds, possum, and even a baby deer. As a retired science teacher, her classroom always housed live animals, including snakes. Just George is the true story of a injured dog Ellen and her husband, Buddy, rescued from the side of a highway and his struggles to overcome fears brought on by past abuse as he searches for his “forever home.”  Ms. Freeman is donating 10% of the profit from Just George to the current management at Hampton County Animal Shelter in Varnville, South Carolina. Join us this coming Sunday on this blog as we interview Ms. Freeman.

Marie-Yolaine Williams, author of 1st-Place Winner Old Dog, New Tricks, owns two senior dogs, Fenster and Keaton, both of whom were rescued. She wrote the Shelter Dog Series in hopes that it will encourage people to adopt dogs from shelters and consider dogs that are frequently overlooked by adopters. Join us as we interview Ms. Williams this coming Saturday on this blog.

Not only is Old Dog, New Tricks a heart-warming children’s “tail” with an important message, but Ms. Williams shares valuable information about how young readers (and their parents) can become more responsible, animal-loving occupants on our planet with this short excerpt:

How You Can Help

  1. Encourage your parents to adopt a dog or a cat from a shelter instead of going to a breeder or a pet store.
  2. If your family decides to adopt a dog or a cat, consider an older “forever friend.” They make wonderful companions!
  3. If it’s not the right time to adopt, ask your parents to foster an animal. Fostering pets provides temporary homes for pets while they wait for permanent adoption, and that saves lives!
  4. There are other ways to help, too. Consider sponsoring a dog or cat that is in a shelter. Shelters need money for food, health care, and beds.   Contact your local shelter and find out how you can help.

Marie-Yolaine Williams is also donating a percentage of her royalties for Old Dog, New Tricks, in this case to Lifeline Animal Project and Susie’s Senior Dogs, an organization that provides exposure to older dogs in shelters looking for their forever homes.

Join us tomorrow for a listing of the Top “Animal Remembrance” books from Outskirts Press in recognition of World Animal Remembrance Month in September. And join Ellen Deery Freeman, Marie-Yolaine Williams, and Outskirts Press in donating to the animal cause of your choice.

Our goal is $5000. To kick us off, Outskirts Press has donated $1000…

Congratulations to our EVVY Award Winners!

The Colorado Independent Book Publishers Association Annual EVVY Awards Banquet took place in Denver, Colorado last Saturday night, and once again Outskirts Press walked away with the most awards of any participating publisher, demonstrating that award-winning writers publish award-winning books at Outskirts Press.

Outskirts Press executives were on-hand for the event, and President Brent Sampson accepted the awards on behalf of authors unable to attend.  Published Outskirts Press authors from as far away as Florida traveled to Denver to accept their awards personally.

Here are our 2016 EVVY Award winners. Congratulations to them all!


1st Place Fiction/Mystery & Detective

1st Place Juvenile Fiction

1st Place Fiction/Action Adventure

1st Place Juvenile Non Fiction


2nd Place Juvenile Fiction

2nd Place Fiction/Historical

2nd Place Fiction/Action Adventure

2nd Place Religion & Spirituality


3rd Place Family & Relationships

3rd Place Fiction/Fairy Tales Folklore

3rd Place Fiction/Literary

3rd Place Social Science

3rd Place Juvenile Fiction

3rd Place Religion & Spirituality

3rd Place Fiction/Science Fiction

3rd Place Juvenile Fiction


Merit Award Poetry

Merit Award Fiction/Fantasy

Merit Juvenile Fiction

Merit Poetry

Merit Biography

Congratulations to all our EVVY nominees, finalists, and winners.  Winning an EVVY Award is a prerequisite to winning the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award and its $1500 Grand Prize.  Stay tuned to find out which three authors from the winners above will be the finalists…

Book Awards Build Buzz

One of the best ways to create a buzz about your book is by winning an award! Winning a book award is a great feeling, and sometimes it even comes with prize money — best of all, it can be a powerful marketing tool.

There are hundreds of thousands of self-published books released each year, and competition is fierce. Authors who are serious about getting their book noticed will need to put extra effort into the promotional department. By entering legitimate writing contests, authors can up their chances of winning recognition…and so much more.

When you win a book award…

  • You receive third-party validation that your book is worthy.
  • You may win prize money…
  • The awards website will feature a list of all the winners and send out a press release announcing the winners — resulting in more publicity for you!
  • You can send out your own press release to announce your award — again, more publicity.
  • You can add an award sticker to your book cover that consumers, librarians, and booksellers will see immediately, and this can influence their buying decisions.
  • You gain credibility as a writer and an edge in the market.
  • You can call yourself an award-winning author, not only with friends and family but in promotional materials and interviews as well!

New writers publishing with the New & Improved Outskirts Press starting in August will receive the Book Marketing RoadMap at publication, and one article is devoted to helping our authors identify reputable book contests to enter.  So, in recognition of our amazing 16 award finalists in the Colorado Independent Publisher Association EVVY Awards, we are going to give you an excerpt from the free Book Marketing RoadMap right now by listing a few of the upcoming book award contests to consider entering after your book is published. The contests listed below have approaching deadlines, so act fast!

And if you didn’t see our 16 EVVY Award finalists, you can see them here.

Top National Contests and Book Awards

USA Best Book Awards

  • Deadline: Fall
  • Website:
  • Details: This contest is another option to spread your marketing dollars, as they accept manuscripts up to two years after publication. All winners receive industry and media exposure.

Benjamin Franklin Awards

  • Deadline: Fall/Winter
  • Website:
  • Details: Held by the Independent Book Publishers Association, the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards is one of the premiere contests in independent publishing today, where Gold Medal winners in each category receive an engraved crystal trophy acknowledging their accomplishment.

Reader Views Literary Awards

  • Deadline: December of your copyright year
  • Website:
  • Details: With numerous categories and various awards per category (including cash prizes and publicity packages), the Reader Views Literary Awards should not be missed. And it’s easy to miss them! They have the earliest deadline among all these contests, so plan early.


Deadline: Dec/Jan
Details: Held by the prestigious review journal Foreword Reviews, the INDIEFAB Awards are a cornerstone of the independent publishers marketing foundation. Not only are winners featured in the print and digital editions of Foreword Reviews, but they play a role in a national publicity campaign.

Eric Hoffer Book Awards

  • Deadline: January
  • Website:
  • Details: One submission automatically makes you eligible for numerous category considerations, including most-thought provoking work, best cover, best first-time author, and best over-all book, which comes with a $2,000 Grand Prize.

The Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Awards

  • Deadline: By invitation only
  • Website:
  • Details: Every year Outskirts Press recognizes one book as our official Best Book of the Year with this prestigious award that comes with a $1,500 Grand Prize for the winning author. The prerequisite for becoming one of the three special Semi-Finalists in this contest is winning a Colorado Independent Book Publishers Association EVVY Award.

This year’s EVVY Awards take place in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, August 20th. Outskirts Press executives will be on-hand to accept awards on behalf of authors unable to attend.  Once our EVVY Winners are announced, three of them will be hand-selected as our Semi-Finalists for the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. Stay tuned!

Submitting your book to contests can be rewarding. It can also be time-consuming and frustrating. Let Outskirts Press help you!

Outskirts Press authors can automatically enter six reputable, vetted book contests with one click of a button!

The Book Awards Submission package, exclusively from Outskirts Press, takes care of everything by automatically entering your book into the following book award contents for you: Benjamin Franklin Awards, INDIEFAB Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Reader Views Literary Awards , Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, and the USA Best Book Awards. If you’re already published with Outskirts Press, look for this Marketing Service in your Publishing Center under “Marketing Options.”