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Author looks for 'helping hands' in voting

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This is the latest of Bess Sturgis’ books.New Castle area artist Anita A. Crull illustrated the book. The author’s husband Larry Sturgis photographed Bess in the photo of her printed with thisarticle.
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By DONNA CRONK - dcronk@thecouriertimes.com

CAMBRIDGE CITY — Area author Bess Sturgis is hoping for a little help from her friends – and from her readers. She has been nominated for the 2019 Penned Con Book Award for Best Award for Best Children’s / MG Author. Penned Con is a three-day annual St. Louis book convention with authors, signings, programs and awards. 

“This award is significant because it is a peer-reviewed nomination,” says Sturgis of Cambridge City. “I am dazzled by the fact that the authors from all over the world nominated me. All attending authors of Penned Con, both national and international, vote on who to nominate, then voting is opened to the public. Ballots are audited for security and validation.”

She says the nomination comes from her body of work, with her latest book helping gain the recognition. The new book is “A Helping Hand,” an illustrated children’s picture book featuring illustrations by award-winning New Castle artist Anita Crull.

It’s her fourth book currently in print. Sturgis is known for her “Ghouliana Stories Series and “The Fairy Grandmother.” She has two “Fairy Godmother Tale books coming out next. They are: The Kitchen Fairy, a children’s fantasy novel about believing in yourself when others don’t, and “Algernon and Zef,” a children’s picture book about friendship, good manners and accepting others who are different.

A Helping Hand was published this year by Kids At Heart Publishing of Cambridge City. Sturgis says the book is the story of two small, frightened fairies who discover that kindness and courage are more important than size when a helping hand is needed.

Sturgis is the only Indiana author nominated for this year’s award.

“I am competing against a New York Times Bestselling author, L.P. Dover,” she said. “I want people in Indiana to vote for me because I want to be able to tell the children/young writers in my writing workshops that where you live isn’t as important as what you do. I want them to dream big!”

Public voting through Aug. 31 is at:


The author, who is married to photographer Larry Sturgis, is also a costumed storyteller who enjoys sharing art, science, culture and history with children in a variety of venues.

When asked what she enjoys most about being an author, Sturgis says, “I love the way the children’s eyes light up when they make a connection with one of the messages in my books and when they tell me about their own writing.”

Artist Crull said that A Helping Hand is the first book she illustrated and that she is pleased with the result. “The characters come to live with you,” she says of what the process was like. “The characters come alive.”

Crull is a retired drama and show-choir teacher at Madison Grant High School. She is married to Tim Crull. She paints with groups in Connersville, New Castle and Richmond and enjoys a bounty of critters at her rural home.

Awards are announced in mid-September during the convention. Sturgis assures that while a name and email are asked for in voting, no information about the voter is collected or shared. For more about her books, visit the website: www.kidsatheartpublishing.com. Fans may also connect with the author on Facebook on her Ghouliana Stories-Bess Sturgis page.