I can't tell you how thrilled I am that Desert Rice won this award. Seriously. I'm flying high right now. Of all my books, Desert Rice took a lot out of me to write. It was an emotional roller coaster that often times took me down paths I hadn't planned on going or even wanted to explore. The characters are some of my favorites. I know, I know, authors shouldn't have favorites. Just like children, they're all precious, which they are, but the characters in Desert Rice are some of my most intriguing and memorable characters by far. There's a special place in my heart just for them. Sam, oh how I love her, was a character that sat on my shoulder, and with a lot of persistence whispered her story to me. She nagged me. She tugged at my heart. I don't know that I've written a story faster--or better. I've never experienced that before with a character (a fictional being of all things). I haven't experienced that since...though I REALLY hope I do. I love all my books, but I'm extremely happy to see Desert Rice receive this recognition. And to take the top spot in its category, Young Adult - Coming of Age, just amazes me. I am just so so so grateful. Thanks for letting me toot my own horn here for a moment. I usually don't do that, but this time I just felt the need to do it. I'm super proud of this book.