June 30, 2013

Dear Readers,

It’s official – my “Up the Valley” column in the St. Helena Star won first place last night from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, in the category of humor. The ceremony took place in Hartford, Connecticut, and awarded prizes in six categories. Fellow winners included the late Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who won for his online column, and Pulitzer Prize winning-humorist Dave Barry, who was awarded the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.

The specific Up the Valley columns submitted were: “Dumb and Dumber” “Eat Your Feelings” and “Semi-Pro.” This is the second consecutive year that the column has been awarded first prize.

The judge said some nice things:

First Place – Laura Rafaty, St. Helena (Calif.) Star. Judge’s comment: I thought the best of the bunch (first place) was Laura Rafaty, one of the columnists whose work actually produced multiple laugh-out-loud moments. Very conversational style, with a wide mix of subject matter (not just kids and insufferable spouses, as is the case with many of these entries). Her writing allows readers to sail along on a sea of mirth, a skill I saw lacking in many other entries. Like all good writers, she takes readers from the first to last sentences without them being aware they have just made the trip. Good journalistic writing is invisible.

Thanks to all my readers for your support of this column over the past year. Lots more silliness to come!