Plenty of Florida Book Awards for Tampa Bay

Local authors take home a fistful of the medals for books in 12 categories.
"The Cuban Sandwich" by Andrew Huse, Barbara Cruz and Jeff Houck won the 2022 Florida Book Awards gold medal for cooking.
"The Cuban Sandwich" by Andrew Huse, Barbara Cruz and Jeff Houck won the 2022 Florida Book Awards gold medal for cooking. [ University Press of Florida ]
Published March 20|Updated March 22

The annual Florida Book Awards have been announced, and, as usual, Tampa Bay area authors can claim plenty of the medals.

According to a news release from awards executive director Nikki Morse, 150 eligible books were considered for the 2022 awards.

Two of my favorite nonfiction books by local authors last year took the gold in their categories. St. Petersburg resident Gary Mormino’s expansive and thought-provoking history of one decade in Florida, “Dreams in the New Century,” won for Florida nonfiction, and the fascinating and appetite-sharpening “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers” by Andrew T. Huse, Bárbara C. Cruz and Jeff Houck of Tampa won in the cooking category.

Related: Read a review of "The Cuban Sandwich."

Poet Kate Sweeney of Seminole won a gold medal for her collection “Worrisome Creatures,” and the bronze medal in the poetry category went to Heather Sellers of St. Petersburg for her book “Field Notes From the Flood Zone.”

Two local authors scored wins in the young children’s literature category: silver for Jen Arena of Tampa for “Acorn Was a Little Wild” and bronze for Ana Siqueira of Palm Harbor for “If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja.”

Two former Tampa Bay area residents won for books with local connections. David Sanchez of Coral Gables won the gold in general fiction for his debut novel, “All Day Is a Long Time,” which is set in Tampa. And former Tampa Bay Times columnist Bill Maxwell of Tallahassee won the silver in Florida nonfiction for “Maximum Vantage: New Selected Columns,” an anthology of his columns for the Times.

Related: Read a review of "Maximum Vantage."

The newly established Gerald Ensley Developing Writer Award went to a recently arrived St. Petersburg resident, Shana Smith, whose debut novel, “Islands of Cedars,” was published last year.

The Florida Book Awards are coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries. It is the only state book awards program to include a Spanish language category. This year, a new category, poetry chapbook, was added.

For the 17th annual competition, 150 eligible publications were submitted across 12 categories for books published in 2022. To be eligible, authors must be full-time Florida residents — except in the Florida nonfiction, visual arts and cooking categories, where the subject matter must focus on Florida.

Winning authors from across the state will be honored at the annual awards banquet on April 20 in Tallahassee. For more information, visit

Here’s a list of the winners of the 2022 Florida Book Awards.

Young children’s literature

  • Gold: Jennifer Swanson, Jacksonville, “Footprints Across the Planet”
  • Silver: Jen Arena, Tampa, “Acorn Was a Little Wild”
  • Bronze: Ana Siqueira, Palm Harbor, “If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja”
  • Bronze: Henry Cole, Fort Lauderdale, “Forever Home: A Dog and Boy Love Story”
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Older children’s literature

  • Gold: Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Coral Gables, “The Bluest Sky”
  • Silver: Sandra Markle, Lakewood Ranch, “Secrets of the Lost City: A Scientific Adventure in the Honduran Rain Forest”
  • Bronze: Rodman Philbrick, Marathon, “We Own the Sky”


  • Gold: Andrew T. Huse, Bárbara C. Cruz and Jeff Houck, Tampa, “The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers”

General nonfiction

  • Gold: Ronald Gruner, Naples, “We the Presidents: How American Presidents Shaped the Last Century”
  • Silver: Noemi Figueroa Soulet, Kissimmee, “The Borinqueneers: A Visual History of the 65th Infantry”
  • Bronze: Dr. Doug Mader, Big Pine Key, “The Vet at Noah’s Ark”
Related: Read a review of "All Day Is a Long Time."

General fiction

  • Gold: David Sanchez, Coral Gables, “All Day Is a Long Time”
  • Silver: Kim Bradley, St. Augustine, “Spillway”
  • Bronze: Tara Lynn Masih, St. Augustine, “How We Disappear”

Florida nonfiction

  • Gold: Gary Mormino, St. Petersburg, “Dreams in the New Century: Instant Cities, Shattered Hopes, and Florida’s Turning Point”
  • Silver: Bill Maxwell, Tallahassee, “Maximum Vantage: New Selected Columns”
  • Bronze: Chris Wilhelm, Brunswick, Georgia, “From Swamp to Wetland: The Creation of Everglades National Park”
Related: Read a review of "Dreams in the New Century."


  • Gold: Kate Sweeney, Seminole, “Worrisome Creatures”
  • Silver: Collin Callahan, Tallahassee, “Thunderbird Inn”
  • Bronze: Heather Sellers, St. Petersburg, “Field Notes From the Flood Zone”

Poetry chapbooks

  • Gold: Brendan Walsh, Hollywood, “Concussion Fragment”

Popular fiction

  • Gold: Jenna Kernan, Sarasota, “The Ex-Wives”
  • Silver: Tamatha Cain, Jacksonville, “Song of the Chimney Sweep”
  • Bronze: Lucy Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib, Key West, “A Dish to Die For”

Spanish language

  • Gold: Félix Anesio, Miami, “Congregaciones”
  • Silver: Abel Sierra Madero, Miami, “El cuerpo nunca olvida: Trabajo forzado, hombre nuevo y memoria en Cuba (1959-1980)”
  • Bronze: Rossana Montoya Calvo, Miami, “Un amor más sano”

Visual arts

  • Gold: Text by Heather Dewar, photographs by Kristen B. Grace, edited by Beverly Sensbach, design by Hollis H. Wooley, Gainesville, “All Things Beautiful: Wonders From the Collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History”
  • Silver: Suzan Alteri, Gainesville, “B Is for Baldwin: An Alphabet Tour of the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature”

Young adult

  • Gold: Kate Stollenwerck, Ponte Vedra Beach, “Hello, Goodbye”
  • Silver: Taylor Thomas Smythe, West Palm Beach, “Goldie: A Magic City Wonders Novel”
  • Bronze: Dr. Juan Phillip Chisholm, Windermere, “Mission Possible: How to Graduate From College Debt-Free”