Past Literary Award Winners

2012 Award Winners

Beyond the Wood by Michael J. Roueche, 2012 Winner of the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award

“An anything-but-simple story of treachery, peril, slackening resolve and thwarted romance . . . and a little War Between the States.”

Hank, a Union Soldier, refuses retreat from his first bloodied action without proof he has been there, and he takes it from a dying enemy. Fed by the compassion he finds in the Confederate’s last letter and his own unsettled dreams and troubling memories, Hank imagines a romance that drives him relentlessly toward an impossible rendezvous. All the while, Elizabeth, the widow, struggles with burdens left by her husband, even as neighbors conspire against her. And what is she to make of this Yankee, this enemy, so set on coming to her?

Beyond the Wood, published by Vesta House Publishing, is set amid Virginia’s social, political and military events, from John Brown’s raid to the foreboding battle silence that welcomes 1864.

It’s available in paperback and for Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (Barnes and Noble). Michael is currently editing the sequel due out late 2012 or early 2013. For signed copies of Beyond the Wood and special prices for book clubs, visit him at

Michael grew up in Virginia and spent most of his adult life in the Old Dominion. Always a romantic, only in more recent years did he discover the Civil War that always had surrounded him, thanks to Bruce Catton books from his father’s library and a good friend who gave him a copy of Michael Schaara’s Killer Angels. He and his wife of 35 years now live in Colorado. They have five children and several grandchildren.

Recent Praise for Beyond the Wood

“In the midst of the chaos of the Civil War, the author has told a story of love and redemption. While recounting the adventures of one Union soldier trying to deliver a message from a fallen enemy, he was able to depict the attitudes and feelings of soldiers on both sides as well as the struggles of civilians living along the border. Roueche captures the Civil War in a well-told exciting adventure and romance.”
Dr. James W. Finck, Assistant Professor of History, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

Additional Awards:

● Finalist, 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, a non-profit awards program “judged by leaders in the indie book publishing industry to identify indie books that deserve to reach a wider audience.” It is sometimes considered “the Sundance of the book publishing world,” says Catherine Goulet, Chair of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards program.

● 2011 Silver Medalist: Historical Fiction, eLit Book Awards, “a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.”

● 2012 Merit Book, EVVY Awards; recognition from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

Charles H. Smith, chairman of the Literary Committee, left, presents Michael J. Roueche with the Cooke Fiction Award at our 2012 annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.

2011 Awards

Douglas Southall Freeman History Award
My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans
By Rusty Williams
University of Kentucky Press
663 S. Limestone St.
Lexington, KY 40508-4008
Tel. 859-257-5200




Basil W. Duke Award
One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lt. John M. Porter of the 9th Kentucky
Kent Masterson Brown, Editor
Univ. Press of Kentucky
663 S. Limestone St.
Lexington, KY 40508-4008
Tel. 859-257-5200
Contact: Mack McCormick, Publicity Mgr.


One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Cavalry, edited by Kent Masterson Brown, documents Porter’s personal participation in what he called “The War of Southern Independence” through a series of entries written in 1872. Brown’s version draws from four existing copies of the original manuscript, and Porter’s passion for his cause and for the preservation of history are clearly evident. He draws the reader into his world of gunpowder and Rebel spirit as he tells of his personal war experiences and incarceration, emphasizing his devotion to freedom and his opposition to the “tyranny” of the North.

Porter gives extensive insight into one of the most defining periods in American history, detailing the war from the point of view of a dedicated soldier. He describes the cavalry’s long treks across the western theater, the experience of battle, the successes and failures of his troops, and the thrill of capturing enemy generals. Porter goes far beyond the battles though, detailing the joy of returning home to Kentucky, memorable events such as Morgan’s wedding in Murfreesboro, and his close friendship with Captain Thomas H. Hines, who later orchestrated Southern sympathizers and anti-Lincoln “Copperheads” in Illinois and Indiana in a conspiracy to free Confederate prisoners of war.

After spending nineteen months as a prisoner of war at Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Depot in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, he returned to Butler County at the war’s end. He began practicing law in Morgantown, but later moved to Bowling Green where he entered a partnership with Hines. Only sixteen years later, at the age of forty-five, Porter died, probably as a result health complications contracted during his imprisonment.

One of Morgan’s Men is the story of a man whose political beliefs led him on the biggest adventure of his life under the command of one of the Civil War’s most recognized figures. He tells his story with passion and earnest, and his writings provide an excellent view into some of the Confederacy’s most noted military operations. Porter’s memoirs not only provide in-depth historical documentation, but they also reflect the ideology of a movement that possessed the power to divide a country.
(Summary courtesy of Mack McCormick, University Press of Kentucky)

Kent Masterson Brown is a long-time lawyer and nationally recognized Civil War authority. His books include The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State and Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign. He has also written, produced, and hosted several historical documentary films, including The Long Road Back to Kentucky, Retreat from Gettysburg, and Bourbon and Kentucky: A History Distilled, and his new book One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Calvary by John M. Porter.

Mr. Brown was the first Chairman of the Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission and the Perryville Battlefield Commission. He created and was the first editor of the magazine The Civil War, and he has received many awards for his work on historic preservation as well as his books and articles.

(Mr. Brown’s bio credit to Civil War Symposium)


John Esten Cooke Fiction Award
Noble Cause: A Novel of Love and War
By Jessica James
Patriot Press
1505 Knoxlyn Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Tel. 717-642-68



Praised by readers of romantic and historical fiction since its publication in 2008, the award-winning historical fiction novel Shades of Gray now has a new ending in this special 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Commemorative edition.

This is the tale of Colonel Alexander Hunter, a dauntless and daring Confederate cavalry officer, who, with his band of intrepid outcasts, becomes a legend in the rolling hills of northern Virginia. Inspired by love of country and guided by a sense of duty and honor, Hunter must make a desperate choice when he discovers the woman he promised his dying brother he would protect is the Union spy he vowed to his men he would destroy.

Readers will discover the fine line between friends and enemies when the paths of these two tenacious foes cross by the fates of war and their destinies become entwined forever.

Author Jessica James uniquely blends elements of romantic and historical fiction in this deeply personal and poignant tale that, according to one reviewer, “transcends the pages to settle in the very marrow of the reader’s bones.”

(Summary courtesy of Patriot Press Books)

Jessica James is a former newspaper editor who spent 18 years in a newsroom before turning her attention to writing fiction. She enjoys reading 19th century fiction and non-fiction, and writing about the honor, traditions and principles that were prevalent in the South during the Civil War. James holds a master’s degree in communications and a bachelor’s degree in public relations/journalism. She is featured in the book, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading, which was published in 2010.