In 2007, President Elect Kathleen Ernst presented a seed of an idea to the WWW Board of Directors. Her proposal, a short story contest, offered a threefold foundation: showcase WWW members' writing talents, celebrate the short story form, and add another benefit to membership. Unlike the WILLA Literary Awards, only WWW members would be eligible to enter their previously unpublished story featuring a female protagonist, and set in the American West, past, present or future.
During the contest's first year in 2008, President Elect Sheila Wood Foard guided the new project. Twenty-five members submitted entries, and the quality was such that Final Judge Susan Stoltz, of Women OutWest Magazine, elected to include two Honorable Mentions in addition to the top three winning stories.Winners were recognized at the 2008 WWW Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Approaching its second year, the WWW Short Story Contest gained a new name: the LAURA Awards. Mirroring a part of the traditions of our WILLA Literary Award, which is named after one of America's foremost authors, Willa Cather, the Short Story Committee decided to give the contest a recognized name, as well. In honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the contest was christened the LAURA Award.
Once again, WWW members enthusiastically embraced the contest, and in 2009, another threeWinners and two Honorable Mentions were awarded at the Los Angeles Conference. Spurred by members' recent requests to have an opportunity to read the winning stories, and eager to showcase the extraordinary talent of our members, the WWW LAURA Committee decided to present a collection of the winning stories in an online journal, available here, at the WWW website.
So, sit down, pull up to your computer, and take a trip with us through the AmericanWest. We have a hunch Ms.Wilder herself would be mightily entertained!