Mission & Goals
To address, educate, coordinate, and support writing that acknowledges and documents the recognition of women and girls and their contribution to the history, culture and growth of the American West; to preserve the historical importance through writing and other literary skills available through publishing and the use of seminars, meetings, newsletters, conventions, competitions, and other communications tools.
Women Writing the West presents three award programs each year; The WILLA Literary Awards, The LAURA Short Fiction Award and The DOWNING Journalism Award.
Awards are presented at the annual conference each October. Guidelines, rubrics and applications are available online at the Women Writing the West website.
The WILLA Literary Award
The WILLA Literary Award was first presented in 1999 at the Women Writing the West Annual conference in Denver, CO.
Named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Willa Cather, The WILLA Literary Award recognizes the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West that are published each year.
Application and payments are accepted exclusively online.
Entry period for The WILLA Literary Award is November 1 through February 1 of each year.
The LAURA Short Fiction Award
In 2007, President Elect Kathleen Ernst proposed a short story contest, offering a threefold foundation: showcase WWW member’s writing talents, celebrate the short story form, and add another benefit to membership.
Only WWW members would be eligible to enter their previously unpublished story featuring a female protagonist, and set in the American West, past, present or future.
The LAURA Short Fiction Award entry period is March 1 through April 30 each year.
The DOWNING Journalism Award
The DOWNING Journalism Award was first presented in 2019, honoring articles and journalism first published in 2018. Named in honor of WWW founder, first president and noted journalist, Sybil Downing, The DOWNING Journalism Award recognizes western-themed nonfiction articles or essays published in a commercial or literary North American publication.
The entry period for The DOWNING Journalism Award is January 1 through March 31 of each year.
Please note that submitting books, unpublished stories, and/or magazine/newspaper articles to The WILLA Literary Award Competition, The LAURA Short Fiction Award, or The DOWNING Journalism Award implies consent of release of identifying information (i.e. Announcing award winners and titles of work on social media and in on-line newsletters.