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Women Writing the West 2022 Finalists for
The LAURA Short Fiction Award Contest

Congratulations to The LAURA Short Fiction Award Winner and Finalists.

WINNER – “Mrs. Catt, Meet Lacy Jernigan,” by Sarah Byrn Rickman​
SECOND PLACE – “Going, Going, Gone,” by Tyson Greer​
THIRD PLACE – “Touched,” by Candace Simar​

This year’s judge, Jill Hunting, determined first, second, and third placements, and​ these were announced at the Women Writing the West conference in Oklahoma City on October 21.​

Thanks to everyone who made this year’s contest a success.

—Lynn Downey, WWW President-Elect and The LAURA Short Fiction Award Chair

Congratulations to the 2022 LAURA Short Fiction Award Winner and Finalists.


“Mrs. Catt, Meet Lacy Jernigan,” by Sarah Byrn Rickman​

Second Place

“Going, Going, Gone,” by Tyson Greer​

Third Place

“Touched,” by Candace Simar​

The 2023 LAURA Short Fiction Awards entry period will open March 1, 2023.

The LAURA Short Fiction Award is open to members of WWW only.

Join or Renew your membership here.

Entry Period for the 2023 LAURA Short Fiction Award will open March 1, 2023.

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 Unlike the WILLA Literary Awards, only WWW members would be eligible to enter their previously unpublished story featuring a female protagonist, and set in the American West, past, present or future.

Approaching its second year, the WWW Short Story Contest gained a new name: the LAURA Award. 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.

WWW members enthusiastically embraced the contest. Spurred by members’ 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 American West. We have a hunch Ms.Wilder herself would be mightily entertained!

2022 Final Judge Jill Hunting

Jill Hunting at the Goblin Hollow fossil bed in western Kansas.

Jill Hunting is the author of two narrative nonfiction books and is a former food and wine writer and editor. Her first book, Finding Pete: Rediscovering the Brother I Lost in Vietnam (2009), explores the mystery of her brother’s death as the first American civilian aid worker killed in the war in Vietnam. Portions of her book were featured in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s film series for PBS, The Vietnam War, and the companion book. Jill’s memoir For Want of Wings: A Bird with Teeth and a Dinosaur in the Family (Spring 2022) intertwines her great-grandfather’s discovery of an avian dinosaur in 1872 with her visits to the Kansas fossil bed and her journey into pre-history, family history, and U.S. history.

Before and between writing her two memoirs, Jill was based in Sonoma and Napa, California, where she wrote about food and wine. As a magazine editor and writer, she profiled prominent vintners and chefs, wrote lifestyle features, and reviewed restaurants. As a book editor, she worked with authors including John McReynolds, whose Stone Edge Farm Cookbook was named Book of the Year and Best First Book/The Julia Child Award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Making the transition from journalist and editor to author, Jill twice attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference to workshop her first book. While on tour with Finding Pete, she visited the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and saw the fossils collected by her great-grandfather. The idea for her second book, For Want of Wings, was born that day.

Born in the Midwest, Jill found her heart’s home in California in 1982. She now resides in Pasadena with her husband.

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