THE WILLA LITERARY AWARD

The WILLA Literary Awards honor the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West that are published each year. Women Writing the West (WWW), a nonprofit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women’s West, underwrites and presents the nationally recognized award annually at the WWW Fall Conference. The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, one of the country’s foremost novelists.

The WILLA Literary Award Application Period is Now Open

Entry Deadline is February 1, 2021

Print Application and Directions

Women Writing the West is pleased to announce The 2020 WILLA Literary Award Winners and Finalists

Winners and Finalists were honored at the 26th Annual Conference
October 15 – 18, 2020


Congratulations to the Winners and Finalists

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

WINNER – The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
Pamela Dorman Books /Viking Press

FINALIST – Tracking Game: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books
FINALIST – The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood
Penguin Random House


HISTORICAL FICTION

WINNER – The Glovemaker; A Novel by Ann Weisgarber
Skyhorse Publishing

FINALIST – Calamity: A Novel by Libbie Hawker
Running Rabbit Press
FINALIST – One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow; A Novel by Olivia Hawker
Lake Union Publishing


ORIGINAL SOFTCOVER FICTION

WINNER – The Red Dirt Hymnbook by Roxie Faulkner Kirk
Fine Dog Press

FINALIST – A PERFECT EYE – by Stephanie Kane
Cold Hard Press
FINALIST – Soyala: Daughter of the Desert by Cindy Burkart Maynard
BookBaby


CREATIVE NONFICTION

WINNER – I Am A Stranger Here Myself by Debra Gwartney
University of New Mexico Press

FINALIST – Water Mask by Monica Devine
University of Alaska Press
FINALIST – Hummingbird in Underworld: Teaching in a Men’s Prison, A Memoir
by Deborah Tobola

She Writes Press

SCHOLARLY NONFICTION

WINNER – Arequipa Sanatorium: Life in California’s Lung Resort for Women
by Lynn Downey

University of Oklahoma Press

FINALIST – Interwoven Lives: Indigenous Mothers of Salish Coast Communities
by Candace Wellman
Washington State University Press
FINALIST – Esther Hobart Morris: The Unembellished Story of the Nation’s
First Female Judge by Kathryn Swim Cummings

High Plains Press


POETRY

WINNER -We Make A Tiny Herd: Poems to Honor the Burro Lady Of Far West Texas by Lucy Griffith
Main Street Rag

FINALIST – Earthbound by Sharon Salisbury O’Toole
Red Dashboard LLC
FINALIST – Calming the Wilderness by Annemarie Marek
BookBaby


CHILDREN’S FICTION & NONFICTION

WINNER – (Tie) Someplace To Call Home by Sandra Dallas
Sleeping Bear Press

WINNER – (Tie) THE SEAGIRLS of the IRENE by KB Taylor
Boot Top Books

FINALIST – All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey
Roaring Brook Press
FINALIST – Beautiful Courage: A Young Woman’s Journey West, 1852
by Diane M. Covington-Carter

Marshall and McClintic Publishing


YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION

WINNER – Professor Renoir’s Collection of Oddities, Curiosities, and Delights
by Randall Platt

HarperCollins

FINALIST – Angel Thieves by Kathi Appelt
Simon and Schuster
FINALIST – Fire Pony by Sheila Ruble
Barking Dog Press


Previous WILLA Literary Award
Winners and Finalists


WILLA Categories

View the WILLA Literary Award Rubrics below for help deciding which category your book fits into and for criteria info.
Click on the genre listed below to see if your book is eligible.

CONTEMPORARY FICTION:

Books featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West in contemporary times. Softcover originals may be entered in this category as well as hardcover books.
VIEW RUBRIC

HISTORICAL FICTION:

Books featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West before contemporary times. Softcover originals may be entered in this category but the majority of entries are hardcover. WWW defines “historical fiction” as any story set at least 50 years prior to the publication date.
VIEW RUBRIC

ORIGINAL SOFTCOVER FICTION:

This category is specifically for novels originally published in a softcover format, trade or mass market. This category draws a variety of genre books, primarily romance and mystery, as well as more mainstream historical and fiction novels.
VIEW RUBRIC

CREATIVE NONFICTION:

Includes autobiographical
works.
VIEW RUBRIC

SCHOLARLY NONFICTION:

Entries in this category are typically academic or
educational in nature. Scholarship, research, organization and presentation are some of the judging criteria. Includes edited diaries, also anthologies.
VIEW RUBRIC

POETRY:

Individual collections or anthologies.
VIEW RUBRIC

CHILDREN’S FICTION AND NONFICTION:

Books featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West, which includes women’s stories written for young readers.
VIEW RUBRIC

YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION:

Entries can range from young adult books with mature themes to picture books and graphic novels; from fiction to nonfiction to poetry.
VIEW RUBRIC

WILLA Literary Award Guidelines

  • Entries for the WILLA Literary Awards are open to all persons worldwide and are not limited to WWW members or women specifically.
  • All authors or publishers of books featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West in any time period may enter.
  • Professional librarians not affiliated with WWW select Winners and Finalists.
  • Books initially published in 2020 (in any form) are eligible for the WILLA Literary Awards. ONLY books FIRST published and copyrighted in 2020 are eligible – NO exceptions.

In cases where the publication date and copyright date differ, copyright date shall prevail. EXAMPLE: A book originally published as a hardcover and released later as a trade or mass-market paperback is eligible only if the original copyright date is 2020. The book may not be entered in the Original Softcover Fiction category if it was originally published as a hardcover. Books previously released/published in ANY format (hardcover, softcover, e-book, CD, Internet download, POD, etc.) prior to 2019 are not eligible.

  • E-books should be submitted in the appropriate category. Provide THREE bound, printed forms of the book. Spiral or trade paperback bindings are acceptable. Loose manuscript pages or three-ring binders are NOT acceptable and will neither be acknowledged nor returned.
  • A title may only be entered in one category. EXAMPLE: A contemporary mass-market mystery may be entered in either Contemporary Fiction or Original Softcover Fiction, but not both. We strongly suggest that authors of softcover originals (mass market and trade) consider entering the Original Softcover Fiction category.
  • WWW reserves the right to add or delete categories according to the entries received and to move books to another category as appropriate.
  • WWW reserves the right not to name a Winner or Finalist in a category should the librarian judges feel that no book entered in that category merits a WILLA Award.
  • Entries received with incomplete submission packages or postmarked after the February 1, 2021, deadline will not be acknowledged nor will any part of the package, including the entry fee, be returned.

APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE 2021 WILLA LITERARY AWARD IS NOW OPEN

Honoring Books First Published in 2020
Entry deadline February 1, 2021
Application fee – $65 per entry

Print Application and Directions

Winners and Finalists will be announced in August, and Awards presented at the 27th Annual Conference in October, 2021.

Questions? Please contact WILLA Chair Amy Nowak at amy@amynowak.com