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 Closed
Entry Deadline was February 1, 2021
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
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
WINNER – The Glovemaker; A Novel by Ann Weisgarber
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Individual collections or anthologies.
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.
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.
WILLA Literary Award Guidelines
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 2020 are not eligible.
APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE 2021 WILLA LITERARY AWARD IS NOW CLOSED
Honoring Books First Published in 2020
Entry deadline February 1, 2021
Application fee – $65 per entry
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 email@example.com
DONATE TO THE WILLA AWARD FUND
Your generous donation supports the annual WILLA Literary Award writing contest.
Donations of any amount are accepted throughout the year and are tax deductible!