THE WILLA LITERARY AWARD
The WILLA Literary Awards, named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Willa Cather, recognizes the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American 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.
Entry for The 25th Annual WILLA Literary Award closed on February 1, 2023.
WWW is proud to announce the 24th Annual WILLA Literary Award Competition Winners and Finalists, representing the best of 2021 published literature for women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West.
Winners and Finalists will be honored during the 28th Annual Conference, October 20 – 22, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
WINNER: Striking Range: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane Books)
FINALIST: The Lockhart Women by Mary Camarillo (She Writes Press)
FINALIST: Site Fidelity by Claire Boyles (WW Norton)
WINNER: The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin (Penguin Random House)
FINALIST: The Healing of Natalie Curtis by Jane Kirkpatrick (Revell)
FINALIST: You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad (William Morrow-HarperCollins)
WINNER: A Texas Christmas Miracle by Justine Davis (Tule Publishing Group)
FINALIST: Montana Cowboy Miracle by Jane Porter (Tule Publishing Group)
WINNER: The Forgotten Botanist: Sara Plummer Lemmon’s Life of Science and Art by Wynne Brown (Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press)
FINALIST: The Last Layer of the Ocean: Kayaking Through Love and Loss on Alaska’s Wild Coast by Mary Emerick (Oregon State University Press)
FINALIST: Burning the Breeze: Three Generations of Women in the American West by Lisa Hendrickson (Bison Books/University Nebraska Press)
WINNER: Sally in Three Worlds: An Indian Captive in the House of Brigham Young by Virginia Kerns (University of Utah Press)
FINALIST: The Girl Who Dared to Defy: Jane Street and the Rebel Maids of Denver by Jane Little Botkin (University of Oklahoma Press)
FINALIST: Only Connect: Creating and Sustaining Community by Belle Zars (Nauwa Press)
WINNER: Sometimes a Woman by Kimberly K. Williams (Recent Work Press)
FINALIST: In Plains Sight by Bonnie Larson Staiger (North Dakota State University Press)
FINALIST: Stone Roses by Linda Neal Reising (Kelsay Books)
CHILDREN’S FICTION & NONFICTION
Winner: Headstrong Hallie!: The Story of Hallie Morse Daggett, the First Female “Fire Guard” by Aimée Bissonette (Sleeping Bear Press)
FINALIST: Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs (Sourcebooks)
FINALIST: Carry Me Home by Janet Fox (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers)
YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION
WINNER: Runaway Moon by Carole T. Beers (W & B Publishers)
FINALIST: Rescuing Hope by Heidi M. Thomas (SunCatcher Publications)
FINALIST: Ski Weekend by Rektok Ross (SparkPress)
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.
Entries include a variety of genres such as literary, mystery, contemporary, or any fiction EXCEPT Historical or Romance.
Books featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West prior to contemporary times. WWW defines Historical Fiction as any story set a minimum of 50 years prior to the publication date.
Entries in the Romance Category should have a central plot focus on the development of a relationship between two people. The plot builds toward an optimistic conclusion without including the use of erotica or erotic themes.
Entries are true accounts, well told, featuring the story of a woman or girl and set in the North American West. Includes autobiographical works.
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.
The WILLA Literary Award Guidelines
Download The WILLA Literary Award Guideline PDF for complete information
APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE 2024 WILLA LITERARY AWARD OPENS NOVEMBER 1, 2023
Honoring Books First Published in 2023
Winners and Finalists will be announced in August, and Awards presented at the 30th Annual Conference in October, 2024.
Questions? Please contact 2023 WILLA Chair Betsy Randolph at firstname.lastname@example.org
DONATE TO THE WILLA LITERARY AWARD FUND
Your generous donation supports the annual WILLA Literary Award, which honors the best in published literature featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in all North America west of the Mississippi and includes Alaska and Hawaii. Donations of any amount are accepted throughout the year and are tax deductible!