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 Entry Deadline for the 2020 WILLA Literary Award was February 1, 2020

Winners and Finalists will be announced in August, 2020, and honored at the 26th Annual Conference, in Colorado Springs, CO.
October 15 – 18, 2020


2019 WILLA Literary Award winners

2019 WILLA LITERARY AWARD WINNERS

(left to right) 2019 WILLA Chair Carmen Peone; Young Adult Fiction Winner, Theresa Verboort; Children’s Fiction and Nonfiction Winner, Sanda Dallas; Poetry Winner, Linda Schandelmier; Historical Fiction Winner, Elizabeth Crook.

2019 WILLA Literary Award Finalists

2019 WILLA LITERARY AWARD FINALISTS

(Left to right) 2019 WILLA Chair, Carmen Peone; Historical Fiction, Sandra Dallas; Scholarly Nonfiction, Barbara Love; Contemporary Fiction, Juni Fisher; Original Softcover, Milana Marsenich

2019 WILLA LITERARY AWARDS WERE PRESENTED AT THE 25TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, OCTOBER 10 – 13, 2019

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

WINNER – The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson
HarperCollins-Harper Perennial
FINALIST – Girls from Centro by Juni Fisher
Pen-L Publishing
FINALIST – Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books


HISTORICAL FICTION

WINNER – The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook
Little, Brown and Company
FINALIST – The Removes by Tatjana Soli
Sarah Crichton Books/FSG
FINALIST – The Patchwork Bride by Sandra Dallas
St. Martin’s Press


ORIGINAL SOFTCOVER FICTION

WINNERSee Also Proof: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery by Larry D. Sweazy
Seventh Street Books
FINALIST – Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr: A Novel
by Thomas Fox Averill

University of New Mexico Press
FINALIST – The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich
Open Books


CREATIVE NONFICTION

WINNER – My Ranch, Too: A Wyoming Memoir by Mary Budd Flitner
University of Oklahoma Press
FINALIST – Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living by Karen Auvinen
Scribner / Simon & Schuster
FINALIST – Raw Material: Working Wool in the West by Stephany Wilkes
Oregon State University Press

SCHOLARLY NONFICTION

WINNER – Beyond the Rebel Girl: Women and the Industrial Workers of the World in the Pacific Northwest, 1905-1924 by Heather Mayer
Oregon State University Press
FINALIST – Life on Muskrat Creek: A Homestead Family in Wyoming by Ethel Waxham Love and J. David Love
Lehigh University Press


POETRY

WINNER – Coming Out of Nowhere: Alaska Homestead Poems by Linda Schandelmeier
University of Alaska Press
FINALIST – Flatlands by Ruth Williams
Black Lawrence Press
FINALIST – The Slow Art by Sierra Golden
Bear Star Press


CHILDREN’S FICTION & NONFICTION

WINNER – Hardscrabble by Sandra Dallas
Sleeping Bear Press
FINALIST – The Wind Called My Name by Mary Louise Sanchez
Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books
FINALIST: – The Last Grand Adventure by Rebecca Behrens
Simon & Schuster / Aladdin


YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION

WINNER – The Communing Tree by Theresa Verboort
iUniverse
FINALIST – Becoming Beatrice by Frances Wood
Blue Heron Press
FINALIST – Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley
North Dakota State University 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 2019 (in any form) are eligible for the WILLA Literary Awards. ONLY books FIRST published and copyrighted in 2019 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 2019. 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, 2020, deadline will not be acknowledged nor will any part of the package, including the entry fee, be returned.

APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE WILLA LITERARY AWARD IS NOW CLOSED

Honoring Books First Published in 2019
Entry deadline February 1, 2020
Application fee – $65 per entry

Winners and Finalists will be announced in August, and Awards presented at the 26th Annual Conference in Colorado Springs, CO, on October 15 – 18, 2020.

Questions? Please contact WILLA Chair Cindy Sandell at cisand@earthlink.net
or by telephone at 972-867-4160.