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.


WWW is proud to announce the 23rd Annual WILLA Literary Award competition Winners and Finalists, representing the best of 2020 published literature for women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West.

Winners and Finalists will be honored during the 27th Annual Conference, October 7 – 9, 2021, to be held virtually.

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

WINNER: Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima (Crooked Lane Books)

FINALIST: The Flying Cutterbucks by Kathleen M. Rodgers (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing)
FINALIST: Creatures: A Novel by Crissy Van Meter (Algonquin Books)


HISTORICAL FICTION

WINNER: Wild Rivers, Wild Rose by Sarah Birdsall (University of Alaska Press)


FINALIST: Answer Creek: A Novel by Ashley E. Sweeney (She Writes Press)
FINALIST: The Streel: A Deadwood Mystery by Mary Logue (University of Minnesota Press)


ORIGINAL SOFTCOVER FICTION

WINNER: 142 Ostriches by April Dávila (Kensington Books)


FINALIST: Death in the Time of Pancho Villa: A Rose in Old El Paso Mystery by Sandra Marshall (Level Best Books Historia)
FINALIST: And We Shall Have Snow: A Roxanne Calloway Mystery by Raye Anderson (Signature Editions)


CREATIVE NONFICTION

WINNER: Miracle Country: A Memoir of a Family and a Landscape by Kendra Atleework (Algonquin Books)


FINALIST: Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch: One Woman’s Fight to Save Land in the American West by Elizabeth B. Austin (TwoDot)
FINALIST: Walking the High Desert: Encounters with Rural America along the Oregon Desert Trail by Ellen Waterston (University of Washington Press)

SCHOLARLY NONFICTION

WINNER: Ours by Every Law of Right and Justice: Women and the Vote in the Prairie Provinces by Sarah Carter (University of British Columbia Press)


FINALIST: Colorado Women in World War II by Gail M. Beaton (University Press of Colorado)
FINALIST: From San Francisco Eastward: Victorian Theater in the American West by Carolyn Grattan Eichin (University of Nevada Press)


POETRY

WINNER: Second Wind by Patricia Frolander (High Plains Press)


FINALIST: Some Electric Hum by Janice Northerns (Lamar University Literary Press)
FINALIST: Once Upon a Time in Oklahoma by Yvonne Carpenter (Mongrel Empire Press)


CHILDREN’S FICTION & NONFICTION

WINNER: The Girl who Moved to the Town that Wasn’t There by Suzanne Hovik Fuller, Illustrated by Emmeline Forrestal (Siouxland Heritage Museums)


FINALIST: Wilmettie by Sue Houser, Illustrated by Johnna Scalia (Texas Tech University Press)
FINALIST: Library’s Most Wanted by Carolyn Leiloglou, Illustrated by Sarah Pogue (Pelican Publishing Company)


YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION

WINNER: Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund (Imprint)


FINALIST: Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura (Tor Teen)
FINALIST: Reckonings by Daniel Doeden (TouchPoint 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.

MULTIFORM FICTION:

Entries include a variety of genres such as literary, mystery, contemporary, or any fiction EXCEPT Historical or Romance.
VIEW RUBRIC

HISTORICAL FICTION:

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.
VIEW RUBRIC

ROMANCE:

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.
VIEW RUBRIC

CREATIVE NONFICTION:

Entries are true accounts, well told, featuring the story of a woman or girl and set in the North American West. 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

The WILLA Literary Award Guidelines

Download The WILLA Literary Award Guideline PDF for complete information

APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE 2022 WILLA LITERARY AWARD WILL OPEN NOVEMBER 1, 2021

Honoring Books First Published in 2021
Entry deadline February 1, 2022
Application fee – $65 per entry

Winners and Finalists will be announced in August, and Awards presented at the 28th Annual Conference in October, 2022.

Questions? Please contact WILLA Chair Barbara Froman at b.froman@yahoo.com