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 25th Annual WILLA Literary Award Competition Winners and Finalists, representing the best of 2022 published literature for women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West.
Winners and Finalists will be honored during the 29th Annual Conference, October 12 – 14, 2023.
Women Writing the West®
2023 WILLA Literary Award WINNERS and FINALISTS
WINNER: Happy for You: A Novel, Claire Stanford, Viking Books
FINALIST: The Road to Me, Laura Drake, Fiction Studio Books
FINALIST: Hardly Any Shooting Stars Left, B.K Froman, Iron Stream Fiction
WINNER: Woman of Light, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, One World
FINALIST: Hardland, Ashley E. Sweeney, She Writes Press
FINALIST: Beneath the Bending Skies, Jane Kirkpatrick, Revell
WINNER: Henley, Shanna Hatfield, Wholesome Hearts Publishing
WINNER: Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West, Katie Hickman, Spiegel & Grau
FINALIST: Spirit Things, Lara Messersmith-Glavin, University of Alaska Press
FINALIST: Apertures: findings from a rural life, Mary B. Kurtz, Shanti Arts Publishing
WINNER: The Widowed Ones: Beyond the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Chris Enss and Howard Kazanjian with Chris Kortlander, TwoDot Press
FINALIST: Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing, Lauren DeLaunay Miller, Mountaineer Books
FINALIST: Rare Merit: Women in Photography in Canada, 1840-1940, Colleen Skidmore, University of British Columbia Press
CHILDREN’S FICTION AND NONFICTION
WINNER: The Other Side of the River, Alda P. Dobbs, Sourcebooks Young Readers
FINALIST: Amelia and the Magic Ponies, Sue Houser, Mariah Fox, Illustrator, Irie Books
YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND NONFICTION
WINNER: Meg and the Rocks, Katy Hammel, Plot Duckies
FINALIST: My Rock and My Refuge, Rachel Kovaciny, White Rook Press
FINALIST: Jean Landis WASP Pilot: 2500 Miles…Long Beach to Newark in a P-51, Sarah Byrn Rickman, Flight to Destiny Press
WINNER: Prairie Midden, Athena Kildegaard, Tinderbox Editions
FINALIST: Making Silent Stones Sing: poems, Susan Cummins Miller, Finishing Line Press
FINALIST: Feeding the Fire, Twyla M. Hansen, WSC 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.
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 2024 WILLA Chair Lynn Downey at WILLA@womenwritingthewest.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!