Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 WILLA Literary Award Winners and Finalists

Congratulations to all!

Women Writing the West (WWW) is proud to announce the 2015 WILLA Literary Award competition Winners and Finalists, representing the best of 2014 published literature for women’s or girl’s stories set in the American West. WWW is the underwriter and annual presenter of this nationally recognized award.

Chosen by professional librarians, historians and university affiliated educators, the winning authors and their books will be honored in Redmond, Oregon, October 9-11, 2015, during the 21st Annual Conference.

The 2015 honorees are listed with the designation of Winner and Finalist in each category.


WINNER: Point of Direction by Rachel Weaver (Ig Publishing)

FINALIST: Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

FINALIST: Stars Go Blue by Laura Pritchett (Counterpoint Press)


WINNER: A Quilt For Christmas by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s Press)

FINALIST: Agnes Canon’s War by Deborah Lincoln (Blank Slate Press)

FINALIST: Timber Rose by J. L. Oakley


WINNER: A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick (Revel/Baker)

FINALIST: The Story Is The Thing by Amy Hale Auker (Pen-L Publishing)

FINALIST: Walls for the Wind by Alethea Williams (Whiskey Creek Press/Start Publishing)


WINNER: Diary of A Citizen Scientist by Sharman Apt Russell (Oregon State University Press)

FINALIST: Xylotheque by Yelizaveta P. Renfro (University of New Mexico Press)

FINALIST: Altitude Adjustment by Mary Beth Baptiste (Rowan & Littlefield)


WINNER: Quite Contrary: The Litigious Life of Mary Bennett Love by David J. Langum, Sr. (Texas Tech University Press)

FINALIST: Marymount College of Kansas: A History by Patricia Ackerman (The History Press)


WINNER: The Secret Life of Us Kids by Bonnie B. Maldonado (Far Country Press)

FINALIST: Souvenir by Aimee Suzara (Word Tech Communications)

FINALIST: Red Stain by Liza Porter (Finishing Line Press)


WINNER: Searching for Silver Heels by Jeannie Mobley (Simon & Schuster)

FINALIST: Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas (Sleeping Bear Press)

FINALIST: Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist by Debra Winegarten (The University of Texas Press)

WWW will be seeking entries for the 2016 WILLA Literary Awards, honoring books published in 2015. The entry period begins December 1, 2015. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2016.

Visit our website at .

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If It’s a Book Party, Make it a Real Party

By Carolyn Niethammer

I think if we ask people to come to our book parties, we should offer them something other than the chance to open their wallets and buy our books.

When my western novel The Piano Player came out, I planned a menu straight from the book. Rosie, my main character, complains of having nothing to eat but beans at the stations on her stage coach ride from California into Tombstone in 1882. So we had beans cooked in my big black Dutch oven and tortillas. But when she arrives in Tombstone, she boards at the Russ House, where real historical character Nellie Cashman serves an extensive menus of French-inspired dishes. I picked one of those dishes, Chicken a la Reine, and made that for my guests. I also made some vintage desserts.

I suggested guests come in their Western finest if they wished and some did. And because it was also a party for my 70th birthday, I went all out and hired a real piano player, rented her a red dance hall girl costume, and worked with her to come up with authentic 1880s music. That was a little over the top, but we had a memorable afternoon in a real historic bar that my husband turned into Frisco Rosie’s Saloon with some clever signs.

Last weekend, I offered to throw a book party for my friend Dave Devine who has a brand new book on the history of Tucson from the Gadsden Purchase to now. He and his wife have had us to many dinner parties at their home, and I was a little behind in reciprocating. He is having a bigger rollout later in August, but I told him to invite his best friends to a private shindig. I planned a menu that I hoped would be amusing and cover some of the time period. This is what we had: 1880’s, beans and tortillas; 1896, Waldorf salad; 1940s, lime Jello with pineapple; 1960s, pigs in a blanket; 2000s, kale and quinoa salad; and for dessert, 1970s, strawberry and Cool Whip pie.

For drinks I had root beer, ginger ale, Gallo wine, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life beers. Also Coors packaged in vintage bottles.

Everybody remembered the Jello salad (the attendees skewed older) and the pigs in a blanket with both mustard and chile dips went fast. There was some pie left over, maybe the PeptoBismo pink Cool Whip scared people off. I’m not sure if everyone found it as amusing to eat as I did to plan and execute, but my friend sold a lot of books and we had a fun afternoon. 

Carolyn Niethammer grew up in the territorial capital of Prescott, Arizona and now lives in Tucson in a downtown historic district. She is the author of nine nonfiction books on southwestern subjects including five cookbooks and two biographies. The Piano Player is her first novel. Find her at