I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year’s Western Writers of America (WWA) conference in Loveland, Colorado. It was my first time in The Centennial State, but it certainly won’t be my last. Loveland is a growing area about an hour north of Denver, located just south of the better-known Fort Collins. There are no shortage of traffic circles, vacant lots ripe for development and new highway construction. The area is chock-full of malls featuring top stores within a short drive in any direction. There are also a wide variety of great restaurants offering every type of cuisine throughout the area. I’d encourage visitors to not only visit the downtown historic district but the outlying neighborhoods as well. You won’t be disappointed.
Of course, I hadn’t flown all the way to Colorado just to shop or eat. I was there to attend the conference, reconnect with old friends and meet some new ones. As usual, the volunteers who work so hard to give WWA members a memorable conference came through with flying colors.
There were numerous panels with topics that helped both veteran writers and new writers alike. Some of the topics covered trends in the genre, how to get published, how to find an agent and how a writer can help market their books. Attendees heard some straight talk from the best in the business about how they can set themselves up for success while preparing themselves for the unavoidable hardships involved in publishing.
The Silver Spur Awards Ceremony was held on Saturday night and featured a wide array of western novels and songs that spanned from the historic to the modern era. The winners were:
Best Original Mass-Market Paperback: Johnny D. Boggs’s A Thousand Texas Longhorns (Pinnacle/Kensington)
Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel: David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts (Echo/HarperCollins)
Best Non-Fiction: Peter Cozzens’s Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation (Alfred A. Knopf)
Best First Nonfiction Book: Laura J. Arata’s Race and the Wild West: Sarah Bickford, the Montana Vigilantes, and the Tourism of Decline, 1870–1930 (University of Oklahoma Press)
Best Historical Nonfiction: Robert M. Utley’s The Last Sovereigns: Sitting Bull and the Resistance of the Free Lakotas (University of Nebraska Press)
Contemporary Nonfiction: Justin Farrell’s Billionaire Wilderness: The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West (Princeton University Press)
Historical Novel: James Wade’s All Things Left Wild (Blackstone Publishing)
Romance Novel: Tom Lowe’s Midnight’s Whisperer (Kingsbridge Entertainment)
Traditional Novel: Tyler Enfield’s Like Rum-Drunk Angels (Goose Lane Publications)
Juvenile Fiction: Matthew P. Mayo’s Dilly (Five Star Publishing)
Short Nonfiction: Ted Franklin Belue’s three-part series “Daniel Boone’s Life in the Far West: An Inquiry into his Alleged Yellowstone Hunt” (Muzzleloader Magazine)
Short Fiction: Kevin Wolf’s “Belthanger,” published in Under Western Stars: Stories of the Western Fictioneers (Western Fictioneers)
Storyteller/Illustrated Children’s Book: author Cami Carlson and illustrator Greg White’s Run, Cow, Run! (Kindle Direct Publishing)
Poem: Patricia Frolander’s “Baptism,” published in Second Wind (High Plains Press)
Song: Randy Huston and Jim Jones’s “Don’t Say Goodbye to the Cowboy Way” (Dr. et Music/East Mountain Music), from The Cowboy Way’s CD Doin’ What We Do.
Documentary Script: Paul Zalis’s Charlie Russell’s Old West (Montana PBS)
No awards were given in the juvenile nonfiction and drama script categories.
Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees! And thank you to all of the people who worked so hard to make this year’s convention a memorable one. Hope to see you next year!
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