A WILLA Literary Award

When I was struggling to get to my writing career off the ground (after 67 rejection letters, I was feeling a little, well, rejected!), a wonderful friend said she’d connect me with her neighbor who wrote books.

Turns out her neighbor who wrote books was none other than New York Times Bestselling Author Jane Kirkpatrick.

Jane was kind enough to let me call her and ask her dozens of questions. She’s the one who suggested I look into self-publishing, and it was a perfect fit for me. (Thank you, Jane!) Whether she knows it or not, Jane has been an incredible mentor, inspiration, and friend to me ever since.

About ten years ago, Jane mentioned a group she belonged to – Women Writing the West.  The organization of writers and professionals who write and promote writing in the West, emphasizes the experiences of women and girls in the west.

In 2015, even though I hadn’t yet attended the Women Writing the West annual autumn conference, Jane asked me to cochair the event with her. So I did.

It was while I was at Jane’s home preparing for the conference that I saw her office walls lined with awards, including several WILLA Literary Awards.

The WILLA Literary Awards are named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Willa Cather. The award recognizes the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West that are published each year. The awards are presented at the fall conference each year.

As I stood, admiring Jane’s many accomplishments, I thought to myself, “Someday, I want to win a WILLA Literary Award.”

Imagine my shock, surprise, and ecstatic feelings when I found out I am one of this year’s winners!

Henley  is the Women Writing the West 2023 WILLA Literary Award Romance Winner.

You can see a list of this year’s finalists and winners here.

Thank you to the judges and everyone involved in the WILLA Literary Awards. I couldn’t be more pleased, thrilled, humbled, or grateful. And thanks to Jane for inspiring me!

If you need me, I’m still up on Cloud 9!

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26 Responses

  1. I’m not shocked at all! Your stories just have that extra “something” and I especially love the way you mix a bit of history into them to put them into historical context. I will put another book aside to finish later when you have a new book out. Congratulations! You absolutely deserve it.

  2. Congratulations and I am so pleased to read the back story of your friendship with Jane Kirkpatrick. And kudos to CC too, as I’m sure this is a team effort at times.

    1. It is a team effort, and thank you. Jane is just a spectacular person and I’m so grateful for her friendship. And yours! Have a lovely day, Barbara!

  3. Congratulations like Beth said you have that extra something. When I am reading your books I hate to put them down . I like to keep Reading till it’s done. You are a great writer

  4. Shanna, I am so incredibly proud and happy for you!! Congratulations, such a well-deserved reward for all your hard work!!

  5. Congratulations on this prestigious win! Your work is so good, always well researched and fine tuned in the editing department! I can always count on a well written and fun book from you! Thank you for bringing so many pleasant hours of reading to me!

  6. Hurrah! Your books are all so well-researched and true to the human heart. And you make history so intriguing that I often go online to check out more about a place or event, but then I pop right back into the story. When I start one it’s hard to stop reading until I have finished it. And then I love your comments about how and where the book had its genesis. You always give your readers the full package. Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you for what you shared, Sarah. It means so much to me, and I’m so grateful for your readership and kindness. Thank you!

  7. Shanna, congratulations on your winning this award. I am so very happy for you. This is awesome that you received an award you have always wanted. I am so proud of you and all you do.

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