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!