Western Writers of America honors authors
More than 300 Western Writers of America (WWA) members converged on Wyoming’s capitol for their 63rd Annual Convention last weekend. These men and women from England, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and New York poked around nooks, crannies and cemeteries; reading, listening and asking questions about every aspect of the Cheyenne legacy.
Beyond the city limits WWA members enjoyed a tour to Fort Laramie National Historic site and a “Meet The Authors” event at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington.
Founded in 1953, WWA’s purpose is to promote the literature of the American West and bestow Spur Awards for distinguished writing in the Western field. More than 650 WWA members today make a unique contribution to world literature ranging from mainstream fiction to local history.
Candy Moulton of Encampment, who has traveled most of the West’s emigrant trails by wagon train and won a Spur for her documentary film In Pursuit of a Dream, joined other Wyoming writers Craig Johnson, C. J. Box, John D. Nesbitt, Chip Carlson and Larry D. Ball on those educational panels. Wyoming displayed her versatility through searing heat, a toadstrangling downpour, raging winds and even some pleasant cool breezes and beautiful moonlit evenings.
Spur Award presentations highlighted the Convention, and Tri-State Livestock News country was well represented. Songwriting winner for “Best Western Song” of 2016 is talented cowgirl, ranch wife and mother Trinity Seeley (www.trinityseeley.com) currently working a ranch with her husband in the Charlie Russell country of Montana. Trinity has lived from British Columbia to California, most recently for a few years West of Casper, Wyoming and then in Nebraska’s Sandhills near Ashby before her recent move to Montana. Trinity wrote the music for her Spur-winning song “The Hand” to accompany a Waddie Mitchell poem.
A lot of driving and time-juggling was required as Trinity wedged the award-acceptance trip to Cheyenne between ranch work and musical appearances, but she humbly said, “How cool to be rewarded by such a prestigious organization! I found the WWA folks a positive support group that ended up feeling like family in the short time I was with them.”
Almeda Bradshaw, who hangs her hat near Billings, Montana, was a Finalist in the Song category with her “Parker Eyes of Blue.” Experiencing her first WWA Convention Almeda said she’s “totally honored” by the recognition. “I look forward to the opportunity to expand into some other kinds of writing, as well,” she added.
Children’s author/illustrator S.D. Nelson, enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux in the Dakotas, was a Spur Finalist in Juvenile Nonfiction for “Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People” as well as a WWA Convention panelist for the “Storytellers: Writing for Children” session. S. D., who now lives at Flagstaff, Arizona, calls himself “an Army brat” saying he lived “all over the world” but always cherished the two or three summer weeks spent among his maternal roots on the Standing Rock Reservation. He believes keeping Lakota people bilingual is a boon to their creativity, and works to promote that. His latest book is “Gift Horse – A Lakota Story.”
Montana – The Magazine of Western History published the Short Nonfiction Spur winner “Cowboys and Capitalists: The XIT Ranch in Texas and Montana, 1885-1912” by Michael M. Miller.
TwoDot publishing company won WWA’s coveted Lariat Award for outstanding support to Western Literature, which was accepted by their Senior Acquisitions Editor Erin Turner, the accomplished author of several books herself. Author Chuck Enss says TwoDot is “among the leading sources of lively books about Western history” and “celebrates the unique and iconic characteristics of the American West.”
Other major WWA Awards included Lucia St. Clair Robson – Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and also Induction into the Western Writers Hall of Fame; John G. Neihardt – induction into the Western Writers of America Hall of Fame; Greeley Hatworks, Trent Johnson – John M. Cleary Homestead Honoree for outstanding support to Western Writers of America; and Cowboy Mike Searles — Branding Iron Award for longtime support to Western Writers of America.
Newly elected WWA officers include Kirk Ellis – President; Nancy Plain – Vice President; Candy Moulton – Secretary – Treasurer and also Executive Director; Robert Clark – Board. Will Bagley and Anne Hillerman are the carry-over Board members. F