candy moulton
encampment, wyo.

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March 24, 2014
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Candy Moulton: Reading the West 3-24-14

Anne Hillerman’s “Spider Woman’s Daughter” — which continues the popular mystery series created by her late father, Tony Hillerman — won the 2014 Spur Award for Best First Novel, while Mark Lee Gardner won two Spurs for works dealing with the James-Younger Gang, Western Writers of America has announced.

Gardner won in the Best Western Nonfiction - Historical category for “Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape” (published by William Morrow/HarperCollins) and for Best Western Short Nonfiction with “The Other James Brother,” an article published in Wild West magazine that deals with Frank James, Jesse James’s older brother.

Since 1953, Western Writers of America ( has promoted and honored the best in Western literature with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges. Awards, for material published last year, are given for works whose inspiration, image, and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West.

The 2014 Spur winners and finalists will be honored during WWA’s annual convention, June 24-28 in Sacramento, Calif.

In the novel categories, mystery writer James Lee Burke’s “Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux Novel” (Simon & Schuster) won for Best Western Contemporary Novel; Henry Chappell’s “Silent We Stood” (Texas Tech University Press) won for Best Western Historical Novel; and Gary Schanbacher’s “Crossing Purgatory” (Pegasus) won for Best Western Traditional Novel.

The Storyteller Spur for Best Illustrated Children’s Book went to “Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story” (Yosemite Conservancy), written by Ginger Wadsworth and illustrated by Daniel San Souci.

Complete winners and finalists:

Best Western Contemporary Novel

■ Winner: “Light of the World: A Dave Robicheaux” Novel by James Lee Burke

■ Finalists: “Kind of Kin” by Rilla Askew (Ecco/HarperCollins); “The Old Man’s Love Story” by Rudolfo Anaya (University of Oklahoma Press)

Best Western Historical Novel

■ Winner: “Silent We Stood” by Henry Chappell (Texas Tech University Press)

■ Finalists: “The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber (Mantle/Pan Macmillan); “Greasy Grass: A Story of the Little Big Horn” by Johnny D. Boggs (Five Star Publishing)

Best Western Traditional Novel

■ Winner: “Crossing Purgatory” by Gary Schanbacher (Pegasus)

■ Finalists: “Destiny Made Them Brothers” by Andrew J. Fenady (Pinnacle/Kensington); “The Hardest Ride” by Gordon L. Rottman (Taliesin Publishing)

Best First Novel

■ Winner: “Spider Woman’s Daughter” by Anne Hillerman (HarperCollins)

■ Finalists: “Crossing Purgatory” by Gary Schanbacher (Pegasus); “La Grulla” by John R. Wright (Dryland Publishing)

Best Western Nonfiction - Historical

■ Winner: “Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape” by Mark Lee Gardner (William Morrow/HarperCollins).

■ Finalists: “Shooting Arrows and Slinging Mud: Custer, the Press, and the Little Bighorn” by James E. Mueller (University of Oklahoma Press); “The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin (Simon & Schuster)

Best Western Nonfiction - Contemporary

■ Winner: “Vactionland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country” by William Philpott (University of Washington Press)

■ Finalists: “Trees in Paradise: A California History” by Jared Farmer (W.W. Norton); “Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture” by Larry D. Gragg (University Press of Kansas)

Best Western Nonfiction - Biography

■ Winner: “Jack London: An American Life” by Earle Labor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

■ Finalists: “Cowboy Stuntman: From Olympic Gold to the Silver Screen” by Dean Smith with Mike Cox (Texas Tech University Press); “In the Shadow of Billy the Kid: Susan McSween and the Lincoln County War” by Kathleen P. Chamberlain (University of New Mexico Press)

Best Western Juvenile Fiction

■ Winner: “Papa’s Gold” by Ellen Gray Massey (Pen-L)

■ Finalists: “How I Became a Ghost” by Tim Tingle (The RoadRunner Press); “Summer of the Star” by Johnny D. Boggs (Five Star Publishing)

Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction

■ Winner: “Eagle of Delight: Portrait of the Plains Indian Girl in the White House” by Jean A. Lukesh (Field Mouse Productions)

■ Finalists: “Magnificent Sam: The Amazing Adventures of Sam Houston” by Laurie Cockerell (Kinderfable); “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party” by Nathan Hale (Amulet)

Storyteller (Best Illustrated Children’s Book)

■ Winner: “Yosemite’s Songster: One Coyote’s Story” by Ginger Wadsworth (author) and Daniel San Souci (illustrator) (Yosemite Conservancy)

■ Finalists: “May Finds Her Way” by Betty Selakovich Casey (author and illustrator) (The Roadrunner Press); “Standing in for Lincoln Green” by David Mackintosh (author and illustrator) (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Best Western Short Fiction Story

■ Winner: “Cabin Fever” by Brett Cogburn (High Hill Press)

■ Finalists: “Gethsemane” by Clay Reynolds (Lamar University Press); “Chouteau’s Crossing” by McKendree Long (High Hill Press)

Best Western Short Nonfiction

■ Winner: “The Other James Brother” by Mark Lee Gardner (Wild West)

■ Finalists: “Donner Party Cannibalism: Did They or Didn’t They?” by Kristin Johnson (Wild West); “Celebrating ‘Progress’?: Art, Ambivalence, and Vanessa Helder’s Grand Coulee Suite” by Victoria Grieve (Western Historical Quarterly)

Best Western Poem

■ Winner: “Chamise” by Amy Glynn Greacen (Orion)

■ Finalists: “Cayonosa,” by Larry D. Thomas (Southwestern American Literature); “Skulls” by Dixon Hearne (Laughing Cactus Press)

Best Western Song

■ Winner: “Still There” by Waddie Mitchell and Juni Fisher (Red Geetar Music)

■ Finalists: “Race with the Wind” by Jim Jones and Bruce Huntington (East Mountain Music); “Old Poly Rope” by Trinity Seely (Bucket Bail Press)

Best Western Documentary Script

■ Winner: “Indian Relay” by M. Smoker (Dye Works Film) ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Mar 19, 2014 11:22AM Published Apr 14, 2014 02:00PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.