When Western Writers of America gathers in Las Vegas, Nev., June 25-29 for its annual convention, a celebration of the organization’s founding 60 years ago will take place. With it comes recognition of the men and women who have been creating the Literature of the West for the World® during that time period.
Presentation of the Spur Awards and other major recognition will take place Saturday, June 29 with T.V. and Film star Bruce Boxleitner serving as Emcee.
Jory Sherman who continues to write and tell stories of the American West will receive the Wister Award, the highest honor given to a living writer by WWA. His work includes such books as “Medicine Horn” for which he won a Spur Award from Western Writers of America in 1992 and “Grass Kingdom,” part of the “Barons of Texas Series.”
Under his Taneycomo company, he worked as a book packager ... bringing writers and publishers together. One of his significant accomplishments involved development of the Rivers West series, published in the 1990s by Bantam with books by such writers as Gary McCarthy and Win Blevins, in addition to Sherman himself.
In receiving the Wister Award Sherman is placed beside such other recent winners as N. Scott Momaday, Elmore Leonard, Tony Hillerman, and James A. Crutchfield.
During the convention Terry C. Johnston will be inducted into the Western Writers Hall of Fame. Johnston is recognized for his body of literature including books that focused on the mountain man and Indian wars history of the Northern Plains.
Today’s newest writers also receive recognition at the convention. Larry Bjornson wins a Spur Award in the Best Western Juvenile Fiction category for his first novel, “Wide Open,” Mary Kaye wins for her song “Any Name Will Do.”
Nancy Plain will pick up a third Spur for her nonfiction history of the great Nebraska photographer Solomon Butcher, “Light on the Prairie,” which is written for young readers, and Robert N. Utley also receives his third Spur, winning with his biography “Geronimo.”
A WWA convention is about more than awards and recognition. It is also about learning and that ever-important facet of writing: networking. It is a place for editors and agents to meet with writers, for creative minds to gather and share information.
Among the panels and presentations on the program this year are “Black Cowboys in the West” featuring writer/scholars Michael N. “Cowboy Mike” Searles, Bruce Glasrud, Art Burton, and Carolina Castillo Crimm. Cowboy lifestyle and work will be the topic of “Writing about Cowboys” which will feature writers Rod Miller, Amy Hale Auker, Gail Steiger, Gary Rasmussen, Brett Cogburn and A.J. Mangum.
History of the West will be the focus of panel discussions about “The Old Spanish Trail” and “Writing About the Mormon West.” A panel including an editor, agent, and literary attorney will dig deeply into the business of writing tackling such topics as copyright, contract clauses and more.
The convention is being held in Las Vegas, so one session will focus on gambling and vice ... but in the Victorian West not the modern-day versions. Presenters include Sherry Monahan, Chris Enss and G. R. Williamson.
Along with these presentations there will be informal music jam sessions, a tour to The Mob Museum (officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement™), and a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Henderson, Nev., from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, June 28.
All events will be held at the Riviera Casino and Resort. More information about the convention, which is open to any writer wishing to participate, can be found at www.WesternWriters.org. ❖