WWA announces 2019 Spur Award winners

     TUCSON, Ariz. – Johnny D. Boggs won his eighth Spur Award – becoming the all-time leader in Western Writers of America’s 66-year history – and Francisco Cantú won two Spurs, the nonprofit association announced.

John D. Nesbitt and Mike Blakely won their fourth and third Spurs.

Winners and finalists will be honored June 19-22 in Tucson during WWA’s annual convention.

WWA promotes and honors 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.

Boggs’ Taos Lightning (Center Point) won for juvenile fiction. He tied Elmer Kelton (1926-2009) with seven Spurs in 2017. Richard S. Wheeler (1935-2019) and Paul Andrew Hutton have six. Boggs’ previous Spurs were for the short story “A Piano at Dead Man’s Crossing” (2002), Camp Ford (2006); Legacy of a Lawman (2012), juvenile novels Doubtful Cañon (2008) and Hard Winter (2010) and original mass-market paperback novels West Texas Kill (2012) and Return to Red River (2017). He has also been a finalist 13 times.

Cantú’s The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border(Riverhead) won for contemporary nonfiction and best first nonfiction book.

Nesbitt’s “Prairie Center” (R.R. Productions) won for poem. His previous Spurs have been for original mass-market paperbacks Trouble at Redstone (2009) and Stranger in Thunder Basin (2010) and the short story “At the End of the Orchard” (2010). Blakely, whose “The Outside Circle” (Quien Sabe Music) won for song, was also a song finalist for “The Ballad of Josiah Wilbarger” (Quien Sabe Music). Both songs appear on Blakely’s CD The Outside Circle. Blakley’s other Spurs came for his song “The Last Wild White Buffalo” (2008) and his novel Summer of Pearls (2001).

In other book-length fiction categories, G.K. Aalborg’s River of Porcupines (Five Star Publishing) won for historical novel; C.K. Crigger’s The Woman Who Built a Bridge (Wolfpack) won for romance novel; Susan Henderson’s The Flicker of Old Dreams (HarperCollins) won for contemporary novel; Ellen Notbohm’s The River by Starlight (She Writes Press), a finalist for traditional novel, won for best first novel; Brad Smith’s The Return of Kid Cooper (Arcade) won for traditional novel; and Reavis Z. Wortham’s Hawke’s War (Pinnacle) won for original mass-market paperback novel.

Nonfiction book awards went to Francie M. Berg’s Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains: The Last Great Hunts and Saving the Buffalo (Dakota Buttes Visitors Council) for juvenile nonfiction; Mark J. Nelson’s White Hat: The Military Career of Captain William Philo Clark (University of Oklahoma Press) for biography; and Brenden W. Rensink’s Native but Foreign: Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands (Texas A&M University Press) for historical nonfiction.

Allen Morris Jones’ Montana for Kids: The Story of Our State (Bangtail Press) won the Storyteller Spur for best illustrated children’s book; Therese Greenwood’s “Buck’s Last Ride,” published in the anthology Kill As You Go (Coffin Hop Press), won for short fiction; and Peter H. Hassrick’s “Art, Agency, and Conservation: A Fresh Look at Albert Bierstadt’s Vision of the West” (Montana the Magazine of Western History) won for short nonfiction.

The Rider (Sony), written and directed by Chloe Zhao, won for drama script.

Other finalists:

Contemporary Novel: Deep Fire Rise by Jon Gosch (Latah Books); Broken Field by Jeff Hull (Arcade).

Historical Novel: This Scorched Earth: A Novel of the Civil War by William Gear (Forge); Line Of Glory: A Novel of the Alamo by Thomas D. Clagett (Five Star Publishing); The Long Shadow by Beth Kanell (Five Star Publishing).

Original Mass-Market Paperback Novel: No Justice in Hell by Charles G. West (Pinnacle); Where the Bullets Fly by Terrence McCauley (Pinnacle).

Romance Novel: Out of the Ashes by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse (Bethany House); The Kitchen Marriage by Gina Welborn and Becca Whitham (Zebra).

Traditional Novel: Born to the Badge by Mark Warren (Five Star Publishing).

Biography: Polly Pry: The Woman Who Wrote the West by Julia Bricklin (TwoDot); The Cowboy President: The American West and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Michael F. Blake (TwoDot).

Contemporary Nonfiction: The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West by John Branch (W.W. Norton); Folly Cove: A Smuggler’s Tale of the Pot Rebellion by Kermit Schweidel (Cinco Puntos Press); Acid West: Essays by Joshua Wheeler (MCD x FSG Originals).

Historical Nonfiction: Bonanza King: John Mackay and the Battle Over the Greatest Riches in the American West by Gregory Crouch (Scribner); West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express by Jim DeFelice (William Morrow).

Juvenile Fiction: Rawhide Robinson Rides a Dromedary by Rod Miller (Five Star Publishing); Hardscrabble by Sandra Dallas (Sleeping Bear Press).

Juvenile Nonfiction: Lust For Glory: An Epic Story of Early Texas and the Sacrifice that Defined a Nation by Stephen L. Hardin (State House Press).

Storyteller: Fergus and The Night Before Christmas by author-illustrator Jean Abernethy (Trafalgar Square Books).

Short Fiction: “Wren’s Perch” by Vonn McKee (The Trading Post and Other Frontier Stories,Five Star Publishing); “Byrd’s Luck” by Jeffrey J. Mariotte (The Untamed West,Western Fictioneers).

Short Nonfiction: “Railroad Man” by Clay Reynolds (New Madrid: Journal of Contemporary Literature); “The Piikuni and the U.S. Army’s Piegan Expedition: Competing Narratives of the 1870 Massacre on the Marias River” by Rodger C. Henderson (Montana the Magazine of Western History).

Poem: “Americana West, 1911: Sidney, Montana” by Red Shuttleworth (Homeward: Poems, Blue Horse Press).

Song: “And the River Ran Red” by Brenn Hill and Rod Miller (Hill’s CD Rocky Mountain Drifter, Defenders Recording Co.).