historical fiction books | historical romance books

Writing Contests: Which is Your Favorite?

By Guest Author
October 20, 2023

At this time one year ago, I was in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Will Rogers Medallion Awards Ceremony. That got me thinking about writing contests and I queried some of my fellow Lanterns to see which contests they like and their experiences.

Michael Ross, author of the Across the Great Divide series, cites the Chanticleer CIBAs as his favorite contest. 

I entered the Chanticleer CIBA awards, competing for the Laramie Award in 2020. Chanticleer is well-recognized, has clear requirements, and isn’t expensive to enter. My book, The Search, had already won cover of the year from the Coffee Pot Book Club, and the five-star award from the Historical Fiction Club. The Laramie Award has a diverse group of entries every year. Since my book was told at least partially from a Native American perspective, and was endorsed by a Shoshone chief, I thought I probably had a good chance. In the end, I made the short list, but didn’t win the award.

Linda Ulleseit, author of The River Remembers, is a fan of the Willa Literary Award.

Women Writing the West will tell you that the WILLA Literary Award is not a contest but an award. I, however, believe it deserves mention here. Named for the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Willa Cather, the annual WILLA Literary Award honors novels published by women or girls. The novels must be set in the United States, west of the Mississippi River, in order to qualify. I love this award because Women Writing the West is an organization near and dear to my heart. 

Ana Brazil, whose The Red-Hot Blues Chanteuse was released just this week, enjoys the IBPA Awards.

I’m partial to the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), who awarded FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER their Ben Franklin Gold Medal for Historical Fiction in 2018. In addition to giving out their awards during their annual conference (which I missed!), they also provide entrants with a reader evaluation. As a debut author, their evaluation was very helpful. Although FANNY NEWCOMB was submitted by my then-publisher, it looks like indy author publishing their own books (like me, who created Rhymes with Razzle Press to publish THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE) can enter their books in the IBPA Contest.

BUT, as much as I like the IBPA, I have to admit that the Independent Publisher Book Awards’ IPPY award is a much cooler name. How fun would it be to yell out, “Yippee, I got an IPPY?” 

Rebecca Dharlingue’s The Map Colorist was released in September. Rebecca calls up the Booker Award and the CIBAs.

Of the famous book awards, I always check out the winners of the Booker Prize. For us authors who are mere mortals, I’m drawn to the Chanticleer International Book Awards, or CIBAs. The logo of the awards overall is a rooster, the meaning of the word chanticleer. I can only assume it is symbolic of winners being able to crow about their wins.

In that vein, I will say that I was happy that my first novel, The Lines Between Us, won in its category within the Chaucer Award, which covers pre-1750s early historical fiction. That’s another thing for authors to like about the CIBAs. There are more sections for historical fiction, since within, for example, the Chaucer Awards, there are several categories for the different periods. Besides, what’s not to like about book awards with names like the Goethe Awards (post-1750s historical fiction), the Laramie Awards (Americana), the CLUE Awards (suspense/thriller), and the M & M Awards (mystery and mayhem)?

As for me, I’m a fan of several contests and it’s difficult to select just one (so I won’t).

When I wrote historical romance, I always entered the HOLT Medallion Awards. The Award is widely recognized and has clear guidelines; the HOLT Medallion for Best First Book (Chances) was my first published contest win.

Like Linda, the WILLA Literary Award is close to my heart; I especially love that Women Writing the West has created a scoring rubric which recognizes high quality writing. I’m still trying to make it past a finalist award there. I join Michael and Rebecca as a fan of the CIBAs; they offer so many different categories and I love that the Laramie Award specifically targets Americana. I am happy to have two First Place Laramie Award Ribbons, one for each of my recent historical fiction novels (Never Let Go and Necessary Deceptions). The Spur Award (Western Writers of America), the Peacemaker Award (Western Fictioneers), and the Wrangler Award (Western Heritage Hall of Fame) are all tailor-made for western historical fiction.

And then there is the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion, a coveted award in multiple western genres. Winning a gold medallion for Never Let Go was one of the proudest moments of my life; the program provides a lot of recognition for its finalists and winners and a full weekend of promotional activities.

So…now that you’ve heard from us, which one will you enter?

Guest Author

Written by Guest Author

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  1. Anne M Beggs

    Wow, great to read about these contests! I learned a lot. And Congrats to all.

  2. Alina Rubin

    My favorite is Indie Author Project. While there are no categories and the guidelines are loose, it’s free, and the cash prize is generous. Best of all, winning the Illinois competition allowed me opportunities to speak at various venues and attend the American Library Association conference, where I met winners from other states.


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