Record harvest of writers, books vie for High Plains Book Awards

By Last Best News

A record number of books and writers have been nominated for the 11th annual High Plains Book Awards in Billings.

The awards are given out as part of the High Plains Bookfest, which seeks to recognize regional authors and literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains. This year’s festival is scheduled for Oct. 20-21.

A total of 185 nominations were received this year, 20 more than in 2016. Notably, 43 percent of the nominations were for Canadian authors. The awards are open to authors from Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The 13 book award categories range from young adult to best book by a woman writer. This year’s entries include 32 books of fiction, 22 poetry anthologies, 16 books for children and 42 books in either non-fiction or creative nonfiction. Seventeen newly published writers submitted their recently published manuscripts under First Book. All of the awards are sponsored by local organizations and individuals.

Quite a few previous High Plains Book Award finalists are competing again this year, including Larry Watson, Ted Kooser, Peter Hassrick, Dan Flores, Keith McCafferty, Russell Rowland, Lowell Jaeger, Sneed Collard, Craig Johnson, Gwen Florio, Christine Carbo, Sid Gustafson, Diane Glancy, Seabring Davis and Julianna Couch. Six Canadian authors, Betty Jane Hegerat, Rolli, Marion Mutala, Judith Silverthorne, Leah Marie Dorion and Beth Goobie, are also returning with new work.

The new Indigenous Writer category will give voice specifically to contemporary work by Native writers. Nine books by were nominated in this category.

The 185 entries are now being read by community volunteers, who will submit their reviews. Every book is read and evaluated by four different readers. Based on their evaluations, the top three books in each category will become finalists.

At that point, those books will be forwarded to judges who will choose the winner of that category. The judges include past winners and published writers with a connection to the High Plains of the U.S. and Canada.

Winners will be announced at the High Plains Book Awards Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Yellowstone Art Museum.

For more information about the High Plains Book Awards visit or contact Shari Nault, High Plains Book Awards president, 406-672-6223 or writer to her at