2017 Wyoming Writers Inc. Writing Contest Winners

Named below are the submissions honored in this year’s contest. Congratulations to all our winners.

Adult Fiction:  

WW Inc. President Chris Ellsworth congratulates Reatha Oakley (Gillette, WY) for her first place win in the Adult Fiction category of the 2017 writing contest for her work entitled Introducing Annie Louise Porter.

1st—Reatha Oakley:  “Introducing Annie Louise Porter”

2nd—Laurie Marr Wasmund:  “Heartbreaker”

3rd—Margaret Shaw:  “Big Time in the Big City”


Honorable Mention:

Michelle Morin:  “The Brush”

George Gray McVicker:  “Cherokee by Blood”

Nolcha Fox:  “Marbles”

Lori Micken:  “A Last Gamble”

Kent Moss:  “My Father’s Footsteps”

Barbara Marshak:  “Voices in the Wind”

Marian Sisneros:  “Tilt”


Children’s /Young Adult Fiction:

Ellsworth congratulates Kathy Bjornestad (Sundance, WY) for her win in the Children’s Young Adult Fiction category of the 2017 writing contest for her work entitled Witch of Wylder Wood.

1st—Lorie Braillier:  “Missingkids.com”

2nd—Mary Louise Routh:  “Two Flags in the Windows”

3rd—Kathy Bjornestad:  “Witch of Wylder Wood”


Honorable mention:

Dean Petersen:  “Esperanza Blanca and the 8mm.”

Karen Bradbury:  “Sunshine for Stacey”

Ellsworth congratulates Steve Gardiner (Billings MT) for his first place win of the Adult Nonfiction category in the writing contest for his work entitled Real Sense Surreal.

Adult Nonfiction:

Ellsworth congratulates Marilyn Davidson (Buffalo WY) for her 2nd place win in the Adult Nonfiction category of the 2017 writing contest for her work entitled Guardian Angels Came Later.

1st—Steve Gardiner:  “Real Sense Surreal”

2nd—Marilyn Davidson:  “Guardian Angels Came Late”

3rd—Marsha Mittman:  “A City

Gal’s Wild West Adventures”


Ellsworth congratulates Marsha Mittman (Spearfish, SD) for her win in the Adult Nonfiction category of the 2017 writing contest for her work entitled A City Gal’s Wild West Adventures.

Honorable mention:

Ann Stebner Steele:  “Toe Hold:  An Essay”

Luana Powell:  “Grandpa Shorty”

Ellsworth congratulates Pat Frolander (Sundance, WY) for her first place win in the Traditional Poetry category of the 2017 WW Inc. writing contest for her work entitled Ropin’ the Stars.

Traditional Poetry

1st—Pat Frolander:  “Ropin’ the Stars”

2nd—Amy Shaw:  “Our First Anniversary”

3rd—Gregory Bell:  “Depressing Nature Haikus”


Honorable mention:

Pat Frolander:  “Grandpa”

David Purtil:  “9 11 2001”

Art Elser:  “Robin Williams”


Free Verse

1st—Sally Clark:  “Crop Rotation”

2nd—Renee Meador:  “The Dance”

3rd—Betsy Bernfeld:  “Trying to Catch the Wind”


Honorable mention:

Margaret Smith-Braniff: “Not Right Here”— “Generation X”

Matthew Johnson:  “A Two Handed World”—“Ocean Sleep”

Constance Brewer:  “Settling In”—“There is Sanctuary for a Twelve-year-old Girl in a

Horse Barn”

Sally Clark:  “Los Compadres”—“One Loose Screw”

Margaret Barkley:  “When Mrs. Goodman Said Yes”

Kathy Bjornestadt:  “Storm”


“There were a record number of entries in this year’s competition,” said Contest Chair, Tom Spence.  “The judges were very impressed with the quality of the submissions and lamented to me that there were no more categories in which to recognize the quality of the writing.”  The winners who attended the Conference in Gillette on June 2, 3, 4, read from their submissions and received their awards.  “The always reliable US Postal Service helped us reach the rest.”

“We are grateful to our judges who took time to read, and consider a large number of entries and to send along critical comments which were transmitted to the winners,”  said Spence.

Below is a list of the judges with selected biographies. 

Adult Fiction

THOMAS EATON was the judge for the Adult Fiction category. Tom is a fourth generation native son of Goshen County, Wyoming. He teaches in the Language & Literature School of Humanities of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.

Tom published a short story collection, Stories from Mission County, in 2016  A second collection of short fiction, I’m Right Where You Left Me, and a novella,  Why I Can’t Leave Shadyville Court are pending release in 2018 (High Hill Press, St. Louis)

Tom has contributed to the western anthologies, Rough Country, and Showdown, edited by Brett Cogburn.  He has served on the editorial board for Bedford- St. Martin textbook publishers.

Tom divides his time between his teaching in Arkansas and the family ranch south of Torrington, Wyoming.


Children’s/Young Adult Fiction

PAT LANDY was the judge for the Children and Young Adult Fiction category. Pat is an editor and owner of Crystal Publishing which focuses on children, young adult, and fantasy fiction.   She networks with Rocky Mountain Writers, and the Colorado Independent Publishers.

 Traditional Poetry 

TIMOTHY RUSH was the judge for the Traditional Poetry category. Tim Rush began his teaching career in in public schools 1968, and was a faculty member at the University of Wyoming since 1982 through 2013 where he taught linguistics, writing and literacy processes and methods.

Dr. Rush writes non-fiction and fiction, and poetry.  He teaches poetry in public schools, often 100 visits a year.  He has also team taught courses in cowboy poetry with Waddie Mitchell.  He is the co-creator with Angela Jaime of the University Wyoming Teachers of American Indian Children graduate program which is now in its tenth year.

Since retiring from UW he has been writing books for young adult and adult new readers of English for Gemma Open Door Books in Boston.  


Free Verse

DIANE PANOZZO was the judge for the Free Verse category.

Diane is an educator, poet and writer. She teaches classes in the UW Honors Program: English Colloquium and Post-Colonial Studies with the focus on Africa.  She has wide teaching experience, Advanced Placement English, drama teacher/director, speech/debate, and high school creative writing for over 25 years.  She originated the Words Worth Symposium for the Laramie County School District, and poetry slams at Joe Pages Bookstore in Cheyenne.

Diane studied with poets Bill Tremblay and Claudia Keelan.

Diane won the Literary Arts Fellowship for poetry in 2003, and was nominated for the Governor’s Arts Awards in 2003 for her work with students’ writing.

Diane is currently working on a series of short stories set on the Wind River Indian Reservation.



LAURIE MARR WASMUND was the judge for the Nonfiction category.

Laurie holds a Master’s degree in English from the University of Denver.   She has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and community college writing instructor, most recently at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. She has also presented numerous writing workshops in Colorado, Arizona, and Wyoming.

Laurie’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Cimarron Review, Weber Studies, and South Dakota Review, and her articles on Colorado history have been published in True West and Old West.

Laurie has written three novels: My Heart Lies Here, A Novel of the Ludlow Massacre; Clean Cut, A Romance of the Western Heart; and the first book in the White Winter Trilogy, To Do Justice, set during World War I.