Colorado Authors League announces 2021 writing awards finalists

This month, finalists were named in the long-running Colorado Authors League (CAL) writing competition. Celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, the organization supports and promotes published writers. CAL recognizes multiple works published across several different genres in fiction and nonfiction. This year more than 120 members took part in the contest of published works.

Each year the group honors one member with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Joe Nigg is the winner this year. A former CAL President, Nigg’s books have garnered multiple awards and have been translated into more than twenty languages. Jeff VanderMeer, The New York Review of Science Fiction said of Joe: “Nigg has done for the world of fantastical animals what Joseph Campbell did more generally for the world of myth.”

Colorado Authors League celebrates readers. They donate books to Little Libraries and to other organizations to benefit literacy for both children and adults. In 202O, CAL members came together to assist with remote learning in creating Writing Prompts for Young Readers to spark story ideas and creative writing. 

I am a member of CAL, and I entered the contest for my book Essential Denver, which was selected as a finalist in the category of Non-Fiction: Lifestyle, Health and Fitness, Travel, How-to, Cookbook. Winners will be announced in a virtual celebration on July 17th. 

Former CAL president Joe Nigg

If you are looking for your next read and would like to support a Colorado author, check out the list of all the finalists. 

List of Finalists

Novel: Mainstream, Literary

  • Stephanie Harper: Wesley Yorstead Goes Outside
  • Gregory Seth Harris: The Perfect Stranger
  • Peter Meech: Billy (the Kid)

Novel: Mystery (Cozy)

  • Judilee Butler and GaGa Gabardi: The Last Hurrah: A Phoebe Korneal Mystery
  • Kate M. Lansing: Killer Chardonnay
  • Irv Sternberg: The Mervin Gardens Murders

Novel: Mystery (Crime, Suspense)

  • Margaret Mizushima: Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek Mystery
  • Barbara Nickless: Gone to Darkness
  • Sheri Cobb South: Brother, Can You Spare a Crime?

Novel: Action, Adventure

  • Jodi Bowersox: The Diamond Diva Vendetta
  • Sheri Cobb South: Brother, Can You Spare a Crime?
  • Robert G. Williscroft: Operation Ice Breaker: A Mac McDowell Mission

Novel: Historical

  • Bronwyn Long Borne: Custodian of the Spirits
  • David M. Jessup: Mariano’s Woman
  • Pat Benedict Jurgens: Falling Forward: A Woman’s Journey West

Novel: Romance

  • Jodi Bowersox: The Diamond Diva Vendetta
  • Jodi Bowersox: The Mars Heir
  • Pete Carlson: Tearza

Novel: Science Fiction

  • R. Gary Raham: A Twice-Dead Genius Comporting with Misunderstood Abominations
  • Jodi Bowersox: The Mars Heir
  • L.V. Ditchkus: The Sasquatch Series

Novel: Fantasy

  • Todd Fahnstock: Tower of the Four
  • Jo Fontana: Gods of the Bay
  • Sherri Cobb South: Nowhere Man

Novel: Supernatural, Horror

  • Iona Morrison: Key to the Past
  • Sherri Cobb South: Nowhere Man
  • Claryn Vaile: Ghost Tour


  • Kristin Paris: Beauty from Ashes
  • James Van Pelt: The Best of James Van Pelt
  • Kathryn Winograd: Slow Arrow: Unearthing the Frail Children

Poetry (Collection)

  • Kika Dorsey: Occupied: Vienna Is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger
  • Carol D. Guerrero-Murphy: Bright Path Dark River
  • Valerie A. Szarek: Soar Ready: Medicine Poems for a Changing World

Non-Fiction: Biography, Memoir

  • Robert V. Dodge: Grand Mal: A Life with Late Onset Epilepsy
  • Cary Unkelbach: Heartbreak Kennel: The True Story of Max and His Breeder
  • Sarah Byrn Rickman: Betty Gillies WAFS Pilot: The Days and Flights of a WWII Squadron Leader

Non-Fiction: History, Research, and Science

  • Louis Kraft: Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway
  • Jeffrey B. Miller: Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation during World War I
  • Susan A. Fletcher: Exploring the History of Childhood and Play through 50 Historic Treasures
  • Jody L. Pritzl: That Championship Year

Non-Fiction: Lifestyle, Health and Fitness, Travel, How-to, Cookbook

“Essential Denver” by Lisa J. Shultz
  • Becky Clark: Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel
  • Laurel McHargue & Nadine Collier: Peace by Piece: 10 Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle!
  • Lisa J. Shultz: Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide

Fiction/Non-Fiction: Young Adult

  • Todd Fahnestock: Summer of the Fetch
  • Matthew John Meagher: Irish Town
  • Sarah Byrn Rickman: Betty Gillies WAFS Pilot: The Days and Flights of a WWII Squadron Leader
  • Wendy Terrien: The Forge of Bonds

Fiction/Non-Fiction: Middle Grade

  • M.J. Evans: Mr. Figgletoes’ Toy Emporium
  • Teresa R. Funke; trans. Gloria García Díaz: V de la victoria
  • Sonja K. Solter: When You Know What I Know

Fiction/Non-Fiction: Picture Book or Chapter Book

  • Nancy Bo Flood: I Will Dance
  • Lisa Reinicke: Wings and Feet Activity Book
  • Virginia K. White (Author) and Gaspar Sabater (Illustrator): Would You Like a Giant Ginger Garbula?

Short Fiction

  • Daniel Ginsberg: Molly
  • Barb Lundy: Wild Tales
  • Daniel A. Willis: Farhi and the Crystal Dome

Poetry  1-3 poems 

  • Carolyn Evans Campbell: Darwin and Me and the Sea, Hop-Along Hunter
  • Valerie A. Szarek: Soar Ready, There’s No Place, Christmas Cactus
  • Kathryn Winograd: To the Three Ducks Flying Beneath the Dog Star

Non-Fiction Articles 

  • Mimi Pockross: Two Colorado Women and an Invisible Rabbit
  • Irv Sternberg: Chosin Reservoir Campaign: Battle Perspectives from Marines Who Were There
  • Mary Taylor Young: Weird Bird Parts

Essays, Opinion, Humor, Inspirational, Personal, Memoir

  • Lou Dean: My Pegasus
  • Gary Raham: The Viral Life of Plants…and Everything Else
  • Carol Ann Wilson: The Girl from Coke

Book Cover Design

  • Cristina Bejan: Green Horses on the Walls
  • Jodi Bowersox: The Diamond Diva Vendetta
  • Matthew John Meagher: Irish Town

Blog Post

  • Eliza Cross: Lame History Classes, Meeting O.J. and My Reckoning with Racism
  • Buffy Gilfoil: An Elegant Haunt
  • Sheri Cobb South: Mudlarking!

To learn more about CAL visit