July 10

From the desk of Nancy Plain

Plain at WWA_photoI just got back from the
Western Writers of America (WWA) convention, held at the Riviera Hotel, in Las
Vegas, Nevada, from June 24-29. In spite
of the record-breaking 117-degree heat, it was one of the WWA’s best conventions
ever. We celebrated its sixtieth
anniversary as the country’s oldest and most prestigious organization for those
who write about and love the American West. On opening night, we watched a beautiful, nostalgia-inducing slide show
that featured photos from years past. During the week, attendees heard experts speak on panels ranging from
“Black Cowboys in the West” to “Songwriting the West.” On Thursday afternoon, those who could brave
the heat took a trip to The National Museum of Organized Crime & Law
Enforcement (aka the Mob Museum).

I was honored and thrilled to receive my third Spur
Award for “Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction,” this time for my book Light on the Prairie:  Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of
Nebraska’s Pioneer Days
, published by University of Nebraska Press. (Solomon Butcher was that ubiquitous
photographer who took over 3,000 unforgettable photos of the sod-house
era.) My other two Spurs were awarded in
past years for my books Sagebrush and
Paintbrush
, about Charlie Russell; and for With One Sky Above Us, about Chief Joseph.

I was
also thrilled to get a chance to talk with the preeminent historian of the
West, Robert Utley. He is a brilliant, unassuming,
and gracious gentleman. I cannot wait
to read his Spur-winning book on Geronimo. The actor Jim Beaver was the master of ceremonies for the awards
banquet, and he had the crowd laughing throughout. For a complete list of all
the great work honored with awards, you can visit the Western Writers of America
website.

Las Vegas Friday 028
Nancy Plain talking with Robert Utley. (Photograph by Krista Rolfzen Soukup.) 

WWA is a
very special group, with people who, just like Utley, are as welcoming as they
are interesting. If you write about western
history—or the contemporary West—you should think about joining. You’ll learn a lot, have some great
conversations, and make friends of a lifetime.

-Nancy Plain