Recognizing Excellent Historical Fiction By Erika Dreifus

For writers who specialize in recreating historical periods and personages, a number of organizations reward that difficult work. Whether the writing has been published or is still in manuscript form, and whether it is targeted for young audiences or an adult readership, a remarkable range of recognition exists. Take a look at this list, for starters. As always when considering any competition or contest, be sure to check with the sponsoring organization for the latest guidelines and updates.

John and Patricia Beatty Award
California Library Association
717 20th Street, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95814-3477
Website:

Presented for the first time in 1989, the Beatty award recognizes a book for children or young adults that evokes “an awareness of California, its heritage or its future.” The recipient receives $500, an engraved plaque, and the opportunity to speak about his/her book at annual California Library Association conference.

W.Y. Boyd Literary Award
“For Excellence in Military Fiction”
American Library Association
50 E. Huron, Chicago, IL 60611.
Website: http://www.ala.org

This annual award honors the best book of fiction set during a time when the United States was at war. Recipients receive $5000 and a gold-framed citation. Recent honorees include Owen West (Sharkman Six, Simon & Schuster); Brigadier General Edwin Howard Simmons (Dog Company Six, Naval Institute Press); John Mort (Soldier in Paradise, Southern Methodist University Press).

David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Contest for Young Adult Writers
Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education
261 W. 35th Street, Fl. 12A
New York, NY 10001
Website: http://www.caje.org

Open to writers ages 18-35, this contest welcomes short stories of up to 5000 words on “a Jewish theme or topic.” Cash awards and publication to top three winning stories.

Jefferson Cup Award
Virginia Library Association
c/o Linda Hahne, VLA Executive Director
P.O. Box 8277
Norfolk, VA 23503-0277
Website: http://www.vla.org

Sponsored by the Youth Services Forum of the Virginia Library Association, this award honors “the most distinguished book published for young people in the fields of American history, biography, or American historical fiction.” The award includes an honorarium and an engraved silver cup. Although the author must live in the United States, he/she need not be resident of the state of Virginia.

Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction
Historical Book Club of North Carolina
North Carolina Literary and Historical Association
4610 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4610.
Website:

Among the criteria for this award are “creative and imaginative quality, excellence of style, universality of appeal, and relevance to North Carolina and its people.” Only authors that have been residents of North Carolina for the three years preceding the close of the contest period are eligible. Books submitted must have been published during the twelve months ending June 30 of the year for which the award is given.

Summerfield G. Roberts Award
Sons of the Republic of Texas
1717 8th Street
Bay City, TX 77414
Website: http://www.srttexas.org

Presented at the annual membership meeting of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, this award of $2500 honors the author of a work of creative writing on the Republic of Texas. Manuscripts “must be written or published during the calendar year for which the award is given” and may be fiction, nonfiction, poems, essays, plays, short stories, novels, or biographies. Authors need not be Texas residents.

Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction
United States Civil War Center
Louisiana State University
Raphael Semmes Drive
Baton Rouge, LA, 70803.
Website: http://www.cwc.lsu.edu

A $2500 award for “the best Civil War novel published each year,” funded by Jeff Shaara (Gods and Generals) and named for his father, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Killer Angels. Although publishers’ nominations are preferred, “authors, critics, etc. may also nominate.”

Erika Dreifus is a writer who lives in Massachusetts. Her short story, Homecomings, set largely during the 1972 Munich Olympics, won first prize in this year’s David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Contest for Young Adult Writers.