The prize competition, with a top award of $1,000 and a free, month-long residency in the Daisy Pettles Houses for Women Writers, a vintage bungalow located in Southern Indiana, is open annually to older women writers, aged forty or over, published or unpublished, working in any genre (other than poetry).
Prize Winners – Older Women Writers
Grand Prize & Writer in Residence – Sharon May – Columbia, South Carolina
Working on a southern Appalachian memoir and novel, “Hillbilly Crazy and Mountain Queer”
1st Runner-Up – Karen Ahn – Sebastopol, California
Working on a Novel, “The Music Lesson,” where a 16 year-old musician struggles with her talent only to be haunted in her 30’s by misconceptions and doubts about past life choices.
2nd Runner-Up – Shari Benyousky – Warsaw, Indiana
Working on a Mystery Novel, “Then Shall the Dust Return,” a literary and historical mystery and ghost story based on a 1920s unsolved crime in Atwood, Indiana
July 2020 applicants included both published and unpublished women writers working in genres ranging across children’s musical plays, fantasy novels, literary novels, radio plays, creative non-fiction memoirs, and commercial mysteries. The writer’s grant program , open to women regardless of citizenship or residency status, attracted applicants from sixteen states in the United States as well as Sweden, Scotland, and South Africa.
A notable number of entries were submitted from older women writers and retirees in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. The Daisy Pettles Writer’s House and awards program is located in Bedford, Indiana, close to Indiana University, Bloomington.
In addition, the following writers, all finalists in the competition, were awarded honorable mention for excellence in writing.
Women Writers Prize Finalists – July 2020 Grant Cycle
Christina Cha – Oakland, California
Working on a collection of essays, Creative Non-Fiction, “Chaste While You Wait,” detailing family relationships and the use of memory and language to deal with grief over trauma and abuse
Brit Monica Maria Gustafsson – Sweden
Working on an English update and translation of a Swedish spy thriller novel, “The Asset”
Devin Kenney – Morristown, New Jersey
Drafting “All the Kings Horses,” a collection of non-fiction essays on addiction, mental health recovery, and single-parent mothering
Amy Lyons – New York, New York
Short story and flash fiction writer. Working on a short story collection, “Marginalia and Other Stories” with a central theme of women’s desires and regrets
Juliet Lockwood – Grants Pass, Oregon
Working on a Speculative Fiction Novel, “The Coven,” which tells the interconnected stories of 12 benevolent witches in a Pacific Northwest coven by blending the horror, science fiction, supernatural, and dystopian genres
The majority of entrants for the July awards had yet to be published by traditional presses, yet submitted works in progress that bettered many of their top prize-winning peers. More than half of the entrants were retired from careers as diverse as factory worker, marketer, painter, retail clerk, lawyer, social worker, teacher, choreographer, lobbyist, librarian, journalist, medical researcher, English professor, business manager, and copy editor.
Grand Prize: $1,000 Cash Prize, PLUS Free 30-day Residency as Writer in Residence at the Daisy Pettles House in Bedford, Indiana, a vintage 1920s bungalow, equipped with all the amenities a women writer needs to write her heart out, undisturbed, for a month.
1st Runner-Up: $250 Cash Grant; PLUS Award Certificate as Finalist
2nd Runner-Up: $100 Cash Grant; PLUS Award Certificate as Finalist
Grants were awarded based on writing talent, along with consideration of which particular writers might benefit most from the awards given the details they chose to share with the judges in their application profiles.
The Daisy Pettles Women’s Writing Competition is sponsored by Hoosier humor and mystery writer Daisy Pettles (Vicky Phillips), in honor of her mother, June, an avid reader. June passed away in the spring of 2019, leaving her home in the care of her daughter. Daisy is working with a team women writers and Indiana historical preservationists to convert the home, a vintage 1920s bungalow located in southern Indiana (Lawrence County, south of Monroe County, Bloomington), to an ongoing retreat for older women writers.
The goal of the Women’s Writing House project is to discover, nurture, and reward diversity in writing and the arts by showcasing older women’s voices in literature. The project can be supported through Go Fund Me.
WRITER’S HOUSE RENTAL > When not occupied by a writer in residence, the Daisy Pettles House is open to monthly rental by any woman seeking a personal and private writing, artistic, spiritual, or meditative retreat, as well as women in groups of up to three for girlfriend retreats. For more on the house’s rental, rates, and availability, contact Cindy Yager, Co-ordinator.