Red Hen Press Announces the Cai Emmons Fiction Award To Honor Legacy Of Lost Novelist

Published on Mar 1, 2023

Cai Emmons credit: Livia Fremouw

To honor the life and enduring legacy of beloved novelist Cai Emmons, who published three novels through Red Hen Press (Weather Woman, Sinking Islands, and Livid) and who passed away with dignity on January 2, 2023 after a hard-fought battle with ALS, Red Hen Press is proud to announce the Cai Emmons Fiction Award.

In September of 2020, Cai Emmons began to lose her voice, but it wasn’t until months later that she learned she had an aggressive form of ALS.

In September of 2022, she released not one, but two novels: Livid from Red Hen Press and Unleashed from Dutton, stories simply pouring out of her like a waterfall while she continued to write. Throughout her battle with ALS, she was vocal and transparent about her journey through her weekly blog posts, and was featured in a profile in the Los Angeles Times, among many other publications, about her journey. On January 2, 2023, Cai Emmons chose to die with dignity, surrounded by loved ones, including her husband and son.

Before passing, Cai decided she wanted to enshrine an award that would encourage fiction writers to reach for the stars. To that end, she has endowed the Cai Emmons Fiction Award, generously increasing the initial award prize from $1000 to $5000. The Cai Emmons Fiction Award is open to all writers with a fresh and original work of fiction with a minimum of 150 pages.

Established in 2015 as the Red Hen Press Fiction Award, the Cai Emmons Fiction Award seeks to foster and nurture the unique and vibrant channels through which fiction has carried us. We are so grateful to honor Cai’s legacy of supporting and championing moving, life-changing fiction and will continue to search for work that touches and connects with our readers the same way Cai Emmons and her work have, and will always, impact our lives.

The submission deadline for the Cai Emmons Fiction Award is January 15, 2024, Cai’s birthday, and will be judged by one of Cai’s friends and fiercest literary champions, Aimee Liu. Entry fee is $25.00. We ask for manuscripts with a 25,000-word minimum (approximately 150 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font). Submissions will be accepted via Submittable only. No physical manuscripts will be considered.

For full details, please visit For the inaugural year, submissions will open on March 1, 2023. A winner is expected to be announced in the summer of 2024.

Additionally, Cai Emmons was set to judge the Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Award, the deadline for which was February 28, 2023. Another strong supporter and literary champion of Cai’s, and a treasured Red Hen Press novelist, Ellen Meeropol, has stepped in to assume judging duties for this award.



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