CHARLESTON — Shepherd University and the West Virginia Library Commission are now accepting short story submissions for the 2019 West Virginia Fiction Competition.
This program is a literary competition for writers and storytellers in the state, designed to foster an appreciation of Appalachian culture and values. Any resident of West Virginia or student attending school in the state may submit an original, unpublished work of fiction. The submission may not have received any other award, recognition, or special honor.
A panel of writers, editors, and creative writing instructors will choose finalists, and the 2019 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence, Kentucky writer Crystal Wilkinson, will select winners from the field of finalists. Winners will receive $500 for first place, $100 for second place, third place, and judges’ choice awards. The competition is funded by the West Virginia Center for the Book at the West Virginia Library Association and the Shepherd University Foundation.
All finalists’ stories will automatically be submitted for consideration to the “Anthology of Appalachian Writers: Volume XII” by Wilkinson. The writing of public school students is welcomed, as teachers and schools are credited in the awards citations and in the anthology. Recent student winners of the Judges’ Choice Award have been from Tucker County High School (2018), Parkersburg High School (2017), and Oak Hill High School in Fayette County (2016).
Wilkinson is one of the original “Affrilachian” poets, a grassroots group of poets of color living in the Appalachian region, and was winner of the 2008 Denny Plattner Award in poetry from Appalachian Heritage Magazine. Her fiction writing has received many awards as well, including the 2016 Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Appalachian Studies Association’s Weatherford Award. Her story collection “Blackberries, Blackberries” was 2009 Chaffin Award winner, and her fiction work “Water Street,” a collection of inter-related stories, was a finalist for the prestigious UK Orange Prize for fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.
“Water Street,” similar to Henry Louis Gates’ “Colored People: A Memoir”, is this year’s selection for One Book One West Virginia, a West Virginia state-wide book discussion group. Students across the state will be reading the book and using the resources provided by the Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence project, supported by the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Writers interested in submitting their original works of fiction to the West Virginia Fiction Competition should submit their stories, double-spaced and within the 5000-word maximum limit, to Brenda Feltner, Shepherd University, PO Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV 25443. The deadline for submissions is May 1. Winners will be announced at ceremonies on the campus of Shepherd University on Sept. 26.
For more information about the West Virginia Fiction Competition, visit the website at https://www.shepherd.edu/ahwir/west-virginia-fiction-competition, contact Karen Goff, West Virginia Library Commission, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Sylvia Shurbutt, Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities, at SShurbut@shepherd.edu.
The West Virginia Library Commission (WVLC) encourages lifelong learning, individual empowerment, civic engagement, and an enriched quality of life by enhancing library and information services for all West Virginians. The WVLC sponsors the West Virginia Center for the Book and urges state residents to explore, discover, and create in West Virginia libraries.
To learn more about the WVLC, visit www.librarycommission.wv.gov or call (304) 558-2041.