As of Jan. 2, West Virginia Writers, Inc., (WVW) began accepting submissions for its annual writing competitions, offering $5,075 in total cash prizes, including monetary awards specifically designated for students in elementary, middle, and high school through the New Mountain Voices Contest.
For the first time, the organization will be accepting online submissions. Dreama Pritt, WVW Contest Coordinator, is excited about the change. “Online submissions will open opportunities for more writers,” she said. “We hope that the ease of submitting online will create incentive for younger writers and the technologically astute to participate.”
Eliot Parker, WVW President, agrees that allowing online entries is a positive change. “I think this is truly going to be transformative for our organization,” he said.
Since 1982, WV Writers has held an annual writing competition, accepting original, unpublished entries in a variety of themed writing categories. In addition to several other options, traditional categories returning for the 2018 Contest include: Children’s Books, Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Short Story, Short Nonfiction, Short Poetry, Long Poetry, Book Length Prose, as well as the Emerging Writers categories – one each for prose and poetry. (Unpublished writers who have never won a cash award in a WVW Annual Contest are eligible for the Emerging Writers awards.)
The Emerging Writers Poetry category is also the F. Ethan Fischer Memorial Poetry Award. Fischer, who passed away in 2011, was an active member of WVW. His poetry can be found in his book Beached in the Hourglass and in the Wild Sweet Notes: 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry anthology. Submissions for this award can be poetry in any form, up to 5,000 words.
This year’s Joe McCabe Memorial Script Award will be awarded in the Screenplay category, for unproduced scripts for film or television. McCabe was an award-winning playwright, whose scripts were performed on stages from New York to San Francisco. Before his death in 2007, McCabe was a longtime WVW member who had served on the organization’s executive board.
Another ongoing award memorializes one of West Virginia’s best-known authors. For the past several years, the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation in Hillsboro has sponsored The Pearl S. Buck Award for prose and poetry entries related to Social Change, inspired by Buck’s tradition of writing with the intent to encourage positive change in culture and society.
A returning category not featured for several years is the Mystery category, seeking unpublished mystery stories and manuscripts of up to 5,000 words. The Humor category is also making a return appearance. Humorous writing may be fiction or nonfiction, up to 5000 words.
The WVW Annual Contest is open to all residents of West Virginia as well as to any member of WV Writers, Inc. residing outside of the state. The competition has a $10 fee for each entry, except for the book length and screenplay categories, which are $12 for each entry.
The WV Writers Contest does not have an age limitation, but younger West Virginians may want to submit instead to the New Mountain Voices Student Writing Contest, which is designed specifically for those who are under age 18. Students may choose from six suggested writing topics or follow their own prompt for an original story or poem. The student contest has three age group categories – for grade 1-5, 6-8, and 9-12 – each of which will have first, second, and third place prizes awarded. The New Mountain Voices Contest is free to enter and is open only to student residents of West Virginia.
Submissions for both contests are accepted from Jan. 2 through Mar. 15 (with a late deadline of Mar. 31) and may be submitted online through Submittable at https://westvirginiawriters.submittable.com/submit. The organization accepts printed entries, as well. Printable submission forms for mailing can be found online at wvwriters.org.
Winners will be announced June 9 at an awards ceremony during the 40th annual West Virginia Writers Conference, to be held at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley. All winners, including honorable mentions, will receive certificates suitable for framing, with cash prizes for first, second, and third place winners in each category.
For official contest entry forms, contest rules, list of contest judges, and the contest frequently asked questions list, please visit the contest webpage at wvwriters.org/contest.html, or email contest coordinator Dreama Pritt at firstname.lastname@example.org.