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T.W. McNemar Scholarship 2017

Terry McNemar, a long time member and former president of West Virginia Writers, Inc., passed away in 2015. He was a guiding light for the organization for many years, remembered for his generous spirit and his humor.  He worked diligently both behind the scenes and on the stage of the board of directors itself to help keep the organization healthy and to help bring writers from our state and region into the fold. This was one of his passions. Many of our current members can cite Terry’s influence on them in making the decision to come to the conference for the first time, not to mention continuing on the path toward improving their writing.

During his time as president, Terry frequently arranged scholarships and internships for those who could not afford to come to the conference. In his absence, Terry’s family has requested that West Virginia Writers continue his legacy in this by establishing an annual scholarship fund in his name.

The T.W. McNemar Scholarship is open to writers and aspiring writers who wish to improve their craft through the workshops offered at our annual summer conference, but who may not be able to afford to otherwise attend. The scholarship will include waived conference fees for the recipient(s), as well as room and meals paid for in full during the three day conference. This will be a continuing fund, open to recipients each year. The process for applying includes a form application, found here at our website, which will also include an essay portion. The one page (or more) essay is intended to explain why the applicant would like to attend the conference, what their financial needs are, and what it would mean for them to have this opportunity. As a bonus, we ask that applicants include their favorite joke (dirty or clean) as Terry always liked a great joke. (The quality of the joke will not be a determining factor in awarding the scholarships; we just think Terry would have found it funny.)

Scholarships will be awarded based on need, quality of essay, and number of submissions received. Scholarship awards will be announced via email and/or telephone by Sunday, April 30, 2017.

Interested applicants may submit the application form and requested essay by Saturday, April 1, 2017.


They can be submitted by email to: 

Or by U.S. Mail to

TW McNemar Scholarship
c/o Eric Fritzius
231 Lookout Lane
Lewisburg, WV 24901

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March 2, 2017 – West Virginia Writers, Inc., is entering into the home stretch for the annual writing competitions it sponsors, offering over $6000 in cash prizes.  Submissions are accepted from January 2 through March 15 each year, which means there are only days left to get entries in without a late fee.

Since 1982, WV Writers has held an annual writing contest for adults, accepting original, unpublished entries in a variety of themed writing categories.  Traditional categories for the contest include: Children’s Books, Short Story, Short Nonfiction, Short Poetry, Long Poetry, Appalachian Writing, Book Length Prose/Young Adult, and the Emerging Writers categories for prose and poetry, for writers who have not previously won a cash prize in the WV Writers contest.  But there are other categories to be found.

For the first time, the contest is featuring a category called Short Plays, accepting stage play scripts of a length of 15 minutes or fewer.  The short play—particularly the ten minute play—has become a popular form across the world, due to the ability of theatres to showcase several in a single evening.  Their limitations can make them challenging to write, which was what inspired West Virginia Writers to feature the form as a category in this year’s contest.

A returning category not featured since 2013 is Inspirational Writing.  This category accepts poetry or prose or a spiritual nature.  Such writing could take the form of faith-based fiction, non-fiction essay, or poetry, provided the writing is designed to inspire.

For the past six years, WV Writers has featured a special category called the Pearl S. Buck Award for Writing for Social Change.  This category seeks prose and poetry submissions on the theme of encouraging positive change in culture and society.  The category is sponsored by the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation in Hillsboro, and is inspired by Buck’s tradition of writing with the intent of bringing about social change.

And this year West Virginia Writers is offering a specialty topic category called The Flood, which is intended for prose or poetry inspired by the historic flooding that devastated over 1200 homes in West Virginia this past summer.  The writing can also be about floods in other states, or flood as a concept, but it was inspired by the tragedy so many experienced in our state.  There are thousands of stories that could be told that came from the flood and West Virginia Writers wants to encourage those stories to be recorded.

The adult writing contest is open to all residents of West Virginia as well as to any out-of-state member of WV Writers, Inc.  There is a $10 fee for each adult contest entry, and a $12 fee for the book-length category.  After the March 15 deadline, submissions can still be sent through March 31, but will require a $2 per entry late fee.  It’s best to get entries in by the March 15 deadline.  Prize amounts for the adult contest include $250 for 1st Place, $125 for 2nd Place and $75 for 3rd Place.

For students in grades 1-12, WV Writers offers a separate contest called The New Mountain Voices Student Writing Contest.  There are six suggested writing topics for this contest, but students are welcome to make up their own story or poem.   The New Mountain Voices Student Contest is free to enter and is only open to student residents of West Virginia.  Prize amounts for the student contest are $100 for 1st Place, $50 for 2nd Place and $25 for 3rd Place.  Winners will be announced June 10, 2017 in an awards ceremony during West Virginia Writers Annual Writers Conference, held at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, W.Va.  All winners, including honorable mentions, will receive certificates suitable for framing.  Entries submitted after March 15 will require a $1 per entry late fee.

For official contest entry forms, contest rules, the Frequently Asked Questions List concerning the contest, bios for the 2017 contest judges, and a contest checklist for entering, please visit the contest webpage at  Or email contest coordinator, Eric Fritzius, at

West Virginia Writers, the largest writers’ organization in the state celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year.


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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: New Mountain Voices – High School


Natalie Sypolt

's work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Appalachian Heritage, Willow Springs Review, and The Kenyon Review Online, among other publications. Natalie is the winner of the Glimmer Train New Writers Contest, the Betty Gabehart Prize, and Still: The Journal’s fiction competition. She is also an active book reviewer whose work has appeared in Los Angeles Review, Fjords Review, Paste, Shenandoah, Harpur Palate, and Mid American Review. Additionally, Natalie serves as a literary editor for the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, is on the selection committee for the prestigious Weatherford Award in Fiction, is the High School Workshop Coordinator for the West Virginia Writers Workshop at West Virginia University, and is co-host of SummerBooks: A literary podcast. Natalie currently works as an Assistant Professor at Pierpont Community & Technical College.

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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: New Mountain Voices – Middle School


Pam Hanson

, a former reporter and West Virginia University journalism instructor, is the co-author (with her mother/writing partner Barbara Andrews) of more than 50 novels including romance, inspirational women’s fiction, and mystery for Harlequin and Guideposts. In addition, she and her partner have several indie inspirational romances available for Kindle on Amazon. She has been a workshop presenter for Romance Writers of America, West Virginia Writers, and Appalachian Studies Association. Teaching freshmen composition at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is her new passion. Pam, a past recipient of the JUG Award, has lived in Nebraska since 2008 where she writes when she’s not procrastinating on Facebook:

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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: New Mountain Voices – Elementary


Rene K. Nicholson

splits her artistic pursuits between writing and dance. She is Assistant Professor in the Multidisciplinary Studies Program at West Virginia University.
Renée studied English at Butler University, and holds a MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University where she won the Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding First-Year MFA Student and the Russ MacDonald Prize for Graduate Writing, Fiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Chelsea, Mid-American Review, Perigee: A Journal of the Arts, Paste, Poets & Writers, Crosstimbers, Naugatuck River Review, Honey Land Review, Dossier, Stymie, ABZ, Prime Number, Blue Lyra Review, Switchback, Fiction Writers Review, Moon City Review, Redux, Cleaver Magazine, Barely South Review, Saw Palm, Bluestem, The Superstition Review, The Gettysburg Review and elsewhere. Her work has been included in the anthologies Not A Muse, A Generation Defining Itself, and in Keeping Track: Fiction of Lists from Main Street Rag. She has served as Assistant to the Director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop since 2007, serves on the book reviews staff at Los Angeles Review, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She co-hosts the literary podcast, SummerBooks and co-founded the journal Souvenir. Her collection of poems, Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center, was published in 2014 in the Crossroads Poetry Series at Urban Farmhouse Press.

In 2011, Renée was the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona.

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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Short Story


Sandra Vrana received her PhD in Literature and Cultural Criticism from Indiana University of PA in 1995. She taught classes at IUP while a graduate student there, and then she taught a variety of literature and composition classes, including creative writing, at Alderson Broaddus University from 1993 until her retirement in May of 2016.

She was a member of Barbour County Writers all of the years she lived in West Virginia, and she was honored to be a part of that very talented group.

She was a member of West Virginia Writers, and she participated both as a presenter and as a contestant at writing conferences there. She believes West Virginia Writers is an invaluable asset to writers in the state, providing important instruction and showcasing and acknowledging the wonderful work of contestants in its annual writing awards.

She now resides in Pennsylvania.

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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Short Stageplays

Suehyla El Attar


Suehyla El-Attar is an actor/writer/director/dramaturge based in the Atlanta area. For just over 10 years, she’s worked on most of the stages in Atlanta, including but not limited to: The Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre, 7 Stages, Dad’s Garage, Georgia Ensemble and Essential Theatre; receiving multiple Suzi Bass Award nominations and a win for her performances. Since 2009, she’s delved into film and television hoping to create a legacy as a one-line actor and eventually evolve into ’that actor, what’s her name? She’s always like in one scene with one line’. As a writer, her work has premiered at Horizon Theatre (The Perfect Prayer; Third Country) and 7 Stages (The Doctor, The Devil, & My Dad). Her TYA scripts (Fishbowl; Desperadoes; The Devil’s Blues) were commissioned and produced by local high schools. She is a recipient of the Mississippi Theatre Association Playwright award (2011) and Gene Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award (2014). In the very active and growing-like-kudzu literary scene in Atlanta, she’s dominated the Write Club stage with 5 hard-earned wins and 2 very-much deserved losses; you can hear all of them on the WriteClubAtl podcast. She’s a former Alliance Theatre Artistic Fellow (2014) of directing and has worked with The Process Theatre on her directorial debut: Die Mommie Die (2015), The Tribute Artist (2016). During the inaugural year of the Ethel Woolson Lab, she served as the resident dramaturge for Working Title Playwrights. This year, she continues to audition for film/tv, is the dramaturge on The Alliance Theatre’s TYA production of SLUR written by Greg Shagnon), will unveil her new stage play ( at 7 Stages Homebrew Series, continue to develop her nearly-one woman show (Nope. That’s Just My First Name), and indulge in Netflix, highpointing, and hiking with her guy and their two cats. (Except they won’t bring the cats on the highpoint and hiking trips. That seems like a really bad idea.)

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Happy Birthday!

Today, February 26, 2017, marks the 40th birthday of West Virginia Writers, Inc.

West Virginia Writers

A Brief History

(By Mike Pauley, originally published in Catching the Crow,

 the first WV Writers anthology in 1982.)


West Virginia Writers began at a meeting in February 1977 at the Cultural Center in Charleston.  The meeting was called by James B. Andrews, Director of Arts & Humanities, W.Va. Department of Culture and History of the State of West Virginia, after Mr. Andrews had received numerous suggestions that such a group needed to organize.  About 25 people attended, including Shirley Campbell, Jim Comstock (editor of W. Va. Hillbilly), poet-historian Doris Miller, poet Kirk Judd, poet Lyle Parkins, Michael Pauley (president of the Appalachian Literary League), Pat Love (co-editor of The Illustrated Appalachian Intelligencer), Helen Carper, Dolly Withrow, Dr. William Plumley, poet Jane Somerville, poet Bonnie McKeown, and others.  At this meeting a committee was formed to further investigate the possibilities of forming a permanent organization.

The West Virginia Writers Committee, chaired by Shirley Young Campbell, met several times during the following months, enlisted further support, compiled mailing lists, etc., and in April 1977 incorporated as West Virginia Writers, Inc.  The first officers were president, Dr. William Plumley; vice president, Lawrence Levy; treasurer, Helen Carper; and secretary, Shirley Young Campbell.  A constitution and by-laws were drawn up and adopted.

In June 1977 the organization held its first constitutionally mandated business meeting (officers to be elected from July 1 to July 1) at the Cultural Center.  At this meeting it was decided to hold a state-wide Writers Conference the following year.  Officers for 1977-78 were elected as follows:  president, Dr. William Plumley; vice president, Michael J. Pauley; treasurer, Betty MacQueen, secretary, Julia Canady.

The first W.Va. Writers Conference was held in June 1978 at the Cultural Center in Charleston and was an overwhelming success.  Nearly 200 writers from all over the state attended the three-day affair, and there was much excitement and comraderie in the air.

Since 1978, West Virginia Writers has held a conference every year and continues to grow in membership and activity.

Regional literary magazines and publishers have had great input into the organization and have allowed for the wide publication of members’ works.  New books have been published due the influence of WVW and, most importantly, WVW has served to bring many writers, editors, publishers, critics, etc., from all over West Virginia and the region together.

In 1981-82 WVW sponsored its first state-wide Writers Awards Program, as well as the first state-wide Poetry Contest.  Altogether, nearly 1300 individuals entered both contests and over $6,000 in award money was distributed by WVW.

In addition to the annual conferences and to the awards contests, West Virginia Writers was the leading force in bringing about the “Poet’s Corner” program done by the W.Va. Dept. of Culture and History.  During the Poet’s Corner series, which spanned 1979-1981, over 100 West Virginia poets read their works at the Cultural Center in Charleston and were paid substantial honoraria, plus expenses, for doing so.

WVW also sponsored and administered the one-year residency of famed native author Davis Grubb during 1987-79, sponsoring his many readings and talks throughout the state during that period. WVW has promoted regional meetings and gathers of writers from around the state.


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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Short Poetry


Joe Limer

Joe Limer is a West Virginia native from Clarksburg. He graduated Washington Irving H.S. then went to Fairmont State University and received a B.A. in both English and Political Science. He graduated WVU College of Law with a Juris Doctorate. He also wrote for the Fairmont Times newspaper as a regular sports reporter.

After law school he moved to San Diego, California where he is now a Professor at Palomar College in San Marcos, California teaching political science/legal studies, as well as poetry workshops at Palomar and Mira Costa College and several San Diego-area high schools.

Joe is an American Filipino finding identity in words. Beginning as a closet poet, he got his start on the poetry slam scene by winning his first slam in San Diego. From there, he’s won or placed in slams in Encinitas, Oceanside, Hawaii, Pittsburgh, Pa., Morgantown, WV, Charleston, WV, Richmond, Va, Hollywood, and Long Beach. He’s been on 3 San Diego slam teams that have placed in the top 10 nationally.

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WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Short Nonfiction


Donna Meredith

Donna Meredith’s award-winning novels include The Glass Madonna, The Color of Lies, Wet Work, and Fraccidental Death. She also wrote Magic in the Mountains: Kelsey Murphy, Robert Bomkamp, and the West Virginia Cameo Glass Revolution. Her work has appeared in Tallahassee magazine, Goldenseal, the Seven Hills Review and various newspapers. The retired English and journalism teacher is regular contributor to Southern Literary Review. A graduate of Fairmont State College, West Virginia University, and Nova Southeastern University, she also studied creative writing at Florida State. For the past thirty years, the Clarksburg native has called Tallahassee, Florida, home. For more information, see

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