Category Archives: 2018 WVW Writing Contest

Contest Judge Rollout: Jerri Bell (Social Change)

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

Jerri Bell is the Managing Editor for O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. She retired from the Navy in 2008; her assignments included antisubmarine warfare in the Azores Islands, sea duty on USS Mount Whitney and HMS Sheffield, and attaché duty at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Her fiction has been published in a variety of journals and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize; her nonfiction has been published in journals and newspapers, and on blogs. She and former Marine Tracy Crow are the co-authors of It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution to Afghanistan.


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Contest Judge Rollout: Michelle Buck Lipscomb (New Mountain Voices Elementary)

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

Michelle Buck Lipscomb was born in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and attended Mason County schools until the age of 15, when she and her family moved to Moultrie, Georgia. There, she went on to finish third in her class at Colquitt County High School. Ms. Lipscomb graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA. She later received her Master’s Degree in education from Valdosta State University and obtained an endorsement to teach gifted and talented students. In her twenty-seven years as an educator, Ms. Lipscomb has taught fifth and third grades, as well as gifted and early-intervention classes. She was named the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year for Hahira Elementary in Lowndes County, Georgia. Ms. Lipscomb currently serves as the Instructional Coach at Hahira Elementary. She resides in Hahira, Georgia, and has three children, ages 17, 25 and 27.

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Contest Judge Rollout: Molly Fuller (Emerging Writers Poetry)

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

Molly Fuller is the author of For Girls Forged by Lightning: Prose & Other Poems (All Nations Press), two chapbooks, The Neighborhood Psycho Dreams of Love (Cutty Wren Press) and Tender the Body (Spare Change Press). Her sequence Hold Your Breath was included in Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (Marie Alexander/White Pine Press). Her prose poems and micro fictions have appeared in journals and anthologies including 94 Creations, 100 Word Story, Blue Earth Review, Crack the Spine, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Hot Metal Bridge, Kestrel, MadHatLit, NANO Fiction, The Oklahoma Review, Potomac, Quickly, and Union Station Magazine. She has been recognized as a Finalist for the Key West Literary Seminar Emerging Writer Award and as a Semi-Finalist for The Florida Review’s Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award. Fuller is also the co-editor of the book Community Boundaries and Border Crossings: Critical Essays on Ethnic Women Writers and co-editor at The Raymond Carver Review. She received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently a Teaching Fellow in the Literature program at Kent State University.

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Contest Judge Rollout: Ron Houchin (Short Poetry)

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

Ron Houchin is a retired public school teacher in the Appalachian region of southernmost Ohio, taught for thirty years. Though raised on the remote banks of the Ohio River in Huntington, West Virginia, he has travelled throughout Europe, Canada, and the U.S. His work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, The Southwest Review, Appalachian Heritage, The New Orleans Review, and over two hundred other venues. He has been awarded an Ohio Arts Council Grant for teachers of the arts, a tutorial fellowship to teach in a Dublin writing workshop, a poetry prize from Indiana University, as well as a book of the year award from the Appalachian Writers' Association. His poems have been featured on Verse Daily. He has published three collections with Salmon Poetry.

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Contest Judge Rollout: Julia Watts (Middle Grade/Young Adult Books)

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

A native of Southeastern Kentucky, Julia Watts has written thirteen novels for adults and young adults, most of which explore the lives of LGBT people in rural and small-town Appalachia.  Her novel  Finding H.F. won the 2002 Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category.  A novel for for adults, The Kind of Girl I Am, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the Women’s Fiction category, and her 2013 young adult novel Secret City was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and a winner of a Golden Crown Literary Award.  Julia’s other titles include Gifted and Talented; Hypnotizing Chickens; and most recently, Rufus + Syd, co-written with Robin Lippincott.  Julia holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and has spoken at various national and regional conferences, including the AWP Conference, the NCTE Conference, the Appalachian Studies Association Conference, and the Denham Symposium on Appalachian Literature.  She lives in Knoxville and teaches at South College and in Murray State University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program.  She was recently inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, and her new novel, Quiver, is forthcoming from Three Rooms Press.

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Contest Judge Rollout: Jeff Mann (Long Poetry Category)

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

Jeff Mann (photo credit L.S. King)

Jeff Mann grew up in Covington, Virginia, and Hinton, West Virginia, receiving degrees in English and forestry from West Virginia University. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many publications, including Arts and Letters, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Willow Springs, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Crab Orchard Review, and Appalachian Heritage. He has published three award-winning poetry chapbooks, Bliss, Mountain Fireflies, and Flint Shards from Sussex; five full-length books of poetry, Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology, A Romantic Mann, and Rebels; two collections of personal essays, Edge: Travels of an Appalachian Leather Bear and Binding the God: Ursine Essays from the Mountain South; three novellas, Devoured, included in Masters of Midnight: Erotic Tales of the Vampire, Camp Allegheny, included in History’s Passion: Stories of Sex Before Stonewall, and The Saga of Einar and Gisli, included in On the Run: Tales of Gay Pursuit and Passion; six novels, Cub, Country, Insatiable, Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal (which won the Pauline Réage Novel Award), Purgatory: A Novel of the Civil War (which won a Rainbow Award), and Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War (which won both the Pauline Réage Novel Award and a Lambda Literary Award); a book of poetry and memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men; and three volumes of short fiction, Desire and Devour: Stories of Blood and Sweat, Consent: Bondage Tales, and A History of Barbed Wire (which won a Lambda Literary Award). In 2013, he was inducted into the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival Hall of Fame. He teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series at Marshall

Two of the judges for the 2018 WV Writers writing contests will be featured readers for The A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series at Marshall.

The series is kicking off the Spring 2018 semester with a reading celebrating the newly published anthology Unbroken Circle: Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South, a book whose work provides space for historically marginalized voices, such as those from the queer community. These essays and stories remind readers what a breadth of identity there is in Appalachia. Featured readers will be Jeff Mann,Julia Watts, and Okey Napier Jr.

What: Reading and Book signing
Where: the Don Morris Room in the Memorial Student Center on Marshall's campus
When: Thursday, January 25, 2018 @ 7 p.m.

Please join us for a reading, Q&A, and book signing. Books will be available for sale. Light refreshments will be served.

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Contest Judge Rollout: Adam Booth (Humor Category)

Adam Booth

(WV Writers is rolling out the names and bios of our contest judges for 2018.  For the full collection of judge bios click THIS LINK or read the 2018 JUDGES LIST.)

HUMOR Category judge Adam Booth's storytelling blends traditional folklore, music, and an awareness of contemporary Appalachia. His original voice, both humorous and touching, is influenced by generations of diverse storytellers from West Virginia. His telling appearances have included Teller-In-Residence at the International Storytelling Center, New Voice at the National Storytelling Festival, resident at the Banff (Alberta) Spoken Word program, multiple events in seventeen states, and collaborations with the West Virginia Dance Company, Goose Route Dance Company, Frederick Chorale, and Hagerstown Choral Arts Society. Equally at home as a teller and educator, his research and presentations have included the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship, the National Academy of Medicine, Ghost Ranch, the National Storytelling Conference, the Appalachian Studies Association Conference, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Voices from the Misty Mountains summer seminars and institute. His stories and recordings have been honored with two Parents' Choice Silver Honors, four Storytelling World Awards and Honors, the NSN's J.J. Reneaux Mentorship Grant, and four West Virginia Liars’ Contest wins. He teaches Appalachian studies at Shepherd University and is the founding director of the Speak Story Series. Adam is most at home sharing stories and music with the next generation of listeners and tellers throughout Appalachia.

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West Virginia Writers 2018 Writing Contests Now Open for Submissions


January 2, 2018 – West Virginia Writers, Inc., (WVW) is now accepting submissions for its annual writing competitions, offering $5075 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.

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 5000 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 Middle Grade/Young Adult Books and Book Length Prose 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 grades 1-5, 6-8, and 9-12—each of which will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 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 January 2 through March 15 (with a late deadline of March 31) and may be submitted online through Submittable at The organization accepts printed entries, as well.  Printable submission forms for mailing can be found online at

Winners will be announced June 9, 2018 at an awards ceremony during the 40th annual West Virginia Writers Conference, to be held at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, W.Va.  All winners, including honorable mentions, will receive certificates suitable for framing, with cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 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, or email contest coordinator Dreama Pritt at


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