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Contest results will be posted by June 9, 2024.

2024 Contest Official Rules

WV Writer’s 2024 Spring Writing Competition Official Rules

Click to jump to the FAQ

SUBMISSIONS:

  • Submissions are no longer being accepted.
  • Each entry form can accommodate up to 10 submissions each.
  • The entry fee is $15 per entry, or $20 for Middle Grade Book or Book Length Prose.
  • Entry fees are not refundable.

DEADLINE:

  • Entries are accepted from January 2 through March 31, 2024.
  • Entries between March 16 and the 31st are subject to a $5 late fee per manuscript.

ELIGIBILITY:

  • The contest is open to any WV resident. Out-of-state residents must be members of WV Writers, Inc.
  • Members of the WV Writers Board of Directors are prohibited from entering.
  • Entries must be the entrant's original work and must comply with the category descriptions, limitations, and procedures.
  • Any work that has won a cash prize in any previous WVW competition is not eligible.
  • Published works, or those accepted anywhere for publication before January 1st, 2024, are not eligible. A work will be considered published if it has been printed in a publication with a distribution of 1000 or more, published on a webpage, or independently published via print-on-demand or e-book service. If less than 25% of the entry has been published it will be considered unpublished.
  • There is no eligibility age limit.

CONTEST GUIDELINES:

  • This contest is blindly judged. The author’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Indicate the category and word count in the upper right corner of the first page. Poetry should indicate line, not word count.
  • All manuscripts should be titled in a standard 12-point font, and double-spaced. Poetry may be single-spaced.
  • Manuscripts may be entered in multiple categories provided the same title is used.
  • Submit a separate manuscript and fee for each category entered.
  • Submissions not following the guidelines may be disqualified with no refund of entry fees.

JUDGING:

  • Judges will not critique manuscripts.
  • Entrants may not contact judges before or during the contest. This will result in disqualification without a refund.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.

WINNERS:

  • Winners will be announced at the WVW Awards Banquet on June 8th, 2024, at Cedar Lakes, Ripley, WV.
  • The list of winners will be posted on the website on June 9th, 2024.

 

COMPETITION CATEGORY DESCRIPTIONS:

Short Poetry – 20 lines or less of poetry in any form

Long Poetry – 21 lines and up to 4 pages in length. Poetry in any form.

Short Story – up to 5,000 words. Fiction.

Nonfiction / Essay – up to 5,000 words. Article, essay, or memoir.

Flash Fiction – up to 1,000 words.

Social Change: The Pearl S. Buck Award – up to 5,000 words. Non-fiction, fiction, or poetry on a topic related to social change.

For book categories – please note the entry fee for these categories is $20.

Middle-Grade Book – Up to 7,500 words and a 1-page synopsis. Specify fiction or nonfiction.

Book Length Prose – Up to 7,500 words and a 1-page synopsis. Specify fiction, nonfiction, or memoir.

2024 New Mountain Voices Contest Official Rules

WV Writers 2024 New Mountain Voices Writing Competition Official Rules

Click to jump to the FAQ

SUBMISSIONS:

  • Submissions are no longer being accepted.
  • Each entry form can accommodate up to 10 submissions each.
  • The entry fee is $5 per entry. Those submitted between March 16th and 31st have an addition $2 late entry fee per submission.
  • Entry fees are not refundable.

DEADLINE:

  • Entries are accepted from January 2 through March 31, 2024.
  • Entries between March 16 and the 31st are subject to a $2 late fee per manuscript.

ELIGIBILITY:

  • The contest is open to any WV student in grades 1 through 12. This includes students in any schools: public, private, charter, parochial, homeschooled, or other.
  • Entrants must be in grades 1-5 for the Elementary Competition, grades 6-8 for the Middle School Competition, and grades 9-12 for the High School Competition.
  • Entries must be the entrant's original work and must comply with the category descriptions, limitations, and procedures.
  • Any work that has won a cash prize in any previous WVW competition is not eligible.
  • Published works, or those accepted anywhere for publication before January 1st, 2024, are not eligible. A work will be considered published if it has been printed in a publication with a distribution of 1000 or more, published on a webpage, or independently published via print-on-demand or e-book service. If less than 25% of the entry has been published it will be considered unpublished.

CONTEST GUIDELINES:

  • This contest is blindly judged. The author’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Each entry is limited to 2,000 words. Indicate the word count in the upper right corner of the first page.
  • All manuscripts should be titled in a standard 12-point font, and double-spaced. Poetry in the high school category may be single-spaced.
  • Submissions not following the guidelines may be disqualified with no refund of entry fees.

JUDGING:

  • Judges will not critique manuscripts.
  • Entrants may not contact judges before or during the contest. This will result in disqualification without a refund.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.

WINNERS:

  • Winners of 1st, 2nd, 3rd places and Honorable Mention will be notified they have placed in the competition, but not told the placement until the WVW Awards Banquet on June 8th, 2024, at Cedar Lakes, Ripley, WV.
  • The winning individuals and one guest will be guests of WV Writers at the awards banquet.
  • All winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet.
  • The list of winners will be posted on the website on June 9th, 2024.

 

COMPETITION CATEGORY DESCRIPTIONS:

Entrants may write about any topic they choose, or they can choose any of the following prompts:

My Superpower … write about a quality you have that you consider special or super!

A Holiday You Will Always Remember … what made that holiday special to you?

Sharing is Caring … write about a time you shared something that made a positive difference in someone’s life.

AWARDS

  • Each age group will be awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place and an honorable mention.
  • 1st place - $100 2nd place - $50 3rd place - $25
  • Each winner receives a certificate.

2024 Contest Judges

Larry Thacker

SHORT STORY FICTION - Larry Thacker - Larry D. Thacker is a Kentuckian writer, artist, educator, and reality actor, hailing from Johnson City, Tennessee. His poetry and fiction can be found in over 200 publications. His publications include three short story collections, six books of poetry, and a book of folk history. He is a cast member on the Netflix original series, Swap Shop. His MFA in poetry and fiction was earned from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com

Diane Zinna

BOOK LENGTH PROSE - Diane Zinna - Diane Zinna is the author of the novel, THE ALL-NIGHT SUN (Random House, July 2020). Her new craft book on the art of telling our hardest stories, LETTING GRIEF SPEAK: Writing Portals for Life After Loss, will be released in September, 2024 from Columbia University Press. Diane received her MFA from the University of Florida and has taught creative writing for over a decade. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband, daughter, and doodle. Learn more at dianezinna.com.

 

Joel Peckham

LONG POETRY - Joel Peckham has published nine collections of poetry and nonfiction, most recently Bone Music (SFAU), Body Memory (New Rivers), and the spoken word LP, Still Running: Words and Music by Joel Peckham (EAT poems). With Robert Vivian, he also co-edited the anthology, Wild Gods: The Ecstatic in Contemporary Poetry and Prose. He is an Associate Professor of American Literature and Creative Writing at Marshall University. 

 

Hayley Haugen

SHORT POETRY - Hayley Mitchell Haugen - Hayley Mitchell Haugen is a Professor of English at Ohio University Southern. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag (2018) is her first full-length poetry collection, and her chapbook, What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To is from Finishing Line Press (2016). Her latest chapbook, The Blue Wife Poems, is from Kelsay Books (2022). She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.

 

Belinda Anderson
FLASH FICTION - Belinda Anderson - Belinda Anderson often hears “you have exceeded your recording time” on the phone, but as a writer, one of her specialties is short fiction. She is the author of four books, three of them short story collections, published by Mountain State Press. Other short pieces have appeared in anthologies, magazines and as guest blogs. She is included on the literary map of West Virginia published by Fairmont State University. West Virginia Writers, Inc., recognized her with a Just Uncommonly Good Works Award & Just Uncommonly Good Service to West Virginia writers and to the writing community through your excellent mentoring. Belinda’s audio conference-call writing workshops for New River Community and Technical College have been attended by students from as far away as Montana. She also works individually with writers on manuscript development.
Carter Taylor Seaton

NON-FICTION/ESSAY - Huntington native Carter Taylor Seaton is the award-winning author of four novels, three non-fiction works, and the biography of the late Congressman Ken Hechler. She has been a regular contributor to Huntington Quarterly Magazine for over twenty-five years. She holds an Alumni Award of Distinction from Marshall University’s College of Liberal Arts, the West Virginia Library Association’s Literary Merit Award, an Ella Dickey Award for Literary Merit, the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, WVW’s “J.U.G.” Award, and was recently installed on the Greater Huntington Foundation’s Wall of Fame. Her latest novel, Guilt, was released in October 2023.

Dr. Christina Fisanick

SOCIAL CHANGE. The Pearl S Buck Award - Dr. Christina Fisanick is the author or editor of more than 30 books, including the memoir, The Optimistic Food Addict (MSI, 2016), and Digital Storytelling as Public History (Routledge, 2020), co-written with Robert Stakeley. In addition, her poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Still: The Journal, the Journal of Appalachian Studies, and the North Meridian Review. In addition to serving as the president of the Writers Association of Northern Appalachia (WANA) and the co-host of WANA LIVE!: The Reading Series, Christina is a professor of English who specializes in expository writing, creative nonfiction, and digital storytelling. She is passionate about small town history, especially the history of her hometown, Wheeling, WV. Learn more about her work at christinafisanick.com.

Sarah Dooley

MIDDLE GRADE BOOK - Sarah Dooley is the author of four middle-grade novels, including Free Verse (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2016), winner of the 2012 PEN/Phylis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, and Ashes to Asheville (2017), a 2018 ALSC Children's Notable. A 2006 graduate of Marshall University, Sarah lives in Kanawha County with her teenager and their growing collection of oddly-behaved cats.

Devonne Brown

NMV1 - Devonne Brown - Devonne Brown is a mother of twin men, and a writer who harbors cats and antiques. She teaches English between summers, writing workshops, and weekends. In addition to her blog, athesuaurus.net, a collection of essays, poetry, and short stories, she has written a book under the name, D.L. Brown, Norris Tales, the Adventures of an Awful Housecat, an anthology of anecdotes and short stories that revolves around family tyrant Norris, a cat of unusual presence and demeanor. No one needs a cat like Norris, but thankfully, a shelter picked him off of the streets to save other unsuspecting citizens from his unbridled condescension.

Robert Fouch

NMV2 - Robert L. Fouch is an author and journalist who grew up in Petersburg, West Virginia, and now makes his home on Long Island in New York. He is the author of three middle-grade children’s books, “Little & Big,” “Christmas Carol & the Defenders of Claus” and “Christmas Carol & the Shimmering Elf,” the latter two published by Sky Pony Press. He has worked in the newspaper business for longer than he cares to admit, including 29 years at Newsday as a copy editor, page designer and feature writer. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marshall University and is married with a son, who, alas, has outgrown his dad's books.

David Prather

NMV3 POETRY - David Prather - David B. Prather’s collections of poetry include We Were Birds from Main Street Rag in 2019 and Shouting at an Empty House from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2023. Another full-length poetry collection, Bending Light with Bare Hands, is forthcoming from Fernwood Press in 2024. A past president of West Virginia Writers, Inc., he has taught at West Virginia University Parkersburg and Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. Prather served as poetry editor for Confluence Literary Journal and for Tantra Press. His work has appeared in Colorado Review, Seneca Review, Prairie Schooner, The American Journal of Poetry, The Literary Review, and others, and been nominated Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. He received his MFA from Warren Wilson College, and he was recently included in the West Virginia Literary Hall of Fame. He lives in the town where he was born—Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Nathaniel Patterson

NMV3 PROSE - Nathaniel Patterson - Nathaniel Patterson is a writer and former high school English teacher from Charleston, West Virginia. His work has been published in the 2023 Ohio Bards Poetry Anthology by Local Gems Press and the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Volume XIV: Marie Manilla by Shepherd University. In 2017, he was awarded the Denise Giardina Prize for Fiction by West Virginia State University for his short story “Get Along.”

 

 

2024 Contest FAQ

WEST VIRGINIA WRITERS, INC. ANNUAL WRITING CONTEST
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

RULES 

• With the contest’s “blind entry” policy, how do judges know which entry belongs to whom?

The judges DO NOT know. Blind entry contests ensure judges are impartial, evaluating the work and not the author. In our contest, the contest coordinator maintains a database, cataloging each entry as it arrives. At that time, the entry is assigned an individual code, written on the first page before being sent to any judge. When judges have finished evaluating entries, they note the codes for winning and honorable mention stories, in ranking order. The judges never know who the author is until the awards banquet has concluded.

• Does the guideline about a work not having been published in a "publication" with a readership of not more than 1,000 refer to possible book distribution or just to periodicals?

“Published work” refers to ALL print publications with potentially a distribution of 1,000 or more and any works online. “Published work” also includes self-published books with either over 1,000 copies sold and/or printed; or available for sale via Amazon or another print-on-demand service. Self-published and/or print-on-demand IS publication.

• Is it permissible to re-enter a work not selected last year or in a previous year?

You may certainly resubmit something from a previous year, provided it has never won a cash prize from WVW. There are different judges from year to year, so it can be a matter of a piece finding a receptive judge.

• What should go on the title page?

Some include a separate title page with the title centered on the page, and the category and word count in the upper right corner. Others let the first page serve as the title page, with the category and word count in the upper right corner, the title centered below that, and the story or poem beginning immediately after. Either is acceptable provided the author's name does not appear anywhere.

• When submitting an excerpt, should the word count on the cover page indicate the number of words in the excerpt or the total number of words in the entire work?

The word count should indicate the number of words in the excerpt.

• I have a piece I would like to submit, but I have also submitted it for publication. If accepted, it won't be published until late spring. Who/how does one make the call on that as to the guidelines for the contest?

As long as the piece was not published before the contest opens, you're good to go.

• If I submit something for the contest, can I look to publish it before or afterward?

As long as the piece was not published prior to the beginning of the contest, of course. Your entry is your work, and entering our contest does not give us any right to control your work.

• If I win a prize does my work still count as unpublished?

Yes. We do not publish or gain rights to the works of contest winners. We do not retain copies of the winning entries. Judges destroy them one month after the winners are announced.

• If I submit a work to the contest (whether I win or not) will I be surrendering any aspect of my rights under copyright?

No. You retain full rights to your work.

• I live out of state. For membership, should I send my membership first before submitting?

(If you reside in-state, skip to the next question.)
WVW requires out-of-state writers to become members before entering our contest. Therefore, it's important the contest coordinator knows your membership status when processing your entry. You can submit your membership application and fee with your contest entry. Or you can submit it through the website. This way your status will be immediately known, and your membership information will be forwarded to the secretary.

• I am now, and I always have been a West Virginia resident. Is membership in WV Writers required to submit an entry?

No. Membership is NOT required for West Virginia residents. The contest is open to West Virginia residents AND current members. The only time membership in the organization is required is when the entrant is a resident of another state

• Does the word count include the title or just the body of the piece of writing?

Word count doesn't include the title. Or "The End" in case you've added that.

• I would like to submit writing to multiple categories. Do I just submit one copy for multiple categories (with an entry fee for each submission)?

You will need to upload your document for each category you are entering.

• The piece that I want to submit is just under 3,000 words, and 5,000 is the word limit. Is a smaller article going to be acceptable?

Absolutely. There's no minimum. You could have a 100-word story and it would still be eligible.

• I would like to submit, but I have worked with / learned from / attended a workshop / etc. with the judge of the category I want to submit to. I'm afraid they might recognize my work. Should I still submit it?

Do not submit if there is any possible chance a judge might be familiar with your entry. Because ours is a “blind entry” contest, judges are instructed to disqualify entries if they recognize a piece and/or realize the identity of the author. If you think there is even a possibility the judge might recognize your work, save that piece for submission when a different judge is assigned to that category.

POETRY 

• Can I submit a collection of my poems?

If the contest is not explicitly offering a Poetry Collection or Chapbook category in the current year, each poem counts as one entry.

• The Short Poetry category has a limit of 20 lines or fewer. Does a "line" consist of a new line no matter how short it is? Or does a sentence count as a line even if it extends on to the next line?

We count the number of actual lines of text on the page, regardless of length. (Spacing lines between paragraphs do not count.)

• I hope to send a poem for the contest previously published, but now I have revised and/or altered it. Is this permissible?

If the poem has been previously published, it cannot be entered, even if changed or revised.

• For the poetry entries, does one poem equal one entry?

Correct. One poem per entry fee.

• If you receive entries for poetry with no word count in the upper right of the page are the entries discarded? Since rules noted “any form up to four pages,” I didn't include a word count.

The word count rule applies to prose entries. Poetry only has a line limit for short poetry and a page limit for long poetry.

BOOK-LENGTH PROSE

• I want to compete in the Book Length Prose category. The instructions say, "send 7500 words plus a one-page synopsis." Does that mean that I send the 1st portion of the book and then encapsulate the rest in a summary?

The Book Length Prose and Middle-Grade Novel/Young Adult Novel categories accept up to 7500 words. Send the 7500 words of the manuscript you feel best exemplifies your work. This may come from the beginning, middle, end, or a combination of passages from more than one of those. Keep in mind, a judge might prefer a cohesive segment, rather than samples. The synopsis included needs to show the judge the overall story.

• Is the Book-Length submission supposed to be a 7500-word excerpt from a longer work or a complete story that is simply longer than the submissions in other categories?

Book-length works are typically 60,000 or more words. The synopsis provides an overview of the entire story, but the 7500 words come from within that larger work.

• Am I correct that only the Book-Length category considers works over 5,000 words?

Book Length is the only category that accepts works of over 5,000 words. It accepts a 7,500-word excerpt plus a 1-page synopsis. The work itself may be 90,000 words. Other contest categories will accept 5000-word excerpts of longer work, but excerpts are less likely to line up with the purpose and intention of that category. Either way, works for all prose categories, unless otherwise specified, should fit within the 5000-word limit.

• For Book Length Prose, I know the cover page must include title, category and word count, but should the narrative also begin on the cover page or on the second page?

Cover pages and front matter are not necessary, though they do not count against you either. Our standard formatting is to include the category and word count at the top of the first page, placing the title just above the beginning of the text. Dedications and attributions eat into your word limit and are not necessary to the judging process.

• Should the one-page synopsis be more like the "teaser" summaries that explain what a book is about without spoiling the ending or should it try to tell as much as possible about how the story ends?

Your synopsis should definitely spoil the ending. Detailed synopses should give the full story of the manuscript. Describe the entire plot of the book, in thumbnail form, in one page. The judge needs to see the overall arc of the book's plot, which will help them see how the excerpt submission fits into that picture.

• Will the judges pick a subset of the best Book-Length entries and then request the full manuscripts to complete the judging?

Judges base their decisions solely on the excerpts and synopses.

• I know the excerpt must be double-spaced, but does the synopsis have to be as well?

The synopsis page may be single-spaced but must still fit on one side of a single printed page.

SHORT STORY 

• I'm interested in entering a short story from a series I'm writing, but although some are under 5,000 words, my favorite one is just under 7,100 words. Is there a category under which such a story could be entered?

Word limits are in place due to the number of submissions we receive. Short stories average 60 or more entries per year. If even half the entries are at the 5000-word limit, that's a LOT of words for a judge to read in th allotted time they have. Your piece of 7,100 words should be submitted elsewhere.

SOCIAL CHANGE

• Regarding the Social Change (Pearl S. Buck Award), would it be appropriate to include a photo I took with a story?

Photos are fine provided they do not lead the judge to be able to identify the author. You should definitely not appear within the photo, nor anyone in your family. Chances aren't high that the judge would know anyone, but because the contest is blindly judged, we must prevent all possibilities of that happening. Additionally, a photo or other visuals are not taken into account when judging.

• I was wondering if you could possibly forward a winning entry of the Social Change (Pearl S. Buck Award) category to me so I can get an idea what to shoot for?

Winning entries from previous years are no longer in our organizational possession. The entries are destroyed at the end of the judging period.

• For the Social Change (Pearl S. Buck Award) category, the guidelines note, "nonfiction, fiction, or poetry...on a topic related to social change." Do nonfiction submissions need to be creative (like poetry) or are academic, journalistic, and/or otherwise persuasive nonfiction acceptable?

The category itself has a lot of range when it comes to subject matter. Academic/journalistic and persuasive nonfiction essays are completely acceptable. First and foremost, entries need to be about Social Change, not simply espousing a viewpoint; secondly, they need to be well-written regardless of genre.

NEW MOUNTAIN VOICES 

• Can homeschool children participate?

Absolutely.

• I see you actually run two contests--one specifically for students, and the other just a 'writing contest'. I am a student interested in entering an adult writing entry, because the young writers one does not include book-length prose.

There are no rules against student-aged humans entering the regular "adult" contest. Students are welcome to do so, but then compete with adult writers, some of whom are quite accomplished in the field. In addition, the student winners are notified in advance of the awards banquet at our Summer Conference so they can attend if they wish. Adult winners learn of their placement at the awards banquet itself.

• In order to enter, must you attend the awards banquet?

You do not have to attend the awards banquet to win. We mail out certificates and prize money to the winners early in the week following the awards banquet.

• Is a teacher or parent allowed to make edits and recommendations on a student's writing?

Having an outside proofreader is a longstanding tradition for writers of all stripes. Students may certainly let an adult read over their submission before sending it. The adult may then offer editing and revision suggestions but should explain the reasons for those suggestions as a teaching opportunity. Then the students can make revisions themselves. In no way should a parent or teacher do any of the writing themselves.

• I'm a high school student, and I'm wondering if I enter the contest and place, can I enter again when I'm older for the adult contest?

You can certainly enter the adult contest later, but it would need to be with a piece that has not won a previous cash prize in the contest.

• For the New Mountain Voices contest, would it be okay if the entry was a little over the 2,000-word limit? Like, say about 300 words or so over the limit?

The contest has a strict word limit. We don't count the title, the contest category or word count in the corner of the front page, nor the "The End." All word of the actual entry must be within the word limit.

MISCELLANEOUS

• Is there a way to read the winners’ entries for the past years?

Some of the winning entries from 1977-2008 have been published in five separate anthology collections. WVW retains no rights to publication of the winning pieces, so even the collections do not contain ALL contest winners, but only a majority of them. The last such volume, Seeking the Swan, was published in 2008.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

• Is photography considered “artwork?” I want to make sure that if I submit photos within my stories, it won’t be disqualified.

Photography is considered artwork.