As a service to first time attendees or potential attendees of WV Writers Summer Conference, this document is being provided as a guide to planning your conference experience. There are answers to frequently asked questions below...
- If you plan to stay overnight, be sure to fill out the separate Cedar Lakes form, as well. You'll also need to fill it out if you plan to eat meals there, which we recommend, because it's hard to get out to a restaurant and back without missing a workshop or two.
- On the weekend of the conference, please stop at the Cedar Lakes office when you first enter the grounds. The office is the first building on your right as you enter. You'll get your meal tickets (more like a typed sheet of paper) and your room keys. DO NOT LOSE YOUR MEAL TICKET.
- Ask the Cedar Lakes staff to point out Jackson Hall to you, which will serve as our main assembly hall (due to the normal assembly hall being under renovations.) They'll give you a map, too, but you can just barely see Jackson building from the office. Come there next and check in or register for the conference itself. If you have pre-registered and prepaid in full, there is usually a "quick line" you can jump to and simply check your name off the list, grab your name tag and goody bag, and head to step three. If you still need to register, that's fine too. We accept cash, checks, and can now accept credit cards via Square Up at the registration desk or bookstore. (Cedar Lakes can accept credit cards for room and meals).
- Stop by the reception table for a cold (or hot) drink and a snack.
- For 2021, the the Writer's Wall competition will be held in Dining Hall Area 2, just off the main dining hall. For the Writer's Wall, participants can bring in a one page piece of poetry and/or prose to anonymously post to the wall (which means, naturally, that your name must not appear on it). There will be a sign up book and an intern to help with the process, assigning each entry a number which conference attendees will be able to vote for using the ballot slip in their goodie bags. The winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday night.
- Similarly, there will be five total sessions of People's Choice, with prose and poetry sessions on Friday evening and prose, poetry and youth sessions on Saturday. During People's Choice, attendees are invited to read a piece of their own work that must come in at under 5 minutes in length. After all the pieces are read, ballots will be passed out for fellow readers and other attendees to vote on their favorite pieces. Winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday night.
- You don't have to register for the individual workshops in advance. Just pick them as you go. Some people find that it's easier to print out the schedule (or use the one given to you at registration, which will be the most accurate) and then highlight two classes each session that you're interested in. Then, when the time arrives, you can pick between the two. Some people like to have a "back up class" in case one is overcrowded, or in case you find yourself enjoying a particular track so much that you want to stick with it (poetry vs. non-fiction, for example). We would recommend that you take at least one class outside of your chosen genre; not just for the broadened experience, but because you might find inspiration or a particular nugget of writing wisdom that you can apply to what you're working on. For example, if you write fiction, take a poetry workshop or a nonfiction editing workshop, which can help with your craft.
- Be sure to dress light but bring a sweater and an umbrella. It’s not uncommon for it to rain very hard on at least one of the conference days. The classrooms can also be hot. Be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable for walking, not only for walking to and from the dining hall but for taking strolls around the grounds of Cedar Lakes. Oh, and open toed shoes can be sort of iffy, for there is a great deal of goose poo to be found in certain parts near the lakes.
- We also hope you're planning to attend the banquet and stick around for entertainment in Jackson Hall on Saturday evening!
West Virginia Writers Annual Writing Contests are in the home stretch for the March 31 FINAL deadline.
To help things run smoothly for both entrants and our contest coordinator (me) here’s a handy checklist that you should go over before sending in your entries.
1) Have you read the contest rules to make sure you’re complying with them? Even if you’ve entered a dozen times in the past, please don’t assume you know the rules by heart. Mistakes happen, so please read the rules again. The CONTEST GUIDELINES are guidelines, not merely suggestions. Follow them and you cannot go wrong.
2) Is your contest category and the word count for your entry printed in the top right corner of your entry? The word count means the actual number of words in your entry. (You don't need word count for poetry entries. You DO for all prose entries.) Your word processing program will be able to tell you this. Please do not estimate. For Book Length Prose, this means the word count of your submitted excerpt, not of the overall novel.
3) Have you filled out your entry form correctly and marked which categories you’re entering? Not filling out the category section would be okay if you’re sending only one entry and its category is noted on the entry itself, but in the case of multiple prose entries it can be important to have it in both places.
4) Have you double and triple checked that your name is NOT printed on your actual story or poem? The ONLY place your name should appear is on your contest entry form. (We assign each story a code corresponding with that author’s entry in our contest database, where the author’s name and their story are recorded. This way our judges have no idea who has written a given piece.)
5) If your entry requires a one-page synopsis (Book Length Prose) have you included it?
6) Have you double-checked to make sure you included all of your entries in your envelope or attached to your email to email@example.com? In the past, we’ve received a few envelopes that are a story or poem shy of the intended amount.
7) Have you included accurate contact information for yourself? Every year people send entries in that require followup to correct an error or two, and every year many of those emails sent bounce back because they are incorrectly written on the form. (And, sometimes, handwriting interpretation on my part may be at fault.) Please legibly print your contact info, especially your email address, and make sure it’s all correct.
8) Have you addressed your envelope with the correct address of our contest coordinator? We have occasionally received entries forwarded from previous coordinators. Please use the correct entry form with the correct address for 2021, which is available at our website and in our newsletter.
9) If submitting by email, have you paid for your entries via Pay Pal (making payments directly to firstname.lastname@example.org)? Be sure to include your Pay Pal receipt of payment with your emailed entries.
10) If emailing entries, have you made certain that they are in .doc format and not .pdf or another format? We're only accepting .doc format this year.
Dos and Don'ts.
- DO staple your individual entries if they have multiple pages. (You can also paperclip them, but we just remove the paperclip and staple them again for added stability in transit to the judges.)
- DO write legibly on your entry form.
- DON'T forget to include your zip code on the contest entry form. We don't know the zip code for every town in the state and having to find your envelope to double check the return address slows down the process.
If you have questions feel free to send them to us at email@example.com. Do know, though, that many of the answers to questions I have received about the contest are found at our Frequently Asked Questions list.
QUESTION: Would I qualify for the Emerging Writers category since my news articles have been published?
ANSWER: It kind of depends on how large the paper's circulation is. The rule is that you can't have won a cash prize in our contest before and you can't have been published in a publication with a circulation greater than 5000. Most city newspapers will have a print run of over 5000, but perhaps a small town paper would not. Check with the paper in question to find out. The other major factor in this is that even if the print run is below 5000, the piece being submitted must never have been published at all.
QUESTION: Is it permissible to re-enter a work that was rejected last year?
ANSWER: "Rejected" is such an ugly word. We prefer, "not selected." But still. You may certainly resubmit something from a previous year, provided it has never won a cash prize. There are different judges from year to year, so it can be a matter of a piece finding a receptive judicial home.
QUESTION: Is there an address where one can send the submission fees? Don’t have a credit card or use of Pay-pal, but would like to enter several of the contests. How do I pay the fees?
ANSWER: If you enter the contest by mail, you can send a check for submission fees. Just download the contest entry form you need from our CONTEST PAGE (either the Adult Contest Form or New Mountain Voices Student Contest form) and follow the instructions. The address to send submissions to is on each form. Find them at... http://wvwriters.org/home/annual-writing-contest/
QUESTION: I have about a dozen poems in a group, written over the past 40 years. Must I send $10 for each or will the $10 fee cover them all?
ANSWER: While we have offered a chapbook or collection category for poetry in the past, we are not in 2021. For this year, we have a poetry category which covers short poetry and long poetry, which we have previously separated.
QUESTION: My fellow writers in my writers group suggested I submit my screenplay. Do you have a category for the 2021 contest?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, not for 2021. We usually do screenplays every other year in a round robin fashion and 2021 is the year for the stageplay category, named in memory of Joe McCabe, a beloved playwright from Martinsburg.
QUESTION: For the poetry entries, does one poem equal one entry? In other words, if I enter five poems, I would send in $50.00?
ANSWER: For our Poetry and Emerging Writers Poetry categories, this is correct. One poem per entry fee.
QUESTION: I would like to submit to the contest, but I have taken an online class from the judge of the category I want to submit to. I've made lots of changes to the manuscript, but I'm afraid they still might recognize my work. Should I still submit?
ANSWER: This is a tough one, but in this case we would recommend you do not submit if there is any possible chance a judge might be familiar with your work already. The WV Writers contest is judged blindly, so that the judges are never provided the names of the authors whose work has been submitted to them. The only possible way for them to know who has written a piece is if they recognize it as something they have read before. We pick judges from out of state to help minimize the chances of this happening, but with prevalence of online writing workshops, the chances can increase. For this reason, we give our judges strict instructions that if they recognize a piece of writing and realize the identity of its author, they are to disqualify that work from consideration.
If you think there is even a possibility that one of our judges might recognize your work, we ask that you save that work for submission next year when a different judge will be assigned to that category.
This has happened in the past and it created one of the rare situations in which we had to disqualify the entry.