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West Virginia Fiction Competition is Underway


​​Shepherd University and the West Virginia Library Commission are now accepting short story submissions for the 2019 West Virginia Fiction Competition.  The program is a literary competition for writers and storytellers in the state, designed to foster an appreciation of Appalachian culture and values.  Any resident of West Virginia or student attending school in the state may submit an original, unpublished work of fiction.  The submission may not have received any other award, recognition, or special honor.

A panel of writers, editors and creative writing instructors will choose finalists, and the 2019 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence, Kentucky writer Crystal Wilkinson, will select winners from the field of finalists.  Winners will receive $500 for First Place, $100 for Second Place, Third Place, and Judges’ Choice awards.  The Competition is funded by the WV Center for the Book at the WV Library Association and the Shepherd University Foundation. 

All finalist’s stories will automatically be submitted for consideration to the Anthology of Appalachian Writers,  Crystal Wilkinson Volume XII.  The writing of public school students is welcomed, as teachers and schools are credited in the awards citations and in the anthology.  Recent student winners of the Judges’ Choice Award have been from Tucker County High School (2018), Parkersburg High School (2017), and Oak Hill High School in Fayette County (2016).

Crystal Wilkinson is one of the original Affrilachian Poets, a grassroots group of poets of color living in the Appalachian region, and was winner of the 2008 Denny Plattner Award in Poetry from Appalachian Heritage Magazine. Her fiction writing has received many awards as well, including the 2016 Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Appalachian Studies Association’s Weatherford Award.  Her story collection Blackberries, Blackberries was 2009 Chaffin Award winner, and her fiction work Water Street, a beautifully written collection of inter-related stories, is this year's selection for One Book One West Virginia, West Virginia's most important state-wide book discussion group.

Writers interested in submitting their original works of fiction to the WV Fiction Competition should submit their stories, double-spaced and within the 5000-word maximum limit, to Brenda Feltner, Shepherd University, PO Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.  The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2019.  Winners will be announced at ceremonies on the campus of Shepherd University on September 26, 2019. 

For more information about the West Virginia Fiction Competition, see the website at or contact Karen Goff, WV Library Commission, at or Sylvia Shurbutt, Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities, at

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