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Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities announces fiction competition finalists

ISSUED: 9 June 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities announces seven finalists in this year’s West Virginia Fiction Competition.

Finalists include “Closet Wars” by Pat Donohoe, Shepherdstown; “Green Leather Sofa” by D.C. Gallant, Harpers Ferry; “Taking Out the Dead” by M. Lynne Squires and “A Killing Time” by Cat Pleska, both of Scott Depot; “Eden on a Hill” by H. Suzanne Heagy, Fairmont; and “The Produce Stand” by Amber Ray Garcia and “June Drop” by Jordan Carter, both of Morgantown.

2020 Shepherd Writer-in-Residence Dorothy Allison will write critical reviews of each and will select the first, second, and third place winners and present their awards September 24 during the annual Scarborough Society Lecture and Awards at Shepherd during the Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence and Festival September 18-25. The seven finalists will also have the opportunity to submit revisions to the 2021 volume of the “Anthology of Appalachian Writers,” which will be published in spring 2021.

This year the Judges’ Choice prize went to a seventh grader at the Linsly School in Wheeling, Caroline Higginbottom, for her story “Side with Me.” Higginbottom is the student of Sarah Ochap. Her story will be reviewed and critiqued by fiction writer and editor Natalie Sypolt.  It,  along with the three winners, will be published on the Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Competition website at

“The West Virginia Fiction Competition is an opportunity for West Virginia writers to connect with and be mentored by nationally recognized writers honored in the Appalachian Heritage Writers Project,” said Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities director. “It is also an opportunity to tell the world the West Virginia story through the talent and diverse voices of West Virginia writers.”

The Fiction Competition is funded by the West Virginia Center for the Book in partnership with the Shepherd University Foundation and Shepherd’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities.

For more information, contact Shurbutt at or visit

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