2019 WCoNA Call for Papers

The call for papers is now closed. Come see us in Wheeling in September!

First Annual Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia

September 6-8, 2019 / Wheeling, West Virginia

The Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia invites proposals for presentations and workshops for our first conference to be held September 6-8, 2019 in Wheeling, West Virginia. 

Writers from, living in or writing about the region of northern Appalachia have yet to be distinguished with a regional identity. While the people, places, culture, folk traditions, history, landscapes and geography of northern Appalachia are uniquely inspiring, their stories have been underrepresented and undervalued in the traditional literary world. The mission of the Writers Conference of northern Appalachia is to bring writers, researchers and literary scholars together to recognize this distinct literature and to establish a canon of writers and writing of northern Appalachia. 

The conference will serve as a catalyst to inspire more novels, poetry, essays, history, memoir, drama, and other modes of literary writing that represent, in some way, northern Appalachia. The exposure gained by the conference and the projects that stem from the conference will generate support for authors of northern Appalachia, which will ensure that the voice of this remarkable part of the country is acknowledged, appreciated and preserved.   

Participants will explore opportunities, challenges, and trends specific to Appalachian writers through keynote presentations, panel discussions, craft talks, a book fair, an artisan festival, and workshops led by contemporary northern Appalachian authors. The conference will offer writers a space to gather for inspiration, further education, support, and networking.

General Information
Sessions will be 45 minutes to one hour and may employ a variety of formats, including panel and roundtable discussions, readings, or workshops. We encourage individual submissions but will also consider group proposal submissions for panels. Only one proposal submission is allowed per person; participants can present only once during the conference.

Conference presenters and attendees must register for the full conference. To submit a proposal, please use the Proposal Submission Form on the conference website: [I can create the form. We do not need to go through Submittable for conference abstracts.]

Suggested Presentation Topics
The Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia is a space to celebrate, study, and advance the work of northern Appalachians writing in all genres. We will address the value of adding our voices to the collective, cultural conversations about writing and the danger of limiting or excluding the voices of northern Appalachia. 

Possible topics for proposals may include the following:

  • Identifying challenges faced by northern Appalachian writers
  • Developing best practices in your craft
  • Collaborating with and mentoring other northern Appalachian writers
  • Responsibly engaging diverse voices and perspectives
  • Historicizing northern Appalachian writers and movements
  • Writing about identity and marginalized experiences in northern Appalachia
  • Strategies for teaching and researching writing
  • Engaging and sustaining a writing life
  • Options for getting a publisher
  • The business side of authorship
  • How to sell books
  • Defining the region of northern Appalachia and identifying characteristics of its literature
  • Deciding on a name that most appropriately reflects the region and its literature
  • Compiling a body of work by writers of northern Appalachia
  • Establishing a literary canon for literature of northern Appalachia
  • Instituting an archive of literature of northern Appalachia
  • Creating a network of writers, researchers and literary scholars of northern Appalachia

Northern Appalachia is defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as those counties illustrated in green:

Notes on session formats 

Presentations can be offered by a single individual with subject matter expertise on a particular topic such as an aspect of writing craft, the business of writing, or an inquiry into some aspect of northern Appalachian culture.

Panels allow a variety of perspectives on a particular topic or theme. They should consist of a minimum of 3 and maximum of 5 persons, including the moderator. One of the panelists may also serve as the moderator. Panel proposals should identify the moderator, and all panelists must be listed on the proposal.

Workshops should be interactive and allow participants to engage with a specific topic or skill.

Roundtables are hosted by one or two leaders with expertise to lead open, interactive discussions on a specific subject.

AV Requests and Handouts

If your program will require AV (projector, screen, clicker), please indicate this on the proposal submission form. Due to production costs and space limitations, sessions/slots with AV may be limited. For that reason, please explain how you intend to use AV for your session and why it’s imperative.

Handouts are the responsibility of the presenter.

What should I bear in mind as I develop my proposal?

  • Your audience: Conference attendees will include authors ranging from novice poets to multi-published novelists; academics representing the humanities, literature, Appalachian studies, and more; educators; librarians; and individuals with an interest in northern Appalachian literature and culture.
  • WCoNA focuses on all aspects of northern Appalachian literature, including research, composition, literary craft, critical theory, creative collaboration, pedagogy, and publishing. Further, the conference seeks to interpret, and further understand how, the cultural identity of this landscape distinguishes and informs its literature.
  • Speakers should be dynamic and engaging. Present a succinct yet descriptive program title with a helpful subtitle.


Presenters are conference attendees who volunteer to take an hour from their conference time to share their expertise and knowledge on a particular topic with fellow attendees. Each general presenter, regardless of the number of programs on which he or she appears, will receive free conference registration.

All presenters agree to register for the conference (for free) by the published deadline. Presenters make and pay for their own accommodations, travel arrangements, and meals (including the banquet).

Please visit  WritersConferenceofNorthernAppalachia.com to access the Proposal Submission Form. Proposals can be submitted through the conference website or by email at WCONAcommittee@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name, title (optional), affiliation, a 150-200 word bio, and a 500-word abstract of your presentation. 

Proposals will be accepted until March 30, 2019.