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2020 S.C. Novel Prize goes to Upstate writer

Winning manuscript publishes in 2021


The South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press, the College of Charleston, the South Carolina State Library,  and South Carolina Humanities are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 South Carolina Novel Prize is Maris Lawyer for her manuscript The Blue Line Down.  

Lawyer’s winning manuscript will be published in 2021 by Hub City Press of Spartanburg.

Maris Lawyer (right) grew up in Oconee County and hasn’t strayed far since. Graduating with a degree in Creative Writing from Anderson University in 2017, she then moved into a tiny apartment in Greenville with her husband, where she spent her evenings hunched over a laptop writing stories. Maris and her husband (and two cats) are now homeowners in Easley, where she still catches a glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains every day.

Stephanie Powell Watts, author of We Are Taking Only What We Need and No One is Coming to Save Us was the judge of the biennial prize this year. Of the winning manuscript, Watts wrote, “Readers are always looking for the topic that both feels familiar until we scratch the surface a little and realize we know almost nothing about it. In the clear light of the present, movements, protests and even revolutions of the past can seem obvious and inevitable. History loves to condense the story, connecting dots to make the narrative cohere. However, there is turmoil, angst, and great human suffering in between those dots. This story shows us how a decent enough person might be compelled to aid and abet bullies and killers. The story also shows us the main character's remarkable path to possible redemption.”


The South Carolina Novel Prize is funded by the following partner organizations:

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances.

Hub City Press was founded in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1995 and since then has emerged as one of the South's premier independent presses.

The College of Charleston is home not only to a cadre of nationally and internationally recognized writing faculty, but also houses one of the country’s premiere literary journals, Crazyhorse, published since 1960 and consistently ranked as among the top publishing venues in the nation. The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program provides students an immersion in a world of prose and poetry and the practical aspects of establishing a career in the arts.

The South Carolina State Library develops, supports, and sustains a thriving statewide community of learners committed to making South Carolina stronger. The Library serves the people of South Carolina by supporting state government and libraries to provide opportunities for learning in a changing environment.

South Carolina Humanities is the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. SC Humanities presents and supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

For more information about the Novel Competition, visit or call http://www.SouthCarolinaArts.com, 803.734.8696; and http://www.hubcity.org, 864.577.9349.


More about Maris Lawyer

Maris Lawyer is a born and bred native of the South Carolina Upstate. She graduated with a degree in creative writing from Anderson University and has since gone to work as an HR generalist for an environmental consulting firm in Greenville. Maris lives in Easley with her husband Benjamin and two cats, Merlin and Luna. Alongside reading and writing, Maris spends much of her time fussing over the vegetable garden in her back yard. In The Blue Line Down, protagonist Jude Washer leaves his tormented childhood in the Virginian coal mines to join the Baldwin-Felts agents—the very agents who hunted down and disbanded the unionizers at his own mine camp. Instead of living a life of power and control, Jude finds himself disturbed by the brutal brand of justice dealt out by the Baldwin-Felts, and seeks to free himself and his young trainee, Harvey. An unplanned escape turns into a harrowing manhunt as Jude and Harvey flee the Baldwin-Felts, traveling down the Blue Ridge Mountains only to fall into the hands of bootleggers—who may present a greater threat than the Baldwin-Felts.

Jason Rapp

Finalists named for 2020 South Carolina Novel Prize

Winner to be selected next week


The South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press announce the three books named finalists in the 2020 South Carolina Novel Competition.

The finalists are: Rebecca Helms of Murrells Inlet for her manuscript Singing in the Corn, Maris Lawyer of Easley for The Blue Line Down, and Susanne Parker of Spartanburg for her novel What Happens to the Children. The winner will be announced next week and will have her book published in 2021 by Hub City Press of Spartanburg. Stephanie Powell Watts, was the judge of the biennial prize. Watts is the author of the novel, No One Is Coming to Save Us, and a short story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need, which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Her short fiction has been included in two volumes of the Best New Stories from the South anthology and honored with a Pushcart Prize. Born in the foothills of North Carolina, with a PhD from the University of Missouri and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she now lives with her husband and son in Pennsylvania where she is an associate professor at Lehigh University.

Rebecca D. Helms is a South Carolinian novelist, short-story writer, and poet who discovered her love of literature by the time she was only ten years old. Her style is influenced by the grit and grace of the Carolina low-country and her voice is an echo of the maternal village who raised her and showed her the way. Her first novel, Singing in the Corn, carries her readers deep inside every adventure with humor, fear, darkness, and joy—in many scenes, all at the same time. Ms. Helms is currently finalizing her Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and works abroad while writing her next novel.

Maris Lawyer grew up in Oconee County, South Carolina, and hasn’t strayed far since. Graduating with a degree in Creative Writing from Anderson University in 2017, she then moved into a tiny apartment in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband, where she spent her evenings hunched over a laptop writing stories. Maris and her husband (and two cats) are now homeowners in Easley, South Carolina, where she still catches a glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains every day.

Susanne Parker is a Hub City native and graduate of the Converse College Creative Writing MFA. She loves to read journey and travel narratives when she isn’t embarking on some new adventure herself. Susanne works as a library assistant and spends her free time tending the single, enormous sunflower in her garden and snuggling with her pets. What Happens to the Children is her first novel.


The South Carolina Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press, South Carolina Humanities, South Carolina State Library, and the College of Charleston's Masters of Fine Arts Creative Writing department. For more information about the Novel Competition, visit or call the South Carolina Arts Commission (SouthCarolinaArts.com | 803.734.8696); or Hub City Press (HubCity.org | 864.577.9349).

Jason Rapp

South Carolina Novel Prize opens submission window

Author Stephanie Powell Watts judging entries

Submission deadline: Monday, March 16 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
Every other year, the South Carolina Novel Prize recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers. Submissions will be read anonymously by our readers at the College of Charleston Department of English and this year's judge, author Stephanie Powell Watts. The contest is highly competitive, and the winner is provided a book contract with Hub City Press, who will print no fewer  than 2000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2021. This can also bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. The S.C. Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press, and South Carolina Humanities. The College of Charleston and South Carolina State Library are also partners. The South Carolina Novel Prize (formerly the First Novel Prize) is open to any South Carolina writer, including those who have never had a novel published and those who have been published. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit and narrowed through two rounds of judging. Five novels will be judged in a third round by Watts. Find the eligibility and restrictions and link to submit on SouthCarolinaArts.com. [caption id="attachment_34666" align="aligncenter" width="563"] The world-famous Hub Calls for Art Megaphone.[/caption]   Ed. note: This post was updated March 12, 2020 with a deadline extension to March 23, reflected at the top of the post.

Author Stephanie Powell Watts to judge 2020 S.C. Novel competition

The South Carolina Arts Commission, the College of Charleston Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, the South Caroline State Library, SC Humanities, and Hub City Press announce Stephanie Powell Watts as the judge for the 2018 South Carolina Novel Prize. Stephanie Powell Watts won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her debut story collection, We Are Taking Only What We Need (2012), also named one of 2013’s Best Summer Reads by O: The Oprah Magazine. Her short fiction has been included in two volumes of the Best New Stories from the South anthology and honored with a Pushcart Prize. Born in the foothills of North Carolina, with a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri and a bachelor's from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she now lives with her husband and son in Pennsylvania where she is an associate professor at Lehigh University. The South Carolina Novel Prize (formerly the First Novel Prize) is open to any South Carolina writer, including those who have never had a novel published and those who have been published. The contest is highly competitive. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit and narrowed through two rounds of judging. Five novels will be judged in a third round by Watts. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg. The winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2,000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2021. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. Submissions open Jan. 1, 2020 and close March 15, 2020. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines at SouthCarolinaArts.com.

Announcing the 2018 S.C. Novel Prize winner

      LEAD MEDIA CONTACT: Kate McMullen, Hub City Press 864.577.9349|  kate@hubcity.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 19 June 2018 Winner announced for biennial South Carolina Novel Prize SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press, the College of Charleston, and the South Carolina State Library are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2018 South Carolina Novel Prize is Scott Sharpe for his manuscript “Whispering into the Wind.” [caption id="attachment_35640" align="alignright" width="250"] Scott Sharpe (2018)[/caption] Scott Sharpe was born and raised in the Sandhills of central South Carolina and graduated from the University of SC with a degree in business. He lives in Eastover and currently works for the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office. When not helping the state rebuild its rural communities or writing, he practices the art of fly-fishing and paddles any body of water big enough to launch his canoe. He has written countless short stories and is currently working on his second novel and a collection of short fiction.  “Whispering into the Wind” follows protagonist Jack Parker’s struggle to find some purpose to his life-long strained relationship with his father and his father’s peculiar actions just before his death. The very issues that separated them in life ultimately lead to understanding and a quiet peace as Jack reluctantly follows in his father’s footsteps. Sharpe’s winning manuscript will be published in 2019 by Hub City Press of Spartanburg. Jill McCorkle, author of 10 books including “Life After Life” was the judge of the biennial prize this year. The South Carolina Novel Prize is funded by the following partner organizations:

  • The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances.
  • Hub City Press was founded in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1995 and since then has emerged as one of the South's premier independent presses.
  • The College of Charleston is home not only to a cadre of nationally and internationally recognized writing faculty, but also houses one of the country’s premiere literary journals, Crazyhorse, published since 1960 and consistently ranked as among the top publishing venues in the nation. The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program provides students an immersion in a world of prose and poetry and the practical aspects of establishing a career in the arts.
  • The South Carolina State Library develops, supports, and sustains a thriving statewide community of learners committed to making South Carolina stronger. The Library serves the people of South Carolina by supporting state government and libraries to provide opportunities for learning in a changing environment.
  • South Carolina Humanities is the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a founding partner of the South Carolina Novel Prize.
For more information about the Novel Competition, visit or call:
  • SouthCarolinaArts.com / 803.734.8696;
  • or HubCity.org / 864.577.9349.
 

Deadline looming for S.C. Novel Prize submissions

Hi there, Palmetto State writers. Take the weekend to polish up those manuscripts, because the deadline to enter the S.C. Novel Prize is in just about two weeks! Submissions close March 15, 2018. South Carolina Novel Prize entries are submitted online through the Submittable system. The contest is highly competitive. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by a nationally recognized judge to be announced at a later date. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2,000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2019. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. Brock Adams of Spartanburg won the 2016 First Novel Prize. His novel, Ember, was published by Hub City Press in September 2017. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online. For more information, contact Sara June Goldstein, 803.734.8694.

SC Novel Prize now accepting submissions

Prize competition now open to all South Carolina writers – published and unpublished The First Novel Prize is now the South Carolina Novel Prize and is open to any South Carolina writer, including those who have never had a novel published and those who have been published. We also welcome a new partner – the College of Charleston Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, led by novelist and English professor Bret Lott. Submissions close March 15, 2018. South Carolina Novel Prize entries are submitted online through the Submittable system. The contest is highly competitive. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by a nationally recognized judge to be announced at a later date. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2,000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2019. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. Brock Adams of Spartanburg won the 2016 First Novel Prize. His novel, Ember, was published by Hub City Press in September 2017. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online. For more information, contact Sara June Goldstein, 803.734.8694. Images, left to right: First Novel winners Through the Pale Door by Brian Ray (2008), Mercy Creek by Matt Matthews (2010), In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve (2012), Minnow (2014) by James McTeer, and Ember (2016) by Brock Adams.

Author Jill McCorkle to judge SC Novel competition

Prize competition now open to all South Carolina writers – published and unpublished The South Carolina Arts Commission, the College of Charleston Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, and Hub City Press announce author Jill McCorkle as the judge for the 2018 South Carolina Novel Prize. McCorkle is the author of six novels, most recently Life After Life, and four story collections. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, four of her short stories have been selected for Best American Short Stories and one essay was selected for Best American Essays. She has taught at Harvard, Brandeis, and N.C. State, and currently teaches in the Bennington College Writing Seminars. The South Carolina Novel Prize (formerly the First Novel Prize) is open to any South Carolina writer, including those who have never had a novel published and those who have been published. The contest is highly competitive. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by McCorkle. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2,000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2019. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. Submissions open January 1, 2018 and close March 15, 2018. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online. For more information, contact Sara June Goldstein, 803.734.8694

First Novel Prize is now the S.C. Novel Prize

Prize competition now open to all South Carolina writers - published and unpublished The First Novel Prize is now the South Carolina Novel Prize and is open to any South Carolina writer, including those who have never had a novel published and those who have been published. We also welcome a new partner - the College of Charleston Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, led by novelist and English professor Bret Lott. Submissions will open January 1, 2018 and close March 15, 2018. South Carolina Novel Prize entries are submitted online through the Submittable system. The contest is highly competitive. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by a nationally recognized judge to be announced at a later date. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2,000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2019. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. Brock Adams of Spartanburg won the 2016 First Novel Prize. His novel, Ember, was published by Hub City Press in September 2017. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online. For more information, contact Sara June Goldstein, 803.734.8694. Images, left to right: First Novel winners Through the Pale Door by Brian Ray (2008), Mercy Creek by Matt Matthews (2010), In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve (2012), Minnow (2014) by James McTeer, and Ember (2016) by Brock Adams.