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What’s Your Winning Story?

These contests need writers

Author and writing teacher Laura Oliver helps budding writers capture their stories.

You have a story to tell. It’s the image that stays with you, whether you want it to or not. It’s that anecdote you tell at parties that makes people say, you ought to write that down.
    Your story could be a winner in more ways than one. Maryland is fertile ground for budding authors, and writing contests abound.  
    Annapolis creative writing teacher Laura Oliver, whose new book, The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers, featured in our winter reading issue, is sponsoring a contest for aspiring writers and hobbyists of all ages and experience. For the next three weeks, she will post a new writing prompt to help you capture your story — or one of them — in 250 words or less. Find each week’s prompt and past winners at www.thestorywithin.net/writing_contest.
    I won the first week’s challenge with my Letter to a Friend, addressed to my first drama coach, a woman who’d recently died. Week two’s challenge, a personal conversation between friends, was won by local author Iain Baird, who transcribed — or imagined — a phone conversation between Michelle Bachman and God. In week three, Jennifer Shannon’s sketch of the quintessentially vile boss took first honors.
    Each week’s prize includes a variety of books about writing, a guest blog and a grand prize of two hours’ consultation (a $250 value) on a project of your choice.
    If you prefer cash, take note. Baird, whose autobiographical Two Storms was reviewed in Bay Weekly last winter, also just won $500 and publication in The Delmarva Review for “The Flight,” the story of a 93-year-old former pilot who takes a road trip to Mexico as his final mission.
    The Maryland Writers’ Association Short Works Contest for fiction, non-fiction and poetry begins around March 1 at www.MarylandWriters.org. Submissions open in June.
    Better sharpen those pencils, Hemingway.