by Laura Michelle Thomas
It’s 7:57 a.m. in Vancouver and it’s been a busy few days as we approach the deadline for the 6th Annual Junior Authors Short Story Contest. I am deeply overwhelmed by the worldwide response. We have over 50 countries represented. Amazing!
After last year’s contest, which was only open to young writers in my home province of British Columbia, Canada, I had decided to quit hosting it altogether so that I would have more time to write my own books. (My time for personal projects was severely limited because my work days were spent writing fiction and non-fiction for a variety of corporate clients.)
I had decided to cut down on my volunteer activities, like managing the annual writing contest. But then I sat down and read the stories and the appreciative emails from the winners and their families and realized that I had a choice: I could quit or go big. Me being me, I decided to go big…and here we are.
On January 1, 2013, I opened the contest to the world and added more age categories and more prizes. And, at the same time I launched my Junior Blogger Program and starting signing young writers as freelance copywriters to help me out with my current clients. And, somehow, though I seem to be busier than ever, I am on the final editing rounds of my book for aspiring young writers, Polly Wants to Be a Writer.
It’s been fun. I can’t believe how many young writers I have been able to connect with worldwide. To this moment I have received well over 1,700 entries from young writers in 50 countries. Our biggest year in the past was 80 entries. I thought we might get 300 stories this year. Ha! I was sure wrong.
I am a bit overwhelmed, but I have a plan in place to deal with the entries which includes bringing on more volunteer judges and a few assistants to help me organize the stories for judging next week. I promise we’ll get it done in time to announce the finalists on September 20th.
With only 24 winners out of all these entries, I know the odds of winning are slim. But let me leave you with a thought.
Since January 1, 2013 when the contest opened, over 20,000 individuals have visited the contest webpage, but only 1,700 (so far) have gone from thinking about entering the contest to actually entering. That is significant. You can’t just think about being a writer; you have to write to be a writer. So everyone who enters is already ahead of the pack! Well done!