Archive for the ‘California Young Writers Contest’ Category

10 Tips for Winning Writing Contests, Scoring an A, or Attracting an Agent/Editor

January 27, 2014

1. Hook your readers with a vivid scene right away. How? Read on.

2. Specific senses will get your reader to experience your story.

Example: Gary D. Schmidt’s Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy begins like this: Turner Buckminster had lived in Phippsburg, Maine, for fifteen minutes shy of six hours. He had dipped his hand in its waves and licked the salt from his fingers. He had smelled the sharp resin of the pines. He had heard the low rhythm of the bells on the buoys that balanced on the ridges of the sea. He had seen the fine clapboard parsonage beside the church where he was to live, and the small house set a ways beyond it that puzzled him some. Turner Buckminster had lived in Phippsburg, Maine, for almost six whole hours. He didn’t know how much longer he could stand it.

3. Show the protagonist’s problem right away. Turner’s is shown in his feelings shown in the last sentence.

4. Character dialogue must move the story forward. If it’s just talking back and forth to talk, remove it.

5. Use adverbs sparingly. Change them to verbs.
Example: He said loudly. Change to: He shouted.

6. Create suspense with tension. Author Steve Mooser employs the element of time. He says, “If the bad guys are due into town at sunset, if Friday is the day of the school play – that’s the easiest way to build tension.” In Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the hourglass shows how much time Dorothy has to live.

David Almond created atmosphere with action verbs and specific images in Heaven Eyes:
Mud. Black, sticky, oily, stinking mud. It was January who dared to lean out of his raft first. He dipped his hand into what should have been water. He touched mud, black mud. It oozed and dribbled from his fingers. The raft settled, and mud slithered across its surface, onto our clothes. It seeped through to our skin. It seeped through the tiny gaps between the doors. I took my flashlight out, switched it on, saw the doors disappearing as they sank . . . saw that we were being slowly sucked down into the sodden earth . . . Our feet, our hells, our knees were caught in mud . . . I grunted, whimpered, groaned. I slithered forward. . . My head filled with the mist and darkness.

7. Everyone loves humor. The unexpected is funny. Two unlike characters or objects placed together can be funny.

8. Read your piece out loud. Is it balanced? Not big chunks of description or pages of pure dialogue, but evenly paced?

9. Eliminate vague words: Possibly, many, pretty, terrible . . .

10. What has the protagonist learned or how has your character changed in some small way?

After several drafts, put away your manuscript for a while. When you return, read it aloud with fresh eyes. Are you having fun? If not, rework the story until it’s just right. You’ll feel that tingle of excitement when it works!

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Revision Techniques for Students!

December 23, 2013

Winter Wordplay: Revision Results
4:30-6:00 p.m. at The Storyteller Bookstore, Lafayette, CA
Ages 9-up

Submit up to a 10- page story (double-spaced, 12 pt. font) or stand-alone chapter by January 11.

Students will receive a portfolio with copies of each of the stories to discuss and edit. We will focus on various elements of the revision process and work toward sculpting a story into a final draft.

$30/each class or $75/series

January 18: Shaping Characters

February 1: Developing Themes

February 8: Refining Language

Questions and help with registration: wordplayworkshop@hotmail.com

Question about California Writers Club Mt. Diablo/Young Writers Contest

November 20, 2013

Hi, I am wondering about next year’s contest: are we allowed to resubmit entries that we have already entered in last year’s competition? Even winning entries? When will the submissions for next year’s contest start? Thanks!

AlexandraHi Alexandra

Great question! Thank you for writing. A winning entry from last year would not win the following year. It would be disqualified. I’m sorry. (Yes, we do save the the winning entries.)

For the best chance at winning, you should begin a new piece, but if you really like an idea from a non-winning story/poem/essay last year, start fresh! Don’t even LOOK at your old draft. Hopefully, you are now a different, stronger writer and will write something so fun and terrific, it will surprise you and the judges! We can’t wait to read the entries!

You may submit as soon as the new guidelines are posted. I’m hoping this will be soon. I do know there will be a new award for humor writing. I will post the guidelines here as soon as I get the “A-Okay” to do so. Hope you’ll join our writing workshop at the Walnut Creek Library on Feb. 1, 2014. Ask your teacher for extra credit if you attend!

In the meantime, keep writing!

San Francisco Bay Area Free Writing Portfolio Workshop for Eighth Grade Students!

November 12, 2013

Nov 23,2013, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM @
Creative Writing classroom on the SOTA Campus (555 Portola Drive) San Francisco School of the Arts
If you’re in eighth grade and want to assemble a strong portfolio of creative writing that highlights your unique voice, this workshop is for you. 826 Valencia is teaming up with SOTA’s Creative Writing department to offer a class that will help you refine a portfolio that you can use for applying to SOTA or other schools or summer programs. The deadline for the SOTA application is December 6, so this class arrives just in time to offer you feedback on your work, answer your questions about the application process, and help you get through any writer’s block or feeling stuck.

Two current SOTA seniors, Giorgia Peckman and Frances Saux, and Writer-in-Residence Maia Ipp will lead the class with 826 Valencia’s Molly Parent and a crew of SOTA 10th-12th graders. To learn more about SOTA’s Creative Writing department, including the application process, check out http://sotacw.org/.

What to bring to the workshop: a portfolio of your writing that you’d like to share and receive feedback about; if you plan to apply to SOTA for Creative Writing, this would include 3 short stories; 10 poems; and a 5-10 page one-act play. Bring as many pieces of writing as you have ready for feedback (in any draft stage)! We don’t expect you to arrive with a complete portfolio.

Taught By: Maia Ipp, Giorgia Peckman and Frances Saux

One-on-One Portfolio Help with Creative Writing Students & Staff Tuesday, November 19 or Thursday, November 21@ 826 Valencia St.
Free, but registration is required
November 19 and November 21, from 6 pm to 8 pm both nights

What to bring: One or two pieces of writing for your portfolio on which you’d like feedback. You can bring them as hard copies, on a thumb drive, or in an email to yourself.

Parents, students, or teachers: For more information, please contact Maia Ipp at maiaipp@gmail.com or Molly Parent at molly@826valencia.org.

http://826valencia.org/calendar-events/2013-11-23-8th-grade-creative-writing-portfolio-workshop/

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Heads up, Contra Costa Middle School Students!

Next year’s California Young Writers Contest will have a new category. We have received a grant to include a special prize for humor! Sharpen your pencils and start practicing now! And note the free writing workshop where you can ask questions, receive hand-printed guidelines, and interact with other young writers will be Feb. 1, 2014 9-Noon at the downtown Walnut Creek Library. Teachers, why not give your students extra credit for their attendance?

Poetry and Essay Contests for Kids

September 7, 2013

Who can enter?
Students in grades K-12 in the United States and Canada

Why should a student enter?
Thousands in cash and prizes awarded to students and teachers in each contest.

Student awards

Top Ten winners in each grade division (K-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12 for poetry, 3-6; 7-9; 10-12 for essay) will receive a $25 check, special recognition in the book, and a free copy of the anthology that is created from the contest.

Teacher awards
Teachers with 5 or more students who returned proofsheets for publication will receive a free copy of the anthology that includes their student writers.

Three poetry contests a year with the following deadlines.
Spring contest: entries must be postmarked by April 10, 2014.
Summer contest: entries must be postmarked by August 19, 2014.
Fall contest: entries must be postmarked by December 5, 2013.

Poetry rules:
1. Poems must be the original work of the student
2. Poems can be on any appropriate topic (no pro-violence, drugs, etc)
3. Poems must be in English
4. Poems must not be over 21 lines of text

Three essay contests a year with the following deadlines.
Spring contest: entries must be postmarked by February 18, 2014
Summer contest: entries must be postmarked by July 15, 2014
Fall contest: entries must be postmarked by October 15, 2013

Essay Rules:
1. Students must be in school (public, private or home school) in the United States or Canada.
2. Students can enter on their own or have a parent or teacher make their entry.
3. All entries must be in English and be the original work of the student.
4. Students can be in grades 3-12 for the essay contest.
5. Students can write on any appropriate subject (No pro-violence, pro drugs, etc)
6. Essays must not be over 250 words (or 300 total words counting articles such as “a, an, the, etc”).
7. Essays must be non-fiction (no short stories or essays written as if you are a historical figure.)

POETRY CONTEST
Winners share thousands in cash and prizes. In addition to the winning entries, other entries of high merit are accepted to be published in our hard-bound anthology. With the publication being regionally based, students are competing against their peers in both age and location. Within the guidelines of accepting less than 50% of the poems and essays that are entered in each contest, the contest is selective so that it is an honor to be accepted, yet not so exclusive that it is discouraging to enter. Unlike many other organizations who sponsor writing contests, there is no entry fee and no required purchase in order to become published. We take pride in the fact that our staff is comprised of teachers, professors and writers. We have three poetry contests a year.

DEADLINES:
Fall: April 10, 2014
August 19, 2014
December 5, 2013

AWARDS Students: For each contest deadline, the top ten entries in each grade division (K-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12 for poetry) will receive a $25 check, special recognition in the book, and a free copy of the anthology that is created from the contest.

Teachers: Teachers with 5 or more students who give permission for publication will receive a free copy of the anthology that includes their student writers. Teachers also can qualify to apply for one of 50 $250 grants we award each year.

ESSAY CONTEST Winners share thousands in cash and prizes. In addition to the winning entries, other entries of high merit are accepted to be published in our hard-bound anthology. With the publication being regionally based, students are competing against their peers in both age and location. Within the guidelines of accepting less than 50% of the poems and essays that are entered in each contest, the contest is selective so that it is an honor to be accepted, yet not so exclusive that it is discouraging to enter. Unlike many other organizations who sponsor writing contests, there is no entry fee and no required purchase in order to become published. We take pride in the fact that our staff is comprised of teachers, professors and writers. We have three essay contests a year.

DEADLINES:
Fall: February 18, 2014
July 15, 2014
October 15, 2013


AWARDS
Students: For each contest deadline, the top ten entries in each grade division (3-6; 7-9; 10-12 for essay) will receive a $25 check, special recognition in the book, and a free copy of the anthology that is created from the contest.

Teachers: Teachers with 5 or more students who give permission for publication will receive a free copy of the anthology that includes their student writers. Teachers also can qualify to apply for one of fifty $250 grants we award each year.

ESSAY CONTEST Winners share thousands in cash and prizes. In addition to the winning entries, other entries of high merit are accepted to be published in our hard-bound anthology. With the publication being regionally based, students are competing against their peers in both age and location. Within the guidelines of accepting less than 50% of the poems and essays that are entered in each contest, the contest is selective so that it is an honor to be accepted, yet not so exclusive that it is discouraging to enter. Unlike many other organizations who sponsor writing contests, there is no entry fee and no required purchase in order to become published. We take pride in the fact that our staff is comprised of teachers, professors and writers. We have three essay contests a year.

DEADLINES:
Fall: February 18, 2014
July 15, 2014
October 15, 2013

AWARDS Students: For each contest deadline, the top ten entries in each grade division (3-6; 7-9; 10-12 for essay) will receive a $25 check, special recognition in the book, and a free copy of the anthology that is created from the contest.

Teachers: Teachers with 5 or more students who give permission for publication will receive a free copy of the anthology that includes their student writers. Teachers also can qualify to apply for one of fifty $250 grants we award each year.

For more information visit Creative Communication’s website:
http://www.poeticpower.com/contest.php

California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch Young Writers Contest 2013

May 30, 2013

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch’s Young Writers Contest winners are featured in today’s Contra Costa Times.  Check Good Neighbors in the Pleasant Hill/Martinez Record section.

http://www.contracostatimes.com/pleasant-hill/ci_23338141/good-neighbors-by-faith-barnidge-helping-low-income

 

 

On Writing Crappy and Writing Great (or at Least Better)

May 24, 2013

I guess reporters don’t know which column will be published when, or else the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest article and photo just didn’t make it into my edition of the Contra Costa Times on May 23.  Next time I’ll only post it here when I see it in the paper myself. 

***

As I’ve been working on a project, I’ve found myself being concerned with the marketing aspect and how the publicist would  react to the story.  After the day’s work, I closed my computer and purposely didn’t re-read my words. 

The next morning, I printed out my chapter and took a clipboard to revise and work on another scene.  Reading what I had written, my jaw dropped.  Who was this stilted writer who had composed these awkward sentences?  Do I know this person?  Where did she come from? If she was in my writing class, I’d take her aside and tell her to forget the final phases of book production, and free herself by going back to the basics.  Think about character!  Relax.  Wonder about the story, don’t let the final outcome block the writing process.

I set aside my previous day’s disaster, and started over.  This time, I let my mind wander over my characters and their world.  “No worries,”  I told myself.  “Have fun with these people.  Get to know them.  You don’t have to write the very next chapter.  Just write a scene where they talk to each other. What’s the worst problem they can get into together?  What will they do?”

Writing Prompts:

1.  What is a dramatic or interesting conflict you can have your character get into?  Can it somehow be based on her greatest fear?

2.  What emotion does your scene evoke?  What do you want your reader to feel?

3.  What is the motivation for why the characters in your scene act the way they do?

4.  Write about your characters BEFORE this scene.  What is their back story?

5.  Within your writing, can you locate where you are showing and where you are telling?  Highlight the telling.  If you have too much highlighting, where can you show in a scene rather than tell?  Or where can you cut out the telling all together?  If it doesn’t move your story forward, cut it out.

California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch Young Writers Contest

May 21, 2013

Heard word from the reporter that the photo and column about our Young Writers Contest winners will be in the Good Neighbor column during the week of May 30.  Be on the lookout!

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Luncheon Features Author Mike Jung

May 6, 2013

When I told an author friend who was speaking at our luncheon this Saturday, she YELLED into the phone, “YOU GOT MIKE JUNG?  I’M COMING!”  

She lives in San Jose, so it will be quite a ride for her.  “He’s hysterical!” she said.  “He’s one of the most entertaining and fabulous authors EVER!”

As for me, I can’t wait to meet the young writers who created such fabulous poems, short stories and essays.  What’s more, if you didn’t get a chance to read them yet, you can here.  They will be on display!  The students and their families, teachers, and friends as well as adult writers and members of the public will get a chance to meet everyone, see their work, play a game/quiz with the student writings, and learn the secrets of the writing and publishing industry from this fantastic author and speaker.  The information is below.  See you soon! 

The Young Writers Contest Award Winners will be honored at the next meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Special Guest speaker, Mike Jung will address the contest winners, members and guests.  His topic is “Writing—It’s Not for The Chicken-Hearted”. He will explain how to choose your idea, find your process, and share your work.

Mr. Yung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, a superhero novel.  His essays have appeared in the anthologies Dear Teen Me (Zest Books, 2012), and Break These Rules (Chicago Review Press, 2013).

Sign-in is from 11:00 am to 11:30 am, with presentations and luncheon from 11:30 pm to 1:30 pm. Registration is $20 for CWC members, $25 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, May 8. Contact Robin Gigoux at ragig@aol.com. or by phone at (925) 933-9670.  Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Winners!

April 30, 2013

Congratulations to all of the winners of this incredibly competitive contest!  All entries were  creative and talented works of art.  Thank you for your participation!

Below you will find the winner’s name, their school, teacher and the title of their entry.  

The Betty Tenney Memorial Essay/Personal Narrative Awards

6th Grade

1st  Calia Ann Lockey

Walnut Creek: Jann Taylor-Geyer

“Three Words, One Meaning” 

2nd  Katelyn Downing

Pleasant Hill: Holly Latz

“What Is This?”

3rd  Megha Bhargava

Windemere Ranch: Diana Kaplenko

“The Adventures in Cave Swimming”

7th Grade

1st  Alexandra Desmedt

Walnut Creek: Jana Palmquist

“Unsilent Night”

2nd  Lauren Russell

Windemere Ranch : Jeff Osborn

“Ready, Set, SHOT!”

3rd  Karina Ting

Orinda: Cecilia Kilmartin

“A Lesson to Last”

8th Grade

1st  Mia Stripling

Stanley: Donna Gallagher

“Confidence”

2nd  Ahab Chopra

Dorris-Eaton: Melissa Parker

“Biking to a New Life”

3rd  Emma Cottrill

Dorris-Eaton: Melissa Parker

“The Night My Life Changed Forever”

Poetry

6th Grade

1st  Sasha Hassan

Windemere Ranch: Diana Kaplenko

“Midnight Wish”

 2nd  Rashmi Pradhan

Windemere Ranch: Diana Kaplenko

“A Song is Drowned” 

3rd  Sihyun Na

Windemere Ranch: Diana Kaplenko

“What Does it Feel Like?”

7th Grade

1st  Jasmine Steele

St. Isidore: Amy Burgin

“Storybook”

2nd  Rebekah Mangels

Homeschool

“Who Knows What I Think?”

3rd  William Francis

Martinez: Anne Martin

“A Day’s Work as a Dishonest Man” 

8th Grade 

1st Ahab Chopra

Dorris-Eaton: Deeni Shoenfeld

“You Will Never Find Me”

2nd  Meher George

Dorris-Eaton: Melissa Parker

“Carpe Diem”

3rd  Kismat Dhaliwal

Dorris-Eaton:  Melissa Parker

“An Unlikely Savior”

Short Story

6th Grade

 1st  Aaron Ouyang

Dorris-Eaton: Mary Dickens

“Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle”

 2nd  Sasha Hassan

Windemere Ranch: Diana Kaplenko

“Search and Rescue”

 3rd  Sasha Hassan

Windemere Ranch: Diana Kaplenko

“What is Right is not Always Popular, What is Popular is not Always Right”

 7th Grade

 1st  Lucy Caitlin Shaw

Walnut Creek: Jana Palmquist

“The Escape”

 2nd  Ingrid Lam

PineValley: Dianna Longhery

“My Eyes”

 3rd  Alexandra Desmedt

Walnut Creek: Jana Palmquist

“The Caterpillar and the Worm”

 8th Grade

 1st  Lauren Hui

Gale Ranch: Kimberly Carter

“House of the Rose”

 2nd  Emily Hui

PineValley: Sarah Gibbons

“Blue Skies”

 3rd  Julie Deng

PineValley: Susan Banks

“It All Proves Nothing”