Winning way with words

A 12-year-old Blind Bay resident says he looked into his own family history for the inspiration to write his unique story

A 12-year-old Blind Bay resident says he looked into his own family history for the inspiration to write the unique story that earned third prize in this year’s fifth annual province-wide Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest.

Brody Butts, the only young writer from Blind Bay in the competition, took the prize in the very competitive 10- to-13 age category.

Butts’ story, Dear Me, is a series of diary entries written by a First World War soldier to himself between 1917 and 1918.

“I based the story on my great-great grandfather, Pte. Gereghty, and used family stories and military records to add historical reference,” says the young author. “The baby he is holding at the end of the story is Marie, my great grandmother.”

Butts, who attends a gifted writing program at his school, was very excited about entering the contest.

“This is a big achievement for me and it’s only my first year entering. I can’t wait to enter next year.”

Laura Thomas, the Delta resident who launched the contest in 2008, said, “Just before I started judging this year’s stories, I decided that I wasn’t going to run the contest any more. My own work in writing and communications is leaving little time for helping young writers. But, then I read the stories and the kids are so excited and grateful for the opportunity that I decided to roll up my sleeves and figure out what more I can do to help them achieve their dream of getting paid for their work.”

Thomas, however,  has made some key changes to the contest that she hopes will provide greater opportunities for young writers.

She has dropped the restriction on place of residence, narrowed the age range of each category and added two new categories so the contest is now open to writers aged 9 through 20 years.

She is also planning to host a one-day Junior Authors writing conference in Vancouver next fall. Through workshops and networking with industry professionals, she hopes to support and encourage the aspirations of talented contestants like Butts who dream of being paid for doing what they love.

For complete 2013 Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest rules, rankings and results from previous years, please visit www.juniorauthorscontest.com.