Deadline for short story contest draws near

The Feb. 1 deadline is fast approaching for this annual fiction writing competition sponsored by UBC Okanagan

Promising writers are encouraged to sharpen their pencils, get the creative juices flowing, and finalize their submissions for the annual Okanagan Short Story Contest.

The Feb. 1 deadline is fast approaching for this annual fiction writing competition sponsored by UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS), the Capital News, and the Central Okanagan Foundation.

The contest is open to all writers in the Southern Interior, and writers are encouraged to submit their original adult fiction stories that are 1,000 to 4,000 words in length (about four to 20 pages, typed, double-spaced). There is a $15 fee for each entry.

Top prize is $500 and a week’s residency at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre in Kelowna. Second prize is $200 and $100 for third.

Complete rules for the contest can be found at okstorycontest.org/rules.

Anne Fleming, FCCS associate professor who teaches creative writing, says the annual contest can often be a welcome acknowledgment that what writers are doing is worthwhile and worth continuing.

“Story contests give you a deadline and a reason to revise and make your story the best it can be,” she said.

“There are a zillion secret, or not so secret, writers out there, and this is a chance to go public, to say, ‘Yes, my writing matters.’”

Shelley Wood won the contest in 2014 and says the recognition provided the confidence she needed to keep writing and continue submitting manuscripts.

She has recently finished the first draft of a novel.

“Winning the Okanagan Short Story contest gave me the boost I needed to believe that I could, after all, write fiction that someone else might think is worth reading,” said Wood.

“I’ve used that feeling to make more time in my life for writing, to take myself more seriously as a writer, and to dream bigger.”

Tamas Dobozy, an award-winning Canadian fiction writer, will help select the contest winner, as part of his duties as the writer-in-residence at UBC’s Okanagan campus this spring.

Dobozy, who has published three books and is a professor, will spend two weeks on the Okanagan campus from March 7 to 18, meeting with students and writers to do critiques of their written work, visit classrooms, and meeting with local writers.

He will announce the winners of the short story contest March 16 at the Royal Anne Hotel in Kelowna.