Sidney North Saanich Library writing contest opening on April 1

Poetry, fiction and non-fiction accepted, entries are free. Deadline for hard copies is April 30.

Moira Gardener

After a highly successful start last year, the Sidney North Saanich Library is hosting their second annual Saanich Peninsula Community Writing Contest.

Developed out of a brainstorming session by the Library Writers Group after the also successful Saanich Peninsula Literary Festival, the contest started as a way to get writers to put pen to paper.

“It’s just to encourage people to try,” says Moira Gardener, a member of the writers group and library volunteer. “It gives you a deadline, and it may just give you that little bit of confidence that you finished something.”

There are very little required criteria to be eligible to enter. Membership in the writers group is not necessary, nor is any experience, or even an entry fee for that matter. As the contest is put on through the public library, it’s free to enter.

It’s a chance for members of the Peninsula community to have their writing read and judged, says Sharon Walker, manager of the Sidney North Saanich Library.

“It maybe gives them an opportunity to think about writing again.”

Submissions will be accepted in poetry, fiction and non-fiction, with a pair of local judges for each category. This year, Susan Reece, Jackie Rioux and Barbara Smith will be among those sitting on the panel, as well as the News Review’s own editor, Steven Heywood.

Tanner’s Books has stepped up to sponsor the prizes for the winners: $100 and $50 gift certificates for the first place winners and honourable mentions, respectively, for each category. That could buy a few writing books to help further one’s craft. (Writing Down the Bones and The Little Red Writing Book come to mind.)

Last year’s contest brought all manner of talent out of the woodwork, says Walker, and of high quality too.

“We had such a good response. It was delightful to see the range of people coming in with their stories,” she says.

“The winners were absolutely amazing,” adds Gardener.

Winners this year will be invited to read their work at a celebration and awards ceremony at the library on May 14 and get a taste of what it’s like reading to a room full of attentive listeners.

Contest entrants must be at least 19 years old and live in Central Saanich, North Saanich or Sidney.

Submitted works in all genres must be unpublished, with a maximum of two submissions per entrant. Word count is capped at 500 words for poetry and 2000 words for prose fiction or non-fiction.

Submissions are accepted from April 1 to 30 in hard copy at the front desk of the library, 10091 Resthaven Dr., or by emailing ckbleay@shaw.ca. Entries will not be returned.

See http://bit.ly/1xHP4ph for full contest rules and criteria.