For the fifth consecutive year, Ladner writer and storyteller Laura Thomas is running a province-wide summer writing contest for aspiring young authors.
The contest is free to enter and open to any B.C. resident between the ages of 10 and 17. There is also a special incentive category for children six to nine years old.
Last summer, a record 80 stories were submitted from 16 municipalities across the province.
"We did well in 2011, but I'm hoping that this summer we will attract even more of those young storytellers out there who have been inspired by TV, movies, games and websites to get creative and show their stuff," says Thomas.
As in previous years, Thomas is sticking to her rule of keeping the subject matter of the stories open and letting contestants decide what they want to write about.
"It's always best to write about those things in life that make you feel something," says Thomas. "It makes the hard work of crafting a well-told story easier when you love your characters and story problem."
Thomas knows firsthand the hard work that comes with creating well-told tales.
She is a busy writer with commitments that include a stint as the 2012 storyteller in residence at Science World in Vancouver, managing the writing department of an online game company for children and working on her novel, The Naked Storyteller, which is loosely based on her storytelling career.
When asked why she is continuing to support young writers, Thomas says, "Honesty, I had to think long and hard about whether or not I had time this year to run the contest. What made me decide was the memory of what it was like growing up wanting to write, but not having a clue where to start. The world of books and publishing seemed very scary to me."
With the help of sponsors such as her mother - Ricki Willing of Sutton Seafair Realty who has donated the top prizes since the contest's inception - Thomas is able to keep the contest free to enter.
By keeping it free, and by being available to answer questions, Thomas hopes to encourage young writers around the province to participate.
The contest is open now and closes Aug. 31. Entries can be mailed to JA Short Story Contest c/o South Delta Recreation Centre, 1720-56 St., Delta, B.C., V4L 2B1.
Winners will be announced late-September.
Complete details, contest rules and past winning stories are online at www. laurathomascommunications.com.