Judging Teen Stories with a Remarkable Cast for the "It's All Write" Contest

Monday, April 16, 2012

A few months ago, Vicki Browne, the teen librarian with the Ann Arbor District Library, wrote to ask whether I might participate in the "It's All Write!" Short Story Contest, a project her library has, together with the Ann Arbor Book Festival, sponsored for the last 20 years.  According to the web site, more than 1,500 entries from young writers all around the world have been received for the contest over the years.  This year, 350 stories arrived.  

Winners of "It's All Write!" are compensated handsomely—with cash rewards, with publication in a booklet, and with an awards program that will be held, this year, on May 12th.  But perhaps most importantly of all, the winners know that they have been carefully read by judges who have invested their own lives in stories and words.  This year I join a remarkable slate of individuals in the judging process, and I am honored.  It is my hope that those young writers who read this blog will pay close attention to this program and start thinking about possibilities for next year's contest. 

Natalie Bakopoulos
     The Green Shore, Natalie’s debut novel is set in Athens and Paris, against the backdrop of the Greek military dictatorship and  centered around four memorable characters.  She received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan.  She was also recognized as a 2010 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning author.

Judith Ortiz Cofer
     Critically acclaimed and widely published poet, novelist, and essayist Judith Ortiz Cofer’s  latest book, If I Could Fly, tells the story of 15 year old Doris, who learns that ‘she might have to fly far distances before she finds out where she belongs.  Judith writes extensively about the experience of being Puerto Rican and her identity as a woman and writer in the U.S.  Currently she is teaching literature and creative writing at the University of Georgia.

Kelly Milner Halls
     Kelly has had more than 25 books published, one of which is the amazing non-fiction title  Operation Rescue: Saving the Baghdad Zoo, which tells the story of remarkable animals and the team that worked to save them.   A recent release, Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story, is a collection that she edited with a lineup of YA authors with a he said/she said telling of each story. 
Her shorter nonfiction has been published in numerous publications.  She lives in Spokane, Washington.

Beth Kephart
       Acclaimed novelist for both teens and adults, Kephart currently teaches creative nonfiction workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the winner of numerous grants, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Kephart’s essays are frequently anthologized, and she has judged numerous competitions.  Undercover  and House of Dance  were both named a best of the year by Kirkus and Bank Street. Nothing But Ghosts, A Heart is Not a Size and Dangerous Neighbors, were also critically acclaimed. Most recently, You Are My Only, tells the gripping stories of Emmy and Sophie, in alternating narratives, ‘of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained.’
Nina LaCour
     Ms. LaCour received a MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and currently teaches English at an independent high school.  She is also co-founder of ‘Write Teen’ a series of YA writing classes.  Hold Still, Nina’s first novel, was published in 2009 and is a William C. Morris Honor book, a Junior Library Guild selection, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and a Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2009.  Nina won the 2009 Northern California Book Award for Children’s Literature and was featured in Publisher’s Weekly as a Flying Starts Author.

Laura Resau
     With a background in cultural anthropology and ESL-teaching, award-winning author Laura Resau has lived and traveled in Latin America and Europe. Her experiences inspired her novels for young people-- What the Moon Saw, Red Glass, The Indigo Notebook, The Ruby Notebook, The Jade Notebook, Star in the Forest, and The Queen of Water. She lives with her family in Colorado.
Pat Schmatz
     Bluefish is the fourth teen novel for Pat Schmatz.  This latest book received a starred review from Horn Book, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s  Books, and School Library Journal.   In Bluefish, everything changes for thirteen-year-old Travis,  a new student who is trying to hide his illiteracy, when he meets a sassy classmate with her own secrets and a remarkable teacher. Pat currently lives in rural Wisconsin. 

Rita Williams-Garcia
     Rita Williams-Garcia’s work has been recognized by the Coretta Scott King Award Committee, PEN Norma Klein, American Library Association, and Parents’ Choice, among others. She recently served on the National Book Award Committee for Young People’s Literature and is on faculty at Vermont College MFA Writing for Children and Young People.
Winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King Award AND the Newbery Honor Book, One Crazy Summer  is the story of three girls from Brooklyn who head out to California to stay with their mother, a poet, who ran off years before; the year is 1968.

Terry Trueman
     Stuck in Neutral, published in 2000, was a Printz Honor book, followed by Inside Out, Cruise Control, and No Right Turn.  Terry received his degree in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, with degrees in psychology and an MFA in creative writing , also from Eastern Washington. 
Terry Trueman is the father of two sons, and makes his home in Spokane.

Ned Vizzini
     Ned Vizzini is the author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah. . .  He has written for the New York Times, The Daily Beast, and season 2 of MTV’s Teen Wolf.  His work has been translated into seven languages and will soon be in Czech.  He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the forthcoming fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets.  Forthcoming in the fall of 2012, is a new teen novel,  The Other Normals. 


Serena said...

I hope you have a great time!

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