Tale writing contest deadline nears

Friday, February 1, 2013
By Ben Beagle Special to The Daily News

The lunch with “A Tale for Three Counties” author Peter Troy is more than a month away, but the deadline to enter the writing contest that could win you a place at the table is fast approaching.

The deadline for entering the contest is Feb. 6. An entry form will appear in Saturday’s editions of The Daily News.

To enter, readers are asked to respond to one of two questions related to Troy’s epic historical novel, “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You.”

The former history teacher’s novel opens in Ireland at the time of The Hunger and quickly moves with one of its main characters to the United States where the story expands to other characters whose lives are greatly affected by the outbreak of this nation’s Civil War.

The lunch allows contest winners a chance to meet a nationally-recognized author and “to get to know him and his ideas about writing better,” said Leslie DeLooze, the Richmond Memorial Library reference librarian who leads the Tale organizing committee.

It was in the more intimate lunch setting that past authors such as Hillary Jordan revealed plans for a sequel to her 2011 Tale title “Mudbound,” and Garth Stein shared a different ending for his best-selling novel “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” the 2010 Tale pick.

The contest, sponsored by The Daily News, started 10 years ago as a book review contest. It has evolved over the years and for the past four years has given readers questions to consider about the book.

“Using specific questions allows readers to focus on one element of the book and to write about that rather than giving a plot summary,” DeLooze said. “The writing contest gives readers a chance to spend time thinking about what they’ve read and then organize their thoughts about it.”

Readers are asked to respond — in 150 words or less — to two questions:

— What is the meaning behind the title (“May the Road Rise Up to Meet You”) and how does it apply to the main characters?

— Twice in the novel, Mary tells a story about Gertie’s stitching. She says that it doesn’t look like much from the back with all the tangles and knots. It is only when you see it “frontways” that it makes sense. What is the significance of this story to the novel as a whole?

“We chose these particular questions because they are open-ended and can apply to any of the characters or to the book as a whole,” DeLooze said. “Writers will have to choose to focus on one character or one aspect of the book to write about when answering their chosen question.”

Entries are due at The Daily News by Feb. 6 and must include an original entry form. Up to six winners will then be selected to join Troy for a lunch at the D&R Depot, Le Roy, on March 8.

Some reviews or excerpts will be published on the Tale for Three Counties website.

The writing contest may also have an additional benefit to readers, whether they are among the winners or not. “It will help them gather their thoughts for the book discussions,” DeLooze said.

Book discussions begin Feb. 11 at Yates Community Library, Lyndonville, and continue through March 6 at participating libraries.

Troy is scheduled to visit March 7 to 9. He will present programs March 7 in Batavia at 1 p.m. at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., and 7 p.m. at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St. His talks and book signings continue at 7 p.m. March 8 at Hoag Library, 134 South Main St., Albion; and 2 p.m. March 9 at Perry Elementary/Middle School Auditorium, 50 Olin Ave., Perry.

A full schedule of programs can be found on the Tale website, www.taleforthreecounties.org/

Some helpful tips …

The deadline for this year’s “A Tale for Three Counties” writing contest is Feb. 6. As you consider your submission, the librarians who judge the contest offer these tips:

WHEN WRITING THE REVIEW, concentrate entirely on your reaction to the question without reiterating plot points. Judges already know the plot; they are interested in what your thoughts are on the story. With a 150-word limit this has to be very focused. Give your opinion, and then convince the judges with your argument.

START OUT STRONG with a firm statement or opinion about the question you have chosen to respond to. Then, use several specific examples or quotations to support that opinion.

BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR ENTRY, give it a final read. While the entries are not strictly graded like your junior-high English assignment spelling and grammar do count. In a competitive contest, making sure your argument is clear can make the difference.

WHEN REFERENCING THE BOOK, double check that your details are accurate. Errors hurt even the most well-written entry.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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