Local authors can submit their writing, compete for prizes

Emerging writers are urged to submit their entries for the annual Okanagan Short Story Contest.

The contest, now in its 24th year, has a long tradition of introducing budding writers to the Okanagan community. Previous winners have gone on to publish with Penguin Random House, Arsenal Pulp Press, NeWest Press, as well as numerous national and international magazines and journals.

Entries are open to fiction writers in the southern interior of British Columbia in a region stretching east of Hope, west of the Alberta border, north of the US border and south of Williams Lake.

“The annual short story contest is one way for developing writers to gain their foothold in the literary world. I’ve seen winners of story prizes use them to find literary agents and book deals,” says Kevin Chong, author and creative writing professor in UBCO’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

The entries must be original stories, between 1,000 and 4,000 words, and writers are welcome to submit as many as they choose. There is a $20 entry fee for each story but no charge for students in the high school category. All proceeds will go towards FCCS creative writing scholarships for UBC Okanagan students.

FCCS is offering cash prizes to writers of the top three stories: $1,000, $400 and $200. The first prize winner also wins a one-week retreat at The Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre in Kelowna. And the top short story by a high school student receives a $200 prize.

Entries must be received by 11:59 pm on Friday, January 31, 2022.

Winners of the short story contest will be announced in March at a public event where short-listed authors will be invited to read from their work. For a full list of contest details and rules, visit fccs.ok.ubc.ca/short-story

Jorie Soames named 2021 winner

Frances Greenslade, acclaimed Canadian author and English professor at Okanagan College, had the task of selecting the top stories for the 2021 Okanagan Short Story Contest. Jorie Soames took home the first-place prize this year with her story Storm Warning.

“The setting and character carry the reader along in this story,” says Greenslade. “The dialogue is realistic and revealing, and when I finished, the sense of place stayed with me.”

2022 works to be judged by celebrated novelist Nathan Ripley

All stories will be judged by UBCO creative writing faculty as well as celebrated novelist, critic and screenwriter Naben Ruthnum.

Ruthnum is a Mauritian-Canadian author with a master’s degree from McGill University. Now living in Toronto, he was raised in Kelowna and won the Journey Prize in 2013 for his short story “Cinema Rex.” He’s since published Curry: Reading, Eating and Race, a collection of non-fiction essays exploring immigrant experience and identity through food and literature. His thriller novel Find You in the Dark, was published under his pseudonym Nathan Ripley. His newest work, A Hero of Our Time, will be published in January 2022.