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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest winners

cj Sez: Lyrical Pens sends HUGE congratulations to the young author winners of this year’s Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest, sponsored by the Mobile Writers’ Guild:

First Place:  Heather Jajeh, “Phoenix Turns the Double Stouthearted”
Second Place:  Julie Jajeh, “The Mystery of the Bank Robbery”
Third Place:  Mallory Edwards, “The Life of Elanea”

Tracy would have been so excited and happy to read your wonderful pieces. She
was all about mentoring young authors. In her memory, Lyrical Pens sends our very best wishes for future success to you and to all the young authors who entered the contest.

The awards were given out during the 2016 Young Authors’ Conference held at Mobile’s West Regional Library. The conference is an annual event sponsored by the Metro Mobile Reading Council. The keynote speaker was nonfiction, science, and nature writer Heather L. Montgomery, author of “Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals.” Her bio on Goodreads says Ms. Montgomery “writes about science and nature for kids. Her subject matter ranges from snake tongues to spider silk to snail poop.” 

As you can imagine from that Goodreads description, she is a dynamic speaker, and she involves her young audiences by having them do hands-on examinations of things that inspired her books. She said that all of her well-researched books were inspired by a question about something she’s seen…including a dead venomous snake! (Do not try that at home, folks. Dead snakes still have venom in their fangs.) Her number one rule for writing: “Don't do boring,” and she wasn’t. I do believe I learned a lot…no exaggeration.

I was thrilled to assist with a small breakout group of third through fifth graders. These talented kids awed me with glimpses into their amazing imaginations as they created several versions of an opening—that all-important hook that invites readers into the rest of the book.

During the afternoon, the library hosted the 2016 Teen Writing Fair, co-sponsored by the Metro Mobile Reading Council and the Mobile Writers’ Guild. Ms. Montgomery gave an abbreviated presentation and again passed around unique items. (I hoped the thing that passed through my hands was a large, brown mushroom and not a "cow pie.") Afterwards, a few aspiring authors read their short pieces at open mic, and then the teen writers strolled around tables, meeting and interviewing a room full of local authors.

I was thoroughly impressed by each writer I heard and spoke with and know I met a bunch of young authors headed for the New York Times best-selling list.  

How about you? Have you been able to mentor a young author? If you want to write about your experience, drop me a note. I’d love to schedule you a blog date.

That’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on and I’ll try to do the same.

Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook

Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo


  1. How fun, and how wonderful you participated in that. I just last week answered a 5-question interview from a local middle school student for a year-long project she's doing on being a writer, but that's the only time I've done anything like that.

  2. Thanks for the kind words cj! It was inspiring working with those young writers!


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