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Writing workshop: Dandelion Cottage Short Story Contest the focus

The Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association is again sponsoring the Dandelion Cottage Student Short Story Contest. Virtual workshops are being held on Jan. 5, 12 and 19 for U.P. students interested in entering the competition. Pictured is the 2019 winner, May Amelia Shapton, was in 12th grade at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School. (Photo courtesy of the UPPAA)

MARQUETTE — Upper Peninsula students in grades five through 12 who are interested in submitting to the Dandelion Cottage Student Short Story Contest, sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association, are invited to sign up for a free short story writing workshop.

Space is limited to the first 20 students who sign up.

This will be a virtual workshop conducted by UPPAA award-winning author and educator, Deborah K. Frontiera. The workshop will take place over three Tuesday evenings: Jan. 5, 12 and 19, with the events starting at 6.

The timing enables students to have enough time to rewrite or polish their stories before the contest deadline for submission, which is Feb. 5.

UPPAA President Victor R. Volkman, who also is senior of Modern History Press, pointed out that this year marks the fourth anniversary of the contest, with an increasing number of schools across the U.P. submitting entries each year.

“The Dandelion Cottage has given a new purpose to UPPAA that was missing before — a way to nurture the next generation of great U.P. writers,” Volkman said at uppaa.org.

The competition, he said, is important for young authors and students.

“The contest offers young writers real recognition and validation for their talents,” Volkman said. “Working with their teachers, they will discover new ways to improve upon their work.”

The first workshop session will be about story structure, developing a character and starting a first draft. Students will complete their first draft between the first and second sessions.

The second session will involve revision with Frontiera providing many suggestions for students to examine their stories and improve them. Students will rewrite their drafts before the final session, which will dwell on polishing stories and doing a final edit. In this session, Frontiera will detail the types of spelling, grammar and punctuation errors made most often by students.

Students may also consult with their teachers or others on their stories, but the students themselves must make any suggested changes. Students then give their stories to their language arts teachers since each educator in a U.P. public or private school may submit two stories from each class to the contest.

Students who are home-schooled should check with their local district for a sponsoring teacher.

“Creativity is so important in education and in life,” Frontiera said in an email. “Even when a student doesn’t ‘win’ a contest, they win for themselves by nourishing their creativity. This influences many other things a student does. Just as sports help develop the whole person, so does the discipline of writing.”

Frontiera said she noticed this even in her kindergarten students for many years in Houston and again when she worked in the Writers In The Schools program.

“Classroom teachers often told me that they saw improvements in other academic areas when students participated in the WITS creative writing program,” she said. “Art can contribute to this too, because the process to create visual art is similar to the writing process. Even composing lyrics and melody nourish the human spirit. Remember the movie, ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus.'”

Frontiera stressed that STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — is a good word and a good program, but STEAM — which has an A for art — has energy.

“That’s what I hope I can give to students in this workshop — a little steam energy,” Frontiera said.

The Dandelion Cottage Story Contest gives young authors an opportunity to participate in a literary event specifically organized for nourishing their creative writing talent, according to the UPPAA. The top three prize-winning entries from high school writers and the best story from fifth through eighth grade will appear in the Volume No. 5 of the U.P. Reader, an anthology of short stories and poetry from members of UPPAA.

At least 100 copies of the U.P. Reader will be donated to rural libraries across the U.P. when it is released in April.

The top prize for the Dandelion Cottage Contest is $250 cash for the first-place senior division finisher and $150 for the junior division winner. There are no entry fees for writers.

Winners also receive a hardbound edition of U.P. Reader.

The workshop is designed mainly for grades 5-8, but high school students with no experience in writing short fiction and who are interested in learning are welcome to register as well.

Students may register at https://uppaa.org/student-workshop/

For full information on the contest’s submission guidelines, go to the Dandelion Cottage website.

“Although children may have very supportive parents who want to encourage their child’s creative writing skills, those same parents may not have the language skills background to help their child become a better writer,” Volkman said in an email. “Additionally, there are craft elements such as plot, character, theme, style and point-of-view that a professional writing instructor can provide, which can really open the door to a student becoming a better writer once they have a solid grasp of how to make these elements work for themselves.”

The UPPAA was established in 1998 to support authors and publishers who live in or write about the U.P. UPPAA, based in Marquette, is a Michigan nonprofit association with more than 100 members, many of whose books are featured on the organization’s website at www.uppaa.org.

UPPAA welcomes membership and participation from anyone with a U.P. connection who is interested in writing and publishing books.

For more information about this workshop, contact Volkman at president@uppaa.org.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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