Contest draws wide array of wordsmiths

Each year, writers sharpen their pencils, warm up their computers and get ready to compete in the city’s writing contest, which draws skilled wordsmiths from across the Bay Area and around the world.

Foster City’s International Writing Contest, founded 32 years ago by the late Mona Schreiber, offers awards each year for the best short story, essay, poem and children’s story. Each time an author wins the award, or others like it, the honor provides astepping-stone to future book deals and other writing opportunities, according to Geri Spieler, president of the San Francisco/Peninsula Branch of the California Writers’ Club.

“Good writers have participated [in the contest] because it’s long-running and it has prestige,” Spieler said. “Winning is a validation of your work.”

Schrieber taught a course called “Writing for Fun and Profit” at the Foster City Recreation Center and the San Mateo Adult School before her death from cancer in 1985. Local writer Ted Lance took over running the competition, which then passed to Eileen Shaine, a member of Foster City’s Arts and Culture Committee four years ago.

“There were only about 17 entries — they nearly closed it down,” Shaine said. “But in that first month, we jumped from 17 entries to 80 because of the people I know in the writers club.”

Each year, submissions are judged by members of the San Francisco Press Club, who don’t see the author’s names during the judging process. First-place winners in each category earn a $150 prize, while second-place winners get $75 each.

Although professional writers compete in the local contest, Shaine encouraged everyone to give it a shot.

“People have said, ‘I can’t write.’ They can write — they keep journals, they write letters. People can write when they don’t think they can,” Shaine said.

Foster City officials are proud to host such a high-rated writing contest. “It’s brought forward some very unique pieces and provided a nice platform for talented individuals,” Mayor Linda Koelling said.

Entries are due by Dec. 30. Winners will be notified in January, and an awards ceremony takes place Feb. 10, at the Foster City Recreation Center. For complete information, including submission guidelines, visit http://www.geocities.com/

fostercity_writers.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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