The Coppell Gifted Association Creative Writing Competition is in its eighth year, and in that time it has seen a host of talented young writers, from grades 3-12, enter their work. The competition has been a tremendous encouragement to many aspiring authors, giving them a chance to get their work out there and even read selections aloud at the annual book release party.
“I started the competition in 2008. We concerned that standardized testing and writing prompts had resulted in less emphasis on creative writing. We hoped that by creating a competition that celebrated these talented young authors, it would encourage them to continue to tell their stories and inspire them to find their voice," said founder Elizabeth Chappell.
In the beginning, there were only three judges and two of them, Matt Bowden and Kim Smith, still remain, reading new bouts of entries every year. The competition has grown since 2008.
“I think we had a little over 100 entries -- many of them hand written! The original categories were Fiction, Non-Fiction, Graphic Novels, Poetry, Script and Fan Fiction," Chappell said.
Over the years, the categories have shrunk to just two: Story and Poetry, and is only open to students in grades 4-12. But in every other way it has grown. This year they have received 677 entries and have 38 judges to read them.
“It is amazing to think of how many students have submitted their work over the years, and how many may have been inspired to continue writing," Chappell said.
“I first submitted my work in the first year and continued to do so all the way until I graduated high school in 2013, winning several 1st place and honorable mentions along the way. It was a tremendous encouragement to me as a young writer still finding her footing," Aimee Hyndman said.
This year, Hyndman is returning to the CGA Book Release Party but in a different way. This past September, her first book, HOUR OF MISCHIEF, a Young Adult Steampunk Fantasy novel was published by Curiosity Quills Press.
“While writing was always my passion, the CGA Creative Writing Competition gave me the confidence and practice I needed for when I eventually started submitting my work to agents and publishers," Hyndman said.
"There is a tremendous amount of talent in this town and I know that some of these kids will be joining me someday soon as published authors. On that day, I’m sure they will look back as fondly on this opportunity as I did. We owe this competition, and especially Elizabeth Chappell, a lot," Hyndman said.
If you would like to come to the book release party, stop by the CHS Commons on April 11 in the CHS Commons starting at 5:45 p.m. where there will be readings from the winners and from Hyndman’s book, as well as copies available for sale.