Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reaching Readers through writing contests

Today we've got BJ Gillum in the Kidliterati house! 

We'll be talking to him about reaching readers through writing contests and writing organizations such as the Roane Writers Group.

Howdy, BJ, and welcome to Kidliterati. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a 75 year old man, retired for 20 years from the telephone business. I am married to Saundra Kay (53 years). I live in Roane County, TN on the shore of "Watts Bar Lake. I have been involved in writing for ten years. And for the last five I have enjoyed being the President of the Roane Writers Group which I co-founded.

75?! Well, let me be the first to say that you don't look a day over 72. So what exactly is the Roane Writers Group? 
It is a group of Roane County residents and students who share an interest in writing and
who meet every Thursday evening in the Kingston Public Library at 6 p.m. We support each other
by providing feedback, constructive criticism, and encouragement.

You had me at constructive criticism. *swoons* How did the Roane Writers Group get started?

I loaned some comb bound copies of books I had written to the Kingston Public Library. Shortly thereafter I received a telephone call from a man who had recently relocated to Roane county from Indiana. He said he was surprised to see that a book written by a local resident was in the library. He was interested in writing and had published a book. We met in the library to discuss our common interest in writing and the rest is history. Steve Jacks, Library Director, agreed to let our group meet in the library. I put an item in the Roane County News about our new writing group and some people were curious and began coming to our meetings. 

You're like the less-creepy pied piper of the writers group world. I love that. What are some of the ways you reach young readers in the community?
We work with school teachers, librarians and administrators to offer a student writing competition in grades 4 through 12. Winners are awarded monetary prizes, certificates, ribbons, publication in an anthology and public recognition in an awards ceremony in Roane State Community College's O'Brien Theater. One lucky senior winner receives a $2,500 scholarship as our Grand Prize Winner.

That's incredible! What made you decide to host a writing competition?
It was a perfect way to reach out to the community and recognize the literary talents of the many bright students in our schools. I felt that sports and other physical activities were dominating the scholastic scene to the detriment of those who chose the more intellectual challenges. Hence the contest.

So... you're saying there's more to school than football? That's an idea I can get behind. Okay, BJ, last question. Why is getting young readers geared up to write so important for their reading?
Writing is a skill like driving a car; it is a learned skill that will pay dividends for the life of the individual. The inability to write accurately and succinctly will negatively affect ones ability to achieve and will lessen his/her quality of life. I feel it is important to stress English literacy in the lower grades to build a foundation for continued growth. When texting is used to engrave granite monuments perhaps I will change my mind on this issue, but I doubt it.

U no what? i doubt it 2 LOL!! Thanks for stopping by, BJ!


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