It’s been a pretty successful fall for writer Wanda Nolan.
In September, she won the Atlantic Film Festival Script Development Award for her feature screenplay, “The Magic of Boxer Connors.” Friday evening, she was presented with an award for a different genre of writing.
Nolan won the Cuffer Prize 2012, worth $2,000, for her short story, “Nancy Drew.”
“It’s equally as thrilling,” Nolan said of being recognized for screenwriting and short fiction. “It’s validation. At the end of the day, you’re home by yourself, writing, and the insecurities are insurmountable.”
It’s not Nolan’s first short story, and fiction has always been her first love, she said. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and journals across the country, and a recent story, “The Bay,” was featured in local literary journal “Riddle Fence.”
Her short film script “Four Sisters” won a 2009 Arts and Letters Award, and the film had a successful festival circuit run.
The Cuffer judges, Russell Wangersky, Joan Sullivan and Ramona Dearing, praised Nolan’s precise writing in “Nancy Drew.”
“In tightly crafted paragraphs, it sets out a world, a protagonist, several characters, an arc of predicament — a story, complete with crisis, mystery and resonance,” they gave in their citation.
“Altogether it forms something entire. This is writing that stays with you.”
The second-place prize went to Joshua Goudie for “Satsuma and Cigarettes,” one of two stories he submitted to the Cuffer. Both made the shortlist.
Goudie is a man of few words, telling the audience he preferred to write.
“It feels excellent. I wasn’t expecting anything,” he told The Telegram afterwards of placing second. “Just to hear someone reading an excerpt out loud was exciting.”
Third place went to self-described “closet writer” Janet Kelly for her story, “Bliss.” Kelly said she had written the piece, sent it in to the contest and forgotten about it, until she learned she had made the shortlist.
“I submitted it and I told myself, if anything comes of it, I’ll write every day, and if nothing comes of it, I’ll still write every day,” she said, smiling. Kelly plans to submit to the Cuffer again next year.
This is the fifth year for the literary prize, presented by The Telegram and Creative Books Publishing. Stories of 1,200 words or less set in Newfoundland and Labrador are judged blindly and narrowed down to a
10-person shortlist before the winner and runners-up are selected. Each year, Creative Books publishes an anthology of some of the entries from the previous year.
In the past five years, about 1,000 entries have been received, said Telegram associate manager editor Pam Frampton, who oversees the contest.
“This year’s Cuffer Prize competition was a real thrill — we attracted entries from more writers who are already well-established, as well as plenty of new blood, and that just ups the excitement,” she said.
“As for ‘The Cuffer Anthology: Volume IV,’ it was really difficult to decide which stories from the 2011 competition to include in the book, but I am very pleased with the mix. Every single story is excellent.”
All four Cuffer anthologies are available in bookstores, with proceeds going to Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Telegram publisher Charlie Stacey presents Wanda Nolan with her first prize at the Cuffer Prize awards ceremony. Nolan won for her short story titled “Nancy Drew.” — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram