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Three of the four judges for the Young Writers’ contest: Me, Becky Davis Brooks
and Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Missing: Shelley Tougas.

The best part of the Deep Valley Book Festival, I thought, was seeing the many young writers and illustrators who came out to receive their awards.

We had more than 50 entries from young people. Three women and myself, representing a local writing group, judged the writers’ entries. When I was young, in a million years I would have never thought of writing a story, much less submitting it to be judged by authors. That takes a great deal of courage and I’m proud of the young writers in our community.

We handed out the awards and how satisfying it was to see the big smiles on the young faces! And their families were there to take pictures — I made sure the kids stayed up front long enough for their families to get a good picture!

Not all of those kids will keep writing, but some will. And some of those may go on to writing careers. I hope the experience of entering a contest gives them the confidence to keep working with their passions.

Not everyone won a first, second or third place. I don’t win everything I enter — far from it! If I submit my writing to 100 places and get 99 rejections, that means I got one acceptance and that’s all I need. I was quoted in the Mankato Free Press saying, “That’s just part of being a writer. Of course you’re going to get rejected, but someday you won’t.”

Watch this KEYC story on the festival.


Minnesota author Faith Sullivan is a beautiful soul! I’m so glad she decided to come to the festival for the second year in a row. She’s here with her husband, Dan, a former Minneapolis StarTribune theater critic.


We had so many used books for sale! People were definitely buying them!