Winners' Circle - Brinton Culp

April 1, 2017

Welcome to the Winner's Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Please congratulate Brinton Culp on her recent contest win! 

What contest was your winning entry submitted to?
Holiday Story Contest 2016 

How many writing contests have you entered?

Tell us the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
Skinny Bones and Catrina: A Day of the Dead Celebration is a story told in rhyme that follows Skinny Bones, a skeleton who wakes up during the night of Day of the Dead. He finds Catrina, the upper-class skeletal figure originally created by José Guadalupe Posada, and invites her to accompany him to town. The pair encounter both mishaps and fun as they live anew and celebrate the holiday.

What inspired your winning entry?
As a Spanish teacher I lead my classes in exploring the history and customs of Day of the Dead. This story was inspired from our research about this holiday.

How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Contests give me that extra nudge to polish my work. I had written this particular story a while ago, but I pulled it out and read it with new eyes. I also took it to my critique group and they provided insightful feedback. So I sat down, reworked some things, and gave it a shot. The webinar with the contest was also extremely helpful. I will be going back to this story to try to make it even better.

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your "day job"?

I am a part-time middle school teacher, teaching Spanish and a class here and there of creative writing, and I am a full-time mother of two boys ages 8 and 10. I squeeze in time for writing between lesson planning and laundry. 

How long have you been writing?
I've loved writing since 1st grade, but I've been writing with the hopes of getting published for about 10 years (which is when I took the Writing for Children and Teenagers course from the Institute of Children's Literature!)

What will you do with your piece now that it's been recognized?

I first plan to revise even more, then I would like to submit it for publication.

Any fun plans for the prize money?
I am taking out my critique group for chai and lattes!

What do you do when you're feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
Tip #1: Take a walk. It really helps to clear the mind and get fresh ideas flowing.

Tip #2: Eat chocolate. Chocolate = happiness = better mindset for writing.

Tip #3: Read something fun. (I like to say I am researching while re-reading Harry Potter for the 7th time.)

If you could go to the yard sale of any character in the history of children's literature, whose would you go to, and what would you buy?
I would go to Fred and George Weasley's yard sale in the hopes of buying one of those wands that magically turns into a rubber chicken.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your ICL experience?
ICL has been great in helping me stick with writing and learn and grow in my craft. The Writing for Children and Teenagers course provided me with invaluable information and feedback. The contests have pushed me to polish my work and follow guidelines. I've greatly enjoyed and appreciated ICL!


Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko -Children’s Institute’s Student Number: YH90152
April 6, 2017

I started taking the Insitute's course for writers in 2005, three years before I retired from teaching. By the time I retired, I had accumulated a lot of short stories. Although my course included Novel writing, I did not write a full novel during the course. I have had my fair share of rejections before I decided to get some training. So, at the completion of my course, I decided to go Indie. To do this, I used the services of some publishing agencies to assure that my work was done professionally. I published two books through these agencies: Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women, and Legend of the Walking Dead: Igbo Mythologies I just released my third book entitled: Pregnant Future I have also published a series of short stories, numbering about ten, in different Anthologies, and Magazines. Right now, I am working on a number of children's stories and folk stories. Without my writing course, I don't think I would have been able to do all this. In fact, it was the rejections that forced me to retract my footsteps, and go back and get some training. I am happy I did because I can now see what I was doing wrong.

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