Award-winning writer to judge student contest

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Bruce DeSilva’s work has been characterized by critics as being about getting everything right – the tone, setting, characters, plot, pacing and prose.

Now, this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist will work his magic as the 2015 celebrity judge for the Katie DeCubellis Memorial Foundation’s (KDMF) annual writing contest.

“Novelist Gregory McDonald once told me that asking him why he wanted to be a writer was like asking a tree why it wanted to be a tree,” DeSilva said. “You either are a writer, or you are not. Writing is how those of us who do it seriously process our lives, how we come to understand the world and our own small place in it.”

DeSilva’s crime fiction has won the Edgar and Macavity Awards. His book reviews have been published in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Publishers Weekly, The Strand Magazine and scores of other print and online publications. Previously, he was a journalist for 40 years, most recently as writing coach worldwide for The Associated Press, editing stories that won nearly every major journalism prize, including the Polk Award (twice), the Livingston (twice) and the Pulitzer.

“Bruce DeSilva is a world-class writer and reviewer and to have him judging our contest is a tremendous opportunity to all who participate,” said KDMF president Joel Chase. “In recent years we have been fortunate to get highly acclaimed writers to oversee the contest and the students who participate tell us the judges inspire them to be better writers.”

“All young people can, and should, learn to write clearly, but not everyone can truly be a writer,” DeSilva said during an interview. “Those born with the gift must be encouraged and cultivated, because humanity needs them. It is writers who help us explore the mysteries of life and death, teach us about love, tell the stories that bind us together, remind us of our past, and show us how to make sense of this beautiful, confusing, troubled world.”

DeSilva’s philosophy falls right in line with the KDMF’s annual writing contest and the spirit of Katie DeCubellis, who loved to write.

“After our daughter Katie died at the hands of a drunken driver, we wanted to find a way to carry on her legacy and keep her spirit alive,” Meg DeCubellis said. “As the years progressed we were fortunate enough to receive an outpouring of support and the writing contest is one way for us to give back to others and also raise awareness on important topics.”

The KDMF is also proud to announce that for the third year, AAA Southern New England has joined forces with the foundation as corporate sponsor of the contest.

For the past 11 years, KDMF has awarded money and prizes to students who placed in the annual writing contest. This year’s topic is “Positive Change.” Students are asked to create a negative situation and find a way to take the story in a positive direction.

This month, the KDMF will send out announcements to every high school and post to social media regarding the start of the contest. The deadline for entries is March 27. A ceremony will be held May 18 at 7 p.m. at the Warwick Mall to announce this year’s winners. Television reporter/WPRO radio anchor and children’s book author Laura Clarizio will emcee the event.

The KDMF and AAA Southern New England will present monetary awards to the three top winners and those receiving honorable mention. The first-place winner receives $1,000. Additionally, professionally created posters with the winner’s names and writing entries will remain on display at the mall during the week following the ceremony. For more information about the contest and annual scholarships that the KDMF awards visit the foundation’s website at www.kdmf.org. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

“I have always been a teacher as well as a writer. Passing along what I have learned to those who will follow me is both a privilege and an obligation,” DeSilva said. “Judging this contest is, among other things, a great teaching opportunity – a chance to both critique and encourage young writers. And as a parent and grandparent, I am deeply concerned about the perils the subject of this year’s contest is intended to highlight.”

Entries should be mailed to KDMF Creative Writing Contest, c/o Joel S. Chase, 300 Metro Center Boulevard, Suite 150A, Warwick, RI 02886. Submissions must be postmarked by March 27. Complete contest details are available at www.kdmf.org. You may also contact Joel Chase at 739-9900.

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