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On your mark, get set, write: 3-hour short story contest winners
Okanagan College Media Release

Armed with only their creativity and the words at their fingertips, 60 budding writers participated in Okanagan College’s annual 3-Hour Short Story contest in November at the four campus locations.

Four regional authors (one per campus) were named the recipients of the $250 tuition credit prize:
  • Vernon – “Watercolours” by Daniel Greene (Okanagan College)
  • Penticton – “Mother” by Marina Meyer (Okanagan College)
  • Salmon Arm – “The Legend of Mr. Mustache” by Amy Nicholson (King’s Christian School)
  • Kelowna – “I Heard” by Kirsten Kvaale (Okanagan College)
Daniel Greene Dec 2015   Amy Nicholson Dec 2015  Marina Meyer Dec 2015
Daniel Greene  Amy Nicholson  Marina Meyer

For his tale about alcoholism, family history, and memories painted in watercolours, as recounted by a grandmother to her grandson, second-year Associate of Arts degree student Daniel Greene from Vernon took home the overall top prize. He received an additional $250 tuition credit and will have his story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.

“Even though I had prepared for the contest and had an idea of what I may want to write, it is hard in just three hours,” said 20-year-old Greene. “You really don’t have time to re-read which actually helps the creative process. It allows your ideas to flow better and you can’t second-guess yourself.”

Up against a 180-minute ticking clock, the Grade 11, 12, and Okanagan College student authors were challenged with needing to incorporate the secret phrase “downy moustache” into their story, a phrase only revealed at the start of the contest. Faced with the fear of writers’ block (the contest does not allow any previously authored materials and no online access is available) the authors conquered their fear and made the job of the judging panel that much more difficult.

“Each year it is astonishing the scope of creativity and talent we see these budding authors showcase in such a short amount of time,” says Okanagan College English professor, contest judge and organizer Dr. Sean Johnston. “The outlook for the already thriving writers’ community in the valley looks very promising based on all the entries we read.”

In addition to Johnston, College Professors and authors Corinna Chong, Francie Greenslade, Jeremy Beaulne, Steve Weber, Dr. Shona Harrison, Jeremy Lanaway, and Hannah Calder judged the contest. All entries were anonymous, allowing the judging panel to review each story indiscriminately.

The winning stories can be read online at

Regional winners’ quotes and profiles:

Salmon Arm:

Grade 11 King’s Christian School student Amy Nicholson is currently working on a medieval time-set novel in her spare time and credits it as an inspiration for her short story. “The Legend of Mr. Mustache” is a hero’s tale with elves, goblins and magic centered on a grandfather’s prophecy about a man with a downy mustache.

“It seemed like a difficult task, writing an entire story in three hours, but I wanted to stretch myself and give it a try,” said Nicholson. “I’ve been wondering whether to pursue writing as more than a hobby, and I think winning this helped confirm that there is something to pursue.”


Originally from South Africa, 57-year-old Marina Meyer who is studying Arts at the Penticton campus of the College says writing has always been a passion and she hopes to teach English as a second language throughout Africa after completing her studies. Her short story “Mother” is a melancholy narrative about two siblings, one a member of the South African military, who are juxtaposed in terms of the relationships they each have with their mother, and each other.

“Most of the time, the mere act of writing inspires me to write. Many of my stories are musings,” said Meyer. “For me, winning this contest means that some of my tuition is going to be paid because I spent three hours doing something I adore. What could be better than that?”