writing contest

Winner of Umoja Writing Competition announced today

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Winner of Umoja Writing Competition announced

Umoja writing comp winner, Disha Raval
Disha Raval the winner of Umoja Orphanage Writing Competition 2016

It’s with great delight we announce the winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2016 is Disha Pankaj Raval with her essay entry ‘Peace Essay’. This entry took us by surprise with its maturity, especially after judging when we realized how young Disha was (she was born in 2004) in Nairobi Kenya. We think it’s a wonderful unexpected bonus that our winner was born in Kenya. She is proof what a good education, particularly literacy, can do for young children.

Here’s a little bit about our winner Disha.

Disha started school in kindergarten at Braeburn Imani International School, Thika, Kenya (a small place north of Nairobi) in September 2007. She finished her Kenyan schooling at Braeburn Imani International School in August 2015.

She has some interesting hobbies including:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Poetry (reading and writing poetry)
  • Swimming
  • Debating
  • Playing the Piano
  • Singing
  • Learning new Languages
  • Travelling
  • Cooking
  • Working with tools and wires
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Exploring Technology

And her achievements so far are impressive:

  • SATS award 2012
  • SATS award 2014
  • National Level Swimming 2014
  • School Math Champ Title Holder 2014
  • School Math Quiz Finalist 2014
  • Highest SATS results in the School 2014
  • Dance award 2015
  • 56 Certificates since 2007

Disha’s Dream Career:

Flying Service Doctor

Favorite Subject:

Mathematics  (and we thought it was English)

How did Disha come to Australia?

(As told by Disha)

In 2010, my family decided that Migrating to Australia will prove to be a better and brighter future for me. After a couple months of extreme thinking, we decided to apply for Immigration through my dad’s educational skills. We were granted the Immigration Visa in around late 2011 and this was a very exciting time for me. We came to Australia for the very first time and I really liked it. Finally, in 2015, we decided that that was the time to move and in February 2016 we came to Australia, to stay for good. The move was pretty hectic because we had to pack up the whole of our house in Thika into boxes and travel about 20 hours to a brand new and developed place with a time difference of 7 hours! It took almost 4 months to get everything packed and ready to go but I am really enjoying it here.

My biggest inspiration is my paternal grandfather. I never got to see him as he passed when my father was 16 years old but I have heard lots of stories about him from my grandmother and I am fully inspired by the way he thought and the way he lived his life.

Disha’s favourite place to write

My favorite place to relax and write my pieces of writing are in the park and on my brown couch.

What an inspirational young woman. Congratulations Disha. Disha’s entry with be posted to the next post. Please read it and comment. We hope this inspires people of all backgrounds and ages to write. 

Please note that judges do not know who wrote what entry. All entries are judged on merit alone. Thank you to all entrants for taking part and helping us to raise much needed funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya.

Disha Raval winner 2016 writing comp
Disha Raval winner 2016

21 Tips to Win a Writing Competition

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Are you wondering how to win this competition?

We’ve decided to repeat the advice we gave entrants when this competition began in 2014. best advice to help you win in 21 tips. Try some of these tips to help give you a better chance:

  1. Adhere to traditional standards of writing such as punctuation, spelling, grammar and syntax. Particularly, if the competition is run by a school or university and more so, a publisher. Wouldn’t you like to be noticed by someone who could publish your writing? Get it right.
  2. Use the rules of the contest but keep creative within the given theme. If you don’t write using the theme your entry will go straight to the bottom, or the shredder. This theme ‘Peace’.
  3. Literature contests may be looking for originality, refinement, depth, a subtext, and intellectual use of language; an emphasis on interesting characters, and setting rather than plot. Think description over dialogue, usually. A writing competition, (rather than literature contest) will sway towards popular fiction, but many ask for essays, articles and other forms of writing so read the rules and requirements thoroughly.
  4. This particular competition is on the theme ‘Peace’ and since so many of us are hoping for peace in a volatile time for our planet, the theme encompasses many things, so find a unique angle. Freshness and individuality will stand out.
  5. A great starting paragraph and an absorbing plot that follows your main character on some sort of journey or conflict. Finish with no lose ends.
  6. Use the correct tense throughout the story. Don’t change from ‘has to be’ to ‘had to be’ later. It’s annoying and incorrect.
  7. Do not use a passive voice. Active voice will win over the judges.
  8. Dialogue must be believable, readable and colloquial.
  9. Choose an exceptional title. First impressions count but it must be relevant to the story.
  10. Be original. I know you’re thinking the theme takes that away, but it doesn’t. Again, be creative.
  1. Edit your work thoroughly with at least three drafts. I always read out loud when I think I’ve finished my last draft. This often picks up things you can no longer see because you’ve been looking at it for too long.
  2. Don’t confuse the judges or potential readers with too many characters in a short story.
  3. In short stories you have little enough word count so make each word count.
  4. Clichés are just that; cliché. Avoid them.
  5. Use strong verbs rather than adverbs.
  6. Fit your entry to the competition you have entered. If it’s for a women’s romance writers’ group it needs to be romance. If it’s for a mystery writers’ group it would be impossible to win without a whodunit or twisting plot.
  7. Don’t put your name on the manuscript. Your name goes on your entry form but not your manuscript for good reason. The judges need to read each entry on it’s merit alone. The judge wants to see writing that shines not writers.
  8. Format using 12 point Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica unless the competition rules specify something else. Usually double spaced and indented at the left column. Pages numbered and a word count shown.
  9. Competitions often give a choice between hard copy or email. Read carefully which they prefer, choose hard copy if you want to pay postage. Emailing submissions my change your formatting but as most people are computer literate now, send this way if you feel comfortable with it. Emails are a quicker way to enter if you are pushing the deadline. We prefer emailed entries where possible so we do not have to re-type if your entry wins (we are all volunteers).
  10. Do not bribe the judges or think that fancying up your application will help. No cute little post-it messages asking them to choose you as a winner. No hidden chocolates. Definitely no sprays of perfume that may set off my hay fever.
  11. Do not add pictures to your manuscript (unless of course it’s a travel feature that requires a photograph), just send a plain double spaced entry and let your writing win for you.

And finally, proofread for a final third or fourth time thoroughly. As I said before, I find reading out loud helps pick up on most errors. Make sure there are no typos. For example; use of your ears is not ‘here’ it’s ‘hear’. Check your words, check your spelling and triple check your punctuation. Judges will critic these mercilessly and one error may see you lose. One correction could see you win. I hope you win.

Have fun and good luck with your entry.

To enter go to: Rules & Entry Form

The winner is – ‘Tiny Teacher’ by Kirsten Leggett

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Today we announce the winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2015. It is both exciting and sad to come to this point in our competition. Exciting because our winner is about to find out, and sad because this year’s competition is over.

We’d like to thank everyone who entered to help make this fundraising and literacy venture a success. Though entrant numbers were down, we still managed to raise valued funds for Umoja Orphanage Kenya, and the wonderful work Cathy and her team do. We thank you all and hope you enjoyed crafting your story and entering our competition.

This year we allowed African entrant the chance to enter free, so they could enjoy the process of entering the competition. The competition has been designed to help Kenyan literacy levels and provide funding for the orphanage that will also have classrooms.

African Special Mention

We’d like to make special mention of our highest ranked African entrant, Nancy Lindah Ilamwenya from Ethiopa. Her entry ‘Of Nice and Mean’ was a beautifully crafted entry. Continue your writing, Nancy and we wish you the best of luck with your life goals. We will post Nancy’s entry and the winning entry on the blog in the coming days.

The Winner

Okay here we go with the drum roll. Now for the overall winner of Umoja Writing Competition 2015. The winner is Kirsten Leggett from Tasmania, with her wonderful entry ‘Tiny Teacher’. Congratulations Kirsten.

Please return to see these entries. Now you be the judges when these four entries are posted let us know what you think of them. Give only literary feedback, thank you.

A quick thank you again to our judges Deborah Lawrence, teacher and literacy consultant (and also the sponsor of our trophy) and Shanyn Limpus, communications officer for Umoja Orphanage Kenya.

Please visit the orphanage Facebook page to see the latest information on the volunteer group who have just visited Kenya with Cathy. If you are interested in volunteering overseas you couldn’t find a better place to go.