NEW MILFORD — The New Milford Public Library Writers Salon has every reason to be proud: this year the third annual Trumbull Library Creative Literary Competition has announced its winners and in the adult categories they are all from the aforementioned group.
Abby Ripley has won first place in Nonfiction for her story “Not the Sahara of My Dreams,” In the Fiction category, Jamie Angevine has won for her story “The Game,” and Tom Kidd has won Honorable Mention for his story “Comedy of Nature.”
The winners were to be presented with their awards at a ceremony on June 6. However, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, that event was canceled. Nonetheless, the winning pieces will be published in “PenWorks” and copies of the publication will be available at the Trumbull Library.
“We are thrilled to be winners,” says Ripley. “They do such a good job with publishing the winning works.”
Ripley has a special reason to be pleased: she started the Writers Salon in 2018. But it all began in 2011 when Valerie Fisher, currently the Public Services Librarian, started a creative writing group.
“I ran the group until 2017,” says Fisher. “We won several awards and one of the members even published his own book. We also had a literary magazine for teens. We had a previous group for adults and it didn’t work. But this one took off and we had 20 participants. We eventually split it into two groups, based on ability. Since we did prompts and read the work out loud, it was difficult to have one large group.”
When Ripley took over, she renamed the group The Writers Salon (purposely with no apostrophe) based on the 18th century salons in Paris. She took over leading the advanced group — people who are in the process or are about to start writing a novel or memoir.
“Normally we meet once a month,” she explains. “But the group now has five people in it and it is difficult for all of us to read our work in a hour. So we now meet twice a month. There are two men and three women.”
Ripley herself has had an interesting life. Her artistic talents and diverse interests have taken her to the Indian Himalayas, as an anthropological field worker, a fine art photographer winning several best in show with her composite images, and a painter.
For the past seven years she has been engrossed in writing a historical novel set in Wyoming and Montana, where her family made a living from their ranches, and in Ladakh, a Union Territory of India, where she studied the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the indigenous population.
“The book covers four generations of a family,” she explains. “The first draft was over 300,000 words. I’ve found some more information that I needed and decided to add one more chapter. Now I have to really work to edit it and cut it down.”
Tom Kidd’s main profession is as an illustrator, specializing in fantasy and science fiction. His work has garnered countless awards and has been featured in films as well. This was his first time entering the Trumbull competition.
“I feel honored to be included my first time out,” Kidd says. “And I have to say it was Abby who made it all happen. She does a great for the Writers Salon; she is driven and her drive inspires us to become better writers.”
Jamie Angevine has been part of the group since its inception and she is a first-time winner as well. Although she started writing at a young age, she has recently been devoting more time to her writing, thanks to the Writers Salon.
“I’ve started a novel,” Angevine says. “but I’ve been concentrating on short stories and have several going at a time. The more contests I enter the more work I need to produce.
It’s fantastic to be rewarded for my efforts. It’s the first time I have entered a competition since I was in college.”
The Trumbull Library competition has become one of the most respected and popular contests and is advertised so widely that it has received entries from other states as far away as Texas.
“The trustees send their deepest appreciation to all of the writers and poets that entered the Trumbull Literary Competition,” said Trumbull Library System Director Stefan Lyne-Nielsen. “We encourage all participants to please keep writing!”
And thanks to enthusiasts like Abby Ripley, there will hopefully be more new writers on the horizon.