Just Fiction writing student will become published author

MEDIA RELEASE • For Immediate Release

john t  biggs  sandra parsons  william bernhardt  dwayne morris and holly page(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Sept. 12, 2013) Holly Page of Norman was named the winning writer on Sept. 9 at the conclusion of the Just Fiction writing class taught at the Stillwater Public Library.

Page, a labor relations director with a government contractor, won first prize and the opportunity to have her novel, “Long Night Moon,” published by Stillwater’s New Forums Press.  The contest was open to students from the Just Fiction class taught by bestselling author William Bernhardt and sponsored by OSU’s Arts and Science Outreach and the library.

“I was not at all confident that I would even place in the contest,” said Page.  “So many of the students are talented and have the ability to express themselves.  I’ve never had another writing class and Bill has been my only writing instructor.  My only other published work was my thesis on industrial health and safety.”

Page had been writing the novel off and on for the past four years.  She would leave the novel for a year at a time, then come back to write more.  Page credits her instruction during Bernhardt’s writing class as a main reason for her win.

“The classes were imperative in the progress of my book,” said Page.  “When you’re reading, you can feel that a story is working, but you don’t really know why.  The classes taught me the techniques, like plotting, outlining and pacing that I needed to employ to make my story compelling.”

She also credits Bernhardt’s series of writing books for her advancement.

“I read and reread Bill’s book on character, structure and plot,” said Page.  “The most difficult part of writing was learning that I had to stop revising and just keep moving on to advance the story.  I needed to make myself write more, so that I would actually have something to revise.”

Page’s story follows Detective Asa Hardgrove, a Creek Indian and compulsive gambler recently fired from his job.  Hardgrove returns to his childhood home in Oklahoma to conquer his addiction just as a new casino is being built at the site of the historic Levering Mission School, where Creek Indian children lived over a century ago.  Hardgrove investigates the mysterious accidents plaguing the construction of the casino and the murder of a local citizen, leading the detective back to a tragic shooting that led him to flee his hometown twenty years before.

“My inspiration for the book was stories my father shared with me about my grandfather,” said Page. “When my grandmother died giving birth to her thirteenth child, my grandfather packed up his family and moved into the ruins of the Levering Mission School in Wetumka where he raised his children without electricity or running water.  I wanted to include parts of that story in my book.”

According to Bernhardt, Page’s story is a well-deserving winner.

“Holly is a terrifically talented writer who has been working hard to improve her skills and it has paid off,” said Bernhardt.  “I am not at all surprised that she won today.”

Page’s plans include extending this first book into a series.

“My husband is a member of the Cherokee tribe,” said Page. “I learned that Native American lore describes twelve types of moons. “Long Night Moon” is in December when the climax of my story takes place.  My hope is to complete this novel which is about three-fourths of the way done, see it published, and then continue as a series, writing one novel based on each of the twelve moons.”

Page’s novel will be published in 2014 and will be available for purchase on the New Forum’s website and through book distributors like Amazon.com.  The Stillwater Public Library is planning to post the first chapters of Page’s book closer to the publication date.

“We are ecstatic to host these writing series and to have a part in developing Oklahoma writers,” said Lynda Reynolds, library director.  “We hope to continue providing writers opportunities to develop.”

Other writers winning awards included Dwayne Morris, second prize for “Feeding the Hyenas,” Sandra Parsons, third prize for “One Secret Too Many,” and John T. Biggs, Honorable Mention for “Trial Separation.”

“I am incredibly proud of these writers for the advances they have made the past six months,” said Bernhardt.  “All four finalists and any of my students know that they can come to me for assistance or even just to keep in touch.  Whether sending me chapters to review or for advice, I am here for them right up to the publication of their books.”

Bernhardt’s next series of classes, Just Fiction II, begins at the Stillwater Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 5 with a class on writing dialogue.  The sessions continue once a month through March 8.  The series will also be open to those who wish to attend online.  The fee for each class is $89 plus books, but those who register by Sept. 27 may enroll in all six classes for $500.00.  For more information or to register, visit http://justfiction.okstate.edu/course2.html, email justfiction@okstate.edu or call (405) 744-8459.