Seven of the top 10 entries in the inaugural Mayo Short Story Awards were stories by writers in Taree, Old Bar, Harrington and Forster, with entries from Port Macquarie, Kindee and South West Rocks rounding out the top 10.
"Congratulations to all the entrants," said Brett Goods, CEO of Taree's Mayo Private Hospital which sponsored the short story awards.
"We were really pleased with the level of interest, the great stories and the participation in the writing workshops. The short story competition was part of a number of events Mayo Private held to celebrate Mental Health Month 2013."
Winners were announced during a special afternoon tea at Club Taree on Sunday, December 1.
First prize of $300 was awarded to Mike Collins of Old Bar, for his entry 'Sunshine', second prize of $150 went to Joy Cooksey of Harrington, for her entry 'Hell's Angel' and highly commended certificates were awarded to Colleen Parker (Port Macquarie) for 'The Sketch Book', and Kerry Wehlburg (Kindee) for 'An Urban Allergy and the Saga of the Growing Grass'.
The six commended entries were:
o Sean Peterson (Taree) for 'A Small Note of Kindness'
o Nqobile Khumalo (Taree) for 'Themba and the Lady of the Lamp'
o John Gilbody (Old Bar) for 'I Just Can't Live Without You'
o Helen Bonanno (Forster) for 'Kindness and Eighteen-year-old boys? I don't think so!'
o Luise O'Reilly (Harrington) for 'A Symbol of Hope'
o Rachel Sinclair (South West Rocks) for 'A Wonderful Woman'.
Multi-award winning local author, Jacqui Winn from Possum Brush, judged the short story competition and gave two associated writing workshops.
"Congratulations to all the entrants in the 2013 Mayo short story competition.
"It was such a pleasure to read so many different stories from Mid North Coast residents and I was impressed with the amount of talent in our area
"Many of the stories entered into this year's competition made me think, laugh and nearly cry."
"It's easy to come up with an idea for a story and just as easy to talk about that idea.
"When it comes to writing it down and actually telling the story on the page, it's another matter.
"Anyone who finishes writing a story deserves a pat on the back. Sending that story to a short story competition to be read by a judge takes courage and that deserves an even bigger pat on the back," said Jacqui.
"This year's shortlisted stories had many praiseworthy aspects but the top stories all had a few things in common.
"They had a memorable main character, a worthy conflict to be solved and a strong storytelling voice that made me feel as if someone was really sitting there telling the story just for me alone. They were unforgettable stories."