For me, blessing the lives of others is the main reason talents exist. True, our work from those talents also can expand ourselves personally. But to paraphrase a quote from my husband's patriarchal blessing: "Remember, talents are given to bless the lives of others."
That phrase has shaped me probably more than most quotations. It has adjusted the way I view life and others. Thus, when I see another individual living to do the same, it encourages me. I want to highlight them and emulate them. Anne Bradshaw is just such a person.
Anne Bradshaw, who lived in England until she moved to America ten years ago, has written countless articles and short stories for magazines, and has two published books, Terracotta Summer, and Chamomile Winter, prior to her latest work out September 2007, Please, No Zits! & Other Short Stories for LDS Youth.
Anne and her husband, Bob, have four children and more than a few grandchildren. When not writing, she reads any good book she can find, drools over fresh fruit and healthy food (especially warm peaches straight off the tree), and speed walks early mornings.
But most importantly, for many years before moving to America, Anne traveled the British Isles interviewing LDS youth for the New Era magazine. "I met some of the finest young people," she says. "Teens are exciting and amazing to be around."
When I heard that she was sponsoring a contest to highlight amazing teens, I had to know more. She graciously obliged. I include her interview here for not only your enjoyment, but in the hopes that her good works will inspire those of your own. And who knows - perhaps you know the teen that will win this contest!
C.S.: How did you come up with the idea of a contest?
ANNE: I have a new book for the youth coming out this September, and because I try to help young people through my writing, one thought led to another as I wondered how to promote the book. This contest seemed like a win-win situation for everyone involved-and especially for the young people because they are so often portrayed in the wrong light. The contest will highlight our younger generation and the wonderful things many of them are doing.
C.S.: Who is the contest for?
ANNE: While the contest spotlights young people age between 12 and 25, it also gives those who submit entries a chance to share their talents as writers. Not that you need to be a writer to send something. Far from it. I hope to receive information from anyone who knows how to type and send an email, regardless of how it's written. The main thing is to help our young people feel of worth by entering them.
C.S.: What are the prizes?
ANNE: I wish there could be prizes for all the entries, because really each young person is a winner in my eyes. But that's not possible this time around. Maybe next year. Prizes have been generously donated by several people. The young person who wins overall receives a signed copy of my new book, "Please, No Zits!", and two fabulous gifts from Zdocs (www.zdocsonline.com).
The owner, Philip Davis, says, "ZDocs is honored to participate in the Spotlight the Youth Contest. As ZDocs specializes in helping authors self-publish, the prize we want to offer is 50 soft cover books. The content of the book can be whatever the winner wishes; the winning story, a simple memoir of the winner's experience, or some other book-type idea. Not only will the books make a nice keepsake, but the winner will also learn some of the steps necessary to publish a book. Depending on the number of pages, we will either perfect bind the books or saddle-stitch them. The winner can include as many color pages as he or she would like."
Zdocs is adding a bonus prize. If the winning person wishes, he or she can sell some copies of the book on Razorpages (www.razorpages.com) for free, and get a first hand peek into the book selling process.
The person sending in the winning entry receives gift wrapped items--Liquid Facial Wash, and Facial Moisturizer--from the all natural line of beauty products, Scentiments (http://www.tristipinkston.com/scentiments.htm). He or she also receives a copy of Annette Lyon's latest novel, Spires of Stone.
The young person featured with the next highest number of comments, receives a copy of Chick Lit author Stephanie Fower's latest romantic comedy out in September, Meet Your Match, together with a copy of Marcia Argueta Mickelson's novel, Star Shining Brightly.
The sender of this second entry receives a copy of Heather B. Moore's first book in the Out of Jerusalem series--Of Goodly Parents.
C.S.: Wow, those are some amazing prizes. Has it been difficult to spread the word and get entries?
ANNE: I'm counting on the relay system that email and the Internet offers. If every person who hears about the contest passes on the information to friends and family, then pretty soon it will spread around the globe. I'm impressed with results so far. It amazes me how one little idea can grow into something far greater than it started off.
Blogging is another excellent way of sharing information. There's a huge, worldwide spider's web of blogs connecting people with similar interests out there. I'm showing up on contest blogs and many others.
I'm excited about the potential for good this whole competition creates. We hear too much bad news these days. I feel it's time for some positive input.
C.S.: When is the closing date and where do our readers send entries?
ANNE: The last date for receiving contest entries is midday (US MST) Friday, August 31st. Posting of top entries will follow, giving blog readers a chance to comment on their favorites.
The winning entries will be the ones with the highest number of comments by midday (US MST) on Thursday, September 13th.
Entries can be emailed to Anne Bradshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) and should have Youth Contest in the subject line so they don't get lost in spam control. All entries will be acknowledged before they are read, so if an acknowledgement isn't received for some reason please resend.
C.S.: OK, so once each entry arrives, who will judge the contest?
ANNE: I know it will be difficult to choose, but I'll pick out a variety of entries that represent teens best. These get posted on a blog, and then judging will be up to the world at large - not me! (Some editing may be required.)
C.S.: When will winners be announced?
ANNE: Winning entries will be announced during the morning of Friday, September 14th - at my blog.
C.S.: How will winners receive their prizes?
ANNE: All prizes get mailed Friday, September 14th. Zdocs will contact the person receiving their awards and make plans personally. Some books may be mailed separately from individual authors. I'll collect the remainder and mail them, together with the Scentiment products to various winners.
C.S.: This is exciting. So what precisely should an entry be about?
ANNE: Really, anything a young person is doing that someone feels is good and wholesome is worth sending in. Simply describe his/her involvement and the reasons behind whatever is being done. Use the old reporter questions and answer as many as possible, i.e. what, why, when, where, how. It doesn't need to be very long or even fancy. Heartfelt writing is what we're looking for.
Maybe the youth is serving quietly at home where there's illness, or some other unusual situation. Or perhaps the young person suffers from a disease or other handicap and remains cheerful most of the time, comforting others instead of complaining. Or a youth might have a talent of any description, and be developing it as much as possible. The positive things young people do every day are limitless. I saw a program on TV about a young woman who raised her younger siblings because of a bad situation at home. My hat goes off to her and anyone like her who shoulders responsibility.
If people want to send in pictures with the entry, feel free to do so. Pictures can speak to us in ways words cannot.
C.S.: How are you dealing with possible safety issues?
ANNE: For the duration of the contest, any entries posted in blogs will only show first names. Addresses won't be given. If finalists want full names displayed, that's fine, but only at their request. No addresses will be given at any time, except privately to me so prizes can be mailed.
C.S.: Thank you, Anne, for sharing with us your drive and desire to inspire others, especially the most fragile (at times) of those amongst us - our teens. I also applaud the individuals and businesses who are supporting teens by supporting this Spotlight the Youth Contest.
Now for our readers, if you feel you know a teen that deserves recognition, please visit Anne's blog for more information. Remember, the deadline is in 7 days! Jot down your thoughts and send them off now!