Submission was Tiffany Bloyer’s first attempt at a short story

By Staff Report

The winners of the “Connect to the South Valley” short story writing contest have been selected.

Gilroy resident Tiffany Oaks Bloyer won the grand prize with a story titled “The In Between Spaces.” It describes the lesson a mother and her son learn during a missing child incident set at the Gilroy Library. She receives a prize of $1,000.

The second place winner is Hailey Woodford with the story “The Butterfly.”

The third place winner Juliette Bowers with her story “Tradition.”

The junior writer prize goes to Ben Hayes with his story “The Bindletree House.”

The judges found three stories in the selection of 23 contest stories that they thought should receive honorable mention awards.

Norm Alexander’s “Reaching Out and Beyond,” Carolyn Bowers’ “Connecting Past and Present,” and Jose Guerrero’s “A Simple Truth.”

All stories will be published at

Bloyer has enjoyed writing creatively all her life. She mostly writes poetry and this is her first short story she has entered into a contest. She is involved in the Gilroy Library’s creative writing group.

“I didn’t think I had a chance,” she said of her short story. “It’s kind of my first attempt at plugging away and making an effort.”

Life Media Group, the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life, partnered with literary agent Elizabeth K. Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates to sponsor the contest to encourage Santa Clara County residents to ignite their imaginations.

The contest followed the “connecting” theme of this year’s Silicon Valley Reads, the annual program presented by the Santa Clara County Library District, Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the San Jose Public Library to encourage residents to enjoy books around a specific theme. Submitted stories must use the South Valley region as a setting.

A resident of Morgan Hill, Kracht has been a literary agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates for more than a decade. She represents both literary and commercial fiction as well as nonfiction. She served as a judge and said she was impressed by the high-quality writing of the contest submissions.

“I loved how the South County setting wove its way through each story, and how I learned something about the area even from stories that didn’t place in an award category,” she said. “The use of setting is an important element of storytelling. Another important element to storytelling is characterization and relationships. The winning submissions all seemed to have a focus on close, personal relationships, which speaks to the time we’re living in and all we’ve been through this last year.”

Tricia LaRochelle, the author of romance novels, was also impressed with the entries.

“This contest was a pleasure and a tough one to judge since everyone brought something new and exciting to the table,” she said. “I was moved by some of the stories and inspired by others. Overall, I was proud to be a part of this and hope it will encourage more people to cast aside their doubts and put pen to paper (or fingers to keys).”

Brad Jones and Cinda Meister, co-owners of BookSmart bookstore, also served as judges.

“I thought it was wonderful reading about the connection to the community where they lived was great,” Jones said. “I was really quite pleased to see how many people brought in the legacy of the Miller family and Mt. Madonna. That was a place that meant a lot to me when I grew up.”

“I enjoyed reading the stories to see the talent in our community and see the connection people have to our community was heart-warming,” Meister said.

Robert Airoldi