Marcia Lee Laycock is no stranger to the Word Guild’s annual Word Awards. Laycock, an author from Blackfalds, has been shortlisted several times in past years for the contest in a number of different categories. She usually submits three or four pieces to be entered into the Word Awards, but said that this year is particularly exciting.
“It was really a thrill this year,” said Laycock. “This year all three of my submissions were shortlisted.”
For this year’s awards, Laycock’s book Spur of the Moment has shortlisted in the inspirational book category, her novella An Unexpected Glory (now part of an anthology entitled 12 Days of Christmas) has shortlisted in the short story category and her blog articles, published via Novel Rocket, has shortlisted in the blogs category. All of Laycock’s writings have a strong focus on faith.
Laycock said she has written all her life. Encouraged by teachers and family all through school, Laycock decided to pursue a career in writing after high school graduation and attended Carleton University in Ottawa to study journalism.
However Laycock soon discovered that journalism wasn’t really for her and she was much more attracted to creative writing. She said that even though she did not complete the journalism program at Carleton, she did receive much encouragement from some of her professors to continue writing.
“One of my journalism professors and my English professor, both of them were very supportive and really tried to push me into doing more writing,” said Laycock. “So that was encouraging and it kind of kept me going.”
It was while living in the Yukon in the mid-70s that Laycock wrote her first complete novel. However, it would still be several more years before she would become a published author.
In fact, that novel is only going through the publishing process right now. Laycock said she wrote the story during a particularly cold winter as something to keep her busy.
“I wrote the first draft of it when I was living in a tiny little cabin outside of Dawson City in the Yukon,” said Laycock. “It was one of the coldest winters that they’d had in a long time. You just couldn’t do anything but stay inside. It was 65 below and worse. So I sat by the fire and kept feeding the fire and writing the story. I did a lot of writing and reading that winter because you couldn’t really do too much else.”
It was in the Yukon that Laycock and her husband found their faith, she said. From Yukon, they ended up going to Bible College at Briercrest in Saskatchewan.
After attending a seminar by author Carol Kent that dealt with public speaking but also quite a bit about writing, Laycock said the fire to write was rekindled within her. She decided to begin writing again, this time including strong themes of faith within her stories.
Finally, in 1989, Laycock became a regularly published writer when she began writing a faith column for the Ponoka Herald.
Laycock said the column was one of the duties of her husband, then a new pastor in Ponoka, but she took it on as he was already overwhelmed by the long list of new responsibilities he had.
That column, The Spur, ran for a few years before the Ponoka Herald closed its doors. After a few years’ hiatus, the column ran again in the Ponoka News for several more years.
At the encouragement of her readers, Laycock compiled several of her columns into a book, called Spur of the Moment, which, now in its third edition, is one of the works that has been shortlisted for a Word Award.
Laycock said she was nervous about embarking on a self-published book project, but her fears were eased by a friend who told her if people were asking her to publish a book, it was clear she already had a base of readers willing to buy it.
“I had heard so many horror stories of people who had boxes of books in their garages and were never able to sell them.”
It would seem Laycock’s hard work has paid off, however, as she now has published three editions of Spur of the Moment, two novels, a devotional book for women in ministry, three e-books and has had her stories included in five anthologies. The Word Guild is a group of Christian writers, editors, speakers, booksellers, librarians and other individuals who work to positively influence others through God’s message.
The winners of this year’s Word Awards will be announced at their annual black-tie Awards Gala on June 11th.