The Joanne L. Hurley Book Prize


Joanne L. Hurley as a student at Western High School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Joanne L. Hurley as a student at Western High School in Baltimore.

The Joanne L. Hurley Book Prize is a cash prize to be awarded annually for the best novel or novella written by a high school student in the Tri-County area of Charleston, South Carolina.  The prize was created in 2014 by author Michael Hurley after his debut novel, The Prodigal,  won the Chanticleer Grand Prize Award. Accepting the award at the Chanticleer Authors Conference Gala in Bellingham, Washington, on September 20, 2014, Michael announced that the $1,000 cash prize would be used to establish a book award in memory of his mother—his first editor.  The Joanne L. Hurley Book Prize made its first award in 2015.  Please scroll down for the Official Contest Rules.


Joanne L. Hurley

Joanne LaCroix was born in 1921 in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up the oldest of three daughters in the depths of the Great Depression. She graduated from Western High School, a public girls’ school in Baltimore City known for its rigorous academics. She later married Jay E. Hurley, a graduate of Columbia University and a former teacher at her high school, just as the country was swept into World War II.  Her husband enlisted in the Marine Corps and fought in the South Pacific. Succumbing to alcoholism, he drifted away from his family in the years after the war. To support herself and her four children, Joanne learned to type and worked two jobs as a secretary and a hospital admissions clerk. She later found her calling in social work, first for the State of Maryland and later the federal government, helping seniors and the disabled make ends meet.

Joanne constantly encouraged her children to read and write. Recordings of beloved poetry such as Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe and Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling, played often in their home, instilling in her youngest child Michael an early appreciation of the lyricism of great writing. Reading books like Tales from the Arabian Nights and other stories at Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library further inspired his imagination.

After discovering a 1963 edition of The Writer’s Market in a closet at home, Michael began to explore writing for publication. Despite continuing to work two jobs to support her family, Joanne proofread Michael’s work and typed his manuscripts on a manual Royal typewriter set up in the closet of their one-bedroom apartment. After Michael sold his first magazine story in 1975 at age seventeen, his mother kept the $45 check to pay their electric bill.

Joanne had a keen interest in writing, as well.  Like many of her generation, she was a consummate letter-writer. After her retirement from government service, she took writing classes at Harvard University and wrote children’s stories about Corky the Calico Cat for her many grandchildren. She acquired an extensive library of books and in retirement volunteered to teach reading to underprivileged children in public schools through a program at the University of Virginia. She died in 2002 at the age of 81. The Joanne L. Hurley Book Prize is given in her memory as a celebration of her life and with gratitude for her guiding influence.

Official Contest Rules

Michael Hurley (the “sponsor”) will appoint members to a Prize Committee for the purpose of overseeing and managing the Contest. The following Official Contest Rules (hereinafter “The Rules”), as modified from time to time by the Prize Committee, apply to all entries in the competition for The Joanne L. Hurley Book Prize (hereinafter “the Contest”). Submission of an Official Entry Form constitutes acceptance of, and an agreement to abide by, these Rules.

An important goal of these Rules is to involve teachers in mentoring student authors. Sponsoring teachers should review their students’ work, suggest ways to improve their work, and use the Contest as a springboard for classroom study of grammar, usage, and the novel as a literary form.


1.  Eligibility

(a)   There is no contest entry fee.  The contest is open to all high school students between the ages of 14 and 19 currently enrolled in schools in Charleston, Dorchester, or Berkeley County, South Carolina.

(b)   To be eligible for entry in the competition, a manuscript must be an original work of fiction (hereinafter “the Work”) between 20,000 and 120,000 words in length, excluding titles, identifying information, chapter headings, headers, footers, and page numbers.  Manuscripts of less than 20,000 words or more than 120,000 words are not eligible.

(c)   The Work must be the original creation of a high school student residing in Charleston, Dorchester, or Berkeley County, South Carolina, and constitute the work of a single author.

(d)   For purposes of these Rules, a high school student is considered to be a person who, as of the last day of the Contest Entry Period, is between the ages of 14 and 19 years and is currently enrolled as a full-time student in a program of secondary education in Charleston, Dorchester, or Berkeley County, South Carolina. Students who will not attain the age of 14 years on or before the last day of the Contest Entry Period, or whose 20th birthday falls on or before the last day of the Contest Entry Period, or who will graduate high school before the last day of the Contest Entry Period, are not eligible to compete.

(e)   Residents of Charleston, Dorchester, or Berkeley County, South Carolina who are enrolled in home schooling programs are eligible to enter the contest, provided the student’s Entry is sponsored and signed by an adult employed full-time as a teacher in a high school approved by the South Carolina Department of Education in the local school district in which the student resides.

(f)   No portion of the Work may be copied from any work of another author or otherwise infringe upon any copyright, trademark, privacy or publicity right, or otherwise misappropriate any right, title or interest of any person or entity.

(g)   No portion of the Work may contain previously published material. Material is considered previously published if any portion has been disseminated to the general public in printed, digital, audio, or video form, posted online in a blog, or posted on any other Internet site accessible to the general public.

(h)   The student or the student’s parent or legal guardian must have sole ownership of the Work. Rights to publish and distribute any portion of the Work in any form must not have been sold or assigned or otherwise be the subject of any contractual obligation to a third party.

(i)   The Work must be  fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either must either be products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

(j)   The Work must not be defamatory.

2.  Manuscript Formatting

(a)   The manuscript must be printed or typed using Times New Roman, Courier, Arial, or an equivalent font, black in color, in 12 point type. No colored fonts may be used.  No graphic images, pictures, design objects, or other non-text elements may be included in the manuscript.

(b)   Pages shall 8-1/2 by 11 inches in size.  Margins shall be at least one (1) inch on all sides.

(c)   The front page should display, in the upper left corner, the full name and address of the student author, the name of the student’s school, and the full name, telephone number and email address of the sponsoring teacher, single spaced.  The upper right corner should display the approximate number of words in the document.  Approximately half-way down the front page, the title of the work should be centered in all capital letters, followed after two spaces by the author’s name.

(d)   The text should be double spaced.  The first line of each new paragraph after the first paragraph of each chapter or a break within a chapter should be indented three spaces.  Breaks between paragraphs to indicate a change of place or point of view in the story should be separated by six lines. Each page after the first page should display a header containing the author’s last name, the title of the manuscript, and the page number. A sample of correct formatting is provided at the following link: Sample Manuscript Format.

(e)   Where not otherwise specified in these rules, the current edition of The Chicago Manual of Style Online,, shall apply to grammar and usage as well as manuscript formatting and style.  

3.  Contest Entry Procedures:

(a)   A valid Contest Entry (“Entry”) consists of an email from the sponsoring teacher, received by the Prize Committee at during the Contest Entry Period, attaching a completed “Official Contest Entry Form” and a manuscript. The Official Contest Entry Form and the manuscript should be scanned separately in black and white to PDF format and saved as separate PDF files. The body of email to the Prize Committee should provide the following information: (i) the sponsoring teacher’s name and telephone number; (ii) the student’s name; (iii) the title of the work.

(b)   A sponsoring teacher must submit the Entry in the Contest on behalf of the student author.  Only a sponsoring teacher may submit an Entry. Entries submitted directly by students or parents will not be accepted.

(c)   The “Official Contest Entry Form” may be downloaded from following link, printed, and completed by hand or typed: Official Contest Entry Form

(d)   The Official Contest Entry Form is not valid unless it is signed by two people: (1) the student or, if the student has not attained his or her eighteenth (18th) birthday at the time the entry is submitted, a parent or legal guardian of the student; and (2) the sponsoring teacher.

(e)   All Entries must be in digital form and delivered to the Prize Committee during the Contest Entry Period by an email from the sponsoring teacher to Paper Entries submitted by postal mail or other means of physical delivery will not be accepted or returned. Resolution of 300 dpi is recommended for scanned documents.

(f)   The Official Contest Entry Form must be fully and legibly completed and bear all the required original signatures prior to scanning as a PDF.  The original form bearing all required original signatures must be maintained and preserved in the possession of the sponsoring teacher. Forms may be handwritten, typed or printed.  Incomplete or illegible forms are subject to rejection in the sole discretion of the Prize Committee.

(g)   A confirmation of receipt of the email with attachments will be sent by the Prize Committee in a reply email and should be saved by the sponsoring teacher as proof of a properly completed Entry. The Sponsor and members of the Prize Committee are not responsible for lost or misdirected email messages or attachments. The Prize Committee will attempt to assist students and teachers in the entry process where possible, but it is not responsible to notify contestants of nonconforming Entries or to correct or return non-conforming Entries.

4.  Contest Entry Period

(a)   The Contest Entry Period is January 15 through and including April 30 of each year.

(b)   A teacher’s email attaching the Official Contest Entry Form and the manuscript must be received by the Prize Committee during the Contest Entry Period to constitute a valid entry. Entries that are sent during the Contest Entry Period but received by the Prize Committee after the Contest Entry Period has ended do not conform to this Rule.

(c)   The Prize Committee will acknowledge valid Entries by a reply email as provided in Section 3(g) of these Rules. The Prize Committee will attempt to respond to email inquiries concerning lost or unacknowledged Entries and will attempt to notify a prospective entrant when an Entry does not conform to these Rules. The Sponsor and members of the Prize Committee assume no responsibility, however, to accept, correct, or respond to nonconforming Entries or Entries received outside the Contest Entry Period.

(d)   If the last day of the Contest Entry Period in any given year falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a federal holiday, the Contest Entry Period will be automatically continued through the next business day.  The Contest Entry Period will not be lengthened if the first day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a federal holiday.

(e)   The Sponsor and members of the Prize Committee are not responsible for technical problems, errors, or other circumstances of any kind that may result in an email Entry being deleted, corrupted or misdirected, or not being sent or received within the Contest Entry Period. A printed copy of a reply  email sent pursuant to Section 3(g) of these Rules is the only acceptable evidence that an Entry has been made.

5.  Notices

(a)   Entries and questions about the competition should be sent by email and directed to the Prize Committee at

(b)   The sponsoring teacher for each student’s Entry shall be the sole contact person for all notices and inquiries by the Prize Committee, including but not limited to notices of changes to these Rules and notification of finalists.

(c)   Correspondence unrelated to Entries in the Contest may be directed to the Sponsor at the following address:

Michael Hurley
1401 Lighthouse Dr.
No. 4322
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29582

6.  Grant of Rights

(a)   Entry in the Contest constitutes a limited grant of rights to the Sponsor and the Prize Committee by the student, the student’s parent or legal guardian, and the sponsoring teacher for the use and publication of the following items, without compensation or notice or approval, in connection with print, television, radio, and Internet publicity, advertising, promotion, and editorial coverage of the Contest:

(i)     Excerpts of the Work;

(ii)    The student’s and sponsoring teacher’s and legal parents’ or guardians’ names;

(iii)   Personal information concerning the student, such as hobbies, interests and goals, that the Foundation or news media may seek to use in publicity related to the Contest;

(iv)   The student’s unaltered image and likeness, if at a later time a photograph of the student is requested by and provided to the Prize Committee.

(b)   The student or, if the student is a minor, the student’s parent or legal guardian, agrees to give the Prize Committee reasonable and prompt notice in the event any offer or acceptance of rights in the Work is made by any agent, publisher, or other third party during the Contest Entry Period and prior to the Contest Award Notification.

(c)   The Grant of Rights for which this section provides shall not be construed to confer any right upon the Sponsor to publish all or substantially all of the Work in any form or for any purpose.  The Grant of Rights for which this section provides shall not be construed to confer any right upon the Sponsor to exploit any portion of the Work or use the student’s or sponsoring teacher’s names or the student’s personal information or the student’s image and likeness for any commercial purpose.

(d)   Entry in the Contest shall not grant or confer upon any student or parent or legal guardian or sponsoring teacher any vested contingent, or conditional right, title, or interest of any kind. The Call for Entries and the acceptance of any Entry by the Prize Committee shall not constitute an offer, promise or agreement by the Sponsor to make any award or grant to any student or parent or legal guardian or sponsoring teacher anything of economic or moral value or any other right, title or interest of any kind.

7.  Judging Process

(a)   The Prize Committee will appoint judges and establish a judging process.

(b)   The Prize Committee will initially screen Entries to determine whether an Entry should receive further review by a contest judge and to assign Entries to judges for further review.  In the event a manuscript is not selected for further review, the Prize Committee will notify the sponsoring teacher of the reasons therefor by email.

(c)   Judges reviewing a manuscript for review after the initial screening shall assign a numerical score between 1 and 100 based on its overall artistic merit, considering elements including, but not limited to, writing quality, character development, plot construction, thematic development, dialogue, and originality.

(d)   Based on the numerical score assigned to each manuscript selected for review, two finalists will be selected. One of the two finalists will be chosen as the winner by the Prize Committee or its designee. The winner may be selected by means other than numerical score as determined by the Prize Committee. Tie scores will be resolved by further review or in such other manner as determined by the Prize Committee.

(e)   The judges appointed by the Prize Committee to perform the judging process shall be anonymous. The Foundation shall have no obligation to disclose the names of judges.

(f)   The judging process is inherently subjective, and the decisions of the Prize Committee and judges in selecting the finalists and winner of the Contest shall be final.  There shall be no right to challenge or appeal any decision of the Prize Committee or its designees.

(g)   The Prize Committee may elect to waive or modify these Rules with respect to an individual entrant or all entrants for reasons of fairness consistent with the purpose and goals of the Contest.  Modifications of these Rules applicable to all entrants will be posted on this page from time to time in the event any such modifications are made.

(h)   In the event the Prize Committee determines that no works of sufficient literary merit are submitted in a given Contest Entry Period, the Prize Committee may decline to award the Prize that year.

(i)   The lineal descendants of the Sponsor, Joanne L. Hurley, and their immediate families, and members of the Prize Committee and their immediate families, are not eligible for the Contest.

8.  Awards

(a)   Provided there are sufficient qualifying entries or entries of sufficient literary quality from which a decision may be made, it is the goal of the Contest to select two finalists from which a single winner and a runner up will be selected. The Sponsor and the Prize Committee reserve the right to choose none of the qualified entries as a finalist or winner and to make no award in a given year.

(b)   The winner of the Contest will receive a cash award from the Sponsor. The amount of the cash award may vary from year to year but shall not be less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). The cash award shall be payable by check delivered to the student or the student’s parent or legal guardian by postal mail at the address provided on the Official Contest Entry Form.

(c)   The winner and the finalist will receive a printed certificate, signed by the Sponsor and the chairperson of the Prize Committee, attesting to that entrant’s achievement as a winner or finalist.

(d)   The Prize Committee may announce the results of the Contest and promote and seek to publish excerpts of the Works by the winner and finalist in local media.

(e)   The Prize Committee may submit all, an excerpt of, or a synopsis of the manuscript of each finalist to one or more literary agents for their review in considering offers of representation to the students for purposes of publication.  There is no guarantee that an offer of representation will be made or that a student’s work will be published as a result of being selected as a finalist or the winner of the contest. Any responses and offers of representation from literary agents received by the Prize Committee will be conveyed to the sponsoring teacher.

(f)   The Prize Committee may provide all entrants with copies of any written review(s) of their works by the judges and, if applicable, any score(s) assigned by the participating judge(s). These items will be delivered in PDF form as attachments by email from the Prize Committee to the sponsoring teacher.

9.  Release and Indemnity

By signing the Official Contest Entry Form and submitting an Entry in the Contest, the student or, if the student is a minor, the student’s parent or legal guardian, in consideration for acceptance of the student’s Entry in the Contest, does hereby release, acquit and discharge, and does hereby further agree to defend, indemnify and hold forever harmless, the Sponsor, the entity formerly known as The Joanne L. Hurley Foundation, all of its officers, directors, incorporators, members, employees, insurers and agents, the Prize Committee and all of its individual members, all judges and other persons participating in the work of the Prize Committee, all news media that may publish or publicize or promote any of the student’s Work, and all other persons and entities wherever situated, known and unknown, from and against all claims, demands and causes of action of every kind whatsoever, arising directly or indirectly from the student’s participation in the Contest.

10.  Applicable Law & Severability

(a)   The Prize Committee shall have sole and exclusive authority to interpret and enforce compliance with these Rules.

(b)   Any dispute arising directly or indirectly from the Contest, to the extent not determined by these Rules,  shall be governed by South Carolina law.

(c)   In the event any portion of these Rules is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be void or unenforceable for any reason, the remainder of these Rules not so determined shall continue in full force and effect.

11.  Right to Modify and Terminate Without Notice.

The Sponsor and/or the Prize Committee shall have the right to modify these rules and/or terminate the Contest at any time, without notice, explanation, compensation, or other remuneration to any current or prospective entrant, parent, legal guardian, teacher, or other individual.

12.  Effective Date

This version of the Official Contest Rules shall be effective as of January 15, 2016. Any revisions thereto shall be effective retroactively and prospectively from the date of revision.