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Instead of Money, New Writing Contest Will Award Winner an Inn

Janice Sage won ownership of the Center Lovell Inn in an essay contest in 1993 - peoplewhowrite

Janice Sage, 68, in the Center Lovell Inn

In 1993, Janice Sage won ownership of the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in an essay contest. Now, she’s offering the bed and breakfast, valued at an estimated $900,000, to the winning writer of a 200-word essay about ‘Why I would like to own and operate a country inn.’ The entry fee is $125 and the deadline is May 7, 2015. More details are available at

According to The Daily Mail, Ms. Sage “will whittle down the list to the top 20 candidates and then let a two-person team who have no stake in the inn select the winner by May 21. The inn will then transfer to the new owner within 30 days, along with $20,000 to jumpstart the business.” The main stipulation the winner must agree to is “to keep the inn, which dates back to 1805, painted white with green or black trim… [and] run the property as an inn for at least one year after the handover.”

Ms. Sage believes she won the contest because she had 16 years experience running a restaurant in Maryland. In the 22 years that she’s run the Inn, she has invested $500,000 to renovate it. It’s not clear whether the Inn needs more rehabbing.

Considering the level of responsibility and likely investment involved, this prize is not for everyone, but for the right writer, the Inn could provide a source of income to help support your writing pursuits. The new owner could also turn it into the site for a writers residency or some other community arts initiative and possibly win federal funding to manage the Inn.

This is not the first prize of this kind to be awarded for literary merit.

The Write-a-House Residency in Detroit awards the winning scribe a two-year residency, rent-free (though the resident is responsible for property taxes and insurance) in an”80% habitable” home in Detroit. The Author-in-Residence is responsible for renovating the home to make it 100% livable. After the residency, the Write-a-House Board will give the Author-in-Residence the deed to the house.


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