Hilton Head Island man's short story to be included in Savannah writers' anthology

eshaw@islandpacket.comDecember 15, 2013 

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300 dpi Paul Gonzales illustration of pen that looks like a palm tree; can be used with stories about tropical writers, travel writers, etc. Los Angeles Times/MCT 2012

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A Hilton Head Island writer was among the Savannah Authors 2013 Anthology Writing Contest winners, thanks to a little help from red wine.

Charlie McOuat received an honorable mention for his short story, "Learning from Mice," which the 72-year-old was inspired to write after reading an article on the health benefits of reservatrol, a chemical in red wine that scientists have said has the potential to prevent disease and slow aging.

The inaugural contest was organized by Savannah Authors, a writers' group based in Savannah. The contest received more than 50 entries, according to Authors member Alice Vantrease. The contest was open to writers in Georgia and South Carolina. Entries had a 1,000 word limit and were judged by three writing experts from three different Savannah colleges, Vantrease said.

In McOuat's story, he and his wife, Lorrie, hear about reservatrol studies on mice that reversed the aging process. They buy 15 cases of red wine from Sam's Club and get to work turning back time.

After downing a bottle of Robert Mondavi 2007 Pinot Noir, Lorrie's wrinkles disappear.

After a bottle of 2006 California Merlot, they start singing and stumbling. "Jeesh, honey, I didn't know you were sush a good dansher," McOuat exclaims. By the third bottle, who knows what type of red stuff they are drinking, but they do feel more youthful.

"It's essentially about getting boozed up and trying to be young again," McOuat said with a laugh.

McOuat started writing about four years ago after taking a class on Hilton Head. He has since written two self-published books of short stories. His entry for the anthology contest came from his book, "Chuckles and Challenges with Charlie."

"I just started writing and I can't stop," he said.

McOuat's and the winners' stories will be published in the "Savannah Anthology," due out in the spring of next year. A collection of stories written by members of the Savannah Authors club also will be included in the anthology.

First Place: Annie Hilliard of Savannah, for "The End of the World as We Know It"

Second Place: Susan Johnson of Savannah for "Posy"

Third Place (tie): Bonnie Stanard of Columbia for "Maggie and the Snake," and Joseph Guderian of St. Mary's, Ga., for "Alfred"

Honorable Mentions:

Judy Trout of Tybee Island, Ga., for "The Red Rubber Truck"

Ryan Schill of Kennesaw, Ga., for "The Colossal Electric Decision Switch"

Charlie McOuat of Hilton Head Island for "Learning from Mice"

Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.

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