Submissions are now being accepted for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence Student Author Competition.

The competition is open to all Louisiana school students in grades three through 12.

Essays, which should be no more than 500 words, must address the topic: “If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?”

First-, second- and third-place winners for elementary, middle and high school divisions will be presented cash awards at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence program at the Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.

Deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Electronic submissions (preferred) should be sent to gainesaward@braf.org. Submission must include student’s name, school, grade and telephone number.

Paper submissions should be mailed to: Baton Rouge Area Foundation, 100 North St., Suite 900, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.

For more information, contact Lynn Mitchell at gainesaward@braf.org or (225) 281-3710.