Sunday, March 4, 2018

10 Things You Need to Know about Festival 2018 - UPDATED

See this group of people? That’s us, your Elora Writers Festival organizing committee, hard at work preparing for Festival 2018 – and that includes our annual writing contest (deadline in March), and our fourth annual literary escape from winter, Books & Beer (in February).

Working hard! Or perhaps Francis and Jean are arguing while Dave and Roxanne
enjoy the show? In any case, we are a fun, hard-working committee, and
we love supporting authors and their work!
(Photo taken at The Red Door Café)

We invite you into our planning session! Come on in and sit down. There’s a lot going on, but in brief, let us share with you ten things you need to know:

1. Festival 2018 will take place on Sunday, May 6, 1-4 p.m. in Aboyne Hall at the Wellington County Museum & Archives. Tickets ($25) are available online from the Fergus Grand Theatre here: Or drop in at the theatre box office, 244 St. Andrew St. W. in Fergus. You can also reserve by calling Festival headquarters (aka Roxanne Beale) at 519-831-4391, or email

2. Our Festival 2018 authors are award-winners, award-nominees, multi-talented and literary-genre-bending, and you get to hang out with them during the afternoon. There will be books, there will be snacks, there will be beer from our wonderful sponsor, Wellington Brewery, and there will be these five fantastic authors, too… (read on).

The room is ready for our five Festival 2018 authors (l-r): Kathy Stinson,
Drew Hayden Taylor, Kate Blair, Linden MacIntyre and Michelle Winters

3. Kathy Stinson writes books for kids of all ages. One of her standout picture books is The Man With the Violin, which tells the story of classical violinist Joshua Bell’s subway experiment, in which he played his violin at a busy Washington, D.C., subway station and the crowds mostly passed him by – except for the children, who wanted to stop and listen.

4. Drew Hayden Taylor used his background growing up in the Curve Lake First Nation to become an award-winning playwright, author, columnist, film maker and lecturer. His most recent collection, Take Us To Your Chief, is (in his words) “a collection of archetypal science-fiction stories reinvented with a contemporary First Nations outlook”. Yup. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

5. Kate Blair writes for Young Adult readers, and calls herself a “speculative fiction geek, ex-pat, ex-clown and ex-museum curator.” She grew up on a tiny island in the UK and moved to Canada in 2008. Her latest novel is Tangled Planet. She’s on Twitter as @curledupkate and recently tweeted this about a visit “home”:

You're a real Canadian now, Kate. #talkingabouttheweather

6. Linden MacIntyre is a past Giller-prize winner, a veteran broadcast journalist with a pile of Gemini awards, and a returnee to our festival, this time with his latest novel, The Only Café, in which he draws on his journalistic background to tell the story of a man trying to find out what led to the death of his father.

7. Michelle Winters is a multi-talented artist – a painter as well as a writer – and her novel, I Am a Truck, was on the short list for the 2017 Giller Prize. Originally from Saint John, New Brunswick, she now lives in Toronto, where she works as a translator. Check out some of her paintings, here: Michelle Winters, Paintings

8. Terry Fallis was our featured author at the fourth annual Books & Beer, held on Tuesday, February 27, 7-9 p.m., at The Red Door Café, a warm and welcoming space at the back of The Fountainhead Health Store in Fergus overlooking the Grand River. What can we say about Terry? He was awesome! Here's a look back at a memorable evening - and thanks, Terry, for supporting our festival! Books & Beer IV: Books, Beer - and Laughs!

9. Festival 2018 is a wonderful event, of course, but one of the highlights of the day is the announcement and presentation of awards to winners of our annual writing contest. The March 2nd deadline has come and gone, and the judges are busy choosing this year's winners.

10. One final thought: Festival 2018 is going to be fantastic. It always is. Plan to be there!

Questions? Looking for more information? Please feel free to email us at

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Books & Beer IV: Books, beer - and laughs!

Well, what did you expect? After all, we were pretty sure - speaking from experience (three appearances at our festival, just saying...!) - that we could count onTerry Fallis to bring his writerly wit and wisdom to our fourth annual Books & Beer evening in support of the Elora Writers Festival.

And yes, that's exactly what happened.

We gathered at The Red Door Restaurant in The Fountain Head Health Food Store in Fergus after a day of sunshine and breezes. No ice storms and scary driving this year (we see you, Books & Beer III), and that meant lots of book-lovers coming through the door to join us at the café's cozy tables for a decidedly party atmosphere.

Checking in pre-party: "What are you reading?" 

Thanks to our wonderful sponsor, Wellington Brewery, we had our bar set up, managed by our own Roxanne Beale, who doubled - or rather, tripled - as bookseller and raffle ticket seller as well!

Beer, raffle tickets and the prize - a collection of Terry's books
We kicked off with something new for our Books & Beer program: a slide show in which Terry explained the background of his latest novel, One Brother Shy. Secrets were revealed (about Terry, not about the plot), tales were told, names were dropped!

Does this guy know how to work a room or what??

The audience was enthralled! Er, when they weren't laughing out loud, that is...
One Brother Shy is a story of twins. Guess who knows ALL about being a twin? Yup, that's a classic school photo showing little Terry and his twin brother, Tim.

"Not the same colour, but those shirts were definitely bought together..."
One Brother Shy also delves into the hockey world. Guess who played hockey as a kid? And, guess who was on their minor hockey team in Toronto? Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, back row. (Audible gasps heard around the room!)

"Yes, it's really him."
"He played right wing," we were told. "Just imagine what the path of Canadian politics would have been if he'd played centre. Or..." (wait for it...) "LEFT WING!"

Intermission arrived, with a chance to schmooze, refill the beer glasses and enjoy some of the tasty treats supplied by Nathalie of The Red Door Café.

Lively conversations all over the room! 
We kicked off the second half with the drawing of the winning raffle ticket by Terry, assisted by MC Dave Beynon.

"Wow. Nice prize!"

 And the winner is - BRIAN!

We have a winner!
And then it was time for our favourite part of any Elora Writers Festival author event - being read to. We settled in for a session with One Brother Shy.

In which we hear about the boss from Hell....
Thanks, Terry! Thanks, Nathalie at the Red Door Restaurant! Thanks, Wellington Brewery! Thanks to all who came out to support books, authors, reading and creative writing in our Elora Writers Festival community and beyond. See you next year!


And of course, let's not forget that our next big event is Festival 2018, on Sunday, May 6, 1-4 p.m., at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum and Archives, with authors Linden MacIntyre, Michelle Winters, Kathy Stinson, Kate Blair and Drew Hayden Taylor. 

And one last thing: WRITING CONTEST DEADLINE IS MARCH 2 (for postmarked entries. Or local writers can drop submissions at Roxanne's Reflections in Fergus). Need more details? Check out the contest information here.

Want to re-visit our past Books & Beer events? Dive in!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Our annual EWF Writing Contest is now open for entries!

Here's everything you need to know about Contest 2018:


Postmarked on or before Friday, March 2, 2018 (no email or faxed entries).


Original, unpublished fiction stories in the following categories/age groups:

Youth: Age 13 and under, 1,000 words maximum, open to residents of Wellington, Waterloo, Dufferin, Halton and Hamilton-Wentworth counties/regions, no entry fee. Limit: TWO entries per person.

Teen: Age 14-19, 2,000 words maximum, open to residents of Wellington, Waterloo, Dufferin, Halton and Hamilton-Wentworth counties/regions, no entry fee. Limit: TWO entries per person.

Open: Any age, up to and including adults, 2,000 words maximum, open to all Canadian
residents, $15 entry fee. Prizes of $200, $150 and $100. (Stories submitted to the Open category cannot also be submitted to Youth or Teen categories.)

PRIZES will be awarded in all categories.

  • Entries must be double-spaced, typed or printed.
  • The author’s name should not appear on the story itself.
  • On a separate title page, include category, story title, writer’s name, address, email (Youth and Teen writers may use parent or teacher email for contact information).
  • On the first page of the story include the title.
  • Title and page number should be on following pages.
  • Youth and Teen entries, please indicate author’s age on the title page.
  • Adult category please include $15 entry fee (cheque payable to Elora Writers Festival).

EWF Writing Contest, c/o Roxanne’s Reflections, 152 St. Andrew St. W., Fergus
ON N1M 1N5. Note: This is a new mailing address for the contest. To qualify, entries must be
postmarked by Friday, March 2, 2018.

Entries may also be dropped off at Roxanne’s Reflections, 152 St. Andrew St. W., Fergus before 5

p.m. Friday, March 2, 2018.


Shortlisted authors will be contacted for an electronic copy of their story for final judging.

Winners will be announced at noon on Sunday, April 29, 2018 on the Elora Writers’ Festival blogsite:

For more information contact contest chair Francis Baker at

Monday, May 29, 2017

Festival 2017 Wrap-up: Another great day!

It always starts out the same - a room full of empty chairs, a podium, a microphone. Posters of book covers and author photos. A few committee members scurrying around on last-minute tasks...

Anticipation. You can just feel it in the air.


And the next thing you know...

MC Roxanne Beale

Brad Smith, Andrew Westoll, Mary Ann Mulhern,
 Rio Youers and Adrienne Kress

...we're off!

Festival 2017 was another afternoon of eclectic, entertaining, though-provoking stories and readings from five uniquely talented authors.

Brad Smith

Kicking things off, Brad Smith read from his latest country-noir thriller, Hearts of Stone, and he left the audience wanting more.

Mary Ann Mulhern
Mary Ann Mulhern read from her collection, How We Fare, poems about the challenges of how we react to - and deal with - the tragedies and triumphs encountered in the news.

Andrew Westoll
Andrew Westoll shared the amazing story of encountering an online video from the jungle - featuring himself! - and read from his novel, The Jungle Under the Mountain.

Time for a break! The intermission brought delicious snacks (thanks, Fountainhead in Fergus!), and refreshments (where would we be without Wellington Brewery?), as well as opportunities for shopping at the bookstore, mingling with the authors and enjoying a sunny respite in the Victorian Garden just steps from Aboyne Hall.

Let's let EWF Writing Contest judges (and Kidlit authors) Lisa Dalrymple and Kira Vermond show us the way:

Checking out the offerings at the mini Roxanne's Reflections...
Yes, it's hard to resist the lure of a new book. Or a few new books...!

A gathering of writers...

Lisa, Kira and author Adrienne Kress had a chance to swap insider writing tips with the first-prize winner of the Youth category in EWF's annual writing contest. Sunshine, beverages, a quartet of writers. Does it get any better?

Well, actually, yes it does! At the start of the second half, prizes were presented to some of the writing contest winners in attendance. And then it was back to the action. Oh yes. There was action!

Adrienne Kress
Kids' author (and actress) Adrienne Kress kept things, um, moving as she read from her latest book, The Explorers.

Rio Youers
And local Elora author Rio Youers read from Westlake Soul, taking us inside the head of a wheelchair-bound surfing dude with a super-psyche - and we bought in, completely! He followed that up with a sweet moment from his latest novel, The Forgotten Girl.

But we weren't done yet. Time to put the authors on the hot seat for an interactive Question & Answer session.

Authors on the hot seat!

Dave Beynon
Chief Inquisitor Dave Beynon (of the EWF Organizing Committee) prompted our five authors to talk about the writing process, the joys (and horrors) and seeing your work on film, and why it's necessary to "kill your darlings."

Rio Youers, Brad Smith, Mary Ann Mulhern,
Andrew Westoll and Adrienne Kress
So as Festival 2017 came to an end, we wrapped things up with a moment captured in the Victorian Garden: our five Canadian authors and their books.

The Organizing Committee saw everyone out the door and got to work packing up the book shop, the chairs, the food, the posters...

And as another successful Festival became a memory, someone was heard to say:

"Hey, about next year. I was thinking..."

Stay tuned! We'll have news about Festival 2018 soon!

We couldn't do this without the ongoing support of our wonderful sponsors:

Wellington Brewery
Centre Wellington Community Foundation
Roxanne's Reflections Book & Card Shop
Community Resource Centre of North & Centre Wellington
The Elora Arts Council
The Writers' Union of Canada
Little Tree Garden Market
The Wellington Advertiser
The Grand 101.1
Centre Wellington Tourism
Wellington Country Museum & Archives

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Announcing the 2017 Elora Writers’ Festival Writing Contest winners!

Since the deadline for our contest closed in April, our judges have been busy reading, considering, evaluating and making their selections.

Finally, the decisions have been made and here they are, the winners of the 2017 Elora Writers’ Festival Writing Contest:

In the YOUTH category (age 13 and under)
(Judges: Lisa Dalrymple, Lisa MacColl, Kira Vermond)

First Prize
Juliet Zimmerman, age 12, of Eden Mills for Timothy and Una

Second Prize
Becca Swan, age 13, of Fergus for The Forest

Third Prize
Maria O’Dwyer, age 13, of Wellington North for The Blue Caribou

Finalists in this category include:

The Castle by Joshua Doupe, 10, Belwood
One Cold Day by Jonah Doupe, 12, Belwood
Finding Home by Angela Pincivero, 12, Guelph
Fears, Maves, Tidal Waves by Miret Morgan, 11, Kitchener
The Letter Mistake by Makenna Law, 9, Fergus
Snowman Revolution by Ian David Gallagher, 10, Maryhill

In the TEEN category (age 15-19)
(Judges: Heather Wright, Heather Debling)

First Prize
Candice Rubie, age 17 of Waterloo for 7 Minutes

Second Prize
Eric Bernhardt, age 19 of Burlington for Big Game

Third Prize
Nora de Vos, age 14 of Guelph for The Chase

Finalists in this category include:

The One by Michael Fuchka, 15, Kitchener
The Crash by Hunter DeLay, 14, Kitchener
As Quiescent as Her by Sydney Lacroix, 15, Palmerston
In Sickness and In Health by Cate Newman, 16, Waterloo
Horrific Terrors: A 9/11 Story by Jiya Gangwani, 14, Kitchener
DIEt by Jiya Gangwani, 14, Kitchener
Trapped in the Future by Manuela Morgan, 14, Kitchener

In the OPEN category (any age; category for adults age 20 and older)
(Judges: Bieke Stengos, Lisa McLean, Michael Hale, Rio Youers)

First Prize
Tammy Gilbert, of London, for Late Spring

Second Prize
Anastasia McEwen, of Fergus, for A Chicken Says “Cluck”

Third Prize
Mary Steer, of Waterdown, for This is not a short story

Finalists in this category include:

Pain is the Beautiful Purpose by Delaine Smith, Barrie
A Cold Beer to Remember by Phil Andrews, Guelph
Goodbye Stranger by Kim Murray, Toronto
A Shared Moment by Jean-Pierre Forget, Mount Forest
Arrival of the Strange Men: A First Nations Oral Narrative by Manuela Morgan, Kitchener
Tiputini by Andrew Lee, Hamilton
One Last Time by Linda Wowk, Edmonton
Keepsakes by Katrine Raymond, Hamilton

Canada 150 Essay: My Canadian Moment
(Judges: Jean Mills, Terry Fallis)

In celebration of Canada’s 150 anniversary of Confederation, we asked writers to tell us about a memorable “Canadian moment” in their lives.

Kathy Robertson, of Kitchener, for My Canadian Moment

Finalists in this category include:

I will remember by Marilyn Helmer, Belwood
Two Official Languages and One Gigantic Mud Puddle by Lynda Golletz, Elora
Up in the Air by Jockie Loomer-Kruger, Kitchener

Congratulations to the contest winners, and a special thank-you to our hard-working judges. We'd also like to send a big shout-out to all the writers who shared their stories and essays with us. Your enthusiastic response year after year proves that you agree with us whole-heartedly: Creative writing is important!

Thanks also to our two sponsors, The Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington (Youth category), and the Elora Arts Council (Teen category), two organizations which join us in recognizing the importance of supporting and encouraging young writers.

During the intermission of the 2017 Elora Writers’ Festival on Sunday, May 28 (1-4 p.m.), any winners in attendance will receive their prizes – along with a big round of applause from the Festival audience and authors.

And speaking of the Festival authors, here’s our fantastic line-up, in case you missed it:

Brad SmithHearts of Stone (another country-noir thriller featuring Carl Burns)
Mary Ann MulhernHow We Fare (poems exploring today’s issues and challenges)
Andrew WestollThe Jungle South of the Mountain (a scientist explores life and loss)
Adrienne Kress The Explorers (for kids – suspense…and a pig in a teeny hat)
Rio YouersThe Forgotten Girl (But why can’t he remember her? Suspense!)

Please join us! You can reserve and pick up tickets at Roxanne's Reflections Book and Card Shop in Fergus (Phone 519-843-4391) or by ordering online through the Theatre on the Grand box office (find the link to their ticketing website here: