Monday, January 8, 2018

10 Things You Need to Know about Festival 2018

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) will be available soon and we’ll let you know very soon where you can purchase or reserve them.

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 is our featured author at the fourth annual Books & Beer, to be held 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’s awesome! Expect a sample of his writing, some on-the-spot creative fun, snacks, beer (thanks again, Wellington Brewery!) and lots of laughs. And, to top it off, you’ll be helping support our festival, too.

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 is approaching, so you should enter soon. Details here: Our Annual EWF Writing Contest is Now Open for Entries 

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

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:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Everything you need to know about tickets to Festival 2017

The 2017 Elora Writers' Festival is just around the corner and tickets ($25) are now available. Here's everything you need to know to be part of the action on Sunday, May 28, 1-4 p.m:

Pay a visit to Roxanne - or give her a call:

Visit Roxanne's Reflections Book & Card Shop, 152 St. Andrew St. West in Fergus to purchase your tickets. Or call Roxanne at 519-843-4391 to reserve your tickets, which can be picked up at the store or will be waiting for you at the front door of Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum & Archives on the day of the festival, whatever works for you.

Order Online from our partners at The Fergus Grand Theatre:

Easy, easy, easy. Follow this link to the ticket-ordering page:
Fergus Grand Theatre - 2017 Elora Writers' Festival

Show up at the door of Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum & Archives on Sunday, May 28 at about 12:45 p.m.:

Walk up to our ticket table, pull out $25, take your ticket and walk right in!

Your ticket entitles you to an afternoon of readings and a crowd-pleasing Q&A with this year's authors, Rio Youers, Andrew Westoll, Adrienne Kress, Brad Smith and Mary Ann Mulhern.

Oh yes, and there's one beer (thanks to our sponsors, Wellington Brewery) and nibbles (supplied by local Fergus eatery, The Fountainhead), and books to buy at our mini-bookstore, authors to chat with and a room full of like-minded book-lovers to meet.

All you need is a ticket, and that's easy!

More info about our line-up, here: Festival 2017.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Festival 2017 Line-up: Yes, we’re ready!

We’ve already found five great authors - and all of them jumped at the chance to join us for our annual celebration of great Canadian writing on Sunday, May 28 at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum & Archives. 

Lots more details to come, but here’s a quick look at our Festival 2017 line-up:

Adrienne Kress has a slew of juvenile and YA Fantasy/Steampunk titles out there and, to top it off, she’s an actress too. Her Steampunk adventure The Friday Society, was released to a starred review from Quill and Quire and optioned for film. Read more about Adrienne here:

Rio Youers is back – yes! That Rio! A writer right in our neighbourhood, whose new book, The Forgotten Girl, will appear shortly after our festival. Expect a preview! And if you want to see more of Rio’s impressive list of publications, check out his website, here:

Poetry makes a return to our line-up, with Windsor’s Mary Ann Mulhern. Her first collection, The Red Dress, was inspired by her life in the convent, and now, no longer a nun, she tackles some of life’s difficult questions in her writing. Here’s a short video that offers insight into Mary Ann and her poetry:

Brad Smith returns to Elora with more of his country-noir good-guys-vs-bad-guys thrillers. The first in the Carl Burns series, Rough Justice, hit the stands last February, and the next installment will arrive in February 2017, just in time for us to get reading and ready for his second appearance at our Festival. (And some of you may remember him from our first Books & Beer too, photo above, with Q&A guru, Dave Beynon… )  Read about Brad’s background here: 

And to complete the list, Andrew Westoll – another returnee, because he wowed us in 2013 (see photo, above. That's Andrew, far left) – brings his first novel to share. Remember Andrew? He’s the author of the award-winning The Riverbones, as well as the memoir The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary. Now he’s turned to fiction with The Jungle South of the Mountain. Yes, there will be primates. Can’t wait!
Read more about Andrew, here:

There you have it – the line-up of authors for Festival 2017. Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 28 and stay tuned for more info about our festival and writing contest.