Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Festival 2018 is in the books!

The sky outside clouded over, but a little rain didn't matter to those of us gathered inside Aboyne Hall at the Wellington County Museum & Archives as five accomplished Canadian authors - representing a wide spectrum of genres - took over the microphone and treated us to another uplifting afternoon of celebrating books, reading and writing.

The room was buzzing a little more than usual - some of the youthful writing contest winners joined us for the readings. And why not? We kicked off the program with two voices from the Canadian kidlit scene, one fairly new and one very familiar: Kate Blair (Transferral, Tangled Planet) and Kathy Stinson (The Man With The Violin, Harry and Walter, Red Is Best...)

Tickets, please!

MC Roxanne Beale gets things rolling!

"I had to do a lot of research on what it's like to live on the space
station," says Kate Blair, explaining some of the challenges she faced
writing Tangled Planet

"So I asked Joshua Bell for a few lines about his experience, and
he gave me, um, a bit more than a few lines..." says Kathy Stinson.

Next up was Indigenous writer, playwright, essayist, humourist - Okay, he does it all! - Drew Hayden Taylor (Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, Take Us To Your Chief), who made us laugh and made us think, too.

"Yes, I'm a special occasion..." says Drew. (Inside joke. You had to be there...)

At the break, audience members enjoyed snacks courtesy of The Red Door Café in Fergus, and beer from our festival sponsor, Wellington Brewery. Yes, there was wine, too. And lots, LOTS of chatting, book shopping, book signing and visiting among audience members and authors.


Book signing, out in the garden

Kathy, Drew and Drew's wife Janine chat during the intermission.

Linden and Kate deep in conversation

A Giller Prize nominee (Michelle Winters) talks it out with a
Giller Prize winner (Linden MacIntyre) as Michelle's husband, Chris,
listens in. And Wellington Brew is enjoyed!

We reassembled for the raffle draw (Way to go Bob! He won a collection of signed books from our Festival 2018 authors!) and the presentation of prizes to the winners of our annual writing contest, always a feel-good moment in an afternoon of good feels.

Many of the Youth and Teen winners were in attendance, and they received hearty congratulations along with their prize money. The first-prize winner in the Open category was Jeremy Luke Hill of Guelph (check out Luke's work at Vocamus Press - he's a busy man on the local literary scene!).

Find the entire list of winners in our blog post, here.

Writing contest winner Jeremy Luke Hill, of Guelph, with
EWF committee member Jean Mills

In the second half, Michelle Winters read from her darkly funny 2017 Giller Prize-shortlisted novel, I Am A Truck, and introduced us to Martin, the character who almost took over the story. Also, some head-banging rock and roll...

Michelle Winters sets the scene

Linden MacIntyre, 2012 Giller Prize winner, wrapped up the readings with a passage from his latest novel, The Only Café, a haunting exploration of the effects of conflict on a Lebanese family.

"There's been a lot of levity," says Linden MacIntyre as he prepares
to read from The Only Café. "This will be a change." 

But that wasn't the end! We assembled the authors at the front of the room for the always entertaining Q&A, in which we heard about the writing process ("It's hard," said Linden MacIntyre), favourite journeys (everything from travelling to Northern Ontario islands to leaving the teenage years behind), and the effects of zero gravity on the human bladder. Yup.

Linden MacIntyre enjoys Kate Blair's lesson in human anatomy as
affected by zero gravity.

So the afternoon wrapped up with laughter - and a feeling of time well spent, together, doing what we do year after year: celebrating books, authors, reading and writing.

Thanks again to all our generous sponsors: 

Centre Wellington Community Foundation
Township of Centre Wellington
Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington
Elora Arts Council
Little Tree Garden Market
The Writers' Union of Canada
The Grand 101 FM
Wellington Brewery
and our hosts at the Wellington County Museum & Archives. Thanks also to Nancy Frater at Booklore in Orangeville for helping us with our book sales.

Thanks to our fantastic authors - Kate Blair, Kathy Stinson, Drew Hayden Taylor, Michelle Winters and Linden MacIntyre (go buy and read their books, please!).

And special thanks to our loyal audience, because we could not do this without you. Please stay tuned for news of Books & Beer V (our annual winter-busting event), and next May's Festival 2019!

(Photos by Dale Mills)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Elora Writers Festival Writing Contest winners!

 Since the deadline for our contest closed in March, 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 2018 Elora Writers Festival Writing Contest:

In the YOUTH category (age 13 and under)
(Judges: Lisa MacColl, Carey Gallagher and Kate Blair)

First Prize
Trapped in the Darkness
by Jonah Doupe (13) of Belwood

Second Prize
Mr. Linden's Library
by Hanzi Li (12) of Kitchener

Third Prize
The Broken Tooth
by Charlotte Ting (8) of Guelph


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

First Prize
A Summer to Remember
by Becca Swan (14) of Fergus

Second Prize
He Was Gone, But I Wasn't
By Manuela Morgan (14) of Kitchener

Third Prize
The Boy with the Black Mask
By Serena Polak (15) of Elora


In the OPEN category (any age; only category for adults 20 and older)
(Judges: Bieke Stengos, Lisa McLean, Michael Hale, Mary Bentley Lloyd)

First Prize
Wild John
by Jeremy Luke Hill of Guelph

Second Prize
Cataloguing the Stars
by Andrew Lee of Hamilton

Third Prize
Over the Falls
by Katrine Raymond of Hamilton


Acceleration by Anastasia McEwen
Tears of the Cowboy by Paul Hock
Joy by Jean-Pierre Forget
A Silent Visitor’s Audible Wake by Phil Andrews
Feedback by Marion Reidel
The One by Mary Steer (Mary Taslimi) 
Donor #0378Q by Cynthia Matthews
A Perfect Place in Time by Lisa Washbrook


Congratulations to the contest winners, and a special thank-you to our hard-working judges. Also, we’d like to send a big shout-out to all the writers who shared their stories 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 contest sponsors, The Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington (Youth category), and the Elora Arts Council (Teen category), two organizations that join us in recognizing the importance of supporting and encouraging young writers.

During the intermission of the 2018 Elora Writers Festival on Sunday, May 6 (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:

Drew Hayden Taylor – humour in fiction, drama and essay from an Indigenous perspective, including Take Me To Your Chief and the recent Tarragon Theatre production, Cottagers and Indians

Michelle Winters – 2017 Giller shortlisted author of the dark and quirky I Am A Truck

Kathy Stinson – award-winning author of books for young readers, including The Man With The Violin and the classic Red Is Best

Linden MacIntyre – 2009 Giller Prize winner and former broadcaster whose journalism background led to his latest novel, The Only Café

Kate Blair – author of YA speculative fiction (Transferral and Tangled Planet) with a whole list of award nominations

Please join us! You can order tickets online through the Theatre on the Grand box office (find the link to their ticketingwebsite, here). You can also purchase tickets at the Fergus Grand Theatre box office or at the door (Aboyne Hall, Wellington Country Museum & Archives).

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: http://bit.ly/2Ia4Rd6 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 elorawritersfestival@gmail.com

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 elorawritersfestival@gmail.com

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 EWFwritingcontest@gmail.com.