Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Guess what happened during the Intermission of Festival 2015...! (Hint: Think "writing contest")

Festival 2015 was a huge success - but so was our annual writing contest, and we had an opportunity to recognize and honour our winners during the Intermission (to great applause from audience and authors!)

The results of this year's contest can be found here: 2015 EWF Short Story Contest Winners

Contest Chair Jean Mills with Anna Armstrong, who won an
Honourable Mentionin the Adult category for her story "To the Island and Back"
(Photo Dale Mills)

Melanie Scott is presented with Second Prize in the Adult category
for her story "The Surrogate"
(Photo Dale Mills)

But that list doesn't begin to describe the excitement - and sometimes astonishment! - of the accomplished writers whose stories were selected by our panels of judges.

And speaking of judges, let's take a moment to acknowledge their efforts in reading, considering and selecting the winners. They told me judging was a real challenge because of the many excellent stories to choose from.

The incredible line-up of judges this year included Kitchener-Waterloo writers Sharon Blomfield, whose travel articles have appeared in many Canadian and international publications, Lisa MacColl, a busy freelancer and blogger, and Heather Wright, author of a series of fantasy novels for kids as well as three writing guidebooks, including Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens. Also among the judges were Guelph’s Kira Vermond, whose books for young readers, The Secret Life of Money and Growing up Inside and Out were nominated for the OLA’s Red Maple award; short story author LisaMcLean; Guelph poet and author Bieke Stengos; playwright and author Heather Debling; Wellington Advertiser award-winning columnist Kelly Waterhouse; and Fergus’s Lisa Dalrymple, author of the children’s picture book Skink on the Brink

Oh yes - and let's not forget another valuable member of our judging panel: 2015 Elora Writers' Festival author Barbara Kyle!

Our sponsors also deserve a round of applause. The Elora Arts Council has sponsored our Teen writing category for many years, an indication of how much creative writing matters to our local arts community and its leaders. And every year, the Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington shows its support for youth literacy and creativity by sponsoring our Youth category. We are grateful for the generosity and support from these two organizations.

In the week before the Festival, I had the opportunity to visit a school in Waterloo Region to meet three young writers who had won prizes in the Youth category. Yes, three writers from one school, all in the top five!

And in the week after the Festival, a teacher at another school contacted me to ask if her class could read the winning entries - so that they could have a better idea of what to work on for next year's contest. (After receiving approval from some of the winning writers, I sent those stories along. One teacher who helped facilitate the process said: "The girls were beaming with pride!")

Creative writing is important. That's what our little contest is all about. Thanks to everyone who contributed in some way - writers, teachers, parents, judges and those of you who applauded so enthusiastically while the winners were announced and prizes presented. 

Stay tuned for news of our 2016 contest!

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