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!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Festival 2015: Great stories, great moments - and a great big cake!

You had to be there.

The authors shared stories and read to us. The audience laughed - and cried, too. Prizes were awarded to contest winners, wine was drunk, finger foods were devoured, questions were asked and answered. And there was even a birthday cake!

But that's just the short version.

If you were one of the lucky participants at the 21st Elora Writers' Festival, which took place yesterday (May 24) at the Wellington Country Museum and Archives in Aboyne, Ont., you know what a rich and rewarding afternoon it was for everyone in attendance.

Thank you Barbara Kyle, for sharing your research adventures (who knew that men could walk and pee at the same time?). And Clifford Jackman, for your advice to budding writers ("Don't do it. And if that's enough to stop you, you probably shouldn't be a writer"). And Kim Moritsugu for a story about a family adventure that made us laugh, and Tasneem Jamal for for a story about a family adventure that made us cry. And Michael Hale for taking us to other dimensions. And Ian Hamilton for spending your birthday - and the kick-ass Ava Lee - with us. (Yes, there was cake. A really, really, big cake!)

Our committee - Patricia Reimer, David Campbell, Roxanne Beale (resident bookseller and Mistress of Ceremonies extraordinaire!), Marilyn Kleiber, Dave Beynon and Jean Mills - thanks our generous sponsors and supporters, as well as our featured authors and our wonderful guests for another afternoon to remember.

Stay tuned for news about Festival 2016!

In the meantime, here's a taste of Festival 2015...

We're ready for Barbara Kyle, Clifford Jackman, Kim Moritsugu...

...Michael Hale, Tasneem Jamal and Ian Hamilton!
(With thanks to our friends at Little Tree Garden Market for
the beautiful floral arrangements around the hall!)

Roxanne Beale (left), our resident bookseller and Mistress of Ceremonies,
finalizes the Festival Bookshop with assistant, Mimi

Author Kim Moritsugu heads into Aboyne Hall, as guests check in
at the ticket table, under the watchful eye of EWF Committee
member Patricia Reimer (left)

And there's Ian Hamilton, already chatting with fans!

Barbara Kyle, author of The Traitor's Daughter, shares stories of research
and adventure - and acorns and pinecones, too...

Cliff Jackman, author of The Winter Family, takes
us to a wild, wild West...

Kim Moritsugu, author of the Oakdale Dinner Club, knows how to
make the most of a well-placed potato bug...
Want to buy a book and have the author sign it? Yup. We've got
that covered (as Barbara Kyle and a happy fan demonstrate during
the intermission)

Tasneen Jamal (left), author of Where the Air is Sweet,  chills with some fans
 (including husband, Craig Daniels) during the intermission...

...and then she sends chills down our spines with the
brave story of her family's adventure in Africa

Michael Hale, author of A Fold in the Tent of the Sky,
takes us to some other dimensions

Ian Hamilton, author of The Water Rat of Wanchai and seven other
Ava Lee mysteries, takes us into the world of Chinese Triads
and a heroine who gets the job done

And then we all celebrate with a chorus of Happy Birthday, and....
... a cake! (Which we all shared. Yum!)

Michael Hale offers advice to budding writers
during the Q&A session, led by EWF Committee member, Dave Beynon

Cliff Jackman's advice to budding writers: "Don't do it.
And if that's enough to stop you, you probably shouldn't
be a writer."

Kim Moritsugu (in her third visit to our Festival!) shares her insights into the
life of a writer - and makes us laugh!

The Elora Writers' Festival - we're small, and intimate,
and friendly, and fun. And you won't
go home hungry, either. Just ask any of our authors and guests.
Maybe you'll be in this photograph next year....?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Announcing the 2015 EWF Short Story Contest winners!

Our contest always generates lots of buzz, and this year was no different. The three panels of judges had to work hard to make their final selections – lots of great stories, they said!

But the decisions have finally been made and here they are, the winners of the 2015 EWF Short Story Contest:

YOUTH (age 14 and under)
Sponsored by the Community Resource Centre of North and Centre Wellington

(Judges: Lisa Dalrymple, Lisa MacColl, Kira Vermond)

First Prize
Jasmine Moroz for Drizella Tremain

Second Prize
Grace Huntley for Adventures as a Fish

Third Prize
Manuela Morgan for Mystical Mystery

Honourable Mentions
Madeline Vukovic for Cut Away
Jonah Doupe for My Formula One Car

TEEN (age 15-19)
Sponsored by the Elora Arts Council

(Judges: Heather Wright, Heather Debling)

First Prize
Emily Vaillancourt for Peanut Butter

Second Prize
Brittany Helena Tenhage for The Magical World in Brian’s Book

Third Prize
Claris Lam for Level Up

Honourable Mentions
Michaela Beam for Untold Story
David Botros for The Streetlamp in the Desert

ADULT (age 20 and older)

(Judges: Barbara Kyle, Bieke Stengos, Lisa McLean, Kelly Waterhouse, Sharon Blomfield)

First Prize
J.C. Hobson for A Coyote Summer

Second Prize
Melanie Scott for The Surrogate

Third Prize
Rita Bailey for Closer

Honourable Mentions
Anna Armstrong for To the Island and Back
Beverley Burgess Bell for The Elephant’s Pearls

Congratulations to the contest winners, and a special thank-you to our hard-working judges. 

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

During the intermission of the 2015 Elora Writers’ Festival on Sunday, May 24 (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:

Barbara Kyle, The Traitor’s Daughter (historical fiction)
Cliff Jackman, The Winter Family  (a Western with a dark side)
Kim Moritsugu, The Oakdale Dinner Club (suburban comedy of manners)
Michael Hale, A Fold in the Tent of the Sky (speculative/fantasy fiction)
Tasneem Jamal, Where the Air is Sweet (contemporary fiction exploring the immigrant experience)
Ian Hamilton, The King of Shanghai, the most recent in the wildly popular Ava Lee crime series (coming to CBC!)

Please join us at the Wellington County Museum and Archives for an afternoon of readings, an author-audience schmoozefest with nibbles and wine, and our famous Q&A with the authors. 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).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Have you got your tickets for the 2015 Elora Writers' Festival, Sun. May 24?

It's time to buy, reserve or pick up your ticket to the 2015 Elora Writers' Festival featuring authors Barbara Kyle, Michael Hale, Clifford Jackman, Tasneem Jamal, Ian Hamilton and Kim Moritsugu. 

It's all happening on Sunday, May 24, 2015, 1-4 p.m., at Aboyne Hall, Wellington County Museum and Archives. Tickets are $25 and include the readings as well as a wine-and-nibbles reception afterwards, which offers a Q&A with the authors -- and a chance to schmooze one-on-one, too.

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

Come and be read to! Please join us - and these six outstanding Canadian authors - at the 2015 Elora Writers' Festival.