Autumn Writing Contests

With a nip in the air, many of us are spending more time inside. That makes for a perfect time to polish up your poetry and prose for some Fall writing contests. Which ones will you be entering?

Autumn Writing Contests

Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest

  • Deadline: early bird – Nov 16th, 2015, final deadline – Dec 14th, 2015
  • short stories 1500 words or less
  • $3000 in cash prizes
  • entry fee – $20 US early bird, $25 US after

Narrative Fall 2015 Story Contest

  • Deadline: Nov 30th, 2015
  • short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction
  • no longer than 15,000 words
  • $5000 in cash prizes
  • $23 entry fee
Words & Brushes

Words & Brushes Short Story Contest

  • Deadline: Dec 1st, 2015
  • short stories based on pieces of art
  • between 2000-5000 words
  • $300 cash prize
  • no entry fee

Tethered by Letters – Summer Literacy Competition

  • Deadline: Dec 1st, 2015
  • short stories 1000-7500 words
    • $500 prize
    • $15 US entry fee
  • flash fiction of 55, 250 or 500 words
    • $150 prize
    • $7 US entry fee
  • poetry no more than 3 pages
    • $150 prize
    • $7 US entry fee

Prairie Fire Annual Writing Contests

  • Deadline: Nov 30th, 2015
  • poetry (up to 3 poems), short fiction (10,000 words), creative non-fiction (5000 words)
  • $2000 in cash prizes
  • $32 CAD entry fee

Prism Writing Contests

  • $2500 in cash prizes
  • $35 CAD/$40 US/$45 Intl entry fee

Creative Non-Fiction Contest

  • Deadline: Nov 20th, 2015
  • Max 6000 words

Short Fiction Contest

  • Deadline: Jan 15th, 2016
  • Max 6000 word short stories

Poetry Contest

  • Deadline: Jan 15th, 2016
  • Up to 3 poems

London’s Festival of Trees

Authors being paraded in
Some of this year’s nominated Forest of Reading authors being ushered in

Last Friday I was invited to participate in a school field trip. It was one I had been looking forward to for the better part of a year. I attended London Ontario’s inaugural event last year, so there was no way I wanted to miss this year’s Festival of Trees. Who can resist a full-day literary reading event jam-packed with Canadian children’s authors, illustrators, books and literary activities? Not me!

Every year the Ontario Library Association (OLA) promotes children’s literacy through their Forest of Reading recreational reading program. They select several new Canadian books in several different categories; Blue Spruce (JK-2), Silver Birch (grades 3-6), Red Maple (grades 7-8), and White Pine (grades 9-12) in both fiction and non-fiction. The program opens in October with announcements of the nominated books and runs through to May when the Festival of Trees is held and winners announced. Over 250,000 readers participate in the annual event through schools and libraries across the province (and country).

Giant Word Games
Do you believe in Word Games?

My oldest daughter was invited to attend last year’s Festival of Trees, as she had read the minimum ten books required. My youngest daughter was sorely disappointed, as she too had read several of the books in her category, but as there were only authors from the Silver Birch and Red Maple categories she was unable to attend. There was no way either of them were going to miss this year’s event though, so as soon as nominations were up they were both reading like mad.

Mama was so proud!

So after having devoured most of the Silver Birch books and a good number of the Red Maples, my oldest got an invite. Not to be outdone, my youngest got her whole class on board reading for an invite for them all, which meant I too got to spend the day basking in the literary event. Sixteen authors were led into the hall and introduced by local school children. They all went on to take part in workshops and book signings, but there were also giant word games to play, a button making station, temporary tattoos, a photo booth, the Maker Bus, TVO kids, Forest City Velodrome and of course a book store where you could buy any of this year’s nominated books.

Jess Keating - author of 'How to Outrun a Crocodile when your Shoes are Untied'
One of the many workshops held throughout the day

I want to thank all the authors for not only coming up with their ideas for their books, but the drive to see them through to the end. Congrats to London Regional winners Cyndi Marko for winning Silver Birch Express, Anneliese Carr for winning the Silver Birch non-fiction, David Skuy for winning Silver Birch fiction, Rona Arato for winning Red Maple non-fiction and Caroline Pignat for winning Red Maple fiction. You are an inspiration to myself and all the children who were in attendance.

My daughter coming up with an acrostic poem inspired by the Festival of Trees
My daughter coming up with an acrostic poem inspired by the Festival of Trees

I want to thank the Canadian publishers who promote literacy in Canada and especially for young readers. Without you, those authors wouldn’t be there for us. Thanks too, to the OLA for organizing such a fantastic program and event. And thank you to Ms Phillips for allowing me to ride my children’s coat tails and attend this awesome day again.

But my deepest appreciation goes out to my children for loving books as much as I do. You inspire me to keep working on my own writing and give me the drive to hopefully see a book of my own in print one day. My words are for you.

Spring Submissions

It must be spring. Writing contests seem to be sprouting up everywhere! That’s almost as good as sunshine for inspiration in my books, so I thought I would share a few that have caught my eye.


Spring Submissions


Literary magazine based out of Calgary, ON. Looking for prose, poetry, photos and art for open submissions to future magazine editions; April 30th – Fall Open Issue – Issue released in September; August 31st – Winter Open Issue – Issue released in January

  • 4000 word max for prose
  • creative nonfiction, short stories, postcard stories, novel excerpts, plays
  • poetry; 2-5 poems, any poem cannot exceed 6 pages
  • open to Canadian residents only


British women’s quarterly magazine (sorry guys—no need to apply). So many ways to submit, you’ll have to check the website for all the details. Deadline for current submissions April 13th.

  • pay for accepted submissions
  • poetry (4 lines/40 words), a week of tweets (7/140 characters), rants & raves (80 words), pen portrait (200 words – headteacher is current prompt), monologue (200 words – voice of a zombie is current prompt), guest blogger (check website)


A Canadian literary magazine, based in Vancouver, BC is looking for submissions. Deadline for Summer/Fall general issue is May 15, 2015. The theme for the Winter issue is “I live in an Apartment”; deadline Sep 15, 2015.

  • fiction (max 3,000 words, creative nonfiction (max 4,000 words), commentary (max 4,000 words), poetry
  • pays $50 per poem, $50 per page for prose


In its 84th year, you don’t want to miss Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. There are as many categories as there are prizes; Grand Prize, through to tenth place, plus honourable mentions!

  • Early bird deadline May 4th, 2015; Deadline June 5th, 2015
  • Entry fees: $15 poetry, $25 manuscripts for early bird; $20 poetry, $30 manuscripts
  • Categories:
    • Inspirational Writing (Spiritual/Religious) – max 2,500 words
    • Memoirs/Personal Essay – max 2,000 words
    • Magazine Feature Article – max 2,000 words
    • Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.) – max 4,000 words
    • Mainstream/Literary Short Story – 4,000 words
    • Rhyming Poetry – 32 lines max
    • Non-rhyming Poetry – 32 lines max
    • Stage Play – send first 15 pages
    • Television/Movie Script – send first 15 pages
    • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction – max 2,000 words

Spotlight on Canadian Author: Heather Grace Stewart

Have you met Heather Grace Stewart? She is a Canadian poet, speaker, and author of the newly released novel Strangely, Incredibly Good. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her on Facebook and Twitter, and was recently delighted to win a copy of her new book. Yeah for me! It was a lovely Valentine’s present to receive and I flew through the pages. You can find my book review over at A New Day.

As Heather is such a warm individual, I thought I would take a chance and ask her if she would be willing to answer a few questions about her writing. I was thrilled when she graciously agreed to share a few thoughts with me and my readers.

Without further ado, I would love to introduce you to Heather!

Signed with a smile by the author herself
Signed with a smile by the author herself – Heather Grace Stewart (Kanata, ON, March 2015)

Chatting with Heather Grace Stewart

  • Tell me a little about yourself. What do you do when you aren’t writing poetry or fiction?

HGS – When I’m not writing, I love playing with my daughter. The snow is finally melting here, so we just came in from enjoying a scooter ride around our street. I stole the scooter from her for a while. 🙂 I’m looking forward to Spring, when we can plant seeds together, and later in the summer, make bouquets from our garden.

I also love photography, scrapbooking, inline skating, and just hanging out with my family. We love flea marketing and gardening together and walking long stretches of the beach when the tide goes out.

Heather reading at Chapters (Pointe Claire QC) from Three Spaces and Carry On Dancing; April 2013.
  • You have written several poetry books. What made you decide to write a work of fiction?

HGS – I just wanted a change, and the idea for my story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it! I’d been writing poetry since age 5, and getting it published since I was 22 (in newspapers and the Queen’s University yearbook, then in a few poetry Reviews, and eventually, with my first collection in 2008). I just didn’t feel ready to put out a fifth poetry collection; it felt time to try something altogether different. I’m pleased I did!

  • As a writer, I know how exciting it is to have something published. Did it feel different to have ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good’ published versus when your poetry books were published? If so, how?

HGS – Three of my poetry books were self published, and for Carry On Dancing, I’d only queried about four or five publishers before landing my publisher. So yes, it was quite a different process.

Strangely, Incredibly Good was a lot more work. It took over four months to write and edit, with some months on hiatus in between because I hurt my back, and then I went through the long process of sending out query letters to try to find an agent and/or a publisher. I sent out 20 letters, and was ready to quit when I didn’t even get rejection letters back after eight weeks. Then I sent out a 21st letter, and got back a personal, kind reply from an agent, saying she wished she didn’t have so much on her plate because she’d love to take me on; that she was in love with my story. That gave me enough motivation to send out my 22nd query, and that effort landed me my publisher!

I’m proud of my poetry collections, but getting Strangely, Incredibly Good published in print, watching it hit #10 in Humorous Fiction on Kobo, and having people come up to me with great interest at Black Bond Books and Chapters, sometimes buying more than one copy – nothing else in my career has compared to how that feels.

Display of Strangely, Incredibly Good at Chapters Bookstore in Pointe Claire, QC (Oct. 2014)
  • Cat struggled with self-esteem all her life and that seemed to lead to the challenges she faced with her weight, in love, in her parenting, and even in her career. It’s only when Gene appears, and loves her for herself, that her self-esteem gets a much-needed boost and puts her life back on track. What is it that he provided that she couldn’t find for herself? Do we need love to define our self-worth?

HGS – Actually, that wasn’t the case at all. I don’t want to create a spoiler here, so I need to remain vague, but Cat had something happen in her past, a horrible tragedy for which she felt she was responsible. Her life went spiraling downward after that incident. She felt she was the cause of a lot of pain for a lot of people. That caused her to constantly overeat and it also made her lose self-respect, and one of the results of this was that she ended up with the wrong man. She didn’t think she deserved better than him because she felt she had been the cause of great pain for several families. She DID get started on trying to improve her self-esteem on her own, by trying to eat better, and by picking up the Wii machine. She took the first steps toward self-love on her own when she decided to finally go to the gym and then try the Wii.

When Gene popped out of the Wii machine, she was finally given a chance to remedy what she believed was her mistake (saying any more would be a Spoiler ) and once she did change a series of events, and finally forgave herself, her life got back on track, and she made better decisions, such as opening up the Cat Walk. Gene also loved her for herself, which helped her believe in herself more, but that was just the icing on the cake.

So no, I don’t think we need romantic love to define our self-worth, and Cat didn’t need it either. She just needed a do-over for parts of her life, and Gene had the magic that let her do that. Sometimes, we need a little shove from a good, strong love. She was wasting her wishes on vanity at first, and Gene helped her realize what she really needed to do to change the course of her life.

I’m glad you gave me a chance to clear that up for you though, because it’s a complicated plot with the time-travel and that affecting so much of Cat’s past and future life! The publisher, my editor and I were pulling our hair out at one point in the editing process, as we worked to assure that it was seamless! Most readers have said they have had to reread sections to get it all straight. It was so much fun to write but taxing work to make sure it was logical.

Let me say this on record: I enjoyed the challenge, once. 🙂 There will not be time travel in one of my books for a very long time! However, I really do love the whole concept of time travel, so, you never know 🙂

  • Do you have any other books in the works, poetry, fiction or otherwise? Will there be a sequel to ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good’; will Gene and Cat have a second chance at love?

HGS – There may be a sequel, yes. 🙂 I also have another book in the works, which is an entirely new topic but in the romantic comedy, contemporary fiction genre. The main character will be a feisty 27-year-old lawyer. I used to edit a law magazine, so I have lots of ideas.

That’s all I can say about both projects, for now! I’m excited to be writing again. I’m having lots of fun with the stories.


IMG_4532Thank you so much for sharing a bit about yourself, your experiences with writing and publishing, plus a little more insight into ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good’ Heather. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me and my readers and wish you much success in your future endeavours.

You can find Heather Grace Stewart on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and on her blog Where the Butterflies Go. I know she would love it if you stopped by to say hello, liked or followed her. You can purchase her books through her website, or via Morning Rain Publishers and Winter Goose Publishers.

Feel free to share!

Winter Writing Contests

It isn’t exactly a brand-spanking new year, but it is still early enough that you writerly types might still be keen in your writing. As much as we write for ourselves, there is another piece of most writers that also want to see their name up in lights. Am I right? Of course I am!

So how many aspiring writers have sent submissions to magazines or entered writing contests so far this year? Any? Hmm… How about a little inspiration. I haven’t shared any writing contests in a while, but there are a few that I have come across recently. Sometimes just knowing about a contest is enough to kick-start you writing. Why not try one of these?

Winter Writing Contests

CBC Canada Writes Creative Non-Fiction

  • unpublished non-fiction
  • between 1200-1500 words
  • $25 entry fee
  • Deadline – March 1, 2015
  • open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents

Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers

  • fiction, non-fiction
  • up to 2500 words
  • $29 entry fee
  • Deadline – March 1, 2015
  • open to Canadian writers that have not been published in book format


  • non-fiction
  • less than 1200 words
  • no submission fee (FREE!)
  • Deadline – March 21, 2015
  • THEMES: Animals (Feathers and Fur), Humor (Laughter – true stories to give us a good chuckle), Child’s Play (Humorous stories about children), Spirituality (Many faces of faith), Serendipity (Beyond coincidence stories), Miracles

Writer Advice: 10th Annual Flash Prose Contest

  • fiction, memoir, creative non-fiction
  • 750 words or less
  • $15 entry fee; includes preliminary response from B Lynn Goodwin & finalists receive response from all judges
  • Deadline – April 21, 2015
  • Cash prizes and publication for 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Honourable mentions receive publication

Writers Digest Annual Writing Competition

  • Multiple categories to submit to;
    • Inspirational Writing (Spiritual/Religious) – 2500 words
    • Memoirs/Personal Essay – 2000 words
    • Magazine Feature Article – 2000 words
    • Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.) – 4000 words
    • Mainstream/Literary Short Story – 4000 words
    • Rhyming Poetry – 32 lines
    • Non-rhyming Poetry – 32 lines
    • Stage Play – send first 15 pages
    • Television/Movie Script – send first 15 pages
    • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction – 2000 words
  • Early Bird entry fee $25 for manuscripts & $15 for first poem, additional – Goes up to $30 & $20 after early bird
  • Early Bird Entry Deadline – May 4, 2015
  • Cash prizes; Grand Prize $5000, plus cash and publication for 1st-10th winners