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    Teen Writing Contest

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Are you a young writer (13 - 17) looking for an opportunity to take your creativity to the next level?

    Is there a young writer budding in the family? Someone who can transform this creepy photograph into 500 words and earn a batch of very sweet prizes?

    Complete contest details can be found in the Teen Zone blog, which also has a bunch great posts related to developing your creativity and connecting with Calgary's writing community.

    The winner will be announced on Saturday, February 1, in the middle of the library's upcoming Writers' Weekend. If you haven't already registered for this inspiration-packed day, check out the full listing of presenters here.

    And good luck to everyone who enters the contest!

    Wordfest is Calling for Submissions

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival, also known as Wordfest, has got quite the exciting literary competition going. The Anne Green Award, named for the festival's founding director, will go the "artist whose project explores and challenges the traditional form of story and narrative". If you're a Canadian, you are eligible, and if you win you get $3,000, you get to present your award-winning work at Wordfest, and get pampered as a festival artist with airfare and accomodation.

    So what is a project that explores and challenges the traditional form of story and narrative?

    The criteria leaves a lot open to interpretation and that's exactly how Wordfest wants it. The committtee is hoping to receive "a wide range of submissions in varying formats and languages". Rather than have me skew an interpretation of the details and lead everyone down some mistaken path to oblivion, go to and get the full picture.

    There are two more things I can say for sure: 1) the deadline is May 15th, and 2) last year's Anne Green Award winner (in its inaugural installment) was Edmonton poet Kath MacLean. Click here to watch her award-winning video poems "Doo-Da" and "There Was A Young Man". You can also get into Kath MacLean's work by checking out her book 'Kat Among the Tigers' available now on library shelves. Click the book cover above to place a hold.

    While we're on the subject of submissions calls, don't forget the June 30 deadline for the Alberta Views 2013 Fiction Contest.

    And also the annual deadline to submit to FreeFall magazine for their Fall Open Issue is April 30. Click here for FreeFall's submission guidelines.

    IFWA Short Story Contest: Last Call

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The deadline to submit to the Imaginative Fiction Writer's Association 'In Places Between' short story contest is April 4. That gives us one week to perfect every detail of our submissions before sending them off. If you're a last-minute type that works best when there's no time left, remember to leave an hour or two to format your story according to the contest rules. There's nothing worse than finding out weeks after you've submitted your work that nobody wants to read your favorite font, or your italics were supposed to be underlined, not italicized.

    While submitting to a contest is always a bit different from the standard format (in that most contests are blind so no contact information is allowed) it's always good to ensure peace of mind by reviewing standard submission guidelines. But what is the "standard"? In the FAQs & Answers page found at the 'In Places Between' contest page, the friendly folks at IFWA listed their idea of a standard as exemplified in a website produced by writer William Shunn.

    Where do you go for reference on standard, proper submission guidelines?

    Lately I've been trying out Chuck Sambuchino's "Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript". This book, published by Writer's Digest, has very clear DO/DON'T lists, as well as examples for a wide range of submission types (non-fiction, short story, novel...) and also lays out very clear steps to take on the path to publication.

    Here at the 'Nook we would love to hear where you go for an authority on manuscript format and submission guidelines. Share with us here by leaving a comment below. We can pool our forces and extinguish all formatting uncertainty!

    IFWA's 2013 Short Story Contest

    by Phil - 2 Comment(s)

    An exciting reminder from Calgary's most far out writing group...

    The Imaginative Fiction Writers Association invites you to submit your original written works of speculative fiction to our 2013 short story contest 'In Places Between'. You have a chance to win a $125 first prize and get published in the annual In Places Between anthology! Final judging will be done and the winners announced at the When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers in Calgary, Alberta on August 11, 2013.

    Entry deadline is April 4th 2013 and the theme is 'In Places Between'. Visit for complete details and contest rules.

    There is also a perfect opportunity to get to know what IFWA is all about coming up on Thursday March 14, as they take over Shelf Life Books for a reading of speculative fiction themed 'Beware the Ides of March'. The reading starts at 7pm (doors at 6:30pm). There will be wine and cheese to follow. Shelf Life Books is located at 100 - 1302 4th Street SW.

    For a complete list of upcoming events at Shelf Life Books click here.

    For previous winners of the short story contest, come visit us on the 4th floor of Central where our CHFH local history room holds the 2008 and 2009 In Place Between chapbook anthologies.

    Canada Writes

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's annual 'Canada Writes' competition has opened their mailbox to submissions of Creative Nonfiction. Besides an impressive award of $6,000 dollars for the winner this competition also boasts the offering of a two-week residency at The Banff Centre's Leighton Artists' Colony. Pretty sweet stuff for the writer who can produce a winning entry.

    The nature of Creative Nonfiction can be an elusive beast, ranging in form from the personal essay to feature articles, which is what makes this competition such an alluring invitation. From the Canada Writes website, the CBC describes the criteria as "memoir, biography, humour writing, essay (including personal essay), travel writing, and feature articles. While the events must be real and the facts true, creative nonfiction conveys your message through the use of literary techniques such as characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, narrative, and personal reflection".

    In the endeavour to produce the best 1,200 - 1,500 words possible your library awaits, housing all the guidance, inspiration, and source material you need for a confident, glowing submission. While the form allows a writer extreme freedom in the choice of topic there is one part of Nonfiction that's pretty strict: the facts. Having stamped myself strictly a writer of fiction, it's pretty easy to let research sit on the backburner, or make something up, to make way for uninterrupted forward progress in a narrative. But if I did have a research question slowing me down I know exactly what I would do: send it to the library via the 'Ask A Question' service. Here at Central we are constantly tackling tough research questions and nothing makes the job more rewarding (at least for this particular Reference Assistant) than freeing up time for writers so they can get back to the tap-tapping.

    If it isn't research assistance you need, but fundamentals, try some of these new titles:

    Storycraft, by Jack Hart Crafting the Personal Essay, by Dinty Moore The Lifespan of a Fact, by John D'Agata You Can't Make This Stuff Up, by Lee Gutkind

    With the fundamentals in place, and a librarian working on your fact check, you might need some inspiration. Here's some of our recent favorites from the world of non-fiction:

    Walls, by Marcello Di Cintio Magic Hours, by Tom Bissell Slice Me Some Truth: an anthology of Canadian Creative Non-Fiction

    If you've got your fundamentals, facts, and inspiration, wouldn't six grand and two weeks in the mountains be nice?

    Contest Deadline Season

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It is the time of year when deadlines for a lot of writing contests start to creep up quickly. While you may think it’s crazy to pay money to submit work to a magazine that you can submit work to for free at any time of the year, there are benefits. A subscription to the magazine (which is usually offered with the entry fee) helps you keep on top of what’s getting published in them, and also helps support the magazine, which in turn supports writers.

    Contests also provide DEADLINES, which are crucial for a lot of us who have trouble with self-discipline or over-analysis. (See also: "Dreaded Deadlines".) When a piece of work has to be completed before a determined date there is a real sense of motivating urgency you just can’t get from any internal pressure. And you might find that your editing process takes a much harder line when you know what you’re working on is going to be judged.

    Here is a roundup of some of our favourite magazines’ current contests, and links to the details, in chronological order of their deadlines. Remember that if you are going to enter contests, read the magazine you are submitting to to get a feel for what they publish. You can find any of the following publications on the 4th floor of the Central library.

    Contest Host Link to details DEADLINE

    2013 Open Season Awards


    (Fiction, Poetry, & Creative Non-Fiction)

    Prairie Fire


    (Fiction, Poetry, & Creative Non-Fiction)



    (Fiction & Poetry only)

    PRISM international

    Fiction & Poetry: JANUARY 25, 2013

    Literary Non-Fiction: November 28, 2012

    Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers

    MARCH 1, 2013

    Please note that this is only small sample of the endless places for you to submit your work. A really good website to take a look at for other submission calls is [places for writers], which seems to have new postings every day.

    Single Onion Poetry Contest

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Way back in April we alerted you to a local poetry contest worth getting excited about – the “Single Onion 100 Calgary Poetry Contest”. Single Onion is Calgary's longest-running spoken word series. In their twelfth year of lining Calgary up with a variety of renowned Canadian poets, as well as up-and-coming local artists, SO will celebrate their 100th event and for the occasion they want to know how local poets see Calgary.

    The deadline for submissions was August 15, 2012, but IT GOT EXTENDED!

    The new deadline is September 15th, 2012.

    Ten finalists will be chosen to perform at the SO100 Celebration Event on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

    Prize money remains the same:

    3rd place – $150, 2nd place – $300, 1st place - $1000

    For full contest details visit the Single Onion blog. This is also the place where you can find the reading series' upcoming schedule of events, which usually take place the third Thursday of every month.


    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    Spurs that jingle jangle jingle. Broncos bucking. Parading parades. Giant mechanical arms swing screaming laughing people through the air…

    I know – it’s a bit early to be talking Stampede, but this year is different. This year is #100. It's special and as Calgarians we gotta make it the greatest greatest outdoor show on earth. Wordfest wants to get us in the mood by throwing a special literary series celebrating the Calgary Stampede Centennial - Wild West Wordfest. From June 18 - 20 the mini-festival will celebrate the "expression of cowboy culture through word, music and art in an effort to engage all sectors of the arts community for a city-wide commemoration. Events will include children’s programming, visual art, storytelling and spoken word programming."

    A month and a half away from Wild West Wordfest, you may wonder why I bring it up... there's a writing contest involved, and the deadline is May 14.

    TumbleWord– Writing Contest Call for Submission!

    WordFest is seeking submissions for TumbleWord, a writing contest created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. The contest encourages Calgarians to create a brief story based on one of five archival photos from the history of the Calgary Stampede.The concept is simple: write a story that can fit on a postcard (no more than 250 words) and is based on one of the contest images; entries can be fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry.

    CLICK HERE FOR FULL CONTEST DETAILS, (including the 5 images we have to work with).

    New to the 'postcard' form? Check out these titles for a sample:

    It's Poetry Month

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    There's a lot going on for poetry. If you appreciate poetry, you already know that. And you also know poetry really doesn't need a designated month to be appreciated. Once the metallic, coffee taste of poetry is in your throat, it stays twelve months a year. It gets between your toes and follows you into the deepest dreams.

    But it is April. And poets, being smart, take what they can get.

    The obvious way to enjoy poetry is to read it, on paper, but there are way too many amazing poets to rave about in one little blog.

    Live poetry is a whole other beast and Calgary is full of wonderful performers. Again, there are too many exciting events to list here, including the entire 2012 Spoken Word Festival. A good place to look is FFWD magazine's literary events listings.

    But then the best way to celebrate poetry is to create it yourself. If you need more direction other than "Hey! It's Poetry month, go write a poem!", Calgary's Single Onion Reading Series may have the incentive you need.

    It's a poetry contest!

    Later this year Single Onion will celebrate their 100th event. After twelve years of lining Calgary up with a variety of renowned Canadian poets, as well as up-and-coming local artists, it is time to celebrate and Single Onion wants your help.

    They want to know how local poets see Calgary and they want you to send it to them before August 15, 2012. Ten finalists will be chosen to perform at the SO100 Celebration Event on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

    For full contest details visit the Single Onion blog. This is also the place where you can find the reading series' upcoming schedule of events, which usually take place the third Thursday of every month. For inspiration, find the work of these Calgary poets at the library:

    Writing about Food

    by Janice - 0 Comment(s)

    “It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

    ~M.F.K. Fisher The Art of Eating

    "And that’s why food writing can be so satisfying: Because it gives us stories about food that let us live more fully, because it fulfills us, and not just at the table."

    ~Eric LeMay In Defense of Food Writing

    Life. Death. Sex. Joy. Alienation. Society. Politics.

    These are weighty topics deserving of treatment by the best writers, are they not?

    What about food? I've always felt that excellent writing is excellent writing whether the topic is life and death, a film review or details about the best hot chocolate.

    I like food and I like to read and write. So it’s not a surprise that I’ve been a voracious reader of cookbooks and food writing since the pre-Internet days and that my views on eating and food (as well as life and relationships) have been shaped by some of the very best writers around.

    Take hot chocolate (please!). In 1994 my views on the beverage were forever changed after reading an article written by one of my favourite food writers, Corby Kummer, senior editor of The Atlantic (that original article is available for library members to read through our E-Library, but a more recent blog post contains his recipe for the perfect hot chocolate).

    Online food blogs and cookbooks that are as much about the stories told by the author as they are about recipes have become the norm.

    Food writing is not limited to food writers. The Kitchn website asked readers to list their favourite food scenes in classic novels and you may be surprised at the wonderful examples listed. Most of my favourite fiction authors have written about food or have food feature in their writing. Food is a strong element in all of Haruki Murakami's novels and I was happy to recently discover one of his short stories online: The Second Bakery Attack. Last night, while discussing Julian Barne’s Man Booker Prize winning novella The Sense of an Ending, some friends and I specifically discussed the signifcance of the following line:

    “She eased another egg on to my plate, despite my not asking for it or wanting it. The remnants of the broken one were still in the pan; she flipped them casually into the swing-bin, then half-threw the hot frying pan into the wet sink.”

    This seemingly unimportant detail from the memory of an unreliable narrator opens up a number of questions and may foreshadow an unexpected plot detail revealed at the end of the work. The egg, and how this moment was remembered, has little to do with food and everything to do with life, death, sex, self-awareness and character.

    Perhaps the art of eating is not that far off from the art of living (or the art of writing).

    If you need more convincing that food writing is worth your time (as a reader and a writer), you may want to read Eric LeMay’s In Defense of Food Writing.

    Are you a food writer? The Food Bloggers of Canada and The Association of Food Journalists sites may be of interest to you.

    The Library has countless cookbooks, many classic books on food and books on how to write about food. Here are just a few:

    American Food Writing: an anthology with classic recipes by Molly O'Neill

    The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook by Alice B. Toklas

    Will write for food: the complete guide to writing cookbooks, blogs, reviews, memoir, and more by Dianne Jacob (also in e-book format)

    Life is Meals: a food lover's book of days by James and Kay Salter

    The newest Canada Writes challenge is for all of you food-loving writers or (writing food-lovers).

    The Canada Writes Edible Nonfiction Contest challenges writers to submit 250–300 word “true personal” stories relating to food.

    The deadline is January 3, 2012.

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