Page 1



The magazine of the Federation of British Columbia Writers

Literary Writes Competition issue

Winter 2012


Winter 2012 Literary Writes Competition issue COVER STORY

Winners of the 24th Annual Literary Writes Competition 2012



First Prize

Angela Mairead Coid for Crossways



Susan Braley for Fragile Vessel


First Prize

Kami Kanetsuka for Strange Journey



Gail Meyer for Traveling with Mrs. Noda


First Prize

Susan Braley for The Real Truth



Dell Catherall for The Watcher 1


NEWS FROM THE FED Save the date - Self Publishing Fair


Winter 2012


Thank You - Literary Writes judges



Daniela Elza Submit to submitting


Off the Page – Writers in Schools Program


New Year’s greeting from the Federation


The Federation’s “I Believe in You” gift certificate


By writers for writers: recommended resources

This year’s LW judges. Hard choices. Who made them?

Here comes da judge. What’s it like to judge a writing competition? What things can sink your entry faster than the Titanic?



Margo Lamont 8 big fat reasons to enter competitions and send work to calls for submissions Susan Greig Zen & the art of self-sabotage

That giddy feeling What it feels like to enter a writing contest – and why you want to feel it again and again


Franci Louann Writers write


Margo Lamont Literary Writes – winners from the past

A partnership between the Federation of BC Writers and the Vancouver Public Library

Gentlewriters, start your engines… Resources for contests and calls for submissions Compiled by Margo Lamont

Did it do them any good? Literary Writes is 25 next year: an early winner checks in


To advertise in Wordworks please email:

A submissions tracker

What’s gone where? (and when can I send it out again?)

WORDWORKS IS DIGITALLY PUBLISHED BY THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS Managing Editor Editor Art Director; Graphic Design Photography Front cover artwork Production Proofreading

Margo Lamont Daniela Elza Susan L. Greig Susan L. Greig and various Susan L. Greig Susan L. Greig; Margo Lamont Daniela Elza; Margo Lamont; Franci Louann; Lesley Prentis

Wordworks team: Daniela Elza Susan L. Greig Margo Lamont

Publisher: The Federation of British Columbia Writers PO Box 3887, Stn. Terminal Vancouver BC V6B 3Z3 Tel: 604.683.2057 Email: Website: Facebook: Twitter: Federation-of-British-Columbia-Writers

For advertising rates email

Winter 2012


Advertisers and advertising agencies assume all responsibility for any claim arising therefrom or made against Wordworks

Literary Writes judges We would like to thank our three judges for their time and thoughtful consideration of the submissions. Work was submitted in three categories – fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

Fiction judge—Dennis E. Bolen He began his reading career with the Hardy Boys books. He began his writing career full of adolescent angst in his senior year of high school, and nowadays he sometimes walks around pretending he’s not a writer before the urge to write overwhelms him, and he begins… When he does get going, he writes 500 words a day, Monday to Friday, and may generate that 500 words in as little as 20 minutes.

Dennis is a novelist, editor, teacher, and journalist, first published 37 years ago in Canadian Fiction magazine. In 1989 he helped establish the international literary journal sub-TERRAIN, and was their fiction editor for a decade.

like the stuff, work on it and

Drag [those things

you wrote years ago and never showed to anyone] out of the drawer and try to read them yourself. If you send it around.

Poetry judge—David Fraser

I like poetry that has cadence that carries the poem along. I like concrete nouns and imagery rather than abstractions. I like surprises; I like narrative; I am not fond of end rhyme especially if it is obviously forced.

He’s a ski instructor – he likes windsurfing, expanding his Spanish vocabulary, tennis, golf, cycling, hiking, gardening, and listening to the blues, not necessarily in that order. He seeks his Way through Taoism. David lives in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island. He was the founder (in 1997) of Ascent Aspirations Magazine. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in over 50 journals. He earned his BA in English from University of Toronto, and an MEd in adult education from OISE.

Nonfiction judge—George Fetherling He loves the Cariboo and Vancouver’s venerable Sylvia Hotel; he’s a longtime chum of Margaret Atwood’s and he wrote the first draft of his last book by hand at his kitchen table by hand with a Waterman gold-tip fountain pen. George has done so much – from writer-in-residence at Massey College in Toronto, to teaching journalism at Ryerson to Book Page columnist at the Vancouver Sun and literary editor at the Toronto Star, and so much more. A very prolific author himself – poet, novelist, journalist, and essayist – he’s published 50 books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, travel, criticism, and history, including the much-acclaimed Travels by Night: A Memoir of the Sixties. George was honoured with the Harbourfront Festival Prize in 1995 for his “substantial contribution to Canadian letters.”

life, but it’s not much of a living. — On being a writer in Canada

We would also like to thank former Federation president, Candice James, for her work in putting out the call for Literary Writes this year, and for managing the judging and intake of submissions.


It’s a very good

By Daniela Elza


have not written much on the process of submitting because I have been so busy sending submissions out.

really mean it. If it is blind judging, do not put your name on the work.

When I was asked to write about it, my first thought was: what can I say? When I thought further, 800 words were not enough. It was like something you do not think about until you do, and the dam bursts.

There is a reason for all these pesky little details. Someone had to come up with them and hopes you would follow them to contribute to the smooth running of the editorial process or the contest. From that perspective it does not speak well of you. It appears dismissive, disrespectful, even arrogant. In the least sloppy and unprofessional. You are not that special. OK, you are, but when it comes to the business of running a contest or going through the slush pile, you are one of many.

Assuming you are all in the honest business of working on honing your craft, then we get down to the business of submitting. Why submit?

Even if your work is genius it might not get to the point of being considered. Why? Because publishers are busy people, because many who work in literary magazines do it out of the goodness of their heart on a volunteer basis. The last person they would want to work with is someone who cannot get past the guidelines, or has three typos in the cover letter. That already spells future trouble were they to select your work.

Because you should, because what makes you a writer after you have been writing in secret is making it public. When to submit and how much? Now. I submit when I feel I cannot write. Instead of fretting about not writing, I turn to submissions which engage a different part of my brain. Give yourself a goal. One submission a month? Or five? In the month of October, I broke my monthly record of six and submitted ten submissions.

So you read the guidelines and they seem detailed and overwhelming and you wonder how you will manage all these details. One at a time, of course. Just like you manage one submission at a time. It becomes overwhelming when you think of five or six submissions at once.

How to submit? First, please, please, please, follow the guidelines.

Before you even get to the guidelines, read a couple of issues of the journal you would like to submit to. For some of the same reasons above. It is often quite apparent that you have not bothered to familiarize yourself with the journal’s aesthetic preferences and sensibility. If you did not bother to do your homework it is not a great start to your relationship with the editor who is about to make a decision on accepting or rejecting your work.

Do not think you are that one special person the editors or contest judges will make an exception for. When they say: do not staple. Don’t. When they say: send us up to five pages, or up to three poems, please do not send them 15 pages. When they say bio under 40 words, please do not send them 83. When they say use our online submission manager, do not send it to someone’s email listed on the website. If they say no attachments, or include SASE -- they

One word of caution: I do not advise submitting to places that


ask for a fee for your submission. That could be one of those scams where you pay them and they publish all the poems in a bound volume without much editorial process so they can then try to sell you copies of a nicely bound hardcover. (This caution excludes contests fees, and manuscript reading fees.)

material. You might want to try sending earlier in the submission period. See if that makes a difference. The other thing that saves me too much fretting with rejections is having about ten submissions out there at any given time. When you get one rejection, you still have nine you have not heard back from. That way a rejection takes only a tenth of the toll it might have taken if it was the only thing I have out there. That makes rejections part of the growing pains and part of the business aspects of being a writer. One submission out there comes back as a 100% rejection.

Themed issues are of interest to you the writer who wants work published. It increases the odds. What is the likelihood that within a submission period you have something on a certain theme that is not sent out somewhere else? Provided you happen to answer to all the criteria, see how the odds are increased?

What is the most unpleasant thing I have had to deal with as an editor? After sending a rejection (which was already hard enough to do) to hear back from the person advising me to reconsider my decision for one reason or another. My advice? Never respond to an editor’s rejection with a rejection of their rejection and try to dissuade them from rejecting you. Not in good taste. Any how I look at it, I cannot see the result to be in your favour. If you are eager to respond then thank them for their work and wish them well.

When you get to the point where you start looking for a publisher, you will understand why some publishers are very upfront about the fact that your submission is unlikely to be looked at if you have not previously published in literary journals. Also publication credits (in print journals) help with grant applications. Some publishers might have unreasonable requirements too. But that is another story. What about rejections?

Finally: keep working on your poems, craft your stories, and go through your novel with a fine-toothed comb because, ultimately, even if you followed all the instructions to the dot, if your work is not honed and polished enough, your chances are diminished.

There is no easy way with rejections. Rejections are rejections. Two things have helped me. Remember there are numerous reasons for not including a piece of work. Only one of these is that they did not like it. It might not have fit. It might have been too long. They might have run out of room.

Submissions are one of the better lotteries whose odds you can affect by being disciplined and working on your craft. And one that will not ruin your life, at least not from having too much money.

photo Frank Lee

One thing you do have full control over is...? You guessed it – following the submission guidelines, which can even increase your odds. Sometimes sending last minute before the deadline might mean that, by that time, the issue has already taken a certain shape and tone or they might have enough

Congratulations to the winners of the Literary Writes contest. Keep up the good work. 

Daniela Elza is a Vancouver poet who submits more than 30 submissions a year. She has also worked both in the capacity of editor for an anthology and guest editor for literary magazines as well as judge for a number of contests. She has lost count of how many poems she has released into the world (stopped counting at 200) and has been published in over 60 peer-reviewed and literary publications. Daniela’s second poetry book, Milk Tooth Bane Bone, is forthcoming with Leaf Press (April, 2013). Her debut poetry collection, the weight of dew, was published by Mother Tongue Publishing in 2012.


By Eileen Cook By Margo Lamont

At workshop after workshop, we are told that one of the first things a publisher does before reading your book submission, is check you out on Facebook and other social media. They want to know you have a “platform.” Having an existing following is an advantage in getting your manuscript accepted for publication. They like writers who have a track record. Many writers see entering writing contests as puffery or a waste of time. Not true. Contests are a good career move for many reasons. You can enhance your publishing track record by sending your work to literary contests and competitions, and by sending pieces in to calls for submissions (which are often for anthologies of poems or short stories or nonfiction pieces).

“A career must be husbanded. Care must be taken. Every day must bring some small bit of progress. How would an artist with any self-worth act? Act that way.”

—Julia Cameron in finding Water: the Art of Perseverance

1. You can win money. Often there’s a $500, sometimes even a $1,000 first prize. At the other end, “winning” could mean just getting published and a few free copies of the publication. But that’s okay. It’s a start and— 2. Each win is a publishing credit – another bullet on your literary C.V. and that, in turn, demonstrates that you take 7

your writing seriously, that you’re a professional or aspire to be. Keep an ongoing literary resumé– list all your published works by title, and also list anything that was short- or long-listed. List any public readings, presentations or workshops you do (demonstrates an ability to promote your book and build a following). 3. Editors, agents and publishers read literary journals and anthologies looking for new talent. 4. “Writers write,” poet and editor Franci Louann says elsewhere in this issue. If you’re a writer, you produce writing. So get your wordworks—your word foundry—fired up and get some product out there. 5. It feels good to win. It’s inspiring, and it affirms that you are “a writer” (some times early on, you don’t quite believe it). See comments elsewhere in this issue from past winners of the Literary Writes competition. One said that winning Literary Writes inspired her to keep on writing. 6. It confers a bit of shine. Some literary journals are fairly prestigious. 7. It’s fun to show your family & friends. Maybe they’ll even believe you really are a writer and not just wasting time that could be put to better use mowing the lawn or scrubbing the bathtub. 8. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make published. And, as Julia Cameron says: “Serious art is born from serious play.” But how to enhance your chances of winning? Strategize: timing & placement are everything When you send a short story, say, to a contest or to a journal, it’s going to be out of your hands and out of commission for a couple of months, maybe longer. You do have to use some strategy in sending out your work. Think a bit first about where you want to submit your best story. Do you want to send your best piece to some contest that only pays ten bucks and gives you a free copy? – or should you send it to the prestigious Antigonish Review, or to the prestigious and lucrative CBC Literary Competition? Also, once a piece is published then it’s not eligible for other contests, so don’t cast your pearls . . . Once your story has been submitted somewhere, it’s in literary limbo. So it’s good to have a few more pieces ready to go so that you have a few things out there at any given time. Read what the poet Daniela Elza writes elsewhere in this issue about how many pieces she has out there at any given time. Think of it as a juggling act. You’ve heard over & over that you must read past issues of the journal/magazine you’re going to submit to. That almost goes without saying – but people actually don’t do that, so we will say it again: Do your homework: check out the markets, do the research, save yourself time/heartache. If you’re going to submit to a literary journal, find the one with the biggest circulation. Increase your chances of acceptance, by finding out what their slant is, what they like to publish – then go through your output and see if you have anything that might match up. Books like the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market ($22) are so useful. You can usually get the current or previous year’s edition through the public library. And, with internet, you can go to a publication’s website and make sure they’re still in business before you submit. These references list magazines by type, and in nuggets of information their editors tell you what they are looking for which can save you eons of time. Elsewhere in this issue, Daniela Elza also discusses why it’s absolutely vital that you carefully RTFSG! – Read the Submission Guidelines. The Writer’s Market ($20) has “complete, up-to-date contact information and submission guidelines for more than 3,500 market listings, including literary agents, book publishers, magazines, newspapers, production companies, theaters, and continued… more” and now also comes on CD. 8

If you want to focus on the Canadian writing market – The Canadian Writer’s Market ($18) has “details thousands of publishing opportunities…including listings for book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards, literary agents, newspapers, playwriting markets, and screenwriting markets”. Again available at libraries. These market bibles generally are issued annually – but one edition is usually good for a few years. In fact, there’s an argument for using an edition that’s a few years old and checking if a publication is still alive: if it went extinct after a year, you wouldn’t have wanted to send your work there anyway. Specialized versions exist as well – markets for mystery; romance; horror; or science fiction & fantasy. All of which makes your life as a writer much easier.

Is it worth your time and effort entering contests and sending out work? Admittedly, it’s a bit of a lottery. But as the BC Lotteries slogan put it — “You can’t win if you don’t play.” 




2012 literary writes

Fiction Nonfiction Poetry Fiction Nonfiction Poetry

Literary Writes Fiction Winner By Angela Mairead Coid


1. COMMERCE She had seen this young fellow shepherd the hooker in his charge into cars on East Broadway more than twice. Neither was a great advertisement for sex industry prosperity. That night, when it seemed like the whole North Pacific was powerwashing Vancouver, she reached the stop as the 99B left with a twenty-minute wait for the next. Hunched over, arms between his legs, she saw him sitting in the shelter, not waiting for a bus, and though the advice is never to talk to strangers at bus stops, soaked and dripping, she needed empathy and protested to the sole audience, “I’m fed up with this weather!” “What do you expect, living in a rainforest?” He looked up, his head jigging, edgy. She agreed with a nod and a stupid smile. She fidgeted, looked at her watch, and clutched her wet briefcase. He asked if she was a student at the College. She told him an instructor. “School. Not my space,” he smirked and chewed at the sore on his lip. “You should try the College. Adults. Mature students like you. A whole different atmosphere.” He scanned the road, eyeing the passing cars and then her. Trying to be as casual as possible, she hung her purse across her chest trying to make it seem a different carrying decision rather than to protect it. A sigh. “I liked math. Numbers.” “You could take business courses.” Her inane reply to keep up a chatty conversation. He didn’t ask if she had any particular business in mind. Not his space. The 99 came, and she left him to go on about his business in the rain forest. *



2. CARING The laundromat was shabby but efficient. She gave it that. Determined to leave her son, Jason, with a full larder, a clean apartment and freshly laundered clothes, they had come here early on Sunday morning with a large suitcase and, just after an argument about separating the whites from the coloureds, he had left her here to “do it herself” while he went shopping on her five fifties. “We’ll call a cab to get back to your place. And, Jason! Get free-range eggs. Free-range!” She was on a first visit to him, newly out of the nest and halfway to the other side of Canada. For him to allow her in his new life this weekend, she had made constant little bribes of treats: a jacket of his choice, a new piece of furniture, a blanket he had forgotten to pack, and restaurant dinners. Last night, Jason and the friend she had taken out to dinner, showed with great bravado how many notches tighter they wore their belts after two months on student rations. She texted a promised progress report to the friend’s mother and sighed. She wanted Jason home. continued…


Fiction Winner continued …


The clothes were at the dryer stage, two industrial dryers with a whirling mix of colours and fabrics. She was fastidious, perfecting every chore so that no other way was up to her standards. If Jason took enough time shopping, she would have his clothes out of the dryer for his return, folded, and into the suitcase with no protest. His shirts and jeans would have fewer creases. Maybe she should have bought him an iron? She wished she had brought a book. The magazines were curled and dated. And she had read somewhere about magazines in waiting rooms carrying germs. There was yesterday’s newspaper with a virgin Business Section so she read that. This neighbourhood was mean and grim and she presumed the locals had no interest in Canadian mining stocks or the best RRSP investments. During the wash cycle she read the notice board in detail, even practiced memorizing a few phone numbers – she’d heard it warded off early dementia. Now gazing out the window was all that was left, nobody in the street at that early hour, that is, until a moment later. A homeless person shuffled along. And, oh no! – he looked in the laundromat. She grabbed a magazine (not the Business Section, in case he was anti that) and buried her face. Out of a corner she could see his. It was covered in sores, livid red, weeping. His hair was shoulder length and lank with filth. Would he ask her for “spare change,” and alone here, she couldn’t ignore him the way she would if he were begging in the street. She’d have to get her purse out of her leather designer bag, a knock-off she got in New York, but how was he to know – he’d grab it and make off with everything: her credit cards, I.D. and the rest of her cash. Who’d stop him? Checking there was only her in the laundromat, the man crept by and made straight for the washroom at the rear, pressing his back to the washers as far from her as he could. He closed the door and locked it. Was he getting out a weapon in there? She considered a run out to the empty street, but she did not want to leave Jason’s laundry wrinkling in the spent dryers. Maybe the man just needed to use the washroom? They couldn’t do it on the street. The toilet did flush, but he was still inside. Then some time later, he emerged and rushed to the door. She peeked over the newspaper and through the window. She saw his hair was wet and his dirty face, clean, the sores shone more livid from the wash. His face was not an old man’s, but a tired youth’s, not much older than her son. *



3. COMPARISON When she retired she became promiscuous. She shopped with no customer fidelity at wherever had the best bargain. This now was her daily passion. With a good pension, her own house, and a stable of smug blue chip stocks, she had no need to shave quarters off the grocery bill, just this lust for a good deal. One late afternoon found her dropping into Quality, over-the-top pricey, but they had a fantastic loss leader in fair trade coffee. She cared little if Latino preschoolers in diapers picked the beans – it promised four dollars off. Quality had a high opinion of itself and an appetite for the money of its high-income clientele. To save shoppers’ time outside so as to spend more inside, they offered valet parking and complimentary shopping carts. Binners steered clear of Quality’s cheery yellow carts, its valets, and complex empties return routine. She grabbed a cart to assert her passage to the Specials, past neighbourhood ladies with a sense of entitlement inspired by their ability to juggle houses with obscene mortgages, jobs, children and Filipina nannies, and scored the last six bags of coffee on the shelf. Quality’s flyer also proclaimed at a dollar a pack and she sprinted over to Meats to corroborate. continued…


Fiction Winner continued …


Gazing at the “grass-fed organic beef” from steers – all gently killed, willing martyrs no doubt – there stood a cleancut young man, a battered book bag on his back, and at his feet a basket in which there were a few items, most eminently a supersize bag of lowfat gluten-free chips, on sale supposedly, but for which she’d paid two dollars less in the bag-it-yourself place down the hill. The young man chose a double pack of tenderloins, and while bending to put it in his basket, made it disappear into the inside pouch of his fleece. Her mouth opened to remark that this was a first. She had never seen a shoplifter in action before. Recently she had developed a fear that store detectives might suspect her of being one because of her scouting and scooting. Wasn’t this kleptomania prevalent among the older population as well as teens? So she always kept her coat zipped and her purse closed, and displayed her receipt by reading it until she exited the store. She understood stores inflated prices to make provision for the shoplifted goods – young men like this walking out with nearly thirty dollars of meaty merchandise. She should be angry, she tells herself. The dollar bacon had the next day as best-before date! A huge fatty bacon breakfast for her and cholesterol-prone husband if she were to take the offer. Now she was furious at Quality. Furious with its pushy clientele, furious with the snooty stocking clerks standing like retail executives, discussing god knows what with each other, condescending if asked where the “supersaver bags of apples,” as advertised, were. Furious with their colleagues at the checkouts, chits of girls, and their constant mistakes as they scanned, ignoring her and her purchases, following their young male packers’ chat about some “amazing” party they’d crashed. “Awesome!” Smiles and eyes wide, collapsing into a frown when they hear: “I bought six. You scanned seven.” Or some such error pointed out in their checkout skills. “Awesome” for her was a share price doubling in a month and taking the profit. “Amazing” was a high-tech outfit soaring to the hundreds and cashing in to buy a pipeline company with dividends. If she got out before things crashed, she knew she had stolen a march on the market. Ignoring the bargain, the young man was now examining the brands and packages of back bacon. He bent to his basket and when he stood, she caught a glimpse of pink passing into the inner pocket of the lumpy fleece. His skill was impressive. She wondered what he was studying. She trusted it was something like marketing or engineering. She leaned over and whispered, “Don’t forget to check the best-before date on that. This store is a fricking ripoff.”  Angela Mairéad Coid grew up in Northern Ireland and London, England. She has lived in Germany, Spain, and Mexico and her nonfiction and short fiction has been published in Ireland and Canada, most recently in the special FILTH issue of the Windsor Review and in Geist’s Summer Reading 2012. The Antigonish Review submitted her story, “Best of Breeding,” to the 2010 Journey Prize Anthology. She is a member of the Federation of BC Writers.

Thank you, Angela We would like to express our appreciation to fiction winner Angela Coid for her generous donation. After receiving the cheque for her winning fiction entry from Literary Writes, she endorsed the cheque and donated her prize money back to the Federation. The Federation is a non-profit society, so your donations are tax deductible at 100%. We invite members and non-members to peruse our Donations page here. The December deadline for this year is not far off.


Literary Writes Nonfiction Winner By Kami Kanetsuka


tanding in this chaotic sea of taxis, I am waiting for a man I had a love affair with thirty-five years ago. Even more unbelievable is that I am in Dimapur, Nagaland, a tribal state of former headhunters in the remote North-East Frontier area of India – closed to foreigners since 1951. I have driven from Kohima the capital town in a shared sumo taxi with three young men, similar in age to Adi when we first met. When we reached Dimapur, I put on some lipstick, borrow a mobile and call him. “I will be there in ten minutes,” he says. “I am waiting by Snacks & Snacks,” I tell him. Every cell in my body tingles as I anticipate this reunion after so long. ***

A couple of weeks earlier, on arrival at Dimapur’s tiny airport, I am the only non-Naga on a flight from Kolkata. A policeman wearing denims and a plaid shirt greets me. He writes my details on a scrap of paper and visibly shows shock that I am travelling alone with no one to meet me – there is no transportation into town! Mrs Atula, a contact name I have been given, is summoned to come and pick me up. While waiting I recall the response of Mr. Limu from Naga House Kolkata, when I asked if I could really visit Nagaland. He said, “You can go but you are very courageous.” A feeling of apprehension arises with the thought – “What am I doing here?–this could be more travail than travel.” Also waiting for a ride, an elegantly dressed young Naga woman catches my eye and I blurt out, “I am not sure where I should go and what I should do here.” Warmly, Aben invites me to share a taxi with her the next day, to travel to her hometown Kohima. Mrs. Atula arrives in a rickshaw and gets me to Dimapur, a dark oppressive little town (which I later hear is rife with drugs from the golden triangle). I find a room in the small Brahmaputra Hotel at the side of the train tracks. In the town I am aware that I am the only Anglo-Saxon around, and everyone stares. On the tracks vendors sell grubs, frogs’ legs, snails, and unrecognizable meats and vegetables and when a train approaches they jump up with their baskets, returning only after it passes. The only vegetarian meal I can find are noodles with uncooked cabbage. Before bed I confirm that I will travel with Aben to Kohima. The next morning, with several other passengers, we climb the winding road of the Naga Hills. On arrival in the centre of Kohima I enquire about rooms in several shabby hotels, with no luck. Aben mentions that her mother rents rooms to Indians from



Nonfiction Winner continued …

Strange Journey

elsewhere working in Nagaland and maybe she will help me. I am taken to the family home, where I find they are the aristocracy of Nagaland, with a beautiful home, servants, and two cars. I can stay in the adjoining building and have my evening meal with the family. I have struck gold – Achila, Aben’s mother, grows flowers and vegetables on their ample land. Dinner for me is an abundance of freshly-picked vegetables with rice and dahl. Through the kindness of strangers I am comfortably housed with the Lanuakum family. Each morning Achila, who works in education, gets driven to work. On my first day I am dropped off at the exquisite museum, which houses traditional clothing and artifacts from the 16 tribes, who once wore finely-woven garments with bones and feathers in their necklaces, headdresses, and ears. In one showcase there are five human skulls hanging from branches of a tree, presumably from long ago. I also view a showcase with medical instruments, a suit, and a bust. It is of Dr. Imkongliba, the first medical doctor in Nagaland, who was assassinated in 1961. I recall hearing this story from Adi about his father. That evening I mention to Achila that I had met Dr Imkongliba’s son when he was studying in Darjeeling and casually say, “I wonder if he still lives in Nagaland?” It appears that Achila is from the same Ao tribe and comes from Mokokchung where Adi lived. “If he is here I will find him,” states Achila. The next evening when I come to dinner, she proudly announces, “I’ve found your friend. He is the cousin of one of my friends. He will call you at eight-thirty tomorrow night.” This inexplicable piece of magic throws me into a turmoil of emotions. Each evening after dinner I have been in the habit of sitting with father Lanu to watch TV before going to bed. On the night of the call we are watching a football match between Manchester United and Liverpool. While Lanu keeps switching to cricket and back, I feel irritated and uneasy about receiving this call on a mobile in a room with no privacy. I am also transported back to England in the ’50s – the last time I watched football was with my parents as a teenager. And just like a teenager I wonder if he will really call. The call comes and I have difficulty understanding Adi. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you are here.” Excitedly he slurs his words and I wonder if has been drinking. He tells me he is married and still lives in Mokokchung. I hear, “I remember your sexy eyes and wild hair.” For a moment I remember his strong body, high cheekbones, full lips, and gentle hands. He invites me to Dimapur where he will be going on business in two days and instinctively I know I don’t want to meet him. My plan is to continue to Mokokchung, then leave for Jorhat, Assam to fly back to Kolkata. *** My mind rewinds to our time together in 1975. I am on the road on an extended trip in Nepal and India. With a young Californian man I had gone to a school dance for graduating students at St. Joseph’s college, Darjeeling. As the only western woman there, the students never allowed me to leave the dance floor. After, with a group of students, I went for tea in a café. Seated opposite me was a handsome Tibetan-looking young man with long black hair and almond-shaped eyes. While many of the young men seemed immature, I felt an aura of worldliness about this man opposite me. There was extreme magnetism when our eyes met and a knowing that this moment could lead to much more. After we had exchanged a little of our histories, Adi told me that he was going home to Nagaland in two weeks. “Let’s meet tomorrow and I will bring you some books so you can see how beautiful my country is. I’m sorry you cannot visit as it is closed to foreigners.” We spent much of the following two weeks together. We walked and talked and drank tea and ate momos in the small Tibetan restaurants. He was fascinated with my stories about Canada and my small daughter as I, in turn, loved to hear about his homeland with the sixteen different tribes, the forested Naga Hills, the traditional villages with bamboo houses on stilts and the morungs, longhouse dormitories where young men slept between leaving home and marriage. As our relationship deepened we slipped easily into the joys of lovemaking with gentleness and blissful sex. Aware that we would


Nonfiction Winner continued …

Strange Journey

be separated soon made every moment precious. When the parting came we both shed tears and his gift to me was a finely-woven silk red, blue, and black shawl from his Ao tribe. For four years we corresponded and I always felt a thrill writing to his address, Sunrise View, Mokokchung, knowing it was a place I could go to only in my imagination. Eventually he had a girlfriend whom I knew he would marry. The writing stopped, I threw away his letters and never expected to see him again. *** The Lanaukum family have arranged another homestay for me with relatives in Mokokchung. With the Aier family I visit traditional villages in the countryside, where I experience glimpses of how I had imagined Nagaland. In the cool mist I wander around bamboo houses on stilts and see the long wooden drums that alert the villagers of danger and totem poles depicting tigers and mythical animals. I do not know where Sunrise View is but somehow I feel Adi everywhere. My departure approaches and I go to buy an advance sumo ticket for Jorhat, two hours away by road. I am told that both vehicles are ‘broken’ and I cannot leave the way I had planned. I rush back to tell the family of my dilemma, who tell me that the alternative way to Jorhat is to return to Dimapur where I can take the train. Conveniently, Mogren the father, is driving to Kohima that afternoon. I must make the decision immediately if I want to go with him, and then travel the next day to Dimapur. I phone Adi and he is delighted that I will be coming. I recall Mr Limu’s remark about being courageous, although I am sure this is not what he had in mind. *** A still slim and wiry Adi arrives. “Thank god, we are both still alive,” he says as he takes both my hands. At fiftyseven he is still relatively young but I am shocked by his appearance. His front teeth are reddened and broken from chewing pan and betel nut and his eyesight behind glasses is poor, causing him to walk cautiously. His once-beautiful hair is shorn and dyed black. It may also be shocking for him to see his old lover with a well-worn face and the once ‘wild hair’ short and grey. Adi takes me back to his tiny stuffy room full of mosquitoes, which he jokingly calls ‘my Calcutta slum.’ There is a single bed, a table with two chairs and in the corner a small double-burner stove. He tells me he lost most of his money going into politics. I offer to take him for dinner but he insists on cooking noodles and vegetables on his stove, all the time knocking back rum. I suggest checking into the Brahmaputra Hotel and he offers to go elsewhere and give me his dark dank room, which is in a sleazy part of town. There in no lock on the door and I tell him I would not feel safe alone. While discussing where I should stay, a mini-typhoon erupts with paper and garbage flying everywhere. This turns to thunder and heavy rain. Nobody is going anywhere.



Nonfiction winner continued …

Strange Journey

Night falls and we share his little bed, I in my sleeping bag one way and he the other. There is no desire or physical contact. Cocooned by a mosquito net the mosquitoes buzz outside, while Adi snores loudly inside. I lie there unable to sleep, pondering our changed lives, while glimpses of the past, when our bodies sang to each other, linger in and out like ghosts. The next morning I am irritable but Adi is kind. He checks the train times for Jorhat and plans to travel on the train with me, as it leaves at three o’clock in the morning, a time he says is unsafe for me to travel alone. We talk about old times with an easy familiarity and seem to remember every minute we had together. Adi travels with me to Jorhat and we have our last breakfast together. We part on the main road with a little hug. This time we will never meet again. As I wander the town and reflect, I realize that romantic love is so often fleeting and frequently does not have a happy ending, although for me some tiny heart connection remains. This unexpected and significant birthday trip created a different ending to a love story that started exactly half my life ago. 

Kami Kanetsuka cut her writing teeth in Asia, writing for the Bangkok Post & The Rising Nepal in Kathmandu, in the ’60s. She has written on cultural travel for magazines and books. Currently Kami is drawn to environmental issues and is considering writing for children – “our hope for the future,” she says. She is a member of the Federation of BC Writers.


Literary Writes Poetry Winner


Susan Braley lives in Victoria, BC, where she writes poetry and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Room, Island Writer, and Arc Poetry Magazine; and in anthologies such as Walk Myself Home, Madwoman in the Academy, and the forthcoming Desperately Seeking Susans. Her poem "Giving Him Up" placed first in the 2012 Victoria Writers' Society Writing Contest. In 2010, her poem “Traces” was shortlisted for Arc’s Poem of the Year and won the Readers’ Choice Award. Her short fiction has been published by the Harpweaver and Island Writer. She recently completed a novel entitled Falling Home, which explores definitions of home in personal, cultural, and virtual settings. She also has enjoyed writing book reviews for The Malahat Review. Susan was also the Runner-up in the Fiction category this year. Read more about Susan here.


Literary Writes Fiction Runner-up By Susan Braley

Fragile Vessel

What remains of you has come to me in an off-white carton marked “Fragile Vessel.” Inside, a dark glass jar holds you. Will your ashes be like the ones in the fireplace: soft, flyaway, flat between the fingers? A gentle gray you’d dress a baby in? But the body has bones, like your femurs, once stretched out on beach sand, long thighs covered with fine hairs, gold, like tree pollen. Will your ashes be gritty, like the floor of the canoe under my bare knees? Or salty, the taste on my lips in the rescue boat? The canoe a tangerine rind in the sea’s mouth. Out our townhouse window, the horizon a tow rope for the sun. Jasmine and Ria not up yet. I pulled on my jeans and slipped away to find your tent, a traffic cone in the gray-green fir trees behind the subdivision. I was still shivery from last night; I missed your crescent-warmth against my back, your hand cradling my left breast. It wasn’t my friends, you’d said, when you hauled your gear up from the basement. But you wouldn’t say what it was. It made sense for them to stay over – the flight left early, and our place was closest to the airport. You wanted to come with me, keep me company in my free time. I’d said no. I’d been waiting for time without you, time when you didn’t turn off my cell phone, when you didn’t pester me to go for a paddle in the cold, when you didn’t put your arms around me and say, “So?” You were warm in your suede vest when I unzipped the sleeping bag. Your birthmark a tiny hand just above the waist of your boxers. This time it was me curling up to your back, like a larva on a leaf. “Meme.” You had folded your arms in an X over your chest, but you squeezed my hands when they found yours. “You’ll be glad when I’m back?” “I’ll take you bungee jumping just like you’ve always wanted.” You smelled like pot. You only smoked up when you were upset. “Hug Random for me.” I’d put our Husky in the basement after he’d jumped up on Jasmine’s silk shirt. You’d brought him home on impulse one day. Our whole relationship was an impulse. Me getting up in the middle of a movie – the first time ever – to escape Javier Bardem’s eyes in No Country for Old Men. You stopping outside the cinema to peer at the stars through the clouds. Your hair chaotic like late-summer grasses. I remember how far down you had to reach to shake my hand, how my fingers disappeared inside your palm. I didn’t have to grow into my name. Mimi. You called me Meme from the start. I don’t think you knew it meant “cultural virus,” and I never told you. We went to a barbeque place down the street, and you ate corn on the cob in little rings around the cob instead of going along it. You said you liked my yin-yang look: skim-milk skin against charcoal curls. We’d studied at the same campus – you’d stayed for a year, and I’d stayed for five. That night, you tipped my face up with one long finger and kissed me on the chin. The next day, you took me out into the bay in the canoe. When I told you I hadn’t paddled since high school, you said not to worry. You’d been on the water since you turned twelve, when you camped out to escape fumes from your mother’s rec-room hair salon. The canoe, the same fluorescent orange as my life jacket, weighed no more than a reed basket. It steadied as soon as you slid your paddle in. For a moment, I sat still and watched you: the long plane of your back, the clean arc of your arms, the soft entry of the blade. The quiet communion of body, boat and wave. That night, I stayed. A month later, when I moved in with you, you decorated with bunches of beach daisies and carried me over the threshold, even though I told you I never wanted to get married. We’ll have a girl first, you said, Cassiopeia. At the conference, I pushed hard to get new clients, smiled at their humid faces through happy hour, served up clever sound bites in question periods. I thought of you when I could, alone in our bed, or were you in your tent? You hadn’t been away for a night since we’d known each other. Once, you’d paddled home in the dark from a friend’s cabin so we could sleep together. When the conference ended, Ria and I went out to a club – to celebrate my three new contracts – but I didn’t wear the dress with the cutout back. You liked when I wore dresses, especially the cranberry one with the full skirt, although you didn’t want me to lead when we danced at other people’s weddings. I had to lead sometimes: you took short-term jobs so you could go hiking;



Fiction Runner-up continued…

Fragile Vessel

in between, you fixed people’s bikes for nothing. It was because of me that we could buy a townhouse close to the bay. Not that the payments kept you from taking time off when Random limped home after a fight. When I got back, the kitchen was warm, like bread from the oven, and so were you, your skin still radiating the shower’s heat and the scent of juniper soap. You’d gathered mussels for dinner, scraped away the wiry hairs from their tight-lipped edges. You chopped herbs for the sauce, and I rinsed the shells under the tap, careful not to crack them. I let them slip through my fingers, ink-black, iridescent, like exotic eggs, the kind that, in stories, hinge open to reveal jewels inside. I felt sorry for the mussels when you scooped them out of the steam, their mouths like newborn birds’. Later, when we made love, I smelled garlic on your fingertips. We didn’t talk about the conference. The next morning, I threw up. I crept to the couch, and you covered me with a blanket, tucked in the edges along my legs and arms. Then you placed your hand on my stomach for a moment, as if to settle it. Before I took the test, I knew. My cells clanged like freight trains building speed: zygote, embryo, fetus, infant. I knew you’d cry when I told you, like you cried when your mother’s last checkup was all clear. I knew I’d cry too. I stole time from work, ran the knotted trails through the firs until I couldn’t. Then I walked, negotiating, hands over my belly so I couldn’t be heard. The rise and fall of my breath twinned, the flat band of flesh below my navel inhabited. Flesh stretching and filling, four limbs lengthening, reaching – like the wings of a heron lifting, your long arms, clasping, from behind me. The double arms of Cassiopeia, widening. After, when I told you, you didn’t cry. You didn’t say anything. My insides clutched, searching. You got up from the edge of the bed and stood at the window, watched the wind lash the firs. Your suede back to me, your fist on the windowpane. I wanted you beside me, wanted the weight of your hand on my stomach. When I said I wasn’t ready, you left without looking at me, pulled the door shut behind you. Your hiking boots, muted, on the basement steps. I take the black jar out of the carton, put my hands on its cool sides. I don’t open it. I’m not ready to empty it.  Susan Braley lives in Victoria, BC, where she writes poetry and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Room, Island Writer, and Arc Poetry Magazine; and in anthologies such as Walk Myself Home, Madwoman in the Academy, and the forthcoming Desperately Seeking Susans. Her poem "Giving Him Up" placed first in the 2012 Victoria Writers' Society Writing Contest. In 2010, her poem “Traces” was shortlisted for Arc’s Poem of the Year and won the Readers’ Choice Award. Her short fiction has been published by the Harpweaver and Island Writer. She recently completed a novel entitled Falling Home, which explores definitions of home in personal, cultural, and virtual settings. She also has enjoyed writing book reviews for The Malahat Review. Susan was also the winner in the Literary Writes Poetry category this year. Read more about Susan here.

Graphic Artists Needed The Federation of British Columbia Writers needs several graphic artists to *work on its online magazine WORDWORKS * undertake projects such as making posters for our writing events or creating advertisements with copy provided. You’ll be working with our Art Director and should be interested in moving into the Art Director role for the magazine. You need to be able to take direction, yet work independently. For details and more information contact:


Literary Writes Nonfiction Runner-up By Gail Meyer

Travelling with Mrs. Noda Our minivan to Nong Kiew in Laos was driven by a wild man and I decided that he was Hmong, from the tribe who helped the CIA wage “a secret war” in the late 1960s and early 1970s against a potential Communist threat. At least 12,000 Hmong died and 30,000 were wounded. Today, with a Lao communist government in power for over 30 years, I wondered what the Hmong felt about their sacrifices. Our driver gripped the steering wheel with intense concentration and exclaimed loudly as he nearly hit young children, pecking chickens, and giant water buffalo that innocently wandered onto the narrow road. Mrs. Noda broke into laughter at the driver’s antics then fell fast asleep for much of the journey. Nong Kiew is a town of 3,500 people nestled among towering mountains covered with thick tropical growth which my trusty guidebook calls “vast karst peaks.” Rivers form the valleys but the porous limestone mountains dominate and offer a lush, green, dramatic landscape. It was slash and burn season and a smoky haze added to the exotic visual image. Sticky rice, the staple food of Laos, would be planted on the cleared mountainsides. Mrs. Noda agreed that the misty mountains looked almost like a Japanese landscape painting, but added that often there was no mist on Japanese mountains. She should know because she lives six months of the year in a mountain cabin in Japan. Extremely frugal, Mrs. Noda was very happy with our ten dollar accommodation because she had been paying thirteen in Luang Prabang. The rustic bamboo cottages had thatched walls and wooden windows and a small balcony overlooking the Nam Ou River with the vast peaks rising beyond. A tropical garden was planted with papaya, banana, and coconut trees and inhabited by black butterflies ornately decorated with deep orange and bright yellow. Red and white striped hibiscus blossoms shimmered in soft river breezes. My first concern was what restaurant we would choose for dinner. Alas I found that Mrs. Noda doesn’t use restaurants normally but buys from the street or takes out from cheap noodle shops where she can see what she’s getting. As we sat talking on her balcony she produced a watermelon and sliced it carefully with a white plastic knife and then announced that while I was showering and admiring the view, she had bought a noodle soup and consumed it in her room. At the restaurant I dined on làap, a traditional Lao dish made with minced chicken, lime juice, mint, chillies, and eaten in balls of sticky rice, while she sipped water that she carried in her purse. How do I change her anti-restaurant habits was my first subversive thought. Little did I know that petite Mrs. Noda, five feet and seventy-eight years old, had a voracious appetite and the challenge would not be difficult. Plying the Nam Ou River were 40-foot narrow wooden boats transporting goods and people. In the evening modest women bathed in sarongs and the men in shorts. Young children bathed naked and older children wore at least some of their clothes which were partially washed in the process. The sun was a red ball sinking in the sky and the riverbanks and shallows were overflowing with children playing games, laughing and enjoying the coolness. I told Mrs. Noda that I walked early and would then have breakfast at a nearby restaurant. She hesitantly agreed to join me for a meal. It turned out that Mrs. Noda had difficulty imagining what a restaurant meal would actually look like when she read the menu in English. She was thirty when she taught herself the language using a dictionary to memorize a thousand words, including some very “big” ones. In the restaurant she opened her Japanese guidebook, which is filled with food pictures, and pointed to fried eggs. She enjoyed English black tea at home but wanted to try Lao coffee which she anointed with generous amounts of sugar and canned milk to dilute the taste. “I must find the very best brand of Lao coffee to take to my daughter-in-law who I care about very much. Do you think this coffee is good?” she asked. To me it tasted like Nescafé which is very common in Laos, so I told her that I would keep my tastebuds alert for the top Lao coffee. Fortunately, because Laos had been a French protectorate, espresso machines were common and excellent quality coffee had replaced the opium crops that were grown before independence. While Mrs. Noda rested in her cottage, I roamed the town. Most women and a few men carried colourful umbrellas to protect their skin from becoming browner in the sun. I saw red and black plaid umbrellas, pink flowered umbrellas, buttercup yellow, royal purple, and turquoise umbrellas decorated with white doll faces. School girls, with their dark hair tied back in ponytails, walked with feminine grace in long navy sarong skirts, white blouses and bright red sweaters. Boys dressed in navy



Nonfiction Runner-up continued…

Travelling with Mrs Noda

blue pants and white shirts and rode bicycles at great speed, with a second boy riding behind. The children were shy like their parents but the odd one would make eye contact, smile and say Sábqai-di, the Lao greeting that means hello/good health to you. Harvested bright green river weed was spread thinly on bamboo frames or plastic sacking then sprinkled with locallygrown sesame seeds and dried in the sun. The delicious, crispy, salty end result, kai phun, was deep fried just before serving. As I walked to the boat dock a sturdy three-year-old boy made aggressive kung fu moves. This created laughter among watching adults and facilitated communication when I joined in. A mom held a six-month-old baby and encouraged her to say “bye bye, bye bye” and wave at me. It’s the small details of life that are so important for a traveller, the moments of laughter and short periods of connection. Lunch time and Mrs. Noda announced that she would take me to the very cheap noodle shop and introduce me to the traditional noodle soup of Laos. Chicken broth was boiled and ladled into a bowl. Chopped green onions, cooked rice noodles, and raw bean sprouts were added with a small amount of cooked, unrefrigerated chicken. We sat down at a table (something Mrs. Noda usually avoids) and the soup came with a side dish of lettuce, raw green beans, and fresh basil leaves. Mrs. Noda’s favourite condiment was a strong-tasting shrimp paste, already mixed with salt and sugar, into which she dipped the green beans. Adding basil and beans to the broth, we ate the pleasant soup with chopsticks and then a spoon, and I had a tiny taste of the shrimp paste which proved too overpowering for my delicate palate. The bill came and was about a dollar cheaper than what I had been paying for a large plate of fried rice or fried noodles which in this remote town, would be about four dollars. What was special, was that I had been wanting to try a noodle shop meal but had been uncomfortable with how basic they looked.

It’s the small details of life that are so important for a traveller, the moments of laughter and short periods of connection.

Mrs. Noda and I talked and laughed a lot about our lives, our loves, our families, and our philosophies of life. She told me that she was “a Wild Woman” and that I looked like “an Elegant Woman.” My plastic black & white spotted giraffe earrings had won her over. She was refreshingly entertaining and used the biggest words in her vocabulary like “complementary” or “companion” or “comparison.” She asked me how the stock market was in Canada and we commiserated. She asked me about my biggest dream and I said sailing around the world. “How much would the boat cost?” she asked. “A minimum two hundred thousand U.S. which I don’t have,” I replied. “Let’s go together and buy the boat and sail around the world,” she said. Mrs. Noda traveled much lighter than me, with just a miniscule purse and a small backpack which included both food and clothing for our five-day journey. Consequently, she washed almost all her clothes at least once a day, hung them in the sun, and wore her sleeping costume of white tights and a lacy beige teddy around her room until her clothes dried. Her sexy underwear included a black bra and frilly blue panties. She walked with tiny steps, her bare feet in flipflops. Her face was unlined and beautiful with her black hair pulled back into a bun on the nape of her neck, and in the evening she added a touch of sophistication with bright red lipstick and a conservative sarong tied over her shoulders. She expressed regret that she was now too old to find a new husband but twinkled that “you never know.” I ordered a local Beerlao and chicken skewers with pineapple, tomato, onions, and green peppers, as well as giant crispy French fries. Mrs. Noda said that she would not order anything but would have a small glass of beer. When the chicken and French fries came, she suddenly was ravenous, we shared the lot and she paid the bill. “Have you seen the movie Samari Spirit that won an Academy Award?” she asked.


Nonfiction Runner-up continued…

Travelling with Mrs Noda

“No, I haven’t.” “I believe in what it says – that people are kind to us and we should be kind to others.” “I believe in that concept,” I said, “and try to live my life that way.” “Me too. The movie also talks about ‘face.’ For instance, I do not like to be looked upon as stingy but only as frugal. We don’t know how long we are going to live, so we must be very careful with our money.” “I don’t fully understand the idea of ‘saving face.’ It’s not something we talk about much in Canada.” “You should read the book, The Japanese. It explains all about us,” she laughed. The next night was our last night of travelling together and Mrs. Noda hadn’t yet tasted river weed. I told her that it was my turn to pay and that the first course was khai phun which was especially good with cold beer. It tasted salty because of soya sauce and very much like the sea kelp used in sushi. The deep fried sheets were paper thin; we ate them with our fingers and both delighted in the crunchy/salty/sesame flavours. Cicadas were singing, a gecko chirping, and water buffalos mooing across the river. A four-year-old girl, in orange shirt and shorts, herded baby ducklings swimming near the shoreline. A father bathed a toddler, dressed him, and tied him on his back before walking up the hill. Japan.”

We toasted each other and Mrs. Noda said, “Please call me Ikuko and come to stay with me in my mountain cabin in

Ikuko looked glamorous in a totally see-through black blouse with her black bra underneath. She said that she had been hoping for a special man to show up for the last thirty years, but it had never happened. We looked around at the young backpackers, laughed at our mutual wishes for a mate, and clinked glasses. Reclining like Cleopatras on decorative red and black embroidered cushions, we sipped our frosty Beerlao out of stemmed glasses and toasted each other – two “Wild Women” and intrepid travellers who would definitely keep in touch. 

Gail Meyer’s nonfiction outdoor and travel writing has been published in Canadian newspapers including the Times Colonist, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, and the Gulf Islands Driftwood. For many years she worked as an educational video scriptwriter and medical media specialist. She received the John Muir Medical Film Festival Award for writing & directing a video on diabetic fitness and has written for the Victoria Deaf and Hard of Hearing Newsletter, the Blue Water Cruising Association Newsletter, and the Salt Spring Island Conservancy. An independent traveller who has just returned from Korea, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, Gail has taught ESL in Nicaragua, Galapagos Islands, Argentina, Tunisia, and Malta. She’s also volunteered with an HIV Study in Uganda, an education nonprofit in Kenya, as a lifeskills teacher in Namibia, and as a social justice video consultant at the Universidad Casa Grande in Ecuador. A foodie, writer, and traveller, Gail, who lives on Salt Spring Island, is currently working on a travel/food memoir.

contests, calls for submissions and Literary Writes is sent out regularly to Federation members via the VOX e-news and can also be found on the Federation of BC Writers website under the Vox.

Information on


Literary Writes Runner-Up Winner By Dell Catherall

The Watcher “Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer...” Louise Gluck Snapshot: my younger sister squints at me, a tiny hand shields blue eyes from the sun. At five, she hid in shadows under the back stairs beside the garden and watched them search familiar places – her drawing perch on the rough black bark of the cherry bough, the raspberry canes behind the willow where we buried the turtles in a cedar box, Staunton’s mansion across the street. Our father calling the police while Moira peered between slats to see mother wring hands in guilt and hear father offer whiskey-teared descriptions of his little girl. The drama played for hours, until Moira limped down the lane, one shoe in hand – time to be found. My sister watches, then she acts. I am the dancer. A summer sugar plum fairy costumed in chintz pirouettes on a backyard plywood stage, casts siblings in supporting roles – Moira the garden spirit in mosquito netting tosses petals skyward, Doug, our younger brother brandishes a cap gun, Let the show begin. Three years older than the little brat, Me, the bossy bitch. She’s stubborn – a rebel laces her world with glass beads and LSD. She, abhors the thought of waving my cheerleading pompons and I, the thought of painting a brown river red. He, plays hoops and juggles ideas somewhere on the fringe of our sisterhood. The watcher, the dancer, the philosopher, empty the garment bag with mother’s vodka stash, pay the taximan; pick up dad with the wheelbarrow at the end of the drive, do well in school; be quietly perfect and most importantly hold onto secrets and tell teachers lies. An architect and engineer brilliantly self-destroy as we enable, rescue, excuse. Maybe they’ll love us back. Privilege and neglect shape a sister, drive her desire to affect change with documentaries on lives lost — women alcoholics, teens who lose their way pumping heroin into veins disappear into the black hole of forgetting. Moira treasures their tales, never forgets her own. The watcher, always there for the dancer, a son’s addiction shrouds the family in pain, again. IMPLOSION.


Why him? Why us? What didn’t we learn? GUILT. You cannot lose yourself, she says and gives me red tap shoes, It’s time to dance. She films my arms, my feet, my spirit my journey is hers, a slow dance toward recovery. The watcher, one with the dance — runs through Incan streets with orphans of Cuzco, films a kaleidoscope of twirling women in Chad. balances her hand-held camera to jump with Unruly Body, stomp with Big Sky, and weep as she drifts across bone-white sand in the wake of a Japanese woman dancing memories of war and rejection. Applaud the Queen of Sorrow and Hope! Sisters intersect In the heart of the city at Hastings and Main. We film the Memorial Day March And remember the violent deaths of 65 women. Rainwater streams down my face, washing my boots as I hold the umbrella over Moira and the camera. We improvise, Lead, then follow the undulating line of quilts, one for each of the murdered women. Moira captures the moment; I focus on keeping the lens spot-free so my sister’s view is true. A duet of love, the dancer and the watcher.

Dell Catherall - a former teacher/librarian, Dell now spends her time attending writing courses in UBC's Continuing Studies program, volunteering in the Downtown Eastside and tap dancing. These three passions are united in her poem “The Watcher, “ a tribute to her sister, a documentary film maker.



and the art of self-sabotage

By Susan L. Greig


ubmitting my writing to a contest or for publication had over the years somehow become a larger than life fear. My friends were doing it. Members of my writing group were doing it. Even my teenage daughter’s entire English class was doing it. I wanted to, really I did. But taking the final leap and submitting my writing was a hurdle I just couldn’t seem to get over. Now I’m a person who some might consider a compulsive goal-setter. I pride myself on setting challenging but attainable goals, and years ago I made a promise to never let my fears get in the way of living life. It’s the reason I went on the Disney World Tower of Terror ride four times even though I suffer from fear of heights and anxiety in elevators because of years and years of childhood nightmares involving very tall elevators plunging me towards the earth. I told my daughter before going on what is still one of the most hair-raising experiences of my life – that I wouldn’t let anything stop me from going on the ride as many times as she wanted, because I wanted her to know that it is possible to overcome your fears and let nothing hold you back. When it came to contest submissions, the words of my invisible Negative Nelly companions surfaced immediately every time I thought about entering anything: “What makes you think you’re a good enough writer to even enter?” – “What makes you think you can write on this topic, anyway?” And then there was the oxymoronic, “What if I win? I’ll never be able to write anything as good ever again.” I knew as the Nellies approached that I should stomp them out, the way you would a balloon, popping the negative thoughts and making them disappear – but 27

I searched everywhere. Like some crazed binner, I resorted to going through the garbage and recycling bins. Nothing. Agony. After three days I tried to re-create it but, as with a lot of writing, stories often capture what is a moment in time and my story was gone. There was no way to reclaim it. I suspected my subconscious, based on my fear of entering, made me do something with it and forget it. Maybe I put it someplace “special” for safekeeping or maybe it was a result of perimenopausal forgetfulness. Two days before the contest deadline I simply had to resign myself to the fact that either it was lost into the universal ethos, or that I would eventually find it tucked between the pages of a book or in the back of a utility drawer.

instead my fears festered and grew over the years. Last year I made a decision: I was going to get over it once and for all. As with all goals you want to achieve, I wrote it down and I set a date. Then I chose a contest and started ruminating on its theme of “Lost.” Story ideas crept into my consciousness and every time I sat down to write I felt compelled to start something, yet despite my goal, I continued to ignore the pull. Finally a week before the contest deadline, I was sitting in the car waiting to pick up a friend from the dentist when a story based on “Lost” popped into my head. Of course when you want to write you don’t have anything with you. I had to dig through the garbage in the car and my purse. I found a receipt. I’d have to write small. It was brilliant. It was cathartic. I cried as I wrote. It was beautiful. I was going to win that contest. I was going to reach my goal! I stuck the paper into my purse. I thought about my story all evening, knowing in my heart that I would finally take the leap, format my piece for the contest, put it in an envelope, and mail it. I had a week before the deadline, plenty of time. Eager now, the next morning I went into my purse. It wasn’t there.

I told myself that more than likely my “masterpiece” was in a dump somewhere among rotting stinking potato peelings and coffee grinds. Then of course the Negative Nellies poked their noses out: “No one would really want to read your story anyway.” This time I slammed the figurative book on them and told them to shut up. I made a firm decision that I would not let my neurotic self rule my future submission goals. I read a couple of self-help books. Key reminders: “You are what you think” – “If you expect a good outcome you will have a good outcome.” I decided this must apply to my writing just as it had to other things I’d done in life. I knew I needed to take another plunge and enter something. I made a list of goals and decided that, rather than write something new, I would find places I could submit something I’d already written. I set a deadline. My first choice for a submission was my largest and most complete work. It was a book that I have been working on for years. My oldest daughter was diagnosed with a neurological disease at four years of age and died 15 years ago. The work-in-progress is in reality a journal that carries through her birth, through her short life, and what I experienced as the mother of a dying child and as a bereaved mother. Writing this has been a personal struggle because so many times while trying to edit it I 28

would have heart palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness, all signs of any anxiety attack. I’d had to stop working on it and put it in a drawer. Those negative voices were strong proponents of leaving it there. Not too long after that I received a notice of a Blue Pencil event coming up in a month’s time. My good friend and writing mentor encouraged me to put my name in and to consider submitting something: “It’s time. And you can do it.” Over the month I procrastinated and found a million other things to do and the event completely “slipped” my mind. Then one week before deadline, something in my email Inbox drew it to my attention again. I spent that next week in torture – it was on my mind constantly. Finally the day before the deadline I called my friend: “Please – come over. Help me do this.” I felt completely overwhelmed. I can’t remember now if she came over or if I finally was able to do it myself. All I know is that I felt as if all of the hair on my body was standing on end. My heart pounded in my ears. I felt on the verge of an anxiety attack. I remember I held my breath and hit Send. Later that I day, still tremulous, I met with our writing group and I told everyone I’d submitted my name for an appointment with an editor at the Blue Pencil. They all congratulated me and we talked about how hard it was. I continued shaky inside all day. It took a couple of days before I became comfortable with the idea. I had taken the step of getting my name in at least. That felt almost as big as actually submitting something. Then I received an email from the organizers: Thank you so much for your registration. At this time all of the spots have been filled, however you are second on the wait list. If a spot becomes open we will contact you and you will have until this date to submit. My heart felt like it was coming apart at the seams. Two spots away from a submission. I’d finally gotten the courage; I’d struggled through to click on that Send button and this was the sad result. A big part of me was disappointed of course, but the other part of me was … relieved. I was off the hook. I put it out of my mind, so much so that I was actually stunned a week later when I received another email. A space has opened. The submission date, the email explained, was six days away. All week I waffled. I told myself I was “too busy” with work. I took self-sabotage and procrastination to new heights by scheduling a doctor’s appointment for my yearly physical, a chiropractor appointment, and even agreeing to take on two big projects at work that I didn’t want to do. In the odd moment of clarity I felt as though I held a daisy in my hand. I’d pull a petal: “Yes, I will do it.” Next petal: “No, I don’t have the time. I won’t do it” … “Yes, I will do it … No, I won’t do it. I can. I can’t.” The deadline was five days away – Saturday at midnight. Saturday morning came and I was out and running around but I thought about my book the entire time. A big theme of my book is about “finding my voice” as a writer as well. 29


Two o’clock Saturday afternoon: I made myself a cup of tea. I stood in the kitchen watching the sugar dissolve into nothingness. I walked to my computer, sat down, opened my book’s file, and looked at what I’d already edited. I drank a lot of tea. I typed. I formatted. I printed and proofread. I typed more. Formatted more. Proofed again. An hour before midnight I sat back in my big leather chair, stomach in knots. I couldn’t distinguish whether I felt lightheaded from not eating or from the fear and anxiety. I’d been lost in this, at it for hours. I realized I had no idea where my family was or what they’d been doing that whole time. My whole world had become the computer containing my two chapters and the synopsis. Now the email was ready. The files were attached. All I had to do was click on the Send tab. I re-read the instructions one final time. I stood up. I paced the room. I made myself yet another cup of tea. There is something meditative about watching sugar dissolve. I walked back to the computer, put my cup down on the desk, and paced around the room one final time. I stood in front of the computer, looked at the time – eleven-thirty – took a deep breath, and I clicked on that Send tab. It was done. Epilogue Susan eventually did find the “Lost”-themed story written on the receipt. Her conclusion was that it wasn’t a story worth crying over or anything worth submitting. But the feedback she received from the editor at the Blue Pencil session on her book chapters and synopsis was very positive and encouraging: You are an excellent writer…the language you use conveys your moods, emotions, and black humour so well …. This is a raw and powerfully-written personal story …. Your writing is superb … As you read this, Susan is editing her book. It’s also her goal to make three submissions to contests over the next year. 

Susan L. Greig is a Métis writer whose New Westminster kitchen overlooks a Safeway instead of the Fraser River. Her first children’s book, Forever Special Friends, has sold the world over. She’s a blogger, tweeter, graphic artist, website designer, Arts & Crafts Home Movement enthusiast, and a former event planner. She previously served on the Federation of BC Writers board and is currently Art Director for Wordworks. Her time now will be devoted to staving off the Negative Nellies – and writing.


Writers write…editors edit… but/and By Franci Louann first…write with the wind let yourself fill the page; next…chop, chop…choose the best point with your finger, read aloud be your own first editor, put that hat on before you submit, share, send find a place and time to focus obsess, be picky-picky; poor punctuation distracts (space comma space) buy a dictionary, use Google use synonyms for breaths, use commas or white space or line breaks; for prose you might study the-most-comma-mistakes/ then…workshop if you can with some whose style you admire— have copies for all encourage written comments have them point, ask, not just applaud— hands on, all hands on deck… listen…wait…for your aha feeling: you’ll know what’s right let each poem hear its own drummer; the three Rs of writing are rewrite, rewrite, rewrite… an award-winning style…* submissions? in a perfect world I’d keep a calendar of deadlines with one week’s notice… start early with possible entries rework, rework, rework follow the guidelines…submit, submit, submit… do you have a novel? hire a professional writers write…editors edit… proofreader does not have a hyphen; do follow the guidelines…do submit… *e.g. Alistair MacLeod

Franci Louann’s poetry was published in Dorothy Livesay’s last anthology, Woman’s Eye (Air 1974/75), now in the Vancouver Public Library’s permanent collection. She has been ‘writer-inresidence’ in Argentina, Australia, and Portugal. Beach Cardiology (Lipstick Press 2010) reflects this travel. Publications from Horse of Course Press are Wild Horses, Poems on Poems, and The Perfectly Punctuated Poetry Portfolio. Franci co-founded Poetic Justice.

Literary Writes: At 25 next year – it’s one of British Columbia’s most venerable literary competitions Compiled by Margo Lamont

Past winners check in and share what their win meant to them and their writing


iterary Writes, the Federation of BC Writers’ annual writing competition, enters its 25th year in 2013. We put out a call to members through our VOX e-news to ask past winners to let us know what winning Literary Writes had meant to them.

Mary Ann Moore of Nanaimo, a poet, writer, writing mentor, and a ‘weaver of interactive poetry performances,’ wove an interesting account of what happened since her 2006 Literary Writes win: My poem “Unpacking” placed third in Literary Writes 2006. I was pleased to go to The Word On The Street literary festival and read my poem along with the other winners and to meet the judge of the contest, Sandy Shreve. I had just arrived on Vancouver was pleased to learn that the levels. Winning the contest helped having a celebration like WOTS welcomed by the writers I continued workshops, readings, and all sorts of

It feels great to build on the success of winning a prize. I continued to enter contests …

Island in 2005 from Ontario, and Federation accepts writers of all to make me feel welcome and made it all the more fun. I also felt to meet on Vancouver Island at literary events.

It feels great to build on the success of winning a prize. I continued to enter contests, send my work out into the world, go to poetry retreats with Patrick Lane, join a group of writers based in Nanaimo & area, become a board member of the WordStorm Society of the Arts (monthly readings and other events in Nanaimo) and offer my own writing circles. I’ve published three chapbooks of poetry since the contest win including one in a series of ten from Leaf Press in which Sandy Shreve was also included. Also, lots of book reviews (in the Vancouver Sun, BC BookWorld, etc.) as I like to help promote other BC writers. The Easy Writers, the writing group I’m part of, published two anthologies, one of which was launched in Victoria at the end of August this year. “Call Me the Name I Call Myself,” a poem, won second prize in the “Imagine A World Without Hate” contest sponsored by the Diversity Caravan of the Community Justice Centre, Courtenay, BC, in September, 2011. Room published one of my poems in its Fall 2012 issue and a personal essay of mine is included in Living Artfully: Reflections from the Far West Coast, edited by Anita Sinner and Christine Lowther (The Key Publishing, 2012) which will be launched in various locations in the months to come. One of my poems will be in Poems from Planet Earth edited by Yvonne Blomer (November 2012). My poems have also been in several chapbooks that have come out of the poetry retreats I’ve attended with Patrick Lane. I’ve done readings at WordStorm in Nanaimo, Planet Earth in Victoria, the Hazelwood Writers Festival and Poetry Gabriola. Are all these things a result of placing in a Literary Writes contest? Many factors help my writing practice here on the West Coast: belonging to the Federation of BC Writers, feeling the success of winning, the celebration of the written word, and the welcome by other writers are definitely high on the list. All the best -- Mary Ann September 18, 2012 continued…


Susan McCaslin, of Langley, who’s been writing since she was 12, was for 23 years a professor of English and Creative Writing at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, and is now a full-time writer, giving poetry workshops and readings. She wrote of her 2006 win: When someone from the Federation of BC Writers contacted me to tell me I was the first place winner for “Radiant Body” in the 18th Annual Literary Writes Poetry Competition in the fall of 2006, I was over the moon. I was over the moon …. having

my poem singled out as the This was one of the first major contests I had won, other than the best one submitted that year Mother Tongue Chapbook competition in 1979, and first places in affirmed me as a writer.… an the Burnaby Writers Society’s competitions of 1995 and 2005. endorsement from one’s peers Not only was this prize a further affirmation of my poetry due to and the publicity that issues the rather large number of submissions, but it carried with it a from the win helps increase most generous $500 prize. Also, my win included reading with one’s profile in the community. other writers in the author’s tent at the Word On The Street festival in Vancouver. I had been part of Poetry in Transit, but having my poem singled out as the best one submitted that year affirmed me as a writer. Although prizes shouldn’t matter, they can and do, since an endorsement from one’s peers and the publicity that issues from the win helps increase one’s profile in the community. Though we should all carry on writing out of the intrinsic pleasure of the process (and I mostly do), gaining this sort of exposure is an enormous boost.

Sometimes I feel I’m only a writer when I’m writing, and the rest of the time is more agony and self-doubt than ecstasy, so it’s good that writers honour each other in this way. I like to think we’re not just boosting each other’s egos, but honouring poetry as the gift moves around and on. All the best, Susan McCaslin September 14, 2012

Jocelyn Reekie, from Campbell River, an early Literary Writes winner, got in touch to let us know what happened after her win way-back-when: Not sure if I qualify. I was one of 20 writers whose work was selected as “winners” from over 1,000 entries in the Federation of BC Writers’ contest. We were invited to attend a weekend of discussions and a workshop conducted by Jack Hodgins in Campbell River. Later that same year, a book with our work was published by a consortium of some of the people who were in the group of 20. The anthology was titled The Air Between Us (Laughing Willow Books, 1994). The combination of the honour of having my work selected from so many entries, listening to a master teacher, and discovering four of my fellow participants planned to publish a book of our work, inspired me in several different ways. The combination of the

honour of having my work In March of 1994, I asked a writer friend if she wanted to publish selected from so many an anthology with me, and we established Kingfisher Publishing, and entries … inspired me in published ShoreLines: Memoirs & Tales of the Discovery several different ways. Islands in 1995. There were 33 contributors and we printed and sold 2,000 copies of that book. From there, I applied for and was accepted to the Book Publishing Program at the Banff Centre of the Arts in 1996. Since then I have edited many writers’ work, had two YA novels published (Tess and The Week of the Horse) – both of which were shortlisted for awards – taught workshops and presented at festivals, became an active reviewer for CM Magazine, took up painting – and continued writing.

In 2011, I formed a partnership with five fellow artists & writers, established Peregrin Publishing, and we began work on putting together an anthology. We called for submissions from a limited catchment area. Our theme was “escape” – which resulted in Escape, An Anthology from writers who live on Vancouver Island north of the Oyster River or on the Discovery Islands. The book contains 44 works, including: poetry, fiction, nonfiction and graphic stories, from 28 contributors. continued…


Escape is about adventure and change. In Escape, readers travel with these chroniclers of change to places like Ireland, Russia, and under the sea; they’ll experience the humour, drama, and tragedy inherent in change as people, places, and situations are embraced, endured, or left behind. I have completed an adult historical novel, and am currently working on an adult contemporary novel as well as a picture book titled, Kittens and Stars and Cats Who Meet Czars. I intend to self-publish the picture book. Cheers, Jocelyn Reekie

Sandra Hartline, a member from Nelson wrote: Dear Wordworks: Actually I won twice – the first time was 1996 in Penticton, where I was a delegate (Award of Merit) and second time in Nelson in 2000, where I was also a delegate. In the past, Literary Writes sent its winners across the province as delegates to writers' festivals in Penticton or Nelson for example, where you had a chance to read your writing, attend workshops, and get critiqued by your fellow writers. It was exhilarating. It's great to be recognized by your peers! But the hard work continues. I have finally finished the first book, Muck Creek, which is being sent out to agents and publishers, and am finishing the second, The Way We Were Then. The first win was for a short story, "A Visit," later published in a slightly different form in Bones and Bread, a local anthology, and the second was for the first chapter of The Way We Were Then. I continue to write magazine articles and occasional short stories for local publications.

It was exhilarating. It's great to be recognized by your peers!

Cheers, Sandra Hartline 

Shirley Rudolph, a Vancouver writer, won a place in 2008: Winning a prize (even if 'only' third) in the Literary Writes contest in 2008 was extremely gratifying, a confirmation of my belief in myself, that I really was, maybe, just possibly, a real writer. Much as writing fulfills something for me privately, it is eventual publication and actual readers that I would also like to have. The prize didn’t make writing any easier, but it certainly did encourage me.



Edye Hanen, a member from Bowen Island, who won in 2010, recalls: The name of my creative nonfiction piece was "The Heart Box.” In fact, winning this award changed my life considerably. “The Heart Box” was, from the beginning, what I imagined would be the anchor story in a collection of short stories. After winning, I felt very inspired to begin writing those stories. I began shortly after winning the award in 2010 and as of now, I have written 15 stories for the collection. The stories are interwoven; the same characters appear in all of the stories (as in Margaret Atwood’s collection, Moral Disorder). Another of these stories (“The Escape”) has just won second prize in the Canadian Authors’ Association contest and will appear (with “The Heart Box”) in the CAA anthology National Voices.

…winning this award changed my life considerably.

My drive to continue to write following the win has also produced other successes: I have recently sold two stories to Mexico Connect magazine and published a story (“Ordinary Magic”) in the March 2012 issue of Sol Literary magazine. I also published two pieces in both the National Post and The Globe & Mail following the 2010 win. I do believe that winning the Federation contest is what has inspired me to keep writing. My goal now is to find a home for this collection of stories. Thanks for asking! Edye


Submissions Tracker Name of piece “Wild Horses” short story

Publication sent to J of Fiction Toronto

Date sent Dec 1, 2012

Date should hear by Jan 30, 2013

Comments / Notes Annual fiction contest, 2000 words. Sub by email 

©2012 Margo Lamont []


Date heard back


Contests and calls for submissions

Most of these are annual, but links given are for 2012 contests.


by writers for writers


(Originating in BC but not necessarily restricted to BC writers) • Federation of BC Writers – Literary Writes Contest (genres vary from year to year). Look for info here. • Ascent Aspirations in Nanaimo edited by FBCW Regional Representative David Fraser, has contests and calls. Info here. • Poetry Institute - Open ages (kids) and adult poetry contests. Info here. • PRISM International magazine annual contests (writing journal from UBC) here. • Rannu Fund Speculative Literature competition (fiction and poetry) info here. • Room magazine annual writing contest (fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction) here. • The Fiddlehead (Atlantic Canada literary journal) has 2 annual contests ($2,000 Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem + HM prizes; and $2,000 for Best Story + HMs) – info here. • Vancouver Writers Festival – Poetry & Short Story Contest. Every October. Guidelines for 2012 here. • Victoria Writers’ Society Annual Writing Contest. Info here. Do not become • West End Writers’ Workshop contest here. discouraged by a • Youthink: BC online writing contests and contests for teens. Writing and artwork. collection of rejection Info here. slips at first. Many poetry magazines CANADIAN CONTESTS have acceptance • Canadian Authors’ Association Writing Contests. Info here. rates below 2%. • Canadian Writer’s Contest calendar. A book ($15) that contains 80 pages of detailed from How to Do information on Canadian writing contests, awards and prizes, organized month by month poetry according to their deadline dates. More info here. submissions • Canadian Writers’ Journal short fiction contest here. • CBC’s Canada Writes Short Story Prize. Big prize money, high prestige. Awarded once a year to the best original, unpublished, short story submitted. All Canadians can participate. Look for it in September. Info here. • The New Quarterly – Info here on 3 annual contests: • The Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest: $1000 for one glorious poem; • The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest: $1000 for one winning essay; • The Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award: $1000 prize. continued on next page…

Hold Ctrl key + click to follow all links 38

by writers for writers


• •

This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt – here. Writers’ Union of Canada – Annual literary award, Danuta Gleed Literary Award (February deadline) for best first collection of short fiction. Annual writing competition Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers (March deadline).


Just make sure (guidelines again) any contest you enter is open to people anywhere. • British Crime Writers’ Assoociation - Debut Dagger Contest info here. • Funds for Writers – listings of contests here. • Literary Magazines – “every writer’s resource” – here. • Nanowrimo. “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon.” National Novel Writing Contest. Nov. 1–30 every year. Along with thousands of others, you write a novel in a month. Winner gets published copy. Info here. • Places for Writers – Connecting writers with places to publish – info here. • San Miguel Writers’ Conference, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – annual writing contest info here. • Surrey International Writers’ Conference – annual writing contest. Info will be posted here for 2013 contest, probably by about May. • U.K. Writers Reign (U.K.) competition info here • Writers for Diversity competition info here. • Writers’ Resource Competitions – Australia here.

Preparing your manuscript for submission

The first thing you need to know when sending something into a contest or a call-for-submissions is how to prepare your manuscript. Some contest guidelines will spell that out and have very specific requirements. Check first: ALWAYS read the full guidelines before submitting, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and perhaps grief. Here are some links that explain how your manuscript (MS) should look: • Elizabeth Lyon, who’s excellent, lives in Portland, sometimes comes to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference so you can actually take her workshops. She has a bunch of books on manuscript preparation, mainly for books, but good information to know even for short pieces. Check here. • Famously popular spec fiction writer, Ursula K. Le Guin (Gandalf Grand Master award-winner and author of The Farthest Shore and many more) has a good, easy to understand manuscript preparation tips page here. Poetry manuscript submissions are slightly different from fiction: • • • • • • •

“How to Submit a Poem to a Poetry Contest or a Print Publication” – here. (It’s for a specifically Christian magazine but has good tips.) Writer’s Digest – “How to Prepare Poetry Manuscript Submissions” – here. Myslexia (U.K.) poetry submission tips here. Poets & Writers – Writing Contests, Grants and Awards page here. Finding Legitimate Writing Markets & Contests – and avoiding scams – info here from the Canadian Authors’ Association. Dee Rimbaud’s Advice to Novice Writers here. And Dee’s writers’ resources compendium here. Book Prizes – Mark Medley writes about the challenges publishers face as they decide which three books to nominate for the Giller Prize here.

continued on next page… 39

Publishers of book anthologies, journals, and some magazine send out calls for submissions. Generally unpaid, often juried. • Canadian Writers Journal calls for submissions page here. • Funds for Writers – listing of markets here. • London (Canada) Writers’ Society calls info here. . • Places for Writers – hundreds of calls from all over the world here – (from Writing with 'surprise endings' wanted If a call for submissions to an to Seeking writing about being a good man anthology asks for money, to Wanted: Steampunk poetry and prose check it out a little more. to Wanted: Writing that explores city neighbourhoods Anthology calls asking for to Wanted: Experimental writing by women – and payment aren’t always scams. screensfull of more). Writing contests usually do • PWAC Quebec calls info here. ask for an entry fee – but for • Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador calls info here. an anthology it could be a • Writers of Colour calls info here. yellow flag. If your antennae • Writers for Diversity calls info here. are tingling – read this or just • Writers’ Relief – listings of calls here. search ‘writing scams.’ Anything “too good to be Our members recommend: true” usually isn’t. Contest BC Historical Federation writing contests Recommended by member Cathy Magee Focus on BC history. Check out and go to Awards on the left side. They are for books (including the BC Lieutenant-Governor’s Historical Writing for BC medal), articles, student essays, newsletters, and websites. This should be a great resource for members.

by writers for writers


Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar Dear Wordworks: I use contest opportunities, especially 24-hour ones, to hone my writing craft. In fact, this year, at the Chilliwack library, I presented a PowerPoint Workshop entitled “Honing the Craft of Writing through Story Contests.” I know that you asked for information about specific contests, but I have done a lot of research to locate contests and the best resource I found is The Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar which contains detailed information about contests in Canada. The contests are organized month by month according to their deadline dates. Caveat emptor Thanks! Annie Daylon, Chilliwack We have not had the time or resources to check out every link listed here in any detail. A listing here does not constitute an endorsement of a contest or agency by the Federation of BC Writers. Read carefully. Never assume.

Magazine Recommended by Angela Mairead Vancouverweekly has just accepted a short, very short, story of mine, “Coyboy.” It has adultery and lust for forbidden love all set in a "sustainable" Vancouver forest. What more could you want – except maybe Johnny Depp to play the lead? And kale snacks .... Vancouver Weekly is a neat zine with lots of pertinent practical information about the weekly events in Vancouver plus book, movie and restaurant reviews. And of course bizarre short tales to make your bus commute more bearable. I think they also take poetry. Angela, off to water the kale crop.


A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingstone Seagull)

WORDWORKS - Literary Writes Contest issue Winter 2012  

Wordworks, magazine of the Federation of British Columbia Writers, this issue featuring the winners of the Federation's "Literary Writes" an...