Monday, April 16, 2012

Elora Writers' Festival Writing Contest: A Journey...

Where will your journey take you....?
(Photo T.J.R. Mills)
“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair,” claimed 20th century American writer Mary Heaton Vorse.

If you’re a writer – or you want to be – then the time has come to adopt Heaton Vorse’s credo as your own because, yes, it’s writing contest season.

Start thinking about this year’s contest theme: A Journey. Let your imagination wander. Feel the creative energy start to flow.

Then apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, and write!

Contest Details:

Enter your short story (1500 words maximum) or poem (75 lines maximum) in the 2012 Elora Writers’ Festival Writing Competition by Friday, April 27.

·         Title Page:   Category, Title of Entry, Writer’s Name, Address, Email
·         Short Story or Poem:   with title (Writer’s Name on Title Page only)
·         Category 1:    Include Entry fee
·         Category 2-4:    Indicate age on Title Page
·         Deadline:    Postmarked by Friday, April 27, 2012

Send double-spaced, printed entries (with entry fee for Category 1) to:

EWF Writing Competition
c/o Elora Arts Council
Box 668
Elora ON N0B 1S0

Winners will be announced 12 p.m. ET, Saturday, May 26, 2012
on the Elora Writers’ Festival blogsite

You can find entry details on the contest flyer here,

and a list of Frequently Asked Questions here.

Questions? Contact Contest Chair, Jean Mills, at

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Favourite Client: Highlights of a Season of Champions

On the job in Saskatoon: Writing World Junior reports
 while waiting for the Bronze Medal game at the
 2012 Tim Hortons Brier to begin (Photo D. Mills)

When I took on the role of writer/editor for the Canadian Curling Association website last summer, I was looking forward to a season of writing about - and helping other writers write about - a sport I love. The job was everything I thought it would be, with some unexpected challenges thrown in.

Where to start? How about with some of the challenges:

1. With five high-profile national/international events being held in Canada this season, and a number of others involving Canadian teams on the world stage, the website was the hub for news as well as marketing. That meant at least five - usually more - stories a week requiring editing, photos, links and posting on the website. Because each post involved individual event teams made up of mostly volunteers, an event coordinator, a writer, and an editor, the process relied on clear, timely communication among all participants - and that communication chain sometimes snapped. More than once I found myself doing a last-minute edit late on a Sunday night for a post that was scheduled for first thing Monday. Part of the job, and we all got it done, but not my favourite way to operate, particularly when I juggle other jobs and clients along the way.

2. Some of the writers I worked with this season were not writers - they were contributors with essential expertise and experience in aspects of the sport. They sent me copy; I had to turn it into something readable, entertaining and informative. That's not always easy - especially when I was determined to maintain each writer's distinct (and sometimes quirky!) voice. What a challenge, and what fun for the writer in me: playing with other voices. 

Highlights? There were many!

1. Writing about the grassroots of curling in my bi-weekly column, Around the House, allowed me to speak with curlers and curling club managers around the country about the sport we all love. I had a chance to tell their stories, and that's my favourite thing to do. From writing about the brand-new club in a little town in Quebec, to the massive sports and entertainment complex that just opened in Moose Jaw, I loved sharing curlers' stories - and they were generous with their efforts to answer my questions and provide photos.

2. Writing summaries of games at The Dominion Curling Club Championships, the first-ever Youth Olympic Games, the World University Curling Championships, the World Juniors, National University and most recently, the World Men's Curling Championship. Did I get to attend these events? No - this was long-distance reporting. It was exciting to follow the action online, using line scores from the event (sometimes in the middle of the night for international events!), then incorporate news from the official media release into the story, wait for photos to be posted on the CCA or event image gallery, write, edit and post the story - quickly! And when Canada won medals, as they did at every one of those events, it was even more exciting. 

As a writer/editor, this has been one of the most satisfying and enjoyable contracts I've ever worked on, and here's hoping there will be more in the future. Thanks, CCA! You are my current favourite client!