Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sir Richard Owen, (1804 – 1892) is famous for coining the word Dinosauria, from the Greek δεινός (deinos) "terrible, powerful, wondrous" + σαῦρος (sauros) "lizard." ...and arguing with Darwin.
Here, he is debating whether or not to spend his Sunday afternoon digging up more bones or attending the Elora Writers' Festival.

Friday, April 29, 2011

In the early days, being an Elora Writers' Festival fan was a bit of a challenge. Now anyone can openly wear a brochure with pride.

Courtesy of

Friday, April 22, 2011

Writing Contest 2011 Reminder: Deadline Friday, April 29

Hurry! Time is running out!

Are you planning to enter one of our writing competitions?

If so, here are the last-minute details to ensure you don't miss the (2011) deadline:

Elora Writers' Festival Open Writing Competition:

What: Short story (2000 words max) or 1-3 poems (75 lines max)
Where: Send to Julia Browne, 28-415 Morgan Avenue, Kitchener ON N2A 2V6
Include: Entry fee $15.00
Info: Julia Browne email: juliacbrowne (at)
Entry form: Here

EWF Young Writers Contest:

Teen Category (13-18)
What: Short story (2000 words max) or 1-3 poems (75 lines max)

Junior Category (12 and under)
What: Short story (700 words max) or 1 poem (40 lines max)

Where: Send to Jean Mills, 1 Darren Place, Guelph ON N1H 6J2
Info: Jean Mills email:  jrmills (at)
Entry form: Here and no entry fee required

More information: EWF Young Writers Contest

Enter as many times as you like, but be sure to include an entry form with each submission.  Winners will be announced on the day of the Elora Writers' Festival, Sunday, May 29, 2011.

For information about the 2013 Competition go here...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

That might not be a cigar, but it sure looks like he's got a Festival brochure in his pocket.

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt, 1921

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (May 22, 1859 - July 7, 1930) with one of his ghostly friends (he had many).
(One can only imagine what else he would have done with the "tale" end of his life if they had given him a heads-up about how much money Sherlock was going to add to his estate.)
Thanks for submitting this pic, Arthur—if I may call you that. Yours is our first photo contest entry from the other side. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with psychic extra, c.1922. Gelatin silver photograph, Barlow Collection, British Library London

Agatha Christie using snail mail to order her tickets to the Elora Writers' Festival—one can only surmise that at this point in her career, haste is a luxury she can ill afford.

Books and Bucks: the Big Picture

from: The Globe and Mail

Kathleen Winter Shortlisted for the Orange Prize

It was announced yesterday that Canadian author Kathleen Winter was one of six writers to make it to the 2011 shortlist of the Orange Prize, the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by a woman. Her first novel, a finalist for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller prize, the Governor General's Literary Award, and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Annabel (Jonathan Cape) has reaped rave reviews here and abroad:
"Her lyrical voice and her crystalline landscape are enchanting"
The New Yorker

Here's a great Shelf Unbound Twitter conversation with Kathleen Winter.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is that a Brochure in your Pocket?

Send us a photo of you or a loved one; an acquaintance (or even a stranger, for that matter... your landlord? A politician?) with the 2011 Elora Writers' Festival brochure protruding from a pocket (any pocket will do) and you will have a chance to win one of our Elora Writers' Festival Book Bags filled with Festival-related goodies. Send your photos (jpeg format) to and watch this site for entries.

And even if you don't get around to entering the contest we'll still be "glad to see you" at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 29 at the Wellington County Museum & Archives (Aboyne Hall) to fill your ears and pockets with great Canadian fiction and poetry.

Books by the Pound: The London Book Fair — how do you weigh the impact of digital sales?

"The e-book era has clearly arrived, but can publishers' digital revenues grow fast enough to offset the worldwide decline in sales of physical books? About half of all books are bought on impulse—sales that result from attractive displays in inviting surroundings, which are readily accessible to the most literate, well-heeled customers (aka 'the heavy book buyer')."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ernest Hemingway in Cuba
(circa 1937)

Spreading the Word One Pixel at a Time

from: Worldreader

The final scene in Casablanca just before Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and Victor (Paul Henreid) get on the plane.

Right to left: Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Eugene Borden who, in this picture, looks like he'd rather be somewhere else—like the Elora Writers' Festival...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Marilyn Monroe with husband Arthur Miller (circa 1956)

Mark Twain (1907)

The Concert
by Johannes Vermeer
Oil on canvas,
69 x 63 cm

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Johanna Skibsrud's Debut Novel — Winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize

"It has the makings of a bestseller: a young first-time novelist with an obscure name, a small respected independent publisher, an international literary judge with an award-winning reputation and the most prestigious literary prize in Canada..."
"...the book world in Canada is abuzz—not so much about the come-from-nowhere book that won the coveted Giller, as much as it is about criticisms about the international literary judge and questions about how closely connected literary agents and judges should be."—Mark Madley, NATIONAL POST (Read more...)

About The Sentimentalist...
"Readers will either love the sentences packed with adjectives and conjunctions, or find it overwritten [...] Other times, Skibsrud nails the scene with a delightful precision. The narrator stays in bed, listening to Henry and her father banging around downstairs 'shouting to each other across the hall in immense, pithecoid, monotones.'”—Zoe Whittall,
The Globe and Mail

Join us on Sunday, May 29, (1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.) at the Wellington County Museum & Archives (Aboyne Hall). Maybe you'll get a chance to talk to Ms. Skibrud about how it feels to be the author of the most talked-about book in the country.

Along with your ticket to the festival, you can pick up the new (Douglas & McIntyre) edition of The Sentimentalist at Roxanne's Reflections Book & Card Shop in Fergus.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Making Books Now...

Making Books in 1947...

(click here to watch the video) from: The Prelinger Archives

"There’s a good reason the cover image is of a broken plate.”*

According to Chatelaine, short story writer Sarah Selecky could easily be the next Alice Munro. That’s a formidable statement, but equally formidable is Selecky’s Giller-shortlisted nomination for her debut collection of short fiction, This Cake is For
the Party

"The cover of Sarah Selecky’s debut fiction collection is striking in its insistence upon ruin, lack and nostalgia: A jaggedly reassembled smashed plate is home to a cluster of crumbs, a consumption-smeared fork and the counter-insistent title declaration, This Cake is for the Party. [...]Selecky sinks her teeth into something far more powerful than the violence of loss: She skillfully wrests devastation from its customary gloom of lamentation and regret, and bares its overwhelming beauty."
— Lisa Foad, The Globe and Mail

You'll find This Cake is For the Party and tickets to the Festival at Roxanne's Reflections Book & Card Shop.

And you can meet Sarah Selecky (along with Johanna Skibsrud, Richard Greene, Alison Pick, Cynthia Holz and Nicholas Ruddock) at the Festival on Sunday, May 29, 2011.
*The Star

Not Our Typical Rejection

Photo: Michael Hale
"I don’t know many writers who would say it’s easy. Each day is still a kind of torture. Writing fiction is qualitatively different and harder, in my view, than memoir, narrative non-fiction, essays, criticism and advertising copy—all of which I’ve done. Every morning requires facing failure, picking up something half-made, working at it, pushing it forward, trying to advance and to not feel too discouraged. I send stories out and collect the rejections months later. I watch as my beloved novel makes the brief, dismissive rounds."
— excerpt from We Ten Million by Alix Christie in "More Intelligent Life"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Journalist to Novelist—Cynthia Holz

About Benevolence:
“This new novel by Cynthia Holz offers that beautiful combination of tension and tenderness… Holz is deeply skilled at conveying her characters’ emotional chaos. This isn’t a thriller by any means, but she knows how to make a reader feel very anxious… There are moments when you feel like shouting, ’Don’t go there,’ as you might in a horror movie… But in the end, Holz says more about human growth and connection than she does about weakness.”
NOW Magazine, March 2011

Cynthia Holz is the author of four widely acclaimed novels and a collection of short stories. She was born and raised in New York City and is a Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the City University of New York. She came to Toronto in 1976 as the Canadian correspondent for Business Week magazine and eventually quit journalism for a career as a fiction writer, bookseller, and part-time writing instructor.

"Some of the greatest novelists in history, from Dickens to Twain to Hemingway, began their careers as reporters [...] have managed the transition to fiction writing quite successfully. [...] a former reporter who has written two books and is at work on his third, warns would-be authors that writing fiction involves nothing less than incredibly hard work and a complete transformation of the journalistic mindset." Continue (courtesy of

Join us on Sunday, May 29, (1:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.) at the Wellington County Museum & Archives (Aboyne Hall). Maybe you'll get a chance to talk to Ms. Holz about the transition from journalist to novelist.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spines Welcome: Chairs for Book Lovers


details here...

Richard Greene — Winner of the 2010 Governor General's Award for Poetry

"Boxing the Compass is a poetry collection of mid-life reassessments that also makes room for the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, tone-deaf church choirs, the last of the Newfoundland whalers, and vividly remembered Portuguese fishermen. Spiritually searching and intellectually rich, Richard Greene's third book—which ranges from intimate to ironic to satiric—shuns easy answers in poems of unfashionable eloquence comprised of colloquial textures, clear-eyed narratives, political subtexts, and no-nonsense introspection." — from

For a sample of Richard Greene's poetry, go to this site...
and get a front row seat to hear him read at the Festival on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What They're Saying about Alison Pick's Latest Novel…

"Far to Go is the first novel I’ve read that covers the lead up to World War II from the Czechoslovakian perspective, so a lot of the historical information was new to me. But instead of confusing the reader with a lot of names, dates and politics, Pick has chosen to concentrate on the lives of an ordinary Czechoslovakian family – a family who at first don’t realise how much danger they are in."
She Reads Novels

"[...] very deftly structured and the storytelling is seamless. [...] Far to Go appears poised to gain a wide and significant readership, and deservedly so." - The Globe and Mail

"Weaving Czech history with a contemporary mystery, Far To Go shows terrific craft and emotional intelligence. A winner. " - NOW

"What makes this novel Pick's challenging, even audacious way of recounting it...a novel that builds to an almost unbearable climax...Far to Go explores the ways in which truth and facts can be assembled like so many fragments of stained glass in a kaleidoscope." - The Montreal Gazette

You'll find Far to Go at Roxanne's Reflections Book & Card Shop.
And you can meet Alison Pick (along with Johanna Skibsrud, Richard Greene, Sarah Selecky, Cynthia Holz and Nicholas Ruddock) at the Festival on Sunday, May 29, 20011.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Healing Words

It is remarkable how many physicians have produced great works of fiction and poetry—from Anton Checkhov and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author Vincent Lam. It leads one to wonder what links these seemingly disparate vocations. According to Austin Ratner (a first-year MFA student and graduate of Johns Hopkins medical school) and author of The Jump Artist (Bellevue Literary Press):
"They're both what are sometimes described as callings [...] ways of meaningfully addressing myself to human experience and suffering."

"If you take the heart of The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño, the lungs from Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and the brain of Liam Durcan’s Garcia’s Heart, you might end up with a body that resembles Nicholas Ruddock’s The Parabolist."— Clair Cameron, The Globe and Mail

On Sunday, May 29, physician/author Nicholas Ruddoch will join Johanna Skibsrud, Richard Greene, Sarah Selecky, Alison Pick and Cynthia Holz for an afternoon of readings. There's a good chance you will hear something from Mr. Ruddoch's novel The Parabolist.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Just Released...

"Near Cowfold, Sussex is Oakendene, a stronghold of cricket at the beginning of the eighteenth century. William Wood was the greatest of the Oakendene men. He was the best bowler in Sussex, the art having been acquired as he walked about his farm with his dog, when he would bowl at whatever he saw and the dog would retrieve the ball."

These are the opening words of Avril Bolond's new book Unkindest Cut: Love's Labour's Lost and Found, an intriguing chronicle of how William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Won was "disappeared," and banished from the Canon of Shakespeare's work—and how it was recently unearthed (almost literally) in the small village of Oakendene in Sussex by a construction worker hired to clear out a cottage once owned by cricketer William Wood. It had languished in a leather satchel under a flight of blocked-off cellar stairs for almost two centuries.

The existence of the play itself, of course, has long been subject to speculation; many works—some apocryphal, others genuine—have magically appeared over the centuries since the bard's death. In the famous list of Shakespeare's plays assembled by Frances Meres in 1598, he included Love's Labour's Won, as a sequel to Love's Labour's Lost. In the final moments of Love's Labour's Lost the group wedding scene (the typical, off-the-rack, comedy culmination) of Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, three noble companions to the King of Navarre, is unexpectedly deferred for a year without any obvious use to the plot. In all likelihood, Shakespeare was planning a sequel.

Another clue to the existence of Love's Labour's Won came to light in 1953, when Solomon Pottesman, an antiquarian book collector, discovered a 1603 book list penned by the stationer Christopher Hunt that includes Love's Labour's Won as a play in print.

Avril Bolond's book postulates, among other things, that the play was never performed or published because of its egregious and some would say treasonous content. In one scene, for example, there is discourse between two characters (courtiers to the King) that is contemptuous of both King James I (especially his wife Anne of Denmark) and the mores of the day. And in another, a blatantly homosexual affair between Longaville and Dumaine is graphically and unambiguously remarked upon. Enough said: read it for yourself.

All these mysteries are addressed in Ms. Bolond's fine book, along with others that will undoubtedly keep the fires of controversy over Love's Labour's Won burning for years to come.

Unkindest Cut: Love's Labour's Lost and Found
By Avril Bolond
344 pp. Prost/Kargill & Co. U.K.