Monday, March 28, 2016

There’s something for everyone in our Festival 2016 Line-up!

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be transported to other worlds and places – all carried on the words of five terrific Canadian authors during the 2016 Elora Writers’ Festival on Sunday, May 29 at the Wellington County Museum and Archives. 

Join us as we hop from genre to genre – crime, sci-fi/fantasy, memoir, poetry and humour – and meet the authors up-close-and-personal once the readings (and another classic Q&A session) are done.

Ready? Here’s our Festival 2016 line-up:

Dietrich Kalteis, author of The Deadbeat Club

Dietrich Kalteis joins us – all the way from Vancouver, people! Yes, Dietrich is making the trip from B.C. to share his West-Coast noir thrillers – The Deadbeat Club is his latest, with Triggerfish coming out in June. His novel Ride the Lightning won a bronze medal for Canada West Regional Fiction at the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

J.M. Frey, author of The Untold Tale

J.M. Frey will transport us into other worlds – think science fiction and fantasy with a big dose of steampunk for good measure. She’s an actor, an academic, a voice artist – and much, much more. Her latest novel is The Untold Tale, which she calls “an epic-length feminist meta-fantasy.” Her debut novel, Triptych (2011) was a winner at the San Francisco Book Festival. Coming soon, a steampunk trilogy featuring “a girl vigilante and her mysterious rocketpack.” (Yup. We need to know more about this, please!)

Douglas Gibson, author of Across Canada by Story

Douglas Gibson, former editor and publisher, will spill the behind-the-scenes details of his life in the Canadian literary universe with Across Canada by Story, the follow-up to Stories about Storytellers. He’s been wowing audiences across Canada as he performs his one-man literary stage show, too. Want to know the real stories about Canadian books and writers? Get your questions ready, because Doug is the guy with the answers.

Pamela Mordecai, author of Red Jacket

Pamela Mordecai is another award-winning author whose resumé hops from genre to genre – poetry, novels, children’s books – and includes teaching as well. Her novel Red Jacket was shortlisted for the 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and her poems have been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Award.

Terry Fallis, author of Poles Apart
Finally, a familiar face to EWF audiences – Toronto novelist Terry Fallis makes his third appearance at our Festival, with his latest comic hit, Poles Apart, in hand. Terry just won his second Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, too (for No Relation). We remember his first appearance, where he read from the now-classic The Best Laid Plans and apologized to us for his flawed Scottish accent. (And then, of course, there was his second appearance, where fellow-author Sonia Day’s passionate reading about gardening inspired him to comment on his “peony envy”...!) Delighted to have you back, Terry!

That’s the line-up. Do you notice anything different?

Yes, there are only five authors, instead of the traditional six. That’s because we’re going to do something new. At the conclusion of the readings, we’ll invite all five authors back to the stage for an informal Q&A with questions provided by you, the audience. Expect the unexpected!

There will also be food, drink and schmoozing galore – a trademark of our Festival.

Sound good to you? It sounds great to us – and it’ll be perfect if you’re there too. Please join us!

WHEN: Sunday, May 29, 2016, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (…or a bit longer?)

WHERE: Aboyne Hall, Wellington CountryMuseum and Archives (lots of parking!) 

HOW: Tickets are $25, available by visiting or contacting Roxanne’s Reflections Book & Card Shop, 152 St Andrew St W, Fergus, Ontario, 519 843-4391. 

Need more information? Roxanne, our wonderful Mistress of Ceremonies, can also answer any questions you may have about the event. Call her at the store, 519 843-4391, or email us at

See you on May 29 in Aboyne Hall!

Keep up to date on our latest news, including the upcoming Books & Beer event . You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@EloraWF)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Our contest judges weigh in: What do you look for in a good story?

The EWF Short Story Contest deadline is almost here! (In case you’ve forgotten, your entry needs to be postmarked by Wednesday, April 6…). 

No doubt your story is well underway. Or maybe it's still in the "thinking stages." In any case, it might help to have a little motivation and inspiration. So, we asked some of our contest judges to answer this question: What do you look for in a good story?

Here's what they said:

Heather Wright

Heather Wright
(Educator, editor, and author of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens as well as numerous novels and stories for young readers)

For me, a good story is the complete package: a compelling opening that makes me want to read more, real characters (even if they're elves or owls) that have both good and not-so-good qualities and whom I'm sorry to say good-bye to at the end of the story, and a plot that has a beginning, a middle and an end.


Lisa Dalrymple

Lisa Dalrymple
(Award-winning author of Skink on the Brink and A Moose Goes A-Mummering)

It seems like such a simple idea but I love a story that gets me into a character’s head. If I know what the main character is thinking, what she’s feeling, and what’s important to her, then the plot–and everything that happens to her–grips me all the more because it’s happening to someone I care about. When I’m reading through a pile of wonderful contest submissions, that’s what is going to make one stand out over some of the others I receive.


Kira Vermond

Kira Vermond:
(Author of The Secret Life of Money and Why We Live Where We Live, which won the 2015 Norma Fleck Award for Non-Fiction)

I look for a story that makes me feel something, whether that’s happy, sad, angry or uncomfortable. And the best stories? They make me think, ‘Wow! I SO understand what the writer is saying! This person has put something into words that I’ve been feeling for years — but never knew how to express to myself.


Michael Hale

Michael Hale
(Author of The Other Child and A Fold in the Tent of the Sky)

A good story changes the way the reader looks at the world. It brings fresh insight to the commonplace, and transforms what at first seems peculiar and unconventional — foreign, if you will — into something intimate and personal.


Francis Baker

Francis Baker
(Writer, editor and journalist with almost 30 years experience in community daily and weekly newspapers in Ontario, a Canadian Community Newspapers Association and Metroland Media award for editorial writing)

I don’t think there’s a formula for a “good story.” Entice the reader with something exciting, original or unique. Good stories are usually about people, so make them interesting -- write characters with real motivations and feelings, not stereotypes. Don’t mumble, Stephen King says. Be honest. Reach for something no one’s done before. Experiment -- I’d rather read a story that strives beyond itself and misses a little, than an utterly competent retelling of the same old thing.


Bieke Stengos
(Guelph poet and short story writer)

My advice: Write from the heart. Then use your head: let others read and edit your work. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.


Find everything you need to know about the 2016 EWF Short Story Contest here

Story ready to go? Mail it to EWF Short Story Contest, c/o Elora Arts Council, Box 3084, Elora ON N0B 1S0. Youth and Teen categories, no entry fee. Adult category, $15 entry fee (cheques made out to Elora Arts Council - thanks!)

And if you need one more nudge, remember this advice from American writer, Mary Heaton Vorse:

"The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants
 to the seat of the chair."