Updated Nov 14, 2012
What is the Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar?
First of all it's a BOOK, not a wall calendar.
Started in 1995 by Wordwrights Canada's Susan Ioannou, who published the issues through 1998, The Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar passed to Mekler & Deahl, Publishers. In 2002, the publication was acquired by White Mountain Publications. In short, each edition contains 80 pages of detailed information on Canadian writing contests, awards and prizes, organized month by month according to their deadline dates. This reference makes much-needed information available for writers and gives them an incentive to polish and disseminate their work. By promoting the contests it also helps our literary magazines to stay afloat.
Awards for published books have also been listed so that authors and small publishers can consider their entries. Profiling our Canadian Awards can only mean greater importance is placed on them, and a greater understanding of their cultural significance can be obtained from coast-to-coast. A number of the awards programs exist for publishers, not authors, to submit their books for competition. These usually have quite a bit of prestige and cash attached to them. They are listed in the Contest Calendar because, as a writer, you should know about them as well. Many of you are small publishers; some of you have books published by smaller presses. If you think your book may qualify for an award, a quick consultation with your publisher may mean the difference between it being entered or not. And I think it helps for you to know what kinds of awards there are for your goal-setting. But to bring the book back down to size, and keep it focused on its usefulness to writers the name of the award, the deadline, the genre and the contact information are the only information printed in the book. We used to post the full award information online, but there are very few people accessing it that way. The most direct and up-to-date information is available directly from the Award sites in any case, and the book will direct you to them.
If you think that you'd ever have time to write and still know where to find all this information, collect it, and organize it, let me know. There were over 500 lines of data to check for the 2009 edition, some found very few other places yet. Some contest information is not available on the internet. There are over 500 database lines to confirm each year, some found very few other places yet. Some contest information is not available on the internet. Geographically, the contests cover Canada from Whitehorse to Windsor, Victoria to St. John's. Every year there contests started and contests discontinued. And by far the changes are the addresses, email, mail and websites. Anyone who says they could compile all of this on their own, has never tried to do it.
There is an exciting diversity of opportunities for Canadian writers. And it's all in one place so you don't have to look for them.
NOTE: We do not endorse or recommend any specific contest mentioned in the Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar. Double-check their website closer to the deadline date for any last-minute changes, read the rules carefully and consider entry fees and what you receive in return before entering any contest.
How I Use This Book
This is first and foremost a workbook. After I have finished compiling it, I take a yellow marker and highlight the names of the contests I'm interested in entering. As a publisher, I then go though and mark the awards programs any of my books might be eligible for in a different colour marker.
Using the same colour scheme, I then go to the calendar (or a photocopy of it) on page five and colour in the squares for the deadline dates for the contests and the awards. Then I fill in with a pencil shading or a third colour the dates for holidays and other dates when I already know there's a holiday, or a conference. I'm not likely to be writing those days, so I get a feel for how they land in the year.
That gives me an idea how much time I have, when things should be mailed, basically the skeleton of the year ahead. It takes about thirty minutes. Then I go get a cup of coffee and recover from the shock of how all things pass by so quickly. In one sense it feels like the year has already passed, and it hasn't even started yet.
When the shock wears off a bit, I transfer the dates and information to my computer program so that as the dates are coming closer, a note appears to remind me. The coloured-in calendar (or a copy of it) goes up on the wall beside my desk.
And so begins another cycle. Here's hoping your plans for writing success stay on track. Now all you have to do, is write.
What writers are saying about the Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar:
Am currently putting the finishing touches on my workshop (Honing the Craft of Writing through Story Contests) for Write On Bowen (July 10, 2011). I have now done a considerable amount of research on the availability of contests in Canada and have to say that your Contest Calendar is a gem. I truly believe it is the best source of detailed information available for Canadian writing contests. I have listed the Calendar (and your website) on my Sources for Contest Information handout and intend to show/explain the calendar before I give [them] away.
Thank you for your invaluable contribution to this area of Canadian writing. I will contact you again after the workshop to let you know how things went...
Cheers, Annie Daylon British Columbia
"...thanks for producing this calendar. The number of submissions has been rising steadily over the past two or three years, and some of that may be due to your work. I've also added you to our list of media to be notified about the nominees and winners."
Cheryl Freedman, Executive Director, Crime Writers of Canada
"My copy of the Contest Calendar arrived yesterday. I am absolutely delighted with it; it is exactly what I was looking for. I can now apply a little planning to my contest submissions, as opposed to the 'shotgun' approach I have used to date. I now have eight contest entries in the mail, all hand picked for the specific contests. All I need now is a few ounces of talent and a pound or two of luck.
Thank you very much,
B.D., Western Shores, Nova Scotia
I have made very good use of the 2005 edition, which provided me with most valuable information. I really don't know where else I could have come up with or find such a useful and resourceful tool to aid me in my aspirations to become a freelance writer.
I have entered many writing contests already this year, and hope to enter many more in the coming year.
G. R. T. Weyburn, Saskatchewan
Now all I have to do this year, is actually USE it.
[Deb: Well we can't do everything.]
J.C. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario