Announcing the Nova Writes winners

This year, we received more than 80 entries of unpublished manuscripts for Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts in the categories of short fiction, short creative non-fiction, poetry, and writing for children and young adults. The competition is by blind entry, meaning that readers and judges do not know the identities of entrants. 

The beauty of this competition is the feedback given to entrants. A big thank you goes to our anonymous readers for the carefully considered feedback offered to each entrant and to the four judges, Elaine McCluskey, Evelyn White, Jenni Blackmore, and Genevieve Lehr. Thank you also to Annick MacAskill, WFNS Programming and Membership Officer, for coordinating the competition. 

Without further ado, here are the shortlists and winners for the 2020 edition of Nova Writes.

Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize:


  • Nataliya Bukhanova, “The Lucky Guys”
  • Robert de la Chevotiere, “Mou-Mou”
  • Brad Donaldson, “Sinking”
  • Francene Gillis, “True Colours”
  • Jenny MacDougall, “The Guests at the Party”
  • Sydney Robichaud, “My Mother’s Hands”
  • Deborah Stiles, “Robbery” 
  • James Whidden, “Marsden Hartley”

The winner of the Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize is Brad Donaldson for “Sinking.” Judge’s Citation: “The author has written, within the confines of a short story, a poignant account of love, tragedy, and human frailty. The details ring true and the writing is both controlled and touching. While the setting, a Nova Scotia fishing community is specific, the story speaks to universal themes such as loss and the power of place upon people.”

Judge: Elaine McCluskey

H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize:


  • Mary Dodd, “Quarry”
  • Beth Ann Knowles, “The Hwagae Bath House”
  • Nanci Lee, “The Primacy of the Individual”
  • Leonard Brent MacDonald, “The Door”
  • Dvora Trachtenberg, “My Mother Never Had a Wedding”

The winner of the H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize is Beth Ann Knowles for “The Hwagae Bath House.” Judge’s Citation: “A warm, well-paced, and beautifully crafted reflection on cultural risk and reward. The piece takes readers on a memorable journey with a perfect ending.” Judge: Evelyn White 

Joyce Barkhouse Young Adult Fiction Prize:


  • Emily Dodge, “Daughters of Morrigan”
  • JC Farquahar, “The Party Loop”
  • Jaime Horbul, “First Days of Summer”

The winner of the Joyce Barkhouse Young Adult Fiction Prize is Emily Dodge for “Daughters of Morrigan.” Judge’s citation: “Daughters of Morrigan is well paced, with truly believable characters who instantly draw the reader into their world, which is fraught with sibling rivalry. Subtle yet intriguing hints speak of darker happenings about to transpire and I suspect that this will be a read that’s hard to put down. Masterfully written, with what promises to be a tantalizing plat. Love it!” Judge: Jenni Blackmore 

Rita Joe Poetry Prize:


  • Cathy Jacob, “Evening Prayer”
  • donalee Moulton, “In Tact”
  • Margarate Schwartz, “Trial by Moon”
  • Pat Thomas, “Raven Spirit”

The winner of the Rita Joe Poetry Prize is Cathy Jacob for “Evening Prayer.”

Judge’s citation: “[These] poems are sincere, well-crafted, and reflect a depth of engagement with language. I was particularly moved by the poem “How wonderful” with its intimate and moving portrait of the loss of a loved one. The images are stunning, and I felt the poem speaking to me on a personal level, drawing me in with its quiet, dignified poignancy. Nothing gimmicky here. The image of the person “leaning skeletal on a stiff walker/in stained pants and the drooping white flag/of an untucked shirt;” is simply gorgeous.”

Judge: Genevieve Lehr

Scroll to Top

Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at