Atlantic & Nova Scotia Book Awards shortlists

The shortlists for the 2024 Atlantic Book Awards and 2024 Nova Scotia Book Awards were jointly announced on April 15 at Trident Booksellers (Halifax).

The Atlantic Book Awards Society also opened voting on April 15 for its new Readers’ Choice Award, open to any book written by an Atlantic Canadian author or published by an Atlantic Canadian press in 2023. Over 130 titles are on the ballot, with the option to submit more titles before voting closes. Vote on the 2024 Atlantic Readers’ Choice Award

Congratulations to the below authors shortlisted for WFNS’s Atlantic & Nova Scotia Book Awards!

(See the websites of the Atlantic Book Awards, Nova Scotia Book Awards, and Dartmouth Book Awards for Atlantic & Nova Scotia Book Awards shortlists.)

J. M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award


Joe Bishop
Indie Rock
(University of Alberta Press)

Matthew Hollett
Optic Nerve
(Brick Books)

Sadie McCarney
Your Therapist Says It’s Magical Thinking
(ECW Press)

Fawn Parker
Soft Inheritance
(Palimpsest Press)

Harry Thurston
(Gaspereau Press)

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children's Literature


Alma Fullteron
The Journal of Anxious Izzy Parker
(Second Story Press)

Vicki Grant
A Green Velvet Secret
(Tundra Books)

George Paul
Kepmite’taqney Ktapekiaqn / Le chant d’honneur / The Honour Song
(Éditions Bouton d’or Acadie)

Jack Wong
The Words We Share
(Annick Press)

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award


Violet Browne
This is the House Luke Built
(Goose Lane Editions)

Charlene Carr
Hold My Girl

Amanda Peters
The Berry Pickers

William Ping
Hollow Bamboo

Michelle Porter
A Grandmother Begins the Story
(Viking Canada)

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award


Sherri Aikenhead
Mommy Don’t: From Mother to Murderer: The True Story of Penny and Karissa Boudreau
(Nimbus Publishing)

Karen Pinchin
Kings of Their Own Ocean: Tuna, Obsession, and the Future of Our Seas
(Knopf Canada)

Kelly Thompson
Still, I Cannot Save You: A Memoir of Sisterhood, Love, and Letting Go
(McClelland & Stewart)

See the websites of the Atlantic Book Awards, Nova Scotia Book Awards, and Dartmouth Book Awards for other Atlantic & Nova Scotia Book Awards shortlists.

Atlantic & Nova Scotia Book Awards shortlists Read More »

Message on a Bottle finalists

Congratulations to the four finalists in this year’s Message on a Bottle contest!

Katherine Burris (Bible Hill)

Arianna Lehr (Halifax)

Jamie Samson (Halifax)

Darryl Whetter (Belliveau Cove)

The winning entrant will see their short poem or prose piece published on the bottle label of Island Folk Cider House‘s new strawberry-and-banana cider, receive $250 cash from WFNS, and enjoy a six-pack of the new cider courtesy of Island Folk.

The winning entry will be announced next week.

Message on a Bottle finalists Read More »

Sci fi, fantasy, & horror workshop series

Listed below are all workshops in our special 2024 series of sci fi, fantasy, and horror workshops, encompassing speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Registration is open to WFNS members and nonmembers at the same rate.

View all ongoing & upcoming workshops, including those with open waitlists, on our our main Workshops page.

If the registration fee would make it difficult or impossible for you to participate in a particular workshop, we encourage you to contact Andy at to arrange a fee alternative.

A Speculative Fiction Expedition (virtual) with Sherry D. Ramsey

Tuesdays, May 7 to June 4 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Journey through the landscape of science fiction and fantasy, stopping to explore what makes a story or poem ‘speculative,’ tropes and expectations of the genres, and the best ways to build engaging story worlds. We’ll scout out what makes strong speculative fiction writing that feels fresh and offers something new, and we’ll consider new and developing sub-genres and trends. We’ll discover how and where to find inspiration for speculative fiction ideas in the ‘real world,’ discuss the various publication routes we might take with these stories, and look at where the market is headed. Each session, we’ll also spend some time writing to explore these ideas.

Registration Closed

Write What Scares You: Crafting a Screenplay for the Horror Genre (virtual) with Josh MacDonald

Mondays, Mar 18 to Apr 22 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

From Rod Serling and Richard Matheson to Jordan Peele and Issa López, great horror movies always begin with a great story told on the page. But how do you format a proper screenplay to imply either a slow-building suspense sequence, or a shocking jump-scare? How do you guide the camera—using words alone—to suggest that menace is hiding behind a creaky door, or that it’s bursting into full view? Horror movies are often predicated on pop psychology—what is it that truly scares us?—so how do you write subtext as text, within the confines of a screenplay’s rigid blueprint? Horror fan and horror writer Josh MacDonald will answer these questions and more, while guiding participants through weekly assignments leading to the creation of their very own short and scary screenplays.

Registration closed.

Writing with Tarot: Symbols, Archetypes, and the Creative Journey (virtual) with Tiffany Morris

Wednesdays, Mar 20 to Apr 10 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Archetypes—the shared language of symbols that exists across cultures—help shape our stories on conscious and unconscious levels. From the Fool’s Journey to the Hero’s Journey, the 78 cards of the Tarot provide a multitude of archetypal symbols that can guide our creative process. These Tarot symbols are drawn from diverse sources, ranging from Arthurian legend and astrology to early 20th century mysticism, providing an exciting framework for personal and creative exploration. In this four-session workshop for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, the first half of each session will teach the basics of Tarot symbolism in the standard Rider-Waite system. In the second half of each session, we will write and explore how these symbols can generate ideas for plot and character in fiction, as well ideas for poetic devices and nonfiction storytelling structures.

Registration closed.

Solarpunk: Writing Futures with Resiliency (virtual) with seeley quest

Tuesdays, Apr 2 to Apr 16 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Interest is growing in futurist fiction that engages with current ecological and geopolitical instability by imagining sustainable story-worlds. Dystopian climate-centred fictions can command attention dramatically but suggest desirable or livable futures are less possible. This workshop will introduce participants to “solarpunk,” an emergent 21st-century speculative subgenre with a goal to inspire and to represent achievable near or far futures that we can feel good about next generations inhabiting. Any fictional format can be an outlet for “utopian” climate narratives (including poetry, songwriting, audio-fiction, tabletop and video games), and this workshop will consider examples from recent UK- and US-published collections. We’ll discuss the range of political angles and aesthetic approaches under the solarpunk umbrella, explore ways to serve each writer’s goals by illustrating scenes of resilience, and imagine human and other-than-human characters negotiating challenges of ecological and social repair.

Registration closed.

From Fandom to Nonfiction: Writing about Pop Culture (virtual) with Peter Counter

Mondays, April 8 to 29 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

That music stuck in your head, that video game you can’t put down, that movie you keep quoting in casual conversation—modern entertainment culture is a powerful influence on our lives. It affects our language, builds communities, and holds up a mirror to our collective experience. With a thoughtful approach and the right tools, writers can channel these media into their nonfiction. This workshop will help writers engage deeply with a cultural text of their choice—be it a book, movie, play, song, TV show, or video game—and produce an original piece of written criticism. Participants will discuss traditional and experimental forms of pop culture writing, experiment with critical writing tools, and discover new ways to engage with entertainment media that can enrich their writing and research.

Registration closed.

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Introducing Oriana Duinker, incoming Executive Director

A message from Philip Moscovitch, Board President

A few months ago, we learned that Executive Director Marilyn Smulders would be retiring. Marilyn oversaw an extraordinary period in the Fed’s development and leaves behind her an organization on a solid financial footing, with record-high membership, a significantly expanded slate of innovative and accessible programs, and a positive public profile.

We wish Marilyn the best and hope she enjoys her retirement: a new home in Mahone Bay and opportunities to be with her family while also having more time for her own art practice with textiles.

And we are delighted and excited to introduce you to the new WFNS Executive Director, Oriana Duinker. Oriana is no stranger to WFNS, having worked closely with our staff — Marilyn, Andy, and Linda — over the past year, in her capacity as Executive Director of the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award organization (with an office directly upstairs from the Fed). She has even done some volunteer work at Jampolis Cottage, assisting last week with our first Jampolis Creative Writing Day Camp for youth and our first Summer Literary Soirée at the cottage, and she has some great ideas for the place. We are thrilled to have someone with her abilities and background joining us, and I am excited to work with her over the coming year.

But enough from me. I will turn it over to Oriana so she can introduce herself.

A message from Oriana Duinker, incoming Executive Director

Hi, everyone! I’m writing this message from Jampolis Cottage on a cozy, rainy day at the end of a bustling week of the first Jampolis summer day camp. As I reflect on the week I’ve spent in this beautiful setting, I am—in truth—overwhelmed: by the generosity of Neil and Jane through the gift of their summer home, by the creativity of our young campers, by the talents of the many writers I had the pleasure of meeting at our first (but certainly not last) Summer Literary Soirée, and by the knowledge that I am stepping into some very big shoes.

Having had the pleasure of working alongside Marilyn and the WFNS team during my time with Hackmatack, I’ve seen just how much can be accomplished by a small staff with a dedicated executive director. I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining WFNS in this capacity—and so very grateful to Marilyn for both her mentorship and the incredible work she has done for the writing community in our province.

In my work with Hackmatack, and in previous positions in various museums and other arts/culture organizations, I have always been drawn to programs that engage local communities with the arts. I don’t really consider myself a writer, but I’m creative in other ways: I’m a classical musician (French horn), I’m crafty (sewing), and I love to prepare food. Nevertheless, reading and storytelling have long been an integral part of my life, even more so now that I am a parent to two young book-lovers who share my longstanding enthusiasm for whimsical children’s literature.

I’m happiest when I can play a supporting role, working busily behind the scenes to support creators and facilitate opportunities to build community. It’s a cliché, but my door will always be open, and I invite you to drop in, call, or email me whenever you need anything. I look forward to connecting with each of you in the coming months and to supporting your writing however I can.

Starting August 21, Oriana Duinker can be reached at

Introducing Oriana Duinker, incoming Executive Director Read More »

WFNS Annual General Meeting

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia’s Annual General Meeting, chaired by WFNS President Sean Bedell, was held virtually via Zoom on Monday, June 19, starting at 7pm.

Attended heard from the WFNS Board of Directors, took a look at the budget, and made their voices heard. They also learned more out about our recent initiatives, including residencies and retreats at beautiful Jampolis Cottage and new writing prizes for emerging writers, such as the Senator Don Oliver Black Voices Prize and the Charles R. Saunders Prize.

WFNS Annual General Meeting Read More »

Launch of Island Folk’s Blowing Raspberries

Please enjoy the unveiling of Island Folk Cider House‘s new cider, Blowing Raspberries! This cider takes its name from the poem by Hannah Vincent of Truro, NS, the winner of the Island Folk Micro-Writing Contest.

The Halifax launch was Tuesday, Apr 25 (starting 7pm), at Café Lara (2347 Agricola Street, Halifax). Attendees heard Hannah’s poem (as well as contest entries from six other entrants), read “Blowing Raspberries” from the gorgeous label of its eponymous cider, and sampled the cider’s notes of apple, raspberry, and rose petal. They also had the chance to order the cider from Island Folk Cider House, with next-day delivery offered to most of HRM.

"Blowing Raspberries" by Hannah Vincent, printed on Island Folk label designed by Alison Uhma

A very big thank you to Island Folk’s Jill McPherson, Mike Okell, and Alison Uhma—designer of the label on which “Blowing Raspberries” will appear—for partnering with the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia on this contest. Another very big thank you to Café Lara for their partnership in hosting the launch.

And congratulations to Hannah and to the remaining shortlisted writers: Barbara Lounder, Faith Farrell, Jamie Samson, and Sherry D. Ramsey!

Launch of Island Folk’s Blowing Raspberries Read More »

Program Reveal

We warmly invited all WFNS members and the general public to join us on Zoom on Tuesday, Jan 31 (7pm), for the reveal of an entirely new program: the Jampolis Cottage Residency Program!

A year and a half in the making, the Jampolis Cottage Residency Program represents the permanent expansion of WFNS’s in-person activities beyond Halifax, a huge investment in emerging and established Nova Scotian writers, and a breadth of new opportunities for literary community-building and events.

The program reveal, emceed by WFNS President Sean Bedell, featured contributions from Jampolis Trust trustee Lisa Harries Schumann and from WFNS staff and board committee members.

Program Reveal Read More »

Presentation of Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals

On Sunday, November 27, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia held an investiture ceremony for ten Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals.

These medals were created through the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia’s Office to honor 5,000 exceptional Nova Scotians who have given their time and talents in service to our community. WFNS was invited to nominate 10 individuals for the honour and chose recipients based on their service to the literary arts in Nova Scotia and to our organization.

The event was held at Jampolis Cottage in Avonport, NS, home of WFNS’s new Jampolis Cottage Residency Program.

Below are the citations for the 10 exceptional people presented with the honour.

  • Through her generosity and love of poetry, writer Janet Barkhouse initiated the creation of a new Nova Scotian poetry award in 2020, since named in honor of the late Maxine Tynes, to recognize the best book of poetry written by a Nova Scotia author.

  • Gavin Brimer has nurtured the Atlantic Canadian children’s literature scene by investing and growing the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Literature, an annual book award named in honor of his late mother.

  • Sylvia Parris Drummond is the CEO of the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute, an important partner for the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. Her work in education and the community is rooted in core Afrocentric principles.

  • Known informally at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia as “Madame Ambassador,” Sylvia Gunnery has played a crucial role at the Fed, by acting as a mentor, workshop instructor, author in Writer in the Schools, and president of the WFNS board. She epitomizes the spirit behind our motto: “writers helping writers.”

  • Mike Hamm and the staff at the local independently owned bookstore Bookmark made extraordinary efforts during the pandemic to keep people reading. During lockdown, the bookstore offered bicycle delivery and curbside pick-up. Writers are forever in their debt.

  • Co-manager of the independent bookstore Woozles, Suzy MacLean and her team likewise made a huge effort during the pandemic to put books in the hands of young people and to keep them reading during school closures and isolation from friends.

  • Canadian poet, ethnographer and essayist, Lorri Neilsen Glenn worked during her tenure as Writers’ Fed president to create and nurture a new prize for emerging women writers and writers of marginalized genders. Named for Elizabeth Venart, this prize will have a lasting legacy at the Writers’ Fed.

  • A former president of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, Kim Pittaway led the organization back to a state of vitality and financial stability. And she did so while heading the ground-breaking MFA in Creative Non-fiction program at the University of King’s College.

  • With his father, the late Thomas Raddall, Thomas Raddall III has nurtured and sustained an important legacy for fiction writers in Atlantic Canada through the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, a $30,000 prize which provides “the gift of time and peace of mind.”

  • As a president of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia during the start of the lockdown in 2020, poet Matt Robinson helped the organization to adapt by pivoting online, and in so doing, allowed the WFNS to flourish and expand service to writers during an unprecedented time of change.

Presentation of Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals Read More »

Poetry in Motion 2022

Our 2022 Poetry in Motion program is flowing right along!

This year’s jury met on July 25 to review nearly 100 submissions and select just 10 for installation in Halifax Transit ad spaces and for printing on special-edition postcards, which will be delivered to Meals on Wheels recipients in the Halifax area and will also be available for purchase by the general public. Jurors included two past Poetry in Motion participants, Jaime Forsythe and Christina McRae, as well as WFNS’s Program Manager (Membership Services), Andy Verboom.

The theme for this year was “water,” and the jury appreciated the wide range of approaches to water that Nova Scotia’s poets explored.

Many thanks to everyone who submitted and to our partners for Poetry in Motion—Arts Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Municipality, and Halifax Public Libraries—and congratulations to the writers whose poems were selected!

  • “June Rain, 1 AM” by Annick MacAskill
  • “Message in a bottle” by Briony Merritt
  • “From Water” by Dian Day
  • “Lochaber, Evening, Summer Solstice” by Douglas Burnet Smith
  • “Promise” by Margo Wheaton
  • “Some things don’t have endings” by Michael Goodfellow
  • “misstep” by Nayani Jensen
  • “Tattoo” by Rose Adams
  • “Kepe’kek / At The Narrows” by Shannon Webb-Campbell
  • “Grey Heron Over Water” by Tammy Armstrong

Poetry in Motion 2022 Read More »

Gift Giv’er donor campaign

For two years before the pandemic, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia’s signature fundraising event, the Writing Relay/Rumble—a fun writing competition with writers raising money through sponsorships—earned more than $10,000 in support of WFNS programming. That’s a lot of money for a nonprofit charity like us!

Alas, gathering restrictions make staging a 2022 Writing Rumble difficult—so instead we are announcing the fundraiser Gift Giv’er.

Gift Giv'er

Everyone who donates $20 or more to WFNS by Sunday, June 19, will be entered to win one of eleven amazing prizes! A new prize was revealed each week from February 10 to April 21. The value of prizes totals $2,000. See the prizes >>

Donations of any size are welcome and appreciated. Every $20 donated will get your name in the running once. (E.g., a $60 donation will get your name entered three times.) All donors of $10 or more will receive a charitable tax receipt for the full amount of their donation.

Donations will support Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia programming, including subsidized workshops for writers from marginalized communities (such as Creative Writing for Newcomers), literary awards (such as the Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award), and endowment-funded programs (such as the Elizabeth Venart Prize).

Donate by clicking on the button below or through the e-transfer, phone, or mail options outlined on our Donate page.

Prize draws will take place live during our Annual General Meeting on Monday, June 20, 2022. Prize winners will be responsible for claiming their prizes after the draw.


Prize 1:

Copy of the handmade, limited-edition book Lagomorph, signed by author Alexander MacLeod and Gaspereau Press's Andrew Steeves

Prize 2:
Soji Haworth office chair

Reliable, lumbar-supporting and writing-marathon-supporting chair (valued at $600) donated by Office Interiors

giv'er painting - Qwerty

Prize 3:

Original painting (acrylic on canvas, 20" x 16") by novelist and poet Anna Quon celebrating the "qwerty" keyboard layout

Gift Giv'er Davison headshots

Prize 4:
1-hour portrait session

Session with photographer and writer Nicola Davison, resulting in six retouched images suitable for book jacket, website, and social media

Prize 5:
Crystal Bowl

Collector's item (out of production since the closing of NovaScotian Crystal last year) donated by Carole MacDougall

Prize 6:
Donna Morrissey Bundle

Four novels and memoir Pluck (donated by Penguin Random House) + print donated by Sheila Morrison

Promptly-inspired book bundle

Prize 7:
Promptly-inspired bundle

Six books by Promptly contributors: The Speed of Mercy (Christy Ann Conlin), You Won't Always Be this Sad (Sheree Fitch), I Hope You're Listening (Tom Ryan), Pluck (Donna Morrissey), Murmurations (Annick MacAskill), Anthesis (Sue Goyette)

Collusion Books bundle

Prize 8:
Collusion Books bundle

Six newest chapbooks from Collusion Books, featuring collaborative poetry by 27 poets, including the Yoko’s Dogs collective (Jan Conn, Mary di Michele, Susan Gillis, and Griffin Poetry Prize-winner Jane Munro)

Prize 9:
Unbound Bundle

Four audiobooks from the first season of Unbound ("Nova Scotia books read by Nova Scotian actors"): The Leaving (Budge Wilson), We Keep a Light (Evelyn Richardson), The Door of My Heart and Other Poems (Maxine Tynes), Lagomorph (Alexander MacLeod)

gift giver kids bundle

Prize 10:
Young Readers Bundle

Nine Atlantic-authored and -illustrated titles, including 3 picture books (by Riel Nason, Sydney Smith, & Heather Smith) and 6 middle-grade books (by Charis Cotter, Chad Lucas, Jill MacLean, Clare O'Connor, Sherry D. Ramsey, & Wade White)

gift giver quilt

Prize 11:
Star of Bethlehem Quilt

Hand-quilted by WFNS Executive Director Marilyn Smulders, this traditional design is known as the Star of Bethlehem, the Lone Star, or the Mathematical Star. The eight-pointed star motif (symbolic of the sun) is also important in Mi'kmaq culture. Suitable for hanging from a wall or cuddling under on the couch.

Gift Giv’er donor campaign Read More »

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that participants in any given workshop have similar levels of creative writing and / or publication experience. This ensures that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their career stage. The “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions used by WFNS.

  • New writers: those with less than two years’ creative writing experience and/or no short-form publications (e.g., short stories, personal essays, or poems in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with more than two years’ creative writing experience and/or numerous short-form publications.
  • Early-career authors: those with 1 or 2 book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short-form publications.
  • Established authors: those with 3 or 4 book-length publications.
  • Professional authors: those with 5 or more book-length publications.

Please keep in mind that each form of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for children and young adults) provides you with a unique set of experiences and skills, so you might consider yourself an ‘established author’ in one form but a ‘new writer’ in another.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed closely.

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