Postcard Story Contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of our 3rd annual Postcard Story Contest!

1st: “The love I did not see” by Lisandra N. Hernandez

Lisandra N. Hernandez has always had a passion for writing. She enjoys drawing from personal emotions and experiences to connect with readers and empathize through story telling. Her personal values center around kindness —what we owe to each other by virtue of being human and sharing the human experience. As the daughter of an immigrant single mother, she is no stranger to adversity and struggle, and she owes these hardships a great deal, for they allowed her to build resiliency and strength. When she is not writing, Lisandra enjoys spending time with her husband and friends, reading philosophy, playing sports, practicing law, and watching romantic comedies.

Runner-up: “Dear Thieves” by Elizabeth Murphy

Elizabeth is a retired university professor, researcher, and author of one academic book and more than 100 academic articles. In addition to her academic writing, she is the author of An Imperfect Librarian, a novel published by Breakwater Books in 2008. Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading, described the novel as “[s]plendid, clever and entertaining.” In 2009, Elizabeth was a featured author at the Winterset Festival in the New Voices category. In the same year, she was an invited author at the Canterbury Tales Literary Festival in Saint John, New Brunswick, along with writers Kenneth Harvey and Donna Morrissey. She is a member of both the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. Although born in Newfoundland, she has been a resident of Nova Scotia since 2019.

Runner-up: “Frugality” by Christina McRae

Rosalie Osmond is the published author of five books, three non-fiction and two fiction. Both novels were nominated for the Dartmouth book award. She has also won the Rita Joe Poetry Prize.

Congrats also to the remaining finalists: Leslie Hennen, Melanie Hobbs, Beth Ann Knowles, Kevin MacDonell, Dana C Mount, Magi Nams, and Michelle Samson.

Nova Scotia Book Awards

Nova Scotian books took centre stage at the inaugural Nova Scotia Book Awards ceremony, held Monday night (June 6) at Halifax City Hall.

“Everyone looks so nice!” said Lindsay Ruck, the evening’s emcee, as she surveyed the packed room of mask-wearing attendees.

The event started with the presentation of the Margaret and John Savage First Book Awards for Nonfiction and Fiction. Named for his parents, the first book awards were introduced by Mayor Mike Savage, who bemoaned that while growing up the seven Savage kids received books at Easter instead of chocolate like other kids in the neighborhood. “Books in our house were a big deal,” he said.

Joanne Gallant received Margaret and John Savage First Book Awards for Nonfiction for her memoir about miscarriage and motherhood, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart, while Colin Sweets Arsenault claimed the debut fiction award for his novel, Short Mercy. The win started off a busy week for Sweets Arsenault; he’s getting married on Saturday.

The new event introduced a new award: the George Borden Writing for Change Award. Previously the Dartmouth Book Award for Nonfiction, this award is for an outstanding nonfiction book by a Nova Scotian author that inspires others and challenges the status quo. It is named for the late George Borden (1935–2020). The first winner of the George Borden Writing for Change Award is Glen Canning for My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons. “It has a special meaning to me to know a tragic story can inspire others to take a stand against injustice and commit to making our communities a safer place for us all,” said Canning.

Sharon Robart-Johnson received the Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction for her meticulously researched novel Jude and Diana, inspired by the true story of an enslaved teenager’s murder in 19th century Nova Scotia. A delighted Robart-Johnson said she submitted her manuscript three times before it was accepted and so couldn’t believe she was even nominated when she first got the news. “When I got the email, I forwarded it to my editor to ask if it was real,” she said. “This means the world to me.”

Veteran journalist Stephen Kimber took home the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award for his biography of Alexa McDonough, Alexa! Changing the Face of Canadian Politics. Jury remarks praised Kimber’s storytelling in presenting “the remarkable journey of a legend.”

All photos courtesy of Samson Learn and Support4Culture

Until now, Nova Scotia didn’t have its own provincial literary awards celebration, as all the book awards for Nova Scotia authors were presented as part of the Atlantic Book Awards.

The new event separates Nova Scotia-only literary awards from those awards open to writers from all four Atlantic provinces, shining a more focused spotlight on Nova Scotia authors and books and bringing the province in line with the other three Atlantic provinces, each of which has its own provincial book awards celebration.

Here is the full list of winners as presented:

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Non-Fiction)
Joanne Gallant, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart: My Story of Miscarriage and Motherhood (Nimbus Publishing)

Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Fiction)
Colin Sweets Arsenault, Short Mercy (Pottersfield Press)

George Borden Writing for Change Award
Glen Canning (with Susan McClelland), My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons (Goose Lane Editions)

Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)
Sharon Robart-Johnson, Jude and Diana (Fernwood Publishing)

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award
Stephen Kimber, Alexa!: Changing the Face of Canadian Politics (Goose Lane Editions)

Literary events continue all week, culminating with the Atlantic Book Awards Gala on Thursday, June 9, 7 pm at Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library. For tickets or to catch the livestream, please see

Partners & Investors

The Nova Scotia Book Awards is a partnership between the Dartmouth Books Awards Committee and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, with support from the Atlantic Book Awards Society. The Society for the Nova Scotia Book Awards is grateful for generous funding from the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism, and Heritage; Support4Culture; and the University of King’s College.

Nova Writes Competition winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts! These winners will receive $250 each and be featured in special Author Spotlights over the summer:

  • Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize: Briony Merritt, “Blackfriars Bridge” | Shortlist: Amy Donovan, Lindsey Harrington, Scott L. Neilson, Andrea Reynolds
    • Citation from judge Ian Colford: “‘Blackfriars Bridge’ carries the reader along on a gripping wave of dramatic urgency. The story—concise, action-packed—is set in London during an unspecified past era, probably during the reign of Queen Victoria. The author works with a light touch, skillfully and unobtrusively weaving period details into this brief tale, which involves a teenage girl being sent to fetch a doctor to attend to a pregnant woman in distress. The girl, a lover of poetry, remains unnamed throughout. She is smart, observant and determined. We experience events through her eyes. We feel the throb of her anxiety and share her deep concern for the stricken woman. The narrative voice is absolutely convincing, the writing evocative and memorable and filled with descriptive nuggets, such as ‘gossip burning on their lips’ and ‘the horse snorted dragon’s breath.’ ‘Blackfriars Bridge’ is a polished and sophisticated piece of writing.”
  • H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Monika Dutt, “Foundations” | Shortlist: Elizabeth Collis, Lois Ann Dort, Jessica Marsh, Tiffany Mosher
    • Citation from judge Joanne Gallant: “‘Foundations’ is about the beauty and heaviness of single motherhood. Compelling and filled with grit, Dutt had me at times in tears, and then whooping with delight as she proved to herself—and to all mothers—that we are much stronger than we think. She captured the experience of life as a single mother caring for her son, relying on her determination to keep them both safe, as she tries to make the long drive home. Her car becomes a metaphor for the obstacles of raising a child, and Dutt provides the reader with snapshots of both the joy and the arduous experience of childrearing as a single parent. I was in the hands of a masterful storyteller while reading ‘Foundations.’ Dutt delivers right up until the very end. An exceptionally well-written piece that was heartfelt and satisfying to read.”
  • Joyce Barkhouse Young Adult Fiction Prize: Libby Broadbent, “Seventh Son” | Shortlist: Claire MacDonell, Andrea Reynolds
    • Citation from judge Melanie Mosher: “In this short excerpt, Broadbent has managed to create a believable world with intriguing characters, Runa and Button, twins separated at birth yet connected by magic and spells. Artful writing draws the reader into this world: Broadbent’s word choice and phrasing are spot on for the genre, and the work is captivating, full of wonderful descriptions that conjure vivid images. Good vs evil, greed, power, and love are all at play. A mother’s sacrifice, long lost spells, secret identities, and lurking mysteries entice. […] Already, in this short section, the reader is rooting for Runa and Button. Wanting Runa to overcome her mean Aunt Elinor. Wanting Button to stand up to his father and leave his basement room. Wanting the twins to be reunited and for good to reign. Well done!”
  • Rita Joe Poetry Prize: Jan Fancy Hull, “Moss Meditations” | Shortlist: Cynthia Germain Bazinet, Sophia Godsoe, Teresa Killbride, Louise Piper
    • Citation from judge Margo Wheaton: “‘Moss Meditations’ is a clear, beautifully-crafted seven-part poem and earthy hymn to moss, that ‘daughter of seaweed.’ Part praise poem and part confession, each section in this stirring meditation depicts an acutely personal interaction with the physical world. Asserting that ‘we must kneel to see it,’ the poem’s speaker adopts a stance of reverence in order to study ‘the moss-lined cradle of the forest floor’ and the stream ‘singing its ancient song.’ Clear-eyed and open-hearted, the politics of this poem are insistent, reminding us that we are stewards of a world we ourselves destroy. Elegant and hushed, this poem offers an alternative way to be with the living world and calls us to remember that we walk daily through ‘a kingdom of wonder.'”

Postcard Poem Contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of our second annual Postcard Poem Contest!

1st: “Mariupol” by Anthony Purdy

Anthony Purdy lives on the South Shore. His poems and stories can be found in recent issues of The Dalhousie Review, The Fiddlehead, FreeFall, Fresh Voices, The Goose, Poetry Pause, Prairie Fire, and Queen’s Quarterly. His poem “mornings” received an honourable mention in the League of Canadian Poets’ 2021 Very Short Verse contest; “bakery” was shortlisted for the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia 2021 Postcard Poem Contest; “The Annex” was longlisted for the 2021 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize; and “Jigsaw” has been nominated by Queen’s Quarterly for a 2022 National Magazines Award.

Runner-up: “Glimpsing Mom” by Charlene Boyce

Charlene Boyce is a writer, poet and artist living in Kjipuktuk. Recently, she placed first in a Reedsy challenge with a creative nonfiction piece called “Flour and Fire.” She is a values-driven communications professional, writer, designer, facilitator, and environmentalist currently working with a systems change organization in Nova Scotia. This spring, she completed a Master of Arts in Atlantic Canada Studies. Her thesis delves into questions of cultural identity in Halifax through the history of a cabaret.

Runner-up: “Nightfall” by Christina McRae

Christina McRae lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Her recent work appears in Arc, The New Quarterly, Windsor Review, and Understorey Magazine. Her first full-length collection, Next to Nothing, was published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2009.

Congrats also to the remaining finalists: Susan Drain, Katie Feltmate, Melanie Hobbs, Beth Ann Knowles, Anne Lévesque, Allison MacDonald, and Shepherd Moorhead.

Nova Scotia & Atlantic Book Awards 2022 shortlists

Shortlists for the 2022 Nova Scotia Book Awards and Atlantic Book Awards have been announced! Congratulations to all of the shortlisted authors — and, in particular, to the 12 authors shortlisted for WFNS’s four book award categories. The four shortlists below boast a number of acclaimed WFNS members. Click on a book cover for more details and to order directly from the publisher.

The shortlists were announced on April 22, but there’s still a lot to look forward to—including the new Nova Scotia Book Awards Gala (June 6), to be held at Halifax City Hall.

This year’s Atlantic Book Awards Festival (June 2 – 9) will feature a combination of in-person and virtual events and culminate in the Atlantic Book Awards Gala (June 9), held at Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library, and live-streamed online. Also presented at the gala will be the Atlantic Legacy Award, honouring an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the advancement and encouragement of the literary arts in Atlantic Canada.

For the full list of award shortlists and festival details, visit the Atlantic Book Awards Society.

J. M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award

Poisonous If Eaten Raw by Alyda Faber (Goose Lane Editions)

Myself a Paperclip by Triny Finlay (Goose Lane Editions)

Sulphurtongue by Rebecca Salazar (Penguin Random House)

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children's Literature

The Train by Jodie Callaghan (Second Story Press)

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas (Amulet Books)

Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas (Annick Press)

Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award

Constant Nobody by Michelle Butler Hallett (Goose Lane Editions)

Chemical Valley by David Huebert (Biblioasis)
     — also shortlisted for the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction

Jude and Diana by Sharon Robart-Johnson (Fernwood Publishing)
     — also shortlisted for the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award (Fiction)

Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award (Nova Scotia)

Alexa!: Changing the Face of Canadian Politics by Stephen Kimber (Goose Lane Editions)
     — also shortlisted for the George Borden Writing for Change Award and the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award

Dying for Attention: A Graphic Memoir of Nursing Home Care by Susan MacLeod (Conundrum Press)
     — also shortlisted for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Non-Fiction)

Pluck: A Memoir of a Newfoundland Childhood and the Raucous, Terrible, Amazing Journey to Becoming a Novelist by Donna Morrissey (Penguin Random House Canada)

Meet the inaugural Elizabeth Venart Prize recipient

Emerging writer Trina Warner from Chester, NS, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Elizabeth Venart Prize. The prize comes with a $1,000 cheque from the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS), free registration for a WFNS creative writing workshop, and advice from a professional author through WFNS’s Coffee Chats program.

A speech-language pathologist, Trina has worked on the South Shore of Nova Scotia for past 20 years. From an early age, she found adventure, friendship, solace, and guidance in libraries and books. For just as long, she has written privately as a means of self-discovery and self-expression, but the bulk of her writing has been for academic or professional purposes.

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic that she decided to explore writing creative non-fiction. Her submission to the Elizabeth Venart Prize was the product of writing workshops she’s taken through the University of King’s College and the WFNS. She plans to use the Elizabeth Venart Prize to foster her creative writing practice.

Trina lives with her husband, young daughter, and excitable six-month-old golden retriever, Rosie. Beyond books, Trina believes in the transformative power of stories and the courage it takes to tell them.

Introduced earlier this year, the Elizabeth Venart Prize was created by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia board to support emerging writers whose work-in-progress shows promise and career-advancing merit. The prize aims to help finance the time, space, and professional development required to write, to revise and edit, and/or to submit work for publication. Submissions will be open on an annual basis to women and writers of other marginalized genders.

The prize is named for Elizabeth Venart (1937-2008), a wife and mother. She began writing seriously only later in her life, and finding the time to do so was difficult while raising a family and running a farm.

Sarah Venart, daughter of Elizabeth and herself a poet, remembers her mother being “most satisfied and content when she was producing words in her writing room with her chosen view of apple blossoms and the sipping hummingbirds.”

The Elizabeth Venart Prize endowment was built through donations by the Venart family, contributions from the WFNS, and the generosity of WFNS members.

In aiming to make the prize sustainable, WFNS has continued fundraiser efforts—most recently through the sale of Promptly: a miscellany of writing tips & tales from Nova Scotian authors and through Promptly: the workshop, to be held virtually from November 23 through December 14 and led by several contributors to the Promptly book.

Beautifully designed and printed by Gaspereau Press, Promptly is available through the online WFNS Gift Shop and at independent bookstores in Halifax & Dartmouth (Bookmark, King’s College Bookstore, Trident Books, Venus Envy, and Dartmouth Book Exchange), on the South Shore (LaHave River Books, Block Shop Books, Lunenburg Bound, and Otis and Clementine’s), and in Sydney (On Paper Books).

Postcard Story Contest winners

Congratulations to the winners of our second annual Postcard Story Contest!

1st: “How to Separate an Egg” by Elizabeth Collis

Elizabeth Collis (she/her) writes short fiction and creative non-fiction from her base in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her recent short stories and flash fiction have been published online in Flash Fiction Magazine, Understorey Magazine, and CommuterLit. In her personal essay blog, Nestless and Restless, she chronicles her journeys to explore her two homelands of Canada and England. Before concentrating on writing, Elizabeth worked as a language teacher, as a small business owner, and for a non-profit supporting entrepreneurship. She has lived on three continents and in many different countries but is happiest when she is in, on, or beside the Atlantic Ocean.

Runner-up: “Neetha” by Nayani Jensen

Nayani Jensen grew up in Halifax, NS, and most of her writing has the ocean in it. She writes short stories, novels, and poems. She was a winner of the Atlantic Writing Competition in 2014, and her poetry has been published in the ASH Oxford student journal (2019, 2020). When not writing, she studies the intersection of science and literature, and she has recently completed her MSc in History of Science at Oxford University.

Runner-up: “Alongside” by Gina O’Leary

Gina O’Leary is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who cares for children with cardiac disease. Originally from New Brunswick, she lives in Halifax with her husband and two dogs.

Congrats also to the remaining finalists: Carmen Dunn, Monica Ebsary, Jamie Farquhar, Geraldine Glodek, Monica Graham, Jill Martin, and Ian Sifton.

Celebrating 30 years of Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature

More than three decades ago, a Nova Scotia teacher helped lay the groundwork for a thriving children’s literature scene in Atlantic Canada. Alongside Liz and Brian Crocker, Ann Connor Brimer co-founded Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore—Woozles, “A Place For and About Children”—back in 1978.

Then, to encourage writers of children’s books and recognize their excellence, the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature was established. To celebrate the award’s 30th anniversary, Ann’s son Gavin is increasing the prize money to $5,000 a year.

“She wanted to create an award that would keep writers writing,” says Gavin Brimer. “This award really crystalized her vision.”

Ann died in 1988, before the first award was given out. Named in her memory, the inaugural award went to the late Joyce Barkhouse for her book, Pit Pony, in 1991.

“I think what’s notable is that she always encouraged Atlantic Canadian writers—before there was even a community,” said Kathleen Martin, author of six non-fiction books for children. “She thought it was so important to write from this place.”

The award, one of the oldest for children’s literature in Canada, is unique in that it recognizes both books for children, and, in alternate years, books for young adult (YA) readers. The most recent winner of the award is Nova Scotia writer Tom Ryan for the YA thriller Keep This to Yourself.

Providing encouragement to writers is exactly what the award has done. Winners of the award say getting nominated was a major milestone in their careers and foundational to regarding themselves as writers.

For example, Lisa Harrington, who won the award for her book Live to Tell in 2013, distinctly recalls the phone call informing her she was nominated. It was the day she felt confident enough to call herself a writer.

“It was a Friday evening, and I was cleaning the bathroom. I answered the phone in rubber gloves, holding a toilet brush,” she says. “I just couldn’t believe it…. It was like the first time I ever thought, ‘Wow, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can be a writer.'”

Her writing group commemorated the moment by giving her a sequin-bedazzled toilet brush, she adds with a laugh.

Newfoundland writer Kevin Major says the award gave him the confidence to carry on. He too has won the award three times—each time for a book that was initially rejected by publishers.

“It was only perseverance and a personal belief in the merit of what I had written that saw me through to the books finally being accepted for publication,” says Major, who won for Aunt Olga’s Christmas Postcards in 2006, The House of Wooden Santas in 1998, and Eating Between the Lines in 1992. “Then, having these same books judged to be exceptional by juries for the Ann Connor Brimer Award became an absolute cause for celebration. And an injection of confidence to keep challenging myself as a writer and taking my books for young people in new and different directions.”

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia has administered the literary award since 2019. Submissions for the 2022 award recently closed (Nov. 1, 2021). The next winner will be announced during the Atlantic Book Awards Gala on Thursday, June 9, 2022. 

Quotable quotes:

“It is no exaggeration that the Ann Connor Brimer Award played a significant role in the success I’ve enjoyed as a YA author. I began writing in 1988 and, while I published a few short pieces in the following years, it wasn’t until my first novel, Of Things Not Seen, won the Brimer in 1996 that editors became eager to see my work. Receiving the award a second time in 2004 for my novel The First Stone solidified my reputation as an award-winning author, enabling me to publish more than 20 books and numerous shorter pieces. There is, quite simply, no more important award for Atlantic Canadian writers of children’s and young adult literature than the Brimer, and I will always be grateful not only for the acknowledgement that this prize has afforded my work but also for the sense of validation and encouragement it brought me in the early years of my career.”

—Don Aker is a two-time winner of the Ann Connor Brimer Award, for Of Things Not Seen in 1996 and The First Stone in 2004

“Winning this award for my book, The Painting, in 2018 was a milestone in my career. Although my books had received awards before, this was my first Atlantic Canada award and it meant so much to me to have recognition from my peers in the place I have chosen to call home. I felt a sense of acceptance and belonging to a larger community than the one I am part of in Newfoundland, a feeling that I had somehow “arrived,” both professionally and personally, and that my work had resonance for people who live here. Writing is such a solitary and insecure profession, and I have often felt lost in the larger scheme of things across Canada, but this award kindled a warm fire inside me that my work was appreciated and that I was not invisible after all. It inspired me to keep writing even when it’s the hardest thing to do.”

—Charis Cotter is a 2018 winner of the Ann Connor Brimer Award for her book The Painting (Tundra Books)

“Winning the Brimer Award gave me just the boost I needed at a critical point in my writing career and set me on a course to write many more books for young people. It was much appreciated.”

—Prolific writer Lesley Choyce won the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature for Into the Wasteland in 2017, Shoulder to the Sky in 2003, and Good Idea Gone Bad in 1994.

“The Ann Connor Brimer Award does so much to help support and promote works for young people by Atlantic Canadians. As an award that has gained recognition across the country, it strengthens and elevates the Maritime’s voice of children’s literature.”

—Valerie Sherrard won the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature for The Glory Wind in 2011.

“I certainly regard being an Ann Connor Brimer winner among my proudest accomplishments. As an elementary school teacher I read many excellent books to my students by Atlantic Canadian authors and Joyce Barkhouse’s Pit Pony was among them. I acknowledged her 1991 win when I accepted my 2012 award.”

—New Brunswick writer Susan White won the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Literature for The Year Mrs. Montague Cried in 2012. A second book, The Memory Chair, was shortlisted for the award in 2018.

“Encouragement and validation were the words that came to mind after my first two middle-grade novels, The Nine Lives of Travis Keating and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy, won the Ann Connor Brimer Award in successive years: my best efforts of imagination and craft had been more than rewarded. Somehow I’d stumbled across a path that was taking me places I wanted to go, and despite boots getting stuck in the mud or the path wandering too close to the cliff-edge, the sheer doggedness required to write and revise a novel had also been honoured.
     “When Nix Minus One won the award in 2014, I was, quite simply, delighted because this free verse novel is, of all my books, the one closest to my heart. My warm thanks to Gavin Brimer for his enduring generosity, and my deep gratitude also to all those who work so hard behind the scenes for an award that spurs Atlantic Canadian writers for young people to keep to the solitary, joyful trail of words.”

—Jill MacLean is a three-time winner of the Ann Connor Brimer Award for The Nine Lives of Travis Keating in 2009, The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy in 2010, and Nix Minus One in 2014.

“Writing is often an isolating vocation. Winning the Brimer Award near the beginning of my career made it possible for me to imagine my work was reaching readers and subsequent wins helped me to believe I was doing something worthwhile.”

—Janet McNaughton won the Ann Connor Brimer Award for The Secret Under My Skin in 2001, Make or Break Spring in 1999, and To Dance at the Palais Royal in 1997.

A who’s who of Atlantic Canadian children’s literature:

  • 2021 – Tom Ryan, Keep This to Yourself
  • 2020 – Sheree Fitch, Everybody’s Different on EveryBody Street
  • 2019 – Susan Sinnott, Catching the Light
  • 2018 – Charis Cotter, The Painting
  • 2017 — Lesley Choyce, Into the Wasteland
  • 2016 – Sharon E. McKay, Prison Boy
  • 2015 – Sharon E. McKay, The End of the Line
  • 2014 – Jill MacLean, Nix Minus One
  • 2013 – Lisa Harrington, Live to Tell
  • 2012 – Susan White, The Year Mrs. Montague Cried
  • 2011 – Valerie Sherrard, The Glory Wind
  • 2010 – Jill MacLean, The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy
  • 2009 – Jill MacLean, The Nine Lives of Travis Keating
  • 2008 – K.V. Johansen, Nightwalker
  • 2007 – Budge Wilson, Friendships
  • 2006 – Kevin Major, Aunt Olga’s Christmas Postcards
  • 2005 – Alice Walsh, Pomiuk, Prince of the North
  • 2004 – Don Aker, The First Stone
  • 2003 – Lesley Choyce, Shoulder the Sky
  • 2002 – Francis Wolfe, Where I Live
  • 2001 – Janet McNaughton, The Secret Under My Skin
  • 2000 – David Weale, The True Meaning of Crumbfest
  • 1999 – Janet McNaughton, Make or Break Spring
  • 1998 – Kevin Major, The House of the Wooden Santas
  • 1997 – Janet McNaughton, To Dance at the Palais Royale
  • 1996 – Don Aker, Of Things Not Seen
  • 1995 – Sheree Fitch, Mable Murple
  • 1994 – Lesley Choyce, Good Idea Gone Bad
  • 1993 – Budge Wilson, Oliver’s War
  • 1992 – Kevin Major, Eating Between the Lines
  • 1991 – Joyce Barkhouse, Pit Pony. 

Celebrating 30 years of Atlantic fiction with a $30,000 prize


Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

HALIFAX — The Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, already the most generous literary award in the Atlantic Region, is now even more so.

During a Zoom event held in celebration of the award’s 30th anniversary, Thomas Raddall III announced the prize money for the winner will go up to $30,000.

To commemorate and celebrate the 30th anniversary of this award, the Raddall family would like to announce tonight that the award, commencing in 2022, will go from $25,000 to $30,000,” said Raddall, speaking from a replica of his grandfather’s writing room in Queen’s County Museum in Liverpool. “We hope it will continue to provide the authors of Atlantic Canada the gift of time and peace of mind.

The award is named for Thomas Head Raddall, a best-selling author and three-time Governor General’s Award winner. Established in 1991 by the author’s son, Thomas Raddall II, and the late Jane Buss at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, the award was initially funded through Public Lending Right payments—money paid to authors for free public use of their works in libraries. Through the years, the now-retired dentist carefully tended the award endowment with the idea that the prize money could provide authors time to continue writing without financial worry.

Over the past three decades, the support of the Raddall family of Liverpool has nurtured the Atlantic literary scene. Past winners of the award include a who’s who of acclaimed Canadian novelists, including three-time winner Donna Morrissey, Carol Bruneau, David Adams Richards, Wayne Johnston, Bernice Morgan, and the late Alistair MacLeod. During the Zoom event, winners Anne Simpson, Don Hannah, John Steffler, Linda Little, Lisa Moore, and Michael Crummey talked about the award and its impact.

The family has done such a wonderful thing for all of us,” said Anne Simpson, who won the award earlier this year for her novel Speechless (Freehand Books). “It means a lot, not only for the financial support it provides but for the sense that writing is important to the broader culture,” said John Steffler, whose novel The Afterlife of George Cartwright (McClelland & Stewart) was the winner in 1993. “And the sense of community it builds,” added Lisa Moore, 2019 winner for the short story collection Something for Everyone (House of Anansi).

The celebration event was co-sponsored by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie Libraries. 

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is currently accepting submissions of books published between Nov. 2, 2020, and Nov. 1, 2021, for four of its annual literary awards: the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award, J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award, and Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature.


For more info, please see:

Marilyn Smulders
Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia

Heading photograph of Thomas Head Raddall courtesy of Thomas Head Raddall, Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

raddall award 30 years

“A literary conga line”

Sept 23, 7:30pm >>

Celebrating 30 years of award-winning Atlantic fiction

At the Atlantic Book Awards earlier this year, the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award was awarded for the 30th time to a writer living and working in the Atlantic region. Antigonish writer Anne Simpson took home the $25,000 prize and accompanying gold medallion for her novel Speechless (Freehand Press).

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is honored to facilitate this award with the generous support of the Raddall family of Liverpool. Named in honor of award-winning and best-selling author Thomas Head Raddall (1903-1994), the award was initially funded through payments received for Raddall’s books through the Public Lending Right program.

Through the years, the endowment fund for the award has been carefully tended by Thomas Raddall II, a retired dentist, and now Thomas Raddall III, a dentist working in Liverpool. From the beginning, the aim of the award has been to give writers “the gift of time and peace of mind” that is so crucial to continuing to write.

(Please see “The Gift of Time” by Alexander MacLeod in Atlantic Books Today.)

On Thursday, Sept. 23, winners of the award will gather (virtually) to talk about the impact of the award on their lives and writing—and to read a passage from a favorite winning book from the past 30 years. Host Alexander MacLeod calls it a “literary conga line.”

Starting things off is Anne Simpson, who will read from 2008 winner Ragged Islands by Don Hannah. Don will, in turn, read from 1993 winner The Afterlife of George Cartwright by John Steffler. And John will, in turn, read from 2000 winner No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod. Alistair MacLeod’s son, Alexander, a distinguished writer himself, will read from 2019 winner Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore, who will read from 2007 winner Scotch River by Linda Little, who will read from 2020 winner The Innocents by Michael Crummey. Michael will close the loop and the evening by reading from Anne Simpson’s novel, Speechless.

The celebration is free to attend and will be held on Zoom. All registered attendees will have a chance to win a basket of books by the featured authors! Register below to receive the link to attend.

The Raddall Award 30th Anniversary Celebration is co-presented by Dalhousie Libraries and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

The featured author gift basket has been generously assembled by Mike Hamm of Bookmark Halifax, with titles by Steffler, MacLeod, and Crummey courtesy of Penguin Random House; by Moore courtesy of House of Anansi; and by Simpson courtesy of Freehand Books.

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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