Message on a Bottle

Message on a Bottle is an annual micro-writing contest that publishes very short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by Nova Scotians on the labels of locally crafted beverages.

The second annual Message on a Bottle contest—offered in partnership with Island Folk Cider House—determined the name and label text for Island Folk’s new strawberry-banana cider. Entries of prose (up to 125 words) and poetry (up to 10 lines) were accepted, with entrants encouraged to address the cider’s flavours (strawberry, banana, and apple) and Island Folk’s brand focus (local, playful, quirky, and down-to-earth).

The winning entry is the poem “The Fruit Bat” by Jamie Samson of Halifax, with finalist entries submitted by Katherine Burris (Bible Hill), Arianna Lehr (Halifax), and Darryl Whetter (Belliveau Cove). Entries were judged by Oriana Duinker (WFNS), Andy Verboom (WFNS), Jill MacPherson (Island Folk), and Alison Uhma (Island Folk).

Join host Lindsey Harrington for the reveal of “The Fruit Bat” cider, poem, and label at our launch party on Thursday, May 23 (7pm – 8pm), at The Brewery by Quinn’s (6273 Quinpool Rd, Halifax), where all contest entrants are invited to read their entries.

Sign up to read your entry by contacting communications@writers.ns.ca. Please note that limited reading slots are available.

The Brewery by Quinn’s is wheelchair accessible (though assistance opening doors may be required) and has a wheelchair-accessible bathroom. The Fruit Bat, other beverages, and food will be available for purchase.

Advance orders of The Fruit Bat six-packs (for local delivery) will be taken by Island Folk staff.

The inaugural Message on a Bottle contest—called the ‘Island Folk Micro-Writing Contest’ at the time and offered in a partnership Island Folk Cider House—determined the name and label text for Island Folk’s new raspberry-and-rose-petal cider. Entries of prose (up to 200 words) and poetry (up to 15 lines) were accepted, with entrants encouraged to address the cider’s flavours (raspberry, rose petal, and apple) and Island Folk’s brand focus (local, playful, quirky, and down-to-earth).

The winning entry was the poem “Blowing Raspberries” by Hannah Vincent of Truro, with finalist entries submitted by Faith Farrell, Barbara Lounder, Sherry D. Ramsey, and Jamie Samson. Entries were judged by Marilyn Smulders (WFNS), Lindsey Harrington (WFNS), Jill MacPherson (Island Folk), and Alison Uhma (Island Folk).

The “Blowing Raspberries” cider, poem, and label were revealed at a launch party on April 25, 2023, at Café Lara (Halifax), where all contest entrants were invited to read their entries.

Hannah Vincent's 'Blowing Raspberries' on Island Folk label
"Blowing Raspberries" by Hannah Vincent, as it appears on Island Folk label designed by Alison Uhma

The third annual Message on a Bottle contest—offered in partnership with Island Folk Cider House—will determine the name and label text for Island Folk’s new ___ cider.

We invite entries of very short prose (fiction or nonfiction up to 125 words) and very short poetry (up to ten lines; no more than 125 words) from all Nova Scotian writers.

We encourage entrants to keep in mind the new cider’s flavours (strawberry, banana, and apple), along with Island Folk’s brand focus (local, playful, quirky, and down-to-earth) and the distinctiveness of their entry title, including its suitability as a name for the cider.

The winning entrant will receive a $250 cash prize from WFNS; a six-pack of the new cider named after their winning entry and featuring the full story or poem on the label; and an invitation to read their winning entry (with additional compensation of $150) at the in-person launch of the new cider.

Entries will be assessed by a committee composed of staff of Island Folk and staff/board members of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS).

To enter the Message in a Bottle contest, writers must meet the following criteria.

  • You must be a current resident of Nova Scotia, meaning that you live in Nova Scotia on the date of entry and will continue to live here until at least May. (Out-of-province students and seasonal residents are eligible.)
  • You must be 19 years of age or older.

To be eligible for contest consideration, entries must meet the following criteria.

  • The entry must be no more than 125 words in length and (for poetry) no more than 10 lines in length.
    • The entry title does not count toward word or line length.
  • The entry must be the original work of its entrant and unpublished in any form, either traditionally or self-published, either in part or in whole, either in print or digitally.
  • The entry must not be submitted or accepted elsewhere, either for publication or for prize consideration, either at the time of entry into Message on a Bottle or at any time during the course of the Message on a Bottle assessment process. (If you decide to submit your entry elsewhere during the Message on a Bottle contest, you must contact WFNS to withdraw your entry; the Message on a Bottle entry fee will not be refunded. Once the contest results have been revealed, however, you are free to submit your entry elsewhere. You retain copyright of your entry.)

Entries Closed on March 15, 2024

Entry fee

The $8 entry fee cannot be refunded.

To pay fee by phone, call us between 9am and 4pm on weekdays at 902 423 8116 with your credit card details.

To pay fee by mail, send a cheque (payable to “Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia”) post-dated for no later than the contest deadline.

Entry form

If the name you commonly use or publish under differs from your legal name, please include your legal name in parentheses—i.e., "Common Name (Legal Name)." If your submission wins, your legal name will be required for prize payment.
Include your town and postal code
Please include mention of significant previous publications.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
• Your entry file must not include your pseudonym or real name, either in the text of the file or in the file name.
• Your entry file must be a single digital file (.doc or .pdf format) no longer than one page.
• Your entry file must have a file name as follows: [Your Entry Title] – Message on a Bottle.
• Incomplete, misnamed, or file-unreadable application packages my be deemed ineligible.
Indicate the method by which you paid the contest entry fee. Fee payment must be sent before you submit your entry.

Partner

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is grateful to Island Folk Cider House for their annual partnership in realizing Message on a Bottle.

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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 communications@writers.ns.ca