Enter the Competition

REVISED ENTRY DEADLINE: JANUARY 15, 2021

1. Eligibility Criteria

  • Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize: Entry must be a work of short fiction or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction (up to a maximum of 3,000 words) and may be in any genre (historical fiction, literary fiction, mystery, romance, speculative fiction, or otherwise).
  • Le prix Félix Thibodeau de la forme courte: Ce prix récompensera l’auteur.e d’un texte littéraire (poésie ou prose–contes, nouvelles, poèmes, fables…) en français d’un maximum de 3 000 mots.
  • H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Entry must be a creative non-fiction essay or an excerpt from a longer work of creative non-fiction (up to a maximum of 3,000 words). Creative non-fiction is a form of non-fiction that uses inventive or literary techniques to produce work that is factually true and artistically elegant. Eligible works of creative non-fiction are the following written in a personal, identifiable voice: history, narrative journalism, memoir, personal essay, and travel writing.
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children & Young Adult Fiction Prize: This prize category alternates annually between writing for children and writing for young adults. Entries are judged based on the criteria for their respective age ranges, with overall excellence being the determining factor in selecting a shortlist and winner. Entrants in this category should pay close attention to age appropriateness, as a miscategorization on the part of the writer will count against the entry. Picture books are not accepted. Do not include illustrations, but feel free to indicate where illustrations might appear.
Entry must be short fiction, short creative non-fiction, or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction/non-fiction (up to a maximum of 3,000 words) and may be from a chapter book (ages 6-9, independent reader) or a middle grade novel (ages 8-12). Identify at the beginning of your manuscript document whether the work is (from) a chapter book or middle grade novel. Readers and judges evaluate entries based on suitability to and conventions of each age range. A chapter book is a short novel of moderate complexity intended for intermediate readers. The story is told primarily through prose, though it does contain illustrations. The book is usually divided into short chapters designed to hold the interest of shorter attention spans. A middle grade novel is longer and more complex than a chapter book but shorter than a YA novel and with less-mature themes (PG rating). Romance, if present, is puppy love. There are no depictions of extreme/graphic violence. If there is cursing, it’s generally mild or only implied. Middle grade novels tend to have main characters who are the age of, or slightly older than, the target reader. The plot tends to be more outwardly focused than a chapter book, consistent with the reader’s greater independence.
Entry must be a short story or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction (up to a maximum of 3,000 words) for young adult readers (aged 12+) and may be in any genre (historical fiction, literary fiction, mystery, speculative fiction, or otherwise). If your entry is an excerpt, include a summary of the excerpted work as the first page of your manuscript document. This summary should contain no biographical or other personally identifiable information.
  • Rita Joe Poetry Prize: Entry must be no more than six poems (up to a maximum of 1,500 words) and may be in any style. For judging purposes, each entry must be given a collection title. It is not a requirement that the poems have a thread that binds them, but many of our readers and judges will be looking for that thread as a basis of evaluation. Do not include images of any kind. If your poems rely on particular spacing, please submit as a PDF to ensure that the text does not shift when opened on another computer.

To enter the Nova Writes Competition, entrants must meet the following criteria.

  • You must be 16 years of age or older.
  • You must be a permanent resident of Nova Scotia (i.e., you have lived in Nova Scotia full-time since the September 1 immediately prior to the submission deadline date, and you file your taxes here). Out-of-province college/university students and seasonal residents are ineligible.
  • You must not have published a book or more than three shorter works (in edited anthologies and periodicals) in the genre of the prize category you wish to enter. High school or university anthologies do not count against your total.
  • You must not be a reader, judge, or previous Nova Writes (or Atlantic Writing Competition) winner in the prize category you wish to enter. In addition, you must not be a staff member of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.
  • You must not enter more than one manuscript into a single competition category in a single competition year.

Entrants may enter more than one prize category in a given year, but each entry requires a unique manuscript, entry form, and entry fee.

Manuscripts ineligible for entry into any of the Nova Writes categories include the following:

  • Any manuscript that exceeds 3,000 words (or 1,500 words, in the case of the Rita Joe Poetry Prize).
  • Any manuscript that is not the original work of its entrant.
  • Any manuscript submitted without a pen name or written/submitted in a way that compromises the entrant anonymity necessary to the adjudication process.
  • Any manuscript that is submitted for publication, accepted for publication, or already published or self-published (whether in part or in whole) in print or online.
  • Any manuscript that is entered into another competition, either at the time of entry into Nova Writes or at any time during the course of the Nova Writes Competition. (If you decide to submit your manuscript elsewhere during the Nova Writes Competition, you must contact the WFNS to withdraw your manuscript from this competition. The Nova Writes entry fee will not be refunded. Once the competition results have been revealed, however, you are free to submit your manuscript elsewhere. You retain copyright of your manuscript entry.)
  • Any manuscript that has previous won or been shortlisted for a Nova Writes or Atlantic Writing Competition prize.
WFNS reserves the right to accept (as eligible) or reject (as ineligible) any submitted manuscript. The list of manuscripts deemed eligible by WFNS and submitted to readers is final. For entries deemed ineligible due to manuscript or author ineligibility or due to lateness or incompleteness of entry, administrative fees cannot be refunded. Only in the case of an entry deemed ineligible due to overqualification of author (i.e., too many publications) can a refund be considered.

2. Entry Requirements

Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm on the program deadline; must be submitted electronically in Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font; and must contain all components listed below. Late, non-digital, or incomplete applications will be rejected as ineligible. Please note that your entry is not considered complete until we have received payment.

To ensure the impartiality of readers and judges during the assessment process, entrants must choose a pen name to accompany their manuscripts. The purpose of the pen name is to maintain entrant anonymity, so the chosen pen name cannot be connected to you (e.g., it cannot be in active use as an online alias). At no point in the assessment process are readers or judges to be made aware of the identity of entrants. Please do not put your real name anywhere on or in your manuscript. Your real name must appear only on your cover letter, which is for office use only.

1. Cover letter containing the following:

  • Your pen name, real name, email address, permanent residential address, and phone number where you may be reached during business hours.
  • A one-paragraph biographical note, including mention of any previous publications.
  • A statement confirming that the entrant meets all eligibility criteria and specifically declaring that (1) you are a permanent resident of Nova Scotia, (2) you are 16 years of age or older, and (3) you are unpublished (according to Nova Writes criteria) in the category you wish to enter.
  • A statement confirming that the entered manuscript meets all eligibility criteria and specifically declaring that the entered manuscript is the entrant’s sole entry this year in the prize category identified.
  • The prize category, title, and final word count of the entered manuscript.

The cover letter file must be in Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font; must be in .doc/.docx or .pdf format; and must be named in the following format: PenName_ManuscriptTitle_PrizeName_CoverLetter.pdf). The cover letter is for office use only and will not be distributed to readers or judges.

2. Unpublished manuscript attributed to your pen name and not containing your real name or any personally identifiable information:

  • If you are submitting to a category that requires a summary, include the summary in the manuscript document and ensure it contains no personally identifiable information.
  • Number each page in sequence in the upper right hand corner.
  • Include your pen name in the header of each page.

The manuscript file must be in Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font; must use the A4 (8.5″x11″) page size with a minimum 1-inch margin on all sides; must be double-spaced (unless poetry); must be in .doc/.docx or .pdf format; and must be named in the following format: PenName_ManuscriptTitle_PrizeName.pdf. Please submit poetry manuscripts in .pdf format to ensure your spacing, margins, and other formatting work is preserved.

3. Non-refundable $20 entry fee ($25 for non-members):

  • If we receive a fee without an accompanying manuscript, we will reach out to you.
Due to the volume of Nova Writes entries each year, 
  • we cannot accept revised documents unless we specifically request them;
  • we cannot provide technical assistance, such as formatting or attaching documents;
  • and we strongly advise that you contact us at least two weeks before the competition deadline with any questions about entry requirements. For later queries, it may not be possible for us to answer you before the deadline.

3. Adjudication Process

All entrants will be notified of the status of their entries and the results of the competition according to the timeline below. The first public announcement of the category winners will take place at the Celebration of Emerging Writers in late May, and the list of category winners is embargoed information until June.

  • February/March: Reading teams recruited for each prize category assess entries and produce a shortlist for each category.
  • Early May: WFNS notifies all entrants in writing as to whether they have been shortlisted. Judges assess each prize category shortlist to determine the winner for each category and, if appropriate, any honourable mentions.
  • Mid May: WFNS notifies all shortlisted entrants in writing as to whether they are category winners. WFNS returns manuscript comments to all entrants. WFNS announces category shortlists on the WFNS website.
  • Late May: The Celebration of Emerging Writers is held, at which prizes are presented in each category and the winner of each category reads.
  • Early June: WFNS announces category winners on the WFNS website.

Due to the volume of Nova Writes entries each year, we cannot personally confirm acceptance of each manuscript or personally update entrants on the status of manuscript comments and competition results. Your fee receipt (for payments made by mail or online) or verbal confirmation (for payments made by phone) serves as confirmation that your entry was received. If you do not receive a receipt or verbal confirmation, please do contact us. Otherwise, if you do not hear from us, you can assume your entry has been accepted as eligible.

Online Entry Form

If you are entering the competition in more than one category, you must choose a separate pen name, complete a separate form, and pay a separate fee for each entry.

Before submitting a Nova Writes entry using this form

  • carefully review all of the Nova Writes eligibility criteria and entry requirements;
  • review your manuscript file to ensure it does not contain any identifying information;
  • review your cover letter file to ensure it contains all necessary identifying information; and
  • review your manuscript and cover letter file names to ensure they meet our file naming requirements.
To help ensure the impartiality of readers and judges during the assessment process, entrants must choose a pen name to accompany their manuscripts. The purpose of the pen name is to maintain entrant anonymity, so the chosen pen name cannot be connected to the entrant (e.g., it cannot be in active use as an online alias). At no point in the assessment process are readers and judges to be made aware of the identity of entrants. Entries submitted without a pen name will be considered ineligible. The entrant's real name MUST NOT appear anywhere on the entered manuscript. However, the entrant's pen name and full real name must appear on the cover letter, which is for office use only.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Attach your cover letter file written in an accepted font (Times New Roman or Arial 12-point); saved in an accepted format (DOC/DOCX or PDF); named accurately (PenName_ManuscriptTitle_PrizeName_CoverLetter); and containing all required elements:
◦ Pen name, real name, email address, permanent residential address, phone number (where you may be reached during business hours), and one-paragraph biographical note, including mention of any previous publications.
◦ Statement confirming that you meet all eligibility criteria and specifically declaring that (1) you are a permanent resident of Nova Scotia, (2) you are 16 years of age or older, and (3) you are unpublished (according to Nova Writes criteria) in the prize category you wish to enter.
◦ Statement confirming that the attached manuscript meets all eligibility criteria and specifically declaring that the entered manuscript is your sole entry this year in the prize category.
◦ Prize category, title, and final word count of the entered manuscript.
Click or drag a file to this area to upload.
Attach your manuscript file containing no mention of your real name nor any personally identifiable information; written in an accepted font (Times New Roman or Arial 12-point) and accepted dimensions (A4 with 1-inch margins) with double-spacing (unless poetry); saved in an accepted format (DOC/DOCX or PDF); named accurately (PenName_ManuscriptTitle_PrizeName); and containing all required elements:
◦ Pen name in the header of each page.
◦ Page number in the upper right hand corner of each page.
◦ Summary if required by the genre of entry.
Online: click the "Add Entry Fee to Cart" button below to pay via PayPal account or credit card.
By phone: call 902 423 8116 from 9 - 5 on a weekday and have your credit card information ready.
By mailed cheque: make payable to "Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia" and address to WFNS, 1113 Marginal Road, Halifax, NS, B3H 4P7.

For questions or further information, please contact us at least two weeks prior to the competition deadline.

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