National Capital Writing Contest Winners List

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Authors Association (CAA)

The National Capital Region Branch of the Canadian Authors Association honoured the winners of the 34th Annual NCWC on Friday, March 12 during an online gathering.
We are pleased to celebrate the talents of these writers. Their work is published in the contest anthology: Building Community.


First Place: “The Curved Twigs” by John Morris, Ottawa ON
Second Place: “recital” by Bob MacKenzie, Kingston ON
Third Place: “A New Skin” by John Morris, Ottawa ON

“Fear” by David M Black, Wendover ON
“Our Childhood Smelled of Lilacs” by LG Pomerleau, Nanton AB
“Ground Down—Down Underground” by Kathy O’Grady Bose, Ottawa ON
“Seeking Grace” by LG Pomorleau, Nanton AB
“On Writing” by Adam Jarvis, Ottawa ON

First Place: “Babble” by Archie Nicholson, Stratford ON
Second Place: “Still Life” by Anna Rumin, Ottawa ON
Third Place: “Will Destroy for Food” by Adam Jarvis, Ottawa ON

“Hungerbitten” by Laura Wang Arseneau, Fort Erie ON
“Bodies in Trouble” by Diane Carley, St. John’s NL
“Whose Turf Is It Anyway?” by Iris Winston, Almonte ON

“Mine” by Jason Boudreau, Ottawa ON
“Flickering Lights” by Alicia Maini, Toronto ON
“Transformation” by Donna McDougall, Perth ON
“The Gentleman Hermit” by Russell Wardell, Carleton Place ON

Congratulations to everyone.


Asa Boxer’s debut book, The Mechanical Bird (2007), won the Canadian Authors Association Prize for Poetry, and his cycle of poems entitled “The Workshop” won first prize in the 2004 CBC Literary Awards. His poems and essays have since been anthologized in various collections and have appeared in various magazines internationally. Boxer is also a founder of the Montreal International Poetry Prize.


Kaarina Stiff is a freelance writer and editor who has been consuming, creating, and polishing stories since she learned how to read. She has published stories in Room and Cargo Literary Magazine, and she twice won the Toronto Novel Marathon in the young adult fiction category. Kaarina has served on the national executive of the Canadian Authors Association, as the branch chair of Editors Ottawa-Gatineau, and as president of the Ottawa chapter of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. In 2018, she received a President’s Award for Volunteer Service from Editors Canada. She lives in Ottawa.

Writing Tip: Make the most of feedback

You know how it is:

You’ve laboured over a piece a writing—a poem or a story. Every word is perfect, as far as you can see. “Wait until they get a load of this gem of perfection,” you say to yourself as you submit it to a writing circle, or a beta
reader, or an editor.

And then the feedback comes.


Sometimes it’s hard to take. But it’s important to learn how to process critique. It’s the only way to hone your writing skills.

When we respond to criticism, we go through stages, much like the five stages of grief as proposed by Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler.

Denial: What does that person know anyway? They just don’t get what I’m trying to do. It’s perfect exactly as is.

Funk: I am the worst writer ever. I will never learn how to do this. I should stop right now. If I didn’t write, my house would be clean, my spouse would
be happier, and I could watch an entire series on Netflix.

Re-evaluation: Maybe I should play with their suggestions a little. Give them a try and see how they all work. They might be onto something.

Acceptance: Their suggestions weren’t half-bad after all. I left some things the same, but the changes make everything better. I’m pleased.

Satisfaction: Writing is a challenge, but I feel good having written. Now, I can submit this work of pure genius to someone else.

Back to Stage One.

It’s a roller coaster, but a fun one. Your writing will get better and better if you learn to recognize these stages and accept which one you’re in at any given moment. Then you can know that the next stage is coming soon.

Canadian Authors Association Praises Standing Committee Report for Protecting Authors’ Rights

Canadian Authors Association National Chair Margaret Hume praised Shifting Paradigms, the report tabled yesterday by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

The report affirms the importance of creators’ right to protection of, and remuneration for, their work.

“It is extremely gratifying that the Report’s concluding words acknowledge ‘that the continued creation of Canadian content depends on adequate remuneration for those who create it’.”

CAA’s written submissions to the Standing Committee included recommendations on the following issues:
– Extension of copyright term to 70 years, harmonizing with international norms
– Ensuring that creators benefit from digital uses of their works
– Clarification and limitation on the Act’s education fair dealing exemption

Each of these points was addressed in the Standing Committee’s report.

“We urge the federal government to establish legislation as soon as possible to better protect creators’ rights for the benefit of artists and consumers across Canada,” says Hume. 

The following specific recommendations respond to concerns stated in CAA’s written brief: 
Recommendation 1 That the Government of Canada increase its support for creators and creative industries in adapting to new digital markets.
Recommendation 6 That the Government of Canada increase its efforts to combat piracy and enforce copyright.
Recommendation 7 That the Government of Canada pursue its commitment to implement the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death.
Recommendation 12 That the Government of Canada review, clarify and/or remove exceptions contained in the Copyright Act, ensuring that any exception respects section 9 of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, to which Canada is a signatory.
Recommendation 13 That the Government of Canada meet international treaty obligations (including Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, and World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty).
Recommendation 18 That the Government of Canada amend the Act to clarify that fair dealing should not apply to educational institutions when the work is commercially available.
Recommendation 19 That the Government of Canada promote a return to licensing through collective societies. 

If the federal government implements these and the other 16 recommendations of the Heritage Canada Standing Committee, the Canadian creative community will be greatly strengthened. CAA notes that another report resulting from the statutory review of the Copyright Modernization Act is expected, the second one to be issued by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

CAA calls on its members and all Canadian creators to contact their Members of Parliament to voice their support for the Committee’s recommendations. 
Founded in 1921, Canadian Authors Association is Canada’s first and longest-running national writers’ organization and has played an integral role in forging the country’s literary history. Today the association continues to offer resources, learning opportunities, networking and a special brand of community to writers at all stages of their careers. For general information about the association, visit  

Media Contact: Anita Purcell
Executive Director
C: 705 955 0716 T: 416 975 1756

Join a writing circle

We have a new writing circle that meets on Monday afternoons in the Event Space at Chapters Pinecrest.

We have a small group, but we need a few more to make it hum.

Interested? Let Arlene Smith know at

Are you a self-published author?

The CAA National membership committee recently made changes which might make it easier for you to qualify for professional designation. Your self-published work would qualify if it meets 4 of the 6 following criteria.

The work:

  1. Must be edited by an editor qualified by professional qualifications or experience (provide the name, contact, and qualifications of editor).
  2. Must have a minimum level of net income of $500 within the past two years (net income after the deduction of costs for printing, distribution, editing, design, publicity, and promotion; provide income and royalty statements).
  3. Minimum number of 250 units sold within the past two years (provide statement of units sold).
  4. Must be registered (ISBN, ASIN, or other).
  5. Cover must be designed by a designer qualified by professional qualifications or experience (provide the name, contact, and qualifications of the designer).
  6. Interior of the work must be designed by a designer qualified by professional qualifications or experience (provide the name, contact, and qualifications of the designer).

The self-published work may be combined with work from other categories:

  • Book Author – Trade or Commercial Publisher, minimum of 25,000 words, except for children’s books
  • Poet – minimum of 500 lines
  • Periodical or Journal Writer – minimum of 25,000 words in articles or short stories
  • Newspaper Writer or Columnist – minimum of 20,000 words total
  • Scriptwriter – radio, television or theatre scripts totaling a minimum of three hours playing time
  • Writing instructor – minimum of 50 hours teaching time, and this must be combined with another category
  • Artist – minimum of 50 illustrations published
  • Photographer – minimum of 50 photographs published
  • Cartoonist – minimum of 50 cartoons published
  • Translator – minimum requirements are the same as for the writing category from which the translations were made
  • Technical Writer – minimum of 25,000 words
  • Trade or In-House Periodical Writer/Editor – full-time position

May Gathering

Pitch Perfect: How to Write a Successful Query, with Barbara Kyle

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

via Zoom

Free to members of Canadian Authors Association

$10 for non-members

In this one-hour session Barbara Kyle will cover the following:

  • Overview: why a well-crafted query is crucial
  • Nuts and Bolts: How to structure a pitch perfect query
  • Tips: important Do’s and Don’ts
  • Query Examples: the good, the bad, and the ugly
  • The In-Person Pitch: tips for pitching agents and/or editors face-to-face at writers conferences
  • Q&A session




Building Community Anthology

Building Community Anthology Cover