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Writing Contests

Did We Mention Prizes?

July 30, 2015 | Alice | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

So, um, we started having some contests and realized that maybe you want to know what else is coming? 

And maybe what people are winning with their great poems and Toronto Stories and whatnot? 

Contest time
So here's the lowdown on what's coming, so you can get yourself ready: 

Mini writing contests - these are short contests with nice little prize packs of a book, a Moleskine notebook, and a nice pen. Perfect for writers! These are happening today (July 30), August 13th, and August 27th. 

My Toronto Story contest - this one is still open! Tell us about a Toronto experience - in any storytelling format you choose. Prize is a pair of sweet Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones.

Short Story contest - opens August 6th. Prize: did I mention how nice those headphones were? The winner of this one gets a pair, too.

Fan Fiction contest - opens September 3rd. Prize: another pair of headphones. Dang, I wish I were a teen right now…  

Mini-Writing Contest #3 -- July 30 to August 5

July 30, 2015 | Christine | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Hi everyone!

Welcome back for Mini-Writing Contest #3. This week, it's all about alliteration.

So, what’s alliteration, you might ask? Simply put, it’s a literary device where similar sounds are repeated through the use of the same letter or consonant at the beginning of each word. Some familiar examples of alliteration include tongue twisters like:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?


She sells seashells by the seashore,
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I'm sure she sells sea-shore shells.

What I would like you to do this week is the following: pick your favourite letter, then find a few words, real or made-up, to go with your letter, and write an original mini-short story (no more than 150 words) using alliteration.

Have fun! :)

When submitting your entries, please keep the following rules in mind:
1. You have to live in Toronto to win this contest.
2. You have to provide a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you win a book prize (see privacy statement below for more information).
3. One entry per person per Mini-Writing Contest - in this case, please submit only your best mini-short story. 
4. Only original writing will be accepted – plagiarism is not permitted in any form.
5. Your entry must be submitted by Wednesday at 11:59pm to be considered to win.
6. Winners will be announced on the following Thursday.

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here? Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest. The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this. We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at

Speaking of OTPs, Fandoms, and Fanfiction...

July 29, 2015 | Alice | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

We are having a Fanfiction contest again this year! It opens the last week of summer, so this is a heads-up to give you lots of time to start pairing, plotting, and writing... Start thinking! You've got five more weeks left of summer...

Mini-Writing Contest #2 -- July 16 to July 23

July 16, 2015 | Christine | Comments (14) Facebook Twitter More...

Hi everyone! Welcome back for Mini-Writing Contest #2.

This week’s contest is all about downsizing, but in a very fun way. Have you ever read a really good book, but found that it was a bit too long? Do you ever wish that there was a way to condense everything into a more manageable format? Well, now here’s your chance. Take a favorite book – any title can be used, classic or modern – and try shrinking it down into a short poem, 3 to 4 stanzas at most, using rhyming couplets. Here are a couple of examples to use for inspiration:

The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Robert Browning
Town made
        Rat free!
       Piper, he
Pipes kids
       Into hills.
Weird fate!
      Moral: Pay
Your bills,


The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

Raven lurches
In, perches
       Over door.
Poet’s bleary
Query --
       “Where’s Lenore?”
Creepy bird
Knows one word:

Both examples come from ShrinkLits: Seventy of the World’s Towering Classics Cut Down to Size, written by Maurice Sagoff and illustrated by Roslyn Schwartz (New York: Workman Publishing, 1980). So go ahead, pick a title, and see how you might go about making it into your own "shrinklit."

Have fun! :)

When submitting your entries, please keep the following rules in mind:
1. You have to live in Toronto to win this contest.
2. You have to provide a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you win a prize (see privacy statement below for more information)
3. One entry per person per Mini-Writing Contest - in this case, please submit only your best poem.
4. Only original writing will be accepted – plagiarism is not permitted in any form.
5. Your entry must be submitted by Wednesday at 11:59pm to be considered to win.
6. Winners will be announced on the following Thursday.

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here? Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest. The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this. We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at

Mini-Writing Contest # 1 -- July 2 to July 8

July 2, 2015 | Christine | Comments (13) Facebook Twitter More...

Hi everyone! Welcome back to TPL Teens: Summer Edition. This summer will be lots of fun, and present many different chances for you to share your creativity with the world.

There will be 5 Mini-Writing Contests on Thursdays during July and August, with 5 prize packages to be won by whoever submits the most creative and original entries. Winners will be announced online a week after each contest is posted.

So, are you ready to start writing? Let’s begin:

For this first contest, I’m taking my inspiration from Guinness World Records, but kind of twisting it on its head. Instead of choosing from the thousands of different categories and records that have been attempted and set in those books, what I would like everyone to do is this: using your
imaginations, try coming up with some of the best original world records you can think of with 10 of the prompts listed below.

The Truest Thing
The Hardest Thing
The Happiest Thing
The Bumpiest Thing
The Stickiest Thing
The Softest Thing
The Friendliest Thing
The Noisiest Thing
The Easiest Thing
The Flattest Thing
The Deepest Thing
The Slowest Thing
The Roundest Thing
The Funniest Thing
The Highest Thing

When submitting your entries, please keep the following rules in mind:

1. You have to live in Toronto to win this contest.
2. You have to provide a valid e-mail address so we can contact you if you win a prize (see privacy statement below for more information)
3. One entry per person per Mini-Writing Contest - in this case, please submit only your best list.
4. Only original writing will be accepted – plagiarism is not permitted in any form.
5. Your entry must be submitted by Wednesday at 11:59pm to be considered to win.
6. Winners will be announced on the following Thursday.

Have fun!

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here? Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest. The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this. We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at

Review a Book and Get a Free Book - or a tpl teen book bag!!

April 23, 2015 | Ken Sparling | Comments (57) Facebook Twitter More...

Tpl teens toteReading a book that you love! Want to share it with other Toronto teens? Send us a review of the book and, as long as you can get to a Toronto Public Library branch, we'll send you a free book, no questions asked. Well... wait a minute... I will have to ask you what Toronto library you live close to, so I can send you the free book, but no other questions... okay, wait, I'm gonna want to know how old you are and what your first name is... but other than that, I swear, no questions ;)



And get this: WHILE SUPPLIES LAST, if you write us three book reviews, we'll send you a tpl teens book bag.

We're looking for all sorts of reviews. Fun, informal, studious, flamboyant, ranty, experimental, silly, serious, sappy, heartwarming, snooty, angry, disappointed... if you enjoy creating it, we want to post it up here so that other Toronto teens can enjoy reading it.

Send your review to me, Ken Sparling,

Make sure to tell me if the review you send is your third one, and I'll send you a book bag (until I run out!)

If you have questions, email or phone me 416-397-5970

Need some inspiration? Check out reviews by other Toronto teens.


Awkward Times Writing Contest

September 10, 2014 | Ray | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you in high school, feeling both excited and scared for life afterwards? Or perhaps you're recently graduated or are in middle school, imagining what lies beyond high school? 

It's both scary and exciting. Ramsey Beyer's graphic novel, Little Fish, describes all the awkward moments of leaving old friends behind, weird attempts to make new friends, moving to a big city from a small town, and realizing what the heck she's doing at art school. Does she even belong in art school? And why is it all so confusing?

It's a great read!  You can win a hardcover copy with your own original kick-butt writing below.

Here's the contest:

In less that 400 words, in a short story, include experiences (can be from the point-of-view of a fictional person) that deal with socially awkward moments or being in a new place and learning how to adapt and/or growing up.


These questions could help you think of what to write:

Is there something about high school and life after high school that is both terrifying and exciting? What do you imagine life after high school would be like? How would you change? 


Contest details.

1. Your writing must be your own. Yes, we also know how to use google. No plagarism. Entries with plagarism will be disqualified.

2. In order to qualify to win this contest, you have to live in the city of Toronto.

3. You have to provide a valid email address - otherwise we can't contact you to let you know you've won the contest! We promise to keep your email confidential - for more information about this, see the privacy statement below.

4. Only one writing entry per person. Period.

5. You have to have submitted your entry by Wednesday, September 17th 24th at 11:59 PM.



The boring legal stuff:

Your name, your e-mail address, the books you read and your thoughts about them are your personal information. Why do we need your personal information here?  Well, we want to publish your reviews, and we need your name and e-mail address to help administer the contest.  The Public Libraries Act is the law that lets us do this.  We'll be protecting your privacy every step of the way, but if you have any questions about how we're going to do that, you can contact TPL's Privacy & Records Management Officer, 789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5658 or by e-mail at 

Win FREE books - pitch your favourite graphic book or comic

May 12, 2014 | Ken Sparling | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

CuteGirlNetwork [no credit needed]-COV-300cmyk TCAF WO2014We gave away a bunch of great signed books by comic creators at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this past weekend.


<<<<<<<<including this gem


 If you didn't make it out to TCAF, or if you were there, but didn't win a book, don't despair - you can still win!!!


Write a 100 word review of your favourite graphic novel or comic and post it to the WORD OUT website.


Get full details on the WORD OUT website!

New! Non-Fiction Writing Contest for Youth in Canada

February 14, 2014 | Ray | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


The Writer's Trust of Canada, who run the established and esteemed Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction is launching a nonfiction writing contest for students. The Hilary Weston Writer's Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest is open to students aged 21 and younger, who are currently enrolled in grades 9 through 12 at a school in Canada.

Here are the Complete Contest_Guidelines and Contest Submission Form 

or visit

Yes, there are great prizes. Free to enter, deadline is March 31st, 2014.


The new Hilary Weston Writer's Trust Student Nonfiction Writing Contest offers:

  •  a grand prize of $2,500, plus $1,000 for the winner’s school
  • publication of the winning work on
  • a trip to Toronto in fall 2014 to be recognized at the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for         Nonfiction gala presentation, and the chance to meet established authors and publishing industry professionals at a VIP reception
  • an opportunity for students to have their writing evaluated by a jury of professional authors
  • the chance to add a prestigious achievement to any resume or scholarship application
  • Second Prize: $500; Third Prize: $250


Submissions must be in the form of literary nonfiction, between 1,000 and 2,000 words, and in English.

What do they mean by 'nonfiction'? What's included in that?

Literary nonfiction includes, but is not limited to, works of personal or journalistic essays, memoirs, commentary, both social and political criticism, history, and biography. The winning work will demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style, and technique.

There is no fee to enter this contest; the deadline to submit is March 31, 2014. Be sure to include your completed contest submission form with your entry.

For complete contest details, please visit

Fiction for Feedback: "The Storm" by Layla

November 19, 2013 | E Writer in Residence - Emily Pohl-Weary | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

This is the first chapter of a fantasy novel. Wizards lose their power to strange creatures called "Nightsingers." And there's a love interest!

Check out the first chapter to Layla's novel. I encourage you to comment and let her know what you like in this, what you're not sure about, and any other reactions that you have.



            Huxley Weatherwell burst out of the castle’s infirmary, flinging open the wooden doors, and striding out to meet the storm that howled in the ebony night. His numbness gnawed at him from within, clawing at his heart, and sending waves of shock down his body.

This was not possible. It has never happened in all the history of Solandor.

But it happened to me.

            The wind tore at his wizard’s robes, sent his dark hair flying back from his face, revealing unnaturally bright violet eyes that stared resolutely ahead. A searing bolt of lightning ripped open the sky, illuminating the grassy hill that Huxley was fighting the elements to climb. He heard a voice from the direction of the castle, calling his name, but he didn’t break his stride.

            Grunting with exertion, Huxley finally reached the top of the steep incline, feeling the booms of thunder echo in his bones. He stared up at the swirling sky, the rain pummelling his face, breathing in the smell of wet dirt and sizzling electric energy. The rain felt too dry, the lightning too white, the thunder too quiet. It had been a long time since he’d been in the center of a storm he had no hand in creating. He felt like a stranger among the bellowing winds and crackling lightning—the weather was cold and distant to him. It did not beckon and entrance him anymore. It never would again.

            “Huxley!” a voice called, sounding shrill over the moaning gusts of air.

He knew who it was, but she was the last person he could face after what he’d just been through. Huxley sank to the sodden ground, feeling the numbness drain out of him, replaced by black despair. His hands shook as they ran through his wind-tousled hair, lying flat on his back in the sopping grass that was slowly turning to mud. Huxley closed his eyes and let the storm wash over, wishing silently that the lightning would take him. Stretching out his hands, he tried to focus, tried to call the lightning to him, but the familiar tingle of power did not shoot down his fingertips, or quicken his heart. He felt nothing.


            His eyes flashed open in surprise to see her kneeling so close, her dark hair falling over her striking face in wet tendrils, sticking to the caramel-coloured skin. She must have run to reach him so fast. He had deluded himself in thinking he could escape from this.

            “Lorena, please, I do not need you here, I just want to be left—”

            “Alone?” she challenged, piercing him with a fiery stare. “You know me better than that,” Lorena retorted.

            Huxley sighed in exasperation, instantly regretting letting out all that air as he began to fight his clenching lungs for his next breaths. He stared at the sky, the grass, the castle, anything. He was not going to surrender to the sorrowful darkness that spread within like ink stains. Not in front of her.

“Where is Bandit?” he choked out finally, staring at the folds of her drenched robes, keeping his eyes purposely averted from hers.

            Lorena reached deep within her cloak and opened a leather satchel she kept protected from the storm. Nestled inside among jars of poultice and pouches of herbs was her animal Guardian. Bandit the cardinal had his feathers puffed out so much so that he looked indistinguishable from a red ball of yarn.

            “He does not enjoy storms much, but he wouldn’t leave my side tonight,” Lorena stroked the top of Bandit’s head affectionately before tucking him away. “But where is Sputnik off to?” she inquired, referring to Huxley’s own animal Guardian. “That hare loves this sort of weather—nearly as much as you. Which is a rather dangerous and absurd pastime if you asked me.”

            He turned his head away from her, feeling the salty sting of tears. “She was still fast asleep in the infirmary. I did not want to wake her.” However, what flashed behind his closed lids were Sputnik’s eyes, staring up at him, confused and pleading as he screamed at her to leave. The image of her ears flattened defensively against her head, her defeated form hopping away burned with remorse in his mind.

            Coughing, Huxley tried to rid himself of the tremor that threatened to creep into his words. “If you are going to partake in this dangerous and absurd pastime of mine, dry yourself at least,” he attempted a smile, but the corners of his mouth twitched into a grimace instead. “There is no point in you getting wet.”

            Lorena’s features contorted in surprise. She blinked and tried to assume a neutral expression, but not before Huxley’s shaking hands clenched into fists.

            “What? You can no longer use your magic around me?” he bellowed, sitting upright in a start. Lightning made his pale face, now inches away from Lorena’s, ghost-white and his eyes feverish. “I do not want your pity, or your help! You cannot do anything to help me. Not now. Not ever! I am not some child that needs comforting, or petty sympathy. Go, Lorena, you have no reason to stay. You brought me here,” Huxley snarled, seeing those last words cause pain to convulse across Lorena’s face. “Now leave me be.”

            The woman’s eyes hardened, as tendrils of steam rose from her body and flames began to lick the ends of her hair. “Do not think for one second that I would ever sink so low as to give you my pity.” She spat out the words as if they were venom burning in her mouth. The fire now roared all over her head and crested her shoulders. “I am only here to return you this.”

            She flung something at his chest, the small, circular object illuminated briefly by the flash that arced overhead. It was the clasp to Huxley’s cloak, engraved with his school’s insignia—a silver-lined cloud with a single golden bolt of lightning striking the ground underneath.

            “It’s not of much use to you now,” she hissed vehemently, the flames surrounding her, crackling.

Huxley could not tear his eyes away from the clasp, as the reality of what had happened truly started to dawn on him. What would become of him now? Now that everything, everything had changed? His heart twisted in agony, aching for what had been taken away. “It is really gone, Lorena,” he whispered, unable to meet her eyes. “My magic—it’s gone.”

His violet gaze rose to meet hers, and he was taken aback to see tears flooding her orange eyes. Lorena was the strongest, most short-tempered person he knew. Anger did not simply vanish in her case—she was quick to set off, but like a storm, one needed to weather it out. And for that fury to escape in the form of tears was another matter entirely. For now, Lorena almost looked vulnerable. Without warning, Lorena’s hand cracked across his face, the sound booming louder than the thunder that raged overhead. Huxley touched his cheek gingerly where she left her mark, and simply stared.

“You should never have come after me!” cried Lorena, tears spilling over her face, the fires in her hair and cloak snuffed out with the rain. “The Nightsinger didn’t want my magic, you fool,” her voice accompanied by a clap of thunder. “She wanted yours.”

Huxley still stared, unable to speak. His face began to tingle with the imprint of Lorena’s hand.

“She was using me to get to you. She—she suppressed my magic somehow, blocked it, so I could not fight back. So I could not warn you.” Lorena was nearly whispering now. “If you hadn’t left Stormwind in such a hurry, if you had an inkling of sense, this would never have happened.”

She brushed away her tears angrily, turning her face, as if she was ashamed to have them coating her cheeks. “How did you know where I was?” she asked her words unusually soft. “Why did you come?”

“Why did you leave?” said Huxley, his voice cracked and broken. A minute passed between them as the storm rumbled and crashed in the silence that hung in the air like spider silk.

“I heard you scream,” Huxley said finally as her eyes widened in shock. He stared at a point beyond Lorena’s shoulder, no longer bound to the present.


*  *  *


He had been trotting along the rocky hillside pass that led from Stormwind Tower, searching for signs that another horse and rider had traveled through. The setting sun peeked behind the sloping earth, its last rays dusting the crooked stone structure that drew farther and farther away. Huxley went over the day’s events in his head, assembling and reassembling the moments one by one. Why did she leave? And so sudden, without any warning or farewell. He supposed it could have something to do with the arguments—and the constant fighting.

Just the thought of the endless bickering, flares of magical sparks and spurts of anger exchanged over the last fortnight sent his blood bubbling. She was only there to visit Stormwind Tower and see how he ran his school, not to comment and criticize and berate everything he did! As if she was leading Clockwork Tower any better—with all the chaos, mechanics, and stray enchantments everywhere there was no way she was teaching her students the true elements and foundations of magic. He had found himself constantly thinking of their quarrels, chuckling at his own witty comments, wincing at her well-worded jabs. Even their Guardians had some unspoken rivalry. Lorena’s cardinal, Bandit, would puff out his chest pompously every time he passed, and Sputnik would respond by standing on her hind legs, her ears stretching up to the sky, eyeing the little bird down. Suddenly sitting up straight in his saddle, it dawned on Huxley that he hadn’t had this much, well, fun in as along as he could remember. She never left his thoughts. Her bittersweet words, her burning eyes, her graceful losses and gleeful victories. Huxley shook his head, dispelling stray musings that clouded his mind like perfume. All he was doing now was making sure she was alright. That was perfectly reasonable.

His Guardian hare, Sputnik, placed her paws on his shoulder from where she lay nestled in the hood of his cloak, bringing him out of his reverie. Her ears swivelled in all directions, the tawny fur tickling Huxley’s cheek, her nose twitching as she helped her charge in his quest. Scanning the ground, Huxley suddenly yanked on the reigns causing his horse to snort in surprise. Petting his horse apologetically, he slowed his mount to a standstill, having spotted an indentation in the earth that held some promise. He slid off his mare and knelt to the ground, squinting at the depression before him. Sputnik leaped out from his hood, sniffed the soil warily and gazed up at him, expectant.

“Well?” he asked the creature. “Is this what we are looking for? It could be her horse…”

Who was he kidding? He was no hunter—the mark on the ground looked like blob to him—he had no way of telling if this was a hoof print or the former resting place of some oddly-shaped rock. His Guardian thumped the ground impatiently with her foot, which was her way of saying stop gawking about and get on with it!

“Alright, alright! I just thought it was worth a shot.” Shaking his head at the spunky hare, Huxley muttered a few words in a language that sounded like the whisper of trees and groaning of wood in a forest wind. The familiar warmth of magic spread through him, emanating from the silvery fire of his power that resided deep in his core. It flowed into his words and out of his splayed fingers. A trail of glowing blue light materialized from the darkness, swirling near the ground like smoke. It led away from the pass towards a nearly invisible path through rocks and trees that twisted and turned as it snaked between two different hills. He smiled triumphantly as he found that the light originated from the ambiguous dip in the ground at his feet.

“Well look at that! I was right after all. Perhaps I wouldn’t be such a horrible hunter in the end, huh Sputnik?” The wizard flashed a grin at his Guardian who shook her ears in exasperation. The hare bounded back into the grey folds of his hood, careful to cuff his ear with her forepaw as she did so. She never approved of gloating since it was only a waste of time. She was such a straightforward and direct creature. Just as Huxley mounted his mare once more to follow the shimmering blue, he heard it.

A shriek of bone-chilling terror pierced the night air like a blade of ice. Huxley’s heart froze in place and he felt Sputnik tense like a spring from within his hood. The scream had come from the same direction as his light trail. Lorena.

He spurred his mare into action, galloping faster than striking lightning. His heart pounded in time with the horse’s hooves as fear for what lay at the end of the blue light infected his mind. Lorena was strong, fearless and quick-witted, not to mention one of the most powerful magic-wielders of her time. Whatever had made her scream like that must be a horror beyond imagining. What if she was—no! He couldn’t allow himself to finish the thought. He couldn’t lose her—he had just found her. He cursed at himself, slamming his tightly clenched fists against his thighs. How could he be so dense? When Damion Steed of Rowanwood Tower paid a visit to Stormwind he stayed for three days. Master of Opalstone Tower, Eveline Narula, only graced him with her presence for a single evening. Lorena Lightfall had kept company at his Tower for a complete cycle of the moon and he had merely seen it as an amusingly aggravating distraction. He had been so absorbed in teaching his students and furthering his own knowledge of magic like always that he did not see the obvious. Like always. Huxley cursed again as he recalled how he ended their arguments with him either speeding away to find his students for a lesson, racing to the apothecary chamber to experiment with a new potion, or barrelling down the halls to the library in order to research an obscure branch of magic.

No wonder she left. She must have thought him an ignorant fool. Which I am, he added mentally, completely and hopelessly for that matter. He hadn’t seen how this would affect her. He didn’t even know he had anything to affect! She was this formidable, powerful, beautiful—yes, her angular features and glossy, ebony hair burst into his mind, beautiful—woman. He’d had no inkling, not even a warning. Only dangerous, sweet-smelling thoughts that he fought to repress with hours of reading ancient magical tomes. Loneliness had been his lifelong companion, he’d never thought someone—someone like her—would ever want to replace it. Huxley’s chest tightened into a fluttering knot as he thundered to a halt where the blue light trail ended. Just as he did so, the luminescent guide vanished into the night.

A charcoal-coloured horse stared up at the wizard and his Guardian with glazed eyes from where it lay still on the earth, an arrow embedded deep into its neck. Sprawled at the roots of a tree, Lorena lay as still and as pale as a bone, Bandit nestled in the tangles of her hair. But it was not the blood that coated the side of her face, or the unnatural angle of her leg that made Huxley nearly fall off his horse or cause Sputnik to freeze in terror from within his hood. It was the creature bending over her.

A Nightsinger.

Impossible. Huxley’s amazement matched his horror, his grip on the reigns so tight that the leather cut into his hands. The creature turned to pierce him with poisonous green eyes that stood stark against its onyx skin. Its dark face was a fusion of both human and lupine traits with pointed ears sticking up from the long silver hair twisted into a braid. Huxley realised the Nightsinger was female and she had her hands on Lorena’s temples, the latter’s eyes fluttering beneath sunken lids.

Sputnik dove from his cloak and bounded to Lorena’s side. In her wake, the trees around Lorena’s still form bent to surround her in a protective cocoon of leaves and branches. Huxley leaped to the ground off his horse, which immediately bolted away, advancing on the Nightsinger. “What have you done to her?” he bellowed, the winds already gathered in his hands, electric sparks playing in his wild hair.

The Nightsinger twisted its snout-like mouth, brandishing slightly pointed teeth into what only could be described as a smile. She stood up with wolf-like grace, towering over the wizard, her whip-like tail curling to unsheathe a sword from her belt while two more weapons appeared in her hands. The blades glowed the rust-brown of dried blood.

“Only what needed to be done,” the creature replied, her words lifted by a lilt punctuated by howls.

Huxley vision beat in time with his racing heart as he felt his silvery inner fire rear up like a dragon. The dragon within him roared, the sound reverberating through him, bursting from his lungs and into the night. The Nightsinger took a step back in surprise, not expecting to hear the war cry of an ancient beast emanating from the mouth of a wizard. Seeing this, Huxley bared a smile that didn’t quite reach his smouldering eyes. This she-wolf hurt Lorena, made her scream—a woman who would not flinch on a bloody battlefield. This creature had placed her on the razor’s edge between life and death and had perhaps even taken from Lorena a piece of her existence. For Nightsingers were thieves—they were the stealers of magic. Huxley spread his arms and let loose the gale-force winds he had been holding at bay. He called to the sky and summoned hot bolts of white lightning that he hurled at the Nightsinger like knives.

The creature whirled her swords, the blades becoming a coppery blur. They glowed brighter with each attack the wizard launched as she spun and leaped around him with the agility of a serpent. Huxley paused in his throws of magic, breathing heavily, to stare at those strange Nightsinger knives. They seemed to deflect—no, absorb his magic. At the hand of her blades, his storm winds scattered into weak breezes, his lightning fizzled into sparks. He hadn’t even landed a blow.

With renewed fury, Huxley cast magic faster and fiercer than he’d ever had before, letting his power loose through his body. He spoke to the earth in the language of the rocks and made it heave and buckle. He commanded trees in their leafy tongue to whip out their branches and roots. He called to the clouds with words of crashing tides and it replied with rain that burned like ice. Even though he was fighting for him and Lorena to escape the clutches of death at the hands of this creature of the night, he had never felt so wonderfully alive.

Quicker than a heartbeat, the Nightsinger hurled herself at Huxley between his throws of lightning, knocking him into the earth, driving the air right out from his lungs. She held a rust-coloured blade with her nimble tail at his throat, the pendent threat preventing him from leaping right back up.

“Had enough fun?” She growled, her hot, spicy breath fogging his senses. Huxley spit at her face, his saliva smoking where it touched her black skin, making it blister. She roared in pain, the sound a mix between a howl and a woman’s cry of agony, her sword-wielding tail drawing up enough to let the wizard duck away. However not fast enough, for the Nightsinger recovered quicker than he thought possible and pounced right back on him, this time pinning the wizard down with her entire body. Huxley bucked and kicked, magic shooting out from his hands and feet, but to no avail. He was trapped.

He glared at the creature, hatred bubbling in his violet eyes, awakening the fear which had lain dormant throughout the entire ordeal. “Magic is not yours to take,” he hissed, twisting and writhing, still fighting to escape.

The Nightsinger placed three obsidian fingers on his forehead, a palm over his racing heart and the tip of her tail on the crown of his head. “Magic was never yours to keep,” she whispered, her teeth gleaming a hairsbreadth away from his throat.

She lifted her head up to the sky and began to sing. The music was ethereal, the melody dancing to the rise and falls of the dissonant notes that ornamented the song. Huxley felt the silvery fire of power roar to life from within without his control. His blood burned in his veins, scalding his bones and scorching his heart. He bellowed in pain, convulsions rippling down his body as he was being consumed by magical fire from within. Then he felt the fire being drawn out of him, tearing from his soul and flowing into the Nightsinger. The absence of the terrible warmth was more agonizing than he could ever imagine. Huxley ached to his core in the growing disappearance of his magic, and he called out for it, yearning to be burned again by the silver fire. However he only grew ever colder. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks as he forced breath into the numb hole that was now his body. A cloak of darkness was drawing ever near, but in the moments before he sank into its smothering depths, he felt the Nightsinger remove her hands and whip around to face an approaching figure. A figure completely alight in the glow of flames.


* * *


“I did not scream.” Her voice brought Huxley rushing back to the present. He blinked, confused.


Lorena was turned away, her arms crossed protectively over her chest. “I was merely—startled.”

Huxley gaped at her. Without warning he felt a chuckle bubbling up from his throat. He began to laugh, the discordant sound shocking him as it erupted from his mouth. He gasped for air as the uncontrollable laughter took over his lungs, no longer a sound of merriment. Before he realized what had happened, he found himself weeping in the soft folds of Lorena’s cloak, the sobs wracking through his body and into hers. Time passed immeasurably as they knelt there, wrapped in sorrow and rain.

Huxley’s sobs abated into hiccups and he untangled himself from Lorena’s cloak, but she kept a hold of his hand.

“What will I do?” he whispered, staring at their intertwined fingers. “I am no longer whole—I am less than a man now. My students—my school. How will they—how will I go on? Magic is all that I know. Teaching is all that I have.”

Lorena shook her head, a smile lighting her eyes. “You are so devoted to Stormwind Tower and its magic. It can never truly leave you,” she locked her gaze onto his with startling intensity. “Magic was born with you, Huxley. Even if it has been physically taken away, you can never lose your love or knowledge for it. That is more than any student or school can hope for.” She brushed a lock of hair away from his forehead. “And you are not less than a man. You are more than a wizard to me.”

As if embarrassed by her lack of fiery outbursts, Lorena punched his shoulder with her free hand, drawing out a cry of indignation from Huxley. “But you are still a blundering, senseless fool, do you know that?”

Rubbing his shoulder, he scowled at Lorena who immediately grinned at his displeasure. “With you reminding me every second, how could I possibly forget?”

Huxley felt something soft brush his hand and unlocked his eyes from her orange stare. He glanced down to find Sputnik, her tawny fur plastered to her heaving frame, a tiny forepaw placed over his and Lorena’s interlocked hands. Hesitant, Huxley stroked the soft fur of Sputnik’s ears, an unspoken apology hanging in the air. With a twitch of her whiskers he was forgiven. Huxley felt a loosening in his chest as the burden of his ordeal was shared by the two souls he cared for most.

“You know,” he said, turning to flash a grin at Lorena which shone brighter than the stars. “I might try my hand at being a hunter. What do you think, Sputnik?”

Young Writer Resources - Meet Up, Get Published, Online Resources

October 22, 2013 | Ray | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

A gathering and smattering of resources for young writers:

Have a suggested resource? Email


Meet. Hear. Share.

Toronto Public Library's Teen Writer's Group   At North York Central Library - open and kind. For writers aged 13-19.

Toronto Street Writers: a free writer's group

Founded in 2008, the program caters to a diverse group of 16-to-29-year-old poets, musicians, novelists, filmmakers, artists, and playwrights who work with established writers from the community to learn about writing, generate careers in the arts, and use writing as therapy to overcome complex life challenges.

Impossible Arts: a sound poet's circle

Sound Poets’ Circle is a free hip-hop and spoken word workshop series for youth ages 16-29 on Monday evenings. This workshop focuses on creating and recording sound and music, writing hip hop lyrics and spoken-word poetry. It's a "use what you got to get what you want" program to inspire group participation, creativity and resistance through art. Participants work with established and emerging facilitators and artists. Space is limited. To join, must register:

BAM! Youth Poetry Slam is for poets aged 12 to 19, all ages for open mic, and runs on the second Wednesday monthly at The Central (603 Markham Street) in the Annex. Doors open (tentatively) 5:30PM, open mic and slam signs ups start 6:00PM and show begins 6:30PM. $5 Cover.


Get Published:

Young Voices Magazine: Toronto Public Library's annual magazine of youth writing and art

Broken Pencil: the magazine of zine culture and the independent arts 

Reviews the best zines, books, websites, videos, and artworks from the underground and reprints the best articles from the alternative press. Also includes ground-breaking interviews, original fiction, and commentary on all aspects of the independent arts. Toronto-based.   

The Claremont Review: the international magazine of young adult writers 

Publishes poems, short stories, short plays, graphic art, photography and interviews twice each year. Most of the work published is by Canadians, but submissions from 13-19 year olds from anywhere in the English-speaking world are welcome.

Shameless Magazine - "Your regular dose of fresh feminism for girls and trans youth"

New Moon: Bringing Girls' Voices to the World

Re:Verse—A Zine for Young Poets - From League of Canadian Poets

Skipping Stones: An International Multicultural Magazine

Tickled By Thunder Fiction Magazine


Competitions and Writing Challenges

Jessamy Stursburg Poetry Contest for Canadian Youth

Nanowrimo: National Novel Writing Month
A 30-day novel writing contest for ages 17 and under.

Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge

James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing Award  Recognizes Aboriginal youth for their creative writing talent and awards up to six Aboriginal students with $2,500 annually.

Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest 
And the Junior Authors Poetry Contest

Pandora’s Collective

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
Check especially details for international students (that includes Canada)

TD Canadian Children's Book Week Writing Contest


Resources for Developing Writing, etc. Young Poets is a project of The League of Canadian Poets, launched on April 9, 2001 to celebrate National Poetry Month. In keeping with the League of Canadian Poet’s objectives to increase the profile of Canadian poetry, the team offers a number of initiatives for youth and teachers across Canada on the website.

Teen InkTeenInk is a teen magazine, book and website featuring teen writing, information, art, photos, poetry, teen issues and more. All articles are written by teen authors who are students.

QuotelandFind quotations on any topic, or identify the author of your favorite quotes

Teen writers interested in Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing from author David Kirtley: Lists some contests for both adult and young writers.

Go Teen Writers : contests, encouragement, and community for young writers

Scriptorium Scribbles: The young writers' resource webzine.

Merlyn's Pen emerged 18 years ago to showcase the writing of middle and high school students. Over the years it has evolved and has recieved over 120,000 student manscripts. They still respond to every young writer with personalized words of advice and encouragement.

Canadian Writing Resources for Students

Ten Ways to Tighten Your Prose



Disclaimer: Toronto Public Library does not take responsibility for the content found on any external links.

Creative Challenge for Grade 8 writers! Get published.

September 30, 2013 | Ray | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you an avid writer, in grade 8, and interested in a nation-wide creative challenge? Here's a chance to get published. NationalReadingCampaign-logo

Deadline to submit is December 31st, 2013 

This creative challenge is from the National Reading Campaign:

Kids Write 4 Kids (KW4K) is a creative writing
 challenge. The 2013-2014 challenge will be open to aspiring authors in grades 4 to 8. All submitted stories will be reviewed, however only selected stories will be compiled into an original digital book
 that will be available for sale in the Apple iBookstore, Amazon’s Kindle and Kobo eBooks. Check out last year's published writers.


  • Stories will be accepted from authors in grades 4 to 8
  • Submission period ends December 31, 2013
  • Stories must be original and written entirely by the author
  • Suggested word count: 500 – 8,500 words
  • Stories will be accepted in English only
  • Stories will be published in their original format, so please check spelling, etc. prior to submitting
  • Stories will not be edited before publication
  • Stories should be submitted as Word .doc files (parent/guardian can assist with inputting the story)
  • Entries can include any form of writing including poetry
  • Optional images including photography can be submitted to accompany the story but must be original images created by the author
  • Images and text should be submitted in separate files
  • All images should be scanned and submitted along with the rest of the entry
  • Files types accepted include: .doc, .jpg, .pdf

Please keep original copies of images. If your story is selected a representative from Ripple Digital Publishing will contact you to obtain original images.


To submit, please fill out online Entry Form.
Only entries submitted on this online form will be considered for publication.

More information

Writing Contests for Teens

May 10, 2013 | Ray | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Here's a more recent round up of some writing contests for youth/teens to enter.  ARRR.

Why cupcakes?  Just because.


Eden Mills Student Poetry Contest                                                 

Annual youth poetry contest run by Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, which is held annually in early September. Watch the festival web site for submission information.


River of Words Annual Poetry Contest

River of Words conducts an annual poetry and art contest for youth on the theme of watersheds. The contest is designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live. The contest is open to any writers aged 5-19. Older students must have not yet completed high school.


Scholastic Art and Writing Awards                                          

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Awards recognize student achievement in the visual arts and creative writing. Sign up to receive email updates about annual deadlines. NOTE: Canadians are eligible for the awards.


TD Canadian Children’s Book Week Writing Contest

Young writers from across Canada, in grades 4 to 12, are invited to submit their stories and/or poems. Judging is done by noted writers from across Canada and one winner from each grade receives a $250 gift certificate for the bookstore of his or her choice. Two honourable mentions from each grade category receive $50 gift certificates.



Shorthand - online zine - seeks your work!

March 22, 2013 | Ray | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

22-03-13 09-36-20
Shorthand is looking for young writers between the ages of 16-25 to submit work for publication on-line in their New Voices special section. 

The deadline is the 15th of the month prior to publication. (Example: October 15th for a November publication)  Writing must be in English from a resident of Canada, original, never published or produced, 2,500 words or less for fiction or non-fiction and 75 lines or less for poems (up to 3 poems can be submitted).  Plays must be short or a one-scene excerpt.

Here's the full scoop on submitting your work.

Writing Contests - call for entries

November 20, 2012 | Ray | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Here are a few youth writing contests coming up:

Book Week Writing Contest Free to enter. Feb. 1st deadline.

Commonwealth Writing Competition - Global Competition. Free to enter. May 1st deadline. Also offers photography and filmmaking competitions

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Free to enter. Deadline Jan. 15th.

Red Tuque Books: Contest Rules   $15 to enter. Dec. 31 deadline. Not specifically for youth, but no age specification.

Poetic Power Poetry Contests and Essay Contests.  3 contests per year. Free to enter. Next deadline Dec. 6th.


Resources for finding more youth writing contests:

Youth Write: contest list and resources

Young and Writerly: blog of youth contests and resources

Poets & Writers Magazine: Contest Feed for upcoming contests (mostly adult or 18+)

Short Story Competition - Deathmatch 2013

November 13, 2012 | Ray | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Deathmatch2013Writers of short stories - Broken Pencil is now accepting submissions for the battle of the pen: Deathmatch 2013

Short stories are voted against each other, only 1 will win.  Rawr. Submission are $25 and deadline is Jan. 1st 2013.  Here are the details for submissions. 


Book Week 2013 Writing Contest

October 22, 2012 | Ray | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Do you love to write and in high school or middle school? Enter the Book Week 2013's writing contest! 

LogoStories and poems are welcome!  Fiction AND Non-Fiction!

What could I win?

  • Judging is done by noted Canadian writers and one winner from each grade will receive a $250 gift certificate for the bookstore of his or her choice.
  • Two honourable mentions from each grade category will also receive $50 gift certificates.

Continue reading "Book Week 2013 Writing Contest" »

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