2020 Winners Announced

Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest

The Award Ceremony for the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest had to be cancelled this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So the judges (including me) made short videos to announce this year’s winners and honourable mentions, and the wonderful folks at the library put it all together into two ceremonial videos: one for ages 9-12 and one for ages 13-18.

You can check them out on the Awesome Authors page of the  library website.

And you will be able to read them in the fall 2020 edition of Pot-pourri.


Pot Pourri is an annual youth writing anthology published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library, featuring the winners of the Awesome Authors contest. 

There were so many great stories and poems entered this year! I could fill an entire book with just the best stories from the 9-12 category, and it would be great reading. If your submission is not among the winners announced this year, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t among the best. We just had too many “bests” to fit them all in.

We look forward to reading your submissions to next year’s contest. In the meantime, I hope you spend some of the summer writing stories. 🙂

Young Writers Workshop: Know your Character

To all the young writers whom I’d hoped to meet at a workshop this spring or summer (cancelled due to Covid-19)…

If you’re stuck at home with a pen handy, why not start a story or ten?

Don’t know how to begin? I’ll take you through five easy entry points over the coming weeks. (Kind of like my writing workshop, “Five ways to start a story,” except missing the key ingredient of workshop participants, and so not as fun or useful. But still something to do.) 

First up: Start with a Character.

Below you’ll find a “Build your Character” handout and a short version of my talk, “Know your Character.” (Not to be confused with next week’s talk, “Show your Character.”) Feel free to use it on your own or with a group of young writers keeping their social distance. Read More

Kids’ Lit Quiz 2020

It was a real pleasure to be the Guest Quizmaster at the Ottawa heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz this year. The contest was held at Elmwood School on Tuesday, January 21st. And even in the middle of a teachers’ strike (Go teachers! Fight for your class size!), 22 teams came out to battle.

First Place Team
The Glashan PS team (First Place) with parent coach (left) and me, Catherine Austen, Guest Quizmaster (right). Kids’ Lit Quiz Ottawa 2020

The Kids’ Lit Quiz is an international annual literature competition for children aged 10-13. It’s a fun and exciting way to celebrate the love of books and make a sport of reading. Teams of 4 players sign up to compete at local heats around the world, answering literature-related questions of all types. Most teams are school-based, but there have even been home-schooled teams in some heats.

Participants in the Ottawa heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz answered more than 100  questions in ten categories over the course of three hours. (Some of them were so hard! I was glad I was asking them instead of trying to answer them.) Read More

Awesome Authors 2020

Awesome Authors Youth Writing Contest

The Ottawa Public Library’s annual Youth Writing Contest — Awesome Authors — is underway! If you’re an Ottawa resident between the ages of 9 and 18, sharpen your pencils or boot up your computer because it’s time to get writing and drawing.

Awesome Authors honours the very best poems, stories, and comics in English and French submitted by young Ottawa writers and artists from December through February each year. This year’s deadline is February 28th — that’s tons of time to get your best material polished. Read More

Writing Workshops

author visits banner

There’s a new source of funding for author visits to English-language Quebec schools: ArtistsInspire. The program administers federal funding for minority language education. Through ArtistsInspire, schools receive full funding to invite authors, artists, or other culture creators to engage their students in the arts. All English-language schools in Quebec are entitled to $1500 per year (through 2023). There’s no competition for limited funds. Just apply.

I’m proud to be listed among the ArtistsInspire authors. For schools considering inviting me, here are some of my most successful Writing Workshop topics. (And be sure to check out my Author Presentations, too.)  Read More

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