Here are the shortlists for the 2020 Nova Writes Competition for Unpublished Manuscripts. Winners in each category will be announced April 23, 2020.

Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize:

  • Nataliya Bukhanova, “The Lucky Guys”
  • Robert de la Chevotiere, “Mou-Mou”
  • Brad Donaldson, “Sinking”
  • Francene Gillis, “True Colours”
  • Jenny MacDougall, “The Guests at the Party”
  • Sydney Robichaud, “My Mother’s Hands”
  • James Whidden, “Marsden Hartley”

H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize:

  • Mary Dodd, “Quarry”
  • Beth Ann Knowles, “The Hwagae Bath House”
  • Nanci Lee, “The Primacy of the Individual”
  • Leonard Brent MacDonald, “The Door”
  • Dvora Trachtenberg, “My Mother Never Had a Wedding”

Joyce Barkhouse Young Adult Fiction Prize:

  • Emily Dodge, “Daughters of Morrigan”
  • JC Farquahar, “The Party Loop”
  • Jaime Horbul, “First Days of Summer”

Rita Joe Poetry Prize:

  • Cathy Jacob, “Evening Prayer”
  • donalee Moulton, “In Tact”
  • Margarate Schwartz, “Trial by Moon”
  • Pat Thomas, “Raven Spirit”


  • Budge Wilson Short Fiction Prize: Susan Drain, "In the Dugout" | Shortlist: KR Byggdin, Brad Donaldson, Brendan Dunbar, Breton Hannam, Nigel Herritt, Sarah Pittoello
    • Judge: Sirje Ruus | Judge's citation: “This masterfully crafted story depicts the resilience of a small group of Canadian soldiers on a First World War battleground where all that is left to combat the horror are humble acts of human kindness and large doses of irony. Very little actually happens in the dugout, yet so much is revealed.”
  • Rita Joe Poetry Prize: Rosalie Osmond, Variations in Time | Shortlist: Rachel Edmonds, Mary Verna Feehan, Cheri Wilson
    • Judge: Dr. Afua Cooper | Judge's citation: Rosalie Osmond "uses her spiritual, emotional, and physical sense to convey a poetry that is textured, focused, and startling. Her banner is honesty and courage, and so the poems are a ‘take no prisoner’ dialogue between the heart and self. The result is that the heart is flung wide open. Her poems are rich in sensory words, with a tight inner rhythm that can only be produced by one in charge of her craft.”
  • H.R. (Bill) Percy Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Ariel Watson, "Beasts of Myth" | Honourable mention: Julie Strong's "I had to steal them" | Shortlist: Barbara Cullen, Mary Dodd, Joanne Light, Cynthia Manley, Joe Muething
    • Judge: Marjorie Simmins | Judge's citation: “The author has written a resonant and complex story, with themes of multi-generational family ties and interactions, looming death, the reshapings of personal histories, the romantic pulls of times gone by, and the essence and changing composition of memory, as connected to a time, and its people.”
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Karen Kelloway, Keeper of the Pact | Shortlist: Jill Martin, Anne Odell
    • Judge: Janet Barkhouse | Judge's citation: “A trio of human children discover danger—and more—on a fishing boat moored in Brigus Harbour. Suspenseful, believable, original, this excerpt grips and delights.”


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Mary Verna Feehan, "Two Crow Joy" | Shortlist: Cate Carlyle, Susan LeBlanc
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Susan Walsh, Where the Lampreys Meet | Shortlist: Dorothy Redfurn, Nancy Waldman
  • Poetry Prize: J Lorraine Campbell, All Consuming | Shortlist: John Saklofske, Courtney Siebring
  • Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Margaret MacQuarrie, "How Was the Party?" | Shortlist: Barbara Cullen, Jennifer Faulkner, Julie Strong
  • Long Form Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Muriel Zimmer, I Need You to be Strong | Shortlist: Laura Churchill Duke, Mark Haynes, Grey Murphy


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Amanda Peters, "Crows" | Honourable mention: Adam Fiske's "City of Goodbyes" | Shortlist: Francene Gillis, Cheri Wilson
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Brenda MacLennan-Dunphy, Never Speak of this Again | Shortlist: Carol Moreira, Angela Ripley
  • Poetry Prize: Jana Traff, In the White of Grief | Shortlist: Joyce Caines, Ryan Eavis, Bethany Lake, Cheri Wilson
  • Short Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Melissa Friedman, "Gastown to Grey" | Shortlist: Thomas Harris, Jen Schwetje
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Laureen Van Lierop, Beach Meadow Friends | Shortlist: John Graham-Poole, John Ure 

The predecessor to Nova Writes was the Atlantic Writing Competition (AWC), which was established in 1975 under the auspices of the Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Authors' Association and was administered by the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia from 1976 to 2016. In 2016, the 39th year of the AWC, over 70 submissions were received (from emerging writers throughout Atlantic Canada) in six categories: short story, novel, poetry, creative non-fiction, writing for children, and young adult novel. Two other categories came and went over the last dozen years of the competition: unproduced play (awarded from 2011 - 2013) and magazine article/essay (awarded up to 2007). All entrants received written comments on their manuscripts. Manuscripts were evaluated for their originality, creativity, and quality of writing, as well as literary technique, structure, and plot.


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Sue Murtagh, "Resort Life" | Shortlist: Ethel Belliveau, Amanda Peters, Claire Shiplett, Susie Taylor
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Anne Bishop, Blessed are the Poor | Shortlist: Andrea Doukas, Liz Graham
  • Poetry Prize: Abena Amoako-Tuffour, The Art of Living | Shortlist: Emily Crompton, Carol Moreira, Shane Mountain, Lucas Wentzell
  • Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Linda McLean, Dreaming Margaret Atwood | Shortlist: Benjamin Dugdale, Dvora Trachtenberg
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Mary Pike, The Secret Spirits of Edgar Snow | Shortlist: Deb MacNeil, Shawna Morrissey
  • Young Adult Novel Prize: Jenni Blackmore, Island of Dead Souls


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Dominic Wilcott, "Child of Somalia" | Honourable mention: Jan Moffett's "Anxiety and Austin" | Shortlist: Ethel Belliveau, Luke MacNeill, Colin van Vulpen
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Maureen St. Clair, Judith and Sola | Honourable mention: Bridget Canning's Impulse | Shortlist: Lorraine Buck, Warren Redman, Tim Reeves-Horton
  • Poetry Prize: Wade Ells, Tricks in the Tide | Shortlist: Sheila Graham-Smith, Emily Leeson, Tela Purcell, Cheri Wilson
  • Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Jeremy Smith, In The Kitchen | Honourable mention: Jo Shawyer's Points of View | Shortlist: Zoe D'Amato, Esther Kennedy
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Sara Jewell, Moon Tide | Shortlist: Heather Jenkins, Judy MacLean
  • Young Adult Novel Prize: Nicole Fraser, Through the Door | Shortlist: Mary Dodd, Charlotte Mendel


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Brittany Kraus, “Murmurs” | Honourable mention: Jan Moffett's "Anxiety and Austin" | Shortlist: Ethel Belliveau, Luke MacNeill, Colin van Vulpen
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Mary Pike, Foreign Soul | Shortlist: Ryan Blades, Dorothy Redfurn
  • Poetry Prize: Mary Ellen Sullivan, Visits | Shortlist: Isabel Blackmore, Whitney Moran, Shelley Thompson, Shannon Webb-Campbell
  • Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Glenna Jenkins, Digging for Bones | Honourable mention: Jo Shawyer's Points of View | Shortlist: Zoe D'Amato, Esther Kennedy
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Jim Sutherland, The House the Captain Built | Shortlist: Heather Jenkins, Judy MacLean
  • Young Adult Novel Prize: Nayani Jensen, Minstrel’s Song | Shortlist: Mary Dodd, Charlotte Mendel


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Steven Naylor, “Joey Moulton”
    • Judge: Keir Lowther | Naylor also received "an editor's eye and insights" provided by The Fiddlehead
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Marina Harris, Enough
    • Judge: Lesley Crewe
  • Poetry Prize: Ryan Marshall, I Wait in the Next Room
    • Judge: Susan McMaster | Marshall also received "an editor's eye and insights" provided by The Fiddlehead
  • Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Gillian Osmond, Mine Said Wednesday
    • Judge: Marjorie Simmins | Osmond also received "an editor's eye and insights" provided by The Fiddlehead
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Georgia S. Atkin, Secrets: A Strange Tale
  • Young Adult Novel Prize: Lori McKay, The General Store
  • Unproduced Play Prize: Griffin McInnes, Science Inaction: a love story
    • Judge: Gary Blackwood


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Ruth Morris Schneider, “Concha’s Smile” | 2nd: Heidi Harding | 3rd: Sara Malton
    • Judge: Devon Code | Judge's citation: "The finalists for this year’s competition varied widely in subject matter, style and setting. The top eleven entries in the short story category included an inter-species romance, a time travel fantasy, a reimagined fairy tale, a dystopian nightmare, works of contemporary realism, dark psychological fiction, and several stories of young protagonists struggling to make sense of the adult world. The winning entries are reflective of the diversity evidenced in the finalists. Despite their differing genres, all three stories establish clear focus and tension within their first few paragraphs and follow this through to their final pages. These stories stood out because of their control of language, attentiveness to detail and effectiveness of narrative structure."
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Sasha Dence, Falling Ice | 2nd: Sheila Graham-Smith | 3rd: Sarah Gignac
    • Judge: Valerie Compton | Judge's citation: "Completing a fully realized novel manuscript is a significant achievement. It is evidence of endurance and of a range of diverse literary skills that take years of work to master. The three manuscripts we recognize this year share one trait: they are compelling reads. Apart from that, there are few commonalities. Each author has his or her own distinctive voice and each novel is its own world. That’s as it should be since a novel ought to take us places we have never been before, whether that place is a mountain on the west coast of Ireland, an eerie suburban monster home, or a Halifax church hall converted for Shakespearean theatre. Reading these novels, I was impressed by their facility for language use, dramatic development, and moral and psychological complexity. There are beautifully rendered, sometimes astonishing, observations in all of them."
  • Poetry Prize: Roger Field, Orientations, Syria | 2nd: Maryann Martin | 3rd: Sheila Graham-Smith
    • Judge: Jaime Forsyth | Judge's citation: "Each of these three poets impressed me with the convincing and particular worlds they create. I was hoping to uncover surprises in these manuscripts, and all of these writers delivered, bypassing cliché to get to evocative descriptions and observations. Each poet approaches their chosen subjects in interesting ways, with voices that stand out as being uniquely their own. Evident, too, is a sharp eye for the perfect and unexpected detail. Several images stayed with me after I finished reading, from Roger Field’s 'dark architecture of the dead camel,' to Maryann Martin’s 'intense encounter between a woman and a fox,' to Sheila Graham-Smith’s 'transformed landscape after a snowstorm.' I also appreciated the evidence of careful craft in these poems: the attention to rhythm and artful use of line breaks; the pleasure and play found in using sound and repetition; the concise language that leaves space for the reader to enter and become immersed. These poets make it look easier than it is."
  • Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Crystal Vaughan, Pieces | 2nd: Deirdre Dwyer | 3rd: Margaret Ommanney
    • Judge: Sue Carter Flinn (whose short story "Moving Forward" won an honourable mention in the 2011 Atlantic Writing Competition)
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Patsy Clothier, Callista, the Amazing Honey Bee, Tells All | 2nd: Jo-Anne Hemming | 3rd: Jo Shawyer
    • Judge: Jan Coates (whose YA manuscript "Jacob's Long Walk" won an honourable mention in the 2009 Atlantic Writing Competition and became the book A Hare In the Elephant's Trunk, shortlisted in 2011 for a Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature in English) | Judge's citation: "Two distinguishing features of the 2012 winning entries in the Writing for Children category are: 1) each piece responds beautifully to a child's curiosity and sense of wonder, and, 2) each story contributes to young readers' understanding of, and empathy for, creatures other than themselves. There are magical elements within all three of these child-centered pieces; the magic of the natural world, and also a magical world inhabited by imaginary beings. [...] They are presented in interesting, colourful and child-friendly language and styles, including flowing rhyme and a just-right amount of charming description that leaves ample room for complementary illustrations. Each author of these winning entries uses a welcoming tone that invites children to enter into, and explore, the worlds they've created within their pages."
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize: Richard Levangie, Secrets of the Hotel Maisoneuve | 2nd: Katrina Nicholson | 3rd: Judy Dudar
    • Judge: Susan White (whose "The Year Mrs. Montague Cried" won the 2010 AWC YA/Juvenile Novel Prize and, after publication by Acorn Press, the 2011 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature) | Judge's citation: “'Secrets of the Hotel Maisoneuve' begins with a young man facing the challenges of several difficult situations: a move brought on by economic upheaval; a loss of friends and familiar surroundings and strain on family brought on by a huge labour intensive project his father is undertaking to refurbish a historic hotel in Montreal. To add to these challenges Jacob’s daily outings have been plagued by the constant harassment and aggression from a kid who roughs him up and repeatedly steals from him. During an altercation an elderly woman is injured and Jake must assist in her recovery. This forces Jacob to take responsibly and to look deeper in to his ancestry. There is an interesting side story that unfolds through letters and clues to which lead him to find treasures which will in the end change all of the difficulties he is dealing with. The historic aspect is very compelling and well integrated in the story."
  • Unproduced Play Prize: Rhys Bevan-John’s Pump Trolly | 2nd: Janet Godsell | 3rd: Nick Jupp
    • This prize was co-presented by Theatre Nova Scotia (TheatreNS) and Playwrights Atlantic Resource Center (PARC) at the Robert Merritt Awards, and the winner also received a free membership to TheatreNS and professional dramaturgy services from PARC.
    • Judge: Josh MacDonald (who won the 1995 AWC Short Story Prize) | Judge's citation: "The creators of these works impressed me greatly in their abilities to “think local,” anticipating the practical, formal limitations an East Coast playwright faces in getting his/her work onto a stage: no cast sizes here larger than five actors, no multiple set changes, no crashing chandeliers or helicopters descending. For all their local pragmatics, however, these three playwrights also drew inspiration from diverse and grand theatrical works—there’s kinship in these new plays with pieces such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, “Blithe Spirit”, “Waiting For Godot” and the solid, oaken stage mysteries of Agatha Christie. This, then, is what finally impressed me about this year’s winners and their new Atlantic plays: their refusal to be anything less than universal in theme, exploring life, death, being, nothingness, God, family, music, politics, ambition and forgiveness in wide-ranging, but workable, ways. Plus, I got a couple of laughs along the way."


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Gillian M. Osmond’s “I Heard a Small Boy Singing: A Memoir”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Charlotte Mendel’s Turn Us Again
  • Poetry Prize: Janet Kennedy’s November Poems
  • Creative Non-Fiction Prize: Brian Braganza’s The Cross Road
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Lisa-Marie Brunnen’s Hiding in the Fireplace
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize: Kat Kruger’s The Night Has Teeth
  • Unproduced Play Prize: David Christoffel’s Hard Rock
    • This prize was co-presented by Theatre Nova Scotia (TheatreNS) and Playwrights Atlantic Resource Center (PARC) at the Robert Merritt Awards, and the winner also received a free membership to TheatreNS and professional dramaturgy services from PARC.


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Julie Strong’s “Alice’s Bonfire”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Wanda Campbell’s Hat Girl
  • Poetry Prize: Rita Wilson’s Lost and Found
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Stephanie Reidy’s Callum’s Bed
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize: Susan White’s The Year Mrs. Montague Cried


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Paul Healey’s “Vanishing”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Scott Fotheringham’s The Rest is Silence
  • Poetry Prize: James MacSwain’s Ancestors
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Joanna Butler’s Calvin’s Moose Hunt
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize: Dorothy Redfurn’s In Interesting Times


  • Budge Wilson Short Story Prize: Victoria Lynn Hirtle’s “The Leather Other”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Chris Benjamin’s Living in the Dirt
  • Poetry Prize: Veryan Haysom’s Subterranean Paths
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize & Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Brenda Tate’s Nightingales Don’t Cry


  • Short Story Prize: Kathy Chisholm’s “Seen But Not Heard”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Scott Bartlett’s Royal Flush
  • Poetry Prize: Nanci Lee’s Lessons
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Carolee Nichols’s Bud, The Homeless Cat
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize: Philip Roy’s Alfred, The Submarine Outlaw
  • Magazine Article/Essay Prize: Veronica Butler’s “My Lemon Tree”


  • Short Story Prize: Roanne Rondina’s “Luzviminda”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Syr Ruus’s Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart
  • Poetry Prize: Jenny MacDougall’s Lesser Light
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Cyncy D’Entremont’s Granny’s Houseplant
  • Young Adult/Juvenile Novel Prize: Jo Ann Yhard’s Chasing the Raven
  • Magazine Article/Essay Prize: Daniel Schulman’s “An Ode to the Flying Squirrel”


  • Short Story Prize: Vivien Shotwell’s “Methods of Rest”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Dave Cameron’s The Bottle Collector
  • Frog Hollow Books Poetry Prize: Laura Crawford’s Alphabetology: Bold Character Put Up Strange Fonts
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Jamie Leck’s Guinness the Gobber and the Pickle Farm Fiasco
  • Magazine Article/Essay Prize: Penny Carver’s “Move Hands Like Clouds”


  • Short Story Prize: Erna Buffie’s “Pearl”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Terry Pratt’s Academic Questions
  • Frog Hollow Books Poetry Prize: Walter Lee’s Is Hard When Fired
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Sue Coueslan’s Under Emmett’s Bed
  • Magazine Article/Essay Prize: Munju Ravindra’s “Going Solo”


  • Short Story Prize: Sheilagh Guy Murphy’s “Lost”
  • HR (Bill) Percy Novel Prize: Steve Zipp’s Yellowknife
  • Frog Hollow Books Poetry Prize: Jennifer Clouter’s After Viewing
  • Joyce Barkhouse Writing for Children Prize: Joyce Grant Smith’s The Latch
  • Magazine Article/Essay Prize: Susan Cameron’s “Joyce and Me”