Nova Scotia

Formac offers $1,500 and publishing deal to best young writer

Write to Win! is a competition for 18 to 40 year olds that was created to fill in the gap of young published authors in Atlantic Canada.

Author and judge Wanda Lauren Taylor hopes the contest will make the publishing process more accessible

Heather Thomas, Formac's editorial coordinator, edits a manuscript. She wants writers under the age of 40 to realize writing isn't just something to do when you're older.

Formac Publishing is encouraging young writers in Atlantic Canada to submit their literary fiction or nonfiction and have their voices heard through the company's writing contest.

The regional publishing house's Write to Win! competition for 18 to 40 year olds offers the winner a $1,500 prize and publication offer.

Author Wanda Lauren Taylor came up with the idea for the contest in her role as acquisitions editor at Formac.

More young voices

"The first thing I realized is like, where are all the younger writers? And I started to try and figure out how we can get young people interested and excited about publishing books," said Taylor, who is one of the contest's judges, along with George Elliott Clarke and Sheree Fitch.

Wanda Lauren Taylor is an author herself. Her novel Ride or Die is about teen sex trafficking and is based on true events in Canada. (CBC/Lorimer)

The competition also gives publishing 101 workshops presented by Taylor at various universities, including Saint Mary's and Dalhousie, to make the publishing process more accessible as emerging writers work on their manuscripts.

"One of the things I discovered is that a lot were intimidated by the process or just didn't know how to go on about it and that's what stopped them from submitting," Taylor said.

She showed writers how publishing works, explaining what happens once the manuscript is submitted and how to write a query letter.

Making dreams a reality

Darian Rudderham, 22, is a history student who attended one of the publishing sessions. She has been writing stories since high school and has self-published two books to share with her family.

"A lot of the young adult books that I read are written by authors in their 30s or 40s, so I would love to read more work by people around my age or even younger," said Rudderham, who is working on a historical fiction about Mona Parsons.

She said that even if she doesn't win the contest, "the work has been seen by a publisher and that's a great experience."

The publishing workshops ended in early April, but Heather Thomas, Formac's editorial coordinator, said they're open to hosting more if other writers' groups, universities, or English societies are interested.

Encouraging minority writers

"We want every young writer to know that publishing isn't something they wait to do when they're older," said Thomas, who encourages people from marginalized communities to share their stories.

"Being a minority myself, I'm super conscious in knowing that there aren't enough minorities' stories being told," said Taylor. "We want to include stories that better represent the communities that we live in, so through this contest we're hoping to see a diversity of voices."

Write to Win! is now open for submissions and will be accepting entries until June 30.


Aya Al-Hakim


Aya Al-Hakim is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached at