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Your Guide to Winter/Spring 2014 Magazine Writing Contests

It’s that time of year again. The calendar has rolled over, winter closes in around you, and all you want to do is write, write, write. The National Magazine Awards Foundation’s annual winter/spring contest guide is back, and in fact bigger than ever, as more Canadian magazines and writers organizations are offering prizes, publication and recognition for great new talent in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction.

As always, the list below may be incomplete. Leave a comment here, or pull us aside on Twitter (@MagAwards) if you know of any we missed.

Prism International Short Fiction & Poetry Contests
Section: Fiction; Poetry
Deadline: January 23, 2014
Prize: $2000 (1st); $300 (2nd); $200 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $35; includes subscription
Detailshttp://prismmagazine.ca/contests/

Matrix Magazine Robert Kroetsch Poetry Award
Section: Fiction; Poetry
Deadline: January 31, 2014
Prize: $500 + publication
Entry Fee: $30
Detailshttp://matrixmagazine.org/rkaward/

Dalhousie Review Short Fiction Contest
Section: Fiction
Deadline: February 1, 2014
Prize: $750 (1st); $250 (2nd); publication
Entry Fee: $30
Detailshttp://dalhousiereview.dal.ca/contest.html

CBC Canada Writes Creative Non-Fiction Prize
Section: Non-fiction (1200-1500 words)
Deadline: February 1, 2014
Prize: $6000 + publication in enRoute + Banff Centre residency (1st); $1000 each to 4 runners up
Entry Fee: $25
Details:
http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/literaryprizes/nonfiction/index.html

Arc Poetry Magazine Poem of the Year Contest
Section: Poetry
Deadline: February 1, 2014
Prize: $5000
Entry Fee: $32; includes subscription
Detailshttp://arcpoetry.ca/?p=7349

The Malahat Review Novella Prize
Section: Fiction
Deadline: February 1, 2014
Prize: $1500 (1st)
Entry Fee: $35
Detailshttp://web.uvic.ca/malahat/contests/novella_contest/info.html

10th annual Geist Literary Postcard Contest
Section: Very short fiction or non-fiction (500 words)
Deadline: February 1, 2014
Prize: $500 (1st); $250 (2nd); $150 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $20; includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.geist.com/articles/postcard-contest/

Atlantic Writing Competition
Sections: Creative Non-fiction; Poetry; Short Fiction; Drama
Deadline: February 3, 2014
Prize: Various
Entry Fee: $20 – $35
Detailshttp://writers.ns.ca/awards-competitions.html

The New Quarterly Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest
Section: Poetry
Deadline: February 28, 2014
Prize: $1000 + publication (1st); other prizes for runners up
Entry Fee: $40 (for first 2 poems; $5 each for additional); includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.tnq.ca/contests

The Capilano Review Poetry Contest
Section: Poetry
Deadline: February 28, 2014
Prize: Three prizes of $250
Entry Fee: $35; includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.thecapilanoreview.ca/contests/

Writers Union of Canada Short Prose Competition
Section: Non-fiction
Deadline: March 1, 2014
Prize: $2500 + assistance with publication
Entry Fee: $29
Detailshttp://www.writersunion.ca/short-prose-competition

Writers’ Trust RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers
Section: Fiction
Deadline: March 7, 2014
Prize: $5000 (1st); $1000 (each of 2 Honourable Mentions)
Entry Fee: None
Details: Writers’ Trust website

Writers’ Trust Student Non-Fiction Contest
Section: Non-fiction (open to high school students only)
Deadline: March 14, 2014
Prize: $2500 + trip to Toronto (1st); $500 (2nd); $250 (3rd)
Entry Fee: None
Detailshttp://writerstrust.com/students

The New Quarterly Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest
Section: Non-fiction
Deadline: March 28, 2014
Prize: $1000 + publication
Entry Fee: $40; includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.tnq.ca/contests

Narrative Magazine Winter 2014 Short Story Contest
Sections: Non-fiction and Fiction
Deadline: March 31, 2014
Prize: $2,500 (1st); $1000 (2nd); $500 (3rd); $100 (finalist)
Entry Fee: $22
Detailshttp://www.narrativemagazine.com/node/238622
Notes: Entries may be short fiction or literary nonfiction, including essays, memoirs, or any other form of unpublished manuscript, with a word limit of 15,000. All are judged in the same pool.

Grain magazine Short Grain Writing Contest
Sections: Fiction; Poetry
Deadline: April 1, 2014
Prize: $1000 (1st); $750 (2nd); $500 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $35; includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.grainmagazine.ca/contest.html

CV2 2-Day Poem Contest
Sections: Poetry
Deadline: April 4, 2014 (registration; competition is held April 12-13)
Prize: $500 (1st); $300 (2nd); $150 (3rd); publication
Entry Fee: $26; includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.contemporaryverse2.ca/en/contests/2-day-poem-contest

Event magazine Creative Non-Fiction Contest
Section: Non-fiction
Deadline: April 15, 2014
Prize: $1500 in total cash prizes; publication
Entry Fee: $34.95; includes subscription
Detailshttp://eventmags.com/contest-2014/

CBC Canada Writes Poetry Prize
Section: Poetry
Deadline: May 1, 2014
Prize: $6000 + publication in enRoute + Banff Centre residency (1st); $1000 each to 4 runners up
Entry Fee: $25
Detailshttp://www.cbc.ca/books/canadawrites/literaryprizes/poetry/index.html

The Malahat Review Far Horizons Poetry Prize
Section: Poetry
Deadline: May 1, 2014
Prize: $1000
Entry Fee: $25
Detailshttp://web.uvic.ca/malahat/contests/far_horizons_poetry/info.html

Sub-Terrain Lush Triumphant Literary Awards
Sections: Creative Non-fiction; Fiction; Poetry
Deadline: May 15, 2014
Prize: $3000 in total prizes; publication
Entry Fee: $27.50; includes subscription
Detailshttp://subterrain.ca/about/103/lush-2013-awards-open+for+entries

The New Quarterly Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award
Section: Fiction
Deadline: May 28, 2014
Prize: $1000 + publication
Entry Fee: $40; includes subscription
Detailshttp://www.tnq.ca/contests

Did we miss one? Send us a note or grab us on Twitter @MagAwards. We’ll update this post throughout the winter and spring as more contests are announced. Others to be announced this spring include the Quebec Writing Competition and Room Magazine contests.

Find more awards, prizes and contests for magazine journalism on the Awards and Contests pages of this blog.

Related Posts:
A Writer’s Guide to Canadian Literary Magazines
Your Guide to Fall Magazine Writing Contests
Your Guide to Summer Magazine Writing Contests

Canadian Cover Awards open for submissions until Jan 31

The annual Canadian Cover Awards, produced by CMC and Magazines Canada, is accepting submissions until January 31 for its 2013 awards.

There are eight categories this year, including Newsstand Marketer of the Year. Last year’s winner of that award, Greg Kielty, highlighted a successful 2012 awards for SkyNews magazine.

Submissions are open to Canadian magazines that were distributed on newsstands between September 2012 and September 2013, and are sales-final. Submissions must be accompanied by distribution verification.

This year’s awards ceremony will once again be held at the Courtyard Toronto Downtown at 6 pm on February 25, 2014.

Redesigns for the new issues of Vancouver & Reader’s Digest

Two National Magazine Award-winning titles with a combined 114 years of publishing have unveiled redesigns this month.

Vancouver Magazine, owned by TC Media, debuted a new style for its Jan/Feb 2014 issue.

Most notably, the rounded font with the drop shadow, prominent in the old design (including this cover nominated for a National Magazine Award last year) has been replaced with a sleeker serif design. As for what’s new on the inside, read up on the details of the new VanMag at the Canadian Magazines blog.

And Canada’s Reader’s Digest also has a new look for February 2014.

The new print redesign follows up on the digital redesigns for RD and its French counterpart, Sélection, from last fall. And not just the cover has changed (though note the new miniscule ‘d’ in “digest,” quite a departure from the old design in which that word was the more prominent part of the title). Editor Robert Goyette told Canadian Magazines,

We asked what you liked best about Reader’s Digest and we’re happy to unveil a makeover to enhance your reading experience. From a new logo that emphasizes the “Reader” to an expanded selection of stories, this redesign is tailored to the people who told us they love our content and want more of it.

More:
Reader’s Digest and Vancouver Magazine the NMA Archive
More blog coverage of Magazine Covers & Redesigns

60th anniversary Kenneth R. Wilson Awards open for submissions

The 2013 KRW Awards, at One King West (Photo: Dean Bradley)

Marking 60 years of recognizing excellence in b2b publishing in Canada, the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards is seeking submissions for awards in 25 written, visual, digital and special categories.

The early-bird deadline (save on entry fees) is February 7. Final deadline (including all required hard copies) is February 14.

Submitters are requested to review the categoriesguidelines and helpful tips before submitting.

This year’s 60th anniversary Kenneth R. Wilson Awards gala will be held on June 3 in Toronto, at One King West. More at krwawards.ca.

Each year the competition includes participation from more than one hundred Canadian business-to-business publications. Last year’s major KRW Award winners included OilweekUp Here Business and Marketing.

The 2013 KRW Awards, at One King West (Photo: Dean Bradley)

Azure magazine looking for submissions for AZ Awards 2014

The National Magazine Award-winning design magazine Azure has announced a call for submissions for the AZ Awards, recognizing excellence in design for 2013.

Azure Magazine’s international awards program is open for submissions. Now in its fourth year, the AZ Awards is already regarded as an important distinction for emerging and established firms. Like the magazine itself, the awards are multi-disciplinary, recognizing the interconnectedness of architecture, landscape, interiors and product design. Assisted by the editors of AZURE, a panel of international experts drawn from each of the disciplines meets together to review the submissions and choose the winners. The 2014 AZ Awards program is open to work completed before December 31, 2013.

The deadline for entries is February 21, 2014. More info at azawards.adbeast.com.

More:
Azure magazine in the National Magazine Awards archive

Off the Page, with Canada’s History editor Mark Reid

Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Mark Reid, editor of Canada’s History, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Words & Pictures.

NMAF: Canada’s History (formerly known as The Beaver) is one of this country’s oldest publications, six years away from its centennial. What do you consider the mandate of the magazine to be, and has this changed much in the past 94 years?

Mark Reid (Photo: Marianne Helm)

Mark Reid (Photo: Marianne Helm)

Mark: The mandate is to turn as many Canadians as possible on to their history, and to convince them that our stories are as interesting, entertaining and engaging as any other nation’s. This mandate has changed immensely over the years. In 1920, the magazine began as an in-house newsletter for the Hudson’s Bay Company. As years passed and the fur trade died, the magazine became more of a nostalgia magazine for the “days of yore” on the trap lines, telling stories of the Far North. By the in the 1980s, it had changed focus again, becoming increasingly a “history magazine.” And in 2010, we changed the name to reflect our current focus, going from “The Beaver” to “Canada’s History.”

NMAF: At last year’s National Magazine Awards Canada’s History won Gold in the category Words & Pictures, for “On Thin Ice,” an illustrated memoir of the 1972 Summit Series by Terry Mosher (a.k.a. Aislin), who covered the iconic event as a young political cartoonist. As an editor, what attracted you to this story? And what was the significance for you to have it win a National Magazine Award?

Mark: The ’72 Summit Series is a touchstone moment in our collective cultural history. This Cold War moment is one of a handful of “where were you when” turning points for a generation of Canadians. When I learned that Terry Mosher had travelled to Russia to cover the event as a cartoonist, I knew that we needed to share his story with our wider audience of history lovers.

I asked Terry to colourize the original cartoons he produced in 1972, and share the behind the scenes tales that inspired them. After viewing them, I realized that one cartoon was missing from the story – an image of Paul Henderson scoring the winning goal. Terry’s final cartoon, with Paul Henderson memorialized on a Canadian version of Mount Rushmore, was perfect.

On_Thin_Ice_39

The Canada’s History team was collectively thrilled to work with Terry’s fantastic art, and to share his story with Canadians. For the package to win a National Magazine Award was just icing on the cake — an exciting endorsement from our peers that we received with gratitude, and that we dedicate to everyone with a passion for the past.

NMAF: You recently launched a micro-site called Destinations. How did this project come about, and what do you hope to achieve? 

Mark: While Canada’s History is our flagship magazine, our History Society is engaged in myriad programs. Canada’s History Society is a small Winnipeg-based non-profit that also produces a kid’s history magazine, and runs a host of awards and educational programs for students, teachers and community groups.

Our Destinations site is the latest attempt to reach a new audience of history lovers, in this case, history lovers who combine this passion with travel. Our hope is to work with museums, archives, and tourist sites to help them share their stories with a wider audience. It’s all part of our multipronged approach to encouraging and strengthening interest in our collective past.

NMAF: 2014 figures to be a big year for Canada’s History, with the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I on the minds of many Canadians. What do you think is the significance of this milestone for Canada, and can you tell us a bit about how the magazine will be covering the anniversary?

Mark: The start of WWI is certainly a huge part of our publishing plans. Our key publication will be a coffee-table book on the subject, titled Canada’s Great War Album. It will be published by HarperCollins Canada, and features essays on all aspects of the war by the country’s top historians and writers, along with photos and artifacts relating to the war that have been sent to us by our readers.

Our goal is to commemorate the courageous men, women and children who lived, loved, fought, served and sacrificed during that difficult time. It will be available for sale in the fall of 2014. On the magazine side, we are also working on a special package of articles that will examine not only WWI, but also WWII, which will mark the 75th anniversary of its start in September 2014. It’s an exciting time to be publishing history, and we look forward to bringing Canadians many more great articles and publications in the months and years to come.

Mark Reid is the editor-in-chief of Canada’s History magazine, published by the History Society in Winnipeg, which also publishes Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids. Follow them on Twitter @CanadasHistory and @MarkReidEditor.

More Off the Page interviews with NMA winners
Canada’s History in the National Magazine Awards archive
Submissions for the 37th National Magazine Awards

Images courtesy CanadasHistory.ca and National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Guide to entering Digital Content in the National Magazine Awards

For the 2013 National Magazine Awards, original content published in a magazine tablet edition or on a magazine website (companion site of a print title or an online-only magazine) is eligible in most written, visual and integrated categories. Check out the digital magazine section of our FAQ for more information.

There are also 5 categories, generously supported by the Government of Canada, which are open specifically to digital content in Canadian magazines:

TABLET MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR
Open to: Any single issue of a Canadian tablet magazine published in 2013.
Criteria: The award for Tablet Magazine of the Year will go to a single issue of a Tablet Magazine that successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of tablet publishing.
Entry Fee: $150 (early-bird by Jan 10); $175 (regular by Jan 15)
Meet last year’s finalists
Last year’s winner
: Canadian House & Home
More info

MAGAZINE WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
Open to: Any Canadian online-only magazine or companion website of a print title.
Criteria: The award for Magazine Website of the Year will go to a magazine website (either a companion site or an online-only magazine) that successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of web-based publishing.
Entry Fee: $150 (early-bird by Jan 10); $175 (regular by Jan 15)
Meet last year’s finalists
Last year’s winner: Hazlitt
More info

EDITORIAL PACKAGE – WEB
Open to: Any original package of related or thematic editorial content produced by a Magazine Website.
Criteria: Maximizes the potential of web-based publishing and reflects collaboration by editors and content creators. Elements may include but are not limited to web design, written content, blogs, video, photography, infographics, illustration, social media and user-generated content.
Entry Fee: $95 (early-bird by Jan 10); $120 (regular by Jan 15)
Last year’s winner: The Grid (“Are you going to eat that?“)
More info

ONLINE VIDEO
Open to: A single video produced by a Magazine Website or Tablet Magazine.
Criteria: Eligible content must have been published during 2013, be clearly relevant to the magazine’s editorial mandate, and be part of an editorial process.
Entry Fee: $95 (early-bird by Jan 10); $120 (regular by Jan 15)
Meet last year’s finalists
Last year’s winner
: Hazlitt (“Pagelicker 01: Irvine Welsh“)
More info

BLOGS
Open to: A regular series of original written content by one or more authors produced by a Magazine Website that has a recognizable unifying voice or theme.
Criteria: Eligible content must have been published during 2013, be clearly relevant to the Magazine Website’s editorial mandate, and be part of an editorial process. Entrants must submit the blog’s main URL and then up to 3 sub-URLs linking specific content for the jury’s attention. The jury will be instructed to review the provided URLs as well as navigate other areas of the site, though only written content is evaluated.
Entry Fee: $95 (early-bird by Jan 10); $120 (regular by Jan 15)
Last year’s winner
Science-ish (Maclean’s)
Read our interview with last year’s winning blogger Julia Belluz
More info

Finally, the category Magazine Website Design is open to submissions from all eligible companion sites and online-only magazines. This award goes to a magazine website with the most successful and original overall combination of visual and graphic design elements with functionality and user experience, including ease of navigation, readability of content, successful integration of audio/visual elements and a clear distinction between paid content/advertising and editorial content. More info.

The 2013 National Magazine Awards are now open for submissions at magazine-awards.com. The deadline for all entries is January 15. Enter by the early-bird deadline of January 10 and save.

The National Magazine Awards Foundation acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Off the Page, avec Isabelle Arsenault

La série Off the Page paraîtra périodiquement dans notre blogue. Cette semaine, nous découvrons quoi de neuf avec l’illustratrice Isabelle Arsenault, lauréate de 2 Prix du magazine canadien et de 2 Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général.

FNPMC: Nous vous félicitons de gagner récemment votre deuxième Prix littéraire du Gouverneur général (illustrations, jeunesse, français). Votre livre, Jane, le renard et moi, écrit par Fanny Britt, raconte l’histoire d’Hélène, une jeune fille qui fait l’objet d’intimidation par ses condisciples, se sent inférieure et dont le seul plaisir est de lire Jane Eyre. En quoi cette histoire a-t-elle une résonance chez vous, et comment avez-vous créé l’image d’Hélène?

Isabelle : Le personnage d’Hélène est une jeune fille discrète qui se retrouve sans amies à un âge où l’appartenance à un groupe prend de l’importance.  Sans avoir été moi-même victime d’intimidation, je me suis inspirée de souvenirs de ma propre jeunesse, de scènes dont j’ai été témoin et d’impressions que ces souvenirs m’ont laissé.

J’ai décidé de représenter Hélène comme étant une fille sans style particulier, plutôt neutre et effacée à laquelle le lecteur puisse facilement s’identifier.

FNPMC : Plus tôt l’année 2013, vous avez remporté un Prix du magazine canadien, votre deuxième, pour une série d’illustrations dans Québec Science, dans le cadre d’un article intitulé « Organes recherchés ». Quel processus créatif utilisez-vous lorsque vous illustrez un article de magazine? Puisez-vous votre inspiration exclusivement du texte, ou d’autres sources?

"Organes recherchés," illustration par Isabelle Arsenault, Québec Science

“Organes recherchés,” illustration par Isabelle Arsenault, Québec Science

Isabelle Arsenault (photo: Martine Boisvert)

Isabelle Arsenault (photo: Martine Boisvert)

Isabelle : Je puise mon inspiration dans une variété de sources; livres, magazines, internet, nature, etc.  J’aime bien lire le texte à illustrer plusieurs fois afin de bien m’en imprégner, pour ensuite faire quelque chose de complètement différent comme prendre une marche, faire du ménage, une sieste, du yoga.

Ça m’aide à m’aérer l’esprit et à laisser entrer les idées.

FNPMC : De quelle façon le fait de remporter un Prix du magazine canadien, ou un Prix du Gouverneur général, comme vous l’avez fait l’année dernière pour Virginia Wolf, a-t-il contribué à l’avancement de votre carrière en illustration, ou a-t-il été une source d’inspiration pour cette carrière?

Isabelle : Les prix sont une forme de reconnaissance qu’il est toujours apprécié de recevoir.  Pour ma part, je travaille de façon plutôt solitaire et ce, particulièrement lorsque je planche sur un projet de livre.  Recevoir ce genre d’honneurs me donne l’impression d’aller dans la bonne direction et m’encourage à continuer, à me dépasser, en plus d’être une belle carte de visite.

"Une brebis egaree moi?" Finaliste pour un Prix du magazine canadien, 2009

“Une brebis égarée moi?” (L’actualité) Illustration par Isabelle Arsenault – finaliste pour un Prix du magazine canadien, 2009

Isabelle Arsenault est une illustratrice canadienne lauréate dont le travail a été publié dans Québec Science, L’actualité, Explore et d’autres magazines, ainsi que dans 10 livres. Son livre le plus récent est Once Upon a Northern Night, une méditation poétique sur l’hiver. Découvrir plus au isabellearsenault.com.

Plus Off the Page
Inscriptions pour les 2013 Prix du magazine canadien (date limite 15 janvier)

Happy Holidays from the National Magazine Awards

The National Magazine Awards Foundation wishes you a happy holiday season. Don’t forget to enter your submissions for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Please note that, while our office is closed until January 2, you may still submit the online submissions registration during the holidays. The final deadline for entries, including all required hard copies, is January 15.

National Magazine Awards Foundation seeking candidates for paid internship

The National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF) is now accepting applications for two (2) paid Administrative Internship positions for the National Magazine Awards (NMAs) and the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards (KRWs) in Toronto for Winter/Spring 2014.

Contract Duration: January 20, 2014—June 30, 2014; 15 hrs/week on average.

Description: The successful candidates will be reporting to and working in consultation with the NMAF/KRW Communications Coordinator and Special Projects Manager and specifically will:

  • Assist with the day-to-day operations of the NMAF/KRW office, including support for the submissions process, judging process, and awards production;
  • Handle some of the office-related communications and outreach with the Canadian magazine industry in both English and French—including but not limited to initiating and responding to phone calls and general email;
  • Assist with the research and production of content for the NMAF blog (blog.magazine-awards.com);
  • Copy edit and fact-check NMAF/KRW communications materials and publications, including newsletters, press releases, website copy, gala programs and related material;
  • Assist with ongoing projects to promote the NMAF/KRW and its various initiatives;
  • Attend regular staff meetings.

Requirements:

  • Exceptional communication skills;
  • Familiarity with the Canadian magazine industry;
  • Ability to work independently and on deadline with goal-oriented projects;
  • Solid writing and editing skills;
  • Knowledge of French an asset;
  • Career aspirations in the Canadian magazine industry or similar;
  • Strong interest in fulfilling the mandate and vision of the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Terms and Remuneration: The length of the contract will be from January 20, 2013 until June 30, 2014. The average weekly commitment may range from 10 hours per week (Feb-Mar; Jun) to 20 hours per week (Jan; Apr-May). Working hours are flexible except at specific times, and most work may be completed remotely.

Interns will be paid a stipend of $1500 for the duration of the internship, plus receive two (2) tickets to the National Magazine Awards gala on June 6, 2014.

Applications: Candidates should submit

  • A cover letter demonstrating their specific interest in the internship;
  • A resume;
  • And at least one letter of reference from a professor or career mentor.

Please send applications by email to NMAF Communications Coordinator Avary Lovell at staff[at]magazine-awards.com.

Deadline: Tuesday, December 31, 2013.

Off the Page, with The Feathertale Review editor Brett Popplewell

Off the Page is an interview series that appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Brett Popplewell, editor of The Feathertale Review, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Best Single Issue.

NMAF: The Feathertale Review has been dubbed the “illegitimate love child of Mad Magazine and The New Yorker.” We just saw your latest issue, no. 11, double in size to 128 pages. Is this a signal to readers that the child is growing up? And if so, where is it headed?

Brett Popplewell: It’s definitely a sign that the child is growing up. Where it’s heading, I have no idea.

Truth is our entire team has grown up since our launch in 2006. We were just kids back then who felt there was an absence of high- and low-brow humour magazines in the Canadian market and thought we could be the cork to plug that hole. Lee Wilson, Feathertale’s co-founder and art director, and I wanted to create something that would feel fresh and cutting edge but that would hark back to an age when magazines leaned entirely on illustration to bring their words to life. We’re the ones who started calling our creation the “illegitimate love child of Mad Magazine and The New Yorker” because it felt like the best way to describe it.

The Feathertale Review, Issue no. 1

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 1

We really started to grow up with our fourth issue (summer 2009). I finally started writing editorials to help nail a raison-d’etre for each issue and we began interviewing interesting people (David Rakoff, Stuart McLean, Patrick deWitt, Lynn Coady, etc.) in the magazine, using those interviews to try to answer some of life’s greatest questions, like: “What does it actually mean to be funny?” All of this added a creative depth to what we were doing.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 4

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 4

That adolescent stage carried on until our ninth issue (Spring of 2012), which was later named Best Single Issue by the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

By that point Lee and I were both working fulltime with mass-market magazines and had a much better understanding of our industry and Feathertale’s place within it. We began wanting to use Feathertale to challenge what we and others thought a magazine actually was. That’s how we came up with the idea for Feathertale 9. That issue, which looked, read and felt like it was lost in time, was modeled after 250-year-old magazines in order to show readers how far magazines had evolved and changed since their initial creation back in 1731. I think the moment we started thinking about Feathertale on such a bold scale was when it grew up and became more than just the bastard love child of Mad Magazine and The New Yorker.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 9

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 9, winner of Best Single Issue at the 2012 National Magazine Awards

We didn’t have it in us to make Feathertale 10 as crazy an innovation as its predecessor. So we sought instead to create a “swan song” issue that resembled some of our earlier issues and served to book-end a chapter of our lives.

After Feathertale 10 we had time to reflect on what we’d accomplished and assess what we thought was working and what wasn’t. We had contemplated ending the print product and concentrating on Feathertale.com, the online companion to the Review. Our $10 cover price hadn’t been doing us any favours on newsstands and our online readership had always outstripped our printed circulation. But we still believed in producing beautiful printed products and decided to double down on that belief. That’s when we started thinking about making the Review look less like a magazine and more like a book.

From a design standpoint, this made sense. We were starting to publish some much longer stories and Lee felt the long features would read better if we changed the design. So we shrunk the page size from the 8”x10” we’d been using for the first 10 issues to 5”x8”. We then doubled the length of the book to make sure it would still pack the roughly 35,000 words we’d been publishing in our previous issues. In the end, the adjustment made good business sense as well.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 11

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 11

Feathertale is still a magazine of course, but our current issue (and our next one for that matter) does look a lot more like a book than a mag. I don’t know how that format will serve us on newsstands. We have one of the thicker spines out there right now, and I think we’ve got some pretty appealing covers but we don’t take up nearly as much space on the magazine rack. That said, our subscribers seem to be enjoying the new forma, which is encouraging. It’s also substantially cheaper for us to print the smaller layout and from what we’ve seen at festivals, people are more inclined to pay $10 (or even $15) for the new format. We’re under no pretense of being the first to come out at this size, but so far it makes sense for us.

NMAF: In addition to winning the National Magazine Award for Best Single Issue (for issue no. 9), Feathertale has also won NMAs for Humour and for Best Magazine Cover; remarkable achievements for any magazine, no less a young literary one. What impact have achievements like these made on Feathertale and its writers and artists?

Brett: The accolades have certainly helped us stay motivated, but this has never been a vanity project. Our first win for Best Magazine Cover of 2010 came as a shock, both to us and I think to others in our industry. That cover was really special to us. It was illustrated by a young artist in Oshawa named Dani Crosby. She had just graduated from Sheridan and didn’t have a huge portfolio when we handed her our magazine and told her to do as she pleased with it. There aren’t many magazines that will hand over that kind of opportunity to such a young and relatively inexperienced artist. When we won best cover, we were really just humbled and honoured to be recognized by our peers.

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 6, winner of Best Magazine Cover, 2010 National Magazine Awards

The Feathertale Review, issue no. 6, winner of Best Magazine Cover, 2010 National Magazine Awards

After our first NMA a lot of illustrators and writers who hadn’t really been looking at us started submitting work our way. It definitely helped us grow and added some more established voices to our ever-expanding list of contributors. I guess you could say that award helped us beef up subsequent issues, including Feathertale 9, which won Gold for Best Single Issue last year. I was surprised when we were nominated for that award as well and I was ecstatic when we won. I think what I’m most proud of about that issue is that we pulled it all together on a $7,000 budget. I can’t really explain how it feels to have published and edited a magazine on that kind of budget and then see it nominated alongside magazines that are easily 100 times our size.

Feathertale was probably the smallest magazine nominated for any awards last year, so to win one of the evening’s most prestigious was an unexpected honour, something Cathal Kelly (one of our frequent contributors) touched on when he tweeted that watching Feathertale win that NMA was, financially speaking, “like your home movies winning an Oscar.”

There were 37 contributors in that issue and each of them was integral to its success. I can’t speak for any of them, but I can say that I am extremely proud to have worked with each of them on that issue. I’m equally as proud of Cathal for picking up silver in the Humour category last year. We’ve always said we’re a humour magazine, and Cathal’s award and work helped validate that claim. He’s probably the most naturally gifted writer I’ve had the privilege to work with.

"Feathertale Man rewrites history..." Silver, Humour, 2012 National Magazine Awards

“Feathertale Man rewrites history…” Silver, Humour, 2012 National Magazine Awards

NMAF: You’ve spoken elsewhere about the early success story of Feathertale, where start-up funds from a successful anti-bullying comic-book venture seeded the start of the magazine, and support from Canadian arts funding has helped you grow. What lessons have you learned about publishing a literary magazine in Canada that might benefit other publishers, writers and artists out there?

Brett: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is you have to believe in the value of what you’re doing because you won’t necessarily see any benefit from your labours in your bank account. Canada is such a small market that it’s very hard to make a profit with this type of venture. Financially, Feathertale is subsidized by grant money and sales of Lee’s and my anti-bullying comic books. But aside from that, this whole thing survives on the passion of its creators. That passion comes and goes. There are times when each of us have wanted to run away from Feathertale but the longer we spend working on the project the more we realize that it’s like a child that deserves a shot at growing up and becoming a fully functioning adult. It has definitely grown up and matured, but it’s still not ready to feed itself or change its own diapers.

Publishing, especially in the 21st century, is a very fickle industry. Lee and I wandered into it without any real experience. We had some spectacular success early on with our anti-bullying comic books and have no regrets at having used that success to launch The Feathertale Review. We are fortunate to now have support from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. I think it’s important for every Canadian to understand that if the Arts councils ever pulled out of funding literary journals in this country the entire industry would likely die, or at least cease to print.

NMAF: Who is D’Artagnan, really?

Brett: He’s the real brains behind this operation. The one who makes all this possible.

Seriously though, he’s the blue monkey who appears on all things Feathertale. We used to think of him as our Alfred E. Newman or Eustace Tilley, but he’s become more than that. He’s our face in this world. What’s his story? Why is he blue? We’ve been asking ourselves those questions for a long time now but still haven’t figured it out.

Brett Popplewell is the editor of The Feathertale Review, as well as a National Magazine Award-winning writer — he won Gold in the category Sports & Recreation at the 2011 National Magazine Awards for “The Team that Disappeared” (Sportsnet). Follow him on Twitter @b_popps.

Images courtesy Feathertale.com and National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Deadline for entries: January 15.

National Magazine Awards Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for last-minute stocking stuffers and holiday gifts? A subscription to an award-winning Canadian magazine is a great place to start. Magazines Canada’s digital newsstand offers subscription deals on dozens of great magazines. A literary magazine would make any lover of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction squeal with delight.

Perhaps someone on your gift list would love a subscription to Corporate Knights, the magazine of clean capitalism and the winner of this year’s prestigious Magazine of the Year award.

After magazines, books are every reader’s favourite gift, so here at the National Magazine Awards Foundation we’ve compiled a short list of great new books, all by National Magazine Award-winning writers.

Non-fiction

The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, by Graeme Smith
The winner of this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust prize for non-fiction, The Dogs are Eating Them Now is a comprehensive reportage of Canada’s role in the Afghanistan War, by 3-time National Magazine Award winner Graeme Smith.

The Once and Future World, by J.B. MacKinnon
Longlisted for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize for Non-fiction, this powerful meditation on how we can re-imagine and restore the wilderness around us, by 11-time National Magazine Award winner J.B. MacKinnon, is a must-read for anyone who lives, works or plays in Canada’s great outdoors. (Read our interview with J.B. MacKinnon.)

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, by Alison Wearing
In a compelling memoir about growing up with a gay father in 1980s rural Ontario, National Magazine Award-winning travel writer Alison Wearing weaves a moving coming-of-age story with the challenging social and political climate of the struggle for gay rights in Canada.

Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, by Marcello Di Cintio
Winner of the 2013 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, this gripping collection of travel narratives and reportage from divided lands–Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the U.S.-Mexico border, and more–is truly inspiring.

An Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
Once a National Magazine Award winner for Fiction in Saturday Night (1991), aboriginal writer Thomas King (Cherokee nation) tells a comprehensive and witty history of North America’s indigenous people’s encounters with Europeans.

Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark, by Mary Janigan
Also on the long list for the RBC Taylor Prize, this investigation into the regional rivalry between Western and Eastern Canada over issues of energy strategy and economic policy is scintillating. Mary Janigan is a former journalist with Maclean’s and a winner of a National Magazine Award in 1992.

Little Ship of Fools, by Charles Wilkins
A story that began on an innovative rowboat attempting a first-of-its-kind crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and continued in the pages of Explore magazine, where it won a 2011 National Magazine Award, Little Ship of Fools, by one of Canada’s premier adventure writers, Charles Wilkins, is the complete chronicle of Big Blue, the record-breaking rowboat, and the incredible crew that propelled her across the sea.

Fiction

Hellgoing, by Lynn Coady
The winner of this year’s Giller Prize as Canada’s best work of fiction, Hellgoing by Edmonton’s Lynn Coady needs almost no introduction. Lynn Coady is a 5-time National Magazine Award nominee, including this year for the story “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries), which is part of the collection Hellgoing.

The Sky is Falling, by Caroline Adderson
Caroline Adderson won the Gold 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Ellen-Celine, Celine-Ellen” (Canadian Notes & Queries). She is the author of three novels and several children’s books. Her work has received numerous prize nominations including the the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Ablutions, by Patrick deWitt
Patrick deWitt won the Silver National Magazine Award for fiction in 2012, for “The Looking Ahead Artist” (Brick). Originally from Vancouver, he is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The World, by Bill Gaston
Victoria native Bill Gaston won the 2011 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Four Corners” (Event). His short-story collection Gargoyles was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and won the ReLit Award and the City of Victoria Butler Prize.

Easy Living Stories, by Jesus Hardwell
Jesus Hardwell won the 2010 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Sandcastles” (Event). The story was also short-listed for the prestigious Journey Prize and featured in the Journey Prize Anthology. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Ballistics, by D.W. Wilson
Born and raised in British Columbia, D.W. Wilson won 2008 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Elasticity of Bone” (Malahat Review). He is the author of Once You Break a Knuckle, a collection of short stories. He was shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai
Toronto’s Shyam Selvadurai won the 2006 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Demoness Kali” (Toronto Life). He is the acclaimed author of the novels Funny Boy, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award and was a national bestseller, and Cinnamon Gardens, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award.

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese
The winner of this year’s First Nations Book Award, Indian Horse, by Ontario Ojibway author Richard Wagamese, tells the story of the journey that Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying.

The O’Briens, by Peter Behrens
Montreal-born Peter Behrens won the 2006 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Smell of Smoke” (The Walrus). He is the author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning novel, The Law of Dreams, published around the world to wide acclaim, and a collection of short stories, Night Driving.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Deadline for entries: January 15.

A Celebration of Covers: Spacing’s 10th anniversary

Marking the tenth anniversary of the popular and award-winning Spacing–the magazine devoted to Canadian urban issues–founder and art director Matthew Blackett tells the story behind ten of the most popular covers in Spacing‘s history. Among the group is the above issue, with cover photography by Stephen Rothlisberger, which won the 2005 Gold National Magazine Award for Editorial Package.

Canada’s 2013 National Magazine Awards are open for submissions, and among 48 categories for achievement in magazine writing, photography, illustration, packaging and digital content creation is the celebrated category for best Magazine Cover. Check out the NMA archives for past winners. The deadline for entries is January 15.

Ten great reasons to enter the National Magazine Awards

Since 1977 the National Magazine Awards Foundation has been recognizing excellence in the content and creation of Canadian magazines. Each year the Foundation grants more than $60,000 in prize money to award-winning writers, illustrators, photographers and other creators, and bestows the honour and industry recognition of a National Magazine Award  to the publishers, editors, art directors and other staff of more than 75 nominated publications.

And although that may be reason enough to enter, many previous winners are happy to give us more.

Here are 10 other reasons why you should consider entering the 2013 National Magazine Awards:

1. New readers. Award-winning magazines attract new readers who are hungry for great stories.

We did feel that if we were lucky enough to get noticed at the National Magazine Awards in our first year of eligibility it would help us spread the word of what we are about and who we are trying to reach. The NMAs mean a great deal to people in the magazine industry and to writers in general; they indicate what is working at a high level and signal to the country what might be worth paying attention to.
Curtis Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Eighteen Bridges

2. Bragging Rights. Be able to tell your readers that you are delivering the best and most credible content, recognized by your peers in the magazine industry.

It is immensely gratifying, on a professional level, when our team and contributors earn a National Magazine Award, or simply garner a nomination for that matter. It’s yet another measurement of how well we are serving our audience, based on the criteria for magazine excellence as determined by our industry peers.
Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief of Outdoor Canada

Le plus grand mérite revient au journaliste qui l’écrit, mais le choix du sujet, la révision, le choix des titres et surtout l’encadrement pendant la recherche et la rédaction sont aussi d’une importance capitale et font souvent la différence entre un reportage «publiable» et une œuvre remarquable. Quant à nos lecteurs, ils sont toujours impressionnés de voir notre récolte de prix. Je crois que cela renforce notre crédibilité.
Pascale Millot, ancienne rédactrice du magazine Québec Science

3. Get Noticed. With a National Magazine Award, writers and artists find new audiences for their creative work and talent.

The NMA is a big award and I’m extremely grateful to have won it. I’m sure it has done quite a bit to promote my work and lift my profile as a documentary photographer. Above all else, I’m happy that this award brought the story to more viewers.
Ian Willms, NMA-winning photographer

Winning the NMA gave me confidence in my writing, which I never really had before. [It] also got my work noticed. After I won Best New Magazine Writer, the essay was selected to appear in the Best Canadian Essays 2013 anthology, alongside some very successful writers. It is an amazing honour that I feel would not have happened without the National Magazine Awards.
Sierra Skye Gemma, winner of the 2012 NMA for Best New Magazine Writer

4. Book Deal? Publishers take notice of award-winning work, and a National Magazine Award could be a step towards launching a book project.

The National Magazine Award was crucial into shifting [my] feature into a book project. After the magazine award, I received a few phone calls from literary agents, inquiring about the possibility of a book. I am sure the NMA helped [my agent] in the all-important pitch to book editors and marketing departments; to be able to say the idea had already garnered a Gold Award from the community of magazine journalists.
Joshua Knelman, NMA winner and author of Hot Art

I got a lot of great feedback and everyone at the magazine was effusive and full of praise. It was very validating and it really encouraged me to continue the novel. Or it certainly put a skip in my step as I was finishing the rest of it: knowing that people had taken a peek at it and had approved.
Heather O’Neill, NMA winner and author of Lullabies for Little Criminals

5. Find Your Next Job. Award-winning writers are better able to find new editors and publishers interested in their work.

The impact of this award was stunning. Here I was, writing from an isolated basement office in Vancouver, and all of a sudden my work is being recognized nationally. Personally, it was an unbelievable affirmation that the sacrifices I’d made to leave a twenty-year corporate consulting career had been worth it. Professionally, it was a game changer. The NMA nominations provided me with an entrée into one of the country’s top literary agencies. I met with and acquired [an] agent the day of the awards ceremony. In short, I believe that the recognition of the National Magazine Awards catapulted me from the ground floor of my writing profession to the penthouse suite.
Carol Shaben, NMA winner and author of Into the Abyss

6. Promote Your Innovations. Magazines are growing, and we’re growing with them. The NMAF recognizes achievement in digital content creation and all other enterprising magazine journalism.

It’s a great honour to be recognized by peers who work across subjects and venues in journalism. It seems to be increasingly true that readers can expect good writing and reporting in many places—blogs, web pages, etc.—and it’s wonderful that the NMA recognizes that with its awards categories.
Julia Belluz, winner of the 2012 National Magazine Award for Best Blog

Un prix est le couronnement de nos efforts, la reconnaissance qu’on a atteint notre objectif. Personne ne se sent obligé de lire un magazine pour être au courant de l’actualité. Les journaux, la télévision et les nouvelles en continu sur le Web nous livrent une rude compétition. C’est à nous, artisans des magazines, de proposer des histoires inédites, des angles nouveaux et surprenants pour nous rendre indispensables aux yeux du grand public.
Catherine Dubé, lauréate et journaliste chez L’actualité

7. Build Your Confidence. Freelancing is one of the most challenging pursuits for an artist or journalist, and sometimes even lonely. Awards and nominations are benchmarks of progress.

Whenever I felt that I was hopelessly inept and dark voices inside were telling me to give up, I would defer to other people’s opinions (such as those giving out awards) and carry on. Of course the prize money is helpful in funding the next project, and it is good fun to go to the awards evenings. I don’t think anyone will deny that recognition from your peers is especially gratifying.
Roger LeMoyne, NMA-winning photojournalist

The National Magazine Award was a vote of confidence that I was in the right line of work. We all need a thumbs-up from the world sometimes, as we toil away in the studio.
Jillian Tamaki, NMA-winning illustrator

Winning that NMA was especially rewarding because the story was quite personal. As well, the story had been rejected by numerous magazines before AlbertaViews picked it up. That fact made the win even more gratifying, and dulled the sting from those rejections.
Jeremy Klaszus, NMA-winning writer

8. Celebrate Your Creators. Editors, publishers and art directors have the opportunity to reward the creative talent that helps their magazines sell copies and connect with readers.

An award is useful for communicating to our stakeholders that we are successful. It adds momentum to what we do every day at the magazine… We create content to satisfy our readers, not to win awards. But it is our creators who get the awards and the cash prize, and for an editor, that’s an honour.
Sarah Fulford, editor-in-chief of Toronto Life

9. Even a Nomination is a Celebration. We all start at the beginning, and just getting our work out there, and getting it noticed, is a step on the path to success.

As a young artist, it is a great honour to be recognized nationally, which in turn provides many assurances of support for my career. I was thrilled to be nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2009 even though I only received a honourable mention. Even with greater astonishment, [in 2011] I was called up on stage to receive the Gold award. An award not only provides charming publicity but it raises the standards in my work and, therefore, produces a wonderful opportunity to surpass my previous accomplishments.
Selena Wong, NMA-winning illustrator

Awards are one way to measure whether or not what I’m doing on the page is working… Consistent nominations tell me that I’m continuing to do work that is recognizably among the best in the country.
-J.B. MacKinnon, NMA winner and author of The Once and Future World

10. Believe in What We Do. After all, magazines are the medium of creativity, passion and a deep engagement with our readers.

I think we should always believe in what we do. Successful magazine stories have that ‘wow’ factor, and with everything we do we try to achieve that. You know that story matters, that content matters. If you believe you achieved success then you should enter the National Magazine Awards, because then you’ll know if your peers agree; that it made them say, ‘wow.’
Carole Beaulieu, editor-in-chief of L’actualité

For more information and to submit your work to the 2013 National Magazine Awards, visit magazine-awards.com. Follow us on Twitter @MagAwards.

Call for Submissions: 2013 National Magazine Awards

For the 37th year, the National Magazine Awards Foundation is looking for the best in Canadian magazine publishing. Submissions are now being accepted for awards in 48 categories, recognizing excellence in the creation of written, visual, digital and integrated Canadian magazine content. Cliquez ici pour la version française.

Early-Bird Deadline: January 10, 2014
Final Deadline: January 15, 2014

All Categories
Rules
FAQs
Magazine of the Year
Best New Magazine Writer
Best New Illustrator or Photographer
Co-Financing

What’s New This Year?
The NMAF has created a new category this year—Infographics—rewarding an original creation of data visualization produced by a magazine, print or digital. Entries may consist of a single infographic or a series of related infographics appearing in a single article. Read more

We’ve Moved – Again!
When you’re sending in your hard copies–after you complete the online registration–be sure to note our new address:

2300 Yonge Street, Suite 1600, Toronto, ON, M4P 1E4

Digital Magazine Publishing
Content from Magazine Websites and Tablet Magazines is eligible in most categories, including dedicated digital categories Blogs, Editorial Package: Web, Online Video, Magazine Website of the Year and Tablet Magazine of the YearRead more

More information:
magazine-awards.com
Ready to submit:
submissions.magazine-awards.com
Version française:
magazine-prix.com
Questions?
staff@magazine-awards.com

Off the Page, with J.B. MacKinnon

Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with writer J.B. MacKinnon, winner of 11 National Magazine Awards and author of The Once and Future World (Random House Canada).

NMAF: In an essay titled “A 10 Percent World” (The Walrus, September 2010), you argued that humanity’s vision of an idyllic past is myopic; that in seeking to temper the impact that we have on our environment, our purpose “is not to demand some return to a pre-human Eden, but rather to expand our options”; that “our sense of what is possible sets limits on our dreams.” What did you mean by expanding our options beyond the limits?

J.B. MacKinnon (photo by A. Smith)

J.B.: “A 10 Percent World” looks at the natural world of the historical past—a much richer and more abundant state of nature than we know today. We’ve largely forgotten this more plentiful world, and that limits our sense of the possible.

Yes, it’s depressing to find out that grizzly bears used to live on the Canadian Prairies and they don’t any more, or that Vancouver waters were home to a year-round population of humpback whales that were all slaughtered by 1908. But if we aren’t aware of these facts, then the absence of the bears and the whales seems normal. When we do become aware of them, we’re able to set a higher bar for our vision of what nature can be.

NMAF: That essay won a National Magazine Award in 2011. What impact did the magazine publication and the award have on your decision to pursue a book project, resulting in your recently published The Once and Future World

J.B.: In this case, a book idea became a magazine story. In 2011, I was already thinking about The Once and Future World, but I needed to explore whether it had the potential I thought it did.

“A 10 Percent World” was that initial foray into the depths. The story had an impact on readers, and when it also won a magazine award I was able to move forward on the book with a lot more confidence.

NMAF: You’ve been a professional writer for more than a decade, with 11 National Magazine Awards (and 31 nominations). What role do Canadian magazines play in your career, and what significance do you put on winning awards?

J.B.: I became a writer during the largely overlooked great recession of the early 1990s, and the limited opportunities of that time made a deep impression on me. Fortunately, a few Canadian editors took a chance on my work, and I’ve been able to build from there. But I’m always trying to sharpen my teeth—to push toward deeper themes or better writing. It doesn’t always work, and I appreciate that Canadian magazines are still giving me chances. They don’t always expect me to show up with all my t’s crossed and i’s already dotted.

Awards are one way to measure whether or not what I’m doing on the page is working—the awards themselves matter less to me than the nominations. Consistent nominations tell me that I’m continuing to do work that is recognizably among the best in the country. Actually taking home a gold or silver is a much less predictable matter. Of course, when it happens, well… it never gets old, let’s say that.

Read "A 10 Percent World" (Gold, Essays, 2010)

Read “A 10 Percent World” (The Walrus, Gold, Essays, 2010)

Read "Becoming an Optimist" (Gold, Science, Technology & Environment, 2008)

Read “Becoming an Optimist” (Explore, Gold, Science, Technology & Environment, 2008)

J.B. MacKinnon is the award-winning author of The Once and Future World, The 100-Mile Diet and Dead Man in Paradise. His writing has appeared in great Canadian magazines including Explore, The Walrus, This Magazine and more. He was the writer for the documentary Bear 71, which explores the intersection of the wired and wild worlds through the true story of a mother grizzly bear. Discover more at jbmackinnon.com

More Off the Page
J.B. MacKinnon in the NMA Archive

NMAF welcomes three new directors for 2013-2014

The National Magazine Awards Foundation is pleased to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors for 2013-2014.

Theresa Ebden is the director of media and analyst relations (Canada) at Accenture and a former journalist with The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Business News Network and others.

Steve Maich is the senior vice-president of publishing at Rogers Media, prior to which he was the founding editor-in-chief and publisher of Sportsnet, and group publisher of Rogers consumer business magazines.

Dominique Ritter is the managing editor of Reader’s Digest, former editor-in-chief of various titles at Spafax Canada and a freelance writer and editor.

“On behalf of the NMAF I am pleased to welcome Theresa Ebden, Dominique Ritter and Steve Maich to our board of directors for 2013-2014.The volunteer members of the NMAF board support the mission of Foundation to recognize and promote excellence in Canadian magazine content. The board serves as guides in fulfilling our mandate to support a vibrant Canadian magazine industry. On behalf of my fellow members of the board, I’m grateful for their important service to our industry and I am pleased to have these three new members join us for an exciting year ahead.”
Douglas Thomson, president of the NMAF

The NMAF would also like to thank its outgoing directors for 2013: Sarah Moore, managing editor at Star Content Studios, and Robert Goyette, vice-president and editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest.

Mag of the Year Corporate Knights prints on wheat straw

Canada’s reigning Magazine of the Year Corporate Knights is not resting on its laurels. According to a story in Masthead Online, the magazine’s latest issue is printed on 60% wheat straw “paper,” which its editor Tyler Hamilton says may be a more sustainable product to meet printing needs in the future.

The latest issue of the magazine features American actor and entrepreneur Woody Harrelson, one of the founders of Manitoba-based Prairie Paper Ventures, which produces the wheat straw stock.

Read the story over at Masthead Online.

Related post:
Get to know Corporate Knights, Canada’s Magazine of the Year

Off the Page, with journalist and blogger Julia Belluz

Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with Julia Belluz, whose blog–Science-ish–published by Maclean’s, won gold in the inaugural National Magazine Award for Best Blog earlier this year.

NMAF: Tell us a bit about Science-ish, what you consider its publishing niche to be, and who your readers are.

Julia Belluz (Photo: Jessica Darmanin)

Julia: Coffee is good for your health! Coffee is bad for your health! Vitamin D will save your life! Vitamin D will kill you quicker! I created Science-ish in response to bewildering and contradictory claims like these that float around in the popular discourse.

This confusion doesn’t end with individual health choices. Politicians frequently make assertions about health that aren’t necessarily informed by evidence, as do journalists, celebrities, and anyone who thinks they can get away with it.

So the blog is a sane place where readers can learn about the actual science behind the headlines. My readers tend to be doctors, nurses, students, policy wonks, researchers, and anyone who is concerned about health and science.

NMAF: What makes an online media outlet such as Science-ish not only trustworthy but indispensable in a news world where there exists so much information and content?

Julia: As a health reporter, I see a great deal of pseudoscience-based journalism in my field, which does nothing to elevate the discourse about science and instead confounds people. To be sure, science is far from perfect. There are a lot of systemic problems with science—the limitations of peer review, the perverting influence of industry, etc.—but I think the act of going back to primary sources and scientific evidence and seeing if there’s something to glean is a worthwhile exercise.

I want to say that every blog entry is balanced, but I don’t think that’s a good word because I’m always taking a stand after reading and interviewing a lot and thinking about the arguments and counter-arguments that I have encountered. I hope that sets Science-ish apart and resonates with readers.

NMAF: What do you think is the significance of having Science-ish win a National Magazine Award, not only for you as a health and science journalist, but also for the medium of online magazine publishing?

Julia: It’s a great honour to be recognized by peers who work across subjects and venues in journalism. It seems to be increasingly true that readers can expect good writing and reporting in many places—blogs, web pages, etc.—and it’s wonderful that the NMA recognizes that with its new online awards categories.

NMAF: You’re currently a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. Can you tell us a bit about the program and what you’re working on there?

Julia: The fellowship was designed to be a cultural exchange where journalists could learn more about science, studying alongside future researchers and scientists at MIT, while scientists could learn from visiting journalists. Right now, I’m learning about how science is made, and how it’s applied (or not) in public policy and decision-making. I’m also looking at the forces that shape what science gets done (or not). I hope this will inform my understanding of the interplay between research, policy, and practice, which is very important at a time when we’ve never generated more research, yet in many cases, we’re failing to apply or capitalize on that knowledge.

Julia Belluz is a three-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist. Her profile of the writer Ian Brown, published in the Ryerson Review of Journalism, won her the NMA for Best Student Writer in 2007 and also won a Silver in the profiles category. Science-ish is a joint project of Maclean’s, the Medical Post and the McMaster Health Forum. Follow Julia on Twitter @juliaoftoronto.

Who will win Best Magazine Blog of 2013? Submissions open next week for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards. Deadline: January 15, 2014.

More:
Off the Page
National Magazine Awards archive
Read more about the NMA Blogs category

Award-winning online magazine Hazlitt moves into print

The most decorated online magazine at this year’s National Magazine Awards is publishing a print product. Hazlitt, winner of 3 Gold National Magazine Awards–including the prestigious Magazine Website of the Year–at the 2012 NMA gala this past June, announced this week that it is launching a print edition.

Hazlitt No. 1 (Winter 2014) will be on magazine racks this month and, completing a full circle, will also have an electronic version. According to the publisher, Random House Canada, Hazlitt No. 1 collects some of the greatest hits and seminal tracks previously published on the website alongside newly commissioned work.

Launched as an online magazine in August 2012, Hazlitt won the National Magazine Awards for Best Magazine Website Design and Best Online Video, in addition to Magazine Website of the Year, at the 36th annual NMA gala this past June, its first year of eligibility.

The new print title features work by National Magazine Award winners and nominees Lynn Crosbie, Michael Winter, Billie Livingston, Sarah Nicole Prickett, Alexandra Molotkow and more.

Read Hazlitt’s press release.

More:
Meet the Finalists for Magazine Website of the Year
Meet the Finalists for Best Online Video

Key dates for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards

At the National Magazine Awards Foundation we are getting very excited about the upcoming year, our 37th recognizing and rewarding the very best in Canadian magazines. We’ll be announcing our call for entries next week. Here are the important dates for the coming year:

Dec 1: Call for Entries
Jan 7: Co-Financing Deadline
Jan 10: Early Bird Submissions Deadline
Jan 15: Final Submissions Deadline
May 1: Nominations Announcement
Jun 6: 37th National Magazine Awards Gala
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As always, there are many ways to keep current with news and updates from the National Magazine Awards: sign up for our e-newsletter; follow us on Twitter at @MagAwards; and come back and visit this blog often.
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More information about this year’s National Magazine Awards will be posted here later this week and next.

New exhibit from NMA-winning photographer Mark Peckmezian

A new solo exhibition by National Magazine Award-winning photographer Mark Peckmezian is set to open on Friday, November 22 at the O’Born Contemporary gallery in Toronto.

The Canadian photographer, now based in New York, won the Gold National Magazine Award last year in Portrait Photography, for “Never Left Art School” (a series with Douglas Coupland) in Montecristo magazine. He was previously a finalist for the Best New Visual Creator award in 2010, for “A Man Called Cope” (Report on Business).

The exhibition, “Pictures,” is on display until December 21.

From the O’Born Contemporary site: Working within portraiture and documentary photography, Peckmezian attempts to leverage the analog-digital divide, producing work that draws into relief the enduring value of analog processes in our new digital-dominated photographic landscape. He recently completed his BFA in Photography from Ryerson University in Toronto, and is represented for commercial and editorial work by Stash. His photographs have been published in Prefix Photo, on the cover of Report on Business and Function, and have been selected for inclusion in Flash Forward, touring internationally.

More: Mark Peckmezian in the NMA Archive

Several NMA laureates among Writers’ Trust Prize finalists

Invite-HeaderTomorrow the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto. The five shortlisted novelists and short-story writers are among Canada’s most celebrated authors, and four of them are previously National Magazine Award honorees:

  • Lynn Coady, a Writers’ Trust finalist (and winner of the Giller Prize) for Hellgoing, is a five-time National Magazine Award finalist, most recently in 2012 for two stories, “Publish then Perish” (Eighteen Bridges) and “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries); the latter is one of the stories included in Hellgoing.
  • Lisa Moore, shortlisted for Caught, is a two-time National Magazine Award finalist, most recently for “Notes from Newfoundland” (2011, The Walrus).
  • Cary Fagan, shortlisted for A Bird’s Eye, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction in 2007, for his story “Shit Box” (Taddle Creek).
  • Krista Bridge, shortlisted for The Eliot Girls, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction in 2002, for “Crusade” (Toronto Life).

The fifth Writers’ Trust finalist is Colin McAdam, for A Beautiful Truth, which was also shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award earlier this year.

The winner will be revealed on Wednesday, November 20 at the annual Writers’ Trust Awards at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, which also includes the Journey Prize for Short Fiction.

The 3 finalists for this year’s Journey Prize include Eliza Robertson, whose entry “My Sister Sang” (Grain magazine) was a finalist for this past year’s National Magazine Award for fiction.

The other two finalists are Doretta Lau (“How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?”; Event magazine) and Naben Ruthnam (“Cinema Rex”; The Malahat Review).

More information about the Writers’ Trust Awards.

Going for Gold: How to win a National Magazine Award

At last June’s MagNet magazines conference in Toronto, a golden panel of industry experts gathered to present a session called “Going for Gold: How to Create Award-Winning Content,” moderated by Deborah Rosser, president of Rosser & Associates.

The panellists were:

  • Carole Beaulieu, publisher and editor-in-chief of L’actualité, winner of more than 50 National Magazine Awards since she became EIC in 1998;
  • Sarah Fulford, editor-in-chief of Toronto Life, the most-nominated magazine at last year’s NMAs and former winner of Magazine of the Year (2007);
  • David Hayes, freelance writer (nominated for 14 NMAs during his career, winning a gold and a silver award) and member of the board of directors of the National Magazine Awards Foundation (NMAF);
  • Domenic Macri, art director at Report on Business and winner of 6 NMAs for his design and creative direction;
  • Patrick Walsh, editor-in-chief and brand manager of Outdoor Canada, winner of 21 National Magazine Awards since 1987, and former president of the NMAF.

Risk and Reward: The moderator began by asking each of the panellists to present the story of a challenging piece that won a National Magazine Award, and what lessons they took from the experience.

2008_torontolife2Sarah Fulford spoke about how breaking the rules helped Toronto Life to a surprise NMA win for best magazine cover of 2008. Sarah said she and her then art director Jessica Rose, whom she hired with this specific challenge in mind, took big risks on a cover about gun violence in Toronto, as they bucked the conventions for cover design with small cover lines and other elements reflecting thinking outside the box. The issue sold well on the newsstand and also impressed the NMA judges that year, as they gave it a Gold.

Domenic Macri spoke in a similar vein about a magazine cover that won Gold the following year, 2009, at the NMAs. The Julie Dickson cover presented a challenge because the editors had agreed not to put her portrait on the magazine cover. Domenic showed the audience several of his drafts and mockups that he went through on his way to finally developing the final cover, saying that what he learned from the experience was although there are certain elements required of a good cover, “you don’t have to take the same approach all the time. I think we won the award because we came up with new directions, and because of the words.”

David Hayes mentioned an episode from 1990 when a feature story he’d written for Toronto Life wasn’t entered for an NMA that year, and after talking with his editor, who said he wasn’t able to enter the piece that year due to budget constraints, he learned that he could enter the NMAs himself. Several years later he took that experience to heart when he again discovered that an editor wouldn’t enter his story, so he entered it himself and it ended up winning Gold. “You never know what the jury will decide,” he reminded the audience, “so as a writer if you are proud of your work you should enter it.”

Patrick Walsh described the story of a controversial article he commissioned about the death of a hunter in Newfoundland, called “Another Fine Day Afield.” As an editor he felt that the story hadn’t been covered well in other media, and though it would be a legal, financial and editorial challenge to pursue the story for Outdoor Canada, he decided to take the risk. The risk paid off when the magazine story he published was picked up by CBC’s The Fifth Estate and NBC’s Inside Edition, and his writer Charles Wilkins won a Gold National Magazine Award in Sports & Recreation.

Carole Beaulieu also touted the benefits of taking risks and believing in the work you produce. She talked about a piece from last year she commissioned from a writer about Pauline Marois. Although Quebec news had been saturated with stories about the premier, Carole felt there was room for more if they could find the right angle and give it the right depth. She sent her writer to spend time with Mdm Marois at her hairdresser’s, achieving a kind of intimate portrait not yet seen, and L’actualité created a newsprint insert–what it is now calling a “mini-book” and making a semi-regular feature for the magazine–to accommodate the 16-page story. And at this year’s NMAs, “L’éttoffe d’un premier ministre,” by journalist Noémi Mercier, won Gold in Profiles.

Quote-Unquote: On the significance of winning a National Magazine Award and why we strive for award-winning content.

Sarah: “An award is useful for communicating to our stakeholders that we are successful. It adds momentum to what we do every day at the magazine… We create content to satisfy our readers, not to win awards. But it is our creators who get the awards and the cash prize, and for an editor, that’s an honour.”

David: “As writers, what we have is our reputation, and what we create should stand on its own. Awards are a feather in your cap, not the cap itself.”

Patrick: “We won because the story was beautifully written, because it was longform [5000 words]… We also took risks and winning the award was a measure of that.”

Carole: “I think we should always believe in what we do. Successful magazine stories have that ‘wow’ factor, and with everything we do we try to achieve that. You know that story matters, that content matters. If you believe you achieved success then you should enter, because then you’ll know if your peers [the jury] agree; that it made them say, ‘wow.’”

The Bottom Line: The moderator asked each panellist to distill one piece of advice for winning a National Magazine Award.

Domenic: Strive for strong collaboration between editorial and art in creating your content. Success is a product of a strong team.

Carole: Don’t take things too seriously. Trust your instincts and never give up on a great story.

Sarah: The most successful pieces are the ones where the creators were passionate and took risks.

Patrick: Be strategic, because the more you enter the more you are likely to win. If your aim is to win awards then enter as much as you can.

David: Advice to writers: write well. And advice to editors: hire writers who write well.

In Summary: Accept challenges, take risks, think differently, be passionate, find (or be) the best creator, work together, never give up on a good story, believe in your work and enter as much as you can. That, and always strive for the ‘wow’ factor! 

On behalf of the Canadian magazine industry, thank you to the panellists for sharing your wisdom.

Related posts:
Off the Page, with Patrick Walsh
National Magazine Award-winning Covers, 2007-2010
Winners of the 36th National Magazine Awards

More:
Award-winning work in the National Magazine Awards archive
National Magazine Awards digital Gold Book (free)

NMA laureates vie for Governor General’s Awards

Canadian book award season continues today with the presentation of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, better known as the GGs, in Ottawa, and several former National Magazine Award winners are among the finalists.

This most comprehensive of literary awards programs honours excellence in book-length fiction, poetry, non-fiction, drama, children’s text, children’s illustration and translation, with awards for both English- and French-language entries.

In the Fiction (English) category, the finalists include former National Magazine Award winner Shyam Selvadurai, for his novel The Hungry Ghosts. Mr. Selvadurai won NMA gold for fiction in 2006, for “The Demonness Kali” published in Toronto Life.

Former NMA finalist Kenneth Bonnert is also up for a GG in fiction, for The Lion Seeker. The rest of the GG shortlist includes Eleanor Catton, Joseph Boyden and Colin McAdam.

In the Children’s Illustration (French) category, two-time National Magazine Award winner Isabelle Arsenault is among the finalists, for Jane, le Renard et moi. Ms. Arsenault won a National Magazine Award earlier this year for her work in Quebec Science magazine.

In the Poetry (English) category, the shortlist includes two-time National Magazine Award finalist Don Domanski, for his collection Bite Down Little Whisper. Mr. Domanski’s most recent National Magazine Award nomination came in 2009, for the poem “Radiance and Counterpoint” published in Grain.

Read up on all the GG finalists here. For each category, a jury, comprised of fellow authors, translators and illustrators, makes the final selection. Each GG winner receives $25,000 and a specially-bound copy of their winning book. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to help promote the book. The total annual value of the GGs is close to $450,000.

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