Spring Scribble 2015

The Spring Scribble was held on May 8-10 at the Oxygen Arts Centre in Nelson, B.C. Youth from all over the Kootenays came together and dedicated 48 hours to honing their craft. Led by Roz Nay, with workshops facilitated by Kristine Perron and Danny Jewitt, the writers filled their notebooks with responses to prompts, the details of imagined worlds, tips for leading a life of writing, and drafts of original works. The weekend wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with a coffeehouse reading at the Nelson Public Library where each young writer courageously shared a piece of their work with the public.

When asked about her first Spring Scribble experience, Roz had this to say: “I was so honoured to work with these young, gifted writers. I may have taught them a few things but I learned a lot from them too. They’re all in that sweet spot where writing is pure and exciting, and it was such a joy to work with them. I’m so proud of the pieces they produced and hope they all keep going.”

Thank you to our incredible workshop facilitators Roz Nay, Kristene Perron, and Danny Jewitt for sharing their experience and expertise with the keen youth that attended the Scribble. Also, a big thank you to our generous sponsors Columbia Basin Trust, Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance, Save-On Foods, and Sidewinders Coffee. And last but not least, thank you to Oxygen Arts Centre and the Nelson Public Library for providing the young writers with beautiful spaces conducive to creativity.

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Deadline Extended

The Spring Scribble registration deadline has been extended to Wednesday, May 6. If you have been thinking about joining us for a weekend of writing workshops, now is the time to register!


Spring Scribble Details

Attention all potential Scribblers, registration for the Spring Scribble will close on May 1 and there are only 20 spots available, so get in there! Just go to the Upcoming Workshops tab at the top of the page where you will find everything you need to prepare for three days of writing, editing, storytelling, world building, and more.

The weekend will include a Friday evening session, a full day of workshops on Saturday (9-4 with a break for lunch, of course), and a Sunday morning session followed by a Coffeehouse reading at the Nelson Public Library (to share your talents with the world, obviously). In addition to Roz Nay, there will be other experienced writers leading workshops and sharing what they have learned from years of putting pen (fingers) to paper (keyboard). For more details go to the FAQs page under the “Upcoming Workshops” tab at the top of the page.


2015 Spring Scribble Instructor and Dates Announced!


Roz Nay


Spring Scribble is just around the corner and we cannot wait! The weekend long adventure in writing and editing will take place from May 8-10 at the Oxygen Arts Centre and will be facilitated by none other than the stunningly brilliant, Roz Nay.

Roz Nay teaches writing for the Selkirk College Continuing Education faculty. She studied at Oxford University and taught high school English and writing for eight years. A winner in last year’s Kootenay Literary Competition, Roz has also been published by The Antigonish Review and recently won a Malahat Review national memoir competition. She has a short story currently under review for The Journey Prize Anthology 2015. Her first novel, Book Club, has been signed by Big Bad Wolf Press and is due to release this year. For more information on Roz, visit her website at www.roznay.com.

Registration for Spring Scribble begins on March 30, 2015.




Kootenay Literary Competition 2014/15 Awards Event

Touchstones Nelson was swinging Feb. 26th as the winners of the Kootenay Literary Competition were announced and celebrated! Our dedicated judges, Verna Relkoff for fiction, Tara Cunningham for non-fiction and Jane Beyers for poetry spoke about their process in assessing each work and introduced the 1st and 2nd place winners in each category. Nelson city council member and literary enthusiast, Anna Purcell, facilitated the evening with aplomb as the Master of Ceremonies. Guests were treated to a riveting performance by storyteller Ray Stothers, then had the opportunity to experience Nelson’s own jazz band,  Swing Theory, while enjoying Torchlight Brewing Co. beer, BC wines and BC cheeses at intermission. All in all, a wonderful time and a fabulous opportunity to share in our devotion to the literary arts!


Anna Purcell discusses the power of poetry with the guests of the KLC awards event

Congratulations to the winners of the KLC 2014/15:

John Buck winner KLC

John Buck, 1st Place Fiction, How to Deliver Water


Will Johnson and Verna Relkoff KLC

Will Johnson, 2nd Place Fiction, Paisley



Shelby Cain, 1st Place Non- Fiction, Hell Roaring



Cindy McCallum Miller, 2nd Place Non-Fiction, Travelling at the Speed of Life



 Edan Marshall, 1st Place Poetry, Distance/Time



Brad Bradley, 2nd Place Poetry, Fireworks & Funeral Confetti



The volunteers of The Kootenay Writers Society organized the Event: Kari Kroker, Jaime Lord, Kristine Perron, Robyn Joyce, Christine Nichol, Linda Hunter and Wendyle Gillis. Nice job, all!



And finally, a most heartfelt thank you to CBT Community Initiatives, CBT Sponsorship Program, and the Nelson and District Credit Union for their generous support of the KLC and the literary arts in the Kootenays.  

Please see our Facebook page for more photos of the event! 

The 2014 Kootenay Literary Competition is here!

Experience The Creative Power – and win some prize money while you’re at it.

The 2014/15 Kootenay Literary Competition is now open. “Velocity” is our theme for this year so get your pens revved up! Writers may interpret the theme in any way they like, and approach it through any of the genre categories. The theme is to be integrated into the creative work at the writer’s discretion.

The competition is open to anyone in the Kootenays 18 years and older with categories in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first and second place winners in each category.

And for aspiring youth writers – Spring Scribble is coming in May 2015! This workshop, open to youth grades 9-12, will offer a weekend intensive with a professional writer to hone in on the skills needed for successful writing. Watch for more information coming soon.












Key Competition dates:

  • All entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16th, 2015
  • Prizes will be awarded at our Awards Celebration on February 26th, 2015





Meet the Judges


Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham has been a freelance editor for a decade. She is the senior editor of Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine and associate editor of Coast Mountain Culture Magazine, awarded “BC’s Magazine of the Year” and Western Canada’s “Best New Magazine” respectively at the 2013 Western Magazine Awards. She lives in Nelson, British Columbia.



Jane Byers

Jane Byers








Jane Byers lives in Nelson, BC. Her first poetry collection, Steeling Effectswas published by Caitlin Press (March, 2014). She is the recipient of the 2014 Richard Carver Emerging Writer Award. Her work has appeared in Grain, Descant, The Antigonish Review, Plenitude, Rattle, the Canadian Journal of Hockey Literature and Best Canadian Poetry 2014.



Verna Relkoff

Verna Relkoff









Verna Relkoff lives in Nelson B.C. She has worked with writers for 25 years as teacher, editor and currently literary agent with Mint Literary Agency. She is the author of Cul De Sac (Hag Papers–imprint of underwhich editions).

She has a BFA: Creative Writing; University of Victoria, and a M.Ed: Role of Narrative in Transformational Learning; Simon Fraser University.

**A HUGE THANK YOU to these fine literary supporters for their time, energy, and support!

Gala Night: Kootenay Literary Competition Winners

The Kootenay Literary Competition awards were handed out at a gala event at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson on Friday, March 14.

Local winners were able to attend to receive their awards and offer a few words, but because the competition has started to draw in participants from across the Kootenays, not all of the winning authors could make the journey to Nelson.

The judges had a chance to talk about the entries and the range of writing they assessed from each category and it was clear they felt the work this year was of a high calibre. Two winners were selected in each of the five categories, as follows:

Youth Grades 7-9: Hannah Klemmensen of Rossland with Midnight Hangout, and Zoey Lowe of Golden, with The Cold.

Youth Grades 10-12: James Havelock Turner of Nelson, with Giu Andare, and Emily Hoff of Ymir, with A New Reality.

Adult Fiction: Eli Geddis of Nelson with Ninety Corn Dogs and a Porcupine, and Roz Nay of Nelson with The Innocence.

Adult Creative Non-Fiction: Leslie Davidson of Grand Forks with Hold On, and Graham Kenyon of Rossland with Salvation.

Adult Poetry: Jordan Mounteer of Winlaw with Helical, and Cheryl Thornton of Salmo with Grief is a Strange Companion.

The Richard Carver Award, to honour an emerging local writer, went to Nelson poet Jane Byers. Carver was a key member of the Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC), and the award is a partnership between NDAC and the KLC, and the winner was chosen with support of the Kootenay Library Federation.

There was also a reading by Fernie author Angie Abdou and music by LVR jazz band Swing Theory.

The Kootenay Literary Competition Anthology Refuge is available to order for distribution through Otter Books in Nelson or at kootenaylitcomp.com for $7.




Nelson Poet Named Winner of Richard Carver Award

Text & Image courtesy of Sam Van Schie (Nelson Star)

It’s been a good month for Nelson poet Jane Byers — not only did she receive the Richard Carver award at the Kootenay Literary Competition gala on March 14, but seven days prior to that her first book of poetry was published by Caitlin Press.

The 46-year-old has had many of her individual poems published in Canadian anthologies and magazines. She’s a three time winner of the Nelson and District Poetry Competition and can regularly be seen reading her work at local literary events. But after her accomplishments these past weeks she tells the Nelson Star, “maybe I can finally start calling myself a writer — I’m not sure.”

Image courtesy of Sam Van Schie (Nelson Star)

Image courtesy of Sam Van Schie (Nelson Star)

But the judges from the Kootenay Library Federation, who selected her for the Richard Carver award, wouldn’t hesitate to give her that title. The award, now in its second year, recognizes an emerging Kootenay writer and includes a $400 prize from the Nelson and District Arts Council, which Carver was president of when he died suddenly in 2009.

“It’s really a vote of confidence to get the award,” Byers says, recalling how she often used to seeCarver at literary events. “It’s amazing to see that his family is carrying on his legacy of supporting local writers.”

Byers first started writing poetry in high school, then gave it up while she was working on a science degree at university. She returned to it as an adult, after taking a continuing education course with a poet in Toronto, where she lived for 14 years before moving to Nelson in 2006.

Byers says since settling here she’s received a great deal of support from the many experienced writers in the community. In particular, she credits Susan Andrews Grace for helping her organize her poems into a cohesive collection that would appeal to a publisher.

Her book, Steeling Effects, includes some 65 poems she wrote over the course of the past decade. A theme running through the collection is that of human resilience, examined through the context of raising children, lesbian and gay issues, sexism, local geography and health and safety in the workplace.

“Why do some of us turn out to roll with the punches and some of us not so much?”  Byers asks. “I’ve explored that through some questions of my own life. With my own almost dying at birth and some traumatic events I lived through, how is it that I’m all right?”

With her book now on display locally at Otters Books, Byers says she’s feeling a mix of accomplishment and dread. The latter because, “There’s some pretty personal stuff in there that people will probably want to ask me about when they see me on the street.”

Still it’s a milestone for her and one she hopes to repeat soon. Byers says she’s already well into her second manuscript, which she’s been writing mostly between the hours of 5 and 6:30 a.m. while her wife, Amy Bohigian, and their six-year-old twin children are sleeping.

“Now that I’ve had one book published, it feels much more possible to think about a second one,” she says.

There will be a book launch for Steeling Effects at the Nelson Library on April 17 at 7 p.m.

2013 KLC Anthology ‘REFUGE’ Now Available

The Kootenay Literary Competition is proud to announce that its 2013 Anthology, REFUGE, is now available for purchase. CLICK HERE for ordering details.