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Showing posts from 2011

WOTS Book Bounty

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Sunday September 25, 2011

Today was the annual Word on the Street (WOTS) National Book & Magazine Festival, which here in Toronto takes over Queen's Park.  Steve and I went out to enjoy some of our favourite things - literature, being outside, and food that isn't terribly good for us.  Here's what I came home with:


I'm pretty excited to now own both The Barracuda and The Armadillo, which are anthologies of teen writing that were created as part of the NOW HEAR THIS! literacy program.  But the truly serendipitous find was First In, Last Out - The RCAF, Women's Division and Nursing Sisters in World War Two, as this book is the perfect thing to help me research a play I've been working on. Plus, I even got it signed by the author!


Oh, and on a less literary note, we also saw this bit of hilarity:




I just hope no one gets confused about which porta-boxes are for withdrawals and which ones are for deposits...

Clean Up at Mimico Creek

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Saturday September 24, 2011

This morning I took part in a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup event, getting down n' dirty on the banks of the Mimico Creek (I'm not kidding about the dirty part - it poured rain for most of yesterday, so the mud was good and squelchy!)


Obviously I went into the event happy to be participating, but that was because I believe in the cause and was excited for the end result.  But I wasn't at it long before I realized I was actually enjoying the work itself.

First of all, I was out by the water on a downright glorious fall day.  Then there was the fact that picking up litter is one of those activities where you can see the impact you're having as you work, which is something I don't come by a lot as a writer.  Finally - and this part is a little weird, I admit - I liked that the cleanup involved clambering up and down muddy banks, digging out half-buried metal cans, and generally doing lots of bending and reaching and ducking under branche…

Extraordinary Youth #1

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Saturday May 28, 2011

Now that my weekend round-up of opportunities open to Ontario kids and teens has been turned into a separate page listing current youth opportunities, I thought I'd try something a little different and take a quick look at some amazing kids, teens, and young adults I've read about recently:


Felix Finkbeiner, Environmentalist, Activist and Author, Age 13

From Pöcking, Bavaria, Germany

Reading The Telegraph (UK) online last month, I learned about "The 13-year-old who has the world planting trees". At the age of 9, Felix Finkbeiner turned a simple school presentation into a plan to see one million trees planted in his home country of Germany. Now age 13, Felix recently met that goal, is the author of the book Baum für Baum (Tree by Tree), and is expanding his campaign worldwide with a global call to "Stop talking. Start planting".

• Visit www.plant-for-the-planet.org, or listen to Felix speak to UN delegates in New York in February of this…

Changes to Youth Opportunities Listings

Sunday May 22, 2011

Happy Victoria Day Weekend all!

So after a few months of doing weekly round-ups of contests and such that are open to Ontario kids and teens, I've decided to try something a little different.

The Problem With The Old Set-Up
If you've been reading the blog posts you know that I would usually outline one or two newly-found contests or competitions, then include a list of previously highlighted youth opportunities sorted by deadline date. But the list was getting unwieldy, and I can't imagine it was terribly useful for anyone who'd missed the original explanation of each contest.

Now All Youth Opportunities Are On One Page
To try to remedy this, I've moved the listings to their own page. Now previously mentioned opportunities PLUS any new things I find will be collected together on the Youth Opportunities page (which you can also get to using the tab above).

To make things easier for anyone who visits the page frequently, I'll be marking new e…

Youth Opportunities - Sunday May 15th, 2011

Sunday May 15, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]
Every weekend I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which includes many contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!
For those in the Toronto area, the 50th Canada-Wide Science Fair is on this week and is open to the public on Friday from 9am until noon. Unfortunately I can't be there on Friday morning, but if you want to have a look at what young minds from across the country had on display this year, the fair is at the Newnham Campus of Seneca College. Check cwsf.youthscience.ca for more details.

I just …

Youth Opportunities - Sunday May 8th, 2011

Sunday May 8, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Every weekend I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which includes many contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!
After a bit of a drought during the past few updates, this week I've got a solid bunch of opportunities for Canadian kids and teens. Several of them have deadlines this month (one's even next week!) so check dates carefully if something catches your eye.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, and happy Sunday to everyone else!

Write the Wrong 2011 - National High School Essay Co…

Crashing Across the Finish Line for Script Frenzy 2011

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Sunday May 1, 2011

Well, there it is:


I admit, it wasn't the best case scenario for a Script Frenzy "win" - one of these years I still want to start the month of April with only an idea and end it with a complete first draft of a full-length stage, screen or radio play. But for now, I'll take this - the final few pages of a previous work in progress, 70+ pages of trial and error for a one act play that will be whittled down quite a bit, and 20+ working-it-out-on-the-page pages of a new idea.

And yes, it was down to the wire. I think I started at 8am Saturday morning with over 60 pages to go, and I uploaded for verification at 11:56pm. I'm sure some of what I wrote in that time - okay, a lot of what I wrote in that time - won't be worth keeping.  But I can deal with that.

Now, if only I wrote that fast every day...


Congrats to everyone else who took part, and thanks to the Script Frenzy people for hosting the party!  (Now I shall go thank them properly by don…

Youth Opportunities - Sunday May 1st, 2011

Sunday May 1, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Every weekend I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which includes many contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved! Well, I'm officially changing the Youth Opportunities info on the sidebar to say that I post on "weekends" since between last week and this week the Saturday thing clearly isn't always happening (at least this week I have a good excuse - Script Frenzy, which I'll write more about shortly).

Earlier this month I wrote about the Student Vote program and how much I love the idea.…

Youth Opportunities - Sunday April 24th, 2011

Sunday April 24, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Every weekend I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which includes many contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!
My apologies for the delay with the youth opportunities round-up this weekend, but as it turns out it wasn't even worth the wait - I don't have anything new to add!

That said, there are a lot of end-of-April deadlines listed below, so the list of previously mentioned youth opportunities might be worth a quick review...


Previously Highlighted Youth Opportunities

APRIL DEADLINES

The T24 Pro…

Script Frenzy Update

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Sunday April 17, 2011

Three weeks ago I wrote about my plans to finally participate in Script Frenzy. The challenge is to write 100 script pages in the month of April, and I was choosing to tackle it by:
Finishing an in-progress stage play for kidsCompleting a full first draft of the new play for teens I've been researching for the past few months, andWriting another short play to make up whatever difference was left between those two projects and the 100 page goalSo, it's several days past the half-way mark. If I were following the divide-the-work-up-evenly method (3.33 pages per day), by April 17th I should have around 57 pages done.

I'm at page four.

Now, this isn't actually as bad as it sounds. Those four pages have completed the first draft of the play for kids, and they certainly weren't all I wrote. Rather than diving headlong into new pages (as is the Script Frenzy way) I spent a lot of this month revising and refining - four pages is all I'm willing to c…

A Night at Poetry in Voice

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Saturday April 16, 2011

This morning I found myself half-reading, half-reciting the poem "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy to our cat Gizmo. It wasn't for his benefit (although sometimes I think Gadget could do with a little more culture), rather it was because I simply don't have enough poetry memorized. That wasn't a big problem for me - wasn't even something I vaguely considered a problem - until a dozen high school students came along and ruined everything.

My happy little non-poetry-memorizing world was shattered this past Tuesday night when Steve and I took in the Poetry in Voice 2011 Recitation Finals. This was the first year for the event, which offered students from several Ontario high schools the chance to compete for thousands of dollars in prizes by memorizing and reciting poems from a select collection. This wasn't about writing poetry, it was about students exploring existing literature and connecting with it on a whole new level.

And c…

A Night at Poetry in Voice: Appendix 1 - The Poems

Saturday April 16, 2011

Can you add an appendix to a blog post? Ah well, I don't care - if you can't, I'm starting a thing.

Personally, I was almost as curious about what poems the students selected as I was about how they'd interpret them. And I know that if Google had been around when I was teenager and I was participating in Poetry in Voice 2012, I'd be out searching for last year's program.

So, for anyone who's interested (or who's just looking for some poetry recommendations), here are the poems that were recited during the previously blogged about Poetry in Voice 2011 Recitation Finals, in order of presentation:

Round One"I Am" by John Clare (recited by Amelia Druskis)"La vie" by Achille Chavée (Suzanne Alsayed)"Sonnet" by Philippe Desportes (Mélodie Cyr)"I Think I Should Have Loved You Presently" by Edna St. Vincent Millay (Lily MacLeod)"Spleen" by Charles Baudelaire (Spencer Slaney)"The Char…

Youth Opportunities - Saturday April 16th, 2011

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Saturday April 16, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Every Saturday I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which includes many contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!
The youth opportunity I'm most excited about this week is the Get to Know contest; since I love nature and the arts and sharing opportunities for kids & teens, as far as I'm concerned this contest has it all!


Robert Bateman Get to Know Contest
• Open to Canadians 19 and under
• Deadline May 23rd, 2011
The annual Robert Bateman Get to Know Contest invites young Canadians to get to …

Youth Opportunities - Special Student Vote Edition

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Saturday April 9, 2011

[UPDATE: If you're looking for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Okay, so there's no list of youth competitions and contests this week. This week I want to focus on one initiative I've been reading about which strikes me as one of those simple ideas that could change everything:



What is Student Vote?
"Student Vote is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works with educators and education stakeholders to deliver experiential learning opportunities to help young Canadians understand and practice the responsibilities of their citizenship."

- From StudentVote.ca
Which translates to thousands of Canadian elementary, middle and secondary school students who are considered too young to vote still getting to cast a ballot in a mock election being held right in their school. Brilliant.

Why Student Vote May Just be the Best Thing Ever
Participating in a Student Vote campaign could give young people …

Youth Opportunities - Saturday April 2nd, 2011

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Saturday April 2, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Every Saturday I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which naturally includes a lot of contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!
Bridgestone Safety Scholars Video Contest
• Open to U.S. and Canadian full-time students with a driver's license, aged 16-21 (excluding Quebec)
• Deadline May 13, 2011
Now open to Canadians, the annual Bridgestone Safety Scholars Video Contest is looking for short videos (25 or 55 seconds in length) that deal with some aspect of automobile safety. Judges will select 10 finali…

Getting Ready for a Script Frenzy

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Sunday March 27, 2011

Just this morning I learned that today is World Theatre Day. To celebrate, I'm publicly announcing my ridiculous plan to write three plays in one month.

April is when Script Frenzy takes place, inviting writers at any level to try to write 100 script pages in a single month. There's no fee to participate and no judging of your results - all it takes to "win" Script Frenzy is to be one of the many people to reach the goal.

I've twice "won" NaNoWriMo, the partner challenge involving writing a novel during November, and really enjoyed the rush to finish. I first wanted to try the same thing with a screenplay years ago* and even registered at the Script Frenzy website, but the timing has never been right, with other projects mid-way through as March was ending.

The (Almost) Perfect Time to Frenzy

This March, I'm wrapping up months of research for a new play. Originally I planned to have written a first draft long before now, but I le…

Youth Opportunities - Saturday March 26th, 2011

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Saturday March 26, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

Every Saturday I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which naturally includes a lot of contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!
This week I saw an amazing video (via @alanfriesen) about eight students who created their own "school within a school", pursuing independent projects while studying traditional high school subjects in a more personal way. It's fifteen minutes long, but The Independent Project is well worth it. (I love that it all started because student Sam Levin was complaining …

Youth Opportunities - Saturday March 19th, 2011

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Saturday March 19, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

**Every Saturday I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which naturally includes a lot of contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!**

One thing I haven't been able to mention as an opportunity open to Canadian teens is the Poetry in Voice Poetry Recitation Contest for Canadian High Schools, since in its first year it was only open to 12 Ontario schools as part of a pilot program.  But the plan is to open the program to all schools in Ontario and Quebec in 2012, then across the country in 2013.  In the…

Youth Opportunities - Saturday March 12th, 2011

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Saturday March 12, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

**Every Saturday I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which naturally includes a lot of contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!**

Among this week's youth opportunities is a call for young spoken word artists to take part in the Raising Voices Festival this summer, which reminded me just how much I love Shane Koyczan. You probably heard him perform at the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but here's a YouTube video of one of my favourites. This week's opportunities follow…

Youth Opportunities - Sunday March 6th, 2011

Sunday March 6, 2011

[UPDATE: It may be useful to browse these old listings as many programs are annual, but for more current contests and competitions, head to the Youth Opportunities page.]

**Every Saturday, urm... Every weekend I post about current youth opportunities that are open to submissions from Ontario residents, which naturally includes a lot of contests and competitions open to youth across Canada and the US. Please note I'm not attesting to the legitimacy or quality of anything listed here - read the fine print carefully and make your own judgement call, especially if a submission fee or creative rights are involved!**

Apologies for the minor delay (I'm starting to think I should call this a weekend round-up rather than a Saturday round-up). I only have two new opportunities for youth this week, but they're both pretty good ones, ready to reward great ideas. Have at 'em!

Great Questions of Canada Essay Competition
• Open to Canadian high school, college or…