Below in no particular order are the 12 semi-finalists for 2009

photoEasther Paul

E. M. Paul
- Kanata, ON

Esther Paul was born and raised in a small railroad town in Manitoba in the 1930's. Her memoirs of her early years have been published under the title “A Railway Kid: Stories of a Prairie Childhood in the Great Depression” (Borealis Press, 2004). Her latest published book (2007) is “In Spite of All That”, a work of fiction about a Canadian woman’s life. She is working on her third book, a collection of short stories. Esther has been a Registered Nurse, wife, widow, mother and grandmother, artist, art teacher, entrepreneur, and community activist. In her mid-fifties she received a master’s degree in Pastoral Counselling and worked as a psychotherapist/counsellor with a mental health agency and in private practice until her retirement in 1998. She then began to seriously study and practice writing poetry, fiction, newspaper columns and her memoirs. Esther lives in Kanata, Ontario, and has been recently widowed from her second husband.

photo Barbara Ponomareff

Barbara Ponomareff

Barbara Ponomareff was born in Germany and before her retirement worked as a child psychotherapist in private practice. She has published a novella, short stories and poetry in various literary and arts magazines. Other stories, poems and two novellas continue to languish in the drawer.
At present, her time is spent reading, writing and painting abstract acrylics in the hope of discovering “layers of meaning” through paint.

photo of Ruth Zavitz

Ruth Zavitz
London, ON

Ruth Zavitz is a fifth generation Ontario farmer and gardener currently residing in London, Ontario. Over the past twenty-five years she has shared her hands-on gardening experiences in articles published in numerous Canadian and US magazines. Her book, "High On Grass: Ornamental Grasses for Northern Gardens" was published by The Chestnut Group in 2007. Short stories, her first love, have been published in Slice of Life, Country Connection, Good Old Days, Storyteller, Canadian Stories, Bygone Days, Laughter Loaf, and Fifty Something. She is currently working on a novel, set in rural Ontario and Yorkshire England during the First World War.
photo of Shayna Lodge

Shayna Lodge
-Oxford Mills, ON

Shayna Lodge is an aspiring creative writer, particularly focused on young adult fiction. She has lived all her life in the beautiful, artistic village of Oxford Mills, and is currently in her graduating year at a Catholic high school - at which she is the editor for Generation Otaku, a student-run special interest magazine. Shayna has been writing stories since she learned to write and loves every precious moment of it. In grade six her first short story was published, and in grade eight, her poetry was included in A Celebration of Young Poets: Spring 2006. She hopes to learn more of the world of creative writing in the future and follow her vocation.

photo Denese Innes

Roy Innes
Gabriola, BC

Roy Innes, who comes from a long line of Canadian prairie pioneers, is a retired eye physician and surgeon. An early penchant for writing, buried for years in the world of science, was rekindled upon retirement. At that time, he enrolled in the Humber School for Writers program and, under the mentorship of literary notable Olive Senior, wrote his first novel, Murder in the Monashees, released by NeWest Press in 2005 to excellent reviews. Encouraged to establish a series in this genre, he wrote West End Murders (Newest Press, 2008) and a third which presently awaits NeWest’s editorial review.
His writing is not exclusively crime fiction: a novel for mid-readers awaits a publisher; a medical-psychological drama nears completion; and sundry short stories are soon to be submitted to various journals. A brief foray into poetry lays hidden in his computer.
Equally at home in the wilds or the city, Innes is an avid hunter, a lover of classical music and a gourmand. He lives on B.C.’s lush Gabriola Island with his wife and his daughter’s cat.

photo of Heather Rath

Heather Rath
Burlington, ON

Since winning a writing contest at the age of 11, Heather Rath knew writing would be a major part of her life. When she grew up, she was sequentially a reporter, editor of a weekly newspaper and a monthly business magazine before becoming head of communications for a multi-national company. Her writing has been published over the years in various publications and some of her work for children has been translated into Braille. She is a member of CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and WIT (Writers in Transition), Sarnia-Lambton.
Heather and her husband, Norm, have three sons and five grandchildren and live in Burlington ON. When she is not with her family, she and Norm travel the world extensively with an eye for possible writing scenarios.

photo of Chuck Lovatt

Chuck Lovatt
- Carroll, MB

Chuck Lovatt’s work has appeared online in both the Global Short Story Competition and Inscribed Magazine. In addition, one of his short stories was a runner-up in the 2009 Clem Battye Literary Award Competition (to be included in an anthology in the fall), and yet another short story has been accepted for the spring 2010 issue of Transition Press.
A lifelong denizen of the prairies, Chuck is fascinated by their beauty as well as their hazards - often incorporating them into his stories. He lives outside the tiny hamlet of Carroll, MB where he relishes the quiet and the wide-open spaces.

photo of Jan De Grass

Jan De Grass
-Gibson, BC

Jan DeGrass is a freelance writer and editor with over 20 years experience in writing articles for newspapers, magazines and trade publications. In addition to her arts columns in the local Coast Reporter, her newspaper credits include The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun and Province and such magazines as Chatelaine, Coast Life, Wine Tidings and Room of One's Own.
She leads a writing critique group in Gibsons, B.C. and assists other authors with editing their manuscripts. Her biggest project was the self-publication of a cookbook Take Potluck! 101 Tasty, Simple Dishes for Your Potluck Party. She has been a competition winner for travel-related articles and has also received a national award for a business article. Recent work includes becoming a winner (2008) in a competition sponsored by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association in the category of Best Coverage of the Arts.

photo of Jean BaxterJean Rae Baxter
Hamilton, ON

Jean Rae Baxter was born in Toronto, but grew up in Hamilton. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Toronto and a B.Ed from Queen’s. After a career in education, Jean turned to full-time writing several years ago. Her short stories have been published in various literary journals and anthologies and have won numerous awards. Seraphim Editions published her debut collection of short stories, A Twist of Malice, in 2005. In 2007 Ronsdale Press published her first Young Adult historical novel, The Way Lies North, which won the 2008 Arts Hamilton award for best Young Adult novel and was also nominated for the 2009 Red Maple Award in the Ontario Library Association’s “Forest of Reading” program. Her third book, the literary mystery, Looking for Cardenio, was published by Seraphim Editions in 2008. Next year Ronsdale Press will release her second Young Adult novel, Broken Trail, which is the sequel to The Way Lies North. Jean is close to completing a second collection of short stories, Scattered Light. She lives in Hamilton, where she is one of the organizers of the LiT Live Reading series. She serves on the Arts Hamilton Literary Advisory Committee. You may learn more about her from her website, www.jeanraebaxter
Janet Stobie photo

Rev. Janet Lynn Stobie
- Dunsford, ON

Jan Stobie is married and together with her husband Tom, has five grown children and seven grandchildren. A teacher, family counselor and ordained minister, Jan has worked with people all her adult life. She served with Bethany, Pontypool and Dunsford United Churches from 1989 until 2008, when she retired to focus on her writing and her family. Four years ago with the encouragement of her congregations, Jan published her first book of short stories,
A Child Speaks, which was enthusiastically received and has sold out the 1100 copies that were printed. Jan writes a monthly devotional for the Millbrook Times and is welcomed as a storyteller at fundraisers and group meetings. Jan’s two latest self published books, Spectacular Stella: the story of the Christmas Star and Can I Hold Him?: Christmas stories for all ages, are available at

photo of judith Millar

Judith Millar
- Nanaimo, BC

Judith Millar is a writer of short stories, essays, poems and song lyrics. She is widely published, has won numerous awards for her creative writing, and is a frequent presenter at spoken-word events on Vancouver Island. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories. A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University, Judith is a member of the BC Federation of Writers and SOCAN. A former corporate communications manager, she moved to Nanaimo, BC from Kitchener, Ontario in 2007. Website:

photo Alina Lariviere

Alina Lariviere
Etobicoke, ON

Alina Lariviere was born in Toronto, but raised in the small town of Bancroft where she was surrounded by creativity and inspirations. Now living in the city, Alina finds her life more hectic, but always finds time for her art, reading and writing. This is the first writing competition she has entered, never being published before. Being interested in visual arts, languages, ancient history and sciences has Alina aspiring to design, build and own the perfect private school at which she will be able to teach the subjects she likes and help students grow.