An online creative writing school that approaches writing as an art, and also as a contemplative practice. We believe that skill comes from study, that inspiration comes from love, and that both are necessary.
The Little Bird Writing Contest
The 2019 Little Bird Contest is open from April 1st–May 1st!
This year's contest prompt is:
Write a story that starts with an ending. Give your character an unusual watch, use the words “striped” and “innovative” somewhere, and end your story with fruit.
Our 2019 contest judge is Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves.
Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. Her first book, Red Rooms, was published in 2007, and her novel The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy was released in 2013. In 2014, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and became the first Aboriginal Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library. Her book A Gentle Habit was published in August 2016. Her latest book, The Marrow Thieves, won the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Kirkus Prize; was a finalist for the White Pine Award, was named to the Globe and Mail Top 100, and was selected for CBC’s Canada Reads in 2018.
Little Bird Salon
On April 12, 2019, Cherie Dimaline and I met to discuss story, ceremony, craft, and magic.
Cherie Dimaline is a generous, intelligent, and compassionate writer with incredible energy. In this call, she tells us how to honour our first draft process. I ask her to explain the difference between adult fiction and YA fiction — and she has a surprising answer! We talk about how the publishing industry is changing. We talk about mystery and magic. In my favourite part of the call, she reminds us that storytellers are special, and explains why it is so important that we write and share stories.
To listen to the recording, log in to your Sarah Selecky Writing School Simplero account and access Free Resources. If you don't have access to my Free Resources yet, you can sign up here.
About the contest
When I first went on Twitter, I tweeted daily writing prompts. They worked so well that people wanted to know how to use what they’d written, which is where the idea for The Little Bird Writing Contest came from. It’s now an annual, international contest exclusively for innovative, emerging short fiction writers.
The contest opens each spring when the birds come back and showcases the excellent stories (up to 2,500-words) that come from Sarah Selecky Writing School's daily writing prompts. And when we say showcase, we mean it—each year we publish a beautiful anthology that is available to subscribers. Five dollars from every subscription goes to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, to help protect the real little birds out there. To subscribe, go here.
And that’s not all. Each winning story is chosen by a celebrated author who also participates in The Little Bird Salon so that you can benefit from what they have to say (see below).
Little Bird Judges
2019 - Cherie Dimaline
2018 - Michelle Winters
2017 - Esi Edugyan
2016 - Lisa Moore
2015 - Neil Smith
2014 - Rebecca Lee
2013 - Alex Ohlin
2012 - Zsuzsi Gartner
2011 - Matthew Trafford & Jessica Westhead
Little Bird Salon
Each year, since 2013, I’ve spoken to The Little Bird Writing Contest judge about what inspires them, the process of writing, what they think of revision, and more.
In 2013 Alix Ohlin and I spoke on the phone with over 250 writers and readers listening around the world. In 2014, Rebecca Lee and I had a Skype chat from Toronto-Wilmington, NC. In 2015 I spoke with Neil Smith, from Montreal. In 2016, I spoke to Lisa Moore about the “tremendous engine of desire” that drives story and why a writer has to use intuition before submitting something for publication. In 2017, Esi Edugyan gave practical advice to writers who want to understand the creative process, especially how to balance research with writing, how to turn first draft scenes into full stories, and what makes a compelling opening paragraph. This year, Michelle Winters and I talked about why writing contests are so important. She shared what she's looking for in a story—what makes a "gut punch" happen—and why surprises are so critical in short-story writing. We also talked about extensive revisions, and how to balance deadlines and rewriting.
We have a secret room in our Sarah Selecky Writing School classroom to inspire your creative process. All of the Little Bird Salons, along with other free resources, are available for you. Please help yourself! Sign up on my Free Resources page.
Become a Little Bird Stories Subscriber
Subscribe to Little Bird Stories, and read what writers who placed in The Little Bird Writing Contest did with our Daily Writing Prompts in previous years!
Get all published volumes of Little Bird Stories right now, and receive a new anthology of fresh short fiction every year. A lifetime subscription is $25.
A percentage of every subscription goes to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, to help protect the real little birds out there. When you become a Little Bird Subscriber, you're supporting the study and conservation of wild birds and their habitats!