SiWC Writing Contest 2008 Non-Fiction Award Winners

Today -- a short excerpt from each of the Non-Fiction contest finalists -- the winner, and the two honourable mentions.

But first -- a word about the judges...

Elizabeth Lyon has worked as an independent book editor and writing teacher for two decades. She enjoys the challenge and discovery that are a part of editing works, each one an original creation.
Elizabeth is the author of A Writer’s Guide to Fiction, A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction, The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write, and National Directory of Editors & Writers. Elizabeth considers her sixth book, Manuscript Makeover, on revising fiction, as a culmination of her experience helping novelists.
The Writer, Writer’s Digest, 2008 Guide to Literary Agents, and other guides and handbooks have published her articles. For 20 years, Elizabeth has worked intensely with writers from all over the world, seeing publication of about 40 of her nonfiction book clients while some 20 novelists have found agent representation and a dozen have published. Elizabeth lives in Springfield, Oregon.


Long-time conference supporter Lois Peterson’s short stories, essays and articles have been published in Maclean’s Magazine, the Globe and Mail newspaper, The Writer magazine and a range of international literary journals. Her first children’s novel, Meeting Miss 405, was published in early October 2008 and she currently has
five other works for children and a number of assignments for how-to writing articles in progress.
She is a popular Vancouver-area writing instructor, presenter and storyteller, maintains websites at and, and ‘on the side’ works parttime as a fundraiser in the non profit sector.

(I think Lois might have been praying for guidance in this picture -- it's a tough job being a judge!)

And now...the excerpts!

Honourable Mention:

Comme Il Faut

by Anne Herman

I’m thinking of buying tango shoes. Tango shoes aren’t like any other shoes in this world—and really, they don’t belong to this world.

The rules of taste are different in tango, different from the gray and black, corduroy and Gore-Tex thing we do in Seattle, different from the navy blue and olive green and brown New England sensibility I grew up with. My mother had ideas about taste, and a word for things that didn’t conform. “Garish,” she’d say with horror, and what she didn’t say spoke louder. “We would never do that. We are not like that.”

When I started kindergarten we went to my closet and she taught me to pick out my clothes. No stripes with plaids, no stripes with patterns; horizontal stripes make you look fat. Blue goes with everything, except another shade of blue. Hot pink and lime green are beneath our notice, and sequins are unspeakable.

But I’ve been going astray for years, to the point where I paint my toenails blood red and sometimes wear pink and lime green. And now I’ve taken up tango.



Honourable Mention:

Droplets of Hope

by Angela Long

The jeep leaves every Thursday at nine in the morning. By the time it arrives at Bandha an hour later, the villagers are waiting on the veranda of an abandoned cinder-block building. They wait jiggling babies on hips, leaning on canes, sitting against the walls staring at the highway. Raoul sweeps out the building with a broom made of twigs. Dr. Sanghe sets his briefcase on a rusty metal desk and arranges his files. Lalita wanders amongst the villagers handing out colour-coded cards: pink for urgent, yellow for lessurgent. And then she distributes the numbers. Who arrived first this morning? A woman in a turquoise sari holding the hand of a very pale boy raises her pink card in the air. She arrived at dawn.



And this year's winner:

Forgotten Lives

by Roxanne Gregory

September 1, 1939, Hitler signed a decree ordering “merciful death” for incurables. More than seventy thousand mental hospital patients and disabled children were killed during the first two years of the program. By the end of the war, 275,000 people had been euthanized in Germany for the betterment of the race. Many of them were victims of medical experiments prior to their merciful deaths. But Germany wasn’t the first or last nation to pioneer medical experiments on the unsuspecting and unwilling.

Established in 1878 on 65 river-view acres at McBride and East Columbia streets in New Westminster, BC’s fortress-like Public Hospital for the Insane became the Woodlands School in 1950. Children abandoned at birth, the disabled, the hyperactive, and those ordered by the court, were all consigned to a lifetime behind Woodlands locked doors and barred windows. On average 1600 children and disabled adults lived at the school, which in 1973 had only 12 teachers.


Congratulations to all the  Non-Fiction Award winners.

Interested in reading more? We still have copies of the anthology for sale. Drop me a line at and we can get one off to you right away.


also blogging as leftwriter