Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Cure for the Winter Writing Blues

You would think that with all this recent frigid weather your writing would be flourishing, filling the void that this long winter has created. After all, you are all cooped up in your cozy abode, eating out of boredom and longing for warm summer nights. So what better way to pass the time than to write, right? Here’s what I have to say about that: Easier said than done!

If you’re anything like me, you operate on motivation. Sure, you could write about the window frost or the gray clouds that loom overhead, but at some point you’ll lose interest. Here is a list of writing contests to help jump-start your creativity this spring season.

Script Frenzy!
Challenge: 100 pages of original scripted material
Deadline: April 1 – 30, 2011
Cost: Free
Prize: Self-satisfaction
For more information, check out the website:

Routes Magazine Short Story Contest
Challenge: A family-friendly short story up to 2,000 words
Deadline: April 15, 2011
Cost: $30 per submission
Prize: $1,000, publication in Routes magazine, and a one-year subscription
Check out the details on the AMPA website:

The Writers’ Union of Canada: Writing For Children Competition
Challenge: Any piece of writing for children up to 1,500 words
Deadline: April 24, 2011
Cost: $15 per entry
Prize: Winner and finalist entries will be submitted to three children’s book publishers
For more information, visit the website:

Dave Greber Freelance Writers Book And Magazine Awards
Challenge: Non-fiction for social justice writing that is exceptionally well-written and researched
Deadline: June 17, 2011
Cost: Free, but specific criteria apply
Prize: $2,000
Full details at:

Alberta Views Annual Short Story Contest
Challenge: Short story of a maximum 3,000 words
Deadline: June 30, 2011
Cost: $30 (includes one year subscription)
Prize: $1,000 and publication in the December 2011 issue
Further information on the Alberta Views website:

---Andrea Cubala
Volunteer AMPA Blogger

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mags Canada launches national industry mag

Gotta start 'em young... Annabel enjoys the new CMC mag

Magazines Canada recently launched its premiere issue of Canadian Magazines Canadiens (CMC), a biannual bilingual resource for Canadian mag professionals. Produced in magazine format, it contains useful information on publishing topics such as licensing, digital editions and advertising trends (not unlike AMPA’s Template series). It also spotlights the innovative works that a few magazines such as ReNew Canada, Clin d’oeil and Saltscapes are taking on.

I enjoyed having a flip-through this polished product with its fancy schmancy spinning paper wheel on the front cover. I learned a few things like the ins and outs of the overcover and the fact that The Hockey News had its one-millionth download of its mobile app back in September 2010 (wowza!). I also saw some familiar bylines such as former Unlimited editor Craille Maguire Gilles as well as past AMC keynote speaker, Jason Brightman.

Of course, the mag has its share of expected association content highlighting Mags Canada resources and its annual show, MagNet, but it’s presented well avoiding the typical dry and boring overtones common to association “news.”

I asked Barb Zatyko, the publisher of the CMC project, how the idea developed and what the goal was. She said it “came about after conversations with sponsors who indicated that they’d be interested in providing services for an industry magazine that celebrated the vibrant Canadian industry and celebrated the medium of print. The goal of our editorial and publishing team is to showcase our industry to each other and to the international publishing community despite the naysayers who keep predicting the death of print. Our peers have been very positive about the magazine and the project was lots of fun to work on.”

It is nice to have a national industry mag as a way for the community to see what its colleagues are working on and to find out about standards and resources. Only time will tell whether the CMC mag will serve the ongoing need effectively, but the premiere issue definitely holds promise. And yay for print!

Have a look for yourself at the CMC microsite

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Everyone's a Winner, Baby! Well, internally speaking...

Okay, so not everyone can win. But that doesn't mean we can't all have a good time. And that's precisely what happened tonight at the Alberta Magazines Conference gala where winners of the Alberta Magazine Awards were announced to a full house amid swanky live jazz tunes and prime rib dinners. For those of you who weren’t able to attend (and you better have a good excuse like having a five-month-old on your boob!), here’s who came out on top. 

Alberta Venture cleaned up taking the Best Cover, Best Photo, and Best Illustration categories. Way to go Team AV. Best Feature Design went to Wine Access magazine while IMPACT took Best Editorial Short. techlife took the win in the new Best Alberta Story category with a story by Scott Messenger—woot, woot, Scott! He didn’t even have to serve as a conference volunteer to get props this year.

Editorial judge Malwina Gudowska emphasized how the editorial panel looked first and foremost at the writing. “You can tell from the lead what the article will be like in terms of quality. And then of course if it holds my attention, that's a good sign. The idea is important, but I've read articles that I thought had so much potential in terms of a fresh new idea that in the end, just didn't work because of the writing. On the flip side, I've read stories that have been done a number of times but there was something new and interesting about it, maybe a different angle. It all worked because the writing was solid.” So remember folks, quality of writing is the only surefire way to a win at next year’s awards!

For Best New Magazine, 18 Bridges, the brainchild of writer Curtis Gillespie took top honours. Volunteer of the Year went to Dandelion’s Claire Lacey.

No Lucci for Lemon as Avenue Calgary’s Käthe Lemon finally claimed the Editor of the Year title and won one for the ladies. As Melanie Jones, one of the EYA judges, put it: “Käthe's editorial has a way of going beyond the surface level 'story idea' into the deeper DNA-level realms of exploring and trying to articulate something about what it means to live in Calgary now.”  

Fellow EYA judge Tom Gierasimczuk also added, “Käthe displays a rare dedication to her craft both as a storyteller, devoted volunteer, and a leader. The fierce devotion of her team as well as the products she oversees are testament to this.” A giant congrats to Käthe who I know personally to be a great editor and an even better human. You deserve it, chicka!

Tom also noted that “both Birthing magazine and Westword are riveting reads that serve their audiences admirably with limited resources.”
Finally, the Achievement in Publishing award went to one of my favourite people in publishing: Rob Tanner of TannerYoung Publishing (which publishes Where Edmonton and Canadian Cowboy Country). What a tribute to this most-deserving publisher to receive the recognition and acclaim of his peers. 

Rob has many years of magazine publishing experience and has also successfully crossed mediums creating his award-winning Cowboy Country TV show. He’s served in countless volunteer capacities including the ACIA board and of course, the AMPA board (in fact, he won Volunteer of the Year last year). For AMPA, he worked tirelessly for nearly a decade, and luckily for me, was president for part of the time I was E.D. Working closely with Rob proved to me that it’s not just his business savvy that makes him successful, but his willingness to learn and to share his knowledge with his fellow publishers. 

Rob has generously contributed both time and ideas to ensure the sustainability of Alberta’s publishing community not only for personal gain, but because he genuinely cares about fostering an environment where all hardworking independent publishers can survive and thrive. If that’s not an achievement in publishing, I don’t know what is. Yay Rob! I am thrilled for you!

Congrats again to all our winners and finalists. Yet another great year in Alberta magazines. Hurray! And enjoy the rest of the conference too! I can’t wait to hear how the rest of the event goes, especially the “after-party.” Peanuts pub, anyone? :P

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nail-Biting Time: Award Finalists Announced!

Who doesn't love a good awards presentation? The newly expanded Alberta Magazine Awards will be no exception. The full rundown of finalists was announced yesterday in MagaScene.

So who are this year's contenders?

Well there's the usual showing by Alberta biggies,
Avenue (Calgary) and Alberta Venture, each with several nominations. No surprise there. techlife, a past winner at the Showcase awards, no doubt wishes to continue its winning streak as well.

A little guy making some big noise is
Routes magazine with three nominations. Shout-out to Sandra Wiebe and her team, considering they only came on the scene less than three years ago, and have made major leaps and bounds in that time--a time that can be the most challenging as any publisher knows.

The most formidable category has to be the Achievement in Publishing category. I mean seriously: Karen Crowdis, Editor-in-Chief,
Birthing; Barbara Dacks, Publisher, Legacy; Gary Davies, Executive Vice-President, RedPoint Media Group Inc.; Tom Tait, Publisher, Galleries West; and Rob Tanner, Publisher, Tanner Young Publishing Group. I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with all of these folks in some capacity and I am SO glad that I don't have to make the call on this one.

Any one of them are worthy of the award, but I have to admit I'm leaning towards Mr. Tait on this one. He’s been a key figure in Alberta’s magazine scene for many years now. Some of you may know that he used to be the publisher of
Where Calgary. After selling that thriving venture to big gun St. Joseph Communications, he's ventured back into the fray to successfully helm Galleries West while simultaneously doing community work (such as with the Rotary Club), travelling and squeezing in a game or two of golf. All this while coping with leukemia. Give the man a prize I say!

Yes of course it's an honour to be nominated, but let's face it, people love to win! So what are your thoughts? Who do you think will and/or should win?

I'm hoping to get some judges' comments to make more predictions, but if you really want to know, make sure you attend the gala on March 24 at the
Alberta Magazines Conference. Registration closes TODAY. Be there or be square.

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

MagaScene: Awards Finalists Announced! (issue 81/March 2011)

Alberta Magazine Awards Finalists!
The Shortlisted Entries for Showcase and Achievement Awards… 

AMPA’s New Blogger-in-Residence
Seto Shares Her Insight
Professional Development Grants
for Canadian Culture
Shortliffe Leaves Magazines File
Changes at Canadian Heritage 

Get Publishing 2011 At the Edge of Print 

Donations for Webb-Bowerman Foundation
Silent Auction
2011 Editors' Choice Awards
Magazine Short Story Contest
Arts Days Funding 

Editorial Intern, Avenue Edmonton Magazine
Graphic Designer, Source Media Group

Monday, March 14, 2011

iPad 2 for mags?

Image from

Okay, I confess. I’m a bit of a techno neophyte. In fact, I recently had to downgrade my circa 1999 cellphone for a circa 1982 one because somehow it managed to crap out on me even though it was hardly ever used.

Now that’s not to say I’m not enamoured with the Apple iPad like the rest of North America. I mean, the thing is seriously cool despite it’s rather unfortunate name (clearly, a man came up with this moniker). Earlier this month, Apple unveiled the iPad 2 and it’s even cooler than the first one. Apparently Apple was feeling the heat from competing tablet devices even though it has already sold 15 million iPads. This newer, lighter, slimmed-down version sounds like a weight loss ad with its 33 percent thinner design. It’s also intended to be more interactive with front and rear cameras, and video chat. CPU speed is supposed to be twice as fast and graphics are rendered up to nine times faster.

But with all that said, how’s the iPad for magazines? I’m still a paper-arts gal at heart, but I’ve seen magazines on the iPad, and they do look sharp. But are people really reading them or just wowed by the fancy touch technology and impressive graphics? And what about magazine apps? There are now more than 350,000 apps available with more than 65,000 native to the iPad.

So tell me. This neophyte wants to understand the hype. Are you using a tablet device like the iPad? And if so, are you reading magazines or using magazine apps on it? Give me the good, the bad and the ugly, please! 

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Monday, March 7, 2011

Canadian Heritage director Scott Shortliffe leaves the magazines file

Scott Shortliffe, a strong supporter of Canadian magazines at Canadian Heritage, is leaving his post as director of periodical publishing and programs to accept a promotion to deputy director general of broadcasting and digital communication, effective March 21.

I first met Scott at a Magazines West event in Vancouver, back in 2005, when he was just getting into the magazines file and I was brand new at AMPA. We quickly discerned that neither of us knew many folks in the room and found a companion in one another. From that point forward, I always enjoyed working with Scott and felt like we could have frank discussions—very helpful in the realm of government funding. He has always been a good friend and advocate of AMPA and Canadian magazine publishing as a whole, and for that, I thank him.

I recently had a chat with Scott to catch up and wish him well at his new job. We talked about what he enjoyed most about working with magazine publishers: “The opportunity to see how they actually work and to discuss with them the future of this industry. Magazine professionals are remarkably passionate and that passion shows in every discussion.” He referenced the cross-Canada roundtables before the creation of the Canadian Periodical Fund as one of his favourite times. “The discussions were great—reflecting both individual concerns and real thinking about the future of the industry, both in a general sense and from a public-policy lens.”

Taking over for Scott will be Ramzi Saad (great name!), who has headed the strategic policy and management team at Canadian Heritage since 2008. I’m sad to see Scott go, but he assures me that Ramzi is a terrific and hard worker.
In the meantime, all the best to you, Scott. 

--- Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Do-gooders unite! Silent Auction Donations Please!


You’ve likely already seen a call for silent auction items for the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation (ie., see post below!). But I’m asking again, not just because I’m the VP of the foundation, but because it’s for a really good cause. Monies raised by the foundation go to support aspiring arts and journalism students who may very well go on to contribute to your magazine.

PLUS, if your donation has a market value of $100 or more, we can issue you a tax receipt.

We’re coming up on the third anniversary of when we so tragically lost Amber, and there are days when I still can’t believe that she’s gone. I will never fathom what happened; I guess no one will ever know. But being involved with the foundation gives me some solace that good can come even from the baddest bad.

So, I appeal to all of you to put together a little something for the auction. I know budgets are tight (when aren’t they?), but surely you have something kicking around your home or office that would make an ideal auction item. Think of it as re-gifting for a cause!

If you have a donation, please email me at setocolleen(at) And of course, come to the annual Alberta Magazines Conference (March 24 to 26) to bid on the items, chat with old and new friends, and of course, learn something too! 

---Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feature Speaker - Scott Bullock

Meet today's feature Alberta Magazines Conference speaker - Scott Bullock.

With a 29-year career as a frontline circulator, national distributor, educator and entrepreneur, Scott has a unique insight into the industry. He is the owner of circulation consultancy firm Circ3, Smart Circulation Solutions, and has worked as circulation director for both consumer and B2B magazines, including Toronto Life and FASHION. He is also the creator of 

Intrigued? You won't want to miss his session at the 2011 Alberta Magazines Conference: 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Foundation for Amber Bowerman Seeks Silent Auction Donations

The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation will once again be hosting a silent auction fundraiser at the Alberta Magazines Conference. Funds raised through the auction will go toward establishing an endowed scholarship fund so that scholarships will be given in Amber's name in perpetuity.

The Foundation is a registered charity that raises money for scholarships and awards for journalism and arts students in Western Canada and was created in memory of magazine writer and editor Amber Bowerman (nee Webb). To date, the Foundation has provided scholarships at SAIT Polytechnic, ACAD, Grant MacEwan, the U of C and U of R as well as establishing and sponsoring the Student Writing Award with the Western Magazine Awards Foundation.

The Foundation is asking for donations of items for the auction. In the past, the auction has included included books, games, gift baskets, event tickets, hotel and restaurant gift certificates, subscription packages and more. Every donation helps meet the goals of helping journalism students get a start in their careers. 

Anyone who is interested in donating an item can contact the Foundation at before March 21.