Penticton is hosting a full-fledged writers conference in April for the first time in over a decade.
“We really enjoyed the ones the Penticton Writers and Publishers hosted years ago for the writing community,” said Dawn Renaud, who works with authors as a freelance editor and book designer. “The presenters they brought in were well-connected, knowledgeable and very approachable. The format provided a lot of opportunity for us to chat informally with them and other writers.
Those conferences were terrific opportunities for connecting with people who could help us get our writing into the hands of our readers.”
Renaud said that’s the atmosphere the Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival conference (April 8 to 10) is designed to recreate at the Shatford Centre, so people in the local writing community contacted presenters they thought would fit the bill.
“It’s wonderful to have busy, bestselling authors and industry professionals saying ‘Yes, I’d love to help with that,’” said Renaud. “We wanted to cover all kinds of writing, for writers at all stages, and we’ve come up with a really good mix.”
Internationally acclaimed author Roberta Rich shares her expertise in historical fiction, while B.C. writer Denise Jaden covers drafting and characters. Well-known editor Jodie Lorna Schultz Nicholson is happy to share her experience with everything from children’s to sports stories. Renaud said poets won’t want to miss the opportunity to spend time with Vancouver’s Daniela Elza. Travel writer and magazine editor Laurie Carter will also be in Penticton to connect with those who are more interested in nonfiction and freelance work.
Rounding out the field are agents, publishers and instructors. One of the toughest tasks for writers, said Renaud, is selling their work so that will also be covered. Brian Hades, from Edge, Canada’s largest publisher of science fiction/fantasy, and agent/publisher/publishing assistant Robert Mackwood will be at the conference. As well as best-selling horror writer/book marketing guru Cheryl Kaye Tardif joins them on the marketing panel.
Screenplay instructor Kat Montagu hosts the screenplay workshops — perfect for authors who have had some success with their novels and are thinking about heading in that direction next. Those interested in writing lyrics can attend music instructor Will Schlackl’s workshop. CBC listeners will recognize keynote speaker Grant Lawrence, who is also a writer. He suffered his share of rejection before publishing two award-winning books.
Lawrence will play host to a variety show (Off the Page, on the stage) on the Friday evening of the festival featuring Adam Lewis Schroeder and best-selling author Jonas Saul with his latest action thriller set in Kelowna. Daniela Elza will share from her work, Kat Montagu presents a short film and Schlackl performs a few new songs from his repertoire.
With the historic building’s spacious classrooms, conference registrants will find a seat in whichever breakout session they choose. The Shatford Centre provides all meals on site.
The conference registration price is $250 ($225 for OSA members) includes four breakout sessions, two panel discussions, all meals and the Friday evening entertainment. Register at the Shatford Centre in person or by calling 2550-770-7668. For more information visit okanaganvalleywritersfestival.com. Free events for the public include a book shop and signing that occur 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. on the Saturday as well as feature readings on Sunday sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts.