For the first time in over a decade, Penticton is hosting a full-fledged writers’ conference.
“We really enjoyed the ones the Penticton Writers and Publishers hosted years ago for the writing community,” says 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, and 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 says that’s the atmosphere the Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival conference is designed to recreate next month 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,’” says 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 BC writer Denise Jaden coves drafting and characters. Well-known editor Jodie Renner offers workshops on intrigue and short stories. “Lorna Schultz Nicholson is happy to share her experience with everything from children’s to sports stories,” says Renaud, “and poets won’t want to miss the opportunity to spend time with Vancouver’s Daniela Elza. Travel writer and Okanagan Life magazine editor Laurie Carter (pictured above) will be here for 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 is selling their work, so that’s covered, too. Brian Hades (from Edge, Canada’s largest publisher of sci-fi/fantasy) and agent/publisher/publishing assistant Robert Mackwood share the inside scoop on the industry. 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—while those interested in writing lyrics can attend music instructor Will Schlackl’s workshop.
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, and Renaud says “the food there is always amazing. We have mealtime speakers, too; CBC listeners will recognize keynote speaker Grant Lawrence, who’s also a writer. He suffered his share of rejection before publishing his two award-winning books.” The conference registration price of $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 250.770.7668, or online. More information at okanaganvalleywritersfestival.com.