Festivals are celebrations. And this past weekend’s 2016 Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival was truly a celebration of writing in many of its forms–novels/fiction, poetry, lyrics, non-fiction, screenwriting. Writers, agents, publishers, musicians, film-makers, poets, all story-tellers no matter the format, joined together to learn, share, and celebrate their art.
Friday evening featured registration, book sales, a meet & greet with the presenters–and wonderful food! In fact, the food was fabulous all weekend, thanks to the Shatford staff and volunteers. CBC personality and author of two award-winning books, Grant Lawrence, hosted an evening variety show with readings, music, a short film and more. The event was opened by Penticton syilx elder Richard Armstrong. The show included author Adam Lewis Schroeder, author Jonas Saul, author Gerry William, international poet Daniela Elza, screenplay instructor Kat Montagu, and musician/songwriter Will Schackl.
Saturday breakfast featured Grant Lawrence speaking on “Rejection, Reflection, Reward–A Keynote on Writing Successfully.” Saturday lunch featured author Roberta Rich presenting on the topic, “Unleashing the Muse.” A Saturday afternoon panel discussion allowed attenders to submit a query letter or the first page of their story for a “Slushpile Challenge” featuring moderator Kat Montagu and panelists EDGE Publishing owner Brian Hades, author and Imajin Books publisher Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, and Seventh Avenue Literary Agency owner and agent, Robert Mackwood. The Festival bookstore was open throughout the weekend, and everyone was invited to the “Green Room” on Saturday afternoon to a book signing with the authors. Saturday evening supper featured guest speaker Gerry William from Enderby’s Splat’sin Reserve, sharing his perspectives on writing humor and sci-fi, with examples from his novels. Saturday evening’s entertainment was an Open Mic 8×8 event at which 8 Festival participants had the opportunity to do 8 minute readings from their poetry or stories.
Sunday’s breakfast speaker was Robert Mackwood, sharing “Current Trends in Book Publishing.” A panel discussion later in the morning was on “Marketing to Your Audience,” with moderator Grant Lawrence, and panelists Brian Hades, Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, novelist and non-fiction writers Denise Jaden, children’s and YA author Lorna Schultz Nicholson, and Robert Mackwood.
Throughout Saturday and Sunday there were plenty of workshops to choose from. Kat Montagu spoke on “Screenplays” and “Selling Screenplays”; Daniela Elza spoke on “Poetry: What’s in an Image?”, “Poetry Salon” and “Selling Poetry”; Brian Hades spoke on “Fantasy”; Denise Jaden spoke on “Characters” and “Outline in a Week”; editor and writing craft author Jodie Renner spoke on “Spark up Your Story: Adding Tension, Suspense & Intrigue” and “Writing a Winning Short Story”; Roberta Rich spoke on “Historical Fiction”; Will Schlackl spoke on “Song Lyrics”; Lorna Schultz Nicholson spoke on “Writing for Young Readers”; and freelancer and Okanagan Life Magazine editor, Laurie Carter, spoke on “Magazines and Newpapers” and “Selling Non-Fiction (and Fiction!).” Lorna Schultz Nicholson and Roberta Rich got together to do a presentation on “Selling Your Fiction.” Festival participants also had the opportunity to meet with individual presenters for one-on-one sessions.
On Saturday afternoon, the public was invited to “Paper Trails: An Afternoon of Poetry and Prose,” a set of author reading moderated by Penticton food writer, Roslyn Buchanan, and featuring Penticton author and poet Michelle Barker, poet Daniela Elza, and Penticton novelist Barbara Lambert.
It may have been the first time for this event in beautiful, sunny Penticton, but due to great planning by director (and author, editor, book designer, and owner of d’Elan Publishing) Dawn Renaud, the staff of the Shatford Centre and many volunteers, the Festival went off without a hitch. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go! Enjoy–and think seriously of signing up to attend next year’s Festival. You’ll be glad you did!