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Okanagan Valley Writers Festival 2017 Day 2 Part 1

Wow! What an amazing second day at the Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival! Just look at the people’s faces! Enthusiasm, laughter, intensity, deep thinking, friendship! If you’d like hi res copies of any of the pictures, please email me and indicate row # (from top) and number in row (1st, 2nd, 3rd). Thanks!

Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival

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!



Sentimental Journey

Sentimental Journey — Guest post by Lester Patrick

This summer the Penticton Flying Club hosted a very special visitor – the Sentimental Journey, a Second World War B-17 bomber also known as the Flying Fortress.B17Bomber1

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(Note: click on thumbnails to see large size photos)

Touring the Sentimental Journey brought back some childhood memories for me. My father was an airplane mechanic with the Canadian Forces in the Second World War in England. He never saw any fighting in Europe, but I remember many stories from his wartime days at the air force bases. He repaired British Hurricane Hawks, Spitfires and American P-51 Mustangs. As fate would have it, my father met my English mother while overseas and they were married near the end of the war. I guess you could say there is a special bond linking our family to WWII aircraft.Croydon-AirBase

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I did not know what to expect when I first drove out to the Penticton Airport to view Sentimental Journey. As I made my way toward the exhibition I was awestruck by the large silver bomber on display. It was a stunning sight and I took photo after photo cherishing every moment as I came face to face with a living piece of history.

The Sentimental Journey did not roll off the assembly line until 1945. Too late to see action in Europe, the Sentimental Journey was stationed in the Pacific, participating in maritime patrols mapping coastlines and conducting search and rescue operations. A small boat was attached outside the bomb bay so if an airman or sailor was spotted in distress the crew could drop the boat and radio for assistance.

The Sentimental Journey is only one of ten flying B-17s in the world. The B-17s rolled off the assembly lines in 1935 and saw action in Europe bombing German military and industrial targets toward the end of the war. The B-17 bomber’s empty weight is about 16,000 kilograms. It has a wingspan of 31 metres and is about 23 metres long. The cruising speed was 270 kph and a top speed of 486 kph with a range of 6,035 kilometres consuming 757 litres of fuel per hour. The Flying Fortress is equipped with a bomb load of up to 363 kilograms and thirteen M-2 Browning machine guns located in the top turret, the undercarriage, the sides, and the very rear. Two pilots are required to fly the aircraft and it seats eight passengers and two additional crewmen.

Learning these statistics surprised me. When I went on board I could not get over the tight quarters. I am not a big person but even I had to walk gingerly along walkways and squeeze myself up into nooks and crannies to try and take pictures. The seating areas were small, especially at the rear where the tail gunner sat. I tried to imagine myself jammed in that tiny space defending attacks from airplanes sneaking up from behind during a dark, cloudy night over Europe. The waist gunners inside the plane had more room to move but they were equally as vulnerable. Indeed, it was reported that their life expectancy was among the shortest of all the crew members. It was a challenge making my way through the airplane on the ground. I imagine no one did much moving about in the aircraft as it flew thousands of feet over wartime Europe.

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Sitting inside the B-17 I thought of the sacrifices the young men made. A mission took the men up to 30,000 feet and temperatures dropped as low as minus 45 Celsius exposing many of the crew members to frost bite on their faces or any place there was exposed skin. Although the Flying Fortress had a reputation as being a potent, high-flying long range bomber, I thought of the young men trying to defend their temporary home in the air in those cramped quarters under such extreme conditions. I wondered how many survived and how many were killed or wounded. I wondered what went through their minds as they took off from the air force bases in England. To be honest, I could not comprehend the sheer bravery it took for those men as they risked certain death flying those long and treacherous bombing raids over Germany.

The Sentimental Journey is now based at based at the Commemorative Air Force in Arizona and tours Canada and the United States giving the public the opportunity to tour the bomber and learn its history.

*Other Facts: Sentimental Journey is named after Doris Day’s #1 hit in 1945. The model on the Sentimental Journey is Betty Grable. Her bathing suit poster was the most popular pinup poster during WWII.


L.M. Patrick writes supernatural and spiritual fiction ( and blogs at “Alive at 50 – A Survival Guide to God” ( He can be reached at

The Great Gazebo Disaster

About 5 am on November 26 I woke, startled, to the sounds of a big crash. At first I thought someone was breaking in through our sliding doors–but a quick look out the window told the truth: we’d had a heavy snowfall overnight, and the weight of the very wet, coastal snow (most unusual in our area, which is known for its dry, powdery white stuff), had collapsed our gazebo which had easily survived 4 previous winters, 5 summers, big windstorms–but was finally outdone by this crazy wet snowfall.  The snow was still falling fast, so I quickly dressed in my winter woolies, and zipped outside to survey the damage, and see if there was any chance of rescuing our “extra room” we use so much in the warmer months. Alas, the entire frame was bent and twisted, and the fabric roof was torn to shreds. So I got out a shovel and spent the next hour or two, in the winter dark, digging snow off the top of the gazebo, and from inside where it had tumbled through the torn roof. Eventually the snow stopped falling, which was a good thing, as I’d been playing catch-up with it all that time. I hauled a big tarp out of the shed, and with the help of some rope, managed to pull it over the remains of the gazebo. Then I hauled the gazebo contents–lawn chairs, garden tools, barbeque, my bicycle, and more–out of the demolished structure, and into the living room (where I’d laid down another tarp to protect the floor) to dry out. Next day, a friend came over and helped us dismantle the twisted remains of the gazebo, and another friend helped me haul the pieces to the truck to be taken to the recycling facility at the local dump. Finally, I took the gazebo contents back outside, piled them on the now barren slab the gazebo had rested on, and hubby helped me wrap a big white tarp over and around everything, to wait for spring–and hopefully a new gazebo! Here are some snapshots of our great gazebo disaster:

2012 BC Youth Writers Camp

July 2-7 2012

Another very successful BC Youth Writers Camp was help July 2 to 7, 2012, at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College.  Sixty-eight youth between the ages of 9 and 18, both former campers, and new ones as well, attended the camp, learning to hone their writing skills, and learning about editing, illustrating, publishing, and more.

This year’s keynote speaker was 23 year old poet Amanda Lewis of Penticton, who, despite physical disabilities, is an active and enthusiastic poet and speaker.  The students were so impressed by Amanda’s presentation and her passion for writing.  They have taken home with them Amanda’s personal credo: “The impossible just takes a little longer,” and personally autographed copies of her book “One,” which were provided courtesy of Raise a Reader.

Each morning, the students attended lectures related to writing.  Presenter Karen Autio of Kelowna ( is an author of historical novels for young readers.  Karen shared with the students how to research and unlock history.

Presenter C.A. Lang, also of Kelowna, has written everything from historical fiction to experimental novels.  Lang presented a workshop on science fiction and fantasy worldbuilding, covering logic, social structure, religion, technology and magic.

Presenter Lorna Schultz Nicholson ( is a full-time writer who divides her time between Calgary and Penticton.  She has published over 20 childrens, youth, and sports books. Lorna presented a workshop, “Page Turning Fiction!” in which she shared how to use breathtaking description, page turning plots, setting, gripping conflict, and real life dialogue to make a good story great.

Presenter Endrene Shepherd (, of Penticton, has been writing, painting and drawing her entire life.  She has completed one book so far.  Endrene’s workshop, “Ready, Set, Illustrate!” gave participants a chance to view some famous illustrations from well-known children’s literature, and learn the “whys” and “hows” of selecting scenes from their stories for illustration.  She also led the students in doing illustrations for their own works.

Presenter Mary Ann Thompson is a freelance editor. Mary Ann’s workshop had the students get out the blue pencils and play with story.  Through games and editing exercises, they learned to transform boring beginnings, shake out muddled middles, and create thrilling endings.  Mary Ann also talked about what an editor does and the steps that go into publishing a book.

In the afternoons, students were involved in a variety of activities.  These included a book signing event for the “Gems of British Columbia,” in which each young author signed their own works in each published copy of the anthology; a “cowboy poetry” event led by PWAP poets Alan Longworth and Herb Moore, in which each student completed a “cowboy poem” of their own; an open mic young writers showcase talent event (plays, music, readings, and more), emceed by past camper Taylor Attril; a calligraphy event taught by calligrapher Dave Cursons; and a book store event at which the students had the opportunity to purchase books written by the camp presenters.

As always, the camp students sent in samples of their story writing and poetry with their registrations, and their work was published in the annual “Gems of British Columbia” anthology.  It is a great encouragement to these young writers to see their written works in print.

Many thanks to camp coordinator Yasmin John-Thorpe, and her volunteer helpers – PWAP members who critiqued the anthology entries, community members who prepared and served snacks and lunches for the campers, registration day helpers, the Rotary Club who provided the end-of-camp barbeque, and more.  Special thanks also to the generous sponsors, without whose support this camp could not take place.

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Summer’s Finally Here!

7 July 2012

Summer has finally arrived in the sunny South Okanagan.  The thermometer is pushing well past 30 C every day, and the Penticton Saturday Downtown Market has become so popular that it now fills four full blocks!  Check it out!

Peach Fest Aboriginal Village

August 6, 2011

One of the wonderful free features of Penticton’s annual city festival, “Peachfest,” is the Aboriginal Cultural Village at Gyro Park.  Aboriginal artists, dancers, drummers and singers, and other musicians come from across Canada to showcase their talents and culture.  Penticton’s Indian Band, the Sylix Nation, hosts this great two-day event featuring a Pow Wow, teepees, traditional foods, crafts, cultural displays, and family and children’s’ contests and activities.

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is certainly true of this event.  So onto a sampling of photos from 2011’s Aboriginal Cultural Village (be sure to click on the photos to see them in full size) :

Enjoying the music

6 August 2011

During Peach Fest, the Penticton downtown markets were moved onto Martin Street, as Main Street was booked for the big Peach Fest parade.  I was asked to man (woman!) the booth for Penticton Writers and Publishers group (and a couple of their projects: Raise A Reader and BC Youth Write Camp).

While I enjoyed the activities at the booth itself, I was delighted to find that we had been assigned a space in the PERFECT spot!  We had shade almost all morning, AND we were right next to one of Penticton’s great coffeeshops, AND most wonderful of all, we were entertained the entire time by one of Penticton’s great young musicians, Kirk Dixon, on acoustic guitar, accompanied by his dad, Blake.  Kirk has loved guitar since age 2, and really started focusing on playing it at about age 12.  In 2006, he was given the top jazz player at the Capilano College Jazz Festival, and a year later won the Penticton Guitar Wars competition.  In Grade 12 he became intrigued with new flamenco, and composed songs for his first CD, released in 2009.  He has just released a second CD, this past June.  At 19 years old, Kirk is enrolled in the Faculty of Science at UBC in Kelowna.  (Learn more about Kirk here).

Our booth was originally directly in front of Kirk, and we were disappointed when Linda, the market manager, moved us a few feet to the north.  But we soon realized her wisdom, as crowds of admirers stopped to watch the performance.  Folks of all ages obviously loved the music, and we were treated to some pretty cool dance moves from young spectators as well.  Kirk’s CD’s were flying off his table, and his guitar case was joining in the music, as tinkling coins quickly filled it.

If you missed Kirk, don’t despair.  Be sure to attend the Sunshine Cabaret in Gyro Park on August 13 for an evening of free entertainment featuring Kirk and friends.  Kirk also plays at the downtown market once a month.  You can also check out his facebook page and enjoy some of his music on YouTube videos posted there.

Meanwhile, hope you enjoy these snapshots of the Kirk Dixon Duo and some of their fans!

Penticton Downtown Saturday Market

16 July 2011

Every Saturday from May through October, Penticton’s downtown business core is transformed into a wonderful street market.  The first 3 blocks of Main Street, plus adjoining green spaces overflow with

  •  farmer’s booths featuring the bounty of our wonderful climate and soils (the majority of the produce being certified organic!),
  •  artisan’s booths of the fine arts as well as crafts of all descriptions,
  •  numerous buskers reflecting the diversity of the musical arts,
  •  a great variety of food stalls showing off the ethnic diversity of our community,
  •  entertainment for your children,
  •  and quite often there are also performances of dance and/or live theatre.

The stores and restaurants along the street are of course also open, and many of them join the street activities with sidewalk cafes and displays.

Numerous residents and visitors turn out every Saturday morning from about 8 am till noon to take part in this truly community event.  And if you can’t make it out on Saturdays, there are also evening markets on the lakeshore.  This year (2011) they are taking place on Tuesdays and Thursdays in July and August near the SS Sicamous.

The next few posts will feature some snapshots from the Saturday market.  Today’s pictures highlight some of the excellent variety of farmers market stalls and food vendors.

BC Youth Write Camp

3 July 2011

Every year, during the first week of July, Penticton and area families billet youth ages 8 to 18 from all over British Columbia and the Yukon for a week-long “Youth Write Camp.”  The camp is sponsored by the Penticton Writers and Publishers group.  The camp is held at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College, and this year the youth really enjoyed the brand new facilities at the Center of Excellence, an innovative, sustainable facility.  The camp, directed by organizer Yasmin John-Thorpe, features daily workshops by a number of well-known writers and publishers who share their craft with the students.  Sunday afternoon, July 3, was registration, followed by an excellent presentation by keynote speaker, Jack Whyte, one of Canada’s best-selling authors.  All of the students who attend the camp have one of their stories or poems published in an annual anthology, Gems of British Columbia.  They also receive a copy of a novel written by the keynote speaker.

2011 camp workshop presenters included:  Endrene Ann Shepherd (teaching on illustration), Rick Cogbill (teaching on using humour in writing), Lorna Schultz Nicholson (workshop on writing true stories), Jeremy Beaulne (workshop on the poetry toolbox), and Barbara Manning Grimm (teaching about writing as a career).  Afternoon guest lecturers included:  Janice Perrino (Summerland mayor, on public speaking), Alison Markin (on social networking), and Sandy Wilson (on writing and directing movie scripts).

Here are a few snapshots from the Sunday registration and keynote address: