Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Guest Blog on Non-Fiction Conference in Banff ...

The Creative Non-Fiction Collective Annual Conference,
Banff, April 26 – 28, 2013

PWAC, Calgary Chapter

The CNFC Annual Conference was held at the Banff Centre this past weekend.  Approximately fifty delegates came together to participate in workshops, readings, a plenary session, to hear a guest speaker, do some networking, learning, experience camaraderie and enjoy good food!  Some people came all the way from Halifax and Nanaimo, plus many places in-between, including numerous writers from Alberta.

Six months ago, I was invited to join the CNFC by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, an author based in Edmonton I have gotten to know over the last eighteen months because of our common interest in the history of aviation. 

Not knowing what to expect, but filled with anticipation, I signed up for the conference.  Two workshops were offered simultaneously in the morning:  “Ownership:  Stories and Lies” given by Tyler Trafford and Kate Braid, moderated by Myrna Kostash, and “Writing History into Your Work” by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. 

Attending Danielle’s session, I met other writers and people interested in pursuing writing and history.  We all shared what areas we were interested in and what tools we would need to accomplish our goals.  I came away with more ideas and was also able to contribute a few, too.  Before we knew it, our ninety minutes was over!  We were so engaged; we all agreed we could have stayed together until noon. 

The delegates had a break for refreshments then gathered for the plenary session featuring three people who discussed marketing, promotion and publicity of one’s work, the changes in the publishing ‘landscape’, technology, and readership trends.  A few new platforms were discovered, including Boulderpavement.ca.
Books written by members of the CNFC were on tables against the wall, available for purchase.

Then it was time for a delicious lunch, involving more discussion and networking, finding out about other writers and their projects.  It seemed time had flown by; we had to return to our afternoon workshops.  Two more choices were offered:  “Stories from the Road:  Travel Writing”, by Marcello Di Cintio and Glenn Dixon, moderated by Cathy Ostlere, and “Perspiration Leads to Inspiration” by Lynne Bowen.  I chose the second session.  Again, sharing of ideas and how to organize research occurred. 

Another refreshment break....yum!  Then to the Keynote Address by Karen Connelly, entitled:  “New Instrument, Another Music:  Moving from Fiction and Poetry to CNF.”  I had heard of Karen’s work, but have not read it, so to hear this famous Canadian writer speak, then read some of her poetry and prose was very enlightening.

The CNFC conference was excellent.  And a great deal.  For $73.50, I attended two sessions, the two general sessions, including all refreshments, a very extensive buffet lunch, and parking, too!  It was an easy drive up and back from Calgary!

The CNFC will be celebrating their tenth anniversary in 2014.  I highly recommend their next conference.  I look forward to joining them again.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Guest Blog on upcoming Edmonton Event, Words in 3 Dimensions ...

It might have been me with a book deal …

I well remember Cynthia Dusseault, head of Pitch Camp at the Get Publishing Communications Society (GPCS) “At the Edge of Print” 2011 conference, ask me, “Do you want to take a Pitch Camp slot with Rose Scollard from Frontenac House? I chose to set aside my poetic aspirations and instead pitched to Darren Boisvert, editor of community newspaper the Rat Creek Press. Deborah Lawson, a fellow PWAC member, took the slot with Rose Scollard and landed a contract with Frontenac House.

Although it may have been a missed opportunity, I also believe all things are meant to be. I now live in Darren Boisvert’s editorial community for the Rat Creek Press. He offers incredible mentoring, editorial guidance, thorough feedback and respectful editing for writers open to the process. He is super appreciative of professional writers and offers whatever he can to compensate for … yes … low pay. Generous with his praise, he says, “You have wicked interviewing skills. You spend six months with us, and I promise, you will be able to freelance to any newspaper in Canada.” Priceless. Best editor relationship I have ever enjoyed and I owe it to Pitch Camp at the GPCS conference.

I am having a blast writing a feature article a month and doing the monthly restaurant review. We call my reviews the Food Quest. The first quest was for great pub food and the best poutine. The second quest was to learn about Ethiopian food with Edmonton’s Habesha the unknowing teacher. More than fun, the quest is proving to be quite edible.

The best part? The Rat Creek Press and Boisvert gave me my first shot at an article that mattered and free reign to present the issue as I saw fit. It felt like the first time I wrote something of import. My article on Idle No More made the front page in March.

So while it might have been me signing a poetry book deal with Frontenac House, I am thrilled it is Deborah Lawson. I have long admired her poetry and will be first in line to buy her book when it comes out.

This year’s GPCS conference on May 24-26th is a three-way collaboration, thus the “Words in 3D” theme. GPCS is partnering with the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and the Editors’ Association of Canada-Prairie Provinces Branch to host Words in 3 Dimensions. There are a number of PWAC members on the organizing committee including Deborah Lawson, Cynthia Dusseault and me.

What a conference it is going to be! Registration is rapidly filling up so register soon. We will see you there!