North Shore Writers’ Festival: The Taming of the Literati

The North Shore Writers’ Festival at North Van City Library

The North Shore Writers’ Festival comes to town but once a year.  In partnership with the North Shore Writers’ Association and the North Van City Library, I lasso it, wrestle with it, tie it down, embrace it, and kiss it on the nose.

  • Lasso and Wrestle

It begins Friday night with a literary trivia quiz in the City Atrium Gallery, across the plaza from the North Van City Library and adjacent to North Vancouver City Hall.  Friends think this cockamamie scheme of flunking out on literati?’s is—questionable.  My literati-suffering husband accompanies me, and two faithful friends, and two strangers make up our sextet who tackle 55-odd questions in a two-part trivia test.  I’m excited as I’ve read all the featured historical-fiction authors.  After an entertaining presentation and reading from his second memoir, The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie, Grant Lawrence hosts.

Roberta Rich is the author of The Midwife of Venice in which midwifery is the main character’s trade. (Yes, yes, this is looking good!) …What year did midwifery become valid in British Columbia: 1996, 1997, or 1998?’  (No, no, no idea!)

This is definitely a North Shore Writers’ Festival mud-wrestling take-down.  A three-way tie, so two teams of librarians and the Black Bond Books book-loving staff, Lynn Valley location, grapple with a math question:

‘What percentage did Alice Munro’s book sales go up after her Nobel prize win?’

We six aren’t finalists but we play anyway (amongst ourselves)…50%, 75%, 30% … and then the astonishing answer: 4424%.    And the winners are… Black Bond Books display their three-foot-high-shiny-blue trophy at the authors’ kiosk the next day.  They are impressive.  For me, it’s a humbling but humorous happening…

  • Tie It Down

One of several North Shore Writers’ Association members presenting ideas on developing one’s writing via social media, my April blog shares my reflections on You-Tubing poems.  (

Joining indie and traditionally-published authors for a one-hour discussion with kc dyer, Martin Crosbie, Karen Dodd, and Sonia Haynes, we North Shore Writers’ Association affiliates introduce our real and digital selves along with our Internet platform presences.  We compare the two publishing forms and discuss what authors can do for themselves such as Internet radio as a means of advance marketing.  Sonia Haynes is North Shore Writers’ Association Internet Radio host:,  Cathy Scrimshaw, our moderator, Karen Bower, our timekeeper.

Whether it’s FB, Twitter, Google+, websites, blogs, book trailers, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube—  ‘Social Media does not start the fire,’ according to Clay Shirky, a New York University social media guru, ‘it is an accelerant’.  So keep the literary fire burning…from within.

Margaret Reynolds, Executive Director, Association of BC Book Publishers moderates the publishers’ panel.  Four panelists give tips:

  • Coleen MacMillan of Annick Press is interested in children’s and innovative work.  Authors must have a 30-second pitch.  Time is gold.  Market is global.
  • Nancy Flight of Greystone Books, focusses on quality, and lesser-known authors in the natural history and environmental genres.  She recommends a super-strong proposal with a one-paragraph concept and an annotated table of contents stressing how yours is different from your competition’s.
  • Jesse Finkelstein of Page Two, specializes in non-fiction. They have an online blog on how to do proposals, but suggest authors analyze how to reach readership whether in digital or print formats.  Take an entrepreneurial approach on how best to connect.
  • Brian Kaufman of subTerrain and Anvil Press, specializes in art books:

‘There are more poets now than ever and they are the most pro-active authors.’

  •  Embrace It

After lunch in the Atrium Gallery, we return to North Van City Library’s Singh Room where Jen Sookfong Lee moderates the North Shore Writers’ Festival panel on ‘Enlivening the Past’ with historical fiction writers, Sandra Gulland (The Shadow Queen), Daniel Kalla (Rising Sun, Falling Shadow), Roberta Rich (The Midwife of Venice) and Mary Novik (Muse) who all read an excerpt from their latest books.

All these authors love being authentic, story-telling and allowing the research to spur them on.  Toronto ER physician and author, Vincent Lam arrives.  I find him a chair at the back in a packed house on the third floor at North Van City Library.  He keynotes Headmaster’s Wager following the panel.  Set during the Vietnam War, it indirectly reflects some of his childhood experiences in the 1980s.  What childhood stories percolate within each one of us?

  •  Kiss It on the Nose

I’m thrilled that my sister and I have spent the day together at the North Shore Writers’ Festival, and she wants to stay and witness the North Shore Writers’ Association’s 18th Annual Writing Contest prizes presented toastfully:



1st prize: Joan Boxall (‘Pink Water-Lily’)

2nd prize: Joyce Goodwin (‘Horse of Glass’)

3rd prize: Rod Baker (‘Mother’s Day’)

Honorable Mention: John K. Nixon (‘Slaying the Dragon’ and its sequel: ‘The Jousters’


1st prize: Moira Thompson (‘A Piece of Cake’)
2nd prize: Joyce Goodwin (‘Angela Comes to the Loreto Convent’)
3rd prize: Rod Baker (‘Redge Catchall’)
Honorable Mention: Joan Boxall (‘The Ultimate Diplomat’)
1st prize: Elaine Berg (‘Shamrock Valley Memories’)
2nd prize: Rod Baker (‘Senegal 1966’)
3rd prize: Doug McLeod (‘Road Work’)
Honorable Mentions: Erin McNair (‘The Sleepover’)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *