Tag Archives: Fernie Writers Conference

Clearwater by Kim McCullough – an accomplished debut novel!

Kim McCullough has published her first novel, Clearwater, with Coteau Books of Regina!


I met Kim a number of years ago at the first Fernie Writers’ Conference I attended and we have been friends since that time. I have read pieces of this novel while it was still a work in progress and have heard Kim read from it on a couple of occasions, so I have followed her progress with great anticipation – not only her progress with completing the novel but in finding a home, a publisher, who would be most suitable and do a good job of publishing Clearwater. I had the great pleasure of reading this as an eBook recently and can’t wait to get my hands on the final printed copy.

Kim has already received a glowing advance review and Joseph Boyden has said of McCullough and Clearwater: “McCullough’s an emerging writer Canadians should be keeping an eye on” and “such clarity and grace that the reader doesn’t so much enter these familiar yet foreign worlds as slips into them.”

Calgary and Regina readers are fortunate! Clearwater will be launched in both cities over the next couple of weeks.

Calgary Launch – Tues. Oct. 8 at Shelf Life Books

Regina Launch – Oct. 17 at The Artful Dodger

Attend if you can and help Kim celebrate the publication of her new novel. More importantly, buy a copy (or borrow it from the library) and read Clearwater. I highly recommend it!

I will be there in spirit, Kim! Best of luck with this book!

ABC Friday Reads – Myrna Kostash

Myrna Kostash has just delivered her keynote address to the Northern Lights Library System Conference, so I am recommending her books for this week’s Alberta Books Canada Friday Reads.

I’ve known of Myrna’s writing since I first moved to Alberta in 1978 and began working at The Guild Gallery of Artists and Authors in Calgary. She had published a very successful book with Hurtig Publishers of Edmonton, All of Baba’s Children, that we could not keep on the shelf. It sold out almost as soon as we unpacked new stock. As Myrna told us today, that book still remains in print.

Her most recent book, The Prodigal Daughter, A Journey to Byzantium, was published by University of Alberta Press in 2010 and follows a return to her spiritual sources in Byzantium and the Eastern Christian Orthodox Church.

Myrna is an acclaimed writer of literary and creative nonfiction and she lives in Edmonton. For a complete bibliography and biography, please visit her website.

An excellent speech, by the way. Almost like a mini-writing lesson in many ways. Another time I met and spoke with Myrna was when she taught the nonfiction class at the Fernie Writers’ Conference.

ABC Friday Reads – Aritha van Herk in Fernie

Last year, on March 16th, I wrote a post on this blog about some of the authors who have driven with me in my car. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being the passenger in a car driven by an author as we travelled to Fernie, BC, for the annual Fernie Writers’ Conference.

Aritha asked me not to tell you the truth about her when I said I would be recommending her books this week in my ABC Friday Reads posting. After all, she said, “all writers lie.” But my mother, who coincidentally shared the same birthday with Aritha, told me I must never lie – and I always did whatever my mother said I should.

Yeah, right! I’m a writer. I agree with Aritha.

The fact is, though, that I have known Aritha van Herk since 1979 when she won the Seal First Novel Award for Judith, the first year the prize was awarded. Her sales rep at that time was Bertha Hanson, who became my mentor when I later began working as a sales rep for Dennis Johnson, the publisher of Red Deer College Press and Aritha’s publisher for Places Far From Ellesmere and Restlessness, plus a reprint of No Fixed Address. Our lives and careers have intersected over the decades, but yesterday was the first time we have ever driven anywhere together. Aritha is here at the conference to teach a class and deliver the keynote address this evening. I am here to help Carolyn Nikodym, the conference director, and to take Aritha’s class. So far, it’s been a GREAT conference!

As for the lies… I’m sorry, Aritha. I just can’t fabricate anything about you that would be believable. I am compelled to tell the truth – you are an inspiration as a writer, a gifted teacher who truly cares about your students and their writing, a passionate reader, and a fierce defender of the arts and culture. And a very safe driver who takes directions well from your appointed navigator. Thank you!

So this week I recommend the body of work written and published by Aritha van Herk, and direct you to the listing on Wikipedia for a complete bibliography, because Aritha once said that everything about her on Wikipedia is all lies…

Writers in a Digital Age – a response

At the recent Fernie Writers’ Conference, an attempt was made to discuss the topic Writers in a Digital Age and whether eBooks will change the way we write and promote ourselves as writers. I say “attempt” because it quickly devolved into the usual arguments for choosing print over e-publishing with very little said as to the effect eBooks will have on us as writers.

And the fear-mongering about eBooks continues.

This same subject was “discussed” at the WGA conference held in Calgary in 2009. Many writers stood at the mic then to complain and worry about how this new move forward into e-publishing would affect their own publications and writing. I remember mine being the lone voice in the room to embrace the opportunity this new Digital Age would bring by providing new markets for our writing and that really those participants in the publishing equation who would most likely suffer would be the agents, sales reps and the booksellers. We will still require writers to produce the content, we will still require publishers (or “curation” as Ruth has referred to the much-needed process) to produce and format the content, and they will both always require readers to read the content.

Without the readers that content is nothing at all. We cannot exist without the readers.

I wanted to pose this question at the panel discussion in Fernie but we ran out of time: Is it not up to our readers to decide in which format they wish to read our content?

It’s the writer’s job to write. The reader will read what we write in whatever format is most suitable to them. Neither writer nor publisher may dictate one format over another simply because they have this sentimental notion of the superiority of the tactility and smell of print. Isn’t the main reason we write to be read? By someone? Anyone? Let’s face it – we all know the publishing business well enough to realize that very few people in that room listening to the panel discussion will ever become wealthy from either their writing or the publishing of that writing. So we write to be read, plain and simple. Should we not be more concerned about writing the best (and most correct – ie. curated, edited and designed) content that we can and then with finding new readers? (That’s the use of social media aspect of the topic that was only lightly touched upon during the discussion.)

And if readers demand that what we write be available to them in multiple formats, including eBooks, then I say we embrace the digital age and give them what they want.