Professional Critiques for Writers at Shuswap Lake Festival

Writing a book is one thing. Selling it is another. Access to editors, agents and publishers is limited, most of them buried in more manuscripts than they can ever hope to process. How does one market a manuscript you’re sure will burn up the bestseller list?

A major benefit of writing events such as the Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival is that these professionals are willing to attend, and conduct interviews with aspiring authors. Even if work is tendered later to these same people, a note in the cover letter saying you met at this event may be enough to get your work moved up near the top of the pile.

For writers, these are recognized professional development seminars, and understood to be the mark of a writer serious about his or her profession.

Nine professional editors, agents and publishers will be in Salmon Arm at the end of June and Festival registrants can make appointments to have their work assessed. The interviews last only 15 minutes in most cases, so writers are being asked to leave their work at the Blue Pencil desk the evening before their appointment so they can be read ahead of time and the interview used to better advantage.

Bring one chapter of the manuscript unless it is a child’s picture book, in which case you may bring the whole story. Place it in an envelope or folder with your name, address and phone number on it, and the title of the piece. Your name, the title and page number should be on each page.

Please don’t confuse these requirements with those of the writers’

COMPETITION, which operate under quite different rules.

The Blue Pencil desk will be located in the hotel lobby near the registration area. Two appointments will be made for you if you list your preferences on the registration form. As this is on a first come, first serve basis, check your registration package as soon as you get it to see when and with whom you have appointments. You can make more appointments on your own during the weekend.

Kathryn Cole has spent over 30 years in Canadian publishing, first as an artist/illustrator, then as an art director, a children’s magazine editor and finally as a publisher with Scholastic Canada and Oxford University Press, later at Stoddart Kids where her program consisted of a full range of fiction, non-fiction, picture books, and mass market series for all ages from pre-school to young adult. She is also and author, and past Vice President of the International Board for Books on Young People (IBBY) Canada. She will be looking for children’s and young adult fiction, non-fiction, picture books and outlines for novels with one chapter of the manuscript. She can also assess illustrators’


Kathryn Mulders was in Salmon Arm last year as a representative of the Transatlantic Literary Agency and has since established her own Kathryn Mulders Literary Agency. She has worked with Random House in the UK and Canada, and later with Knopf Canada. She specializes in literary fiction and non-fiction and select commercial non-fiction.

Carolyn Swayze established her agency in 1994 “when W.P. Kinsella persuaded me to leave my law practice and to sign him as my first client.” She is also a previous freelance writer and novelist. The fields she prefers include literary and commercial fiction, creative non-fiction, Canadian history, memoirs, humour and cookbooks, as well as a few books for younger readers. (She does not handle romance, science fiction, poetry, screenplays or picture books.)

Derek Fairbridge is the non-fiction editor at Raincoast Books but will be covering all of the areas they are concerned with — a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles for adults and children as well as popular culture, memoir, history, sports, nature and reference, science, childcare and parenting, art, and illustrated lifestyle books.

Marlyn Horsdal has been a book editor since 1976, co-owner, with her husband, of Horsdal & Schubart Publishers Ltd. for 16 years till it was sold and is now a project and acquisitions editor for TouchWood Editions (the new name of Horsdal & Schubart) of Victoria, part of the Heritage Group. Its main genres are non-fiction, creative non-fiction and historical fiction.

Vivian Sinclair is Managing Editor for the Heritage Group, which includes Touchwood Editions and Rocky Mountain Books as well as Heritage House. She will be looking for Canadian, and especially BC non-fiction, history, biography, First Nations, guides, nature and political books.

Ann Walsh is a well-known children’s author and editor. ALL of the books she has written or edited have been selected by the Canadian Children?s Book Centre for inclusion in the Our Choice catalogue, a listing of books recommended by librarians and professionals in the field of children’s literature. They have all been reprinted at least twice (one

14 times) and been either short-listed for or winners of major awards.

She taught school for many years as well as including Literacy Skills for Adults and English for New Canadians.

Ann Bougie is representing Johanna M. Bates Literary Consultants of Calgary, where she is Johanna’s literary assistant. Johanna is a lawyer as well as book agent, a best-selling author and teacher, providing a wide variety of available services. This agency is interested in adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction, literary fiction, genre fiction and non-fiction writers, biography and how-to books.

Brian Hades is publisher of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, which also includes horror novels and Tesseract Books, which publishes “speculative fiction with an unmistakable Canadian flavor”.

These people are available for professional discussions of preparing work for publishing, finding an agent or publisher. Many of the weekend’s speaker/authors will also make themselves available for mentoring interviews, a chance for aspiring authors to get encouragement and direction from the pros.

Awareness of the Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival is reaching startling proportions. Entries in the Joyce Dunn Memorial Writers’ Competition came from as far away as Romania. We also have Celebrity Auction bids from California and a registration from South Africa!

Don’t forget to bid on the Celebrity Auction. Get your name into Robert Sawyer’s next science fiction book, go golfing with Jack Whyte, and find unique items from our other wonderful authors — a native drum from Garry Gottfriedson, signed first edition book and the jar of buttons that sat on Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s desk while she wrote “The Rhinestone Button”, Peter Orullian’s CD of treasured music, a unique bill bissett painting and handwritten/illustrated poem, Deanna Kawatski’s toque from “Wilderness Mother” days, photos of one of today’s hottest young poets Gregory Scofield, and a spectacular package that includes a book on west coast painter/kayaker Stewart Marshall and four prints of Marshall’s dramatic watercolors ready for framing. If you don’t have access to the website at home, go to a friend’s or the library and have a look. They are fabulous, and you will be helping to establish the Festival more firmly by your bid and ultimate purchase.

The 2004 Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival will be held at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, Salmon Arm BC on June 25th through 27th. The weekend is composed of readings and workshops by well known authors, evening entertainment, celebrity auction finale and the annual Joyce Dunn Memorial Writers’ Competition awards. This is a special event for writers and book lovers. Details and registration forms can be found on the website (, many libraries and bookstores, or obtain from Elaine Blanc phone/fax 250-835-8349, email


1-877-737-8443 You won?t get the conference rates otherwise and may be told the hotel is full, when in reality a large block of rooms has been set aside for the Festival).