One of my many New Year’s resolutions last year was to attend at least one writer’s conference or festival. Although there many to choose from throughout North America, there are many that are just too costly including travel and accommodations. Instead of looking listlessly at the announcements for the ones too far from me, I decided to do some research in to some local, low cost festivals around where I live.

In August I had the opportunity to attend the Spoke Literary Festival (you can see their website here). With both local and national writers giving workshops as well as it being within daily driving distance, the information given was well worth the weekend spent around such like-minded people. The festival was two full days of workshops with an opportunity to attend a ‘meet and greet’ on the Friday as well as an evening reading with all eight workshop presenters on the Saturday. While at Spoke, I heard about another festival which happened about a month ago: the Kamloops Writer’s Festival (check out there website here).

Though this festival had a very different feel than Spoke, it was informative and gave a great opportunity to network. One of the many highlights of the festival was the opportunity for a blue pencil session with one of the four authors/presenters.

One of the most difficult things as an author trying to break into the industry is the ability to find credible people to give you feedback on your writing. It is great to have friends and family read your writing and help, as beta readers, to make sure things are flowing and glaring grammatical errors are fixed before sending it to you editor, but to have a published author who has done quite well with their novel, give you their insights, suggestions and critiques is invaluable.

I had the incredible opportunity to work with Alix Hawley (author of All True Not a Lie in It – you can check out her website out here). I took her workshop at Spoke, Pulling out the Plums: Using Research in Fiction, so being familiar with her expertise as well as work, I was excited to see what she had to say about the six pages I sent from one of my current projects. She had great insights into how not to give too much away in my writing as well as good advice about letting the dialogue tell the story.

I will definitely be attending the festival again next year! I can’t wait to see what amazing authors they bring as well as the information and networking that presents itself.

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