• Lise Parton

The 2022 Wine Country Writers' Festival Was An Amazing Event!

Wow! My head is still wildly spinning but I’ve slowed down my pace now that I’m quietly at home soaking it all in. The Wine Country Writers’ Festival was a full, 3-day endeavor for a gal who is now a writer living in a small, quiet town, but I will be the first one to admit, I had a blast and learned a lot!


JIM & FAYE Photo Credit: Kara Antifeau Melhado

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Faye Arcand and Jim Jackson, our fearless leaders, event organizers, authors, and delightfully entertaining comedy team up on stage. They pulled this thing together for all of us with so many incredible elements, that is, educated presenters, editors, publishers, fellow storytellers, poets and writers, all brought together in a wonderful setting, at the Lakeside Resort in the sunny Okanagan. It was 3 days of learning, critiquing, networking and play, (including a wine tasting from a lovely nearby winery, Time Family of Wines).


We listened to inspiring speakers, attended workshops, and had the opportunity to have our work critiqued and assessed by editors and publishers. I will admit my, all be it, slightly bruised ego is eternally grateful for the professional advice and direction, although I am quite sure my latest novel of 70,000 currently in draft, could easily become 50,000 with a proper edit! I certainly have a lot of work to do yet! If I had not attended this festival I would not have had the opportunity to learn how to better some of my skills, and for that I am very grateful!


Faye and Jim (and wonderful team of sponsors, presenters and speakers), managed to put on a pretty smooth event, considering that it was not without challenges after two years of not being able to put together anything due to COVID. We all know the new protocols and costs and many things have drastically changed since then, and these two managed to get ‘er done, putting together a great event for the benefit and enjoyment of so many of us.


I met lots of incredible people, and handed out lots of business cards, although secretly I cringe inside thinking that if a couple of the professional recipients got loose to critique my already published works, they might have something hard to say, for I am, and always will be on a learning curve on my writing journey! (Sigh.)


I may have taken the 'Wine Country' part of the festival to heart as I ended my first night sipping copious amounts of wine with a friend in the hotel bar where the music was loud and fun and the crowds (mostly younger) ripped up the dance floor into the wee hours. It was fabulous to let loose and make this part vacay along with the learning part of the events, I even booked a couple nights to stay in the hotel to take full advantage of full days to network and after hours to play after the organized sections. It was great!


My biggest conundrum was trying to pick one workshop over another, as between three and four were scheduled at the same time on each hour. Although I enjoyed and learned from them all, I wish I could have attended some of the overlapping workshops I obviously had to miss. There is still of couple of presenters I wanted to connect with. It was a pretty packed menu of delights over the 3 days, and a great offering for us all.


As for extras, I appreciated that there were vendors in the Market Hall, as I purchased several books by the authors and presenters. I also thought it was fun to have a Tarot Card reading! I was grateful for the coffee and cookies in the morning and a couple drinks at the open bar later on, although I really wanted to keep my wits about me while the organized events were happening when it came to consuming alcohol. As much as I enjoy a sip or two of wine, (and there was a wine country component to the festival after all), I was attending first and foremost for the benefit of learning.


Even though I attended events each hour, there were several that stood out. First to mention, as a laugh, I attended a workshop on poetic devices, and I had a rude awakening. I write poetry, and have been published with my poetry, but I am less educated in the formal terms that apply to some of the elements or devices of poetry, and that made me giggle a little in class when I stared at words I knew not the meaning of, (apparently a couple of others around the room felt the same way). It was clear we attendees came from all levels of interest, training and education as poets. I will admit, I might have felt a little embarrassed to not know a few of those terms that directly relate to poetry. Clearly then, I had a brilliant opportunity to learn. Thanks, Laurie Anne Fuhr, and by the way, I loved your music, too!


My favourite workshop was with Andrew Buckley. It was entitled, Not So Happily Ever After Workshop, and it was not what I first expected, (maybe dark undertones followed by a negative discussion of not so happy endings?)! Instead, we were all peeling with laughter within 15 minutes of sitting in our seats as Andrew delightfully brought us along with his hilarious way of presenting.


Andrew explained about the origins of Fairy Tales and gave us a wider perspective on how many came about. He also had several attendees act out a couple of tales, The Three Little Pigs, and Snow White. Between the dancing pecks on the 'Big Bad Wolf', and the antics of the 'Wicked Queen', followed by a witty delivery from 'Prince Charming', (you know who you are, folks), I was in stitches laughing and will certainly never forget this workshop. Andrew also broke us up into groups to write our own fairy tales in a brief 10 minute stint, I would love to have had the opportunity to find out what each group created as there was only so many minutes in the hour and we didn't have enough time. Honestly, I wish this workshop had been twice as long, I loved it, and, so it appeared, so did everyone else! Thanks, Andrew! Your workshop was a blast!


I also was incredibly inspired by a woman, Mehrnaz Massoudi, for her almost unbelievable personal story, as she shared mind-blowing excerpts of her written memoir. I cannot even imagine what this incredible woman has faced in her life. She was an engaging storyteller and clearly an amazingly strong woman. Even as her courage and strength was beautiful, I have to express that she is also a stunningly striking woman. I was inspired by her, on so many levels.


In her workshop she introduced to some (I knew about it), a method of using Tapping for creativity and health. She was the perfect person to present this to us all, and, even though I am no stranger to the practice of tapping, I have recommitted to myself to tap again since I have returned home.


The constructive critiques I received related directly to submitted parts of a current draft of a book I am working on, during the Blue Pencil private talk and the more publicly read Slush event. The comments were harder to hear, but incredibly eye-opening in direct relation to how much I still need to learn, and how much work I still need to do. As a bonus, in the case of the read out loud submissions in the Slush event, it was a listen-in opportunity to hear constructive criticisms on other writers' work. As hard as parts of those events were, I was grateful to have had those valuable opportunities to learn. Thank you, Jennifer, and thank you for the panel on the Slush event, Genevieve, Jennifer, Jim and Finnian. (I apologize if I got any of these names incorrectly).


After the event was over, I decided to meet Faye, Jim, Faye’s husband, Micheal, and Tynan at the District Wine Village in Oliver, BC. We hung out at Time Family of Wines (thanks Kelly) and relived and shared all the amazing moments experienced during the festival, it was a wonderful way to wind up the whole experience.


I have to say, I have my calendar already set up for this event next year, because I wholeheartedly had an amazing time, both for learning and networking. Many thanks to you, Faye and Jim (and your team), for putting on a such a great event for all of us!


Cheers! Lise

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