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Writers Retreat

Annabel Lyon, Laisha Rosnau, bring their blue pencils to town



Despite writing credits tagging almost every form of letter punching there is – advertising, books, poetry, magazines, newspapers and even television – author extraordinaire Pam Barnsley still sought out guidance to hone her craft for a new book at Whistler Writers Group’s Writers Retreat and Festival last fall.

The chance to connect with a leading literary expert and gain invaluable feedback in the three-day intensive writers retreat was a chance not to be missed – an opportunity soon to arise again at the fifth annual Writers Retreat and Festival, Sept. 14-17.

The festival hosts a writers retreat – only one component of the multi-faceted festival – which puts both emerging and established writers in touch with accomplished writers through a one-on-one mentoring program and group workshop.

"Finding the time and discipline to get the writing done is probably the hardest thing writers face," Barnsley said. "The second hardest thing is to know how to look at your work and to know what to edit."

Barnsley said the retreat addresses both of these challenges, enabling writers to focus on their work, get the ball rolling in a supportive environment and learn the tricks of the trade from successful scribblers.

Barnsley likened the editing process to Michelangelo chipping away at a rough block; writers too must carve away at rough copy until the diamond prevails, and like anything, skill is required to artfully do so.

Each retreat participant is paired with a writing mentor. Before the festival, the participant submits a piece of work for the mentor to review. The mentor then provides one-on-one feedback with the participant at the festival and leads a group discussion on the work.

Barnsley is one of three mentors for this year’s festival.

The former newspaper reporter and magazine feature writer writes in multiple literary mediums. She is co-author of Hiking Trails of the Sunshine Coast (Harbour Publishing) and wrote for CBC television’s The Beachcombers . She also recently published short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Storyteller Canada.

Prince George’s Laisha Rosnau joins the mentoring team with both fiction and poetry to her credit, including her book The Sudden Weight of Snow (McClelland & Stewart) and Getaway Girl (Greenboathouse Books) as well as a collection of poetry, Notes on Leaving (Nightwood Editions).

Annabel Lyon brings a strong background in short story writing to the mentoring program. Her short story collection entitled Oxygen (Porcupine’s Quill) was nominated for the Danuta Gleed and ReLit awards. Her short fiction has also appeared in numerous publications, including Toronto Life, The Journey Prize Anthology, and Write Turns: New Directions in Canadian Fiction. Her work is no stranger to Vancouver Sun, Geist Magazine and Globe and Mail readers as well.

Participants can register early for the retreat for $375 per person before July 15. Registration thereafter is $450.

The retreat fee also includes entrance to all of the other festival events, including readings from Joseph Boyden ( Three Day Road ), Eden Robinson ( Monkey Beach ) and Maude Barlow ( Too Close For Comfort ) as well as seminars on screenwriting, children’s books, the rewriting process, bringing your writing to life and how to pitch your book.

For more information, visit www.theviciouscircle.ca or e-mail stella25@telus.net.