Sunday, May 1, 2011

Frye Fest 2011: My Trip To Writer-Heaven and Beyond!

So, it's official- Moncton is an untapped goldmine of literary awesomeness!

After spending the day at Chapters, I attended the Frye Festival's meet-and-greet, which featured all sorts of Canadian writers, both big names and some newly-published ones. Since I'm painfully-shy in crowds, it took some guts, but I finally got to networking! Here are a few of the awesome people I met today:

Susan Juby

She is an adult- and YA-fiction writer from BC, who moved to Toronto (not far from my own hometown of Mississauga, Ontario) at the age of 20. This trailblazer also taught me a lot about query-writing, as well as possible pros and cons of breaking the rules (including unsolicited excerpts, for example) and that it's all about marketing: "Whether or not your book is any good doesn't matter, as long as you can market it well."

 Helaine Becker

A successful writer of children's books, she also had a lot to say about putting myself out there. When I asked her about "networking for introverts", which was how I'd gotten talking to her and Susan in the first place, she had this to say: "Go to workshops, go to seminars and places like this- take a plane home to Toronto, and go to the literature festival. Get practice."

This is a picture of me with Doug Harris, the bestselling author of You Comma Idiot. We started talking titles by the punch bowl, which ended in him giving me a copy of his winning query-letter and teaching me how to sign my future masterpiece. He said, "when your book gets published, you can scratch out your name on the first page and sign there. But, if you like the person- and I like you- you probably want to sign in a bigger spot." Inside my copy, he also wrote this:

"To Laura- I hope that you enjoy the book, but more than that, I truly hope that you never give up on your writing dreams. All the very best."

I was surprised at how down-to-earth he was! We had a great chat, and having met him in person will make reading his book twice as awesome.

I'll also be posting a picture that my friend Rachel took of me with Margaret Atwood at the Capitol Theatre. Margaret gave a presentation on Northrop Frye and mythology, but also talked about her own life and work- even at 70-odd, she is a very funny and intelligent lady. While she signed my copy of Alias Grace, I asked her if she had any words of wisdom for an aspiring writer; she recommended her book Negotiating With The Dead: A Writer On Writing, saying that "it's not exactly a resource, but I hope that you find some encouragement in it. Just keep at it, and don't ever give up".

The world needs more events like this; more writers, and more Canada.

Off to read my autographed masterpieces, and fill out my volunteer-form for FryeFest 2012!

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