Writers North and South, Merge

For Barb Dunlop and Marcelle Dubé, organizers of Yukon Writers’ Conference, distance and destination were real advantages to attract editors, agents and publishers north for this weekend’s event.

Howard White of Harbour Publishing knows the territory. Years ago, Harbour bought Lost Moose Publishing from founder Max Fraser. In 2006, they published Dick North’s book, Sailor on Snowshoes, about Jack London and his cabin in the goldfields.

Along with a writing-from-life session, White draws on 30 years of book-marketing experience to help us storm the bestseller list.

Claire Eddy will lead open critiques of writing pre-submitted by participants. As the senior editor of Tor/Forge Books, Eddy offers advice so writers can bring their work closer to publication. Tor Books, which publishes Robert Sawyer’s science fiction, has expanded to include historicals, mysteries and thrillers.

Lynn Missen of Harper Collins gives an insider’s view of publishing and, as executive editor of their children’s division, expands the conference to include children’s and young adult authors.

“We have a lot of children’s and young adult writers getting published,” said Dubé. They suggested Missen and she was eager to accept.

Dubé and Dunlop dedicate hundreds of hours to this and other writing events they’ve organized as a way to repay the local support they received early in their writing careers.

“At the big writers’ conferences Outside, delegates don’t get the opportunities to interact with presenters that we have,” said Dunlop. Since the first conference in 2002, she’s seen Yukon writing progress to a higher stage of publication readiness. “We’re definitely advancing.”

To that end, agent Shawna McCarthy coaches writers on how and how not to prepare query letters. Using examples collected as both editor and agent, she’ll show writers what works and what goes in the shredder as well as explain the writer/editor/agent relationship.

Harlequin executive editor, Paula Eykelhof, elaborates further with submission mistakes Yukoners can avoid. She’ll also field questions from the floor about why genré fiction appeals to readers.

“Each presenter developed their own workshop content,” said Dubé, “so we benefit from such a wide range of expertise.”

Locally, Lily Gontard will host two intensives. One gives writers the tools to create captivating prose, and the other focuses on the true 500-word story – with a beginning, middle and end. “Delegates should come ready to write,” she advises.

From the broadcast industry, Kathleen Scheibling advises how to break into film. For example, with the success of the Deadwood series, cowboy television is all the rage. Scheibling’s overview of current trends in broadcast and print is exactly the information we need to shift the limelight from Westerns to North-Westerns.

“All the presenters that have come up in the past love the enthusiasm of the participants,” said Dubé. “We want this to be the very best conference that we can offer.”

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