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Conference helping P.E.I. writers get their books published

Mark Belfry, left, Laurie Brinklow, and Mo Duffy Cobb work to improve their writing before the Wild Threads Writing Symposium begins in Charlottetown on Aug. 22, 2019. The weekend conference is helping 33 attendees to navigate the business side of book-writing.
Mark Belfry, left, Laurie Brinklow, and Mo Duffy Cobb work to improve their writing before the Wild Threads Writing Symposium begins in Charlottetown on Aug. 22, 2019. The weekend conference is helping 33 attendees to navigate the business side of book-writing. - Daniel Brown

A mid-30s radio host follows a lead on a murder case he should have left to someone else.

Next thing he knows, he and his wife are attacked in their bed, forcing the couple to see aspects of each other they had previously refused to look at.

They soon discover that… well, who knows? Mark Belfry, the P.E.I. author who wrote this story, hasn’t published it yet.

He’s hoping to find a publisher who’ll be interested in this book pitch. But it’s not easy in a province where there aren’t any publishing agents, he said.

“We don’t have immediate access.”

This weekend, he’ll have an opportunity during the Wild Threads Writing Symposium.

Organized by the P.E.I. Writers’ Guild, the conference is bringing writers from across Canada together in Charlottetown, Aug. 22-25.

Over the weekend, workshops and presentations will take place at the Haviland Club and Beaconsfield Historic House.

Mo Duffy Cobb, president of the Writers’ Guild, said the conference looks more at the business side of writing.

“The big thing is we want to connect writers to publishers.”

There are 33 people attending, some of which are published authors, some of which are just breaking into the scene, about half of which are Islanders, she said.

“It’s a good mix, I think, of fiction writers, memoir writers, and poets.”

Laurie Brinklow, faculty member and founder of Acorn Press, will co-lead a presentation on how one’s physical location can inspire writing.

“Everything is open. Everything is on the table. Just get writing,” she said.

Writers have to make some tough calls after they finish their book. Regional publishers are typically more accessible to sign with, but bigger publishers can sometimes garner more attention for a writer’s work, Brinklow said.

“The challenge is getting those books into the wider distribution.”

Sending a manuscript to a bigger publisher often forces writers to wait longer, too. Belfry has two self-published books because it was quicker and cheaper, he said.

“You can’t do this easily.”

Conferences like Wild Threads allow writers to meet publishers face to face. This helps to either get their pitch heard or sometimes improved if the publisher asks questions the writer can’t answer, Belfry said.

“You want to be bulletproof.”

Wild Threads will be great for P.E.I.’s network of writers, he said.

“When I saw it I thought it was wonderful and we needed it.”

Duffy Cobb hopes the event will happen again next year. Having a community of writers to support one another is important, she said.

Daniel.brown@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/dnlbrown95

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