Writing festivals can be fun and good learning experiences for writers. Four of us Lamppost Writers headed out to this past weekend’s Word on the Street Writing Festival in Toronto.
We attended four presentations. Three we found productive, one we didn’t. Read on for some insights.
What Literary Agents are Looking For
Olga Filina of The Rights Factory and Carolyn Forde of Westwood Creative Artists gave us a substantive idea of what agents look for in their slush pile. It largely depends on each agent, so checking out their websites is important.
My Relationship Hurts: Love and Feelings in Literature
Authors Kim Echlin and Trevor Cole led this presentation. This topic was supposedly on romance, but neither author wished to discuss sex in romance. Since both appeared to be literary writers, they both talked around the subject instead of about it. Questions from the audience were lacklustre reflecting the boredom we all felt. The only time the audience woke up was when there was a question regarding a love triangle.
Mr. Cole would help sell a few more books to women if he got off his high horse and realized that women were people too. I found the way he talked about his book and his protagonist who decides to brainwash his ex-wife into loving him again quite offensive, as did my other three companions. To be clear – it wasn’t the subject matter as the way he spoke and his body language and dismissive attitude.
Overcoming the Odds: Long Journeys to Publication
Ann Y. K. Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety and Shari Lapena, author of The Couple Next Door both gave the audience an insight into their road to publication. Ann Choi’s enthusiasm was infectious; Shari Lapena seemed stand-offish and out of touch with the audience.
First Impressions: Manuscript Evaluations
Several first pages from novels were read and discussed by Humber teacher Kim Moritsugu and Dominic Farrell, developmental editor with Dundurn Press. Ms. Moritsugu was excellent and the points she made were well taken. Mr. Farrell, unfortunately, appeared nervous and it was difficult to follow the thread of his remarks.
Would I go again to the Festival? Yes, definitely – but the organizers should ensure that their presenters are vetted so that the audience gets the most of the Festival.