When Words Collide – Calgary’s Writers’ Festival

In August of 2013 I took my newly published book, Love ‘n Lies, to When Words Collide, Calgary’s writing festival.

I’ve never talked about this event after it happened. I should have. I’m proud of attending. I’m even prouder of being asked to sit on panels and discuss various writing aspects with other authors.

I had a wonderful time.

But until Love ‘n Lies got published I never really considered myself an author. Sure, I’ve lots of short stories published. Some on internet e-zines, some in paper magazines and one in a ‘real’ anthology book.

But I had doubts about calling myself an author. I mean, aren’t authors those people who sit and write a full tome, hundreds of pages long?

I had always thought that having a ‘real’ book published by a real publishing house is the only way I could call myself an author.

Strange when you think about it. Like I’m denying myself a title I deserve through my own hard work.

Anyway. I stood in the hotel lobby, amazed at the number of authors who’d come to present themselves and their books at When Words Collide, Calgary’s writing festival.

I lugged my box of books up to my room, smiling at the friendly faces of authors I hadn’t known existed till now. Talking to them. Once settled in, I wandered around all the rooms, looking at other authors’ books, talking to the bookstores who’d set up, talking to more authors, talking to the people at the Alberta Writers Guild, and talking to more authors.

Finding my books on sale too, at a bookstore’s table. What a rush!

I’m glad I stayed. I hadn’t known about the evening socializing. Which, if I’d gone home, I would have missed.

The next morning, I found where I was scheduled. Can I say I felt honoured to be on panels with real authors? Me, one book, up there talking about writing with authors who have published many.

They not only accepted me, they made me feel just as worthy as them. My opinion as sought and listened to by the audience as the multi-book authors. Wow!

Later, I read an excerpt from Love ‘n Lies to a room full. I managed to get the audience to laugh. And I got feedback from my fellow authors about how much they liked my reading skills as well as how wonderful the scene I read was.

I even met a fan, who walked with me back to the bookstore table, bought my book and had me autograph it. Right there!

Me, the rookie in the room.

I spoke on another panel. Then I hastened to get to some of the events I wanted to hear, listened to what more prolific authors, psychologists, police officers and even acquisition editors had to say on various subjects, taking notes of course.

That night I again mingled with other authors. And with editors from local publishing houses Edge and Champagne right up to Random House and Penguin Canada. Lots of talking, laughing and enjoying went on until very late.

I even met Patricia Briggs, Dave Duncan and Robert Sawyer. In person.

There was a major signing event on Saturday evening, in one of the main floor rooms. I so wished I had lots of dollars to spend, to buy autographed copies from authors I’d met.

I sat, with my books propped up, beside the authors who’d written The Emotion Thesaurus. Wonderful people; funny and warm. And at the same table as Lynda Williams, the author of the 10 novel Okal Rel Saga, and her husband. A warm, friendly author, willing to answer questions from a newbie.

Fans laden with books appeared, lining up to get the famous authors, Patricia Briggs, Dave Duncan and Robert Sawyer, to autograph. Not the lineups I’ve seen for the Toronto Writing Festival. But Calgary doesn’t have that big a population.

I wish I’d brought some of those books to get signed too. But I hadn’t thought of it in the excitement of bringing my books and speaking on panels.

And yes, I did have several readers ask for my autograph. What a rush I experienced from that request. Me, asked to sign the book I wrote, they bought, for them. That felt so good.

But…Calgary did not flaunt this festival for her authors. The local radio and TV stations did not shout out about When Words Collide. I heard they were told about its timing and location.

Now I’ve seen on TV, banners on the hosting hotel in bigger venues, like Toronto, letting the country know that authors were there and available to sign their books. Making lots of noise so fans come. News programs pick up the info, showing it on their programs, even interviewing presenting authors. And radio shows talk about it while interviewing some of the more famous authors.

Calgary’s media didn’t do that for her authors.

I hope next years When Words Collide festival has a better set up for us, the lesser known authors to introduce ourselves, greet new readers and read to them from our books, maybe on the main or second floor.

And hopefully the hotel has both elevators working.

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