The last whole bottle of beer I drank was in Amsterdam at the Heinken factory at 9 am, sometime in July of 1983. Not much of a beer drinker, I'm afraid -- but what the heck -- this is my ninety-ninth post, so let's raise a bottle to celebrate this particular blogging habit I've picked up.
I promised I'd start to offer profiles of some of the presenters coming to visit the Surrey International Writers' Conference in October. I'm coordinating the conference this year, with the help of an able and widely experienced board of directors, and the event promises to be a special one.
So here's a chance to celebrate some of the people you'll get to meet if you come to Surrey this year...
Let's begin with the reigning Queen and King of our hearts -- and of the Storyteller's Award -- shall we?
The Storyteller's Award is the prize offered to the writer of the best fictional short story as judged every year in the SiWC Writing Contest by Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte.
Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times Best Selling author of both the Outlander and the Lord John series. There are some fabulous pictures of Diana on her website at http://www.its.caltech.edu/~gatti/gabaldon/gabaldon.html but I like this one that I took of her at the conference a couple of years ago, with another writer of great renown, Pamela Patchet. Pam has won many prizes for her writing over the years, and is a multiple-awardee in the Bulwer-Lytton fiction competition, (details of which can be found here: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/). This particular shot of Diana and Pamela was taken very late one Saturday night, after a day of much hard work and revelry. This year, Diana will be participating in panels on the subject of genre-bending and the use of history in fiction as a reflection of present-day issues. In addition, she's sharing a workshop with the effervescent (and deadly) Michael Slade on the subject of plotting stories against the turbulent events of history. Diana will also give the closing keynote speech this year -- an event not to be missed. When she is not traipsing around the globe promoting her books, or being hauled off to shine at SiWC and other conferences, Diana can be found at home in Arizona, writing her astounding and vivid stories. (I am currently in the middle of the final story in her latest Lord John collection right now -- LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. The book will be available in stores this fall, and I can tell you it's a great read.)
Jack Whyte, Diana's co-sponsor (and co-judge in the contest) will also be present in fine form for this year's conference. Jack's new book on the subject of the Knights Templar has just hit the shelves --STANDARD OF HONOR. Sequel to KNIGHTS OF THE BLACK AND WHITE, this book continues the chronicles of the St. Clair family during the crusades. Like his Dream of Eagles series, these new books are filled with heart-in-the-throat adventure and are must-reads. Jack is trying something new at the conference this year. He is taking on a Master Class -- that is, a class offered to writers who have some wide experience with writing -- but with a twist. In order to attend Jack's Master Class (on the subject of learning how to best accelerate tension in your novel), you must earn a place in the class. To find out more, check out the Master Class page of the SiWC website, found at http://www.siwc.ca/ . There are those who swear they come to the conference just to hear Jack speak, but if you really do want to learn to improve your writing, this is the man to listen to. You can read more about Jack, the man and his books, at his website http://www.camulod.com/ These days, he spends his time writing (with the odd round of golf thrown in) in Kelowna, BC.
I'll try to profile a couple of presenters every day until the conference gets here. If you have a special favourite, let me know and I'll see what tidbits I can dig up. And if you want to find out more about the conference, check it out at www.siwc.ca
As for me, I have a little contest reading to catch up on...