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Award-winning wordsmiths to share stories, insight at Salmon Arm festival

Registration deadline approaching for Word on the Lake
Secwépemc storyteller Kenthen Thomas will be opening the Saturday morning sessions of this year’s Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival. (File photo)

By Barb Brouwer


Drop your everyday routine for three days of engaging workshops led by top-notch authors and a grand Saturday night gala.

The 21st Annual Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival includes a super slate of authors and songwriters, covering many genres from May 17 to 19 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and Okanagan College in Salmon Arm.

Relaxed sessions in smaller groups include both skill development workshops and open forums, and allow opportunities for asking questions.

Meet and learn from author and educator Angie Abdou, who has published seven books and co-edited Writing the Body in Motion and Not Hockey, collections of critical essays on Canadian Sport Literature.

Returning to the festival at his own request, Robert J. Sawyer is the only Canadian to have won all three of the world’s top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Learn how to put your own life story on paper with Karen Y. Barnstable, who believes strongly in the personal insights that memoir writing can bring to writers. She realized the unseen silver threads that connected her life choices as she began writing her life stories.

Chris Brauer teaches elementary school in Creston and is the author of four books. Brimming with humour, history and a celebration of the simple pleasures in life, Frankincense Land: A Canadian Family in the Sultanate of Oman details three years living on the shores of the Arabian Sea with his young family.

Another educator and author, Corinna Chong’s first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was released in 2013, and her stories and reviews have been published in magazines across Canada. In 2021, she was the national winner of the CBC Short Story Prize.

Award-winning short fiction writer David Griffin Brown is co-author of Immersion and Emotion: The Two Pillars of Storytelling. In 2022, he was the recipient of a New Artist grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which was awarded based on a proposal for his manuscript, Sleeping Cutie and the Destruction of Southgate Mall.

Mystery and thriller writer S.M. Freedman studied acting in New York and spent a decade as a private investigator on the not-so-mean streets of Vancouver, before returning to her first love – writing. She’s the author of the Amazon #1 bestseller The Faithful, which made the quarterfinals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was selected by Suspense Magazine as the Best Debut of the Year.

Conor Kerr is a Métis Ukrainian writer. A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, he is a descendant of the Lac Ste. Anne Métis and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His Ukrainian family are settlers in Treaty Four and Six territories in Saskatchewan. In 2020 he received The Fiddlehead‘s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and in 2021 was awarded The Malahat Review‘s Long Poem Prize. His work has been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry 2020 and Best Canadian Stories 2020 and published in literary magazines across Canada.

Award-winning songwriter Shari Ulrich began writing songs at the end of the reign of The Hometown Band in 1977. Her first song Feel Good was a hit and her solo career followed in 1978 with radio hits with She Remembers, Bad Bad Girl, Romeo, Every Road and others. She has released nine albums of original material along with another 16 with collaborations with Bill Henderson & Roy Forbes and Barney Bentall and Tom Taylor. Her work has garnered two Juno Awards, an induction into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, and a 2014 CFMA for English Songwriter of the Year.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson is an award-winning author who has published 51 books, including children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, and sports non-fiction books. Her novel When You Least Expect It won the R. Ross Annett Literary Award with the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Her books have been nominated for many awards across Canada and in the U.S.

Read more: Shuswap’s Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival welcomes stellar cast of presenters

Read more: Fest a feast for writers, readers in the Shuswap

Last but never least at Word on the Lake is gifted and very popular Sheri-D Wilson, an award-winning author of 13 books, four short films and four albums that combine music and poetry. Known for her electric performance-style, Sheri-D has performed and taught workshops at festivals around the world. In 2019 she was appointed to The Order of Canada, for her contributions as a spoken word poet and her leadership in the community.

The festival opens Friday night with Café Lit, a popular and entertaining event in which several authors present readings/ performances from their own work. Members of the public are welcome to attend. Doors open at 6.45 p.m. and tickets at the door are $30 and include light refreshment.

Saturday morning sessions begin at 9 with a special opening by popular Secwépemc storyteller Kenthen Thomas, who will also be sharing his culture with charming and thought-provoking stories at the Saturday night gala.

The Shuswap Association of Writers (SAW) was founded in 2004 as a vehicle for organizing the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival. Its mandate is to organize events to enrich cultural life in the B.C. Interior, especially the written and spoken arts. One of SAW’s goals is to expand opportunities for all ages to enjoy and participate in the written arts through presentations and programs.

SAW’s annual Rocky Mountain Getaway fundraising raffle features a one-week, accommodation only, stay for two at the Wyndham Canmore Resort. Only 400 tickets at $20 each have been printed. They are available from SAW members or at Bookingham Palace and PJs in the Mall at Piccadilly, the Book Nook in downtown Salmon Arm. The draw will take place on May 19th at the Festival Closing. You do not have to be in attendance to win.

Time is of the essence as registration for the festival closes on April 26. Go online to for more information and to register.