Announcing authors for NorthWords 2013

Author shot Coupland

Douglas Coupland

The word has been out for some time that Canadian Author/Designer extraordinaire Douglas Coupland will be headlining the 8th NorthWords Writers Festival to  be held May 30 – June 2, 2013 in Yellowknife, NWT.

What you don’t know, but probably guessed, is that the rest of our guest authors are just as exciting.

If you love mysteries, this is the year for you. We will have three mystery writers at this year’s festival including  the award-winning author of the John Cardinal mystery series, Giles Blunt. He will be joined by mystery writers Vicki Delany and Barbara Fradkin.

It will also be a year for poetry with the City of Edmonton’s Poet Laureate Anna Marie Sewell and Reneltta Arluk who published her first book of poetry in 2012. They will be joined by Teller and Writer for people of all ages, Sylvia Olsen, who is in a category all her own.

Our guest authors will be joined by a roster of all your favourite new and emerging northern authors for an amazing four days of readings, panel discussions, mentoring and workshops, including our famous Blush Open Mike where you can expect to see the unlikeliest people read their erotic stories.

We are particularly excited that the festival will be extended to outside of Yellowknife this year. Sylvia Olsen will spend a day in Fort Smith to read and support the reading and writing community there. We hope to extend NorthWords to other communities in the future.

You can find the complete list of NorthWords, 2013 authors (at least the ones we’ve booked so far) HERE.



Generation North

NorthWords NWT Logo 4CThe Eighth Annual NorthWords Writers Festival will take place in Yellowknife, NWT, May 30 – June 2, 2013.

The 2013 festival will feature all the events you’ve grown to love — readings, panel discussions, mentorships and our world-renowned Erotica Open Mike — and more. You will have a chance to get up to the mike to read your work and you will be able hobnob with nationally-renowned authors as well as your northern favourites. There will be laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, a completely cathartic  literary weekend.

Mark your calendars now!

The theme of this year’s festival is Generation North to honour the flowering of northern literature which started with the publication of Richard Van Camp’s The Lesser Blessed in 1996 and continues today. Each year, more northern books are being published. In 2012 alone, at least seven new books appeared on the NWT literary scene, including Old Town by Fran Hurcomb, Talking Tools by Patrick Scott, Nighthawk by Jamie Bastedo, Godless but Loyal to Heaven by Richard Van Camp, On Good Ice by Bill Braden, Walking the Land, Feeding the Fire by Allice Legat and Coming Home, a northern anthology published by NorthWords and Enfield and Wizenty which features the work of 17 northern authors, half of whom published for the first time. Quite an accomplishment for a territory of 42,000 people! It is clear the time has come for northern writing. Northerners are telling their stories and the world is listening. Today’s writers are truly a Generation North.

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing our author lineup and the festival program so keep an eye on our website!

Sweat it Out: 2-day fiction writing workshop with Anita Daher

Anita and PacMan

Anita Daher

Are you writing a short story or novel and need help making it spit, flow, bleed, scratch, glow and generally knock the socks off an editor and reader? Or perhaps you wish to write but are not sure where to begin. Join author and editor Anita Daher for a two-day, intensive writing sweatshop designed to strengthen your skills and give you the creative boost you need. More info HERE.

Saturday, February 16, 2013: 9 am – 5 pm

Sunday, February 17, 2013, 10 am – 3 pm

Aurora College Room 308, Yellowknife, NT

Fee: $65 (10% discount for NorthWords members)

Registration at Yellowknife Book Cellar, after February 1, 2013.


Back by popular demand: Self-publishing workshop

Annelies Jan 10 2013 low res

Annelies Pool

 In this workshop, well-known northern Author/Editor/Publisher Annelies Pool looks at all aspects of being an indie publisher. She’ll examine the pros and cons of traditional, POD and ebook publishing, the costs, the steps involved, what to watch out for, promotion and publicity and more.

Saturday, January 26, 2013, 1:30 – 4:30 pm; Room 308, Aurora College, Yellowkife; Fee: $40 (10% discount with NorthWords membership).  Registration at Yellowknife Book Cellar.  More info HERE.


COMING FEB. 15 & 16, 2013: Sweat it Out: 2-day Fiction Writing Workshop with Winnipeg author and former Northerner Anita Daher. More details HERE.

Wow, what a party!

On November 16, 2012, one of our dreams came true with the official launch of the NorthWords Anthology, Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories. Funded by DeBeers and published by Enfield and Wizenty of Winnipeg, the Anthology features stories by seventeen NWT writers. It is the first contemporary anthology of northern writing and we are very proud. Thank you to DeBeers for making the dream come true and to ECE, Great Plains Publications and Judith Drinnan and the Yellowknife Book Cellar for their support.

(DeBeers/Bill Braden photo) For more photos go to: Launch

Merv Hardy Ferry Stories

On November 30, 2012, traffic started to move across the new Mackenzie River Bridge. Yellowknife and the North Slave region of the NWT became permanently linked to southern Canada for the first time. That same day, the much-loved Merv Hardy ferry which has served Northerners for decades crossed the Mackenzie for the last time.

To mark the occasion, NorthWords held an impromptu writing contest on Facebook, inviting people to post short stories about the Merv Hardie ferry. It was a quick and fun contest with a deadline only hours after the original post. We got three responses and are re-printing them all here. We like all the stories but our favourite came from Angele Cano of Hay River who wins a copy of the northern anthology Coming Home. Here are the three stories:

The ferry was the only way we could get to the hospital. I was on the highway with my sister, heading home to Hay River after a final road trip: just the two of us. She was nearly 35 weeks preggo, not due in Yellowknife for another week yet. The bumps and dips musta’ done something to this born again northerner, because she started leaking. We had been in Kakisa to see the falls. We started driving north, not even one bar on my phone. In the bathroom of the Merv Hardie ferry that leak became a splash and suddenly cell reception was the least of our worries.

–Angele Cano

The Old Woman leaned over the icy railing murmuring the Slavey prayer for safe passage across the Big River. It was dark and minus 40. Mist swirled over stretches of open water. Powerful beams reflected off splinters of ice. Eerily the boat moved in slow motion and seemed to turn in a circle following the deepest channel. Deck hands’ coveralls layered with ice resembled the glaze on a chocolate cake. With a wheeze the Merv Hardy slid onto the ramp. With reverence the Old Woman bowed her head. The crossing was over. The journey had begun.

Patti-Kay Hamilton

I keep thinking about all those seagulls at the ferry landing and how we would feed them – then watch and laugh to see who got what first. I think they will be sad today.

Carol Morin

Christmas Book Sale & Signing

What better Christmas gift than a northern book?

Join authors of new northern books and the authors of well-loved favourites for our annual book sale and signing. Chat with the authors as you get your books signed and enjoy some Christmas goodies. This is the third year we’ve done this and it’s always loads of fun.

Participating authors include:

  • Jamie Bastedo (“Nighthawk”)
  • Patrick Scott (“Talking Tools”)
  • Fran Hurcomb (“Old Town”)
  • Randy Freeman (“DownNorth Tales”)
  • Annelies Pool (“iceberg tea”)
  • Cathy Jewison (“Ugly Truck and Dog Contest”)
  • Bren Kolson (“Myth of the Barrens”)
  • Michelle Swallow (“Mackenzie River Guide”)
  • Pat Braden
  • Bill Braden (“On Good Ice”)
  • Authors of the stories in “Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories”
  • And more

Sunday, December 2, 2012, 2-4 pm

Yellowknife Book Cellar

Join us for a NorthWords weekend, Nov. 16 & 17!

Mark November 16 & 17 down on your calendar as a weekend to celebrate Northern writing.

Launch of Coming Home: November 16, 7-9 pm, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre Cafe

The celebrations begin on Friday, November 16 with the official launch of the northern anthology Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories. The anthology, published by Great Plains Publications with funding from De Beers, features new work by 17 NWT authors and is the first contemporary collection of NWT stories. The festivities will feature readings, music, refreshments, book sales and signings. See you there!

Creative Writing Workshop: November 17, 10 am – 2 pm, Room 206, Aurora College, Yellowknife

Join Richard Van Camp as he takes you through character development, writing techniques, talking to agents & publishers and much, much more!

Workshop fee is $50 (includes lunch). Registration at Yellowknife Book Cellar. 10% discount for NorthWords NWT members.


NorthWords AGM: November 17, 2:30 – 3:30 pm, Room 206, Aurora College, Yellowknife

This is your chance to join NorthWords and find out what we’re all about. The AGM will feature reports of all activities over the last year, the presentation of financial statements and bylaw changes.


Calling All Writers! A Creative Writing workshop with Richard Van Camp & NorthWords AGM

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the craft of designing characters as well as having opportunities to ask about agents, publishers and writing techniques you may never have considered before. This is your chance to ask questions, and you will write to music to get your creative juices flowing! Richard promises hilarity and inspiration during this time-honoured NorthWords tradition. Mahsi cho!

The workshop will be followed by the NorthWords AGM.

Saturday, November 17, Room 206, Aurora College, Yellowknife, NT

Workshop: 10 am – 2 pm (lunch provided)

NorthWords AGM: 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Fee for workshop: $50 (includes lunch), Registration at the Yellowknife Book Cellar starting Nov 5, (10 % discount for NorthWords members upon presentation of membership card) 


2012 Great Northern Canada Writing Contest Winners

Jenny Aitken

An essay by Jenny Aitken of Victoria, BC and a short story by Brie O’Keefe of Yellowknife, NT have been selected as the two winners of the 2012 Great Northern Canada Writing Contest.

Jenny will receive $500 as the first prize winner for her essay How to Survive a Northern Childhood. 

Brie O’Keefe

Brie will receive $250 as the emerging writer prize winner for her short story, The Ice Bridge.

The winning stories were selected from a total of 30 eligible entries, the most that have ever been submitted in this contest.

NorthWords NWT would like to congratulate both Jenny and Brie and thank all of those who entered the contest. Thanks also to our   partners De Beers Canada for providing the prize money, and above&beyond, Canada’s Arctic Journal for publicizing our contest and publishing the winning stories.