Pricey but powerful writers' conference convenes in Windsor next week


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On its coasts, North America has no shortage of conferences about the business of writing — that is to say the struggle writers face to turn editors' heads, second-guess their own manuscripts, promote their reputations, or even negotiate the world of self-publishing. Some of them cost several hundred dollars, and that's not counting air fare, hotel stays, or dining budgets in a place where a tomato sandwich can cost $10.

All of which should only help generate interest in the Windsor International Writers Conference, embarking on its third iteration just across the river July 6-8. Yes, it's expensive: The three-day pass is $425. But that's in dollars Canadian; in American, it's more like $320. Plus it's possible to commute to the event, without the expense of finding a room in, say, the Bay Area or New York. You could even pack your own lunches if you wanted to be very thrifty.

In addition to the schmoozing and flattery you'll find at such events, you'll find the usual jumble of events calculated to help writers become better storytellers, promoters, and pitchers. Industry pros, from editors to writers to book critics, will sit down and offer their wisdom to those who pay the piper.

Horror and suspense pitchmaster Andrew Pyper will be on hand. He's a one-man conference of his own, teaching how he identifies a story's narrative hooks and turns out pitches that practically grab editors by the collar. Also in attendance will be Craig Davidson (aka Nick Cutter), who is often called Canada's answer to Chuck Palahniuk. Brian Henry, one of the top editors in Canada and a professor at Toronto's Ryerson University, will offer advice on drafting query letters, an intimidating job that Henry has a knack for presenting in simpler terms. The Book Doctors will run their Pitch-a-Palooza, in which they choose 20 names at random and give each writer a minute to pitch a book. They have been known to offer edits of manuscripts on the fly — nothing to sniff at given their huge success rate. The constellation of Northern literary stars will include Deb Dundas, Charlie Angus, and Detroit's own Kimberly Batchelor Davis.

Also at the event will be representatives of several publishing houses and literary agencies, including ChiZine Press, Mirror World Publishing, Walkerville Publishing, The Rights Factory Agency, and more. The money you spend that doesn't go toward the event goes toward summer camps for kids, so you already did something for others and can focus on your portfolio.

For more information, call Pamela Goldstein, at 519-730-0315. The conference takes place July 6-8, in Windsor, at the Holiday Inn Express which is located on Huron Church Rd., just off the Bridge. Registration is on the Windsor International Writers website.

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