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Have book will travel
New program brings advice to writers across the NWT

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, October 31, 2013

There are many stories in the North and just as many storytellers. Whether in spoken word, short story collections, Internet blogs or in-depth essays that examine culture, heritage and experience, Northerners can tell their stories. But where can they go for advice?

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Richard Van Camp is one of five authors from different genres taking part in the pilot project through Northwords NWT. - NNSL file photo

A new project run by Northwords NWT is aiming to pair new writers with established authors, publishers and editors for one-on-one mentoring.

But forget meeting in a coffee shop or office. To spread the opportunity outside of Yellowknife, the sessions are held entirely online, through email.

“We have the technology, and technology is only going to improve,” said Annelies Pool, executive director.

“We're always looking for ways we can extend our support beyond Yellowknife. This is one of the reasons we've decided to try an online approach.”

The online mentoring program offers two choices. The first is an hour of email time with a mentor. during which a budding writer can talk about anything related to writing, from ideas to publishing. The second provides the writer with the opportunity to send a piece of writing up to 5,000 words, to their mentor and receive an hour of feedback via email.

The mentors come from a range of genres.

“Two of these mentors are experienced publishers and editors as well as writers, so people can get a good idea of different industry aspects. In the other program, we expect people to submit a piece of work and get some feedback. The author will have a look at it, do some editing and commentary, and then go back and forth with the writer for an hour,” said Pool.

The mentors are Richard Van Camp, Cathy Jewison, Laurie Sarkadi, Hayden Trenholm and Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm.

The online mentoring program begins Monday and runs until the end of March. Anyone interested can sign for up to an hour of each program.

Thirty-minute workshops with guest authors have been held at previous Writer's Festivals. Pool noticed that often, participants just wanted to bounce their ideas off someone, hence the online mentorship program.

“One of the continuing challenges we face as writers is it tends to be a solitary activity,” said Pool.

“Combine that with our geography, and it's a challenge to network and access professional writers, publishers and agents. It's one of the things we're trying to address and this is just another way we're trying to do it.”

Mentorships are available to all residents of the NWT, but spots are limited.

“We don't have a huge number of spaces, we'll see how it goes,” said Pool.

“I think all of these authors are very good authors, for me my choice of mentor would depend on what I was writing.”

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