Markella Mildenberger is organizing the inaugural Vernon Writers’ Festival

Markella Mildenberger is organizing the inaugural Vernon Writers’ Festival

Festival is for those who love the written word

Scribes from all over the province are about to converge for the inaugural Vernon Writers’ Festival, April 11 to 14.

Scribes from all over the province are about to turn off their computers for some actual face time when they converge for the inaugural Vernon Writers’ Festival.

Hosted by the Federation of B.C. Writers (FBCW) and Gallery Vertigo, the festival, which runs April 11 to 14,  starts with a book fair followed by three days of workshops given by a lineup of highly accomplished authors and writers, said event organizer Markella Mildenberger, local FBCW representative and editor of the federation’s magazine, Word Works.

The Vernon Writers’ Festival has been the culmination of all the interest shown by both local and visiting writers, however, Mildenberger says it is also an opportunity to highlight the FBCW.

“I discovered there were many writers in the area that still didn’t know about the B.C. federation, which started in 1971 as a chapter of the Canadian Authors’ Association,” she said. “It is the largest Canadian writers organization in the country. It accepts writers of all disciplines.”

A five-year Vernon resident, Mildenberger is a graduate of the journalism program at Grant McEwan University in her hometown of Edmonton.

A mother of two, she has worked primarily as a technical writer for businesses and corporations and joined the FBCW soon after moving to Vernon as a way to meet fellow writers and also work on her own craft.

“They were looking for an area representative, so I joined up,” she said, adding “Before I wrote for everyone else, with sales and business writing. Being part of the federation has helped me with my creative side. I’ve also been learning marketing and promotions, which has helped with what I am doing now.”

Also on the board of Vernon’s non-profit, artist-run gallery and studio space, Gallery Vertigo, Mildenberger says this region is as much a haven for writers as it is for visual artists. Part of her duties as the FBCW area representative has been to facilitate the Vernon Writing Group, which meets at Vertigo once a month.

“We now have 58 writers and every meeting we have between 10 to 20 of them show up,” said Mildenberger. “We do open readings and critiquing. We have had novice writers join us, and one woman has been writing non-stop since she joined. The group has really inspired me.”

The group is also happy to conduct off-the-page programs with students.

“We are trying to get more young people involved. We have put it out to teachers in Vernon that we want students to be involved, whether as guest editors or contributors,” said Mildenberger.

Many FBCW members, along with B.C. writers in varying genres, will be part of the festival, conducting workshops and highlighting their published works in the B.C. Book Fair, which kicks off the event on April 11 from 1 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Gallery Vertigo.

“All B.C. and local authors will be there to sign and sell their books and mingle with the public. We have people from Kelowna and as far as Whistler and Victoria coming. There will even be a table for e-books,” said Mildenberger. “Author registration is encouraged as space is limited. The public is encouraged to attend, support and meet some local authors.”

Ten workshops will be held over the following three days, and will include evening readings by donation.

Workshops include one on story structure with Vernon novelist, poet and creative writing instructor Laisha Rosnau as well as one on character development by Patricia Donahue, the 2012 Okanagan Arts Award literary recipient and author of Mighty Orion-Fate.

Shawn Bird, a Salmon Arm English teacher and author of Grace Awakenings, will present a workshop on blogging and social media. Whistler fiction writer Stella Harvey, author of Nicolia’s Daughter, will talk on how a novel comes together, while Ben Nutall-Smith a Vancouver author, actor and musician, who is vice-president of the FBCW, will present From Memoir to Scribbles.

FBCW president and author of 12 screen plays, George Opacic, will also be presenting three workshops, including one on using your corpus callosum, right brain/left brain, said Mildenberger.

“We’ve scheduled it so registrants can take every workshop,” she added. “This exciting festival also brings blue pencils appointments to participants wishing to have a professional opinion and input on their writing.”

In addition, Wayside Press has donated its printing services and all workshop handouts will be printed in books for the participants.

“Staples has also loaned us a projector and we are also sequestering more sponsors,” said Mildenberger.

Registration fees to attend the workshops are $25 for FBCW and Vertigo members and students, and $40 for non-members. All fees collected, sponsorships and donations will be donated to both Vertigo and the FBCW.

To become a sponsor or to register for the festival, visit the events section at or e-mail