Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter

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AUGUST 12, 2018

We are delighted to share with newsletter subscribers four more of the incredible artists who will be joining Madeleine Thien, Linda Spalding, Sharon Bala, Shalan Joudry, Phonse Jessome, Oisín Curran and Jared Bland on stage at the 2018 Cabot Trail Writers Festival: two-time-Juno-Award-winning, beloved singer-songwriter Old Man Luedecke; Cape Breton-born, 2017 Governor General Literary Award-nominated children’s author Joanne Schwartz; Cape Breton violinist Jacques Mindreau and photographer/filmmaker Paul McNeill.

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Joanne Schwartz

Joanne Schwartz was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her first picture book, Our Corner Grocery Store, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. She is also the author of Pinny in Summer, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant, and Town Is by the Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book. Joanne has been a children’s librarian for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Toronto.

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Old Man Luedecke

is the real thing, a modern-day people’s poet and traveling bard and balladeer. He’s played around the world to a loving and increasing fan base, and won two Juno awards in the process. He has recorded more than a half dozen albums, including Tender Is the Night (which won Album of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards), Domestic Eccentric, and most recently, One Night Only! Live at the Chester Playhouse. The singer-songwriter and banjo player lives in Chester, Nova Scotia.

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Jacques Mindreau

makes music for the soul and human spirit. His new solo project, Electro Jacques Therapy, uses violin and lyrical voice to combine new sounds that seem otherworldly into vocal and string orchestrations that breathe in the ether. Jacques has performed and toured with countless musicians all over Canada and the world. He also composes music for film, dance, and now theatre including the feature documentary Modified, a story about the impact of GMOs on society and the critically acclaimed play, One Discordant Violin, an adaptation of a Yann Martel story. Jacques is the co-founder of the bands Krasnogorsk, Beautiful Wild Animals and OQO. He currently lives in Cape Breton where he co-hosts the annual Margaree Harvest Festival in October.

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Paul McNeill

s passionate about the creative process and the critical role of storytelling and collaboration in the quest for social change. From 2010-17, Paul was a creative producer at the National Film Board of Canada where he was responsible for a slate of social impact documentaries, auteur animations and interactive educational projects. Prior to his time at the NFB, Paul was an independent film producer and writer with work that included both feature-length and short-form drama.


Festival Schedule
The schedule for the 2018 Cabot Trail Writers Festival is now on-line, so please visit our website to learn about all the wonderful readings, workshops, panels and other special events that will unfold over the festival weekend, with further details to be posted soon!

Tickets now for sale on-line!
You may now visit our website or follow this link to purchase passes and tickets for the 2018 Cabot Trail Writers Festival. Tickets are currently available on-line only, but we’ll soon be offering ticket sales through the Gaelic College, so stay tuned!

Early Bird Weekend Pass and Festival Package
In honour of our 10th anniversary, we are offering Early Bird Weekend Passes for the extra low rate of $110. The pass includes all festival events EXCEPT WORKSHOPS (which must be registered and paid for separately), and is available only for a limited time.

This year, for the first time, we are also offering an Early Bird Festival Package, which combines the Weekend Pass with on-site accommodations for Friday and Saturday night at the Gaelic College, so you can eat, sleep and take in a fantastic weekend of music, art, and literature, all without stepping foot in your car. Book early to get this special rate!

This year, we are offering four writing workshops: two fiction workshops with authors Oisin Curran and Sharon Bala, a nonfiction workshop with Phonse Jessome and a youth workshop for kids aged 7+ with Joanne Schwartz. We want to remind everyone that workshop attendance IS NOT INCLUDED in the Weekend Pass or Festival Package, so please pay and register SEPARATELY for these workshops. Workshop slots often fill up quickly, so book today to make sure you snag a spot at the table with one of these wonderful authors.

april 9, 2018

The Cabot Trail Writers Festival is pleased to announce three more authors joining the lineup at our 10th Anniversary festival, which will unfold the weekend of September 28-30 (mark your calendars!): 2018 Canada Reads finalist Sharon Bala, 2018 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize nominee Oisín Curran and bestselling journalist and crime writer Phonse Jessome. We are also delighted to welcome Jared Bland back to our stage as festival host.

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Sharon Bala

lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. She is a member of The Port Authority writing group. Her first novel, The Boat People, has spent 10 consecutive weeks on the Canadian bestseller lists and was a 2018 CBC Canada Reads finalist.

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Oisín Curran


grew up in rural Maine. He received a BA in Classics and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University (where he was the recipient of a national scholarship and a writing fellowship), and a diploma in Translation (French to English) from Concordia University. He is the author of Mopus (2008) and was named a “Writer to Watch” by CBC: Canada Writes. His new novel, Blood Fable, was a Globe & Mail pick for Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2017, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize. Curran lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with his wife and two children. 

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Phonse Jessome

is an award-winning Canadian Journalist and bestselling author. He has covered some of the biggest stories in Canada and abroad over the past thirty-five years. His book Murder at McDonald’s was lauded as one of Canada's best true crime titles. Somebody's Daughter takes readers inside the deadly world of human trafficking. Jessome lives in Halifax, where he is now taking decades of experience covering crime into the field of crime fiction. 

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Jared Bland

is the publisher of McClelland & Stewart, and a vice president of Penguin Random House Canada, where he works with a broad range of authors such as Margaret Atwood, Linda Spalding, Michael Ondaatje, Omar El Akkad, Sharon Bala, and many more. Prior to joining M&S, he was the Arts editor of The Globe & Mail. Additionally, he’s worked as a senior editor at House of Anansi press, and was the managing editor of The Walrus magazine. He was born in Springfield, Illinois, but both his father and his partner are from Antigonish County.


Trivia Night in Inverness: A Fundraiser for the Cabot Trail Writers Festival
If you’re a fan of books, the Writers Festival, or just showing off your knowledge of all things great and small, come join us for a night of good fun for a good cause. Trivia questions will cover a wide range of subjects, with a few extra literary questions for the booklovers in the crowd. Come with a team (up to 6 players each) or join a team! There are prizes to be won, a 50-50 draw, and a cash bar. All proceeds go towards the Cabot Trail Writers Festival.

Where: Inverness County Centre for the Arts, 16080 Highway 19, Inverness
When: Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at 7 p.m.
Admission: $5

A Literary Gala in Margaree Forks: Readings by the 2018 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize Shortlist
Come spend a wonderful evening in the company of fellow booklovers, listening to readings by the three writers shortlisted for the prestigious Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize: award-winning novelist Carol Bruneau and Margaree’s own Sarah Faber and Oisín Curran. A fine opportunity to enjoy again two great guest writers from the 2017 Cabot Trail Writers Festival (Bruneau and Faber), and to catch a sneak peek at one of the writers who will appear on our stage at the 2018 Festival (Curran). This event is co-hosted by three literary organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries this year: the Cabot Trail Writers Festival (10th anniversary), the Atlantic Book Awards (10th anniversary) and the Drs. Coady & Tompkins Memorial Library (40th anniversary). 

Where: Drs. Coady & Tompkins Memorial Library, 7972 Cabot Trail, Margaree Forks
When: Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30)
Admission: Free

February 22, 2018


We are delighted to announce three of the authors who will be appearing on stage at the 10th Anniversary of the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. Giller Prize winner Madeleine Thien, Governor-General’s Award winner Linda Spalding, and acclaimed Mi’kmaq poet Shalan Joudry will be among the magnificent lineup of authors participating in the 2018 Festival.


Madeleine Thien

Madeleine Thien is a Canadian short-story writer and novelist who was born to a Malaysian Chinese father and Hong Kong Chinese mother. Her debut novel, Certainty, won the Amazon First Novel Award, and her most recent novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s, and about the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations, won the 2016 Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award and was also shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. Her books have been translated into more than 25 languages. She lives in Montreal, Canada.

“In China during the Cultural Revolution, there are many moving stories detailing how people hid things, or created in secret, or made use of the arts available to them in order to refine their craft and their skills, so that later on, when they had a different kind of freedom of expression, they had the technical ability to do what their imaginations desired. The artist Xu Bing is a powerful example of this. Shostakovich, who lived during Stalin’s Terror and through multiple purges, said something to his students that I’ve always remembered: “Work, play. You’re living here, in this country, and you must see everything as it really is. Don’t create illusions. There’s no other life. There can’t be any. Just be thankful that you’re still allowed to breathe.” And I think this pragmatism is very important. If a regime or place or ideology wants you to disappear, to live and to continue creating is a form of resistance, especially if it is done with integrity. Art has the capacity to say multiple things, to camouflage ideas and ways of being. Nothing stays the same forever. It’s the line from Bei Dao’s poem, “Remember what I say: Not everything will pass.”
- Madeleine Thien on the themes of art, censorship, silence and survival in Do Not Say We Have

Shalan Joudry

is a writer, performance artist and storyteller. Her poetry has been published in literary journals and the Mi'kmaq Anthology II. Her first book, Generations Re-merging was published by Gaspereau Press in 2014. Shalan also works as a cultural interpreter and community ecologist at Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia, where she lives with her two daughters.

“Since I was a young age, poetry and songwriting were my artistic mediums to use for healing. I would use poetry to come to peace with an event or struggle, like the burning of my house or living in an isolated northern community as a child. By crafting those pieces, I was putting them to rest. I continue to use poetry in trying to understand what I bear witness to.
            “The edge of the woods is another place that I go physically for guidance, healing, and inspiration. The land fascinates me and makes me feel alive. I could not imagine writing a collection of poetry without the forest being part of that. I have walked challenging landscapes both physically and as analogy. I was taught that the forest can teach us like holding mirrors up against ourselves. Poetry does the same thing in my world. We can only understand our past or future if we are willing to look.”
- Shalan Joudry on poetry and healing,

Linda Spalding,

Kansas-born Canadian fiction and nonfiction writer, often explores world cultures and the clash between contemporary life and traditional beliefs. Her 2012 novel, The Purchase, won the Governor General’s Literary Prize for Fiction that year. Spalding is also well known for Who Named the Knife(2007), the true story of the murder trial of Maryann Acker, a teenager sentenced to life in prison for a murder committed while on honeymoon in Hawaii. Spalding, who served on the jury, tracks down Maryann 20 years later in order to reexamine the murder and the question of Maryann’s innocence. Spalding’s most recent novel is A Reckoning, a sequel to The Purchase released last September. Spalding lives in Toronto with her husband, Michael Ondaatje, her dog Jasper and her cat Jack.

“Every family is an epic. Even a single generation has so many stories tucked away that ten thousand pages would be required to tell them all. A family is the perfect proof of chaos theory – the one where a butterfly causes a blizzard in Florida or an airplane crash in the arctic. Your mother tickles you on your left foot while you snooze in your cradle and you develop an allergy to walking barefoot on grass in your middle age.
            So… how do we go about this epic task of writing an epic family saga? One of the things I like best about writing is coming upon strange facts. Even when I’m working on fiction, there is research to be done; Locale. Weather. Trees and wildlife. History! And of course, clothes and habits. Writing The Purchase was a special treat in this regard. The story is based on a few facts I knew about my grandfather’s grandfather, a Quaker abolitionist who became a slave owner in 1798…”
-Linda Spalding on writing The


We are in the very early stages of developing a Festival Book Club open to all interested Cabot Trail Writers Festival audience members. This idea is very much at a nascent stage as we determine what shape it will take, but we’d welcome any input and would love to know if this might be something you or your existing book club might be interested in joining.
Book club membership might mean borrowing rights to a set of books donated by the publishers of participating authors, to be shared among book club members for reading before the festival, or a breakaway Q&A session with individual guest authors during the festival weekend, or even an on-line forum or off-season get-together for further book discussion. Our goal is just to expand the community around reading on the island (and beyond!), and to offer new opportunities for readers to connect with one another and with our festival authors.
If this is something you’d like to hear more about it, or might be interested in joining, please send your e-mail address to, and let us know whether you’d like to sign up as an individual, or if you have an existing book club that might wish to join (and how many members it includes and where you are located). Your feedback and participation are tremendously valuable, and we thank you for them!

December 7, 2017


Thank you!
With the last of the fall leaves fallen and the first bite of winter in the air, here at the Cabot Trail Writers Festival HQ, we are turning our sights to 2018, and what will be our milestone 10th anniversary festival. 

But first, we want to express our great thanks to all the many people who helped make this year’s festival possible: to our sponsors (see below); our guest authors; our extraordinary, hard-working volunteers; and our board. This year, four of our board members have stepped down from their seats, a well-earned retirement after many years of wonderful work in the service of this festival. To Barrie Carnat, Marcelle Lavoie, Sandy Balcom and Mary Ann Wilson, we owe a profound debt of thanks; thank you for all you’ve done to help the Cabot Trail Writers Festival continue and thrive.

A new board
Our new board will be headed by Rebecca Silver Slayter, who did such an incredible job both hosting this year’s Festival and moderating many of the panels. Jeannette MacDonald and Gary Walsh, who have been driving forces behind the Festival since its inception, will be staying on to help. Their past efforts have been key to the Festival’s past successes and will be invaluable in the coming year.

Childcare at CTWF
We also want to note that this year was our first to offer a free childcare service by a licensed childcare provider, and we are very grateful to Natalie Griffin and her team, and to the parents (and children) who participated in this inaugural effort. We are delighted to announce that we’ll be continuing to offer this service next year, with more promotion in advance so more young families can have the opportunity to attend the festival. If you know anyone with children who might like to participate, please help us spread the word!

To celebrate this year’s revamped newsletter, we have held a draw from among our newsletter subscribers for a copy of Louise Penny’s new book, Glass Houses. Our lucky winner was Laura Syms.

Looking forward to 2018
We have a lot of exciting things in the works for the Cabot Trail Writers Festival in 2018, and look forward to sharing the news about our author lineup as well as some new events in the months to come. Till then, wishing you and your family happy holidays, and sending our sincere thanks for all your support of this festival, which could not exist without you. See you in 2018!

September 4, 2017

Celebrating Old and New


Please remember that our deadline for purchasing our Festival Early Bird Package has been extended to September 8, 2017.

Tickets may also be purchased at the Craft Shop of the Gaelic College at 51779 Cabot Trail Hwy., seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets may be reserved through the Craft Shop as well by calling 902 295 3411.


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Canada’s Greatest Storytellers

Canada has a rich literary history stretching back to the days of Confederation. Our authors have inspired us, educated us, comforted us and even infuriated us at times. As former editor and then publisher of McClelland & Stewart—the century-old publishing house that put Canadian literature on the world map and launched the careers of such writers as Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Alistair MacLeod, and Michael Ondaatje—Douglas Gibson has spent more than five decades helping shape our country's literary canon, in the company of our finest writers, whom he has come to know both professionally and personally. 

Now in Canada’s sesquicentennial year, he has created a show celebrating Canada’s Greatest Storytellers over the past 150 years. The story is told in a multi-media presentation one artist for one decade at a time, so it is likely that some of his choices will be controversial.

At the same time, there is no person better positioned to tell the story of our storytellers. Of particular local interest was the critical role Doug played in getting Alistair MacLeod’s sensational novel, No Great Mischief, actually published. Hopefully, this is a story he will be telling, but if not, be sure to come and ask him about it in person.

Our Festival Director and our Society President have both seen a preview of this presentation and say that it is one that no one interested in Canada’s literary arts should miss. To top it off, Doug is a witty and engaging presenter – a true raconteur. His show will constitute our premiere presentation on Saturday evening.


Sarah Faber and Mona Knight:

The Cabot Trail Writers Festival also feels very fortunate to present the work of two of Cape Breton’s newest published authors. On Friday night, Sarah Faber will read from her book, All is Beauty Now, and Mona Knight will read from her book, Banjo Flats. On Saturday afternoon, Sarah and Mona will share a session in conversation with our Festival host, Rebecca Silver Slayter on “The First Novel.” This promises to be a very interesting session exploring the joys and sorrows of writing (and publishing!) the first novel.


Sarah Faber 

is originally from Ontario but now calls Cape Breton her home. In her first novel, All is Beauty Now, the disappearance of a family’s eldest daughter in the water during a beach outing casts a pall over the entire family, just before a planned departure for Canada. This tragedy provides the catalyst to explore the dynamics and impacts of a family’s secrets.


Mona Knight

will be familiar to many festival attendees from previous festivals. Her first novel, Banjo Flats, offers an unconventional twist to a tried and true genre – the Western. Mona's protagonist, a female gunslinger, offers a new twist to the old trope of a stranger comes to town. Westerns are not always what they seem to be.

AUGUST 30, 2017

Two Special Events

This year the Cabot Trail writers Festival is sponsoring two fund raising events. One will be held in Sydney and one at the St. Ann’s Bay United Church Tearoom. We are hoping that you will join us for one of these presentations.

Sounds Good:

Join us for a unique and sundry evening of original fiction, poetry and music in support of the upcoming Cabot Trail Writers Festival.


Hugh MacDonald will read selections from his best-selling novels "Trapper Boy" and "Us and Them," Julie Curwin, Hector MacNeil and host Paul MacDougall will share some recent short stories, plus Westmount seashore poet Jen Cooper will share from her multifarious and delightful work. In between readings the inimitable singer/songwriter Aaron Corbett will entertain with his eclectic blend of original songs and favourites.


Thursday, September 7 at 7:00 p.m.

Ron and Rhoda’s

31 Whitney Avenue


20.00 at the door

For information call Gary Walsh 270-5393

An Evening of Traditional Storytelling:

Come and join us in St. Ann’s Bay for an evening of traditional story telling as two of Cape Breton’s finest storytellers – Murdock MacDonald and Angus MacLeod - present their craft.

Murdock MacDonald is a familiar face with the St Ann's Bay Players. He will present a couple of pieces which are in the line of traditional stories. This will make up the first half of the evening. Angus MacLeod is a local Gaelic speaker/teacher and a teller of stories. For the second half of the evening Angus will tell local traditional stories.

Thursday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m.
St Ann’s Bay United Church Tearoom

Admission: $15.00

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

2017 Cabot Trail Writers Festival Tickets:

Good news for ticket purchasers: Our deadline for the Early Bird FestivalPackage has been extended to September 8.

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #11
August 21, 2017

Program Details and Two Introductions


Introducing Rebecca Silver Slayter

Nova Scotian by birth and Cape Bretoner by choice, Rebecca Silver Slayter is both talented writer and editor, now living in St. Joseph du Moine.  At home with both fiction and non-fiction, her work has appeared in numerous literary journals. Rebecca has a very well-regarded first novel, In the Land of Birdfishes and is an editor for the literary journal, Brick.

Rebecca has also been named one of CBC's Ten Writers to Watch and her novel was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. We are very pleased that Rebecca will be joining this year’s Festival as our Fridayevening host and frequent panel moderator.

For an interesting interview with Rebecca Silver Slayter click here.

Introducing James Keelaghan

Our Sunday post-brunch musical performer this year will be James Keelaghan. A singer-songwriter in the tradition of Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers, James has been described as “Canada’s finest singer-songwriter.” We look forward to learning about some of his music and interpretation inhis performance session entitled “Songs and Stories.”

“‘Inspiration can come in many forms, I’m always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiri’s Piano. It was such an image,’ says James ‘that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history, Japanese interment camps in the Second World War.’ Not only does his deep catalogue include timeless originals like Fires of Calais, Cold Missouri Waters, Jenny Bryce, Hillcrest Mine, and Kiri’s Piano. James is also a possessive interpreter of outside material, a fine example being his gripping take on Gordon Lightfoot’s epic Canadian Railroad Trilogy on the Lighfoot Tribute disc Beautiful.”

To learn more about James Keelaghan click here.

Festival Program:

We are happy to give you this preview of the following exciting program for the Cabot Trail Writers Festival (Sept.29 – Oct.1). The complete program will be appearing shortly on our website.

Friday Opening, 7:00-10:00 pm. Readings by Mona Knight, Sarah Faber, Douglas Gibson, Sheree Fitch, Carol Bruneau and Wayne Johnston with Rebecca Silver Slayter as host. Breaks for treats, bookstore, and cash bar. After the readings mingle with friends meet the authors and have your books signed.

Saturday Workshops 10:15am – 1:45pm. Our first workshop by Sheree Fitch explores authentic voice in telling the tale, while the second by Carol Bruneau examines the questions that arise from narrative voice. Lunch will be provided for participants taking both workshops. Remember space is limited, so get you tickets early.

Saturday Sessions
2:00 – 6:00. We have three thought-provoking but enjoyable sessions dealing with aspects of the literary arts. The first features Cape Breton debut authors, Sarah Faber and Mona Knight, in conversation on “The First Novel.” Our second has author Sheree Fitch describing “The Adventure of Mable Murple’s Bookstore” - a new book emporium on Nova Scotia’s North  Shore. Our final session features the ever-popular and entertaining Linden MacIntyre with a reading and discussion of his new book, The Only Cafe.

Saturday Dinner 6:00-7:00 pm with a reading by Puffin Award winner Annette MacLellan.

Saturday Evening: 7:00- 7:30 A celebration of House of Anansi’s Fiftieth Anniversary with cake and conversation. At 7:45 we have our premiere event – Canada’s Greatest Storytellers/Les Plus Grands Raconteurs Canadiens 1867-2017, a multi-media presentation by Doug Gibson.

Sunday Morning Panels: 9:00-11:30 am. Doors open with bookstore, coffee, tea and treats. Our first panel (9:30-10:20 am) is “Between the Covers: An Insider Look at the Secret Lives of Writers and Editors” with Sarah MacLachlan, Doug Gibson, Sheree Fitch, moderated by Rebecca Silver Slayter. After a short break, our second panel “Writing About Home” with Linden MacIntyre, Carol Bruneau, James Keelaghan and Sarah Faber, again moderated by Rebecca Silver Slayter.

Sunday Brunch: 11:45 am.

Sunday Musical Performance: Songs and Stories by James Keelaghan

Sunday Closing: 1:30 pm our Festival Wrap-up with Gary Walsh and Rebecca Silver Slayter.

Good news for ticket purchasers: Our deadline for the Early Bird Festival Package has been extended to September 8.

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #10
August 13, 2017

The Website, Workshops & Fundraisers

Our Cabot Trail Writers Festival website is up and running, although it is still decidedly a work in progress. Ticket sales are also available through the site. Please remember to check out the early bird special for the Festival weekend, but remember the weekend pass, does not include the workshops, which are sold separately.
This year we are very pleased to sponsor two workshops on Saturday, September 30, presented by well-known Nova Scotia authors, Sheree Fitch and Carol Bruneau. The workshops are scheduled consecutively (with a lunch break in between) so that participants will be able to attend both.
Although each workshop stands on its own, Sheree and Carol have collaborated so that participants will be able to build on their experiences by taking both. Each workshop is designed for adult writers with or without writing experience, so that anyone who enjoys the written word will gain from them.
Space is limited to 20 participants for each workshop and lunch will only be provided for those participants attending both workshops. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to gain a greater appreciation of the writing process.

Saturday Sept. 30

10:15 a.m. -11:45 a.m.
Workshop One


Finding Voice and Vision to Tell the Tale or Write the Poem with Sheree Fitch

Whatever the genre, whomever the audience, authentic voice is key to telling the tale, spinning the yarn or writing the poem. What do we mean by authentic voice? How does that differ from point of view?  What story are you burning to tell? How will you find it and tell it?


11:45- 12:15 Lunch

Workshop Two:


Sculpting a Story: The Art of Plot and Structure with Carol Bruneau

Beginning with oral storytelling and the magic of narrative voice, creating fiction relies on further shaping to enhance its dramatic effect. It asks the questions: Whose story is it, really? Who are the key players? Where and when does it take place? What are its defining events? How do these events convey its meaning? This workshop encourages participants to develop these elements as they emerge from a narrative voice and/or point of view explored in the previous workshop.


To purchase tickets for these exciting workshops and the Festival, go to:

Sarah Faber, one of our debut authors at this year’s Festival, will be having a book launch at the Inverness County Centre of the Arts on Sunday, August 20, 5:00-7:00 pm. Please check their website for more information.

A final note to remember, please don’t forget our two exciting fundraisers scheduled for Thursday, September 7. At 7:30 pm at St. Ann’s Bay United Church Tearoom, there is a NIGHT OF TRADITIONAL STORYTELLING with Murdock MacDonald and Angus MacLeod and at 7:00 pm in Sydney, there is an EVENING WITH WRITERS organized by Paul MacDougall and hosted by Ron and Rhoda MacCormick at 31 Whitney Ave.

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #9
August 7, 2017

More News on This Year's Festival

Well, it is time for another newsletter release.
For reasons beyond her control, Katherena Vermette is no longer able to attend this year’s Festival. We will miss both her participation and her presence.

We are very pleased that author Carol Bruneau will be presenting at this year’s festival. Living in Halifax, Carol is the award-winning author of several books, including Glass Voices (2007) and These Good Hands (2015). She has a new book of short stories, A Bird on Every Tree, coming out in September through Nimbus and this book will hopefully be available for attendees at the Festival.

Carol is a versatile and talented writer at home in both fiction and non-fiction. In her stories, she is interested in sifting through the complexities that life experiences and relationships bring to people. She likes to place her characters and stories in carefully crafted and accurate settings.

In her most recent collection of short stories, A Bird on Every Tree, Carol examines the shifting complexities of Nova Scotian identity and her collectionincludes several stories set in foreign lands. Carol has drawn on her own love of travel to accurately depict these places and has drawn inspiration from her experiences in them. As she puts it, “I can’t set a story in a place I haven’t been.” Her stories should provide attendees with some powerful inspiration and thoughts of their own.

For a recent interview with Carol Bruneau, please go to:

For more information on her latest book, please go to:
Evening with Writers Event:

The Cabot Trail Writers Festival is pleased to announce the details about the “Evening with Writers Event” being organized by Paul MacDougall and hosted by Ron and Rhoda MacCormick. The price is $20.00 and the address is 31 Whitney Ave., Sydney. It is to be held September 7, at 7:00 pm. We hope to have some program details available shortly.

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #8
July 31, 2017

Our Festival Line-Up and Two Benefit Events

In this newsletter, we are pleased to give you a sneak preview of our total lineup of artists for the ninth Cabot Trail Writers Festivaland a broad sketch of how the weekend will unfold. We plan to make the official announcement shortly on our web-site with full program details and prices. Please note that this year we will be offering early bird pricing for the weekend Festival package. As with the lineup, you are getting an advance heads-up, so keep an eye open for it.

Our Festival for this special anniversary year for Canada proudly features writers and publishers from across Canada and of course from Cape Breton. Friday night will feature readings from Wayne Johnston, Sarah Faber, Katherena Vermettte, Doug Gibson, Mona Knight, Carol Bruneau, Sarah MacLachlan and Sheree Fitch. The festival is excited that Rebecca Silver Slayter will host the evening.

Saturday begins with workshops in the morning, readings, interviews and discussions throughout the afternoon. Linden MacIntyre will be joining us in the afternoon and will debut his new novel, The Only Cafe.  Our evening concludes with a special presentation of CANADA’S GREATEST STORYTELLERS / LES PLUS GRANDS RACONTEURS CANADIENS 1867 — 2017 by Doug Gibson. Doug has a special connection to Cape Breton as Alistair MacLeod’s publisher.

Sunday wraps up with panel discussions, brunch and music by renowned Canadian singer songwriter James Keelaghan.

This year’s Festival will be held September 29 – October 1, 2017, at the Gaelic College, St. Ann’s Bay, Cape Breton Island.

There are two benefit events scheduled for September 7 in support of the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, so please note this date on your calendars.

The first is a NIGHT OF TRADITIONAL STORYTELLING with Murdock MacDonald and Angus MacLeod on Thursday. September 7, 7;30 pm at St. Ann’s Bay United Church Tearoom in North River Bridge. Please plan to attend this wonderful evening of traditional stories as the spoken word lends its support to the written word. Admission is $15.00.

The second event on that same date will be an entertaining EVENING WITH WRITERS organized by Paul MacDougall. Ron and Rhoda MacCormick are kindly hosting this event at their home on Whitney Ave., Sydney. More details will be coming shortly.

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #7
July 17, 2017

Linden MacIntyre and Other News

Today, we have some more exciting news about our Cabot Trail Writers Festival line-up. Linden MacIntyre will be presenting again at this year’s festival and will debut his new novel, The Only Cafe. Linden’s award-winning work as an award-winning journalist and an author need no introduction to most of you, and his previous Festival appearances have always been extremely popular and well-characterized by his trademark wry sense of humour.

This year Linden will be introducing his new novel, The Only Cafe. The book marks a considerable departure from the Cape Breton landscape explored in his first three novels. He won a Giller prize for the second of these books, The Bishop’s Man.

Set in Toronto and Lebanon, Linden’s new book is “a timely and gripping novel in which a son tries to solve the mystery of his father's death - a man who tried but could not forget a troubled past in his native Lebanon.” For a sneak preview of Linden’s new book and some of his thoughts on writing it, please see:

In our last newsletter, we proudly announced that Douglas Gibson will be performing his sesquicentennial tribute to Canadian literature - “Canada’s Greatest Storytellers” - at this year’s Festival. In this newsletter, we want to draw your attention to Terry Fallis’s selection of Gibson’s Stories about Storytellers in his list of “5 books that say ‘Canada.’” Terry was asked by Kobo to prepare the list in celebration of Canada Day. For more information see:

Finally on a more personal note, I would like to draw your attention to the website - Fantastic Fiction. I enjoy reading murder mysteries set in Britain, and many of my favourite authors, Peter Robinson, Ian Rankin, Elizabeth George, Deborah Crombie, write series. Although the books are written to stand alone, background information on career, friends and family, etc., make the books more enjoyable if read sequentially. Fantastic Fiction gives you this information and not just for murder mysteries, just go to the website and choose your favourite genre and author. Thanks to my daughter, Katie, for drawing my attention to it.

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #6
July 5, 2017

Douglas Gibson Reflects on Canada's Literary Giants at 150

From the early accounts of Champlain and Lescarbot to the works of Alice Munro and Alistair MacLeod, the written word has shaped how Canadians, and others, view and understand this great land. As an editor and publisher, Douglas Gibson has been an influential and important figure in Canada’s literary scene for over forty years. There can scarcely be an active Canadian author or poet during this time that he did not meet or influence.

Since his retirement from McClelland & Stewart in 2009, Gibson has retained his interest in Canada’s written word through his own publishing house, Douglas Gibson Books. Perhaps more importantly, he has taken the time to reflect on Canada’s literary world and the great authors that have shaped it. Gibson first shared his thoughts and experiences in his 2011 memoir: Stories About Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau, and Others. 

Now in honour of Canada’s Sesquicentennial, Gibson has developed a new multi-media presentation: “Canada’s Greatest Storytellers/ Les Grands Raconteurs Canadiens 1867-2017.” Using images and music to set the context, Gibson discusses the importance of, and often shares personal reminiscences about, a selected author for each of Canada’s fifteen decades.

The Cabot Trail Writers Festival is very pleased to have Douglas Gibson present his new work as our Saturday night feature event. This is a must-see presentation for everyone interested in Canada’s literary world from Confederation to the present. Our society’s president and our festival director have both had a sneak preview and describe the show as “absolutely amazing.”

It is also pertinent to note that Gibson’s contribution to Canadian literature had recently been recognized through his recent receipt of the Order of Canada. For more information on this award and his compelling presentation on “Canada’s Greatest Storytellers” see:

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #5
June 24, 2017

Sheree Fitch and Two Other Literary Festivals

Today, we have several items of literary interest to pass on.
First of all, we are very pleased to announce that Nova Scotia author and poet, Sheree Fitch will be back as one of our Festival presenters this year. Many of you will remember Sheree fondly as part of our 2010 lineup. You will also be interested to know that Sheree is in the process of opening a seasonal bookstore, Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery, to be opened on July 3in River John. Sheree’sbookstore found its inspiration as an effort at “keeping literacy and education alive in her community” in the wake of yet another rural school closing. For more information on this deserving project see the Quill & Quire article at:
Next, there will be a Canada Day Literary Festival: Canada’s 150th Birthday bash on Saturday, July 1st start 2 p.m. at Coady Tompkins Memorial Library, Margaree Forks, hosted by Mary Lynk.. CBC producer Ideas. This promises to be an exciting day for everyone interested in Canadian literature with readings by well known authors: Ian Brown… The Boy in the Moon, SixtyJoanne Schneller… film critic, screenwriterDonna Morrissey … The Fortunate Brother;  Silver Donald Cameron … Warrior lawyers and Barbara Radecki… The Dark House. Musical entertainment will be by Scott MacMillan & Brian Doyle (2-5 p.m.) and Jacque Mindreau & OQO band (8:30 p.m.). There will also be a BBQ, Canada Day Cake and refreshments 5-7 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m.- viewing of the documentary film written & narrated by Silver Donald CameronGreen Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World.
We also want to draw your attention to The Read By The Sea Literary Festival and Wordplay (for children of all ages) to be held July 8 at River John. This literary festival is in its 17th year and seeks to bring “Canada’s Best Authors to Nova Scotia’s North Shore.” This year’s Festival lineup features authors Mary Ann Conlin, Lesley Crewe, Dean Jobb and Terry Fallis with entertainment by Doris Mason. It looks like it will be a very enjoyable day. For more information see:

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #4
June 13, 2017

House of Anansi Press at the Cabot Trail Writers Festival

The Cabot Trail Writers Festival is excited to assist in marking the 50th anniversary of House of Anansi Press. Sarah MacLachlan, president of Anansi will be among the presenters at this year’s Festival.
Founded in 1967, by writers Dennis Lee and David Godfrey, this press has developed into a truly remarkable and impressive Canadian cultural institution. The company began small with a mandate to publish only Canadian authors but rapidly gained credibility by publishing authors such as Margaret Atwood, Matt Cohen, Michael Ondaatje and Northrup Frye.
In June 2002, Scott Griffin, founder of the Griffin Poetry Prize, purchased the press. House of Anansi continues to specialize in finding and developing Canada’s great new writers of literary fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Anansi books regularly appear on the longlists and shortlists of all major Canadian literary prizes as well as international ones such as the Man Booker.
Authors from House of Anansi Press, who have presented at previous CTW Festivals, have included Kathleen Winter, Lisa Moore and Ian Hamilton. This year, Anansi-published author Katherena Vermette will be presenting from her breakout first novel The Break.
As mentioned previously, Vermette was one of the nominated authors for CBC’s Canada Reads contest and is winner of this year’s First Novel Award. Vermette and The Break are also winners of the 2017 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the 2017 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award and the 2017 McNally Robinson Book of the Year.
For more information on House of Anansi see:
For more information on Katherena Vermette see:

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #3
April 26, 2017

A Potpourri...

We have a number items for our third CTWF update.
First of all, the artwork for this year’s festival that will be appearing on our posters, rack cards, etc., (see above) is by well-known Cape Breton artist, Kenny Boone. Cape Breton has been an early and continuing inspiration to Kenny’s artwork but his creative curiosity has led him in other directions as well. As he notes on his web-site, “artistic vision can come from anywhere and at any time.”  We are pleased to be able to use Kenny’s creative genius to showcase our festival.
For a fuller image, see our Facebook page at:
Also check out Kenny’s web-site at:
Secondly, we would like to draw your attention to the Authors for Indies event set for Sat, April 29th at Eds Books and More from 1-4 PM.
Confirmed authors include Sheldon Currie, Hugh MacDonald, Joyce Rankin, Miriam Dunn, Paul MacDougall.
Possibly others yet to be confirmed.
There will be some readings, music by Hugh, tea, etc
Lots of fun, everyone is invited. Come show your support for our local bookseller and meet some local writers.
Also on that day, there will be a Memoir Writing workshop with Sandra Phinney.
Want to write personal essays for publication, record vignettes for your family, or write a memoir book? This workshop will springboard you into action!
Date: Saturday April 29
Place: Travelodge, Kings Road in Sydney
Time: 9:30-4:30
Fee: $125 (inc. HST and workshop materials) 
For more information visit the writer’s website or contact Joyce MacDougall, 902-562-3802
Finally, you may be interested in viewing the finalists for the first novel. Please note that Katherena Vermette, a confirmed Festival author, is one of the finalists. See the link below:

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #2
April 10, 2017

Introducing Douglas Gibson...

For our second CTWF update, we are pleased to announce that Douglas Gibson will be presenting his new show - 150 Years of Great Canadian Storytellers ... 1967-2017during the Festival.

Douglas Gibson is an editor, publisher, author and presenter with deep ties to the Canadian literary scene. Particularly through his years as president and publisher of McClelland & Stewart, Gibson got to know the literary greats of Canada. Among many other authors, he enjoyed a particularly strong relationship with Alistair MacLeod, and played an important role in the publication of No Great Mischief.

His new show goes decade by decade through the first 150 years of Canada’s authors. Through music, art, and “lively stories ... about the author and his or her book,” Gibson typically looks at the work of one English and one French author per decade. It promises to be an exciting and entertaining show.
For more information, see Douglas Gibson’s home page at:

Cabot Trail Writers Festival Newsletter #1
March 26, 2017

Update for the 2017 Cabot Trail Writers Festival

The Cabot Trail Writers Society will be sending periodic e-mail updates about the 2017 Festival to be held 29 September-1 October. You are receiving this e-mail because of your past interest in or support of the Festival.

Our first piece of exciting news for this year’s festival is that Canada Reads contender and Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry winner Katherena Vermette is confirmed as a participating author. Ms. Vermette is a Métis author living in Winnipeg and will speak on her new book, The Break, at the Festival. Candy Palmeteer will be defending her selection of The Break as the one book Canadians need to read now during the Canada Reads debates, March 27-30, 2017.

For more information on Katherena Vermette and The Break visit her web-site at:

For more information on CBC’s Canada Reads authors see:

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