Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Future of Story: Writing Workshop in Edmonton Feb 5 & 6 2010

This conference / workshop has a list of great writer-speakers.

Of interest to anyone in writing or story-telling. Register before Dec 11 to take advantage of the early-bird pricing. For more information, click on the MacEwan School of Communications page here and follow the links for detailed programming information and on-line ticket sales. Tix are $30 to $85 depending on the event.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A cure for the 'Oh, what do I make' blues

Albertans are entrepreneurs, and our foodies are no different. Read about Edmonton home economist (and friend of mine) who realized several years of work by going the self-publishing route with her book: Cook! Self-publishing is becoming much more attractive to cookbook writers (certain types of cookbooks have a long shelf-life), and given the fact that so much of promotion and media is now left up to the author, it makes sense to explore this option.

Liane Faulder did a great job covering it in yesterday's Edmonton Journal Bistro section. Click here to go to the story. A cure for the 'Oh, what do I make' blues

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Food Trends for 2010

The Eat Your Words class of 2009 has come up with trends for 2010:

mojito cakes are the hottest thing

Monday, October 26, 2009

Great Cookbook PR advice from authors of Earth to Table

Cuisine Canada has a great food blog, featuring news about and interviews with Canadian top Canadian food writers and cookbook authors. I just read a post of particular relevance to any food writer working on a cookbook project. Jeff Crump, author of Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm (Random House Canada, 2009) discusses how he used social media and the internet to have a ready-made fanbase for his book which has just been released but which is getting a lot of buzz and media attention. That translates directly into sales and bigger crowds at book signings. It also landed them an audience with Martha Stewart, the holy grail of exposure in the US cookbook market. Here's the post I'm talking about.

In short, the promotion actually starts when the writing starts, so that when the book is finally published, you come out swinging in the book sales department. That gets you on the media radar and the best-seller lists which in turn fuels more book sales. There's no time these days to wait for a book to build an audience because there's always another cookbook right behind it vying for that shelf-space at the bookstore (or in COSTCO). Remember: it's standard to have a year to write the book after inking a book deal with a publisher; THEN the book is a year in editing and production). So, aspiring cookbook authors, start your Twitter / Facebook / Blog engines now!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So many literary events...start your daytimers

Thursday, October 22, 2009
How to Pitch Panel
Want to write for magazines and see your byline flashing back at you? Don't know where to start? Learn how to focus your pitches and sell your stories to noted Alberta magazine editors. These tips are straight from the pros and this panel is highly recommended for any writer looking to improve their batting average.

Featured editors:
- Barb Dacks, Legacy
- Michael McCullough, Alberta Venture
- Omar Mouallem, Avenue Edmonton
- Joyce Byrne, Venture Publishing

Grant MacEwan University, 10045 - 156 Street
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Room 436
Free event, open to the public

Friday, October 23, 2009
The Inside Story on Magazine Features: Q & A with a Magazine Pro

AMPA and LitFest are hosting a special professional development session with New York Times Magazine editor, Paul Tough.

Paul will discuss how to develop a killer feature story, plus it's your chance to pick the brains of this star editor. So bring your questions and get ready to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Stanley A. Milner Library, Sixth Floor, Room 7
2:00 pm
Cost: $10 for AMPA members and students. $15 for non-members.
Registration is required.

To register, email Alberta Magazine Publishers with your name, phone number and email address.

Friday, October 23, 2009
Small Press & Maga/Zine Fair
Hosted by the Edmonton Small Press Association (ESPA) and AMPA

Stanley A. Milner Library, Library Theatre Lobby
12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Free and open to the public

AMPA & ESPA team up to present a one-day event in the Library Theatre Lobby to expose you to some of the great literary activities happening in our backyards. Find some of your favourite magazines like filling Station, Legacy, Notebook, Penguin Eggs, Synchronicity, and more, all in one place.

Friday, October 23, 2009
RAMM cocktail reception followed by films presented by the North of Nowhere Expo
Metro Cinema, Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Ave NW, Edmonton

5:30 pm: Come check out Alberta magazines and have a bite and some vino on us!
7:00 pm: Radical Jesters: A Film about Media Hoaxers & Culture Jammers with HONK! No Noise is Illegal
8:30 pm: American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein
Admission to films is by donation, recommended donation $8 to $12

Saturday, October 24, 2009
RAMM cocktail reception followed by films presented by the North of Nowhere Expo
Metro Cinema, Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Ave NW
6:00 pm: Come check out Alberta magazines and have a bite and some vino on us!
6:30 pm: Freedom of Expression: Resistance & Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property
7:30 pm: You, Me & the SPP: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule
*plus post-film Panel Discussion, Director in Attendance
Admission to films is by donation, recommended donation $8 to $12

October is Read Alberta Magazines Month! Enter to win a Bellstar getaway to Canmore.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

RIP Gourmet magazine...listen to editor Ruth Reichel's CBC Interview

I have played this interview in my food writing classes, time-permitting, because Writers & Company's Eleanor Wachtel interviews Gourmet magazine's (then) editor Ruth Reichl, and Wachtel asks all the right questions. This is a great one-on-one discussion of Reichl's long career and relationship with food. If you want to know what drives a great food editor to do what she does, take a listen.

I'm glad the CBC has resurrected the interview in light of the recent news that Conde Nast has shuttered Gourmet magazine. Grab a snack, coffee or tea. It's worth the hour spent listening.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Support your local writers, editors, photographers, designers and publishers

It's cold outside, which means it's October, which also means it's Read Alberta Magazines Month (RAMM). Yes, put your money where your mouth is and renew your magazine subscriptions; it's the chief selling point for a magazine to a potential advertiser, so yes, your $20 matters! And buy, buy, buy local magazines instead of giant lattes. They're the same price, but one lasts longer.

This year, Alberta Magazine Publishers are also campaigning to convince the Alberta government that local magazines matter, both economically and culturally. So, check out What is Ed Stelmach Reading, and send a letter to the premier. Besides, it's funny to see the various magazines zip through Stelmach's hand on the main flash page.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pitching Workshop from the Pros

Here's a great looking course for anyone looking to sharpen their pitches to editors...

What Not to Pitch – Style your Magazine Query for Success

9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m., October 17th
MacEwan University, City Centre Campus
$10 for members; $20 for non-members
Hosted by Get Publishing Society and Alberta Magazine Publishers Association

Magazine editors and experienced writers will give you the tips and tools to put your best foot forward to successfully enter, branch out or specialize in magazine writing.

Editors Tracy Hyatt from Westworld and Gregory Kennedy from Where Edmonton are just some of the people you will meet at this interactive session that will include magazine pitch dos and pitch don’ts. Understand print and digital magazine trends. Learn about topics that never go out of style. Find out how to create eye catching storylines to pitch to different magazines. Get the scoop on opportunities to strut your writing for new magazines. For sophisticated and experienced writers, find out how to develop a niche for yourself. Leave this session with the inside scoop on how to make your query pitch shine, get an editor’s interest and get your writing published into magazines.

To Register

Email your name and contact information to patwood@shaw.ca and send a cheque to What not to pitch" Workshop c/o Cynthia Dusseault, Treasurer, GPCS, 14011 - 91 Avenue, Edmonton AB, T5R 4Y1. Make the cheque payable to Get Publishing Communications Society. Include your contact information, including your email address, with the cheque. Receipts will be provided at the workshop. Enrolment is limited.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Edmonton's Fall Literary Season Kicks Off in Style, Oct 13 at The ARTery at 7 p.m.

The first exciting event to kick off the Edmonton literary season (a.k.a. October, or whenever the first of the winter-type weather drives us all indoors) is the launch event of the Edmonton Literary Saloon, a fantastic concept dreamed up by local literary lights Marina Endicott (Good to a Fault, Open Arms) and Lynn Coady (Mean Boy, Saints of Big Harbour, Strange Heaven).

To launch this Saloon series in high-style, Coady and Endicott anticipate a very special evening will feature scintillating readings and some gossipy conversation with award-winning authors from the House of Anansi: Karen Solie (Pigeon, 2009), Lisa Moore (February, 2009) and Shani Mootoo (Valmiki’s Daughter, 2009). It's a steal of a deal at $5 to attend and rub elbows with the likes of so many great writers in a room. If that doesn't convince you, maybe this will. SEE YOU THERE!

Join the Edmonton Literary Saloon on Facebook too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blogging and Tweeting...Oh how things change.

Every fall, I teach a foodwriting course or two. I've got a one-day course coming up soon at University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna (October 17) and a two-day course at MacEwan College in Edmonton (November 7 & 14). Last year, I had a few bloggers sign up and I actually used them as my impromptu "experts." (That's the point of blogging...there's no diploma or credentials to become a blogger so the playing field is nice and level.) It really became a round-table discussion amongst peers on blogging do's and don'ts, and what works for them, what doesn't.

That was so last year. I realize I have to whip up a proper component about blogging and also Twitter. It's almost a given now that if you want to get your work seen and "respected", you need to be on-line in some form or another. I must admit, despite my usual reluctance to these sorts of things, I've become addicted to Twitter lately and find it quite useful for information gathering and spreading. I think it also takes the pressure off of bloggers to blog every day.

In other words, I'm compiling good articles or advice on food blogging and tweeting...all and any comments, advice, links are most welcome:)

Dianne Jacob's What Makes a Great Food Blogger link came in from a link via Dinner with Julie thanks to her "Blogher" sidebar.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eat Your Words Food Writing Course at UBC Okanagan

I'm really excited to announce that I'll be teaching my one-day food writing course, Eat Your Words, on Saturday, October 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the UBCO campus. This course is geared to food writers of all levels and covers basics of taking your passion for food, restaurants, and cooking and putting it down on paper, the internet and radio. We'll brainstorm ideas, talk trends, look at pitching to a food editor and figure out how to get your ideas and projects to the next level. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

The cost is $175 plus GST. Email cs.ubco@ubc.ca or call 250-807-9289 to register.

UBC Okanagan (Kelowna) offers great creative writing and continuing education studies and seminars. Click here to go to the UBC Okanagan Continuing Education page with the new fall course lineup.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

2009 Canadian Culinary Book Awards -- Shortlist

The Shortlist has been announced for the 2009 Canadian Culinary Book Awards. And they are:

Short-listed in the English Cookbook Category are:
  • The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book: The Essentials of Home Baking by Elizabeth Baird (Transcontinental Books, Montreal);
  • Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan (McClelland & Stewart Ltd., Toronto);
  • Small Plates for Sharing, Laurie Stempfle, Ed. (Company’s Coming Publishing Limited, Edmonton).
Short-listed in the English Special Interest Category, books about food, but not cookbooks, are:

  • Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Random House Canada, Toronto);
  • Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Toronto).

Three books are short-listed for the Canadian Food Culture Category, books that best illustrate Canada’s rich culinary heritage and food culture:

  • Anita Stewart’s Canada by Anita Stewart (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Toronto);
  • Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms by Margaret Webb (Penguin Group Canada, Toronto);
  • A Taste of Canada: A Culinary Journey by Rose Murray (Whitecap Books Ltd., North Vancouver).

The contest is also open to Canadian French-language books. Short-listed in the French Cookbook Category are:

  • Gibier à poil et à plume: découper, apprêter et cuisiner par Jean-Paul Grappe (Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal) ;
  • Ricardo : parce qu’on a tous de la visite: cuisiner en toutes circonstances par Ricardo (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal);
  • Les secrets des sauces révélés par Jérôme Ferrer (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal).

Short-listed in the French Special Interest Category, books about food but not cookbooks are:

  • Manger, Un jeu d’enfant par Guylaine Guèvremont and Marie-Claude Lortie (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal) ;
  • Répertoire des fromages du Québec, Édition augmentée by Richard Bizier and Roch Nadeau (Les Éditions du Trécarré-Groupe Librex inc., Montréal) ;
  • Les vins du nouveau monde, Volume 2, by Jacques Orhon, (Les Éditions de l’Homme, Montréal).

In the French Canadian Food Culture Category is:

  • Québec capitale gastronomique by Anne L Desjardins (Les Éditions La Presse, Montréal).
Cuisine Canada is a national alliance of Canadian culinary professionals who share a common desire to encourage the development, use and recognition of fine Canadian food and beverages. For more than 140 years, the University of Guelph has contributed to Canadian cuisine in its programs in agriculture, food science, hospitality and tourism management and is the home of one of Canada’s best cookbook collections.

The Canadian Culinary Book awards are sponsored by: Agricultural Adaptation Council, CanolaInfo, Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Parmalat Canada, Beef Information Centre, The Ancaster Old Mill, Niagara College Teaching Winery, The Fairmont Royal York, Niagara College, Borealis Grille & Bar, George Brown College, Georgian College, Liaison College, Rootham Gourmet Preserves, Harbinger Communications, Stratford Chefs School and Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association.

Blue Pencil Cafe

This is the first I've heard of the Canadian Literature Centre (home-base is the U of A Humanities Department) but it seems to be home to some very interesting literary events in Edmonton...including this one:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Food and Wine Writing Course at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna

Yes, I'm taking my show on the road this summer! First: I'm teaching a food and wine writing course at UBC Okanagan's campus in Kelowna. The course, called "Writing the Okanagan Food and Wine Story" runs Monday, July 27 to Friday, July 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $249 plus GST. To register, call Elaine Crebo at 250-807-9981 or email ccs.ubco@ubc.ca.

I've paired up with veteran Kelowna-based wine writer Julianna Hayes for this. Please pass the word on to anyone you know who might be interested. What a great excuse for an Okanagan vacation this summer.

Here's the pitch:

Thirsting for a career in wine writing? Hungering for a way to satisfy those food-writing cravings? The Okanagan is the perfect setting to be inspired and get writing during this hands-on, experience-driven week for the food-and-wine-loving writer. Kelowna-based wine expert, Julianna Hayes (www.vineliving.blogspot.com), will teach you how to turn those swirls, sips, and winery visits from mere tours into compelling wine stories. Alberta-based, award-winning food writer, Jennifer Cockrall-King (www.foodgirl.ca), will explore ways to get to the heart of food stories, either from your own travels or those discovered in the heart of BC’s wine and orchard country. This course will teach budding food and wine writers how to turn their oenological and culinary passions into inspirational articles for newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Price includes wine tastings. Participants must be 19 years of age or older to register.

Instructors: Julianna Hayes & Jennifer Cockrall-King

(Then I am launching The Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop, which will be three days of small group professional development with some of Canada's best food and wine editors and writers. Stay tuned. I'm just finalizing details and I'll post them here as well as on the workshop's official site.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Get Publishing 2009...A Roaring Success

My heartfelt thanks to the hardest working volunteers in the world (writerly hyperbole but it may actually be true). This year's Get Publishing conference in Edmonton was incredibly energizing, informative and fun. There was just the right amount of information, schmoozing and having a laugh with some friends. I mean, there was a great keynote by a South African publisher and a live performance by a Brazilian band and a Capoeria demonstration. What more could you want? It's actually difficult to believe it all happened (and so much more) in just one Saturday.

Aside from the information I gleaned from the sessions and from informal chats with presenters, it was a special priviledge to meet so many of the attendees and hear about their many exciting projects in their heads and in progress. As my co-presenter, Tracy Hyatt, put it: The attendees should have been presenting their knowledge to us, the "experts." I am completely energized by the range of writing projects that were talked about in the formal sessions and over coffee breaks.

I'll post specific gleanings from the conference in future posts. (I'm taking some of my advice that I so confidently doled out in my session on blogging...keep it short, and post more often. I'll try to follow my own advice.)

The above flickr photostream is courtesy of photographer Marilyn Jones of mediamag.ca (full website coming soon) and the Get Publishing group.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blogging about Talking about Blogging

The Get Publishing Conference kicks off today.

I'm looking forward to the event and I'll be talking about blogging and on-line publishing tomorrow at one of the sessions along with my colleagues Tracy Hyatt of Westworld magazine and Mading Ngor, editor of the New Sudan Vision a non-profit Website. Should be fun. I'll report back!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Absinthe and Hot Squid Salad

Last evening was lots of fun. I'm so glad that a few of your could make it out to our first post-food writing course meet up. I PROMISE that we'll have another one soon.

It was a great thing to catch up with those who popped in. A number of interesting things came up:

1) Is Science Fiction a predominately teenage boy obsession? A casual comment I made about a great novel I just read, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, was picked up on by Cathy and now I'm interested in my subconscious belief that science fiction (of which I am a fan) is a more masculine thing than a feminine thing. (Warning: the Junot Diaz book has loads of swearing and vulgarity, but it is brilliant...so unless that puts you off, I highly recommend reading it.)

2) I am currently reading Taras Grescoe's excellent non-fiction award-winning book Bottomfeeder: How to eat ethically in a world of vanishing seafood. My mid-point review is that it is a worthy winner of the Writers' Trust for Non-Fiction Prize in 2008. It's everybit as densely researched BUT completely readable as Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's nice to see food journalism getting such good recognition by the non-fiction world at large.

3) Hanne discussed her current fave "cookbook" which isn't really a cookbook but a fabulous reference: The Flavour Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity,
Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It's a guide to getting the most out of ingredients, with tips, tricks and pairings from some of the best chefs.

4)Then we talked about Okanagan Spirits -- some excellent distilled products made in Vernon, BC. They make an award-winning Absinthe...yes, Absinthe. Yes, it's legal. You can buy it around town at various places, including the Chateau Louis liquor store, Athlone liquor, and a few other places. If you want to find an outlet near you...go to the ALCB database lookup and search for "Okanagan Spirits." Let your fingers do the walking!

Next meetup? That first weekend in May? Maybe the Friday evening, May 1st??

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to Craft Flawless Features

Last Friday was the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association's annual conference in south Calgary. I go each year both as a publisher, but also as a writer. It's a great opportunity to network with editors and make new connections with publications (last year, I met Candace Vallentine from UP! magazine and got an assignment just a few weeks later). The sessions are also very valuable. Some directly, such as this year's "How to Craft a Flawless Feature" by former editor-in-chief of Canadian Geographic Rick Boychuk. Yes, I was taking notes furiously so that I can pass all of his good advice on to you. (I'll save the recap and how we can refocus the information through a food writing lense in a later post. Also, because he generously offered to email me his speaking notes!)

In the meantime, check out the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association blog. Kathe Lemon has expediently posted a couple of session recaps. There might be more to come. I also added a comment with a couple of the more important points that I gathered from the talks (so do read the comments of her posting if you are interested.)

Lastly, I posted a bit of a recap on the sessions on The Edible Prairie Journal's blog.

It was nice to see you, Evelyn, at the event. Which brings me to my next point...

Shall we try to organize a coffee meeting so we can do some catch-up, bragging, complaining and blood-letting of excuses? I'll send around an email.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The New Yorker Food Issue / November 24, 2008

Some of the best food writing for years has been coming out of the New Yorker. NYC being such a foodie city, it tends to be scattered throughout the weekly issues throughout the year. But they devote one issue a year to food -- it seems to be the third week in November. It's a delicious read cover-to-cover. (I just attached the URL of the Table of Contents from the issue to the previous sentence.)

The content doesn't seem to be on-line, unfortunately, but you can probably find this issue and check it out from the Edmonton Public Library. I know the main Stanley Milner branch has a subscription. Or, if you are lucky like I was this year, you'll find it waiting for you at a magazine and book exchange pile!

Great Food Writing in The Walrus' Jan / Feb 2009 issue

Ok, I’m sorry that I am posting this NOW. But the January / February 2009 issue of The Walrus had no fewer than three great features on food issues, and even one shorter piece on the emerging wine region of the Gaspereau valley in Nova Scotia.

First, there’s a very interesting article on Canadian ginseng, Change of Pace: Former tobacco farmers have a bumper new crop to exploit by Robert Hough, and then a very well-researched and up-to-the-moment article on vertical farming, The Future Has Begun: Vertical farms will take eating local to the next level — but are they safe? by Nora Underwood. Finally there’s a very important article on the reality of GMO foods in Canada by Anita Lahey (see below).

If you can’t find this issue still on newstands, don’t panic. You can buy the issue on-line. It’s worth it!!

Here’s the one that really caught my attention.

Do You Know What You’re Eating? Canadians want labels on GM foods. But would we understand them? by Anita Lahey

…especially given it’s opening paragraph:

On May 5, 2008, Conservative MP Rob Merrifield, who represents the Alberta riding of Yellowhead, west of Edmonton, stood up in the House of Commons and told fellow politicians, “My fear is that if we put a label on genetically modified foods, you have an electorate that doesn’t quite understand what that means.”

Click here to read the full article on The Walrus’ website.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Butchers in Edmonton

In last November's class, Shawna was interested in the disappearing case of the local butcher. (Sounds like a murder mystery in the making.)

I was at NAIT last week for a special event, and I happened to stumble upon the NAIT Retail Meatcutting Store! Eureka. Since it's a teaching institution, they love a challenge. They have ready to go meat products in the cooler section, but can accommodate special requests.

NAIT's retail meatcutting store is located in the "Common Market" cafeteria area in the South Lobby. It's open mid-September to mid-December and again mid-January to mid-April (to coincide with the school terms) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The business card I grabbed didn't include a direct phone number to the meatcutting store, but it does list NAIT's school of hospitality general phone number: 780-471-8678.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cooking in Cast Iron

This one's for you, Barb! I came across this post in an email from Cook's Illustrated, one of the many magazines we discussed in class. It seems that there are some food which will develop an "off taste" when cooked in cast iron. Here's the intro to the explanation, followed by the link to the complete posting.

Published January 1, 2003, Cook's Illustrated (from www.cooksillustrated.com)

Can I cook acidic foods in cast iron pans?

The foods most likely to react with iron are acidic ones, such as tomatoes, wine, vinegar, and lemon juice. The acid acts to release some of the metal molecules from the pan surface, causing the cooked food to have a metallic or “off” taste. But will you get the same results with a well-seasoned cast-iron pan? Read the entire post.