Networking in Lethbridge

Last week, I went to Lethbridge to speak and read at the opening night of the Lethbridge Library Conference. This was my first presentation with an actual copy of Deadly Fall. I dressed for the occasion in a dark brown skirt and yellow shirt, which happen to be the colours of the Deadly Fall cover. I hadn’t thought about co-ordinating book cover and wardrobe before, but it’s not a bad idea.

Fellow writer Anne Sorbie picked me up in Calgary at noon on Thursday. I had met Anne only once briefly, but judged her a person with whom I could spend time in a car and share a hotel room. We arrived a few hours before our scheduled restaurant dinner with librarians and other writers travelling from Calgary. During our wait, we explored the hotel, had a snack and tea, went for a walk on the ridge outside the hotel and selected our passages to read that evening for our allotted five minutes.

From dinner, we drove to the Lethbridge library Crossings Branch, a large, lovely building on the outskirts of town. We five presenters were seated in front of the fireplace. Event organizer, Susan Toy, introduced us in turn. I spoke about the premise of Deadly Fall and read the excerpt on the inside flap, the beginning of Chapter Two. The librarians announced that the first Lethbridge Word on the Street will take place Sept 25, 2011.

Cake, mingling and book sales and signings followed the formal events. I spent a long time chatting with Neil McKinnon, a classmate from a years ago short story course at the Alexandra Writers Centre. He was in Lethbridge visiting his mother-in-law and had seen my name on the event poster. Neil’s short story collection Tuckahoe Slidebottle was published in 2007 and shortlisted for the Leacock Humour award. He spends most of the year in Mexico and told me about an annual writing conference in Puerto Vallarata, which I’d love an excuse to re-visit. I’ve since made contact with the PV writers’ group that organizes the conference and become an online member. Just reading about their writing activities in warm, sunny Mexico gives a boost to my winter day.

At our hotel, Anne and I had received a spring fling coupon for a platter of appetizers. We invited attendes to our hotel lounge for wine and food in a garden setting. One who came along was Blaine Greenwood, a Lethbridge poet and disc jokey at the university radio station. He invited us to the staion the next day to record 10-15 minute readings from our books. Anne and I got up early; Blaine drove us to the station in snow that foreshadowed a tough drive home. In a closed off room, I read Chapter One from Deadly Fall. Blaine plans to stagger the broadcasts and will let us know when they air. He won’t post the recordings on the radio website, so we’ll have to try to catch them “live.”

After our recordings, Anne and I hit the road. Conditions were white with snow drifted onto the left lane. A snowblower ahead of us blew up so much snow it reduced our visibility to zero at times. The snowblower got farther ahead; other vehicles passed; down the road we saw one smashed into the snowblower’s rear. Anne got us safely through. In addition to being a great travel compantion, she’s an A-one driver. As we reached Okotoks, the sun came out. We stopped for coffee with Okotoks writer Lee Kvern.

Altogether, it was an interesting, fun and productive trip that promises future opportunities. Many thanks to Susan Toy and Lethbridge librarian Elisabeth Hegerat for organizing it.