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I’m a volunteer at a big one-day literary festival/book fair in my area and can hardly wait to greet everyone.

Prose in the Park, Ottawa, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 6

As a volunteer at the registration table of Ottawa’s first major literary festival/book fair, I’m ready to help you find your way through a maze of simultaneous events. Here’s my advice on how to connect with the tempting books and authors lying in wait:

  •  Before you come, look at the programme. Study the featured authors’ faces, names and book titles. Is there a big name writer you absolutely don’t want to miss meeting or listening to? Make a note of when and where to meet them. Prepare for a crowded site. Bring a camera, your wallet, a watch and a pen.
  • Plan to stay long. This unique gathering of celebrities and raw, fresh talent has varied, fast-paced activities running all day. Biggest attractions are between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.: an interview with Giller-prize-winner Vincent Lam (The Headmaster’s Wager), the Canadian book launch of The Storm Murders by John Farrow and the Ottawa Book launch of Stalin’s Daughter by Governor General-award-winner Rosemary Sullivan.
  • Set out early. Parking will be difficult to find. The site is easy to reach by bus or bicycle. Events will be held as planned, rain or shine. Some of the publishers, book stores, vendors and book launchers will be protected by canvas awnings or tents.
  • Pick up a map when you get to our table so you won’t waste time looking for stage locations, your favorite local author, etc. Every half hour the program on each stage will change as follows:
  • Expert panelists discuss the genres of Short Fiction, War & Civilians, Authors (in French), Vietnam, Crime, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Books (in French) First Nations, Graphic Novels and Identity.
  • Twenty-six authors from seven cities step up to the open mic at 15-minute intervals to read from their books. The program lists the time-slots and topics; moderators watch the clock. Categories are Humour, Thrillers, Literary Fiction & Non Fiction, French-language Authors and Contemporary Fiction.
  • Thirteen publishers and three bookstores inntroduce exciting new book with at launches and signings.
  • The Festival’s almost magical logistics are juggled by an army of organizations and persons brought together under the impetus of the Ottawa Independent Writers’ Club and its president Ian Shaw. His philosophy is to include everyone in an effort by those writers who are established to make things easier for those who are struggling to gain a foothold.
  • Support the 100 talented local authors at their vending tables. Find out at our table who and where they are. These interesting, passionate people with extraordinary experiences have recorded and created their stories just for you. The authoritative humor author Gina Barreca says if you dream of writing a book, the ideal way to start is to go to your bookstore and get all the new books by local writers in the genre you are considering. Literacy is a marketplace. It goes around; we don’t just buy books, we read, we write, we bonds, we benefit from reading and keep the whole enterprise going.
  • Buying books will be your only expense at the Fair and they will pay you back in self-growth many times over. The writing community in Ottawa has come together full strength to prove it’s capable of producing this milestone event. We hope you will have a wonderful day at the Fair — if not at this one, at another one near you.                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  http://www.margaretvirany.com  

My titles A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride can be purchased on the Festival site from a satchel at my feet. These memoirs record a WWI love story and growing up in 1939-50 Toronto, an era that fascinates. In the last two weeks ten copies sold through the ‘extended’ (bookstore) markets of Amazon and CreateSpace.  Do drop by and say ‘Hello’! 

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