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2017 Whistler Writers Festival was a huge success

Whistler at its best – a fresh winter snow

Whistler rarely disappoints its guests and last weekend of the Whistler Writers Festival was no exception as a dusting of snow brightened our first morning. The action-packed four days attracted literary giants and neophytes to share their knowledge and the pure joy of writing and reading literature. Such luminaries as Frances Itani, JJ Lee, David Chariandy, Terry Fallis and Lee Maracle – to name just a very few – generously entertained and informed us.

A series of comedy quickies lightened Thursday evening while the Friday literary cabaret linked distinctive musical scores to powerful readings of the authors’ own work. The cabaret was definitely a highlight.

The stage is set for the Literary Cabaret and announcement of the winners of the Whistler Independent Book Awards

An unanticipated treat was the talented group of artists from Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont who painted in the hallway for a future charity auction. We could watch and discuss the progress of their work with them during the Festival, broadening the artistic scene.

Of course, we weren’t there just for the fun of it. The work part included workshops and panels about publishing, engagement of the audience, and the craft of writing: memoir, fiction and non-fiction, and words put to music – in other words song writing. If crime tickled your fancy, you could lunch while learning crime writers’ secrets.

Distinguished literary panel: Louis Druehl – winner of the manuscript contest, Margo Bates, Miji Campbell, Shelley O’Callaghan, and dynamo and crowd (and my) favourite, JJ Lee

Congratulations to the organizers of the festival and its always-smiling, busy coordinator Stella Harvey for a highly successful event. If you haven’t been to the festival, you are missing a great opportunity. Until next year!

Whistler Writers Festival

I am thrilled to be attending the Whistler Writers Festival from October 12th to 15th. It promises to be a whirlwind of literary enthusiasm with touches of comedy and music as well as lively cabarets and salons of the literary variety. Some of Canada’s best-loved authors, including David Chariandy, Leanne Dunic, Terry Fallis, Steven Heighton, Helen Humphreys, Grant Lawrence, Suzette Mayr, Sandra Ridley, Mark Leiren-Young, Terry Watada, Barbara Gowdy, Monia Mazigh, Frances Itani, Michael Harris and Lee Maracle will tempt us with their stories and share their insights. At the Saturday lunch, John MacLachlan Gray, Sheena Kamal, Michael Redhill, Alisa Smith and Jenny D. Williams, all authors with a penchant for crime (between the covers only), will share dark secrets.

Some authors will have dates with publishers in hope that a golden ring will soon follow. And the highlight for some, on … drum roll … Friday the 13th, will be the announcement of the winners of the Whistler Independent Book Awards. Wish them all luck!!!

Finalists for the 2017 WIBAs in Fiction and Non-fiction

The fiction finalists are:

Annie Daylon for Of Sea and Seed: The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book 1
R.L. Prendergast for The Confessions of Socrates
Farida Somjee for The Beggar’s Dance

The non-fiction finalists are:

Monique Layton for Notes from Elsewhere: Travel and Other Matters
Patricia Sandberg for Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines—A Canadian Story
Paul Shore for Uncorked: My Year in Provence

(Full disclosure: In case you are puzzled, the above scene is not Whistler but is the closest I could get to a winter photo on short notice!)

The true story of a Lake Athabasca mining town

View towards the Gunnar headframe

Thanks to Melissa Shaw of the Uranium Investing News for a great interview the other day. She not only perfectly captured the historical and mining background to the development of Gunnar Mines, she included one of my thoughts about mining practices today:

“People who lived in this town appreciated and valued what they did. Granted, there were some risks with uranium that they didn’t realize, but they really valued the life and they appreciated the efforts that the mining company made to make their lives good there. I feel like we have lost that with the fly-in fly-out [model]. We don’t have that appreciation. We don’t have a family connection to a place, and I think we miss out by that,” Sandberg said.

And then, my next view being of course totally biased in this – the importance of story-telling:

“I feel like we could do a much better job in the mining industry of telling our stories. There are so many stories that are untold about mining in Canada. If we’re not telling those stories they’re going to be lost. Not only that, but it is a way of reaching people who are not in the mining business and letting them understand what mining contributes not just to individual people but to our country,” [Sandberg] said.

There are a lot of “Sandberg saids” here. What do you think of these two points? I would love to know.

You can read the whole article here. And of course you can read the whole true story Sun Dogs and Yellowcake by contacting me here.

Sun Dogs and Yellowcake goes ‘down under’

I am pleased to share another review, this one from the other side of the world! The AusIMM Minerals Institute (that’s Aussie, folks) published a review in their August Bulletin Magazine. The following is an excerpt – the full review can be read here.

“…the author paints a vivid picture of daily life [in the small uranium mining town called Gunnar]. The resulting story of a strong and vibrant community spirit in the face of adversity and isolation has universal appeal and will certainly resonate with anyone who has lived in similar mining towns.” The reviewer goes on to comment on the two international book awards received for the book and its shortlisting for two others, and continues: “In this reviewer’s opinion, these awards are well-deserved.”

Curling helped us survive the long winters

For other reviews of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake, see the “Grab Samples” in the side bar as well as The Ormsby review here.

Canadian Authors Literary Awards for 2017

The Canadian Authors Association (CAA) is a national organization which since 1921 has been dedicated to promoting writers across Canada and to encouraging works of literary and artistic merit. It provides a wide variety of programs, services and resources, and advocacy on behalf of writers. Its annual CanWrite Conference offers authors the opportunity to learn from one another and from experts in the field.

One outstanding service the CAA provides is its Literary Awards which not only recognize a writer’s craft but also provide much-valued recognition and publicity.

On June 24th, CAA announced the 2017 winners:

Fiction: Alissa York for The Naturalist (Randomhouse Canada)
Nominees: Gail Anderson-Dargatz for The Spawning Grounds (Alfred A. Knopf Canada); Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing(PenguinRandomhouse)

Poetry: Johanna Skibsrud for The Description of the World (Wolsak and Wynn)
Nominees: Juliane Okot Bitek for 100 Days (University of Alberta Press); D.S. Stymeist for The Bone Weir (Frontenac House Poetry)

Canadian History: Charlotte Gray for The Promise of Canada (Simon & Schuster Canada)
Nominees: Peter C. Newman for Hostages to Fortune (Simon & Schuster Canada); Jane Urquhart for A Number of Things (HarperCollins Canada)

Emerging Writer: Eva Crocker
Nominees: Richard Kelly Kemick; Maria Toorpakai

Canadian Authors Fred Kerner Award: Margo Wheaton for The Unlit Path Behind the House (Queen’s University Press)
Nominees: Debra Komar for Black River Road (Goose Lane Editions); Patricia Sandberg for Sun Dogs and Yellowcake (Crackingstone Press)

Thanks to Canadian Authors for supporting Canadian writers and for my nomination. Congratulations to the winners and nominees. Thrilled to be in such accomplished company!

Women In Mining BC: Annual Cocktail Reception 2017

Organizing group of WIM BC 2017 Cocktail Reception – and me

 

Speaking to a very attentive audience

It was such a pleasure to speak to the Women in Mining BC group on Thursday, May 17th in the lovely Pan Pacific Hotel. When I practiced mining and securities law, it was a heads-down, get-the-job-done approach and I never joined this group. I now understand what I missed as the camaraderie and support in the group is tremendous.

The organizer of the annual cocktail event asked me if I could share some inspiring words in my role as the evening’s key-note speaker.

The speech was tough to write; Continue reading “Women In Mining BC: Annual Cocktail Reception 2017”

Sun Dogs and Yellowcake wins 2nd International award

Sun Dogs has just won its second international award – it is winner of the International Book Award in the ‘History: General’ category.

My book tells the story of a small uranium mining town in northern Canada, set against the backdrop of the Cold War. I am so pleased that it has received this recognition. Not only does the book reveal history which is long forgotten but the people in Gunnar Mines, Saskatchewan share their lives, laughs, triumphs, and tragedies in this portrait of 1950s Canada. It’s the book about a little town that could and did defy its label as a regional story because it touches everyone who reads it.

Jeffrey Keen, President & CEO of American Book Fest which administers the competition, says of the awards, “The 2017 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the world…. IBA’s success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”
American Book Fest covers books from all sections of the publishing industry—mainstream, independent, & self-published.
…..

IPPY Award

For information about the first award, see the posting on this site about the International Publishers Award (IPPY)  which was also for history.

IPPY Award recognizes Sun Dogs!

IPPY award winners announced.

So much of the credit for this book goes to the many former Gunnar residents who spent hours on the phone and on email with me – and sometimes in person – sharing their personal stories about life in a small mining town in northern Canada in the 1950s and 60s. Without them, this story would not have happened. With them, a part of Canada’s history was brought to life. I am so very pleased to announce that with their efforts and support Sun Dogs and Yellowcake has won an IPPY award.

I am grateful to all. Names such as raconteur banker Bill Shurniak, favourite teacher Phyl Cameron, Joan Buck who related her love story and Gary Ciochetti who did the same, Terry Schorn who continues to be a big Sun Dogs’ booster and George Imeson who was lucky to make it to another movie. Kids like the Irwins, Laroques, Ian Cosgrove, Ken Hoddinott, the McFaddens and others who had the time of their life and proved kids were lucky to survive. Schleiffer, Bengts and Georgijevic – the names of post-war immigrants. The Majeaus, Raineys and O’Neills who still make me laugh when I read their stories. As always, my mother Barbara Sandberg whose stories and memory made this book possible. Continue reading “IPPY Award recognizes Sun Dogs!”

Ormsby Review Sun Dogs and Yellowcake

The car sits submerged for months in the ice, held in place with a tripod and chains

So thrilled to have received this super positive review of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake by BC BookLook‘s Ormsby Review!

Some quotes:

  • You’ve likely never heard of it, but maybe you should have.
  • It’s one of those independently-published books that won’t sell a ton of copies, and yet a strong argument can be made that its appearance is vitally important. It recognizes an epoch of Canadian history that would otherwise have been buried–literally.
  • Not many books get written about the Cold War era of instant towns in isolated places…. it is a scarce research pool into which one dives in search of on-the-ground remembrances, analysis, history, or celebration. Herein lies a major value of this book: it provides a singular document telling, largely in the voices of those who were there, of a place and time unlikely to be retold, repeated anywhere else, or revived once forgotten.
  • Patricia Sandberg deserves a great [deal] of credit for resurrecting Gunnar Mines with a very readable, thorough and–best of all–memorable book.

Please check out the full version here and let me know what you think!

The Ormsby Review is a journal of serious non-fiction. BC BookLook states that its internet presence is to provide as much useful information as possible, about as many B.C. books and authors as possible, to as many people as possible, on a daily basis, via the internet.

The Ormsby Review recognizes excellence in writing and story-telling by independent authors. It is an honour to have received this recognition of the value of Sun Dogs, a book that resurrects the uranium mining town of Gunnar, celebrates miners and northern pioneers, and puts it all into the context of the Cold War and the Arms Race.

Regina, Geology and Friendships

I was so honoured to be invited to speak this past week in Regina at the Saskatchewan Geological Society meeting. The topic was the Gunnar uranium mine up on Lake Athabasca, the subject of my book Sun Dogs and Yellowcake. The weather was chilly but bearable because I rushed from car to building and back again!

Regina hospitality is the best! As a sample, in the two days I wined and dined with good friends and was given a book, art and city tour by another special friend. And I was thrilled to receive the gift of a beautiful painting of Gunnar Mines done by the talented former Uranium City resident Ileana Parkes.

Sabeen and Patricia, CTV Morning Live

An early morning interview on the CTV Morning Live program and a book signing at Chapters completed my trip. You can listen to the interview here.