A Virgin No More...


That's right, unlike most of the amazing writers who get this newsletter, I am a blog virgin. Not many of those left these days!


kc has done such a great job keeping everything up to date and making sure everyone is informed  that I thought she deserved a break for a day, while I introduce you to the team behind the scenes of the Surrey International Writers' Conference.


Most visible at the event would be our fearless Conference Coordinator, kc dyer. kc has taken on a huge project coordinating this conference and does an amazing job stalking, I mean inviting, presenters from the far reaching industry of publishing.


With an energy and creative zest that I have never seen in one person before, we have ourselves in good hands with her. (And she has some very cool tights!)


The member of the board that I contact most often is Carmen Merrells. Carmen has fulfilled a dream many of us share and is a published writer. How she manages writing on top of going to school, working at the library, having an active family that loves camping in the summer with their energetic young son – all this and she still manages to find time to put together a conference with us!


Carmen, to me, is my organized saviour. She has a memory that amazes me at times and is probably one of the most diplomatic people on the board, which is good, we need one of those!


Tara Holt joined the Board last year and is now our chair. Tara works for the school district here in Surrey and she manages to keep the lines of communication open for all the needs of the conference. She is also probably the best dressed board member in my opinion – if only I would fit her clothes I would love to raid her closet! You will see Tara running the registration area of the conference.


Sue Goddard is the poster queen. Sue swears she is involved in all this as a "reader" and "fan" but she is amazingly creative and I have no doubt would be heavy competition for a publishing contract if she ever did decide to write a book! Sue's job(s) are probably the most varied of the board members, but she can organize information for public posting with the best of them and make sure all of our presenters make it to the conference from the airport.


Estelle Bogoch-Stelmach is a busy bee! She teaches in her day job and at night appears as the Super Trade Show Organizer for the conference. A job for nothing less than a super hero – and our super hero has a green thumb of which I am seriously jealous! (Maybe we should get her some of those cool tights kc has in case she needs to change in a phone booth sometime…)


Camille Netherton has taken on the task of making sure the rest of us manage to finish our jobs on schedule. Poor girl.


On top of keeping us all in line, Camille is our volunteer coordinator. She has the job of hunting down willing volunteers to make sure this event goes smoothly. This is Camille's second year on the board and I love having her here! It's nice to no longer be the only member willing to order a martini for lunch J


A publisher in her own right, as well as journalist, writer and Cloverdale Expert extraordinare – Ursula Maxwell is in her 16th year on the board. That's right, she has stuck it out since day one. 16 years ago this conference was a one day event with 40 attendees and thanks to Ursula, and past board members who made it possible, we have grown in leaps and bounds.


Ursula is the numbers lady. She keeps track of our accounts and has yet to phone us laughing from some tropical beach, so we figure she can keep those books for as long as she is willing. Writing press releases, helping with marketing and working with the local Arts Council are just a few of the of the other jobs Ursula tends to for our little group.


Bonnie Deren, our past chair, has been with the conference for as long as I can remember. Any of you who attend will know Bonnie as the lady who never leaves the registration desk. She set up our methods (and possibly our madness) in this extremely complicated area of the conference weekend.


I have learned a lot from Bonnie over the years and though her new school district position doesn't put her directly in our line of fire, I mean family, she is always available to bounce questions off of so we do not need to attempt to reinvent the wheel.


Now the people with two of the hardest jobs of all: Dale McGladdery & Laurel Hickey. Dale and Laurel are not board members but they have the awesome (and at times overwhelming I am sure) job of making us look good! Laurel designs the brochure (and bookmarks and posters….) for us. She takes a HUGE amount of information and manages to find a way to fit it all in, that makes sense and looks FANTASTIC! Dale is our webmaster. Our website underwent (and is undergoing) tons of changes this year and without Dale they would not have been anywhere near possible.


I suppose I should tell you a bit about me. My name is Carrie Higgins and I have been on the board a few years now after overcoming an addiction to volunteering for this conference – oh, wait, as a Board member, I guess I'm still volunteering. I am proud to be a part of this amazing group and have learned a ton from each and every one of them. I am in marketing professionally so that tends to be my area of the conference as well.


I am a paper craft addict who tries to find time to make cards and scrapbook around my conference work and full time job. Of course this is made more difficult by my furry roommate who likes to try to jump in my sparkles or paint while meowing at me to scratch her.


I have dreamed of starting a blog for years now and I suppose I could say this is the first step, I am no longer a blog writing virgin!


-Carrie Higgins, SiWC Board Member