Tag Archives: Kim McCullough

Fernie Writers’ Conference

Kim McCullough

Now that the pesky ski season is out of the way, we can start to look forward to summer. And summer in Fernie means writing. Oh right. Hiking and biking and fishing, too.

The fifth year of the Fernie Writers’ Conference takes place from July 17-24 this year and it just keeps getting better. No matter what you write, or even IF you write, the conference has something for you. Workshops and panel discussions abound for the writers in our midst, but there are also keynote addresses and public readings for readers and lit lovers.

If you are a writer, or would like to be, you have many fantastic, successful instructors to choose from. Check out www.ferniewriters.com to check out the line-up. Stay tuned at STS for brief profiles on these instructors and their courses.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know I will again be teaching the Youth (14-18) group this year. If you are a teen (Or know a teen) who likes to write, or may like to write, or hates to write but wants to improve, sign up. The class is pretty flexible. Last year there were poets, short story writers, a pre-journalism student and a few who had started novels. Many students chose to read their work at the public reading for the first time – they were surprised, I think, to find that they were just as talented as the adult readers (if not more so, says their proud teacher!)

The end of the weekend came too soon. We spent the class at Lost Boys’ Café on the mountain where students worked in groups on the “Worst Short Story EVER” contest, where they went against everything I had taught them. One began something like this:

Once upon a time there was the most amazingly beautiful princess who stared at herself in the mirror. “I am wanting to be the most amazingly beautiful princess as I stare at myself. In the mirror,” the most awesomest princessly princess shouted loudly. “Where’s my devastatingly handsome prince?”

(Repetition, adverbs, weak language, cliché, sentence fragments, using “verbs other than said” for speech, dialogue tags, lame opening-just to start! If you didn’t see anything wrong with this story, then PLEASE! Sign up!)

The great thing about the conference is that it takes place in one of the most beautiful places on earth. So along with writing, be sure to save time for all that hiking, biking and fishing stuff. You won’t regret it.

Can’t wait to get back there. It’s going to be a blast.

Fernie Writer’s Conference – 2011 Instructors Announced

fernie writers conference 2011
From the Fernie Writer’s Conference:

Fernie, B.C. – The stage is set and registration is now open for the fifth annual Fernie Writers’ Conference, July 17-24, 2011. Award winning author Marina Endicott and Juno award winning singer songwriter James Keelaghan are just two in the strong line up of instructors teaching at this years’ conference. Other instructors participating in this week long literary event include Aritha Van Herk, Myrna Kostash, Andreas Schroeder, Betty Jane Hegerat, Alison Calder and Sid Marty, as well as the Youth Program instructors Kim McCullough and Monica Meneghetti. Intimate classes of three and five-day writing workshops set in beautiful surroundings form the backbone of the Conference with sessions on fiction, non-fiction, songwriting, and poetry. An integral part of the conference is the youth component, with 3-day workshops offered to budding writers in a fun, informal setting. All workshops are complemented by readings, panel discussions and literary events creating an educational experience for writers and readers alike. Through the generous support of our sponsors, scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance. The Fernie Writers’ Conference is a celebration of writers and writing culminating in a two day literary festival open to the general public with readings from Endicott, Alison Calder, Sid Marty and others. A full schedule of events is posted on the Fernie Writers’ Conference website at www.ferniewriters.com.

Registration for The Fernie Writers’ Conference is now open, and the society offers scholarship opportunities for early registrants and those in need of financial assistance. The Conference runs from July 17th through the 24th with a two-day Literary Festival on the 22nd and 23rd of July.

All courses take place at Fernie Alpine Resort and Conference and Festival events are in Historic Downtown Fernie and nestled in the majestic mountains at Island Lake Lodge.

Our core courses include:
Creating Character with Marina Endicott
Fabricating Fiction with Andreas Schroeder
Creative Non-Fiction with Myrna Kostash
Songwriting with James Keelaghan
The Unlikeliest Story with Aritha Van Herk
Writing in Place, Poetry with Alison Calder
Finding the Want, Defining Desire, Fiction with Betty Jane Hegerat
Youth Writing Workshop with Kim McCullough
Word Candy with Monica Meneghetti

Artisan Chocolatier and Cacao Bean Roaster Opens in Fernie

Disclaimer: Any errors in explanation of the chocolate-making process below are my own. I admit to suffering from a complete cacao-bean overload in the process of sampling the wares. In the interest of good research, I tried them all.

Beanpod Nose. Got one? No? Then you should head down to the new chocolaterie kitty-corner from Overwaitea and get yours. Owner and head cacao bean roaster James will be on hand to make you a latte from beans roasted in-house. And if you’re lucky, he just may pour you a cup of delicious artisan chocolate from the fountain next to the display case.

James’ father, Joe, taps the pane of fingerprinted glass in front of the fountain. “It’s called a sneeze-guard,” he says, “but really, it keeps people from swiping a finger through the chocolate.”

To get your own Beanpod Nose, you’ll have to tip your little cup of chocolate back — way back — to get the very last dregs of sweet, smooth goodness. As you pull the cup away, a line of chocolate will be left along the bridge of your nose. Voilà, Beanpod Nose.

The various contractors that worked on the new business, apparently had it worse. Or better, really, considering they got to sample the chocolate before Beanpod’s doors even opened. “They’d walk out of here at the end of the day, beards covered in chocolate,” laughs James.

James and Mary, owners of Beanpod, have spent the past two years traveling the world, sourcing the beans and equipment they needed to start their business. They have chosen to deal in fair-trade beans, working on a first-name basis with their suppliers in Ecuador. Ethical is a word that comes up again and again in conversation, as is sustainable.

“We used local contractors, and local construction supplies. It’s important to support the local economy.” James taps the counter. “We tried to re-use as many materials as we could. Recycled glass counter-top. The original doors to the building were re-used on the bean room. The floor is made from local fir.”

As James turns to deal with the influx of customers, Joe fills me in on the vintage equipment used to create the exquisite chocolate.

“There are lots of places out there that use modern equipment. They use one machine to do all the work. Beans in, chocolate out the other end.” Factory-made. Good chocolate-making, Joe tells me, is more like an art.

The process is completely visible through the glass wall at the back of the retail area. “Each environment is kept separate — bean room, preparation area, sales area.” Joe points out each area as he talks. “All the ingredients are organic.”

Beans are taken from the huge sacks in the bean room and roasted. Then they are fed into the classic 1948 Mélangeur, where they spend eight hours being de-husked and separated. After that, they go for one or two passes through the Refiner. The last machine is the Conch, where cane sugar is added and the final, gooey product is mixed for up to three days.

All of these steps can be calibrated to different specifications to create different consistencies and flavours of chocolate.

Mary works in the back with a little help from her son. She is the chocolatier, the creator.  The hand-crafted chocolates she brings out taste even better than they look. She’s busy, no time to chat, so it’s James who shows me pictures of the amazing sculptures Mary has created from chocolate.

Suddenly, my old standby, the Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar, is not looking like such a treat.

On this first weekend, the rotating display case offers up four mouth-watering flavour options: raspberry, chili-orange and coffee bean are the pralines of the day, along with a solid dark-chocolate heart. Later on, the Beanpod Bar comes out. It’s a slim chunk of chocolate perfect for sharing. Or not.

So take the time to check out Beanpod, Canada’s Only Traditional Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Maker. Grab an Americano and relax on one of the plush sofas while you page through one of many books on chocolate. The kids have their own area complete with “choc” boards and kids’ books. (A Chocolate Calamity and I Love Chocolate are just two of the titles.) In the coming weeks, Mary and James are planning to have a sculpture out on view, and more flavours of pralines are in the works.

Come and get “schooled” in the art that is chocolate-making. You may even come away with your own fashionable Beanpod Nose.

– Kim McCullough

Freshies Grand Opening

Freshies Cafe in Fernie - Grand Opening 2011
As a teacher, I’m fortunate to be able to spend school breaks in Fernie. In summer this means eight relaxing weeks of river-rafting, disc-golf in James White Park and bike rides up to Mount Fernie Provincial Park.

Things get dodgy in winter, though, when my status is downgraded to part-timer. I find myself jamming my city-bound duties into five never-ending days just to get to those golden forty-four weekend Fernie hours.

When in town on a lazy summer day or in a frenzied winter rush, my visits to Freshies have always been scheduled in ink.  From my very first visit back in 2007, Freshies was the place to meet. Within its rough brick and warm yellow walls, I attended my first author reading, was interviewed for the local paper and was offered a position as a Fernie Writers’ Conference instructor. As time went on, I met more and more locals and became a whiz at picking out the tourists.

Often,  my coffee (or tea) date and I just sat and sipped in front of our plates of home-baked goods and soaked up the chatter of children playing in the front window while their parents (often holding newborns—you know what I’m talking about!) told war stories of the latest snow day or maybe that black bear on the bike trail; or the city guys, talking about snow removal, or road construction; or the sound of laughter coming from the till as another customer was teased and made welcome.

Freshies is the place I brought my five-year-old daughter on warm summer days when she was still too young to attend Adventure Camp. Adventure Camp? Pshaw! Soon I had a little Freshie Fan begging to go back. She’d arrive with her Barbie backpack filled with colouring books and paper and crayons. First order of business: grab a juicebox from the cooler, then find a place to settle in  and colour replicas of all the hand-painted tiles inlaid in the tables as mom yapped to her friends.

So I must admit, I’m a little sad to hear of Freshies’ relocation. It’s been a great touchstone for an out-of-towner. More than a coffee shop, it’s a place to gather and regroup. Come “home,” if only for an hour. Or three.

Pushing aside these maudlin feelings, I think of the day I brought my little girl in for a lunch date. She has a nut allergy, and we weren’t sure we should risk a cross-contamination allergic reaction. When I spoke to Kim about it, she immediately went in the back and found nut-free wraps and fresh veggies. No problem. Soup? Check. Wiping down the prep area, just to be safe? Yep, of course. And throughout the discussion, she included my daughter, asking what she liked, and is this okay? How about that?

You’ve never seen a bigger smile on a little girl. She belonged. This was her place.

In the end, it doesn’t matter where Freshies is — that vibe you get, that heart — comes from the people that run it.

Best of luck! We can’t wait to check out the new digs.

Meet you at Freshies!

– Kim McCullough