Author Laura Sturgeon, with an armload of books written by Alberni Valley-based authors—is launching a writers’ expo to promote the literary talent in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Alberni Valley author organizes writers’ expo

A dearth of venues to sell self-published books led author to create her own

A new writers’ expo planned for Port Alberni on Saturday, March 21 will give writers in the region a place to promote their written work.

The expo is the brainchild of Laura Sturgeon, a relatively new resident to the Alberni Valley who published a young adult book in July. When she moved here two years ago she was surprised at the amount of literary talent living in and around Port Alberni.

“After publishing my (youth) novel, The Big Ugly Sweater, I started connecting with and encouraging other local authors and was inspired to create an event where we can all come together,” Sturgeon said.

“I was really surprised at how many authors there were here and that they like to share their writing.”

Sturgeon became acquainted with the monthly Words On Fire event, held at Char’s Landing, where writers of all ilk and genres gather to hear each others’ work and give feedback if asked. She appreciated the concept of encouraging others, and the camaraderie the event creates. “That’s really important.”

When starting the process of promoting her novel, Sturgeon realized there were numerous places to sell food and craft items, but books didn’t really fall into the farm market, craft fairs or Seedy Saturday format. She, like numerous other authors, chose to self-publish her book, which meant she was responsible for promoting and selling it as well.

Building on friendships and contacts she has made, she decided to create a writers’ expo where people could gather to meet local authors and buy their books.

Port Alberni authors Jacqueline Carmichael (Tweets From the Trenches) and Kim Cormack (Children of Ankh series) have already confirmed their presence at the event. Carmichael is working on another book, while Cormack expects the fifth book in her Children of Ankh series, Tragic Fools, to be released in June 2020.

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Cormack has released a number of books in her Children of Ankh series, which cross over from young adult to new adult: Sweet Sleep, Enlightenment, Let There Be Dragons (for older audiences) and Handlers of Dragons. She calls Children of Ankh a “darkly twisted epic paranormal romance series.”

A spin-off, the C.O.A. Series, features the same universe of characters in Wild Thing, Wicked Thing and Deplorable Me. Her third series starts with Bring Out Our Dead.

Her wicked sense of humour plays out in the pages of her books, as does her passion and dedication to writing. “I began writing this series shortly after my MS diagnosis,” she writes on her website. “I had many reasons to fight. I had incredible children, a wonderful family, and amazing friends, but this series gave me a purpose.

“Whenever things become dark, I use my imagination to find the light within myself. No matter what life throws your way, you are stronger than you believe. My hope is that my characters’ strength becomes an inner voice for the readers that need it.”

Sturgeon will be there with The Big Ugly Sweater, which is her second published book: her first, a collection of short stories for women, called In Bloom, was published a number of years ago. She is rewriting it in the hopes of reissuing it with fresh material. Her third book, a children’s rhyming story, is at the publisher’s now.

Derek Hanebury, a Port Alberni-based author and writing instructor will MC the event. Guitarist Dan McMillan and a pianist will provide background music. There will be readings from authors throughout the day, a children’s reading and writing area, swag and snacks.

Tables for authors cost $20 each.

Sturgeon is hoping for 30 authors or groups to host tables at the writers’ expo. So far she has about a dozen, with feelers out to other authors. For more information on booking a table, Sturgeon can be reached by phone at 250-510-4015 or e-mail

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