Read By the Sea celebrates 20 years

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River John was a not so quiet village this weekend as volunteers were busy getting visiting authors to their marks on schedule for their awaiting fans.

Read by the Sea is in its 20th year celebrating literacy. By bringing Canada’s best authors and poets to Nova Scotia’s North Shore, this festival is one people travel home for.

Saturday started with the Pitch the Publisher event, having guests represent four publishers including Chocolate River Publishing, MacIntyre Purcell, New World Publishing and Bouton d’Or Acadie on the panel. John Ashton, master of ceremonies, welcomed the previously approved writers to take the stage and, in three minutes, wow the panel in hopes of getting their book published. Thekla Atlmann and Lana Shupe were two such aspiring authors who intrigued the judges.

Shupe, now living in Calgary, said she “hopes to retire in two years and move” with River John being a potential place to settle. Having helped with Read by the Sea in the past as well as Sheree Fitch’s bookstore Mabel Murple’s Bookshoppe and Dreamery, Shupe loves to return to the quite village.

Last minute contestant Nancy Larsen said, “It was a good thing doing that,” about her impromptu talk with the panel as she was unprepared but hooked her audience with the idea of a children’s book.

The main event saw Colin Campbell, a New York best-selling author with ties to Nova Scotia, take the stage to read from his book Free Days With George. Each author, including Mayann Francis, Kevin Major, Allan Cooper and Elizabeth Hay, read from their current or upcoming books and were then interviewed by local Lana MacEachern or Trecia Schell. The lunch break saw Matt Kenney and Jon Raven take the stage with some original music as well as some classics.

Mayann Francis, from Sydney, NS, and now living in Halifax, says she “has smashed glass ceilings” and is a change advocate when it comes to understanding “through conversations, that’s when you think and move forward.”

Indigo had a table set up with the visiting authors book for purchase so fans could get their book signed before the authors had to return home.

The group of dedicated volunteers will rest for only a week before getting started on planning next year’s festival and invite you to volunteer for the 21st Read by the Sea Literacy Festival by clicking on Contact Us at

Mayann Francis reads from her book, An Honourable Life, during Read By the Sea last weekend in River John. (Butland photo)