2018 Presentations




The Alchemy of LifeStory: Turning Memories into Manuscripts with Sylvia Taylor

From cave walls to computers, humans have been sharing the stories of their lives. Everyone has a LifeStory worth telling and itÕs never too late or too early to tell it. Whether itÕs a whole-life autobiography, or slice-of-life memoir, take your stories to the next level and contribute to a legacy of history, heritage, and understanding.


Block Busters: How to Overcome WriterÕs Block with Chloe Cocking

In the quest toward a completed manuscript, both emerging and established writers may suffer from some form of writerÕs block. (ThatÕs why we bang our heads on our desks so much.) In this practical, hands-on workshop, writers will learn how to bust the block and come to love writing again. Topics covered include: The Seven Types of WriterÕs Block; Practical Exercises to Relieve Drudgery, Stop Self-criticism, and Replenish Creativity; What to Try After YouÕve Tried Everything (and You are Still Blocked).


Blue Stories: How to Get the Law Enforcement Details Right in Your Fiction with Tyner Gillies

Have you had trouble getting the fine policing details right in your story? Tyner, an RCMP patrol sergeant, with over thirteen yearsÕ policing service, is here to help you. In this class you'll learn some of the common mistakes writers make, and the policing details you need to give your story that realistic punch. WeÕll discuss equipment, arrest procedures, the concept of Reasonable Probable Grounds, and basic forensics. Bring your questions!


Creating Immersive Worlds with Adam Dreece

We love those types of story worlds where we are so pulled in, we feel the dampness of the air on our skin, and hear the croaking of the spider-goats in the fields. But how can we shake our imaginations loose and do that? Adam Dreece shares his lessons and thoughts from bringing his steampunk meets fairytale, post-apocalyptic fantasy, gritty sci-fi future, and other worlds to life.


Creating Your WHAT with Your WHO(s) with SG Wong

No matter the genre you write, every story benefits from a bit of mystery. We all love to discover something of the unknown as a tale unfolds, donÕt we? But how do you craft a compelling, well-paced plot to bring your story to life? Begin with your character(s) and watch your narrative grow with their unique choices and perspectives. Learn how to create intriguing people for your fiction—people who ultimately drive your action forward. Bring your imagination to bear on this session of brainstorming, character development, and structural plotting. No, really, itÕll be fun!

The Definitive Truths Behind Your Anger and Mental Health with Jason Lee
Unravel the myths about anger and learn the truths about what makes you feel angry. Discover quick and easy tools you can use to diffuse anger and understand how anger affects your mental health. Based on lived experiences, this engaging presentation is one you wonÕt want to miss


Developing Graphic Novels with Sadiq Somjee

This presentation will take you through the complete process of developing graphic novels from concept to production. Sadiq will cover examples of successful graphic novels, scripts, thumbnails, storyboards, layouts, dialog development and the visual narrative. The process of developing a graphic novel has many of the same elements as writing a script and a novel.


Discover and interpret your writerÕs temperament with Donna Barker and Elizabeth Teliz-McQuarrie
What is your writerÕs temperament style and why does it matter? Using a combination of a traditional personality test and a unique writerÕs temperament analysis, created specifically for this course, you will learn how to create a new writing habit that leverages your natural writerÕs temperament Ń and steers clear of approaches that may work for other writers but donÕt work for you Ń to become a more productive and confident writer.

Fire Up your Fiction with Dwayne Clayden

If youÕre looking to bring your characters and scenes to life, tighten your writing, pick up the pace, and develop a more authentic voice, this is the presentation for you. YouÕll get clear, concrete advice with examples for: showing instead of telling, streamlining your writing, avoiding info dumps, choosing words that nail it, breaking formal writing habits, creating tense action scenes, writing tension filled dialogue, and much more.


Guided Meditation for Writers with Michele Fogal

Find out how to unlock your imaginative world using simple, reliable techniques. DonÕt just visualize your scenes and communicate with your characters—step into an otherworldly experience that transports you right inside the story that youÕre working on—or the story thatÕs working on you. 


How to Build a Story with John Mavin
Good stories donÕt just happen, theyÕre built, and as architects use blueprints, writers need sound structures to create effective emotional journeys for their readers. In this session weÕll explore the structural elements shared by all stories (from linear to unconventional), uncover the differences between plot and structure, and give you the tools to build emotionally satisfying stories again and again.


Improvising Into Writing with Manny Frishberg

I learned most of the essential elements of writing fiction (in particular) by doing improvisational theatre. Like all theatre, improv is, at heart, storytelling. As is fiction writing, so itÕs not surprising to find ways they connect. In this participatory workshop, we use improv games and exercises to explore character, setting and plot in a new way. Be prepared to get up and move (with appropriate accommodation for disabilities, of course).


Learn the Secret Formula to Unlocking Your Freelance Writing Dreams with Michelle Vandepol

If you are looking to gain the skills to publish an article in your favourite magazine, this workshop (suitable for both the published and unpublished) is for you. Michelle Vandepol will lead this interactive workshop that includes informational background into the consumer magazine publishing industry, group identification of concepts, practicing writing oneÕs own query letter, and providing group feedback and peer voting for the most effective query letter. A prize will be provided for the winner.


Memorable Author Readings with Jim Jackson
Author readings are an essential piece of building your tribe in todayÕs economy of connection. Giving an author reading seems easy Š you just get up there and read, right? But what are you doing to wow your fans so much that they canÕt forget you? What are you doing to compete against Netflix and Candy Crush? This workshop uses time-tested and cutting- edge techniques to make your readings memorable, conquer nerves and deliver your writing in your unique voice. Whether youÕre an old hand at author readings or quiver at the thought, this workshop is for you.

Practical Linguistics in the Development of Voice with Author Guest of Honour, Kevin Hearne
Come join our Author Guest of Honour, Kevin Hearne


Real Life Superwomen with Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels and Kristene Perron
What do you get when you put an MMA fighter, a pro fitness competitor, a mounted combat expert and a stuntwoman together on one panel? A rousing discussion about the realities of being a Ņstrong womanÓ and how that compares with their portrayal in fiction. Join authors Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels, and Kristene Perron as they KAPOW the stereotypes and share the truth about the lives of superwomen.


Slush Pile Confidential with JM Landels
Learn what goes on behind the scenes at a literary press. What is the slush pile, how does it work, how long should you wait for a response? Learn what catches an editorÕs eye and what can turn them off your story, and, once itÕs accepted, what steps it goes through to become a published work.


Swords and Martial Arts for Writers with Devon Boorman

Join the sword master for an informative and action-packed session on swords and martial arts for writers. Devon will bring weapons with him!


Top 10 Steps to Sell Your Manuscript with Janine Cross and Linda DeMuelemeester

YouÕve written the story—now what? In this workshop, learn ten crucial steps on how to get an agent/editor hooked by your manuscript. Participants will learn tips for how to make their manuscript shine above the slush-pile, avoid common editing mistakes, write a solid query & synopsis, and find a genre-perfect agent. 


Understanding Literary Publishing Deals and Legal Agreements with Jeff Young

This seminar will provide attendees with an opportunity to understand the legal and business ramifications of entering into publishing agreements, literary option agreements and the like, as well as to ask legal questions that would otherwise only be available through private consultation.


What Are the Limitations of YA? with Kevin Harkness and Wendy Phillips

Is anything out of bounds for a YA audience? Edgy language, sexuality, violence, death—itÕs all part of the package. Join the discussion with two YA writers who grapple with, fight over, and sometimes ignore the shifting boundaries of the YA literary genre.


What Drug is the Perfect Murder Weapon? with Dwayne Clayden

Did I really just offer this as a conference topic? You have to believe me, IÕm not crazed or vindictive, and donÕt have a criminal streak in me. What I am, though, is a fiction writer. A crime writer. A paramedic. I write about murder, mayhem and emergency medicine (usually all three mixed together). That stimulates lots of thoughts about the perfect crime. In fact, planning the perfect crime is always churning inside my head. So back to that question: What drug would a killer IN YOUR NOVEL use to create the perfect murder? Before I answer that, let me take a minute to give a general disclaimer. DONÕT TRY THIS AT HOME WITHOUT SUPERVISION. Scratch that! Simply, DONÕT TRY THIS! But do attend this entertaining and informative session!


Writer On Fire! with Donna Barker

How long have you had Ņwrite a bookÓ on your bucket list? More than 3 years? More than 5 years? Guess what, youÕre normal! In a recent survey of 202 aspiring authors, fully 35% had been thinking about, and are sort-of, kind-of working on their first book for 10 years or longer! In this workshop youÕll do three powerful exercises that will give you the courage to make a firm commitment to becoming a published author before this time next year. These tested and proven exercises will be your touch points to keep you on-track, even when youÕd rather be cleaning the garage than staring down your manuscript.


Writing for Comics with Bevan Thomas
Join Bevan Thomas, writer and editor for Cloudscape Comics, as he talks about writing comics: the inspirations, the process, and the final result. How do you get ideas? What should go into a comic script? What makes writing for comics different from writing for something else? And, of course, the most important question: if you can't draw, how do you find someone to illustrate your story? Whether youÕre interested in intensely autobiographical graphic novels, thrilling superhero action, evocative manga, humorous cartoons, wild science fiction, or some other genre altogether, this presentation will show you how itÕs done.


Writing Short Fiction with KT Wagner

In 2018 there are a lot of good reasons to write short stories. The form is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and itÕs an excellent path to reaching readers and connecting with publishers. Writing short is also a way to test-drive other genres and stretch your creative muscles. More than fifteen of KT WagnerÕs short stories are published or pending. SheÕll share her perspective and approaches in this class.


Yoga for Writers with Christel Bodenbender

Coming back fresh from four weeks of yoga teacher training in India, Christel invites you to this workshop to find body and mind relaxation for the benefit of your creative work. Join us to support your posture and stretch those muscles that became stiff from too much sitting, be it while writing or attending panels.


Your Story Sucks! (that is NOT what I said...) How to Work with a Critique Partner with Krista Wallace and Jonathan Lyster

How can you work together effectively without destroying your friendship? Jonathan and Krista have been critiquing each otherÕs writing for more years than either one has fingers. See them role-play their list of DoÕs and DonÕts for how to be helpful while having fun doing it.





New West WritersÕ Critiques

Encompassing three hours, each hour allows three authors to have their work critiqued in a group, as well as to offer their input to the two other participants. Signing up ahead of time is required. Please stay tuned for sign up.


Tricks of the Trade I Would Have Taught My Younger Self with Brenda Carre

The pros always tell you it takes grit and practice with the craft to get where they are, but every aspiring pro can use a mentor to give them some writerly tools for their tool box. Knowing these tools and how they work is a good way to apply grit and practice in the right direction—tools that help you produce that missing ingredient of originality to your work. Space is limited so arrive a few minutes early if you can.






Keynote at the Banquet:


The Power of, No, Damnit, IÕm Doing This with Adam Dreece


*Please note, banquet tickets are a separate cost from the festival pass.