The 2019 Program Schedule is now available! Please note, programming is subject to changes before the event.
Click to view the 2019 PROGRAM GRID
Presentation and panel descriptions are currently in alphabetical order below. A chronological list will be available soon.
2019 Presentations and workshops
Action 101 with Kristene Perron
Former professional stunt woman, Kristene Perron, shares the realities of high adrenaline action. From fight scenes to car chases, and everything in between, you'll learn how to craft compelling yet believable action scenes.
The Art & Engineering of Making a Living in the Writing World with Sylvia Taylor
Come Out of the Cave and Into the Village! Getting published and making a living isn’t just about writing anymore ~ it’s about building a solid foundation, a platform, of credibility and expertise. For experienced and emerging writers alike, we need to build our presence from the ground up, with good planning, good tools, good materials and creative flair.
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 years 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. We'll discuss equipment, arrest procedures, the concept of Reasonable Probable Grounds, and basic forensics. Bring your questions!
Bullet Journaling for Life Balance with Michelle Vandepol
For writers, editors, and publishing industry professionals looking to avoid burnout or to bounce back from it. A creative and participatory workshop that helps people be productive, excited about work and life, and recharge creatively. Introduction to bullet journaling.
Draw Your Characters with Brenda Carre
Scrivener, Pinterest and magazine pictures may prompt you with images for your main character, but why not find out what a pencil and your subconscious reveal through the art of portraiture? Bring a written description of your character’s face, or a visual reference. Brenda will provide the materials and instruction to define your character with line and shadow. No previous experience necessary.
Emotion in Your Writing with Jonas Saul
Everything is based on emotion. Readers read to feel something. Learn how focussing on emotion in your novel will make your writing stand out, get readers talking about your book, and ultimately, boost your career.
Elemental Tales: How to Deepen Your Writing Using Mythic Structure with Jim Jackson
Myths and folktales are like stream-worn pebbles. Time and repetition have worn these stories down to the very essence of human motivation, human vice, and human desire. Because they’ve been told and retold by people as they went about the work of living, myths and folktales deal with what it means to be human. What it means to exist in the world.
This makes these stories a rich source of proven structures for writers to mine.
In this workshop, we’ll look at a practical structure to get at all that good story-gold and use it to deepen your writing.
Extraordinary People: The Essential Qualities of Good Characters with John Mavin
Most readers look for stories about interesting (and preferably unique) people doing fascinating things in the most surprising of ways they'll always remember (as opposed to stories about ordinary people doing ordinary things in the most ordinary ways they'll soon forget). This session examines the essential qualities of all good characters, giving you the tools to populate your fiction with compelling and memorable people both heroic and villainous (and everything in between).
Figuring Out Freelance with Faye Arcand
Learn how to freelance. From the first decision of who you contact, to what you pitch, and even when you make that connection, can all make a difference of having your article published or not. Learn the steps of how to become a successful freelance writer, from understanding the lingo, setting yourself up for success, and selling yourself.
5 Critical Things to Know for a Successful Signing with Adam Dreece
Many of us stumble into book signings and events, trying to connect with readers and sell our books. Adam shares some vital lessons learned that can make a world of difference.
Getting the Law Stuff Right with Jessica Steiner
So you've thrown your character into a situation that would be best described as... legally dubious, and they've actually been caught. Or maybe you're interested in writing about a lawyer and not instantaneously having them be eaten by a T-Rex. Bring your questions and listen to a real lawyer discuss what most popular media usually gets wrong, and how you can make your characters' brushes with the law as realistic as possible.
Going ALL IN and the Value of Setting “Stretch" Goals with CJ Hunt
Setting SMART goals for yourself is an important part of moving up to the next level in building your writing career. But sometimes what we really need is a big push and a cheerleading team to get us across that finish line. Sometimes you need to really go all in and challenge yourself in a way that gets you outside your comfort zone. In this session we’ll look at what makes a goal effective, how and when you should set “unrealistic” or “stretch” goals, good vs bad rewards, and how you can identify stumbling blocks and use them to help launch you towards your goal instead of tripping on them. You’ll come out of this workshop with a user’s manual for how to best launch yourself at your writing career!
The Gross . . . The Gory . . . And the Stories Behind the Pictures with Dwayne Clayden
The human body can only take so much stress or trauma from a fist, blow from an object, slash or stab from a knife, gunshot or explosion. What really happens when a fist collides with the jaw? Or a knife slashes an arm or stomach? Do gunshots really throw you back ten feet? Are ballistic vests bullet proof? He’ll show what paramedics would do to treat these injuries.
Dwayne answers these and many other questions and helps you put realism into your writing.
This session is not for the faint of heart!
This program has been rated ‘R’.
How to Write About Horses Without Sounding Like an Ass with JM Landels
If you’d like to include horses in your writing and get it right, this session will help you sound like an expert. How far can a horse travel in one day? How would you care for it on a long journey? What are the costs of owning a horse? How varied are their personalities and what relationships do they really create with humans? JM Landels heads up Academie Duello's Cavaliere Mounted Combat Program. She has been swordfighting since 2008, and riding since before she could walk. Come learn from the voice of experience.
How to Write Contemporary Fiction Against Political Backdrops with Ian T. Shaw
For centuries, some of the best novels ever written have had poignant political backdrops: War and Peace, 1984, Exodus, Candide, and Darkness at Noon are just a few of the most memorable. But writing fiction set against politics is risky, especially when it concerns contemporary politics and still-to-be resolved conflicts. So for the few who dare to tread into the world of the political novel, this presentation is for you. You will learn how to identify the sweet spot between fictional episodes and historically accurate frameworks, avoid stereotyping your characters, keep your notes off the pages until readers have related to your characters, and many other techniques that could turn a one-dimensional political thriller into a significant work of fiction.
Indie Publishing 101 with Jo-Anne McLean and Diana Steven
In the last decade, self-publishing has exploded and with all the resources available, it’s easier than ever to get your book ready for the marketplace. If you’re considering self-publishing, this workshop will clear away some of the clutter and light the path. JP McLean and Diana Stevan will discuss publishing opportunities and obstacles, and provide resources to help you sort out ISBNs, BISAC codes, and US tax requirements. They’ll talk about digital versus print and the options available for printing and distribution.
Jumpstart Your Novel with Mark Teppo
In this hour long presentation, Mark Teppo will discuss techniques for brainstorming the bare-bones outline for a novel. He’ll discuss the Core Questions, show you how to map your (still unwritten) book to several classic narrative structures, and to envision the movie trailer of your (yep, still unwritten) book. At the end of this presentation your book will almost write itself. Almost.
Practical Approaches to Physical Barriers: Locks in Literature with Alistair Holness
Often heroes find themselves on the wrong side of a lock. An enemy stronghold isn't just full of open doors, sensitive documents aren't left strewn about a desk, and prisoners aren't politely asked to stay put. So how does your hero find their way out of (or into) trouble? The devil's in the details. Get a professional account of lock picking, key impressioning, and bypassing security hardware to flesh out those heroic burglary scenes. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of various locks and safes over the course of human history, and what to expect in the near future of security.
Rookie Mistakes and How to Avoid Them with Michelle Barker
Summary: Are you struggling to find a publisher for your novel? Maybe you’re making some rookie mistakes in your writing. Or maybe it’s the submission process that’s causing the problem. In this workshop you’ll learn how to spot some common errors, correct them, and make your submissions shine.
Scene and Sequel with Gail Sattler
Learn how to build your story and keep it moving using the concept of Scene and Sequel from Dwight Swain's book Techniques of the Selling Writer. Keep your plot building, have your characters grow, then build to a black moment your readers will never forget because they are so bonded with your characters.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers with Lisa Voisin and Eileen Cook
Writing is a craft, a career, and a journey. From BOCHOK (butt on chair, hands on keyboard) to time management, there are habits all writers build that foster success. Join Eileen Cook and Lisa Voisin to learn how to build some of these habits for yourself and get the most out of your writing journey. Using skills evaluation exercises to meditation techniques, this is sure to be an exciting, affirming, hands-on workshop for all levels of writers.
Writing Short Fiction with KT Wagner
In 2019, there are a lot of good reasons to write short stories. The form is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, and it’s 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 twenty of KT Wagner's short stories are published or pending. She’ll share her perspective, techniques (including the use of constraints), and approaches in this class.
Showing, Not Telling with Robert J. Sawyer
Everyone knows you're supposed to show, not tell – but what does that mean exactly? How do you convey information without coming out and saying it? How can you show emotion without naming it? And when should you tell instead of show?
Slow Burn, No Burn, or Burn it All to the Ground — Tips on Writing Effective Relationships with Barbara Ferrer
The thought of committing a relationship to the page — whether it’s friendship, familial, romantic, or antagonistic — has been known to give even the most seasoned writer pause. How do you make it work and not sound like you’re lobbying for a spot as a Bulwer-Lytton finalist? In this hour, we’ll discuss relationships depicted in books (and onscreen). what makes them work, what makes them flop, and we’ll even tackle the dreaded “purple prose.”
Ten Steps to Selling Your Manuscript with Janine Cross and Linda DeMeulemeester
You've 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.
Trad vs. Indie: What Are My Options and What's Best for Me? With Jennifer Sommersby
Best-selling indie author and self-pub teacher Mark Dawson says, "There's never been a better time to be a writer." He's so right! Think of the possibilities! If your dream involves querying agents and seeking a traditional deal, those eager agents and publishers await your masterpiece. But other options exist, including independent (or self-) publishing, an avenue with its own perks and potholes. And of course, why can't we have our cake and eat it too by becoming a "hybrid" author, both traditional and indie? How do you decide on the right choice for YOUR book(s)? Join hybrid author Jennifer Sommersby as she offers some real-world feedback on trad vs. indie publishing to help you put your best publishing foot forward.
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.
Whose Plot is it Anyway? With Randy McCharles
Most novels and short fiction begin with an idea. The delivery of that idea is what makes each story unique. Delivery includes voice, character, and other elements, but most of all plot. Whether you are an outliner or a pantser, this workshop will provide you with several tools to help make your fiction sing, as well as enable greater productivity, and reduce writer’s block.
Writing Realistic Paramedic Scenes with Dwayne Clayden
There are a lot of emergency medical procedurals on TV and in the movies. Unfortunately, much of the “procedure” they show is not accurate. As writers, those shows may be our only experience with paramedics, and so we write what we have seen. It’s entertaining and fast-paced. Even when your brain says, “Hey wait a minute…” But when readers come to a point in the story that doesn’t make sense, they stop reading. They may decide that the writer doesn’t know what they are taking about, and put the book down. We don’t want that!
In this session I’ll show you what really happens as paramedics prepare for an emergency response, what happens during the response, how they ensure they are safe, what they look for when they arrive on the scene and at the patient, and when they really use lights and sirens.
Writing for Young Adults with Gabrielle Sara Prendergast
This session will briefly outline the publishing category Young Adult Fiction while discussing many common misconceptions about this popular and lucrative part of the book industry. The session will include guidelines for writing in this category, and discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages. We will cover YA tropes, and touch on some controversial issues in YA, such as sexuality and diversity.
Your Shitty First Draft with Donna Barker
In Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott asks us to embrace our shitty first draft. It’s good advice and yet so hard for most writers to follow. Our inner editors and inner critics, it seems, have formed a not-so-secret bond and work together to convince us to write polished prose right out of the pen. The result can be self-doubt, writers block, and simply giving up since the stories in our heads are so much better than what we see in our first drafts. In this workshop you’ll learn several mind tricks (all based in science) to help you embrace and feel great about your shitty first draft.
*Please note, programming is subject to change up until the event.
Adding Mystery to Your Fiction
Jim Jackson (M), Kelley Armstrong, Dwayne Clayden, Matt Hughes, Barb Ferrer
Most stories have a mystery element to them. How do you choose appropriate mystery elements? How do you keep the mystery going without giving it away to the audience? Should you give enough clues for the reader to figure it out? Bring your mysterious questions to our panelists and they will answer, or not, it’s unknown.
Best Advice I Ever Received
Michelle Vandepol (M), Adam Dreece, Eileen Kernaghan, Joshua Pantalleresco, Gail Sattler
Save time and effort by coming out to listen to professional authors and artists share the best advice they've received about writing and the publishing industry. Take away lessons that have been passed down to them, as well as ones from their own experiences.
Between Floors: What is an Elevator Pitch, and How Do You Create One?
Barbara Gordon (M), Kelley Armstrong, Janine Cross, Stacey Kondla, Dean Wells
Workshopping how to compress thousands of words of plot and character into a one-to-three sentence hook that will catch a publisher or agent.
Adam Dreece (M), DD Barant, Dwayne Clayden, Chloe Cocking, Linda CJ Hunt
Join panelists as they discuss recovering from life and finding your voice again.
Continuing Education and Professional Development for Writers
KT Wagner (M), Kelley Armstrong, John Mavin, Holly Schofield, Jennifer Sommersby
Writing is both a skill and an art. Readers are often surprised to learn about the multiple levels of construction that go into an enjoyable story. Much like a guild, apprentices learn from journeymen and masters. However, beyond skill-acquisition, education and pro-d are an opportunity to connect with community and refill the creative well. Panel members will discuss the depth and breadth of educational opportunities for writers and how they have benefited (or not) in their writing practice.
Creating Believable Characters
Dean Wells (M), Tyner Gillies, JP (Jo-Anne) McLean, Joshua Pantalleresco, Diana Stevan
How do you convince your readers that your imaginary friends are real… at least in the story?
Dwayne Clayden (M), Michelle Barker, JM Landels, Jonas Saul, Dean Wells
Top Agent Donald Maass says there should be tension on every page. How do we accomplish that? How do we get our readers hooked on the anticipation of what will happen next? How do we keep them invested in what happens to our characters and what happens in our world of the novel?
Designing Character Backgrounds
Eileen Cook (M), Colleen Anderson, Chloe Cocking, Diana Stevan, Dean Wells
You have an idea for a character, now you have to figure out how to flesh out the character. Come listen to our panelists discuss how to do this.
Feeding Your Muse
Katherine Koller (M), Stephanie Charette, Jim Jackson, Mark Teppo, Lisa Voisin
The creative process can often be a tricky one, and it is easy to fall into ruts or hit a blank wall. Our panelists will discuss how to develop ideas, create compelling subject matter, and what do next when you find yourself stuck, not knowing what to do for your next piece of art, writing or other creative project
Finding Homes for Short Stories, a Structured Approach
KT Wagner (M), Faye Arcand, Donna Barker, T.S. Bazelli, Kristene Perron
Researching markets, setting up a system to keep track of current and past submissions, tracking upcoming submission calls and contests, managing contracts and shopping reprints can start to feel like a part-time job (often taking significant time away from writing!). Or perhaps you are reluctant to submit your short stories because the entire process is daunting. Panel members will discuss their submission strategies and help simplify and demystify the path to short fiction publication.
Great Dialogue Breathes Life into a Story
Adam Dreece, Katherine Koller, John Mavin, JP (Jo-Anne) McLean, Brie Wells
How many lines of dialogue from your favorite novel or movie can you recite? Good dialogue sparkles. It has an eavesdropping quality to it. It's a bit like overhearing a conversation and straining to hear more because it's simply too seductive to ignore. How can an author develop their ear to write dialogue that makes each character distinct and propels the plot in varied ways? In this panel, we will examine tools and tips in writing good dialogue.
How Editors Think
Katrina Archer (M), R. Graeme Cameron, Melanie Cossey, JM Landels, Syliva Taylor
What do editors appreciate in an author, both in their attention to craft and their professional interactions? Come and listen to editors share their experiences and insight on how to find and develop an effective relationship with an editor.
How to Create a Killer Opening
Kristene Perron (M), DD Barant, T.S. Bazelli, Tyner Gillies, Randy McCharles
We hear it over and over again. Your opening needs to GRAB people. How exactly do you do that? How do you get your first pages to jump out at editors, agents, publishers and readers?
How to Create a Writing Routine (and Stick with It)
Krista Wallace (M), Kelley Armstrong, CJ Hunt, Jonas Saul, KT Wagner
Do you find yourself procrastinating your writing? Having a hard time getting into a groove of writing consistently? What are the best ways to create a writing routine and to keep it going?
How to Get an Agent
Eileen Cook (M), Brenda Carre, Janine Cross, Linda DeMeulemeester, Stacey Kondla
Where should you start looking? What should you look for? What should your expectations be? Do you even need an agent? There’s a lot to talk about. Join our pros for a talk about agents.
How to Swim Through a Sea of Rejections
Michelle Vandepol (M), Stacey Kondla, Jim Jackson, Dean Wells, Brie Wells
Rejections are tough. How do you keep going when they start piling up and you feel like quitting? How do you know when something shouldn't be sent out any more? Join authors, editors, slush readers and publishers as they discuss how to deal with those rejection letters.
Is All Procrastination Fear?
Adam Dreece (M), Michelle Barker, Brenda Carre, Elissa McColl, Stacey M. Miller
Do you sit down to write but find yourself roaming social media? Or do you get the sudden urge to do laundry or make phone calls instead? Do we procrastinate because writing is too hard? Or is it out of fear and if so, what are we afraid of? Or is it a lack of motivation or ideas? Join the panelists as they discuss procrastination and how to deal with it.
Levels of Editing
Barbara Ferrer (M), Manny Frishberg, JM Landels, Lewis Pollak, Jennifer Sommersby
Let’s talk about developmental edits, line edits, professional editors, alpha and beta readers. What are the differences? Which happens at what point in the process? How much do you do on your own? How do you know whether to pay for any editing if you’re self-publishing or traditional publishing? So many questions. Our panelists will attempt to answer these and any others you bring.
Live Action Slush – General Edition
Michelle Barker (M), JM Landels, Lewis Pollak, Sylvia Taylor, Krista Wallace (R)
Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the first page of your manuscript to be anonymously read aloud, and to receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational!
Live Action Slush – YA/MG Edition
Michelle Barker (M), Stacey Kondla, Tash McAdam, Randy McCharles, Andrea Westaway (R)
Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the first page of your YA or MG manuscript to be anonymously read aloud, and to receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational!
Multi-Stream Income for Writers
Donna Barker (M), Eileen Cook, Mel Dawn, CJ Hunt, Sylvia Taylor
Having a side hustle helps many writers get noticed and pay the bills. This panel led discussion focuses on the good, the bad, and the ugly of juggling several writer jobs. (P.S. CJ. Hunt and I are likely suspects.)
Mysteries of Youth
Linda DeMeulemeester (M), Stacey Kondla, Tash McAdam, G.S (Gabrielle) Prendergast, Holly Schofield
What separates a YA or children’s mystery from an adult one besides subject matter? How grim can you get for a younger audience?
Plot or Character: Which Comes First?
Tom D Wright (M), Wren Handman, Matt Hughes, Manny Frishberg, Farida Somjee
What is most important to a good story: a fast moving and/or engaging plot to carry you away, or characters that you can identify with, or at least care about? You can have one without the other, but when should you? And, does plot emerge from the character’s needs and desires, or is the character born to serve the plot?
Joshua Pantalleresco (M), CJ Hunt, G.S (Gabrielle) Prendergast, Frank Talaber, Andrea Westaway
Are you interested in starting a podcast? What does it take? How do you begin? How do you build an audience and keep it? If you’re podcasting fiction, what are the differences authors need to keep in mind when writing for the spoken word?
Researching Made Easy
Donna Barker (M), Eileen Kernaghan, G.S (Gabrielle) Prendergast, Jonas Saul, Krista Wallace
Panelists discuss how to research a novel or short story, and ways to make research accurate and fun without overwhelming the reader with everything you know, along with sources and tools anyone can use for both current and historical fiction.
Scrivener, the Introduction
Jonathan Sean Lyster (M), Kelley Armstrong, CJ Hunt, Bryce Raffle
Those who use Scrivener are passionate devotees who believe those who don’t use it just don’t understand it yet. Are you nterested in learning more about Scrivener, some of the basics, and why those who love it, love it?
Silence Your Inner Critic
Mark Teppo (M), Brenda Carre, Ian T. Shaw, Lisa Voisin, Tom D Wright
How do you shut off that voice that tells us we’re not good enough, not talented enough, not enough to write? Should we? Or does it serve a purpose? Join panelists as they discuss why this happens, what you can do about it, and how to make it work for you, not against you.
Starting is the Hardest Part. Or is it Finishing?
Krista Wallace (M), Faye Arcand, Donna Barker, Dean Wells, Tom D Wright
Have you always wanted to write but could never even think how to get started? Whether it’s blogs, news reports, reviews, short stories or novels, how does one get the pen (or keyboard) rolling?
Stories from Self-Publishing
JP (Jo-Anne) McLean (M), Adam Dreece, Kristene Perron, Jonas Saul, Jennifer Sommersby
There is a lot of information out there about self-publishing, but how good is it? Join our panel of self-publishing authors to discuss their experiences with online publishing, marketing methods, cover designs, book formatting, and the many other components that go into a self-published book.
Storytelling on the Fly
Kristene Perron (M), Barb Ferrer, Jim Jackson, JM Landels, Mark Teppo
Writers know that nasty little editorial voice that wants to control every idea, every sentence, every word. Come and share some laughs with these writers as they send that nasty voice away kicking and screaming. With only a few prompts, they will create a story together, one sentence at a time. It WILL have a beginning, middle and an end. It WILL NOT make much sense. There WILL be mirth.
Write What You Know or Write What You Want
Lisa Voisin (M), Eileen Kernaghan, Jonathan Sean Lyster, Bryce Raffle, Diana Stevan
The advice used to be to write what you know. In these days of the internet research, does this still apply? Has it ever? Should you write things you don’t know about? How outside your own personal experiences do you or should you feel comfortable writing?
Writing Fight Scenes
Kristene Perron (M), Tyner Gillies, JM Landels, Tash McAdam, G.S (Gabrielle) Prendergast
Join panelists for tips on writing effective fight scenes. Learn what to include, what to avoid, how to make them fit your story and dispel some myths and fallacies about fighting. Battles may break out among panelists.
Writing The Future
G.S (Gabrielle) Prendergast (M), Manny Frishberg, Wren Handman, Matt Hughes, Robert J. Sawyer
How do you create a credible near future? What things are likely to change, what will stay the same? How do you incorporate changes in the environment, economy, politics and culture into a believable future?
8:00 - 8:10 - Eileen Kernaghan
8:10 - 8:20 - Michelle Barker
8:20 - 8:30 - Barbara Ferrer
8:30 - 8:40 - Tyner Gillies
8:40 - 8:50 - Matt Hughes
8:50 - 9:00 - Jim Jackson
Friday Charity Reading - More Info TBA!
4:00 - 4:10 - DD Barant
4:10 - 4:20 - Brenda Carre
4:20 - 4:30 - Katherine Koller
4:30 - 4:40 - Bryce Raffle
4:40 - 4:50 - Rhea Rose
4:50 - 5:00 - Sylvia Taylor
5:00 - 5:10 - KT Wagner
5:10 - 5:20 - Dean Wells
PULP LITERATURE LAUNCH PARTY