Workshops & Panel Discussions 2017


In arranging our 20 workshops, we’ve tried to offer something of interest to every author at all times (and tried to avoid making you pick between the two that interest you most!) In each concurrent session time slot (A, B, C, & D), choose from five workshops; scroll down to see them.  You’ll get a chance to hear from almost every presenter, because most are also participating in the panel discussions (scroll down further to see those) or speaking during one of our meals (see our Speakers page).

If you’re looking for the “extra” workshops and on-on-ones some presenters are offering, click here.

Still have questions? See our FAQs for more.

Session A

A1: Three Steps to a Strong Narrative Themejennifermanuel
with Jennifer Manuel
A story dramatizes an argument about life. Learn three steps to refining your argument, or theme, then use it to weld meaning and emotion on every page. Explore how theme can guide your decisions about narrative structure and scene development..

A2: Avoiding the Infodump in Fantasy WritingMichelle Barker
with Michelle Barker

Learn how to world-build in a way that keeps the story moving, rather than resorting to the infodump. We will explore how to write in scene, how to show rather than tell, and how to tell effectively when necessary.

A3: Writing for Children and Young Adultssimon-rose
with Simon Rose
Explore the art of writing stories and novels for children and young adults. Examine the role of research, planning, pacing your story, developing characters, connecting with the reader, choosing settings, the role of adults in children’s stories, and more.

A4: Catching Readers’ Attention: Hooks and Bait elma-martens-schemenauer-credit-robert-s-schemenauer2
with Elma Schemenauer

How do you create a dynamite hook for your article, novel, short story, or other writing? Learn the secrets, from first sentence, to first paragraph, to the forward momentum that will keep your readers turning the pages.

A5: Anatomy of a Screenplay: The Basics RevealedPJ Reece
with PJ Reece

Starting with the bare bones of story structure, we’ll see how the best scripts are fleshed out to compel audiences and become Oscar winners. We’ll understand what Hemingway meant when he said prose is architecture, not interior decorating.

Session B

B1: Building Better Articles: A Blueprint for Successsylvia-taylor
with Sylvia Taylor

Short, punchy, timely articles will get you on the expressway to Publishville and build your writing portfolio like nothing else. Learn journalist techniques that grab and keep reader attention and get your work into newspapers and magazines.

B2: Imagery: Where Poetry and Prose IntersectMichelle Barker
with Michelle Barker
Stephen King says all good writing is a form of telepathy. How is this best accomplished? By using strong imagery. Poetry is renowned for its memorable imagery. We’ll do writing exercises to strengthen this muscle—and maybe even attempt a Haiku.

B3: Time Travel: Not Just a Thing of the Pastsimon-rose
with Simon Rose
In this session, we’ll examine the continuing appeal of time travel stories for all ages and the complexity of the genre. Learn how to make your time travel method plausible, the important of research, and how to include time travel elements in your story.

B4: Fiction Flaws: Find Them, Fix Themelma-martens-schemenauer-credit-robert-s-schemenauer2
with Elma Schemenauer
Learn how to identify and repair flaws in setting, characterization, and plot, also flaws at paragraph level and sentence level. Flaws to be discussed include fake dialogue, “nowhere no-when” scenes, string-of-beads action, squid-on-the-mantelpiece action, clichés, misplaced modifiers, and information dumps.

B5: The Hero Must Die: Creating Memorable CharactersPJ Reece
with PJ Reece
Your protagonist is your plot. Starting with that premise, we’ll follow the trajectory of a fictional character from her initial aspirations to the essential failure at the heart of her story. This is about giving readers their money’s worth.

Session C

C1: Getting Published Q&ALorna Nicholson
with Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Find out what it takes to get traditionally published. Bring questions. This session will give you the information you need to go home and get that query letter started.

c2: What She Said: Writing Effective DialogueMichelle Barker
with Michelle Barker

What your characters say, and how they say it, can advance your story as well as show—not tell—who your characters are. We’ll look at the tricks and pitfalls to writing good dialogue, and try writing some ourselves.

C3: You’re an Agent– Sign me Up!Robert Mackwood
with Robert Mackwood
There is common saying in book publishing that it is easier to find a publisher than an agent. If that’s true, it begs the question – Why is that? What is the best route to take to get a book published? Is finding an agent the best place to put your efforts? Ultimately, the best home for your project might be different than you think.

C4: Writing and Researching the Historical Novelrobert-w-mackay2-2
with Robert W. Mackay
Historical fiction is a strange beast. It requires adherence to historical facts, but is a unique creation of the author’s mind. Robert Mackay shows how to combine the writing process and research to make your story believable and a page-turner.

C5: Book Design Inside and Out suzanne-anderson
with Suzanne Anderson
The interior of a book is just as important as the cover. Poor book design shows the buyer that you are an amateur. You are competing with professionals. I will discuss elements of book design and the necessary software.

Session D

D1: Writing the Query LetterLorna Nicholson
with Lorna Schultz Nicholson
The query letter is one of the hardest letters to write. Come with your book idea and try your hand at writing a query letter that you can send off to publishers. Lorna will guide you through, paragraph by paragraph.

D2: Sparkling Prose Using Play-Wright Performer Toolbox caitlin-hicks
with Caitlin Hicks

Hearing your words read is essential to learn what works in your writing: the cadence, the logic, continuity. It helps you edit. It encourages you to write. I’ll share a short piece of writing honed through performance, then participants will read their work aloud, using my creative to learn what works..

D3: Writing for Publicationsimon-rose
with Simon Rose
Have you ever read a novel, short story, or nonfiction article and thought, “I could have written that”? Learn where to find ideas and turn them into a marketable venture from concept to draft and how the various markets operate.

D4: Fictionalizing Real Lifeelma-martens-schemenauer-credit-robert-s-schemenauer2
with Elma Schemenauer
An Okanagan childhood, a bittersweet romance, or a travel adventure can inspire us to write. Why might we choose to fictionalize such experiences rather than write them as fact? This workshop will consider reasons and explore ways of re-creating reality.

D5: How to Self-Publish a Booksuzanne-anderson
with Suzanne Anderson

There is more than one way to self-publish your book and it can be difficult to choose which method to use. I will talk about self-publishing, subsidy publishing, and POD publishing.

Panel Discussions

#1 (Saturday)

Today’s Publishing Options with moderator Sylvia Taylor and panelists Simon Rose, Jennifer Manuel, Robert W. Mackay, and Caitlin Hicks.
This panel looks at choosing your route. We’ll touch on the pros and cons of self publishing, traditional publishing, and hybrid publishing, along with who to hire, what to know, what to avoid.

#2 (Sunday)

Today’s Marketing Options with moderator PJ Reece and panelists Lorna Schultz Nicholson, Robert Mackwood and Sylvia Taylor. How do you find your readers? How do your readers find you? Tips and tricks, perils and pitfalls, smashing success stories. Select the tools that best work for you, your genre, your goals…