Workshop Topics


Morning Workshops

Afternoon Workshops


Note: These take place on Saturday, April 30.

Archetypes, Characters and YOU **FULLY BOOKED**

Donna Morrissey

Donna Morrissey“Whether writing Fiction, Memoir, or examining Self, we are our own Characters. And as someone once said, I’d rather be the hero in my own story than a side-character in someone else’s.”

This intensive Master Class will help you:

  • Learn to write authentic Characters in Fiction, Memoir OR/AND develop one’s self as Hero Character
  • Identify three stages of the Hero’s Journey
  • Learn what Archetypes are and how they make up and influence Personality.
  • Understand the Ego Archetypes: Innocent/Orphan/Warrior/Caregiver
  • Recognize how dominant Innocent/Orphan/Warrior/Caregiver are in your Personality or that the characters peopling your lives/stories.

Learn how to write the Hero story OR/AND be the Hero in our own stories.


Creativity KickStarter: Discovering the Power of Play

Heather TuckerHeather Tucker

Play wakes up the brain, sparks imagination and unleashes creativity. Too often, being a grounded adult gets in the way of flights of fantasy. Jumping into spirited play frees the writer to take risks, conquer fears and discover new possibilities in their stories. Writers ‘work hard’ at honing their craft. In this master class participants will ‘play easy’ at harnessing their imagination.
Through hands-on play individuals will learn to quiet the editor, tap into their unique voice and identify sensual details that bring their stories to life. They will take home strategies and resources for incorporating play into their writing life as well as fresh compositions to weave into their work.


Close Encounters: The Art of Writing Collaboratively

Dale R LongDale R. Long and Tobin Elliott

Peter Straub on writing The Talisman with Stephen King: “I’d written the last sentence, and Steve said, ‘You know what?’ and he sat down and plugged in a long phrase between commas that enhanced that last sentence. Beautifully. We had this intense experience which was very joyful. We just barreled through. It was a profound experience.”

Tobin ElliottThis intensive Masterclass will help you:

  • Learn the various ways and styles of collaborative writing
  • Understand the dos and don’ts of collaborative writing
  • Determine what makes a good collaborative partner
  • Uncover tips and best practices to collaborate successfully
  • Know what to do if it doesn’t work

We may even partner you up in class with small collaborative exercises.

Learn how two control freaks like Tobin and Dale have learned to happily and successfully collaborate and produce work that neither could have completed on their own.


Morning Workshops

Ruth WalkerLaura ApolM-E GirardAnne MacLachlanAllyson Latta

BEGINNER: From Inspiration to Publication: Creative Writing 101

Ruth E. Walker
Join award-winning writer, Ruth E. Walker, for a dip into inspiration and creativity. Ruth welcomes new writers to a relaxed two-hour workshop to play with words and share ideas and insights through hands-on exercises and fun activities. You’ll be invited to risk a little and try on different forms of creative writing. Useful handouts will help you get ready to submit professional-standard material to the right market. This session will suit developing writers early in their career or those exploring an interest in creative writing.


BEGINNER: Using Writing for Healing

Dr. Laura Apol
Writers often claim (and research supports) that writing can have healing properties as we seek to make sense of and give voice to experiences and events of our lives.  In this session, we will talk a bit about how writing for healing works and what role it can play in our lives; then we will work through exercises and prompts that allow writers to move more deeply into the writing-for-healing process.  Throughout, we will step back to reflect on how writing can facilitate our own healing, explore ways of using writing to facilitate the healing of others, and consider what we do with this “private” writing if we want to take it further into a more public sphere.


INTERMEDIATE: Adding a Little Queer to Your Fiction: The Dos and Don’ts

M-E Girard
Whether a writer is intentionally setting out to incorporate queerness to their cast of characters, or they’re telling a story that happens to feature an LGBTQ character, the whole idea of representing queer diversity might be intimidating. What are a writer’s responsibilities when it comes to representing a queer character in their fiction? What is to be avoided? And once the work is out in the world—what happens when a writer gets called out for their portrayal of a queer character? This workshop aims to prepare writers without in-depth knowledge of queer and gender studies to cast queer characters in their stories—and to feel confident about doing so.

What this workshop will cover:

  • Defining queerness
  • Queer tropes in fiction
  • Terminology—the official, the good, the ugly
  • Sex vs. Gender
  • Gendered language, political correctness, misogyny, sexism, queerphobia
  • Writing “other”—privilege, marginalization, representation
  • Main characters vs. secondary characters—plot, character arcs, overall message
  • Tips for creating a fleshed-out queer character
  • Being called out for what you wrote—backlash is almost inevitable
  • Resources


ADVANCED: 20 Social Media Superchargers  **FULLY BOOKED**

Anne MacLachlan
It’s hard to be the life of the party if you don’t know what to say. This two-hour workshop reveals how to craft catchy content for Facebook & Twitter.

You’ll learn:

  • how to put on your marketing hat without taking off your creative fedora
  • low-tech ways to design your own high-impact graphics
  • where to find shareable content
  • five-minute fixes (what to post when you need to focus on your writing)
  • what kind of posts lead to book sales
  • which social media tools and tactics best suit your personal writing persona

Discover 20 tactics for building your online tribe of readers and fellow writing professionals, and — dare we say it? — how social media can even kickstart your creative muse!

ADVANCED: Many Voices: Diversity in Memoir

Allyson Latta

Memoirs at their best can open windows onto unfamiliar worlds or provide mirrors reflecting known ones, depending on the reader’s perspective. Their personal nature and immediacy make them a vibrant means of exploring the diversity of human experience, and especially themes of belonging or marginalization. How has being included in or excluded from a particular group – based on culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, illness, disability, or other – shaped your life? How can you write about such influences in a way that touches your readers and promotes understanding and acceptance? In a country as richly textured as Canada, there is no one story, no one voice. Make yours heard. “Diverse stories,” says Marieke Nijkamp, “allow all of us to listen.” Through discussion, exercise, and examples, Allyson Latta explores this topic and outlines an approach to crafting a first-person narrative that encourages reader empathy and a deeper appreciation of lives that may be different from their own.


Afternoon Workshops

2016 afternoon speakers

BEGINNER: Publishing Roundtable **FULLY BOOKED**

Mike O’Connor, Jim Nason, Mark Lefebvre, Carly Watters

Not sure where your writing fits into the market? Wish you knew what the next steps were? Want to understand how to navigate the publishing landscape’s recent changes? This presentation session (including Q & A) will help writers understand and meet the requirements of the complex and ever-changing publishing industry in Canada with information (from various perspectives) and then allowing for sharing of insights through follow-up questions. A not-to-be-missed session!


INTERMEDIATE: Cultural World-Building

Amanda Sun
Whether it’s travel writing, fiction, or genre fiction, creating authentic worlds of diversity and culture is a must. How do we write about characters with diverse backgrounds, or set our work in other countries? Which details should we include, and which should we leave out? How do we convince and engage the reader? Amanda Sun, with her background in Archaeology and her Aurora Award-nominated trilogy set in Japan, will take you through what resources and tips you need to write authentically and respectfully about other cultures, and how to develop believable societies from scratch for world-building.


INTERMEDIATE: Can’t Go Under It, Can’t Go Over It

Farzana Doctor
This workshop addresses our inner critics and writer-blocking triggers. Farzana will teach anxiety-reduction skills to help writers both calm and effectively address the fears that often stop writers in their tracks. She will also address strategies and routines that boost writing.

How can experienced writers notice and address writing routines that they may have outgrown or that have become stale? How can they return to their artistic purpose, honour their unique and diverse voices and reinvigorate their writing?

This workshop was inspired by Farzana’s struggles while writing her third novel, All Inclusive, and is geared to both emerging and experienced writers.


ADVANCED: Watch Your Language

Gwynn Scheltema
When done right, dialect, foreign languages, accents and other linguistic touches provide diversity and authenticity to dialogue. Get it wrong and you have character stereotypes, saying more about the author‘s assumptions than about the characters. In this workshop, let Gwynn Scheltema help you make sure that what is being said is not overshadowed by how it’s being said.


ADVANCED: Having Faith in your Writing

Alison Pick
This fun, interactive workshop will explore writing from a place of faith—in ourselves, in our instincts, and in the world around us. Learn how to write confidently through the dark places, and how to transform that darkness into something beautiful.

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