Speaker Biographies and Sessions Information

Writing Strategies Sessions Art Sessions Adult Sessions

Writing Strategies Sessions

Cook Up a Story!

Presenter: Bill Bunn
Session #1

Workshop: Ever wondered how to cook a delicious story? We’ll use an old story recipe. Add one small hero. Add a medium-sized villain. Stew over high heat. And one onion. Add a dash of this and that to suit your own taste. Then, bring it to a boil. In no time at all, we’ll whip up a spicy story, hot and fresh!

Biography: Bill Bunn is a young adult author. Out on the Drink came out February, 2018! He’s published two other young adult novels: Kill Shot, 2015, and Duck Boy, 2012. He is currently writing two pages a day to generate the rough draft of his next novel.

Writing a Gift of Story

Presenter: Miji Campbell
Session #2

Workshop: Give a gift that you made yourself! This workshop invites you to write a gift of story for someone special.You will be given suggestions to start your story. Please bring a photograph or object that reminds you of this special person.

Biography: Miji Campbell is a writer and teacher. Her work has appeared in many publications including Reader's Digest, Today's Parent magazine, and the Calgary Herald. Her memoir "Separation Anxiety: A Coming of Middle Age Story" was winner of the 2016 Whistler Independent Book Award. Visit Miji at www.writewhereyouare.ca

Marty Chan's Temple of Word Fu

Presenter: Marty Chan
Session #3

Workshop: Author Marty Chan reveals the ancient secrets of Word Fu. Discover how to use words that will deliver maximum impact. Marty reveals a surefire combination of writing techniques to knock out your readers.

Biography: Marty Chan writes books for kids and plays for adults. He's best known for his Marty Chan Mystery series. His latest novel is Kung Fu Master.

How to Create Heroes Readers Will Love

Presenter: Craig DiLouie
Session #4

Workshop: Why do great characters make great stories, and how do you create great characters? Using the movie SHREK as an example, author Craig DiLouie provides tips and tools for creating characters that come alive, bring the reader into the story, and complete a satisfying journey.

Biography: Craig DiLouie is a professional writer of adult fiction who has written numerous sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and other books for major publishers, small presses, and self-published.

I Don't Know What To Write

Presenter: Lois Donovan
Session #5

Workshop: Have you ever felt as though your last really great idea just left, slamming the door on the way out? Or you have this awesome idea that just shrivels up three sentences in? In this session discover how to transform random things into story gems and keep the ideas flowing. The best part? It's fun!

Biography: Lois Donovan is a time traveller who draws readers into stories from Canada's past. She has lived in four provinces and visited every province from coast to coast. Currently Lois lives in Calgary with her husband and teen daughter, When she isn't writing, she enjoys reading and going for nature walks with her two Shelties.

Writing Games (Grades 5 – 6)

Presenter: J.M. (Jeanette) Dover
Session #6

Workshop: Writing is fun! Have you ever played a game to make your writing jump off the page? In this workshop we will use a wide range of activities to take your writing to the next level. Come prepared to discover new ways to write and expand your creativity.

Biography: J.M. (Jeanette) Dover writes fantasy stories for young adults of all ages. Finding Atlantis was published by Evil Alter Ego Press in 2018. It is an Aurora Award finalist and has received Five Stars from Readers’ Favorite. Return to Atlantis, the second book in the Atlantis trilogy, will be published in March 2020.

Crafting Great Villains

Presenter: Adam Dreece
Session #7

Workshop: Every great villain is the hero of their own story! Come and learn how to make your own villains who are so awesome that you'll love them more than the heroes (Well, almost)

Biography: Adam Dreece is an author with a lot of passionate for telling stories and helping others unleash their stories. Known best for his steampunk and fairy tale books (The Yellow Hoods) and his high-action dark fantasy post-apocalyptic series (The Wizard Killer), Adam is working on an all new over-the-top space series.

Creating Dialogue Through Drama

Presenter: Susan Forest
Session #8

Workshop: Dialogue is a key element of story, allowing the reader to see characters come to life, act, and interact. Come to this workshop ready to create dialogue through drama, then use multiple techniques to turn the characters' words into a scene with action and emotion. The workshop will finish with an opportunity to write and to share.

Biography: Four-time Aurora Award finalist, Susan writes SF, fantasy and horror. Her stories have appeared in Asimov’s and Analog, among others. Her YA Novel, The Dragon Prince, won the Children's Book Choice Award, and her epic fantasy, Bursts of Fire, first of a seven book series, came out in 2019 from Laksa Media. Website: speculative-fiction.ca

From Still Life to Real Life

Presenter: Barbori Garnet
Session #9

Workshop: Students will learn about bringing stories and characters to life through the use of description. Students will also create a front and back cover of their very own book.

Biography: Barbori Garnet is a Creative Arts professional – writer, artist and musician. She enjoys writing non-fiction, letters, and fiction. Barbori has a BFA in Painting & Drawing and an MA Communications in Public Relations. Visit Barbori online at www.barborigarnet.com

A Liar's Contest

Presenter: Karen Gummo
Session #10

Workshop: Truth is stranger than fiction. How did you fall into that trap, off that cliff, or end up running for your life? We'll search our memory bank for the surprising bits. Who will disguise themselves as you and reveal a new twist to the story? Will the real culprit stand up? We shall build our storytelling skills, and engage in a Liar's Contest.

Biography: Karen is an author, illustrator, dancer, singer, dreamer and storyteller whose first goal is to help people to connect. She has been travelling across Calgary, Alberta, Canada and all the way to Iceland to pursue her love for storytelling for 30 years. Now she has written and illustrated a book called Ladybird Fly. History is her story.

Amaze Yourself With Your Own Imagination

Presenter: Janet Gurtler
Session #11

Workshop: With Janet's help you'll create an imaginary character that will come to life on your pages. You’ll be amazed at how well you’ll know your character’s story by the time we finish the workshop! Don't worry, it's easy, (and fun) but come prepared to write!

Biography: Janet Gurtler is the author of over twenty books, including a series about mermaids called, Mermaid Kingdom. Janet lives in Okotoks with her husband, son, a cranky old Chihuahua named Bruce and a Golden Retriever puppy named Betty White. Check out Janet’s books on her webpage at www.janet-gurtler.com

Using YOUR Unique Perspective/Talents to Create Children's Books

Presenter: Tamara Hackett
Session #12

Workshop: No matter how old you are or what you have done in your life - YOU can create (write and illustrate) a book for young children that is unlike anything that is out there. I'll help you find your voice, style and uniqueness while giving you all the tools you will need to actually print your book or submit to a publisher.

Biography: Tamara Hackett is an author/illustrator of several Internationally best-selling children's books including Mindful ABCs and Mindful 1,2,3. Tamara uses her watercolour paintings and original graphic design to create an aesthetic unique to her brand of mindfulness based resources and materials through her publishing company Sweet Clover Studios.

Creative Naturally!

Presenter: Susanne Heaton
Session #13

Workshop: Unlock your writing creativity naturally through 8 simple steps with this award-winning children's author. Prepare to be amazed at your results.

Biography: Susanne Heaton is the author of the award-wining children’s book, The ABC Field Guide to Faeries. She is passionate about nature and sparking creativity for others so that their story can be shared. Susanne is Motivated by Nature! www.motivatedbynature.com

Word Play!

Presenter: Stephanie Hrehirchuk
Session #14

Workshop: It starts with one word, then two. We follow the energy to string together a surprising sentence. Get out of your head and have some fun playing with your words!

Biography: Stephanie Hrehirchuk is the author of Anna and the Earth Angel, Anna and the Tree Fort, Anna and the Food Forest, and Anna and the Christmas Tree. She has published books in memoir, wellness, and personal growth. Her poem The Big Black Boots is available through the Short Story Dispenser at the Calgary Central Public Library.


Presenter: Kathy Jessup
Session #15

Workshop: Ready for a writing workout? In this session, we'll explore ways to breathe energy into stories through a character's body language, gestures, and actions. As a group, we'll act out some simple, improvised scenes, getting a feel for body movement and emotions. Then, our challenge is to capture that experience and put it on the page!

Biography: Kathy has held workshops and storytelling shows at schools, libraries, concerts, and festivals, across Canada and internationally. Her tales have been published in various literary venues, and her CD “LISTEN UP!" is recommended by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Kathy’s workshops inspire creativity -and fun- in students of all ages!

Travel an Ancient Path to Hidden Treasure (grades 4 - 6)

Presenter: Suzanne Lamontagne / Vandenberg
Session #16

Workshop: Come explore ancient and mysterious paths that lead you to discover burried gems. We will look deep within to uncover these jewels and then use descriptive writing to reflect their true beauty and value. Come and be surprised by this journey. (grades 4-6)

Biography: Suzanne Lamontagne / Vandenberg has written and illustrated three children's poetry books: I Have a Dream... Do You Have One Too?, The Treasure and just recently, Peter the Pinecone. Suzanne is also an artist and a teacher. Her books are best suited for grades 4-6.

What's So Funny? Exercising Your Funny Bone

Presenter: Jan Markley
Session #17

Workshop: So, your friends think you're funny. How do you take what's funny and write it into your stories? We will explore what makes writing funny, and the different literary devices you can use to bring the funny to the page. Students - be prepared to spill some ink!

Biography: Jan is a writer living in Calgary. She has published two novels for young readers. Dead Frog on the Porch (Gumboot Books 2009) was her debut novel, and the first in the Megabyte Mystery series. The second in the series is Dead Bird through the Cat Door (Gumboot Books 2010). Both are comedic mystery adventure novels for children aged 8-12 years.

Unsolved Mysteries -- Air, Land and Sea!

Presenter: Shirlee Smith Matheson
Session #18

Workshop: Newspapers & Internet articles relate mysterious events. How might we learn more? We'll uncover exciting details by "interviewing" the people involved, discover startling facts behind basic stories, and write opening lines and paragraphs for stories that are "amazing and true".

Biography: True tales are related in Shirlee's nonfiction books - Amazing Flights & Flyers; and Lost! Unsolved Mysteries of Canadian Aviation. Young adult novels include Flying Ghosts; The Gambler’s Daughter; and Jailbird Kid. Shirlee regularly presents readings and writing workshops, and enjoys tours featuring these and her new book, This Was Our Valley.

Write On! Writing Rules!

Presenter: Paula Matikainen
Session #19

Workshop: Do you love playing with words? Do you like to create vivid images for your readers? If so, this is the session for you! Join Paula and Sheryl for an interactive journey where you can learn amazing writing strategies that will wow your readers, teachers, family and friends!

Biography: Paula and Sheryl are two CBE teachers. When Paula was a kid she hated EVERYTHING about writing. Meanwhile, Sheryl loved EVERYTHING about writing. They met at the University of Lethbridge while completing their Master’s Degrees, which focused on Literacy. They’ve been celebrating their love of the craft ever since.

Writing Relatable Characters

Presenter: Michell Plested
Session #20

Workshop: Characters, when written well, pull you into the story and make you part of their world. But how do you create characters that can do that for you? This workshop will help you develop technics to create characters you and your readers can relate to who will bring your stories alive.

Biography: Michell (Mike) Plested is an author, editor, blogger and publisher living in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Michell currently has nine novels in print: four in the Mik Murdoch series, the Scouts of the Apocalypse trilogy and two co-written novels in the Jack Kane steampunk series. You can find out more about Michell at www.michellplested.com

Wild Writing

Presenter: Carolyn Pogue
Session #21

Workshop: Wild Writing will give you a chance to write from inside the mind of a wild animal, fish, tree or insect. We will use our wild imaginations to explore life as a nonhuman. We will write and write some more, and conclude with a "Council of All Beings."

Biography: Carolyn Pogue is the author 14 books for kids, teens and adults. She believes we can use our writing skills to help to heal the planet. www.carolynpogue.ca

On Your Mark, Get Set... GET WRITING!

Presenter: Irene Punt
Session #22

Workshop: How do you create funny picture books and cool junior novels? GET WRITING! How do you become a published author? KEEP WRITING! NEVER GIVE UP! Make your everyday adventures extraordinary stories! Irene Punt will share her writing secrets with you. The written exercise will provide a fun and useful tool to plot your stories.

Biography: Irene Punt was a teacher. Now she loves to travel, ski, power-walk, and play with her computer. Her picture book, “The Bop” will get you hopping. The seven junior novels about the Glenlake Hawks Hockey team are a combination of humour, action. irony and friendship. Many of the story details are taken from the days of being a hockey mom.

Fantastic Voyages

Presenter: Gail Sidonie Sobat
Session #23

Workshop: Explore the realm of fantasy with its mirror worlds & supernatural characters/creatures. Discover ways to build other worlds that are long ago or far away. Learn why three is the magic number & why your hero/heroine should never be perfect. Gail will share tips & ideas from her own fantasy journey as the writer of the Ingamald trilogy.

Biography: Gail Sidonie Sobat has written 12 books & is the coordinator of YouthWrite®, a camp for kids who love to write...just about anything! She’s been writer in residence at the Edmonton Public Library, in Qatar, & has presented nationally & internationally. Gail is the author of the Ingamald fantasy series. She once lived with scorpions - not as pets!

The Character Game

Presenter: Carrie Stanton
Session #24

Workshop: What makes a good character? What is your story without a believable villain? How can you create characters that grow? This session will focus on making your characters "come alive" as they jump out of your head on onto your paper. Skills to help you take charge of The Character Game!

Biography: Carrie Stanton enjoys writing stories that allow imaginations to blossom. She loves how words can grow wings and transport readers great distances. Her books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon (with illustrator Sonia Leung) and The Jewel (with illustrator James Pantuso) are both Calgary Number One Bestsellers. Watch for Carrie's new book, Beast Bot!

Rhythm And Poetry

Presenter: Robey Sabo Stothart
Session #25

Workshop: Hip Hop artist Sabo Forte presents a writing session dedicated to RAP (Rhythm And Poetry)

Biography: Writer, musician, teacher trainer and instructional coach with 10+ years of experience supporting schools in transforming teaching and learning in North America and Europe. A course Co facilitator for 6social.org, a media arts program for educators dedicated to social innovation. His last album was included in yyscene's top 10 album of the year. e

Publishing YOUR Short Story - how to turn your idea into a book

Presenter: Harrison & Tom Szutu
Session #26

Workshop: We will use mad lib and picture prompt techniques to create a short story together. We'll randomly select words for location, setting, critical object, verbs, adjectives, feelings… Then create a story on the spot. Emphasis on story and character development. Submit your story after the workshop for a chance to have it published in a printed book.

Biography: 13 year old Harrison is a Gr. 8 student at Colonel Irvine. He published his first book, Ninja Mice of Wall Street with his Dad, Tom, when he was 10 years old. Harrison and Tom also recently published Young Writers Conference YWC2018, a compilation book of short stories written by their conference attendees in 2018.

Spellcrafting for Young Witches and Wizards

Presenter: Emily Ursuliak
Session #27

Workshop: While there may not be a real-life school for witchcraft and wizardry to go to, that doesn't mean we can't learn to use words in magical ways. In this workshop you'll learn how to craft and cast your own spells for a variety of different uses.

Biography: Emily Ursuliak writes both fiction and poetry. Her first book of poetry, Throwing the Diamond Hitch, won the 2018 High Plains Book Award for Poetry.

Creating Magic Systems

Presenter: Suzy Vadori
Session #28

Workshop: Love reading about magic? We’ll discover together what makes up a complete magic system including some standard elements. We’ll also discuss magic systems in literature that we admire. Students will create rules for their own magic system and practice writing in this newly created world.

Biography: The West Woods Evil Alter Ego Press 2017 (Aurora Award Finalist, 2018, Readers’ Favorite 5 Star Seal) The Fountain Evil Alter Ego Press 2015 (Aurora Award Finalist, 2016, Bronze Medallion for Best Young Adult Fiction, Readers’ Favorite).

Fun with Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Presenter: Valerie Walker
Session #29

Workshop: Let your imagination roam free, get to know your characters and be with them in every scene. Be where the action is so you can describe it to your readers. Enjoy the moment, have fun, and write with a smile on your face.

Biography: Valerie has written a 6 book series of The Adventures of Hedley the Hedgehog, her latest being a prequel to the first book and is called "Hedley the Hoglet of Sunury Farm". It is a story of Hedley's birth, learning to survive, and having adventures. Followed by two Historical time -travel, adventure novels set in and around Calgary, "Mystery in the Attic", and "The Quest for Kananaskis." Her first YA adventure novel, "Looks Can Kill" involves the adventures of a young Alberta woman backpacking in Italy.


Presenter: Janet Wees
Session #30

Workshop: Discussion of how your voice and unique style enhance your writing will be accompanied by activities of expression, description, dialogue and narrative, enabling your audience to see, identify with, and care about your characters. You are the storyteller; weave your magic!

Biography: Janet Wees is a retired teacher (elementary/ junior high). She loves to travel, read, write, snowshoe and write letters (400 a year!) Her middle-school novel "When We Were Shadows" was published in April 2018. It's been nominated for two awards. She's also written articles for News and Views, a magazine for Alberta Retired Teachers' Association.

Art Sessions

Illustrating and Creating Your Own Story

Presenter: Michelle Austen
Session A

Workshop: Interactive workshop of where ideas come from and how to get them illustrated into your own story. We will use collage and drawing to bring your story to life.

Biography: Since 2004 Michelle Austen has worked as a full-time professional visual artist. She is represented by Masters Gallery, Calgary. As well she is a self-published author and illustrator of a children’s book-Adventures of Wilde-A Sense of Wonder. The book is sold by several retailors. She teaches privately and at CBE, Artist in Residence program.

Making a Scene with Plasticine

Presenter: Carol Bondoroff
Session B

Workshop: "A picture is worth a thousand words." Have fun with Plasticine in this hands-on workshop. Learn about colour mixing, composition, lettering and texture; while illustrating a story, a poem or a personal idea, and making it come alive with plasticine.

Biography: Carole Bondaroff was born in Montréal and has been living in Calgary for many years, as an artist and art educator. She teaches art classes throughout the province as an "Artist in Residence" and creates etchings at the Heart Studio in Calgary. Her art work is found in major collections across Canada, and in Mexico, Japan, Spain, Greece, & Monaco.

Art: Printmaking and Poetry

Presenter: Jahan Monast
Session C

Workshop: If you have to wake up early on a Saturday, then it should be for something fun! So make some art and practice some poetry. Create a print and write a poem to represent it.

Biography: Jahan is an avid adventurer who enjoys trying as many things as possible, whether it’s trekking though the Amazon, Europe or doing art, surfing, trying to ski, usually quite badly, or enjoying food. She teaches in Calgary while also exploring the world. She uses writing and art to help express herself.

Enter Laughing - Creative Cartooning

Presenter: Stan Phelps
Session D

Workshop: Heroes and villains hiding in your kitchen, aliens and extraterrestrials stuffed in the junk drawer; Take a journey into your imagination, create your own comic book heroes and send them to the dark side of the moon or to the end of the universe. Explore cartooning techniques with emphasis on developing an idea, from concept to finish.

Biography: Stan Phelps is a Calgary artist who brings his own twist to the cartooning universe. Launching students out of their normal orbits, his workshops challenge and inspire young artists.

Twisted Tales

Presenter: Jennifer Stables
Session E

Workshop: Add a twist to your favourite tale! Using classic nursery rhymes and fairy tales as inspiration, artist and author, Jennifer Stables, will guide you as you re-imagine a classic story. Learn tips and techniques to help you illustrate your own version of a classic character and write a poem to accompany it.

Biography: Jennifer Stables is the owner and artist of Jenny Dale Designs. She has written and/or illustrated nine published books including Greenie the Wheat King and Bolts. Jennifer also works as an artist in residence in schools and creates public art for municipalities. Her art studio is located at Lineham House Galleries in Okotoks.

Making Graphic Novels

Presenter: Kelly Tindall
Session F

Workshop: From sketching your first character to holding a graphic novel in your hands! Shuster Award-nominated cartoonist Kelly Tindall walks you through the process of making your very own comics.

Biography: Kelly Tindall is the Shuster Award-nominated cartoonist behind the all ages pirate comic series STRANGEBEARD and the diary comic THE ADVENTURERS. He is the regular artist for the popular graphic novel series SHOW ME HISTORY (Portable Press) with three new books coming in 2020. Kelly lives in Edmonton with his wife and daughters.

Future Perfect

Presenter: Debra Ward
Session G

Workshop: Imagine the future; you have a book deal! So let's make some art for a cover that's real. Layer with pencil, marker or stencil, paint and stamp, tear up old maps, scribble and frame, and sign your own name! Have fun with your words, here and now and in future perfect, you will know how!

Biography: Debra Ward is a visual artist, active in the art scene throughout Alberta. As an illustrator, she creates unique mixed media images. When not busy painting up a storm in the studio she loves to share her techniques with budding writer-artists through workshops just like this one!

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