Speaker Biographies and Sessions Information


Writing Strategies Sessions Art Sessions Adult Sessions

Writing Strategies Sessions


Put a Person in a Pickle

Presenter: Bill Bunn
Session #1

Workshop: For a writer, a story's just a person in a pickle. We'll pick a person and we'll put that person in a pickle and write down what happens. Along the way, we'll discuss what sort of person we should create, and what sort of scene we should place them in to create a delicious, pickled story.

Biography: Bill Bunn is the author of four, soon to be five, books, several essays and articles. His latest novel, Out on the Drink, came out in February. He’s published two other young adult novels: Kill Shot, 2015, and Duck Boy, 2012.


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 create a story, along with tips and tools to tell it in a meaningful way. Please bring a memento: photograph, object, keepsake that reminds you of this special person.

Biography: Miji Campbell is a writer and teacher. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Readers Digest, Today’s Parent Magazine, The Edmonton Journal and The Calgary Herald. Her first book Separation Anxiety: A Coming of Middle Age Story was winner of the 2016 Whistler Independent Book Award. Visit her website www.writewhereyouare.ca


Thrill Your Readers

Presenter: Marty Chan
Session #3

Workshop: Ever wanted to scare your friends? Marty Chan shares his secret to writing creepy stories that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

Biography: Marty Chan writes books for kids and plays for adults. Shadow and Spell, his third book in the Keepers of the Vault Series, launched in 2018. Watch for his final book in the Ehrich Weisz Chronicles in the fall.


Scriptwriting for Comics and Graphic Novels

Presenter: James Davidge
Session #4

Workshop: Learn how writers create a script to make comic books and graphic novels. Participants will take their own idea and develop the first few pages of their story.

Biography: James Davidge is a writer and teacher at the Willow Park School for Arts-Centred Learning. His graphic novels include the Mathemagick series, The Duchess Ranch of Old John Ware and My Modern Panic. He is also the author of the Driftwood Saga, a series of fantasy novels about a young girl who uses heartfelt magic to save the world.


Caution: Brain Storm Ahead (Grades 6-8)

Presenter: Lois Donovan
Session #5

Workshop: Ideas are everywhere. But how do you recognize a good idea? How do you turn your brilliant idea into a story? This session will explore several ways to spark an explosion of ideas and then we'll move on to some tricks and tips for turning one of these exciting ideas into a story—or a novel! BE PREPARED to amaze yourself!

Biography: Lois Donovan is the author of two time-travel novels, Winds of L'Acadie and The Journal, in which the main characters are given the rare opportunity of witnessing important historic events. Lois loves travelling, both in the past and the present and sharing her stories with readers of all ages. Calgary is the place she calls home.


Mash and Smash - Making New Stories Out of Old (Grades 4-5, 6-8)

Presenter: Adam Dreece
Session #6

Workshop: What if you took Frozen and Star Wars? Join in as we work together to create amazing new stories out of some of your favorites.

Biography: From fairy tales made real and wonderful steampunk machines, to a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland with magic, author Adam Dreece takes his imagination and turns them into great worlds and stories. His upcoming books - The Wizard Killer #3 and the Yellow Hoods spin-off, The King's-Horse #1 are due out this spring.


Planning Your Story Through Drama

Presenter: Susan Forest
Session #7

Workshop: A story is driven by a character who wants something very badly, blocked obstacles which stand in his or her way. Come to this workshop prepared to plan a story arc for your character and act out the key scenes of that story. The workshop will finish with an opportunity to write and to share.

Biography: Three-time Aurora Award finalist, Susan writes SF, fantasy and horror. Her stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, OnSPEC and her collection, Immunity to Strange Tales, among others. Her YA Novel, The Dragon Prince, won the Children's Book Choice Award. Susan teaches creative writing at the Alexandra Centre. Website: speculative-fiction.ca.


Pictures and Images: The Making of Stories

Presenter: Barbori Garnet
Session #8

Workshop: Pictures and images are all around us. In this session, young writers will use images as inspiration to bring stories to life on paper. Be prepared to exercise your imagination and creativity!

Biography: Barbori Garnet has a passion for words, music, and art! Barbori holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting & Drawing and a Master of Arts in Communications degree in Public Relations. She loves to help find just the right words for sharing in her writing, creating images through artwork, and playing violin and piano.


"WHAT IF?" How to Turn Your Experiences and Thoughts Into Story Ideas!

Presenter: Janet Gurtler
Session #9

Workshop: You’re an interesting person with unique experiences and ideas. With prompts that ask lots of "What If" questions, you’ll use your memories and feelings to build characters and paint vivid scenes. You can be serious or funny and write about imaginary creatures or real life. You're in charge and you’ll be amazed at what's in your head.

Biography: Janet Gurtler is the bestselling author of young adult books about real life and chapter books about mermaids. Janet lives in Okotoks with her husband, son, and a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce who refuses to eat dog food. You can check out more at www.janet-gurtler.com


Tap into Your Creativity

Presenter: Susanne Heaton
Session #10

Workshop: Unlock your creative genius through 8 simple steps. Prepare to be amazed at your results.

Biography: Susanne is the award-winning author of The ABC Field Guide to Faeries.


Read This Or Else

Presenter: Hazel Hutchins
Session #12

Workshop: Strong emotions and surprising twists will help you build stories that stand out. Whether you choose to work with fear, joy, desperation or greed, come and join this story-writing workshop to practice your skills.

Biography: Author of award-winning picture books and novels for young readers of all kinds, Hazel delights in turning ideas into stories. Most recent titles include The Great Bike Rescue and Snap. She lives in Canmore.


Very Short Poems With Pizzazz

Presenter: Maraya Loza-Koxahn
Session #13

Workshop: From Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss to Eminem, poetry has always been hot. We will play with rhythm, rhyme and short poem formats to create several minuscule works of great magnitude. With limericks and haikus, say what you want to say - whether humorously or seriously - and start your own rap song or write a designer greeting card.

Biography: Maraya Loza Koxahn has published three books of poetry and had her poems included in several anthologies. She was part of Boardwalk Writers and the Stroll of Poets and now teaches creative writing at the Alexandra Writers Centre in Calgary.


The Aspiring Songwriter

Presenter: Scott MacKay
Session #14

Workshop: Scott will challenge you to deepen your understanding of songwriting. You will be engaged with practical exercises to get stronger at your craft. By the end of this session Scott's hope is that you will have gained some new knowledge to bring into your own songwriting and to help you blossom into the songwriter you strive to be.

Biography: Scott MacKay was born on PEI, but now lives in Calgary. He has spent years honing his craft as a singer and songwriter by reading books on the topic, taking online courses, attending workshops and, most importantly, putting pen to paper. He has released two albums and performs regularly in Alberta and around Canada.


When is a Book Not a Book? When it is a Frog!

Presenter: Jan Markley
Session #15

Workshop: Using the analogy of a frog dissection, we’ll examine how the parts of a story are like the parts of a frog. All the parts of a story are essential to make the story come alive. We'll explore the relationship between character and plot and how to identify theme and the main conflict. Students - be prepared to spill some ink!

Biography: Jan Markley is a writer living in Calgary. Dead Frog on the Porch (Gumboot Books 2009) is a comedic mystery adventure. Dead Bird Through the Cat Door is the second in the series (Gumboot Books 2010). Growing up she was a voracious reader of Nancy Drew mysteries and enjoyed visiting the library where she would stretch her library card to the limit.


The Secret of the Triple Z

Presenter: Michele Martin Bossley
Session #16

Workshop: The ZZZ Theory — is that a total snooze (no sleeping in class!) or a way to make your writing better? Learn how to use the three Zs in writing— put zip into your stories by writing what you feel. Check out how to zap your characters to life and find out how to zoom into the action of a story and keep it fun!

Biography: Michele Martin Bossley is the author of twenty novels for kids. Most of Michele's books are mystery stories or focus on different sports, such as hockey, soccer, synchronized swimming, figure skating, plus she is working on a new one about dirt bike racing. As a former athlete and coach, she uses many of those experiences for her books.


History! Mystery! Adventure! (Grades 4-8)

Presenter: Shirlee Smith Matheson
Session #17

Workshop: In this busy workshop you'll be learning and writing about real-life people, places and perils. We will take off from the starting (startling!) line, run up quick descriptions of interesting characters and settings that your readers can "see" and understand, and then plunge into predicaments that only you could imagine!

Biography: Adventures abound in Shirlee's (soon to be) 21 published books: nonfiction aviation and Northern adventures (Amazing Flights ∓ Flyers; Lost! Unsolved Mysteries of Canadian Aviation; This Was Our Valley); and young adult novels (Flying Ghosts; Gambler`s Daughter; Prairie/City Pictures; Jailbird Kid; Fastback Beach). Shirlee lives in Calgary.


Write On! Writing Rules!

Presenter: Paula Matikainen
Session #18

Workshop: Want to spice up your writing? Want to make it LITERALLY come alive? Then join Sheryl and Paula for a chance to collaborate and create text that will enthrall and engage your readers. You will journey through the writer's cycle while learning a myriad of writing strategies that are fun to explore.

Biography: Sheryl and Paula have worked with the Calgary Board of Education since 1989. They met at the University of Lethbridge while completing their Masters Degrees in Education. They share a passion for literacy. They have presented at teachers’ conventions, including the 2014 Special Education Conference, and the 2014 ELL Conference.


Writing Thru' Playing Games Games Games Galore!

Presenter: Shenaaz Nanji
Session #19

Workshop: We will shop for the ingredients of Fun stories then fly to Fantasy Land, play some writing games, writing fast and furiously, sprinkle magic and stir. Voila! You will 'cook' your very own stories that you can take home.

Biography: Shenaaz is an award winning author of 10 books for children. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Children from Vermont College. Her latest novel, Ghost Boys, is an adventure-thriller that is on CBC's List of Must Read Books for 2018.


Play a Game: Write a Story!

Presenter: Lorna Nicholson
Session #20

Workshop: Writing fiction is fun! Characters, setting, and, of course, gripping conflict. To get you writing, Lorna lets you play a trade game. Intrigued? Oh yeah! This workshop includes all types of genres from western to sci-fi and everything in between! It is a hands-on, get down and dirty workshop. She knows your story will be great!

Biography: Lorna Schultz Nicholson has published over 35 books, including children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, YA fiction and non-fiction sports books. She lives in Edmonton with her naughty Mexican rescue dog and whiny Bichon Shih Tzu. Oh, and her hockey husband too! Visit her website and view her photos. www.lornaschultznicholson.com


Other Voices, Other Beings

Presenter: Carolyn Pogue
Session #21

Workshop: The power in our pens and power of our imaginations can help our planet breathe again! Writing in your favourite genre, we'll explore how nonhuman beings in the natural world love us, help us, teach us. This workshop invites you to see the world with new eyes.

Biography: Carolyn Pogue teaches at YouthWrite, a camp in the Rockies for kids who love to write just about anything. She is the author of 14 books, including Hilwie's Bread, Gwen and West Wind Calling. She loves the wild world.


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 loves to travel, ski, power-walk, and play with her computer. Her eight junior novels about the Glenlake Hawks Hockey team are a combination of humour, action. irony and friendship. Hockey Luck and Hat Trick are best sellers. Many of the story details are taken from the days of being a hockey mom.


Write On! Writing Rules!

Presenter: Sheryl Schoenthaler
Session #23

Workshop: Write ON! Writing RULES! Want to spice up your writing? Want to make it LITERALLY come alive? Then join Sheryl and Paula for a chance to collaborate and create text that will enthrall and engage your readers. You will journey through the writer's cycle while learning a myriad of writing strategies that are fun to explore.

Biography: Sheryl and Paula have worked with the Calgary Board of Education since 1989. They met at the University of Lethbridge while completing their Masters Degrees in Education. They share a passion for literacy. They have presented at teachers’ conventions, including the 2014 Special Education Conference, and the 2014 ELL Conference.


Let's Get Started!

Presenter: Carrie Stanton
Session #24

Workshop: Have you ever just sat there thinking and thinking about how to start your writing project? This workshop is going to help you to jump right in and get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper. We will look at getting started, how to think about your project in the most interesting way, focusing on what it is you are wanting to get across.

Biography: Carrie Stanton is the author of two books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon, a picture book about a Fierce Dragon and a girl who sets off to tame him, and The Jewel, an adventure story about two friends who find a mysterious jewel which they bring back to their Elders, but can their friendship survive?


Writing & Publishing YOUR Short Story

Presenter: Harrison ∓ Tom Szutu
Session #25

Workshop: Using mad lib, we will randomly select words for certain categories to create a short story on the spot. Emphasis will be on story and character development. Participants will then select a picture prompt to create their own short story. All individual short stories will be edited and compiled into a book published within 6 weeks after the workshop.

Biography: 11 year old Harrison published his first book at the age of 9 with a little help from his dad, Tom. The book, Ninja Mice of Wall Street is available at Chapters Indigo, the Calgary Public Library and online. Together, they are working on their second book in the series which is expected to be out before the end of 2018.


Divining Tales from the Past (Grades 7-8)

Presenter: Emily Ursuliak
Session #26

Workshop: What snippets and fragments from the past will point us toward fantastic tales and stories that have never been told? Be prepared to let bygone ages fuel your imagination!

Biography: Emily Ursuliak is a fiction writer and poet living and working in Calgary, Alberta. She hosts and produces the literary radio show Writer’s Block for CJSW 90.9 fm. She published her first book of poetry, Throwing the Diamond Hitch, with University of Calgary Press. You can find out more about her at www.emilyursuliak.com.


Creating Magic Systems

Presenter: Suzy Vadori
Session #27

Workshop: Love reading about magic? Learn how to write about it! Together we'll discover what makes up a complete magic system, discussing magic in literature that we admire. Students will create a set of rules for their own magic system, and practice writing in their newly created world in a way that will keep readers guessing what's coming next.

Biography: Calgary bestselling author Suzy Vadori is the Author of The Fountain Series, published by Evil Alter Ego Press . The Fountain was a Finalist for Aurora Awards Best Young Adult Novel (2016). The West Woods was awarded 5 Stars from Readers' Favorite (2017) Suzy lives in Calgary with her husband and three kids.


Fun With fact, Fantasy, and Fiction

Presenter: Valerie Walker
Session #28

Workshop: Writing should be fun and I encourage you to use all your five senses, along with your wonderful imaginations to create a story that is as much fun to write, as it will be for your audience to read. By putting yourself in the picture, you become immersed in the story and really get to know your characters and surroundings. I invite you to come up with descriptive nouns and write your own short story, and to write it with a big smile on your face.

Biography: Valerie Walker was born in London, England, where she discovered hedgehogs. Her first five books are about Hedley the Hedgehog and his best friend, Marvin the mouse. These books are for 6 - 9 year olds. Her next two books are historical time-travel novels for 10 - 14 year olds. Mystery in the Attic is set in Calgary, and The Quest for Kananaskis, is set in Alberta. Her latest book, Looks Can Kill is an exciting adventure story for young adults.


Timeless Tales

Presenter: John Wilson
Session #29

Workshop: I travel back in time every day. I’ve run from T. rex, watched Vesuvius explode, frozen in a trapped Arctic ship and huddled terrified in a wet trench in a dozen wars. How? It’s easy, and this workshop will show you some ways to do it. You’ll also learn some ways to write stories that will take your readers with you.

Biography: I’ve been collecting tales of the past, mine and other people's, all my life. Stories and a passion for history are the heart of my 50 books, most recently, A Soldier's Sketchbook: The First World War Diary of R. H. Rabjohn, and Gold, the fourth Sam and Annabel tale in Orca Currents. For more information, visit my website at johnwilsonauthor.com



Art Sessions


Making a Scene with Plasticine

Presenter: Carol Bondoroff
Session A

Workshop: "A picture is worth a thousand words." Have fun with plasticine in this hands-on illustration workshop. Learn about colour-mixing, composition and texture while illustrating a story or poem 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 and makes etchings at the Heart Studio in Calgary. She has worked as an Artist in Residence in Québec, Newfoundland, Mexico, Spain and Greece.


Heroes & Villains - How to Create a Portrait of Your Favourite Characters

Presenter: Chester Lees
Session B

Workshop: Learn how to create a realistic portrait and then manipulate to create the character of your choice!

Biography: Chester Lees, ASA, is a professional artist and has worked in many schools over the last 20 years providing Artist in Residence programs. She has provided many PD and lectures at Arts Commons, The Science Centre, Creative Kids Museum and Glenbow Museum. She is a recipient of the Global television "Woman of Vision" Award.


Visual Character Design for Video Games, Comics and Cartoons

Presenter: Lydia Lees
Session C

Workshop: Visual storytelling uses a medium which allows the story to be told with images, such as comic books, video games and cartoons. Creating unique looking characters for such stories is a fun and challenging task. Learn how to create a character that will wow the viewer and enhance your tale.

Biography: Lydia Lees is a graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design and uses her artistic passion in the video game industry. Working at Trajectory IQ she has the opportunity to create art, characters, and stories for many web and mobile app games. She has been an avid video game player herself since she was 5 years old.


Writing and Printmaking

Presenter: Jahan Monast
Session D

Workshop: Tell a story or write a poem and illustrate it through simple printmaking.

Biography: Jahan Monast is an artist and teacher who enjoys art, writing, traveling, playing around and making mistakes to learn new things.


Storytelling Through Illustration and Drawing

Presenter: James Pantuso
Session E

Workshop: Bringing the images in your mind to the page. Focusing on Storyboarding and conveying motion and emotion through illustration.

Biography: Illustrator of The Jewel, a published childrens book often used for introductory into first nations study. Colorist for a popular online teen comic A Little Off The Top. Recent SAIT graduate for graphic design. Has done many presentations for illustration and storytelling in Calgary schools and at the Cochrane Library Book Bash in 2017


"Enter Laughing" Cartooning

Presenter: Stan Phelps
Session F

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 hero and send it 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 finished composition.

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.


Magical and Mystical Creations

Presenter: Jennifer Stables
Session G

Workshop: Unlock your creativity and draw the mystical creature of your dreams! Artist and author, Jennifer Stables, will teach you how to create your own fantasy characters using graphite and ink. Use your character as the starting point for your next writing project. Dragons, monsters, unicorns, robots... let your imagination go wild!

Biography: Jennifer Dale Stables is an illustrator and author living in Okotoks, Alberta. She has written and/or illustrated eight published books including Greenie the Wheat King and Rainbow's End. Through her business, Jenny Dale Designs, she creates whimsical artwork and writes poetry to accompany each one of her lovable creations.


Making Comic Books

Presenter: Kelly Tindall
Session H

Workshop: Did you know that comic books are almost as much fun to make as they are to read? Let a lifelong cartoonist teach you how to create your characters, tell your story, and set your scenes for the greatest comic book you've ever read: your very own!

Biography: Kelly Tindall has been making comic books professionally for over ten years. His most recent hardcover comic The Adventurers: Love You Very So Much won the award for Best Graphic Novel at the CanCon Wiki Awards. The Adventurers can be read online (the-adventurers.com) along with Kelly's rollicking pirate webcomic Strangebeard (strangebeard.com).


Illustration Creation

Presenter: Debra Ward
Session I

Workshop: Bring one of your poems or a text to the table. Create a book cover to show off your fable. Find paper snippets, cut or paint onto, layer with marker whatever you want to. Paint or draw, illustrate as you wish. Put into place with some glue and a squish. A creation rotation: Voila! Illustration!

Biography: Debra Ward is a visual artist, active in the art scene throughout Alberta. As an illustrator she creates unique mixed media images. Her illustrations may be found in the Governor General Award winning book Empire of the Beetle. She loves to share her techniques with budding writer-artists of all ages through workshops just like this one!



Adult Session


Part One: Honey and Fire

Presenter: Jeff Stockton

A burst of sweet on the tongue, a burst of heat in the heart - a Story has caught us! The stories that matter most in our lives are sweeter than Honey and brilliant as Fire. Stories inspire us, uplift us, warm us and weave our lives together. In Ireland, there is the expression Teach is Tinteán - Home is Hearth. Wherever we gather around the fire, we are home again. The magic of Story reminds us that our stories in classrooms creates a safe and warm Hearth: a Hearth where our students learn that a little sweetness and a little warmth can get us through the toughest times.

Part Two: Flapdoodle, Flummery and Flaptrap

Presenter: Jeff Stockton

The roots of the word ‘create’ come from Latin creat - ‘to bring form out of nothing’. Stories come from nothing, from nonsense, from the impossible. Stories bring the impossible into a shape, a form, a shelter to hold our hearts and our dreams. The creation of stories demands that we open to wonder and play, and then shape the wondrous into something that shelters our audience, that makes them feel at home with the impossible. In part two of Jeff’s session, we’ll play, build, laugh and explore ways in which to bring the magic of story-crafting to students in the classroom.

Biography: Jeff Stockton is a Celtic harpist, singer & storyteller. Since 1997, he has traveled near and far, firing up the imagination of thousands of listeners. He has woven stories on the strings of the harp at national and international storytelling festivals, in hundreds of schools, and for audiences both at work and at play. His 25 years of experience in education includes over a decade as classroom teacher, seven years as an Educational Consultant, and work with thousands of students as Storyteller in Residence.

For the past two decades, Jeff Stockton has traveled near and far, weaving stories on the strings of the harp at national and international festivals, conferences, and for audiences of all ages. With his workshop series 'Stories Tell Us' and 'STORYenteering' he has worked with all ages - from the youngest of school age children to adults in all walks of life. Highly interactive and filled with play, participants are left feeling empowered, confident, and capable of navigating the intensity of creating stories, and of bringing a story to life in front of a live audience.

Jeff is an award winning recording artist. He has released 4 recordings of his work. "Between Two Lights" & 'Sacred Ground' (singer/songwriter); 'Beneath the Boughs' (gentle instrumental music); & 'Wisdom of the Woods' (storytelling). 'Wisdom of the Woods' was the winner of the prestigious international 'Storytelling World' award - named one of the best storytelling recordings of 2012. His fifth recording “Once Upon A Midwinter” will be released in 2018, along with an illustrated book of stories to accompany the CD. Five years of his podcast “Stories Are Medicine” can be downloaded from his website.

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