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Speaker Biographies and Sessions Information

Writing Strategies Sessions Art Sessions Adult Keynote

Writing Strategies Sessions

Write the Most Fascinating Stories in the World - Biographies!

Presenter: Jamie Bastedo
Session #1

Workshop: No stories are more fascinating than life stories, or biographies. Don’t believe me? Come to this lively workshop to learn how to write spell-binding tales about your grandma, favourite underwater hockey player or your dog. Pulling examples from his book PROTECTORS OF THE PLANET, Jamie will give you tips & tricks to write the best biographies ever!

Speaker Biography: Jamie Bastedo is a biologist turned author who writes crazy outdoor adventure stories. His latest novel CUT OFF about a “screenager” whose social media addiction almost kills him, won a Best Teen Fiction award. His latest book PROTECTORS OF THE PLANET, tells the real-life stories of 12 amazing eco-heroes and will inspire you to become one yourself!

It's All Good... Liik to the Sun; Songs and Stories from My Shack!

Presenter: David Bouchard
Session #2

Workshop: Step outside and look to the Sun...the answers to so many of your questions lie right there!I am stuck in my shack here in Victoria dreaming about freezing Arctic winters, eating seal and bear and sharing stories and songs with new friends, friends whose challenges surviving during Covid are much harder than my own. And yet, they smile, play and make music. Join me for songs, stories and learnings from my time in the Arctic.

Speaker Biography: David Bouchard, Honorary Ph. D, namesake of the David Bouchard Public School, Member of the Order of Canada, is the author of 74 books. Yet, his greatest success lies in his bloodline, in his Granddaughter Izabell. An acclaimed author of children's books, David Bouchard is a champion of literacy. This former has written more than 70 books in English, in French and in several Indigenous languages. Many combine poetry, prose and visual arts, and explore topics such as the environment, history and the traditions and cultures of Canada's Indigenous communities.

Writing Graphic Novels

Presenter: James Davidge
Session #3

Workshop: Do you like comics? Have you ever wanted to create one? In this session, author James Davidge will teach how to write a script to a graphic novel. Key vocabulary and effective techniques for scriptwriting will be introduced. Participants will get a change to develop and share their own ideas of comic book brilliance.

Speaker Biography: James is the author of numerous books and graphic novels including 1st Legion of Utopia, the Driftwood Saga, Mathemagick, the Duchess Ranch of Old John Ware, and the C.H.A.N.G.E. Agents. A teacher at the Willow Park School for Arts-Centred Learning, James lives just outside of Calgary with his wife and daughter.

From Blank Page to Brilliant: Lyric Writing With Purpose

Presenter: Joni Delaurier
Session #4

Workshop: This session will teach you a "song-mapping" technique to help focus your ideas and write with intention, and provide strategies that take your lyrics to the next level.

Speaker Biography: Joni Delaurier is an award-winning singer-songwriter with songs recorded by several Canadian artists. She is the recipient of a SOCAN Award for national performance, and a nominee for Canadian Country Music Songwriter of the Year. As a performer, Delaurier's debut album "Heart Like This" captures strong melodies and heartfelt lyrics.

Make Your Stories Come Alive

Presenter: J. M. (Jeanette) Dover
Session #5

Workshop: Come and write wild with us! In this workshop, we will write with the voices of the quiet ones — chickadee, deer, pickerel, aspen — you will decide. Who speaks for the elk, the river, the ladybug? Is it you? Come ready to explore your wild mind.

Speaker Biography: J.M. Dover writes young adult fantasy and science fiction. Being a writer gives her a way where the logical and creative sides of her brain can play happily together. FINDING ATLANTIS was published by Evil Alter Ego Press in 2018. RETURN TO ATLANTIS, the second book in the Atlantis trilogy, was published in 2020. Website:

The Stick Man Wins!

Presenter: Susan Forest
Session #6

Workshop: Stories are about characters who face tough problems and how they try to solve them. This session will use basic cartooning as a tool to plan out a story with a satisfying ending. Come prepared to brainstorm ways to make life tough for your stick man, then have them triumph in the end!

Speaker Biography: Aurora Award winner Susan Forest writes SF, fantasy and horror. Her YA Novel, The Dragon Prince, won the Children's Book Choice Award, and her epic fantasies, Bursts of Fire and Flights of Marigold, thrust three sisters through into a magical world of intrigue and betrayal. Website:

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas

Presenter: Barbori Garnet
Session #7

Workshop: In the Ideas, Ideas, Ideas workshop, students will be provided with places and ways to find ideas, topics, and subjects for writing stories, articles, poems, and more. Students will learn, and be encouraged in their writing, that ideas are to be found in many places.

Speaker Biography: Barbori Garnet is a Creative Arts Professional - writer, artist, musician, and gardener - based in Alberta. She enjoys writing non-fiction and writes on remote work, home offices, gardening, and more. Barbori is the author of Home at the Office: Working Remotely as a Way of Life.

Journaling for Creativity

Presenter: Susanne Heaton
Session #8

Workshop: Are you curious about learning some tools to help you tap into your creativity? Join Susanne for a fun and interactive session to help you tap into your creative genius. Prepare to be inspired.

Speaker Biography: Susanne is the Award-Winning author of The ABC Field Guide to Faeries which has inspiring reminders of respect for ourselves, others and the environment.

Enough About Me, What Do You Like About Me?

Presenter: Troy Kokol
Session #9

Workshop: Unlock the secrets of story telling that you already know!

Speaker Biography: Troy Kokol is an award-winning singer, songwriter, music producer, animator, and a recipient of the SOCAN Award for music. Troy has had over 200 songs recorded in a variety of different genres, TV and film. His self animated video for his current single, "Like A Record" was an official selection at the 2020 GIRAF International Animation Festival.

Comic-Making Crash Course

Presenter: Jarrett Lerner
Session #10

Workshop: Do you like to make comics, or do you want to learn how to? In this workshop, Jarrett Lerner will give you the information and tools you need to make your first comics or improve those you are already creating.

Speaker Biography: Jarrett Lerner is an author-illustrator whose books include: EngiNerds, Revenge of the EngiNerds, The EngiNerds Strike Back, Geeger the Robot Goes to School, Geeger the Robot: Lost and Found, Give This Book a Title, Give This Book a Cover, and Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem!

Well, That's Mysterious!

Presenter: Jan Markley
Session #11

Workshop: Do you love a good whodunit? We'll uncover the secrets to writing a mystery story, and use our new skills to craft a head scratching tale of puzzlement. Bring your sleuthing abilities, curiosity, and ideas!

Speaker Biography: Dead Frog on the Porch (Gumboot Books 2009) is Jan Markley's debut novel for middle grade readers. It is a comedic mystery adventure and the first in the Megabyte Mystery Series. 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.

The Secret of the Triple Z

Presenter: Michele Martin Bossley
Session #12

Workshop: The ZZZ secret— is that a total snooze 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 ways to zoom into the action of a story with some fun activities and real-life writing tips.

Speaker Biography: Michele Martin Bossley has written twenty-one novels for kids. Many of her books are about sports for both boys and girls, but she also likes writing mystery stories. Her latest book Kick Start is based on a true story that happened when her twins were racing dirt bikes in the woods of Porcupine Hills, Alberta.

A Cheat Code for Conflict

Presenter: Marty Chan
Session #13

Workshop: Want an easy way to make your writing more exciting? Marty Chan shares his secret cheat code for creating nail-biting conflict and page-turning stories.

Speaker Biography: Marty writes creates books for kids, plays for adults and YouTube videos for everyone. His latest novel is Haunted Hospital, a creepy thriller about teens who explore an abandoned asylum.

Scribble Funzilla!

Presenter: Shenaaz Nanji
Session #14

Workshop: Scribble away by Playing Writing Games, X-ray of Stories, & Write your Dream Story.

Speaker Biography: I am mostly a squid who lives under the sea but surface occasionally to read and write. My publications include 12 award winning books that include novels, short stories and picture books. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College in USA. I have been chased by a monkey, almost fed a giraffe, and have swum with stingrays.

Putting Life into Your Stories

Presenter: Michell Plested
Session #15

Workshop: Have you ever heard the saying, "Write what you know?" But what if you don't think you know (or have done) anything? In this workshop you will learn how to take your everyday activities and create characters, actions and events that will give your stories life and excitement.

Speaker Biography: Michell (Mike) Plested is an author, editor, blogger, closet superhero and publisher living in Calgary, Alberta. Michell currently has ten novels in print, his most recent, ""The Goddess Renewed"" - the first in a brand-new Fantasy series - published by Champagne/Burst Books. You can find out more about Michell at

Write like a Magpie

Presenter: Carolyn Pogue
Session #16

Workshop: Magpies are observant, inquisitive, creative and co-operative — qualities we need as writers. These clever, talkative and feathered tricksters can teach a lot about writing, if we will learn. Join us for a unique bird’s eye view of the craft of writing.

Speaker Biography: Carolyn Pogue has been coming to the Calgary Young Writers' Conference for years — because she is inspired here. She also teaches at YouthWrite and the Alexandra Writers' Centre. Carolyn is the author of 14 books. She loves camping, walking, making art, making videos— and watching magpies.

On your mark, get set... GET WRITING!

Presenter: Irene Punt
Session #17

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 every day 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.

Speaker Biography: Irene Punt loves to travel, ski, powerwalk, and play with her computer. Her junior hockey novels contain 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. “The Bop!” picture book rocks!

Poetic Alchemy

Presenter: Emily Ursuliak
Session #18

Workshop: Are you really into writing poetry but having a tough time finding something to write about? In this workshop you’ll learn about and write your own ekphrastic poems. Ekphrastic poems are poems inspired by a specific piece of art, but we’re going to stretch the idea of “art” as far as we can. Let’s explore the limitless possibilities!

Speaker Biography: Emily Ursuliak is a poet and fiction writer. Her collection of poetry, Throwing the Diamond Hitch, won the 2018 High Plains Book Award for Poetry. She’s taught for a variety of different writers’ organizations, been the fiction editor for filling Station magazine, and used to host the radio show Writer’s Block on CJSW.

Gimme Goosebumps (aka piloerection)

Presenter: Gail Sobat
Session #19

Workshop: Writing hair-raising scenes is key to almost all kinds of stories: mysteries, fantasy, horror, adventure, science fiction, even romance! Learn to build to the climax, while raising the stakes along the way. Dabble in wordplay that gives you goosebumps! Raise your heart rate with fast-paced action! Discover just how to make writing creepilicious!

Speaker Biography: Gail Sidonie Sobat is the author of 11 books including the graphic novel, Jamie’s Got a Gun. She’s the creator/coordinator of YouthWrite®, camps for kids who love to write. Gail has moved 40 times in her life from Badlands to Siksika Nation Reserve to hideous suburbs to Istanbul to the Sunshine Coast to a writer’s garret in a 100-year-old house.

Concept Minded: Rhythm And Poetry

Presenter: Robey Sabo Stothart
Session #20

Workshop: Discuss time relevant themes with one of Calgary’s top hip hop artists. Join Sabo Forte in creating safe and charged environments while imagining a new world through Hip Hop. Explore Rhythm And Poetry (R.A.P.) while discovering tips and techniques on how to develop a 16 bar verse. All aboard a quatrain of thought expressed!

Speaker Biography: Nominated for Single of the Year at the 2020 YYC Music Awards, Sabo Forte continues to establish himself as one of the city’s most engaging songwriters. A rapper and DJ, Sabo Forte is also a program designer for LTTA at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Turning YOUR Ideas Into a Full Story

Presenter: Harrison & Tom Szutu
Session #21

Workshop: Have a great idea for a story? Want to develop YOUR idea into a full/short story? Maybe publish it? Brainstorming and using techniques like mad lib and picture prompts, we'll randomly select key words with your help to create a short story on the spot. We'll also explore major concepts to take your ideas to the next level and maybe even publish it!

Speaker Biography: 14 year old Harrison is a Gr. 9 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 his dad also recently published Young Writers Conference YWC2018, a compilation book of short stories written by their conference attendees last year.

Create Your Own Magic System!

Presenter: Suzy Vadori
Session #22

Workshop: In this workshop, we'll look at how magic can be woven through stories to make them fantastic. We'll look at common sources of magic used in books and movies as well as dream up new kinds. Students will have the opportunity to create their own magic system for their stories, including a source, some rules, and limits on how characters can use it.

Speaker Biography: Suzy is the Calgary Bestselling Author of The Fountain Series for Young Adults (The Fountain, The West Woods, Wall of Wishes) - a two time Aurora Award Finalist. She lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and three children, teaches writing at Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society, and is a touring member of the Young Alberta Book Society.

Where To Find Ideas For My Writing?

Presenter: Janet Wees
Session #23

Workshop: Sometimes you just don't know what to write. This workshop will share strategies and ideas for imagining and creating. You'll use surroundings, connections to people and nature, past experiences of yours and others'. You'll discover how one idea leads to another, and why asking "what if?" releases ideas that will make the ink flow on your pages.

Speaker Biography: Janet Wees is a retired teacher and debate coach/judge.Her first middle-school novel, When We Were Shadows, was published in April 2018. She is working on two picture books, and a future middle-school novel inspired by her childhood in Saskatchewan. She likes to read, write, travel, cycle, write letters, snowshoe, and eat chopped chicken liver!

Art and Illustration

Wild Things!

Presenter: Karen Gummo
Session A

Workshop: Outside, inside, upside down there are wild things. Bring a memory of your wildest encounter and we'll work with our senses to make a new story. Be ready to improvise, to think on the spot, to draw and let your ideas flow into the dreamtime. We'll play some games and try some tricks to bring magic into our storytelling.

Speaker Biography: Ladybird Fly published in 2017 by Loft 112 written and illustrated by K. Gummo

Making Faces

Presenter: Chester Lees
Session B

Workshop: Practical workshop on how to produce a portrait and manipulate the features of your character to be a Beauty or a Beast.

Speaker Biography: Chester Lees is a multi-faceted artist educator and motivational speaker. Chester has worked as an Artist in Residence in many Calgary Schools and has provided many workshops through the Glenbow Museum, Science Centre and Art Commons. A recipient of Global television's "Woman of Vision", she continues to work from her studio in Turner Valley.

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.

Speaker 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 TIQ Software she has the opportunity to write stories and design characters for many web and mobile app games. She has been an avid video game player herself since she was 5 years old.

Crazy Creatures Collage

Presenter: Debra Ward
Session D

Workshop: Imagine a face glued in place with an eye for a head and a newspaper bed. Gather ‘zines and old maps, tissue paper and wrap. Your scissors will glide like a shark in a tide of wild photos and such; it’s never too much! Snip photos of faces, colour markers in places. Make crazy new creatures with unusual features!

Speaker Biography: Debra Ward is a visual storyteller, using mixed media in her illustrations. Her artwork has graced the cover of the Governor General Award winning book 'Empire of the Beetle'. When not in her studio painting up a storm, Deb loves to share her techniques with budding writer-artists of all ages.

Adult Keynote

A Powerful Year of Writing


  • Adrienne Gear

Keynote: In this two-part session for teachers, Adrienne will highlight big ideas, lessons and anchor book recommendations from her new book "Powerful Writing Structures". She will outline the elements of an effective, responsive writing program, including formative assessment, weekly practice writes, and class writing goals.

Speaker Biography: Adrienne Gear is a teacher, author, and speaker from B.C. She has taught elementary school for over twenty five years as a classroom teacher, teacher librarian and literacy coach. Her practical, engaging workshops and professional resources are well received by educators locally, nationally and internationally.

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