Class Descriptions

Class descriptions include the anticipated level of class content. If you are unsure where you fit, please see our guidelines. All classes, except the Career Track Continuing Class, are open to anyone interested. We ask, however, that if you are a beginner attending a class for Intermediate or career writers, that you respect the other class participants and meet with the instructor outside of class time to ask your questions. Thank you.

|  Continuing Classes  |  Workshops: Thurs 2pm,  3:30pm  Sat 9:30am,  11pm,  2pm,  3:30pm  |

Intensive Workshops Thursday June 11, 9:30 am
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Creative Non-Fiction for Intermediate Writers

Stephanie Nickel & Carolyn Wilker

Lee Gutkind, founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine, defines creative nonfiction as simply, “true stories well told.” The goal of this form of writing is, “to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that your readers are as enthralled by fact as they are by fantasy.”

Writing in this genre demands reflection on real-life experience, research of the subject matter, reading in the genre, and compelling storytelling that uses elements of fiction such as character development, story arc, and setting description.

For intermediate writers, this one-day intensive with give you a critique on your personal essay or memoir piece with immediate takeaway value.

This class is no longer open.

Fiction for Intermediate Writers
Marcy Kennedy

Writing fiction is hard. You need to know how to hook the reader from the first line, build characters that people think about after they finish the book, create the right type of conflict, and bring the story world to life through description. And you have to do all that within a well-structured plot filled with emotional resonance.

But here’s the good news. Talent is a myth. Your success as a fiction writer depends on your willingness to learn and work hard. This one-day fiction intensive for intermediate writers will help you see where you’re already strong and where you need to improve.

You’ll receive a critique on your short story or the opening of your novel as part of this intensive. The focus of this critique will be on practical, actionable steps you can take to improve your writing.

This class is no longer open.


CONTINUING CLASSES: Friday June 12, 9:30 am TOP ^
Fiction Basics 101 – Continuing Class – 5 hours — Beginner/Intermediate
1 Sandra Orchard

In this comprehensive continuing class, learn the essential components—goal, conflict and disaster—of a scene and how to choose them wisely and write them well. Learn how to structure your novel scene by compelling scene, in a way that will grip your readers from beginning to end. Learn how to story board your novel, and gain a deeper understanding of the importance and role of major turning points and how they’re used to propel characters toward their goal and inner growth. Finally, gain tips for choosing the best pov for a scene, how to fix pacing and avoid episodic writing, and how to avoid the most common plot and writing problems.

Making Your Good Non-Fiction Great–Intermediate/Advanced
2 Kay Strom

Whew, you finished your non-fiction article! And it’s good, if you do say so yourself.  Good, but is it great? Or maybe you’re just beginning a non-fiction book and you want it to be really great! Perhaps you are somewhere in-between—you are hard at work writing. Wherever you are in the process, whatever your project, you want your non-fiction to be great.

In this continuing class, we will look at:

  • Your beginning. Is it great enough to hook your reader?
  • What is enough research? Is it possible to do too much?
  • If you are writing a personal experience, what will make others want to read it?
  • What are some great ways to express your ideas?
  • Do you have a worthy theme or a universal truth? And what do those terms mean, anyway?
  • Are you obeying the writing rules? If not, do you have a really, really, really good reason?
  • Be sure to consider fiction writing techniques, too!
  • If you want to see your next work published, leave your readers satisfied.

Want to make your good article or book or idea GREAT? Come and join us!

Self Editing–Intermediate/Advanced
3 Audrey Dorsch

You can make a better impression on an acquisitions editor and save yourself some money on hiring an editor if you improve your skills at editing your own work. This five-hour continuing class will discuss both substantive (e.g., structure, coherence, transitions) and copy editing (e.g., stylistic consistency, sentence structure, word choice, punctuation) matters. It will include a hands-on exercise.

Participants are required to bring two double-spaced, wide-margined printouts of a short piece of your own writing (article or chapter). Also bring a coloured pen/pencil (not blue or black).

Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher–Intermediate/Advanced 
4 Linda Hall

In five whirlwind years, Indie Publishing has turned the book world on its head. If you are thinking about publishing your book as an independent author/publisher, this continuing class is for you.

During the five sessions, we will take an imaginary book from being written to edited, covered, formatted and then published on digital and print platforms – Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Google Play, Create Space, D2D, Smashwords, etc. We will look at genres, tags, blurbs, and keywords.

Once you have a book out there, your job really begins. How do you get reviews, get noticed and get sales? Where are the best (and worst) places to advertise? How much should you budget? Which social media sites have the best return on investment (ROI)? How can you build up your email list? How can you enhance your website?

We will be online throughout the class (so bring your laptops or tablets if you have one) and will look at helpful books, sites, blogs, groups, podcasts and videos. I will also introduce the class to a few online courses which have helped me.

This interactive session will involve a lot of sharing and discussion. Come with your questions, books and ideas and we’ll work on answering them together. There has never been a better time to be a writer!

Career Track
Career Track

James Scott Bell, Dan Blank, and Mary DeMuth join us through live internet connection. Exclusively for professional writers, participants will engage in discussion on branding, career longevity, and other topics.

In this live interactive Q&A session (via internet connection) James Scott Bell will discuss career longevity, how to keep pushing ourselves to keep learning, and exploring new publishing options.

Mary DeMuth will share (via live internet connection) how to take all of our writing interests and our various personalities and bring them under one brand for promotion and marketing purposes.

Dan Blank (via live internet feed) will answer questions about creating buzz for your latest project, growing a readership via blogs and social media, breaking into new markets, the value of master-mind groups, and networking and partnering pluses and pitfalls.

WORKSHOPS Thursday June 11, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm TOP ^
Show & Tell–Beginner/Intermediate
A1 Kay Strom

“A lawyer wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers…”

You have probably heard writers say, “show, don’t tell.” That is great advice…sort of. At times. To a degree. In certain situations.

It’s what Jesus did…sort of. At times. To a degree. In certain situations.

In this workshop we will see:

  • When to show and when to tell
  • The difference between the two
  • Why many editors have such a strong preference and what their preference is
  • The power of each in specific circumstances
  • Lots of examples!

You will also have a chance to try your hand at showing… and telling.

Proposals that Win–Intermediate/Advanced
A2 Don Pape

A proposal can make or break you…nothing like reading a dear editor letter addressed to a competitor. In this hour we will discuss how to capture the “hook” of your project and why and how it is distinctive enough to be considered above all others arriving on a Publisher’s desk. Taught by an industry veteran, we’ll look at a few proposal templates, and land on the essentials that will make YOUR book idea a winsome presentation to any publishing house

Facebook Marketing–Advanced/Career
A3 Lisa Hall-Wilson

For the writer who has work published (or about to be published) and is ready to begin promoting and running ads on Facebook. We’ll explore the efficient and targeted capability of Facebook ads to reach new readers, connect with and grow your tribe, and move your fans into your marketing funnel.

Book Launches that Sizzle–Open
A4 Panel Moderator Dorene Meyer

Learn from authors successes and disappointments as they discuss what makes a book launch sizzle and what makes a book launch fizzle.

Panelists: NJ Lindquist, Aimee Reid, Janet Sketchley, Ray Wiseman.

WORKSHOPS Thursday June 11, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm TOP ^
Writing for Men—Beginner/Intermediate
B1 Don Pape

Is it possible that men only read the sports section of a newspaper or the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated? There is a myth that the male species doesn’t read. In this time together we will explore what men DO read and why it is a challenge to find this on the shelves of bookstores. Come away encouraged and inspired that men can read if we provide them the appropriate resources.

Titles, Keywords & Blurbs–Intermediate/Advanced
B2 NJ Lindquist 

Whether you’re writing blogs, articles, stories, or books, you need to choose titles, keywords, and blurbs that do three things.

1. Hook your target readers so they check out your work.

2. Accurately describe what you’ve written so your readers don’t feel cheated.

3. Get found by search engines or online bookstores.

In this workshop, we’ll consider specific ways to make sure we choose wisely.

Bring along a title and a 30-second blurb (50 or so words) describing something you’ve written. Your goal is to make the person you share it with want to read (or hear) more.

Understanding & Negotiating Book Contracts—Advanced/Career
B3 Les Stobbe

Contracts from book publishers vary from three to 19 pages. Let a former contract negotiator at three publishers, who now negotiates for clients as a literary agent, help you understand the key elements of a book contract, when you have leverage, what areas may be negotiable, at what time in your life as author you no longer have to accept a “rookie” contract, when you can retain certain rights as technology changes.

Magazine Editors–Open
B4 Panel Moderator Lisa Hall-Wilson

Editors from leading Canadian Christian publications dish on what’s new, what’s old, what drives them crazy, and what they are looking for. This workshop is recommended for anyone planning to attend Speed Date with an Editor, following this workshop.

Panelists: Angela Bick, Andrew Faiz, Fazal Karim Jr., Stephen Kennedy, Susan King, Karen Stiller.

WORKSHOPS Saturday June 13, 9:30 – 10:30 am TOP ^
Integrating Scripture and Life Experience in Your Writing—Beginner/Intermediate
C1 Les Stobbe

Many writers either overload their book manuscript with Scripture or make their experience normative for what the reader ought to experience. How can the writer achieve a balance of life experience and biblical truth to achieve effective life change? Is there a formula that can be applied? Which contemporary writers are effectively integrating Scripture and life experiences—and what can we learn from them?

Poetry Writing Hothouse—Open
C2 D.S. Martin

This workshop will have you writing poetry right in the class. Established Canadian poet D.S. Martin will help you explore several approaches to getting poems started, techniques for boldly moving forward, editing techniques to strengthen the lines you have already written, and advance into the techniques for polishing your poems.

The Poetry Writing Hothouse will be of value to anyone interested in writing poetry, from beginners through to those who already have a sizable body of work, from teens through to seniors.

Within the one-hour session, you will respond to various prompts that will draw you into the writing of poetry, and will inspire you to discover ways to regularly kick-start your writing

Antagonists & Protagonists–Intermediate/Advanced
C3 Marcy Kennedy

Throw out those multi-page character questionnaires. They’re not the key to creating three-dimensional, believable, likeable (or dislikeable!) antagonists and protagonists.

This workshop will take an in-depth, practical look at the secrets to creating strong character backbones for your story and making sure they’re memorable. As a bonus, we’ll also look at the difference between single-story vs. series antagonists and protagonists.

Harlequin Authors–Open
C4 Panel Moderator Sara Davison

Harlequin was originally a Canadian company, founded in Winnipeg in 1949. Did you know that? Come out and hear Harlequin Inspired authors talk about their experiences, how Harlequin has impacted them as writers, what you believe you know about Harlequin and why you just might be wrong, and why you shouldn’t dismiss this market. There will be time for Q & A after the panel discussion.

Panelists: Maggie K. Black, Linda Hall, Susan Mason, Sandra Orchard.

WORKSHOPS Saturday June 13, 11:00 am – 12 noon TOP ^
Writing About Crime–Open
D1 Sandra Orchard

From consulting with the FBI to participating in Police Academies and soliciting advice from experts for her mystery novels, Sandra has gained a lot of insight into writing about crime. This informal workshop will equip you with resources to get the facts and investigation procedures right in your novel, as well as offer tips on how to approach the experts.

Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message Part 1—Beginner/Intermediate
D2 Susan King

It’s not hard cover, and you’re not the only author on those pages, but when a magazine publishes your work, you reach thousands more readers than most books do—and with a much faster turnaround time. And, when you’re published in The Upper Room, your reach expands to millions of readers in 39 languages and over 100 countries worldwide. So even if your focus is in a different genre, as a Christian writer you should consider composing devotionals as part of your writing discipline.

Absolutely essential for anyone who wants to write devotionals, this two-part workshop series is for everyone—adults, teens, beginners, intermediates, and professionals. We will begin by describing the three essential elements of a devotional—especially the final element. Devotional magazines have differing requirements, mostly based on the purpose of the publication. Since the purpose of The Upper Room is to teach, our writers need to include a third element—a takeaway section at the end of the devotional—that gives concrete ways for the readers to put our writers’ God-given insights into practice.

Writing Romance–Open
D3 Maggie K. Black

This workshop will cover the basic elements of creating a captivating love story. How do you build and develop romantic tension? How do you create two characters who seem destined to be together, despite the obstacles pushing them apart? What’s the difference in a publisher’s eyes between writing a romance book and one that just has a romantic subplot? This is a great workshop for those beginning to write romance and who are interested in breaking into the romance genre. It will also touch on the differences between writing romance for adults and teenagers, creating love triangles, and writing romance versus romantic suspense.

Writers & Taxes–Advanced/Career
D4 Sonia Vaknin

Writers are classified as artists under Canadian tax law. Are you aware of the various tax benefits for artists? Do you know which pitfalls to avoid? Do you know which international jurisdictions the Canadian government has tax agreements with and how those apply to you? This workshop is for the career writer, but anyone who makes any money as a writer will benefit from the instruction provided here. This workshop will not replace your personal accountant, but it might help you decide if you need one..

WORKSHOPS Saturday June 13, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm TOP ^
The Flesh Made Word: Writing Short Stories–Open

E1 Hugh Cook

This workshop will explore a number of basic, practical questions about writing a short story, such as:

  • Are there different types of short stories? Which kind of short story most increases my chance of publication?
  • What are the qualities of a good short story? What do magazine editors look for?
  • Do short stories need a message? Can I write stories that convey a Christian theme, but avoid being preachy?
  • What can I do with my short story once it’s complete? Are there markets where I can submit my stories?

This will be an interactive workshop which will give you plenty opportunity to participate and ask questions.

Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message, Part 2—Beginner/Intermediate
E2 Susan King

Part 2 will continue focusing on the essential qualities of a devotional message: Bible basis, authenticity, exploratory tone, universality, and using concrete, sensory language.

The Upper Room gives readers a model for reading scripture and then listening for God’s voice to come to them through it. Learning to write well for The Upper Room is learning to write well for any publishing market

Suspense—Not Just for Suspense Novels—Intermediate
E3 Linda Hall

Suspense isn’t just for suspense novels. Tension is at the heart of all good storytelling, from sweet romances and historicals to fantasies, science fiction and thrillers. Simply put, tension is what makes the reader turn from one page to the next.

This workshop will examine more than a dozen ways to increase the tension in our stories. Both inner and outer conflict will be looked at. Outer conflict is what acts on a story character from the outside. Inner conflict is the character’s angst and back story. Novels with tension have plenty of both.

Workshop participants will be encouraged to bring their own works in progress as we work through the handout sheet

Getting Published & Staying Published–Advanced/Career
E4 Panel Moderator Aimee Reid

You have one book published. Will your publisher contract your second book? Industry experts talk about what it takes to achieve a life-long career in publishing.

Panelists: Steve Barclift, Don Pape, Les Stobbe, Kay Strom.

WORKSHOPS Saturday June 13, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm TOP ^
Speaking Freely About Free Speech–Open
F1 Karen Stiller, Cheryl Weber

When staff and publishers of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered in Paris earlier this year, the world was horrified. An ever-evolving – and sometimes very passionate – conversation on free speech ignited: what exactly is free speech and what are its limits (if there are any)? Enshrined in the constitution law of most countries, the right to free speech seems as basic as breathing. But just how far can you go? How do Canadian Christian writers bump up against its limits? How do writers who represent Christ speak truth with dignity and beauty – without offence? Wait a minute…is there something wrong with offence?

Join journalists Karen Stiller of Faith Today and Cheryl Weber of 100 Huntley Street as they freely dive into an interactive discussion about free speech. Please come with questions and observations. You will be free to offend. Maybe.

Writing From the Middle: A Powerful New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between—Intermediate/Advanced
F2 James Scott Bell (Via Live Internet Connection)

Based on the #1 bestselling Amazon writing book, this workshop will teach you a completely unique method for crafting a powerful, unified novel by way of the “mirror moment” — a crucial beat that happens right in the middle of great and enduring stories. James Scott Bell will show you how to discover the true heart of your book, and how that knowledge brings everything into focus. Best of all, this method can be used at any time during the writing process, whether you like to outline or just wing it as you go.

The Game of Publishing—Advanced/Career
F3 Warren Benson

The publishing industry can be intimidating for authors.
• Choosing what stream of publishing is right for you.
• Discovering your role in the publishing process.
• Organizing an effective marketing strategy for your book.

We talk with authors on a daily basis, and we know the common questions (and misconceptions) authors have. As the owner of a company that publishes, distributes, and markets books, Warren Benson gives insight into every angle of an author’s needs. This workshop will provide you with a foundational knowledge of publishing and marketing your book, and help motivate you to achieve your publishing goals.

CBA Agents & Editors–Open
F4 Panel Moderator Karen DeBlieck

Many Canadian Christian authors dream of having their projects picked up by a Christian publisher (American and/or Canadian). In this frank panel discussion, agents and editors share what these publishers look for in a manuscript and why so many Canadian authors wanting to write for a Christian market miss the mark.

Panelists: Steve Barclift, Don Pape, Les Stobbe, Larry Willard.