WGA Conference Weekend

Two days back from a month long trip, I attended the Writers Guild of Alberta annual conference last weekend. Aside from feeling a tad jet-lagged, I had a great time.

Calgary’s weather couldn’t have been better. At the Friday pub night, I enjoyed sitting outside on the patio drinking the free beer, eating good food, catching up with old friends and getting acquainted with new ones.

Then, the organizers called us inside to participate in a literary trivia contest that turned out to be more fun than I had expected. Our four-woman team called ourselves the jet-set – jet-lagged didn’t sound so positive. The challenging and intriguing questions ranged from pop culture to Nobel prize winning literature. Our team got half the answers right, coming in fourth. When the conference administrators’s team withdrew from claiming third prize, we grabbed their goodie bag and divided the books and wine between us.

Saturday featured breakfast, two keynote speeches, the AGM, two coffee breaks (at least) and breakout sessions related to various genres. Many stayed on for the gala awards night. Tired, I returned home to rest.

Many thanks to the organizers — the WGA administrators and board members — for their hard work of hosting this successful event. I hope to make it there again next year.

WITWorks Photo Shoot

As always, Writing in the Works on Thursday night was a huge success.  This was the 10th edition of WITWorks and I’ve been there from the start to help organize the event.

This time, I was one of the five readers. I enjoyed sharing my unpublished novel excerpt with the audience that packed Owl’s Nest Bookstore in Calgary. It was also great to hear in-the-works readings by of my fellow presenters Rob Bose, Joan Crate, Sarah Johnson and Taylor Lambert. They’re an impressive group of writers.

Music by the Central Memorial Stringlets added a touch of class and ushered in the evening. Wine, cheese, fruit, brownies and amazing cookies helped set the mood.

An intriguing Q & A followed the readings. Emcee Elaine Morin began with teaser questions.

She asked each of us: Which do you prefer Star Wars or Star Trek? Naheed Nenshi or Mahatma Ghandi? Margaret Atwood or Lucy Maud Montgomery?

My answers? Star Trek original series, Ghandi and (with some struggle) Lucy Maud, in memory of my childhood.

Q & A: Elaine Morin, Susan and Joan Crate

Then came the serious questions:

Since WITWorks is all about sharing works in progress, at which point do you share or discuss your project with someone?
How inappropriate, scary, or uncomfortable are you willing to get in your writing? Is there some places you won’t go? Do people have to die before you’ll write about certain things?
Me emoting during my reading
Is there a genre you would never write? If so, what is it?

Which question do you wish people would ask you about your work?

Joan came up with the best answer for the last question: Can I buy your book?

As for the other questions, there’s so much scope I might grab them for topics for future blog posts.

At the end, we applaud emcee Elaine Morin

WITWorks

Two days until Writing in the Works! I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my novel-in-progress and engaging in a spirited discussion on the creative process with fellow readers Rob Bose, Joan Crate, Sarah Johnson and Taylor Lambert, moderated by Elaine Morin.

This is always a fun, well attended event. I hope to see some of you there.

A classy treat this year will be music by the Central Memorial Stringlets. Wine and food too.

The Arthurs

Me as Emcee

On Thursday, April 21, I had the pleasure of hosting the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime writing.

Four fellow CWC members participated: Jayne Barnard, Eileen Bell (from Edmonton), Dwayne Clayden and Axel Howerton.

Axel began by warming up the audience with magic tricks that involved thumb cuffs and a toy gun that I shot.

Dwayne explained what the Arthurs are about. They got their name from the pseudonym of Canada’s Official Hangman and over the years have been won by such illustrious writers as Eric Wright, Gail Bowen and Margaret Atwood.

Axel reads the shortlist for Best Crime First Novel

Through the evening, we took turns reading the shortlists for the eight Arthur categories. Eileen, Jayne, Axel and Dwayne shared short readings from their writing. We all engaged in a spirited and honest discussion of Writing Contests and Awards: the Good, Bad & Ugly.

Only Axel and I knew the shortlisted authors names in advance. We saved the category with a winner present for last, unaware that a second winner in the same category was in the audience. What a treat and a splendid ending to a fun night.

We applaud the winners in our midst

Alice Bienia and Jayne Barnard, shortlisted for the Unhanged Arthur award for best unpublished novel.

Arthur Announcements Tonight!

Tonight’s the night we announce the shortlists for this year’s Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. I’ll emcee the event, which takes place at Calgary’s Owl’s Nest Bookstore and features my partners in crime: Jayne Barnard, E.C. Bell, Dwayne Clayden and Axel Howerton. Join us for readings, magic tricks and a lively discussion of Writing Contests and Awards: the Good, Bad & Ugly.

Writing in the Works

I’m fortunate to be participating in two readings at the end of April. The Arthur Ellis Shortlist event arrives first – on April 21st – where I get to host the mayhem and try to keep those wild crime writers in line.

A week later, on April 28th,  I’ll be reading at Writing in the Works, which features writing-in-progress, works seeking publication and works about to be published. After the readings, we’ll participate in a roundtable discussion on the creative process. Emcee Elaine Morin also promises a few questions just for fun.

This will be the 10th installment of Writing in the Works. Over the years, we’ve showcased many up-an-coming Calgary writers. I’m proud to say I’m a founding member. The most fun is meeting the other fine women at Original Joes restaurant to brainstorm the next Writing in the Works event.

Arthur Ellis Shortlist Awards

I’m excited to be hosting this year’s Arthur Ellis Shortlist Event in Calgary, featuring Crime Writers of Canada authors Jayne Barnard, E.C. Bell, Dwayne Clayden and Axel Howerton.  Join us for a night of conversation, fictional shenanigans, criminal mischief and the announcement of this years official nominees for the 2016 Arthur Ellis Awards, honoring the the best of this year’s Canadian crime writing!

When? April 21, starting 7:00 PM

Where? Owl’s Nest Bookstore, Brittania Shopping Centre, 815A 49th Avenue SW, Calgary

Deadly Fall in Ramsay

This week’s Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers blogs about Deadly Fall, with a hilarious picture of sculpture in Ramsay that looks like a falling church. Hilarious. How have I missed seeing this art? I’ll look out for it on my next walk through Ramsay.

Opal POV

I’m honoured to be the featured writer in this month’s issue of Opal POV, an E-zine launched this summer by Calgary writer and publisher Cindy DeJager.

In addition to interviews, articles and flash fiction, Opal POV features regular columns by Calgary writer Catherine Saykaly-Stevens on social media (this month her topic is Password Protection) and author, former police officer and paramedic Dwayne Clayden on what TV and movies get wrong in police and medical shows. You can subscribe to Opal POV E-Zine for free.

If, like me, you have problems reading the flip E-zine format, the publisher has added a DOWNLOAD PDF button just below the flip-zine on this page.

Enjoy!

Happy New Year

NaNoWriMo got me interested in tracking my writing activity stats. For Christmas, I received a present that is doing this for physical activity – a fitbit that tracks my daily footsteps.

So far — that, is for six days — my fitbit has encouraged me to walk or jog on the spot when I’d normally be sitting or standing. I have to say this jogging has sometimes been distracting for my family.

Periodically, through the day, I log onto my fitbit computer site and ‘synch’ the steps I’ve walked since I clipped the small device onto my shirt or pants that morning. The site displays graphs that show how close I am to my daily goal of 10,000 steps, the calories needed to lose a pound a week and my minutes of activity, which still seem small compared to my sedentary hours. The dashboard also rates activities by intensity. My basic walking around the house has been low intensity, a quick walk through a grocery store and one riser stair-stepping were medium and on-the-spot  jogging was high. Stair-stepping feels a bit more intense to me than spot jogging, so this might not be completely accurate. While I’ve usually reached my goal for daily steps, my calories burned have yet to hit the mark. It seems to lose my holiday weight I’ll need to increase the minutes of intensity and/or numbers of steps. This might happen, at least some days, when I restart gym classes and do longer walks in the new year.

This fitbit has been fun. I hope I keep going with it and, for once, keep my ususal New Year’s Resolution to exercise more. And one of these days I’ll have to stop eating those chocolates and cookies.

Best wishes to you for your 2016 resolutions and dreams.

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