2019 North Island Writers Conference


  • January 25 & 26, 2019
  • Hosts: Comox Valley Writers Society & North Island College
  • Sponsors: Peninsula Co-op Comox Valley
  • Location: North Island College – Comox Valley campus
  • Registration will open soon



Friday night – January 25, 2019     NIC campus     Open to public

Reception: 6:30 – 7:00 pm
Keynote speaker: 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Social: 8:00 – 9:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: TBA

Saturday – January 26, 2019         NIC campus
8:00 am to 5:00 pm

8:00 – 8:45: Late registration, book sales, networking
9:00 – 12:00: Workshop and panel sessions
12:00 – 1:00: Lunch break – brown bag, restaurants in area, books sales
1:00 – 4:00: Workshop and panel sessions
4:00 – 5:00: Wrap up, book sales, networking


Title: Poetry and Sense of Place         Presenter: Adelia MacWilliam

Description: How can poetry act like Dorothy’s red shoes and bring you home? What happens if you look at the land you call home in terms of its history? Where does wilderness begin and end for you? What voices can you use to speak for nature? What would a poetry practice informed by a sense of place look like for you?

Inspired by the bio-regional movement in poetry and ancient Chinese poetry, Adelia will guide an inquiry into writing poetry about place from different voices and perspectives that will be part presentation, part sharing and part writing exercises. Bring a pen and your notebook.

Time: 1 – 4 pm           Class size: 12

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Title: Everything You Want to Know about Book Publishing and What It Takes to Create a Great Book

Presenter: Craig Shemilt

Description: Craig Shemilt has been involved in the printing industry for more than 40 years. His company, Island Blue Book Printing, represents more than 3000 authors and 200 publishers. Island Blue also has more than 14,000 book titles archived to their system. This presentation gives a wealth of information on what it takes to produce an excellent book and marketing strategies. He will discuss why authors are turning to self-publishing, giving his expertise on book publishing, printing, editing, design, formatting, e-books and the book market. Anyone writing a book does not want to miss this talk.

Time: 9 am – 12 pm               Class size: 40

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Title: Humour in Writing: Dissecting the Frog          Presenter: Jack Knox

Description: It is said that analyzing humour is like dissecting a frog: you understand it better but the frog dies in the process. This workshop aims to kill a few amphibians, delving into what makes writing funny (and what does not). We will look at a variety of forms of humour – satire, parody, whimsy, observational – and the literary devices that make them work. Those who feel particularly brave will be encouraged to bring samples of their work so their frogs may be torn open by the other workshop participants.

Time: 9 am – 12 pm               Class size: 40

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Title: Scenes: Inject Life into Fiction and Nonfiction     Presenter: Jeanette Taylor

Description: The emotional impact of a story, in both fiction and nonfiction, lies within scenes. In these dramatic passages of moment by moment action something is at stake for a central character, and as that scene unfolds things change, perhaps irrevocably. Applying scene dynamics requires imagination, attention to details, insightful knowledge of your characters, and a plan—either intuitive or charted—of where the story is headed.

In this workshop we will talk about the ingredients needed to add vigor and veracity to scenes and half-scenes, and try some related exercises applicable to fiction and nonfiction, including memoir. Handouts and a reading list will guide follow up thoughts. Bring your notebook or device and an intriguing photograph that is reflective of your current project. (Or choose an image provided.)

Time: 1 – 4 pm           Class size: 40

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Title: Graphic Novel: Setting Yourself Up for Success         Presenter: Lisa Maas

Description: Creating a graphic novel is a long-term commitment. How do you keep the momentum going from the seed of an idea to the very end of your project? This workshop will focus on strategies to stay motivated, overcome resistances and to live a creative life. We will also do some exercises on generating ideas, character development and using comic techniques and devices to make your book the best it can be. Bring your favorite pencil!

Time: 9 – 11 am                     Class size: 30

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Title: Symbols, Imagery and Motif in Fiction           Presenter: Marlet Ashley

Description: Skillful use of symbols, imagery and motif can bring life to writing in surprising ways. Accomplished writers employ such elements without interrupting the fictional dream. However, their overuse or misuse can be distracting and damaging to our work. Learn how to use these devices expertly to enhance writing and avoid confusion: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” (Sigmund Freud).

Time: 9 am – 12 pm               Class size: 12

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Title: Genograms for Writers: Using family therapy to manage and develop your characters

Presenter: Susan Ketchen

Description: A genogram is a pictorial representation of family and social relationships. Therapists use genograms to identify family patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships. For writers, a genogram can be a “map” that visually organizes a complex social landscape, ensuring that characters are presented consistently in a realistic system of relationships.

I will show how a genogram was helpful for managing the many characters in my four-volume novel series. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to create genograms using their own fictional characters or their families of origin.

Time: 1 – 3 pm           Class size: 20

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Title: The Gift of the Gab: How to Craft Great Dialogue    Presenter: Traci Skuce

Description: Dialogue is fun to read. Unless it isn’t. In this workshop we will discuss the pitfalls of writing dialogue and ways to steer clear of them. Moving through a series of exercises you will learn how to get your characters really talking. You will access voice, body language and gesture, and discover how underpinning most dialogue is a transaction of desires. Then you will learn how to hone what you hang between those quotation marks into something memorable and artful. So bring your pens and notepads and get ready to write!

Time: 9 am – 12 pm               Class size: 25

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Title: Why I hate my editor and other lessons from the bookmaking world

Presenter: Trevor McMonagle

Description: This workshop will examine the nature of the editor’s work: how it is expressed in relationship to the writer, what it looks like in practice, how the editor fits into the entire bookmaking process, what it all might cost.

As well, there will be an examination of some of the tricky stylistic choices writers face. For starters: one word or two? hyphen or no hyphen? a style sheet? Every participant should bring one burning question to the workshop.

Might there be one or two writers who would submit a short piece of writing for discussion? Let me know at trevor@therightwordsediting.ca

Time: 1 – 4 pm           Class size: 40

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Title: Indigenous Voices                     Presenter: Wedlidi Speck

Description: Wedlidi Speck will host workshop participants to explore indigenous stories and methods of transferring traditional knowledge. He will utilize the circle to create a safe and comfortable learning space, ‘creating a container’ as he says, ‘to hold our inquiry, learning and shared experience.’ Here, symbols, rituals, ceremony will be discussed as a way to understand the indigenous narrative that give life and breathe their indigenous worldview, indigenous relational practice and indigenous innovations.

Time: 9 am – 12 pm               Class size: 24


Title: Poetry Matters          

Presenters: Ed Varney, Lynne Knight, Natalie Nickerson

Description: Coming soon

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Title: Jumping into Journalism

Presenters: Elizabeth Young, Judi Murakami

Description: Coming soon


Presenter bios

Details coming soon




Registration will open soon.