2022 North Island Writers Conference


  • January 7 – 23, 2022
  • Co-hosts: Comox Valley Writers Society & North Island College
  • Sponsors: CV Record, Peninsula Co-op, CV Regional District
  • Location: virtually via Zoom









January 7th, Friday – Opening Night

  • 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Welcome from CV Writers Society & NIC
  • Guest speaker: Danny Ramadan, 2021 – 2022 Haig-Brown writer-in-residence; Talk: The Role of the Writer in the Current World We Live In
  • Free and open to the public
  • Must register by January 5th, 2022 to receive Zoom invite

Danny Ramadan


January 8th & 9th, Saturday & Sunday

Humour in Writing: Dissecting the Frog

  • Weekend 3-hour workshop; 2 x 1.5 hours
  • Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. both days
  • Presenter: Jack Knox
  • Registration: $32.00 ($30. + $2. PayPal fee*)

Jack Knox

Are you feeling funny? Relax, it’s not COVID. Maybe. The workshop, Dissecting the Frog, will look at humour writing and what makes it work (or not). We will analyze the various types of humour and go over the literary devices that make humour writing more effective. Courageous participants will be encouraged to submit short pieces of their own writing for examination by the group.


January 10th – 14th, Monday to Friday

Animating Character: Characterization & Dialogue

  • Week-long 5-hour writing retreat; 5 x 1 hour
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. each day
  • Presenter: Judy LeBlanc
  • Registration: $52.00 ($50. + $2. PayPal fee*)

Judy LeBlanc

In the most memorable fiction and creative nonfiction, readers willingly give themselves over to characters and begin to see the world through their eyes. How is it that a character can linger in the mind of the reader long after they’ve closed the book? How does the writer achieve this? This workshop will explore ways to invoke that kind of vitality into your character, to give them all the attributes of a feeling, mistake making, yearning, loving, hating, conflicted and complex human. We will discuss and read examples in literature where this has been achieved and parse out those techniques that facilitate character development. You will increase your awareness about methods that reveal character and have an opportunity to employ them in either your own work-in-progress or in fresh writing done during the workshop. We will talk about different ways to find characters, to move them toward change and to avoid stereotypes.

Dialogue is a powerful method of layering complexity into characterization by way of revealing desire and conflict, the driving forces of fiction. To whom does your character speak, what do they say, and how do they say it? What function does dialogue perform in your story? Dialogue can do much more than merely advance the narrative. We will focus on techniques to infuse spontaneity and richness into dialogue while enabling it to perform multifaceted functions.

In each of the five sessions you will be given a short writing exercise, and during the last session you will have an opportunity to share your writing. The workshop is suitable for those writing fiction or nonfiction, beginners, or those more experienced writers in need of a recharge.


January 15th, Saturday

Travel Guide to the Head and Heart through the Prose Poem

  • One day 3-hour workshop
  • Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Presenter: Cornelia Hoogland
  • Registration: $32.00 ($30. + $2. PayPal fee*)

Cornelia Hoogland

The Prose Poem is a hybrid that links the genres of poetry and prose with personal memories or experiences. This workshop looks at a variety of different constraints ––the structures and processes––that can help shape a writer’s sometimes overwhelming subjects. Of her own process, Cornelia Hoogland says “The writing makes its own demands; even short pieces about my family end up not being about my family, but, rather, about the demands of memory and imagination.” Cornelia will help writers generate possibilities and narrative, weigh ideas, and ask questions: basically, follow (and interrupt) the writer’s imaginative, and observing and thinking mind. Models, resources, crafted exercises and discussion are included. She looks forward to working with writers.


January 17th – 21st, Monday to Friday

How to Write Believable Crime & Murder Scenes

  • Week-long 5-hour writing retreat; 5 x 1 hour
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. each day
  • Presenter: Garry Rodgers
  • Registration: $52.00 ($50. + $2. PayPal Fee*)

Garry Rodgers

Join retired RCMP Serious Crimes detective and BC coroner, Garry Rodgers, for a five-day string of one-hour, online sessions. You will be on a guided tour through the many twisted aspects of crime such as Understanding the Mechanism of Death, Get Creative with Investigational Aids, Create Compelling (villain & victim) Characters and more. Exercises will help you dig into the nitty-gritty details of crime investigation. Gary is keen to work with writers to develop their knowledge and skills in writing believable crime and murder scenes.

Garry is also an international bestselling indie author with twenty publications released including an eight-part series based on true crime cases he was involved with.


January 19th, Wednesday – Fireside Chat

A Conversation Between Author and Illustrator

  • Time: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Event is free
  • Must register by January 17th, 2022 to receive Zoom invite

Author Jordan Scott

Illustrator Kate Brown







Join illustrator Kate Brown and author Jordan Scott for a “fireside chat” about the relationship between writers and illustrators.

Kate and Jordan will discuss the challenges and triumphs of collaborating across artistic boundaries.


January 22nd & 23rd, Saturday & Sunday

Researching Your Way to Richer Writing

  • Weekend 3-hour workshop; 2 x 1.5 hours
  • Time: 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. both days
  • Presenter: Jessica McDiarmid
  • Registration: $32.00 ($30. + $2. PayPal fee*)

Jessica McDiarmid

In this workshop, we will explore techniques to dig up information from an array of sources and use it to build strong scenes, compelling narratives and get to the heart of the stories we tell. The workshop will include tips for interviewing, finding information online and elsewhere, along with learning from the examples of some of the best in the field and exercises to practice putting it all to work.




January 8th – 18th

Blue Pencil Café

  • 45-minute one-on-one zoom session
  • Registration: $62.00 ($60. + $2. PayPal fee*)

(Date & time will be arranged with registrants after registration form has been received.)

Trevor McMonagle

Looking for an editor’s response to your writing?  Not sure if you’re following the conventions of punctuation and spelling? Want some suggestions about how your writing can be improved? Want to hear about a strong aspect and a weaker aspect of your writing? Have a question about the book-making process? If so, take part in a Blue Pencil Café with editor and teacher, Trevor McMonagle.

Three of Trevor’s clients said this about his work:

  • “He really got me on the right track. One of the reasons my writing is beginning to fall into place is because of his patience.”
  • “Trevor was flexible, and adapted his approach to my changing needs as I went through the process. Trevor has an editor’s necessary, careful eye for detail.”
  • “Trevor’s editing work took my book to a whole new level. Even though I have worked as an editor myself, I was impressed by his depth of knowledge, attention to detail and his insights on how to improve the content. And besides all that, he was enjoyable to work with.”

Participants will submit by email up to a thousand words of text, as well as three questions relating to their writing and a statement of their goal for the project:  self-publish for family and friends, find a commercial publisher or publication, self-publish and market for a commercial audience, write solely for pleasure, or …

Trevor will read the submission beforehand, then in a one-on-one zoom session, respond to the writer regarding the content, style, and strengths and weaknesses of the submission. As well, he will attempt to answer questions and suggest ways for the writer to achieve their goal.

Submissions in any genre will be accepted, but writers should identify the genre they are working in.

Submission guidelines:
Text: Submit up to a thousand words of text, double-spaced.
Questions: Also submit up to three questions about your writing sample.
Goal: As well, please state your goal: self-publish for family and friends, find a commercial publisher or publication, self-publish and market for a commercial audience, write solely for pleasure, or …

*Cancellation Policy:
Refunds, minus the PayPal fee, will be issued if notification of your cancellation is received two (2) days before the start date of the workshop.



Cornelia Hoogland:
Cornelia Hoogland was the 2019 writer-in-residence for the Al Purdy A-Frame and the Whistler Festival. She has taught writing, poetry, memoir and short fiction for many happy years.

Her recent publications are Dressed in Only a Cardigan, She Picks Up Her Tracks in the Snow, (a book of prose poems available for $13.50 at https://www.baselinepress.ca/shop/dressed-in-only-a-cardigan-cornelia-hoogland-2021-2ndprinting) and Cosmic Bowling (available at www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781771835374). Trailer Park Elegy and Woods Wolf Girl were finalists for Canadian national awards. http://www.corneliahoogland.com/

Danny Ramadan:
Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker and LGBTQ+ refugees activist.

The Clothesline Swing, Ramadan’s debut novel, won the Independent Publisher Book Award for LGBT Fiction, The Canadian Authors Association’s award for Best Fiction, and was shortlisted for Evergreen Award, Sunburst Award and a Lambda Award. It was long listed for Canada Reads 2018. The novel is translated to French, German and Hebrew.

His children book, Salma the Syrian Chef, was released in March 2020 by Annick Press. The book won the Middle East Book Award 2020, The Nautilus Gold Award (with Special Honours) and is nominated to the Forest of Reading’s Blue Spruce award, Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, and named amongst the Best Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews and Library School Journal.

Salma the Syrian Chef’s German translation to be released in March 2021.

He won the Fiddlehead Short Fiction Contest 2018 with My Name is Bridge, and was a finalist for the Bridge Prize with The Miraculous Return of Khaled from the Dead.

His forthcoming novel, The Foghorn Echoes, to be released by Penguin Canada in Summer 2022. His memoir, Crooked Teeth, to be released in summer 2024. He is also working on a collection of short fiction, The Syrian Survival Notebook, and a YA novel, Son of the Silk Maker.

He was named among the Top Immigrants to Canada 2017 as well as awarded the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Award for Excellency.

Through his flagship event, An Evening in Damascus, Ramadan raised over $200,000 for local Vancouver organization Rainbow Refugee, facilitating the safe arrival of Syrian Queer and Trans refugees to their new home in Canada.

He graduated with a Master in Fine Arts – Creative Writing at UBC and lives with his husband, Matthew Ramadan, in Vancouver.

Ramadan was the Writer-in-Residence for the Saskatoon Public Library between September 2020 and May 2021. He currently serves as the Writer-in-Residence at the Haig-Brown House in Campbell River, BC.

Garry Rodgers:
Garry Rodgers served twenty years with the RCMP, almost all as a detective with the Serious Crimes Section with postings across coastal British Columbia. Following police retirement, Garry took an appointment as a coroner in Nanaimo. Now, he’s reinvented himself as a crime writer with some of his twenty indie publications reaching international bestselling status.

Garry Rodgers also hosts a popular blog on his website at www.DyingWords.net. Additionally, he regularly contributes to The Kill Zone which is home to some of the top mystery and thriller writers. Be sure to follow Garry on Twitter — @GarryRodgers1.

Jack Knox:
Jack Knox is an award-losing columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. As a journalist he has debated policy with prime ministers and premiers, and has interviewed a murderer in his cell. He liked the murderer. Career highlights include being blasted with blowhole spray by Luna the whale (it tasted like fish), interviewing a porn movie star in the nude (her, not him) and getting a phone call from Barack Obama four days before he (Obama, not Jack) was elected president. He is the author of three books, two of which were nominated for the Leacock Medal for Humour.

Jessica McDiarmid:
Jessica McDiarmid is a Canadian journalist and author who has worked across Africa and North America writing for the Toronto Star, the Associated Press, the Canadian Press, Chatelaine, the Harvard ReviewMaisonneueveCanadian Business, and others. Her first book, Highway of Tears, was a finalist for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize and the BC/Yukon Book Prizes’ Hubert Evans Prize. She can be found at @jessmcdiarmid and www.jessicamcdiarmid.com.


Jordan Scott:
Jordan Scott is a poet and children’s author. Scott has written five books of poetry and was the recipient of the 2018 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize for his contributions to Canadian poetry.  Scott’s debut Children’s book (illustrated by Sydney Smith) I Talk Like a River was a New York Times best Children’s book of 2020 and the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award which honors authors for the artistic expression of the disability experience.

Judy LeBlanc:
Judy LeBlanc lives in Fanny Bay where she founded The Fat Oyster Reading Series. She completed an MFA in writing in 2012 at UVIC and has taught all genres of writing at North Island College. Though she primarily writes and publishes fiction, in the past few years she’s made forays into poetry and creative non-fiction. Recently, her poetry has been published in the Malahat Review and a personal essay was published in Prairie Fire. Another essay is forthcoming in Fiddlehead. Her fiction has been widely published in Canadian literary journals including the Malahat Review, Prism, Geist, Grain, Antigonish Review and Filling Station.

A collection of her short stories, The Promise of Water, was published by Oolichan Books in 2017 She was first place winner of the Sheldon Currie Fiction prize in 2012 and longlisted for the CBC fiction prize that same year.

Kate Brown:
Kate Brown hails from Scotland, studied design in London UK, and had a full career as an interior,
product, and apparel designer and was a business woman in Vancouver.

Now living in the Comox Valley, Kate organizes weekly art programs, gives workshops, curates Artsphere Art Shows online, and participates in public events to give back to the community. (Kate started up an art group ten years ago which grew to become Artsphere Comox Valley Society.)

Fascinated by the wildlife and bird habitat on the Comox River estuary, Kate was inspired to illustrate a children’s book about the antics of the birds. Together with author friend Marlet Ashley, they produced their first children’s book The Interlopers. More stories emerged, and together they created a series of children’s books, Revelry on the Estuary. After an adventurous trip to Europe, Kate and Marlet, aka “The Crumblies,” crafted two travel fiction graphic books for adults.

In 2019, Kate was presented with the Local Hero, Arts Ambassador Award of the Comox Valley.

Trevor McMonagle:
Trevor McMonagle is a Vancouver Island-based editor whose first career as a high school English teacher helped him develop the knowledge and skills that are essential to editing: current awareness of language style and conventions, a quick and perceptive eye for written material, and the ability to articulate an insightful and helpful response to a writer.  He understands that when people present their writing, they have exposed their soul.

In the last ten years, he has helped writers to craft pieces as short as a eulogy and as long as a multi-volume travel memoir, has edited in fiction and nonfiction prose as well as in poetry, and has worked with writers across Canada and the US as well as in Britain. Currently, he contracts for The Self Publishing Agency in Vancouver, and serves as editor for the 2022 issues of Strathcona Collective magazine.



This form is now closed for submissions.