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WGA Annual Conference – Creativity and Happiness 2016

Conference Schedule


Welcome to the annual conference of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta! Save money on the full conference pass, or choose to attend individual events.

This year’s conference will take place in Calgary in Heritage Hall at SAIT. (Out of town guests can reserve a room at SAIT, details below.)

See you there!

Conference Schedule & Rates

Sponsored in part by AB-Gov Black RGB
Early Bird (Until April 18)
Regular (After April 18)

Full Conference Pass – WGA Member Fee

Full Conference Pass – Non-Member Fee

Full Conference Pass – Student Rate

*Note: full conference pass does not include gala admission



Cost for Individual Events

 5:30 p.m. Literary Pub Night sponsored by        Last Best Logo



8:30-9:30 a.m. Breakfast and Registration

All Day Professional Photographs with David Whyte (Details here.)

Greg photo9:30-10:45
Keynote with Greg Hollingshead:
The Other Kind of Happiness

 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break and Networking

 11:00-12:00 Annual General Meeting

12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch Buffet

Keynote with Will Ferguson:
Creativity & Happiness

2:30-3:00 Coffee Break and Networking

3:00-5:30 Concurrent Intensives (choose 1 of the following)
Regular $50
Student $25

Marina Endicott 2015BRespect for Character with Marina Endicott
sponsored by
CAA logo

Shaping the Story with Naomi K. Lewis

sedivy photoGorgeous Obsessions: The creative potential of nonfiction with Julie Sedivy


trevorPrologue – The Building Blocks of Dramatic Writing with Trevor Rueger sponsored byAPN logo color left text

My Words are in the World. Now What? with Richard Harrison sponsored by  Fitneff logohouse of blue skies logo

7:30 p.m. Alberta Literary Awards Wine and Cheese Gala – with special guests Sheri-D Wilson and Chloe Albert

 sheri-d wilson chloe albert

 Cancellation Policy

Click here for accommodation at SAIT

Click here to learn more about conference presenters

Click here to register for Creativity & Happiness 2016

Click here to register for the Alberta Literary Awards Gala

Conference Events

Click tabs for event descriptions.[tabs style=”default”] [tab title=”Literary Pub Night”]

FRIDAY EVENING, ODYSSEY COFFEEHOUSE 5:30 p.m. Gather with fellow writers from far and near at the Odyssey Coffeehouse for a social evening of beer, finger food, and entertainment. Literary Pub Night will feature a Literary Trivia Game hosted by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts’ Paul Matwychuk.

Sponsored by Last Best Brewing

[/tab] [tab title=”Saturday Morning Keynote”]

The Other Kind of Happiness, MACDONALD HALL 9:30—10:45 a.m.

Greg Hollingshead talks about how, at a time when it’s said only laws, justice, and technology can save the world, a literary artist continues to engage; about how an artist must, as Chekhov advises, remember that she knows nothing; and about the kind of happiness that writers know.

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The Writers’ Guild of Alberta Annual General Meeting, MACDONALD HALL 11:00—12:00 noon

The AGM is an important component of the life of the WGA. Join us for an overview of the activities of the WGA staff and board committees, and for the election of new board members. Lunch is complimentary for members.

[/tab] [tab title=”Saturday Afternoon Keynote”]

Creativity & Happiness, MACDONALD HALL 1:30—2:45 p.m.

Before Will Ferguson won the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012 for his novel 419, he wrote a brilliant, novel called Happiness: a satirical tale of a self-help book that actually works—and ruins the world. Happiness was nominated for a Commonwealth Award and won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor. Will Ferguson has published 14 books ranging from travel adventure to literary fiction and he will share anecdotes with us about his literary career thus far, his daily writing life, creativity, and happiness.

[/tab] [tab title=”Fiction Intensive with Marina Endicott”]

Respect for Character, MA 128, Saturday 3:00-5:30 p.m.

From her years in theatre, Marina Endicott brings a series of exercises and techniques for creating characters who leap off the page and make us believe in their reality. Find concrete physicality and a true voice for your characters with useful techniques employed by actors and playwrights. Looking at point of view, narrative text v. scene-work, monologue and dialogue, we will explore unexpected methods for writers to deepen their understanding of characters and bring them more fully to life.

Please come prepared to work on a couple of characters you already have in mind.

Sponsored by CanAuthors Alberta Branch

[/tab] [tab title=”Fiction Intensive with Naomi K. Lewis”]

Shaping the Story, MA 109, Saturday 3:00-5:30 p.m.

Do you excel at developing characters in compelling settings, and write scene after glorious scene, but lament that your stories don’t seem to go anywhere? In other words, do you struggle with narrative structure, or plot? In this workshop, participants will experiment with a variety of plotting techniques, looking at the different shapes a story can take. While much of the content will apply to novels, memoirs, plays, screenplays, and creative nonfiction essays alike, we will concentrate on the particularities of the short story. Participants should bring a story in progress, whether a full draft or an outline, or something in between.

[/tab] [tab title=”Nonfiction Intensive”]

Gorgeous obsessions: The creative potential of nonfiction, MA 117, Saturday  3:00-5:30 p.m.

Nonfiction is often seen as the dowdy guest to the literary party—in fact, it even needs to be adorned with the adjective “creative” just to get an invite. In this workshop, Julie Sedivy dispels the notion that language that is tethered to reality is any less inventive than the other kind, and highlights nonfiction as the natural art form for the obsessively curious. Participants will explore the unique allure that nonfiction holds for them personally, and will learn how to stretch their expressive powers through a variety of literary structures and techniques.

Sponsored by Alberta Magazine Publishers Association

[/tab] [tab title=”Playwriting Intensive”]

Prologue – The Building Blocks of Dramatic Writing, MA 102, Saturday  3:00-5:30 p.m.

Have you read, seen and participated in theatre, but have never thought like a dramatic writer thinks? Join Trevor Rueger of the Alberta Playwrights Network in an intensive which discusses the building blocks of dramatic writing using Hamlet as the source material. Trevor will cover Aristotelean Unities, exposition, conflict/crisis/resolution, comedy, character, structure, as well as the difference between writing for the stage as opposed to other genres (novel, film, short story, poetry.)

Sponsored by Alberta Playwrights Network

[/tab] [tab title=”Poetry Intensive”]

My Words are in the World.  Now What?, MA 123, Saturday  3:00-5:30 p.m.

The most examined part of the poet’s work while it’s being done is the beginning, but that long middle period that begins after the first manuscript or the first book’s effect has faded is much less examined or understood.  For many, the first manuscript, perhaps the second, is the last.  If not, there’s still a long period where you are, for the most part, on your own.  What experiences, what choices, propel a lifetime of writing, and which ones inhibit it?  How do poets deal with the changing expectations for their work — from themselves and others.  How do you keep going?  These are the questions that this workshop invites poets to consider and share.  This workshop is designed for poets who have performed or published their work; publication in book form is recommended but not required.

Sponsored by Fitneff and House of Blue Skies

[/tab] [tab title=”Alberta Literary Awards Gala”]

ALBERTA LITERARY AWARDS WINE & CHEESE GALA – with Sheri-D Wilson and Chloe Albert, MACDONALD HALL, Saturday 7:30 p.m. Doors 8:00 p.m.

Please join us during our conference weekend for a wine and cheese reception that will celebrate the work of Alberta authors. We will award literary prizes in numerous categories and we will have ample time to connect with old friends and make some new ones. The Writers’ Guild of Alberta is pleased to host this annual celebration and we hope to see you there! Hosted by WGA board member and book blogger Anne Logan. Semi-formal.

This year’s Gala will feature spoken word artist Sheri-D Wilson and the music of Chloe Albert!

sheri-d wilson
Sheri-D Wilson

Sheri-D Wilson has nine collections of poetry; her most recent is Open Letter: Woman Against Violence Against Women. Her collection, Re:Zoom, won the 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the CanLit Award. She has two Spoken Word CDs and four award-winning VideoPoems. In 2011 she edited The Spoken Word Workbook: inspiration from poets who teach, a tool for teaching and writing Spoken Word. In 2015 she received the City of Calgary Arts Award. In 2009 CBC called her one of the Top 10 Poets in Canada. In 2003 she won the USA Heavyweight title for poetry, and in 2006 The National Slam of Canada presented her with the Poet of Honour Award. In 2016, she produced the first School of Thought, which combines spoken word and social activism. She produced the Spoken Word festival in Calgary for eleven years. She is the founder and was the director of the Spoken Word program at the Banff Centre for seven years.


chloe albertBorn and raised in Edmonton, Chloe Albert grew up in a musical household, and studied in MacEwan University’s music program, in the vocal department. Her 2008 CD, Dedicated Stat, won an Emerging Artist of the Year award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and serious support from CBC and CKUA networks. Chloe’s 2013 release Dream Catcher was nominated for a JUNO Award for “Adult Contemporary Album of The Year.”



[/tab] [tab title=”Silent Auction”]

Silent Auction, Friday evening: Odyssey Coffeehouse, Saturday: Heritage Cafe (across from MacDonald Hall), Bidding closes Saturday 9:00 p.m.

While taking in the wide array of speakers and sessions, we invite you to take some time and bid on the silent auction, running for the duration of the conference. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go directly back to the WGA, helping us to continue providing you with worthwhile, affordable programming. This fundraising initiative is brought to you by the fund development committee and board of directors.

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The book table is brought to you by Shelf Life Books. Enjoy perusing and purchasing books by the presenters and the Alberta Literary Awards shortlist. Shelf Life Books will be open during the conference from 8:30 am-11:00 am, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm and during the gala. Located in MacDonald Hall.



Conference Photographer

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Full Details: A professional headshot will be $50. This includes a 20-minute photo session and consultation. The client will have the opportunity to choose their preferred headshot. The photo will be edited off-site and available for download via a private link within 1 and 2 weeks. Rush delivery is possible. If more than one image is required, the cost is $10 per additional image.

Registrants will have the choice of a morning, early afternoon, or late afternoon sitting and will be notified of an exact time once the schedule is finalized.

Register for a professional headshot here.

[/tab] [tab title=”David Whyte Biography”]


David Whyte


David Griffin Whyte is a Calgary photographer with professional experience in the Alberta film industry. He is a graduate of SAIT’s film program. He has travelled the world, photographing people and landscapes.


View David’s work here.


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The WGA is also grateful to the following organizations for their support of our Conference and Awards Gala!

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