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WGA Annual Conference 2017: Juxtapositions

Conference Schedule and Rates

Welcome to the WGA Annual Conference 2017: Juxtapositions! This is where writers from all across Alberta come together to socialize, network, learn, and celebrate writers and writing. We’ve asked over a dozen authors to share their talents and experiences in fiction, short story, poetry, and journalism through keynote speeches, author interviews, panel discussions and more. And Saturday night we’ll take it up a notch with our Literary Awards Gala. Join us June 10 and 11 at Lister Centre, U of A campus in Edmonton!

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 June 10 – 11
Full Conference Pass–Early-bird (to March 31)
WGA member                         $155

Non-member                                 $175

June 10 – 11
Full Conference Pass–Regular
WGA member                         $175

Non-member                               $200

Full Conference Pass–Student

Saturday only

Sunday only

 Saturday, June 10
Alberta Literary Awards Gala

Bursaries Available
A limited amount of bursary funds are available to interested participants in financial need. To apply for a bursary, please send a letter to [email protected] explaining your financial need, how much funding you require, and how attending the conference would benefit your writing life at its current stage. The maximum bursary amount is 50% off conference registration.

Silent Auction
Once again, the WGA board will be  hosting a Silent Auction at this year’s conference with all proceeds directly supporting the programs and services offered by the WGA. Please stop by the Maple Leaf Room and check out the variety of donated items. Bidding will open on Saturday, June 10 at 11:30 am and end on Sunday, June 11 at 3:00 pm.

Items up for bid this year include selections of books, Last Best Brewing gift certificate and other items, wine selection, Wordfest Festival passes, and a fitneff DT1 Sit Stand Desk.

With gratitude:


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Cancellation Policy:

If you cancel:
You will receive:

On or before May 10, 2017
100% of the registration fees refunded minus a nonrefundable $30 administration fee

May 11 – May 26, 2017
50% of the registrations fees refunded minus a nonrefundable $30 administration fee

After May 26, 2017
No refund

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 Conference Schedule


11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

1:00 – 2:00 PM

Opening Keynote

Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains 

 Yasuko Thanh in conversation with Diana Davidson

2:30 – 3:45 PM
Breakout Sessions

Sponsored by

The Capacious Short Story
Why choose the short story form? It has been described as something between an imaginative tale and a photographic sketch, but what about it is so special? Join Rea Tarvydas, Richard Van Camp and Deborah Willis as they discuss the nature of the genre, advantages and obstacles of writing short story, and where the genre is headed today. Moderated by Barb Howard.

Sponsored by

Multilingual Writers Forum
Join Susan Ouriou, Jaspreet Singhinternational-1751293 and Alma Mancilla as they discuss where the multilingual writer’s mind converges and diverges with the culture and language in which they are writing; and the obstacles and advantages particular to the multilingual writer’s practice. Moderated by Marc Colbourne.

Tips and tricks for promoting your work on social media
Social media gives writers the chance to promote their work like never before. Mike Morrison will be sharing his insight into what has worked for promoting his successful guide Calgary By Bike and other

3:45 – 4:00 PM


Coffee Break sponsored by

4:00 – 5:15 PM
Breakout Sessions

Literature and the Political
How do writers consciously and unconsciously engage the political? What are the dangers and the rewards? Join Paula Simons, Todd Babiak and Joan Crate as they discuss presenting the world as it is, and imaginatively presenting it in a new light. Moderated by Omar Mouallem.

Sponsored by yabslogo
Kate and Karen’s Magical YA Emporium & Chat Table
Come hang out with Kate Boorman and Karen Bass for an “all things YA” chat. The session will kick off with the two writers briefly interviewing each other about their path to publication, and flow into a discussion about all things wild and wonderfully YA: publishing trends, “issue books”, the querying/submitting process, tips and tricks to tighten your MS, YA voice- what is it?, “does anything really go in YA?”, and much more. Designed as a roundtable discussion, this is a chance for all attendees to participate, ask questions, and share knowledge. Guaranteed to be chatty and magical!

(Not) Juxt Yoga!
Juxta pose some slow, simple movement and breathing with writing/ journaling. Gentle  yoga and timed writing with prompts will facilitate reflection, relaxation and creativity. No perspiration, just inspiration! Mats and blocks will be provided. Wear comfortable, layered clothes and bring a journal or notebook and pen. Led by yoga and meditation instructor Erin Michie.


6:30 PM
Alberta Literary Awards Gala

Please join us for the Alberta Literary Awards Gala!

Time: Cocktails and mingling at 6:30 pm, Buffet dinner at 7:15 pm
Place: Maple Leaf Room, Lister Centre, University of Alberta (11613 – 87 Avenue)
Dress Code: Semiformal/festive attire
Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased here.

Our speaker will be well-known blogger and social media expert Mike Morrison. And of course we will hand out literary awards in nine categories. It’s sure to be a fun and celebratory evening, and we hope to see you there!

SUNDAY, June 11

9:30 – 10:30 AM

Sponsored by

On the Impossible, Ugly, Wonderful Meeting-Place Between Art and Business

Breakfast and keynote with Todd Babiak

 11:00 AM – noon

12:30 – 1:30 PM


 1:30 – 2:45 PM
Breakout Sessions

Verona old town and ponte pietra

Juliet’s Answer: Writing the Best-Selling Memoir

Glenn Dixon in conversation with Samantha Warwick

Word Play – Using Words to Their Fullest
From idioms to homonyms, the English language provides vast opportunities to play with words. In this workshop, spoken word artist Ahmed “Knowmadic” will lead some creative writing exercises that will stretch your imaginations but won’t leave you sore.

The Business of Writing – Grant Opportunities
Whether you are an established or emerging writer, consider applying for grant support from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA).  The Literary Arts Project Grant Stream supports the development of individual Alberta artists, arts administrators, or an unincorporated ensemble of artists.  Funding is available for arts production, training and career development, marketing, and research. Join Paul Reich, arts development consultant at AFA, for a discussion of program eligibility, application requirements, and the assessment process; as well as tips for developing a proposal and budget.

2:45 – 3:00 PM
Coffee Break

3:00 – 5:00 PM
Blue Pencil Cafe (Individual Critiquing with authors, 20 minute sessions)

Photography by Monique at Hip Image

Need to update your author photo? We are pleased to offer attendees the opportunity to obtain professional head shots. Cost is $60. First come, first served during session breaks and pre-gala.

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2017 Conference Speakers and Moderators

2017 Conference Speakers and Moderators

[tabs style=”default”] [tab title=”Presenters”]

We are proud of our presenters and invite you to get to know them! Please click the tabs to view presenter profiles.

[/tab] [tab title=”Yasuko Thanh”]

At fifteen, Yasuko Thanh dropped out of school and lived on the streets. Previous to winning the Journey Prize for her short story Floating Like the Dead in 2009 and pursuing a writing life, Thanh earned her living as a busker, an opium dealer, a cleaner of goat pens, a Bed & Breakfast operator, housekeeper, and panhandler.  She has lived in Mexico, Germany, Honduras, and screams in the punk band 12 Gauge Facial. She now lives with her husband, Hank Angel, and her two children on Vancouver Island, BC. Thanh’s first novel Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains was published in 2016 by Hamish Hamilton (Penguin) and won the 2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Thanh’s short story collection, Floating Like the Dead (McClelland & Stewart, 2012) was on Quill & Quire’s list of best books of 2012. Thanh was then named one of ten CBC Books’ writers to watch in 2013.

[/tab] [tab title=”Diana Davidson”]

Diana Davidson’s debut novel Pilgrimage was published by Brindle & Glass in September 2013 and has been heralded as a work of “frontier feminism” by The Edmonton Journal. Davidson’s shorter work can be found in 40 Below, Alberta Views, Avenue Edmonton Magazine, Little Fiction, The Winnipeg Review, and Women’s Words.  Davidson loves her ‘day job’ as the Director of the Public Library Services Branch with the Government of Alberta, and has conducted dynamic interviews with authors Helen Humphreys, Joseph Boyden, Lawrence Hill, Camilla Gibb, and Charlotte Gray among others.

[/tab] [tab title=”Paula Simons”]

Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons is one of Canada’s most acclaimed political commentators and investigative reporters. A graduate of the University of Alberta and Stanford University, she’s also a radio documentary-maker, a podcaster, a playwright, and a social media maven. Follow her on Twitter @Paulatics and on Facebook @EJPaulaSimons

[/tab] [tab title=”Mike Morrison”]

mikes_morrison_22_of_32Mike Morrison is the writer behind Mike’s Bloggity Blog, a popular Canadian website based in Calgary that attracts more than one million unique readers a year. Mike has also written Calgary By Bike, which is a guide to all the things to see and do along Calgary’s cycle tracks. It topped the Calgary Herald Best Seller list both in 2015 and 2016. Mike’s newest project is SocialWest, which is the largest digital marketing conference on the prairies. The second annual conference takes place June 14 – 16.

Social channels: Twitter: @mikesbloggity, Instagram: @mikesbloggity, Facebook: Mike’s Bloggity Blog, Website:

[/tab] [tab title=”Glenn Dixon”]

Glenn Dixon‘s third book, Juliet’s Answer (Simon & Schuster) will be published in Canada, the United States, Australia, Spain, and China. He was the 2014 writer-in-residence for the Vancouver International Writers Festival and his second book, Tripping the World Fantastic was shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell award. More at or twitter @Glenn_Dixon.

[/tab] [tab title=”Richard Van Camp”]

Richard Van CampRichard Van Camp is a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. He is the author of two children’s books with the Cree artist George Littlechild: A Man Called Raven and What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses? He has published a novel, The Lesser Blessed, which is now a feature film with First Generation Films; his collections of short fiction include Angel Wing Splash Pattern, The Moon of Letting Go and Other Stories, Godless but Loyal to Heaven and Night Moves. He is the author of four baby books: Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns; Nighty Night: A Bedtime Song for Babies and Little You (now translated into Cree, Dene and South Slavey!) and We Sang You Home, and he has two comic books out with the Healthy Aboriginal Network: Kiss Me Deadly and Path of the Warrior. His graphic novel, Three Feathers, is about restorative justice; his new novel, Whistle, is about mental health and asking for forgiveness and his graphic novel, The Blue Raven, is about mental health. His graphic novel,  A Blanket of Butterflies, is s about peacemaking where a grandmother is the hero of the story and his latest graphic novel, Spirit, is about suicide prevention. Cinematic adaptations of his work include “Mohawk Midnight Runners”, by Zoe Hopkins based on Richard’s short story, “Dogrib Midnight Runners” from The Moon of Letting Go, Kelvin Redver’s adaptation of “firebear called them faith healers”,  and Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Hickey Gone Wrong”, based on Richard’s comic book with Chris Auchter and “Three Feathers”, which is available for viewing in Bush Cree, Dene and South Slavey as well as English, based on his graphic novel. Find Richard at

[/tab] [tab title=”Rea Tarvydas”]

smilingheadshotRea Tarvydas lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta. Her stories can be found in The New Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, and Grain magazines. Work is forthcoming in the WRITING MENOPAUSE Anthology (Inanna, 2017).

Tarvydas’s debut book of short stories, HOW TO PICK UP A MAID IN STATUE SQUARE, is published by Thistledown Press (2016).

Please visit her website

[/tab] [tab title=”Alma Mancilla”]


Born in Toluca, Mexico, winner of the Benemérito de las Américas Literary Award (Young Writers Category, 2001), the Gilberto Owen National Literary Award (2011) and the Ignacio Manuel Altamirano International Narrative Award (2015), Alma Mancilla has published three books of short-stories and two novels, all of them in Spanish.

[/tab] [tab title=”Deborah Willis”]

debbiehigh_res001Deborah Willis‘s latest collection of fiction, The Dark and Other Love Stories, is forthcoming from Penguin in February. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was nominated for a Governor General’s Award and praised by Alice Munro for its “range and depth…clarity and deftness.” Her stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, The Virginia Quarterly, Lucky Peach, The Walrus, and Zoetrope. She lives in Calgary and is currently working on a novel. Please visit or for more information.

[/tab] [tab title=”Susan Ouriou”]


Susan Ouriou ( is an award-winning fiction writer and literary translator, the author of two novels, Nathan and Damselfish, numerous short stories and many translations from French and Spanish. Susan has also edited two multilingual anthologies: Beyond Words – Translating the World and Languages of Our Land – Indigenous Poems and Stories from Quebec.

[/tab] [tab title=”Karen Bass”]

Karen Bass marvels at the adventure of being a multi-award-winning young adult author. Now she’s branched into magical middle grade with Two Times a Traitor. Karen lives in northwest Alberta, travels when she can, and revels in the wonder conjured by stories from all genres. Find out more at

[/tab] [tab title=”Kate Boorman”]

grumpykateKate A. Boorman is an author from Edmonton with roots in the small town of Rimbey, Alberta. She is a reader/writer/lover of the creepy and fantastical. Her debut novel WINTERKILL was a finalist in the Alberta Reader’s Choice Awards, and won the 2016 R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Fiction. Visit her at

[/tab] [tab title=”Ahmed Ali”]

akAward winning poet Ahmed Ali also known as ‘Knowmadic’, is a Somali born full-time poet, writer, entertainer and educator. Ahmed’s poetry focuses on identity and positive perspectives. His style of poetry is noted as humorous, witty and full of wordplay.

Facebook Artist page

[/tab] [tab title=”Jaspreet Singh”]

Re: Jaspreet Singh's Helium On 2013-08-01, at 9:20 AM, Rinehart, Dianne wrote: DIANNE RINEHART BOOKS, VISUAL ARTS AND MOVIES EDITOR TORONTO STAR, ONE YONGE ST. TORONTO, ON., M5E 1E6 416-945-8694 From: Mo, Jacqueline [] Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 9:32 PM To: Rinehart, Dianne Subject: RE: Jaspreet Singh's Helium Hi Dianne, Please find attached cover image, author photo, and press release. Do let me know if you need anything else! All best, Jackie ------------------------------ Jacqueline Mo Publicist Penguin Canada P 416.928.2410 M 647.449.8813 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700 Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3 Twitter | Facebook ------------------------------- From: Rinehart, Dianne [] Sent: July 31, 2013 2:30 PM To: Mo, Jacqueline; Dimitri Nasrallah Subject: RE: Jaspreet Singh's Helium much appreciated Jacqueline. best, d. DIANNE RINEHART BOOKS, VISUAL ARTS AND MOVIES EDITOR TORONTO STAR, ONE YONGE ST. TORONTO, ON., M5E 1E6 416-945-8694 From: Mo, Jacqueline [] Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:25 PM To: Dimitri Nasrallah; Rinehart, Dianne Subject: RE: Jaspreet Singh's Helium Hi Dimitri, Jessica passed along your message, and my goodness, I'm so sorry - I just located your below email in our external junk-mail server! Apologies for that - our spam filter is strangely inconsistent. I can absolutely send you an ARC today - shall I send it to the Toronto Star, or to another mailing address? I'll also send Dianne a cover image / author photo if she needs. All best, Jackie ------------------------------ Jacqueline Mo Publicist Penguin Canada P 416.928.2410 M 647.449.8813 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700 Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3 Twitter | Facebook ------------------------------- From: Dimitri Nasrallah [] Sent: July 25, 2013 10:34 AM

Jaspreet Singh is a novelist, essayist and a short story writer. His collection of linked stories, Seventeen Tomatoes, received the Quebec First Book Prize. His novel Chef (about the damaged landscapes of Kashmir) was a finalist for a Commonwealth prize and won Alberta’s George Bugnet award for fiction. Helium, his critically acclaimed second novel was a 2013 Observer Best Book of the Year in the UK. The Globe and Mail called it a ‘tour de force’ and the Financial Times described it as a ‘powerful meditation on historical forgetting.’ JaspreetSinghAuthor.Com

[/tab] [tab title=”Todd Babiak”]

EDMONTON, ALBERTA: June 30, 2015 - Todd Babiak photographed on June 30, 2015. Babiak is currently working on a movie about Wayne Gretzky. Topher Seguin for Metro

Todd Babiak’s novels have been nominated for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize and the Scotiabank Giller, and they have won the Henry Kreisel Award for best first book, the City of Edmonton book prize, and the Georges Bugnet Fiction Prize. His last two books are crime novels called Come Barbarians and Son of France. His day job is at Story Engine. You can find him on Facebook, at and and on the Twitter apparatus at @babiak. Wine, hummus, song.

[/tab] [tab title=”Joan Crate”]


Joan Crate’s novel, Black Apple, was published by Simon and Schuster in 2016. She is also the author of three books of poetry and a previous novel. She’s had work published in textbooks, anthologies and literary journals, nationally and internationally.

[/tab] [tab title=”Erin Michie”]


Erin Michie is a certified yoga and meditation instructor who has practiced for more than 30 years and taught for more than ten. She has also worked as a freelance writer and editor, and her poetry and articles have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

[/tab] [tab title=”Paul Reich”]

Paul Reich has been an Arts Consultant with the Arts Branch of Alberta Culture and Tourism and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) since 1997. He currently administers AFA programs that include; Summer School Operations, Individual Literary and Dance Projects, Provincial Arts Service Organizations, Grant McEwan and Golden Jubilee Performing Arts Scholarships. Upon completion of formal training at L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec, Paul danced with as the Alberta Ballet, Les Ballet Jazz de Montréal, and Ballet North.  As General Manager of Ballet North (1987-1997) he established national and international mainstage performance tours and educational artist-in-residence programming. Most recently, Paul started a wood art pilot program for inner city youth.

[/tab] [tab title=”Barb Howard”]

Barb Howard is the author of the short story collection Western Taxidermy and 3 novels. She is also co-editor of an anthology of essays. Her short fiction has been published in journals across Canada, including Room, Freefall, Grain, CV2, The New Quarterly, and The Dalhousie Review. She is a 4-time nominee at the Alberta Literary Awards, a winner of the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story, and a winner of the CAA (Alberta Branch) Exporting Alberta Award.  Barb was the 2015-2016 president of The Writers’ Guild of Alberta.

[/tab][tab title=”Marc Colbourne”]

Originally from Newfoundland, Marc comes by his love of storytelling and tea naturally. Proud to call Edmonton his home for the last 10 years, he is honoured to be a part of Alberta’s thriving literary community. He is passionate about literature and social justice and tends to write where the two connect. His nonfiction book, Exiled for Love: The Journey of an Iranian Queer Activist, is a finalist for this year’s Lambda Literary Award. His freelance work has appeared in several magazines including Briarpatch, the United Church Observer, Alberta Views, and WestWord. He is currently enrolled in the Humber School for Writers, where he is working on a novel with the guidance of his mentor, Shyam Selvadurai. He holds a BA (psychology), Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of International Social Work. When he is not writing, he can be found at his day job as Manager of Immigrant Settlement for the Government of Alberta.

[/tab][tab title=”Omar Mouallem”]

Omar Mouallem is a National Magazine Awards winning writer who’s contributed to, Reader’s Digest and WIRED. He is coauthor of the national bestseller Inside the Inferno : A Firefighter’s Story of the Brotherhood That Saved Fort McMurray. He tweets at @omar_aok.



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Accommodation & Parking


There are private dorm rooms, each with its own bathroom, at Schäffer Hall in Lister Conference Centre. These rooms have single beds and are available for $72 per night plus applicable taxes. Rooms can be booked via [email protected] or by phoning 780-492-6056. Rooms can be viewed here.

For those desiring hotel accommodation close to Lister Centre, the Campus Tower hotel can be booked by conference guests. This hotel is two blocks from Lister Centre, and we estimate that for most people, it would be approximately a five-minute walk from one building to the other. Reservations can be made at or through an online booking company (possibly for a deal rate). Other accommodation can be found on Whyte Avenue (82 Avenue).


Parking is located outside of the Conference Centre in Lot M . The rate is $14.00 per day (Monday to Friday) and $5.00 per day (evenings, weekends and holidays) with permits being purchased at the dispenser in Zone M (entrance to lot). Additional pay parking is available in Zone R (next to Lister Centre), as well as next door at the Jubilee Auditorium. Rates and availability subject to change without notice.

Registration Form

 Registration Form

After clicking Submit, you should be redirected to a payment page or AGM confirmation page depending on your selections. If you are redirected to the conference page, there is a problem with your form entries and you will have the chance to correct them when you jump or scroll back to the form.

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