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 June 1 - 3Full Conference Pass (to Apr 3)


  Full Conference Pass--Regular$220
June 1

Friday workshop


June 1Friday evening$25
June 2 OR 3

 Saturday or Sunday only


 June 1 - 3Full Conference Pass (to Apr 3)$250 
 Full Conference Pass--Regular$300 
 June 1Friday workshop$50 
June 1 Friday evening$25 
June 2 OR 3Saturday or Sunday only$150
 June 1 - 3Full Conference Pass (excludes Friday workshop)$87.50
 June 2 OR 3Saturday or Sunday only$55 
Silent AuctionOnce again, the WGA board will be hosting Silent Auctions at this year's conference and gala with all proceeds directly supporting the programs and services offered by the WGA. Bidding for items displayed at the conference will close on Sunday, June 3 at 1:00 pm. 
With gratitude:  



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Cancellation Policy: 
If you cancel:You will receive:
On or before May 1, 2018100% of the registration fees refunded minus a nonrefundable $30 administration fee
May 2 - May 18, 201850% of the registrations fees refunded minus a nonrefundable $30 administration fee
After May 18, 2018No refund
 Conference Schedule

Please click the tabs to view individual days. The Conference at a Glance schedule will be available soon.

FRIDAY, June 1
The Fairfield Inn & Suites and Memorial Park Library are across the street from each other

Pre-conference workshops


1:00 - 4:00 PM

Demystifying the Path to Publishing with Nancy Lee

Do you have a complete draft of a book? Are you eager to get it into the hands of agents and editors? For most new writers, the path to publication is fraught with peril. In this practical workshop, we’ll discuss the steps every writer can take to give their manuscript its best chance. From revising and working with feedback to writing query letters and understanding the role of agents and editors, Nancy will answer your publishing questions and help you plan a path forward for your manuscript.

Memorial Park Library (MPL), room numbers TBD

Personal Essay and Memoir with Sharon Butala

Both the personal essay and the memoir fall under the rubric of the personal narrative. V. Gornick writes that the “Personal narrative is written by people who, in essence, are imagining only themselves: in relation to the subject in hand. The connection is an intimate one; in fact, it is critical.” Both sub-forms are characterized by their accessibility, their conversational style, the candour of the writer, and often the writer's awareness of irony and attention to tone. Both lead toward an awakening, an understanding, an insight or an acknowledged failure to reach such a moment.

5:00 - 7:30 PMWe recommend that you grab dinner nearby at The Beltliner Diner or Native Tongues restaurants situated in the Fairfield Inn & Suites. Reservations recommended, or arrive by 5:00 for a table. Alternatively, the Hop & Brew Pub is on the same block, or explore other options in the area! 
7:30 - 8:00 PMConference RegistrationFairfield Inn & Suites Dining Lounge
8:00 - 10:00 PM

(Interactive!) Alberta Literary Trivia with Calgary Writer & Blogger Shaun Hunter

Fairfield Inn & Suites Dining Lounge


8:30 - 10:30 AM


 Memorial Park Library (MPL)

9:00 - 10:15 AM


Sponsored by

Keynote Lecture with Nancy Lee
Writing Through Difficult Times

Even at the best of times, writing is an act of optimism. But how does a writer find focus and motivation in the midst of societal upheaval, environmental calamity, political tensions and family drama? This practical and inspiring talk will examine the many reasons writers feel blocked, tired and uninspired, from the demands of the outside world to the struggle of writing itself. How might we overcome paralysis, fear, and apathy when it afflicts our process? Can roadblocks lead to meaningful discovery? When the going gets tough, can the tough, and not so tough, get writing?


10:15 - 10:45 AM 

Coffee Break


10:45 AM - Noon

Breakout Sessions



Writing for Magazines

Join popular writers Christina Frangou, Matthew Stepanic and Chris Turner for an enlightening and practical discussion on how to approach magazine writing. Hosted by Shelley Youngblut.




 Transactions with Beauty

With creativity, a blog can be a literary art form unto itself. Author, poet, blogger and photographer Shawna Lemay presents on the intersections of language and imagery while encouraging participants to create something beautiful.



Creative Writing Pedagogy 

Five seasoned instructors discuss their experiences of and approaches to the art of teaching creative writing. Featured panelists include John Vigna, Angie Abdou, Patrick Finn and Suzette Mayr. Moderated by Lori Hahnel.


12:00 - 1:00 PM

Lunch & Headshots with Photographer Monique de St. Croix

1:15 - 2:30 PM

Breakout Sessions



Alternative Forms and Genre Crossover

Shawna Lemay, Cobra Collins and Clem Martini discuss and defend how we can experiment and push traditional boundaries in our literary work; how we can invite a greater sense of freedom, play and surprise to all forms of storytelling—from narrative forms, poetry and spoken word, to graphic novel and beyond.



Voices for the 21st Century

It is performance—large or small—that moves the listener through sound, rhythm, soul and gesture. Sheri D Wilson will guide participants through a unique journey that will encompass aspects of poetry, writing, thinking and performance. Prepare to leave this session with a deeper sense of connection to your own authentic voice, both on and off the page.



Political Wisdom in a Climate of Controversy

We’ve all felt it: Whether we’ve argued with someone on social media, fought over politics with family, or simply veered away from certain topics—it’s hard to ignore the chasm between those who hold opposing political views. Join authors Angie Abdou, Chris Turner and Geo Takach in conversation with Julie Sedivy for this timely discussion on writing and speaking our truth in a climate of controversy.


 2:30 - 2:55 PM

 Coffee Break


3:00 - 5:00 PM

Breakout Sessions



Screen Writing

Have an idea for a screenplay or script and curious about how to adapt a narrative piece to outrageously popular visual media? Join Geo Takach for a screen/scriptwriting workshop that will address format, momentum, conflict, character arcs, theme, etc. -- and ultimately how understanding the fundamentals of story structure is vital for novelists and memoirists as well as scriptwriters, and helpful for all writers.


Sponsored by 

Literary Arts Project Grants with the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

As you plan to research and write your next manuscript, market your new book, or hone your craft in the literary arts through a retreat or course, consider applying for grant support. Emerging and established writers of fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry, plays and screenplays are invited to this session to learn more about the AFA’s Literary Arts Project Grant Stream of the Individual Artists Project Grant Program.




Emerging Writers and the Second Novel

You wrote your first novel and experienced the bittersweet reality of what it means to have a book out—and now it’s time to write the second novel. This interactive lecture with Ali Bryan and Cassie Stocks will examine the challenges emerging writers face in completing that ominous second book and provide strategies to get it done. How to manage rejection, pressure, expectations, agents, publishers—and hang onto the belief that you really are a writer.


6:15 - 10:00 PM 


Please join us for an evening that celebrates literary excellence and Alberta's writing community! We will present awards in nine categories that include fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, and children's literature. Our keynote speaker is well known and much-admired author Aritha van Herk, whose work and involvement in Alberta's writing community is unparalleled. Cocktails and mingling at 6:15 pm, Dinner at 6:45 pm. Dress Code: Semiformal/festive attire.

Hyatt Regency Calgary,
Imperial Ballroom  

SUNDAY, June 3

9:00 - 9:30 AM


Memorial Park Library (MPL)

9:00 - 10:00 AM

Coffee/Breakfast & Headshots with Monique


10:00 - 11:15 AM


Keynote Lecture with Patrick Finn
The Deliberately Creative Life

If we are (as the saying goes) what we repeatedly do—how many of us are truly living creative lives? Join author and professor Patrick Finn for this poignant talk that will address the notion of a deliberately creative life—and why choosing to live creatively is the hardest, and most important choice we can make as writers.


11: 15 - 12:30 PM

Writers’ Guild of Alberta
Annual General Meeting


12:30 - 1:30 PM

Lunch & Headshots with Monique de St. Croix


 1:30 - 3:30 PM

 Breakout Sessions



Trauma in Fiction
with John Vigna and Nancy Lee

How can writers dramatize trauma in a convincing and authentic way? How do we avoid melodrama, cliché and overwrought sentiment in our scenes? This lecture with authors John Vigna and Nancy Lee will explore the role of trauma (physical, emotional, spiritual) in fiction. We’ll examine how story and subtext tell us who the characters truly are through subtle actions and reactions in the face of distress, and the potential impact of writing about traumatic events on both artist and audience.


Ask an Author

This live-stream professional development event aims to connect aspiring writers to established authors. The event is free and open to the public and although geared towards emerging writers, all are welcome. Watch for updates on the lineup for this special event. Presented by the WGA Youth Committee.



Blue Pencil Café

Here is your opportunity to meet with an author one-on-one about your work. Our complete list of Blue Pencil authors, with specific instructions on how to register and submit pages will be announced in May. Watch WriteClick and the website for updates.


3:30 - 4:00 PM

Coffee Break


4:00 - 5:30 PM

Finale Panel Discussion: Re(de)fining Our Narratives

How does our current environment—political, technological, ecological and psychological—affect the role of the writer? Join authors Chris Turner, Deborah Willis, John Vigna and Aritha van Herk for this grand finale conversation that will examine how contemporary culture is changing the way we think, read and ultimately how we write. Moderated by Patrick Finn.


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. First come, first served during session breaks and pre-gala.


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2018 Conference Speakers and Moderators

We are proud of our presenters and invite you to get to know them! Please click the tabs to view presenter profiles.      
Angie Abdou has a PhD in Creative Writing and is an Associate Professor at Athabasca University. She has published five books of fiction, including the Canada Reads finalist The Bone Cage. Her most recent novel, In Case I Go, was a fiction category finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Award and made "best of 2017" lists by CBC Books and the Writers' Trust. The Vancouver Sun called it "a spectacularly successful novel." Angie's first nonfiction book (Home Ice: Reflections of a Reluctant Hockey Mom) is forthcoming with ECW Press in September 2018.
Ali Bryan’s first novel, Roost, won the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and was the official selection of One Book Nova Scotia 2014. Her non-fiction has been shortlisted for the Jon Whyte Memorial Essay Prize and longlisted for the CBC Creative Non-Fiction Prize. She is a certified personal trainer and lives with her family in Calgary.
Sharon Butala is the author of 19 books of fiction and nonfiction and five plays. Born, raised and educated in Saskatchewan, she moved to Calgary in 2008 after her cattle rancher husband's death in order to be near her son and his family. She has been shortlisted for the Governor General's Award three times (once for fiction, twice for nonfiction), shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize (Canada-Caribbean section), and the W.O. Mitchell prize. She received the Marian Engel Prize for Women Writers in Mid-Career, and the Cheryl and Henry Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence, as well as a number of other awards and prizes. Her nonfiction work The Perfection of the Morning was on the Canadian bestseller list for a year, and several other of her books have also made bestseller lists. She has done readings and talks all over Canada, in the US, Ireland, Mexico and the Czech Republic and taught workshops in most of the provinces. She is an Officer in the Order of Canada, is invested in the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, and has three honorary doctorates. Her latest book is the mystery Zara's Dead (Coteau Books) and in spring 2019 will have Season of Fury and Wonder (a short story collection) out with Coteau. She is currently working on her eighth novel.
Cobra Collins is a Calgary-based Metis poet of significant height. She was the captain of Calgary’s 2016 Slam team, representing our city on a national level at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and is a member of Calgary’s Inkspot Spoken Word Collective. She is the co-host of Expressions, a poetry open mic night at Cafe Koi, an evening which focuses on creating a space to showcase new artists while building a connected spoken word community.
Dr. Patrick Finn is a performance expert cross-appointed between the School of Creative and Performing Arts, and Computational Media Design at The University of Calgary. He has lectured, taught, and led workshops throughout North America, The United Kingdom, Europe, Japan, and China. He works with actors, musicians, dancers, athletes, business leaders, governments, private and public companies, and individuals looking to improve performance. Finn has an active artistic practice, and a scholarly publishing profile. He is currently Chair of Research and Innovation at the Edmonton Digital Arts College, and holds several board appointments related to arts, education and performance.  
Christina Frangou is a freelance magazine writer from Calgary, Alberta, who specializes in writing about health and medicine.  Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Avenue, Swerve, Alberta Views, FASHION, and The Huffington Post.

In 2016, she won a National Newspaper Award for long feature writing for a story about her experience as a young widow in the aftermath of her husband’s death. She is the recipient of two Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Awards and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award.

A graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the London School of Economics, Christina is always happier outside than at her desk. She’s a runner, a hiker, a cyclist — although she recently broke her hand while walking with an armload of books.

Lori Hahnel is the author of two novels, Love Minus Zero (Oberon, 2008) and After You’ve Gone (Thistledown, 2014), as well as a story collection, Nothing Sacred (Thistledown, 2009), which shortlisted for an Alberta Literary Award. Her work has been published in over forty journals in North America, Australia and the U.K.; her credits include CBC Radio, The Fiddlehead, Joyland and The Saturday Evening Post. Lori teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University as well as AWCS and is currently on the board of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta.

Shaun Hunter is the author of the forthcoming book Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers, as well as five biographies for young readers. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, carte blanche, Geist and FreeFall, and in the anthologies Embedded on the Home Front: Where Military and Civilian Lives Converge (2012) and Writing Menopause (2017). In 2013 her essay “Skin Deep” was a finalist for the James H. Gray Award for Short Nonfiction. Based in Calgary, Shaun turns up local literary treasures at


Hailed by The Globe and Mail as “a masterwork of revelation and catharsis,” Nancy Lee’s first book, Dead Girls was the winner of the VanCity Book Prize, as well as a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Pearson Readers’ Choice Award and the Wordsworthy Award. The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun chose Dead Girls as one of the best books of the year, and Now Magazine named it Book of the Year.

Lee’s work has been published in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. She has served as Visiting Canadian Fellow for the University of East Anglia, as well as Writer-in-Residence for Historic Joy Kogawa House, the City of Richmond and the Ville de Vincennes, France. A dedicated creative writing teacher, Nancy has taught fiction writing to students of all ages and backgrounds in Canada, the U.K. and France, and now holds the position of Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. She is also the co-creator of the popular three-part EdX online education series, “How to Write a Novel”.

Described by The Vancouver Sun as, “utterly transfixing”, Lee’s latest book, The Age, is a novel about adolescence, sexual identity and nuclear war.

 Shawna Lemay is the author of The Flower Can Always Be Changing, brief essays, and the novel, Rumi and the Red Handbag which made Harper’s Bazaar’s #THELIST (must-reads for Fall 2015) and was selected for Maria Shriver's fall reading club. All the God-Sized Fruit, her first book of poetry, won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Calm Things: Essays was shortlisted for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Non-Fiction. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Alberta. She writes a blog titled, Transactions with Beauty.    
Professor Clem Martini is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter with over thirty plays, and twelve books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, including the Calgary Book Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness and the recently launched The Unravelling, and The Comedian. His texts on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright, The Greek Playwright, and The Ancient Comedians are employed widely at universities and colleges across the continent. He currently teaches in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.

Suzette Mayr is the author of five novels, including her most recent book Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall. Her novel Monoceros won the ReLit and the City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Awards, and was nominated for the 2011 Giller Prize, the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, and Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Her novel The Widows was a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the Canada-Caribbean region. She is a former president of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, and she has been teaching creative writing at the University of Calgary since 2003.
Matthew Stepanic is the editor of Glass Buffalo, the poetry editor for Eighteen Bridges, and a freelance writer/editor. His poetry has appeared in Eighteen BridgesThe New Quarterly, and others, and his first book—the collaborative novel Project Compass, written with three other authors—was published by Monto Books in Fall 2017. 

Cassie Stocks was the winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour for her first novel Dance, Gladys, Dance. The novel was also nominated for a Saskatchewan first book award and long-listed for CBC Canada Reads. 
Geo Takach is a writer, filmmaker, speaker, instructor, and former president of the WGA (2000–2001). His hundreds of publications span speeches, print, film, radio, television and Boolean ether. His epic exploration of Alberta’s soul produced a documentary film (Will the Real Alberta Please Stand Up? for City TV), an award-winning book (unoriginally bearing the same title, for the U of A Press), an award-winning dissertation (at the U of C), and a migraine (for himself). His most recent books are Scripting the Environment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and Tar Wars (U of A Press, 2017). After decades of deconstructing his beloved Alberta and teaching diverse aspects of communication here, he recently crossed the Rockies to become an associate prof in the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University.
 Chris Turner is an author, speaker and strategist, providing Canada’s authoritative voice on climate change solutions and the global energy transition. His latest book is The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands, a national bestseller. He is also the author of the bestsellers The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy and The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need, both of which were National Business Book Award finalists. His 2014 book How to Breathe Underwater, an essay collection, won the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. His feature reporting on energy, climate and sustainability issues has won nine National Magazine Awards and appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, and many other publications. He was a 2013 writer-in-residence at the Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon. He lives in Calgary with his wife and two children.    
 Aritha van Herk's novels include JudithThe Tent Peg, No Fixed Address (nominated for the Governor General's Award for fiction), Places Far From Ellesmere (a geografictione) and Restlessness. Her critical works, A Frozen Tongue (ficto-criticism) and In Visible Ink (crypto-frictions), stretch the boundaries of the essay and interrogate questions of reading and writing as aspects of narrative subversion. With Mavericks: an Incorrigible History of Alberta (winner of the Grant MacEwan Author's Award), van Herk ventured into new territory, transforming history into a narratological spectacle. That book frames the new permanent exhibition that opened at the Glenbow Museum in 2007. Her latest works, In This Place and Prairie Gothic (with photographer George Webber), develop the idea of geographical temperament as tonal accompaniment. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, recipient of the Lt. Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award, and recipient of the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded to recognize achievement of special significance and conspicuous merit in imaginative or critical literature in Canada. Aritha van Herk's work is particularly recognized for her innovative approaches to prose and cross-genre writing. She is well known in the broader community of the city, the province, and the country as a writer and a public intellectual. Aritha teaches Creative Writing, Canadian Literature and Contemporary Narrative at the University of Calgary.     
John Vigna’s first book of fiction, Bull Head, was published to critical acclaim in Canada and the US in 2012 and published in France by Éditions Albin Michel in 2017 (Loin de la violence des hommes). It was selected by Quill & Quire as an editor’s pick of the year and was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. John was named one of 10 writers to watch by CBC Books.

He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and is an alumnus of the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Vigna has served as an adjudicator for the CBC Literary Awards, the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, and BC Book Prizes and Alberta Literary Awards. He’s an Instructor (tenure-track) in the UBC Creative Writing program.

Deborah Willis's latest collection of fiction, The Dark and Other Love Stories, was published in 2017 by Penguin in Canada and W.W. Norton in the US. The Dark was longlisted for The Giller Prize, and named one of the best books of the year by The Globe and MailChatelaine, and the CBC. Her first book, Vanishing and Other Stories, was shortlisted for a Governor General's Award and praised by Alice Munro for its "range and depth...clarity and deftness." Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Iowa ReviewThe Virginia QuarterlyThe Wall Street JournalLucky PeachThe Walrus, and Zoetrope. She has been Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary, the Submissions Coordinator for Freehand Books, and is now Writer in Residence at MacEwan University in Edmonton. She is currently working on a novel.      
 Sheri-D Wilson is the award-winning author of eleven books, the creator of four short films, and has released three albums which combine music and poetry. She is known for her electric performance-style, making her a favorite of festivals around the world. Shas read, performed & taught in festivals across Canada, USA, UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Mexico, and South Africa. 

In her poems, Wilson uses personal narrative to address themes of personal story, social justice, lost languages, bullying, violence against women and the earth.

In 2017, she received her Doctor of Letters—Honoris Causa from Kwantlen University, after launching her new collection of poetry entitled, The Book of Sensations (U of C Press), and a full-length CD with poetry and music called Dragon Rouge.

Her tenth collection of poetry, Open Letter: Woman against Violence against Women; was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award & CanLit. Her collection, Re:Zoom (2005), won the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. She was editor of the celebrated, The Spoken Word Workbook: inspiration from poets who teach.

Recipient of: 2017 Honorary Doctorate * 2015 City of Calgary Arts Award * 2015 Writer-In-Residence (Kwantlen University) * 2013 CBC Top 10 Poets in Canada * 2009 Ted Talk * 2006 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry * 2005 SpoCan Poet of Honour * People's Choice * 2006 Woman of Vision * 5 Rosies * 2003 USA Heavyweight Title * 5 Jessie Nominations * Ace Award.

Her work has received national and international acclaim with such honours as a 2013 feature interview with Canadian icon Shelagh Rogers, a 2012 article in Chatelaine Magazine, a 2012 TED Talk, and the subject of a half-hour documentary called Heart of a Poet. In 2009 she was named one of the top ten poets in Canada by CBC.


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Accommodation & Parking

Accommodation can be booked at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Calgary Downtown (239 12th avenue SW T2R 1H7) for a special rate of $105/night. The rooms at this rate include one king-sized bed. There are a limited number of rooms with other arrangements and cannot be guaranteed at the above rate. Please call the hotel directly and say you are attending the Writers' Guild of Alberta conference: 1 403-351-6500. Find more information about the hotel here. 

Accommodation can also be booked at the Hyatt Regency Calgary (700 Centre Street SE T2G 5P6) where the Awards Gala will take place. To book a guest room at 15% off the best available rate that day, book here and use the code CR105067 under Corporate or Group Code. This rate is only available through online booking.


Parking at the Fairfield Inn & Suites is $30/day, valet only. Alternatively, parking is on the street. Parking at Memorial Park Library is on the surrounding streets. 


Please click here to register. You will be taken to a registration form, and will be redirected to a payment page after submitting the form. You may make your payment online with a credit card, or select Pay Offline during checkout if you wish to pay by phone or mail.
Please visit the Conference and Gala FAQ for more information on what registration includes.

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