A Book a Week Review : Eleven Regrets by Mel Anderson

The district attorney started her direct examination. My father glared, but I sat under that glare, comfortable and confident. I would not be intimidated. I wanted to tell him that I remembered dancing to Candle in the Wind. I remember the coat you lent me on a cold day. I remember your apple pies. I remember your smiles. I even remember you picking up that little neighbor boy who fell off his bike and carrying him to his mother. But I cannot forget what you did to me, what you did to my brother.

Anderson, Mel (2015-05-13). Eleven Regrets . Little Bear Publications. Kindle Edition.
  • Eleven Regrets is, ostensibly, a memoir. A memoir written with a motive: to raise awareness for the victims of childhood abuse.
  •  The principal character of Eleven Regrets is also it’s author: Melissa. Melissa is a witness, and takes very little action until the last few chapters of the memoir. The action is propelled by the misconduct of the family at large.
    Empathy is the driving force behind the motivation to read the story. However, the retelling of the actions of child abuse is extremely difficult to read. It does turn the reader away from the narrative as we are programmed to do in daily life to avoid conflict.
  • What themes or motifs stand out? One key theme institutional failure that permits  abuse to exist. The church, the government, the community, the family all failed the children. It is fairly effective to outline the events as they happened, and exactly why the system failed in so many ways. Generally the moment the children could regain a sense of agency away from the abusive relativity of the family unit, the system was in place to help them. The key is individual agency on the part of the victim and the victimized. 
  • How would you describe this author’s particular style? Is it accessible to all readers or just some? The author’s style is direct and simple. The definition of each sub-header for each chapter frames the content rather well. The use of poetry between chapters allows for the reader to have some flashes of enjoyable writing. Right before the author details in simplistic ways the horrors of abuse. Accessibility is very high, however the reader must have a strong sense of endurance to read the chapters one after the other.
  • Argument: How is the work’s argument set up? What support does the author give for her/findings? Does the work fulfill its purpose/support its argument?
    The argument is to raise awareness for the issue of child abuse in America. The findings are from her own past, so the support is very strong. The retelling is also subjective to the point of view of the author. So, that subjectivity can erode the authenticity of the experiences. The Appendices offer a lot of research and helpful resources for those in direct contact with similar situations. To that end, it does succeed in providing awareness to the reader.
  • Key Ideas: What is the main idea of the work? What makes it good, different, or ground breaking?
    The main idea of the work is provide an account of child abuse. The direct and unapologetic presentation of difficult subject matter backed by relevant resources for the reader to continue on with makes it very unique and successful.  It is ground breaking because it is not aimed and a successful commercial run via an editorial by a large publishing house. This book is self published, online, as an e-book to the end of raising awareness about the topic.
  • Awards: Won the grand Prize in the 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards.
  • Publisher/Price: ELEVEN REGRETS by Mel Anderson ($9.95, Kindle; Kindle Unlimited; $16.95, paperback), Little Bear Publications

Questionnaire guidelines for this review can be found at this website: Purdue OWL

Posted in Books | Comments Off on A Book a Week Review : Eleven Regrets by Mel Anderson

Designer Profile: Valrie Powell of Cherry Chic

The artistic development of new talent in a fast paced industry has a steep
learning curve. Cherry Chic, a fashion line designed by Valrie Powell will be featured in Runway Monthly at The Bank June 23rd, 2012. Tickets are still available at Runway Monthly , a venue that promotes a monthly showcase of Canadian based fashion designers.

One look from Cherry Chic during Runway Monthly at The Bank on June 23

This is, as they say, not Ms. Powell’s first rodeo with her label Cherry Chic.
Featured in Alberta Fashion Week 2012, sold locally in Calgary at Eleven:Eleven and numerous runway shows at local establishments since 2009, the learning curve for Ms.
Powell has been both a challenge and a reward.
Process is as important as the end result for some entrepreneurs. For Valrie Powell,
the launch of signature label Cherry Chic in 2008 and all that lay ahead for
Runway Monthly on June 23rd, the process of creating standout fashion is
ongoing. From trunk shows torunway shows, to selling clothing in a local
boutique, Cherry Chic is slowly maturing into a known label in the Calgary
Rewind to 2008- an idea developed in the mind of Valrie Powell to pursue a lifelong
ambition of having her own clothing line. A combination of family knowledge and
drive, a dash of technique from the University of Manitoba thrown in to the mix
of Calgary during a time of intense development and entrepreneurial talent and
out came the idea: Cherry Chic.

A look from Cherry Chic for fall 2009

Ms. Powell admits freely that there is no set plan for any one piece that she hand
crafts. Ideas for new designs come from the every day. Bolts of fabric input
from friends and family, the way a coat moves in the sunlight and reveals flaws
in design. Small subtle imaginings combine over time, and Ms. Powell, through tactile
manipulation of textiles, yields piece by piece full collections.
Ms. Powell’s knowledge of textiles is impressive. Imagine if you will, a stack of
fabric. Bolts of different material in multiple colors. Now imagine the ability
to drift among the stacks and be able to tell by touch the difference between
cotton, woven, poly blend and PVC. Then imagine in your minds eye a coat that
can be worn in the everyday world complete with easy care instructions. And now
imagine that you have a superhuman ability to manufacture that garment from
hand drawn pattern blocking up until the final hand stitched lining. That is
the life cycle of a design by Valrie Powell, and each piece is comprised of
hand picked material crafted into wearable art.

A fringed halter top, to be paired with pvc black pants

The current 2012 Fall/Winter look book (a catalogue of fashion pieces for each
season) showcases jackets, coats, pencil skirts, fringed animal print sequined
confections and distinctive blouses. All of which will be on proud display at
the Runway Monthly show.
The ‘wearable art’ is assembled neatly on two racks for her upcoming runway show.
Two mannequins stand at attention next to the racks along the far wall of her
workshop. A keen eye will deduce that the six foot tall lady mannequin is
position ever so slightly beyond the eye line of the entryway- so as to not
startle a visitor. Framed photographs of past designs line the walls, or are
leaning casually against any available surface. Design books and in progress
patterns are piled high on the conveniently placed coffee table. Remnants of
fabric inspirations are piled here and there. Bolts of fabric a assembled
neatly in a closet, and a pile of ideas in the form of have assembled clothing
await the final judgment.
The support system behind Cherry Chic is a substantial one. Friends and Family continue to aid Ms. Powell in achieving her dream. Having launched her strongest collection for this Fall/Winter 2012, Ms. Powell could not have accomplished it without the aid of the following people:
Sean Tomyn, a close friend of Ms. Powell’s, who generously gave advice based on his extensive experience as a model and sales representative in the industry.
Kada Issa – Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist
Shaun Harrison of Af8 – Photographer
Demoura Gordon of Dee Nev Hair – Hair Stylist
And of course, some excellent new emerging models featured in Cherry Chic’s Fall/Winter 2012 Look book:
Alexandria Wiemer-MacLean, Via McCormick, Darcy Waters, Gaby DE BARRY
Model: Gaby DE BARRY Design; Cherry Chic F/W 2012  Photography: AF8
Posted in Fashion | Comments Off on Designer Profile: Valrie Powell of Cherry Chic

Episode IX: The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2012

A small fraction of the line to get in.

The 2012 expo is a tale of the good, the bad and the ugly. Mainly, it highlights a definitive need for a complete overhaul of the urban planning of Calgary unlike any other Canadian city to date. Calgary, in its hurry to grow up, has forgotten it’s figurative shall we say, logistical ‘pants’. Unfortunately for the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo, the logistical elements were caught with their ‘pants down’ at the overwhelming response to this years event.The combination of an established crowd of attendees for local booths, a new wave of interest spiked by films like Morgan Spurlock’s ‘Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope’ and the coup de gras in the form of an entire Star Trek: The Next Generation once in a life time full cast reunion, resulted in a perfect storm of epic attendance on Saturday April 28, 2012.

As this blogger was locked out of the Saturday event, I can only make an effort to present a pictoral tableau of Saturday:

We can only hope that in hind sight, the 2012 Calgary Stampede Centennial will have enough foresight about Calgary and just how much it has changed since the 1960’s. I post this in order to deter what I would like to call the ‘old guard’ of Calgary event mentality; that only local groups from rural Alberta and maybe the surrounding prairie provinces will be in attendance. Reality set in for the Expo on Saturday- the stakes in Calgary are higher now, the profile of our city has risen to be able to entice visitors from around the globe to make the effort to come out. In other words, bring your A-game.


In typical event goer fashion, this attendee adopts the mantra adapt and overcome. Come Sunday I am prepared. I plan to arrive a good hour before the event start time of 9:00am. I arrive with a book, a bottle of water and a snack to keep the blood sugar up. I also arrive with the mentality of ‘This is a BIG event, in a BIG city’. I approached this as I did T.I.F.F..

Gone were my assumptions of “I’ll swing by this afternoon, after all how busy could it be?’. Put to bed were my memories of past expo’s at the BMO where the hall seemed larger than the Grand Canyon, capable of swallowing any exhibition thrown its way.

And by jove, the Expo got it! Organised crowd control markers were established. The flow of the crowd was contained. The concept of choke points and crowd behavior patterns were implemented in style. Everyone received a ticket. I had a fabulous Sunday.

And here, in every way an attempt to re-establish some dignity to the Expo in their effort to ‘adapt and overcome’

As I enter the coral, I am politely herded with my fellows to sit patiently and listen to a group of very professional musicians. Playing what I later found to be video game music, at the time I was pleasantly surprised to find non-comic related material at the event. How wrong I was. How good they were to make video game soundtracks sound like jazz insturmentals, I cannot convey in this picture.

Peter David, I later found out has a B.A. in Journalism from New York University, has writen for some of the biggest titles out there. His newer projects can be found here: www.crazy8press.com

Panel number two: The Art of Batman. Three artist’s representing the range of transition in style of the Batman comic art, and indeed the character, were well represented.

Panel number three; Writing for Comics. Insight into the creative team process and trials faced by writers in this ever adaptable genre.


Now we arrive at event number four; the Children’s Costume Contest. Or what I dub ‘the genesis of all comic cons’. Half a dozen Link’s, too many Star Trek fans and half a dozen storm troopers later, we arrive. In reality, this is what this event is about. A shared community of individuals from all age groups, race and gender coming together to celebrate.

My hats off to the Expo, and looking forward to next year.

Posted in Festivals | Comments Off on Episode IX: The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2012

Reviewing: The Cabin in the Woods

Pose yourself this question before entering the world of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard via The Cabin in the Woods; how many horror films can you remember beginning with two desk jockeys getting a cup of joe discussing the mundane?

Confused yet? Or are you just beginning to question the natural pattern of most horror films, in relation to the material within this film?

The movie isn’t psychologically disturbing, but it causes a few questionable insights as we watch. Our five key players are assembled and head out to the killing fields. The Virgin, The Fool, The Athlete, The Scholar and The Whore. The audience has an audience in this type of narrative- what meta fiction is all about since Shakespeare’s Hamlet put on a play for the King and Queen… The Cabin in the Woods is a deliberate meta narrative of human sacrifice.

Orchestrated by an evil global corporate conglomerate (yes this has been done before in Whedon’s/Goddard’s work, Wolf, Ram & Hart ring a bell) our five human sacrifices enter, pour themselves a drink and play truth or dare. They are given a choice in a dark dank cellar as to how they die. Bets are taken by the office staff as to which evil/magical thing enters the scenario- unicorns and mermen amoung the options. The latin inscription read aloud from a turn of the century diary wins out, selected by The Viirgin. The evil zombies arise out of the earth to do what they do- dismember and destroy.

The highlights include, but are not limited to: A vending machine wide shot of every kind of creepy homicidal evil monster thing imaginable, all those creepy things being systematically ejected via elevators to massacre the evil organisation and an evil rant being projected on speaker phone for kicks.  Sigourney Weaver appears to pursuade the Fool and the Virgin to self sacrifice to save the world. This culminates in the Fool lighting a medicinal cigarette and passing it over to the Virgin, watching the end of the world come about. Our Fool gets the best line ‘I had to dismember that zombie with a trowel- what have you been up to?”  Did I mention the Unicorn?

For those expecting a traditional horror movie, don’t. Instead go in with a sense of humour and the expectation of extreme gore and 18A material. For those who get the joke- you’ll enjoy what you’ll find in The Cabin in the Woods- a smart tongue in cheek critique of the genre and social system that perpetuates the need for figurative human sacrifice.

Posted in Theater | Comments Off on Reviewing: The Cabin in the Woods

Four Degrees of Separation: Shift Talent Appreciation Night

 An event orchestrated by the enterprising Dorian Dunkley and courtesy of Shift Talent , showcasing models from Shift Models , with fashions supplied by Cherry Chic Designs, and Eleven:Eleven Boutique, a successful showcase of Calgary talent was held on Friday September 2 2011 at Spur Gastropub in downtown Calgary.

The event showcased four collections from four different Calgary based fashion designers, with one boutique showing. Among them were Eleven:Eleven Boutique owned and operated by Lana Selbee, Cherry Chic Designs by Valrie Powell, Nelli Zimmer, Talent Manager of Shift Talent, and Dorian Dunkley of Shift Models, Shift Talent & Dorian Inc. (to name a few).  Marsina King’s (Monokin), Daryl White (DW), Lana Selbee (Eleven Eleven boutique), Valrie Powell(Cherry Chic), Rachel Hagerty (Ivy Rose Custom).

The breadth of talent present and accounted for underscored the emerging fashion industry in Calgary. Within one half of a medium sized venue, there were fashion designers, models, talent managers, boutique owners, professional photographers, musicians, dancers and a few well meaning writers (myself included). All present to enthusiastically promote the present talent in the Calgary area in the realm of fashion. The following is a brief synopsis of four women who are currently contributing to the fashion industry in Calgary, who were gracious enough to answer a few questions during an otherwise hectic and fantastic evening.

Lana Selbee: Owner and Operator of Eleven:Eleven Boutique located at 233 10th street NW, Calgary AB

Lana Selbee of Eleven:Eleven Boutique presents an inventory of unique and varied clothing. The key term for the current approach to inventory is ‘traceability’ whereby Lana Selbee aims to know the complete information of the process by which each item has come to be. This entails that each item have a face behind its construction. Many of whom were present at this event, including Cherry Chic Designs.

Not necessarily an ethical, political or aesthetic decision, Lana Selbee promotes what she calls ‘creativity, when in reality what is promoted is a face behind each fashion design. Where each aspect of what she sells must have accountability. Where the designer has conscious knowledge of each material incorporated into each design. Eleven:Eleven Boutique aims to find quality fashions from Canadian Designers across Canada, while also illuminating new talent in the industry.

Mainly operated through word of mouth and industry connections made at events like this one, Eleven:Eleven Boutique in the Calgary Kensington area is a place where the mentality behind an art gallery exists both upstairs and down. Ms. Selbee attempts to find a human face behind each product sold.

Which truth be told, I am enjoying a one of a kind, vegan friendly leather like shoulder bag, decorated with a heart shaped chain attached to the zipper. Congrats to Eleven:Eleven and a successful show of their current 2011 F/W inventory.

Valrie Powell: Owner, Designer, Creative force behind Cherry Chic Designs.

Valrie Powell is a  Calgary based fashion designer. Cherry Chic Designs attempt to incorporate a mentality where the construction of the garment should improve the shape of the individual. Cherry Chic Designs aims to construct wearable designs that can easily walk off the runway and into reality without much pause.

Ms. Powell’s biography on Cherry Chic Designs website states. “As I matured my interest in fashion continued to grow and evolve, as I focused on creating designs for EVERY WOMAN. The challenge was to create “feel good” fashions that could place every woman, regardless of their body type– from the runway and pages of a magazine, to the club, to the office, and every place in between. These designs were created to accentuate individual assets of each unique body type and proportions, while masking the challenges of breaking the mould of 36”-24”-36” measurements“. Which proved true as the assortment of body types on the catwalk all of whom looked amazing in each piece, while each looking strikingly different. From a four inches above the knee black flapper dress, to a zebra printed fluted skirt, fun, sexyness and shape flattering construction were the dominant features of this collection.

Cherry Chic Designs are available to order or at Eleven:Eleven Boutique in Calgary.

Dorian Dunkley: Lady in Charge at Shift Talent, Shift Models and Dorian Inc.

Dorian Dunkley recently graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelors Degree in Commerce: her major (not surprisingly) Entrepreneurship. From the word go, Ms. Dunkley took the proverbial ball and ran with it. If this event is any indication, a packed house with a massive turnout and support from various talents around Calgary, the endeavor has been a success. Definitely a contender for any of the Calgary ‘one to watch’ list, Ms. Dunkley is establishing a network of talent in the fashion industry in Calgary. For further information on events hosted by Ms. Dunkley, her websites (yes plural) are:






Nelli Zimmer: Talent Manager of Shift Talent

Dressed in a sharply tailored red dress with matching heels, coiffed long brown hair and dashing to and fro through out the evening, Nelli Zimmer was definitely one contributing factor behind the success of the evening. Aspiring to be a full time Talent Manager in the industry, currently Nelli Zimmer is the Talent Manager at Shift Talent, owned and operated by Dorian Dunkley. As models stalked past in creations by designers present during the evening, Nelli Zimmer stopped by to illuminate the driving force behind the event: a young fast paced community devoted to fashion.

Mainly an appreciation night for Shift Talent and its many contributors, the event aimed to showcase an emerging industry comprised of dancers, photographers, performance artists, models, fashion designers and entrepreneurs. Nelli Zimmer herself is a Talent Manager, with a unique viewpoint on the industry. While definitely looking to pursue a career, she understands that many qualified artists are frustrated by the long term haul that the Calgary market requires.

The fascinating part is that the arts industry is developing not at the pace of a generational shift, but within a decade huge expansion is expected. Truth be told, the energy and talent are here. It is just a matter of getting organized. And for that, you really do need a fleet of Talent Managers. Calgary, a city largely based on oil and gas, is developing a credible arts scene in terms of fashion that is being showcased on the world stage. Perhaps within the decade, new hopefuls like Nelli Zimmer, Dorian Dunkley, Lana Selbee and Valrie Powell will produce and invent a world class industry, fueled in part by the city of oil and gas.

Posted in Fashion | 49 Comments

Finding A Voice: Reviewing ‘The People’s Poetry Festival’

When a community of artists collectively clears its throat with the intent to sing for as long and as loud as it can, pull up a chair, and enjoy.

On August 19 up until the late evening hours of August 21st, 2011 Kensington became the venue for aspiring poets to collectively howl as one.

And howl they did. On street  corners. In cafes. From the rooftops (well not really but you get the idea). Expressing a need for passionate poetry was the mantra for the weekend.

The launch was a microcosm of the Calgary poetry scene, if you will, the purest snapshot of passionate creativity.  Headliners for the event included, but were not limited to Wakefield Brewster, Diane Guichon, Erin Dinkle, David Rhoades, Iqbal (Bob) Haider, Meghan Doraty and a sleuth of avid poetry enthusiasts.

Picture if you will, Pages bookstore in Kensington. A two story niche containing an ever expanding inventory of hard to find Canadian and international literature. The dominant feature is a large staircase that winds its way to a second floor loft area. An entire wall of windows showcase the trendiest street in avant garde Calgary: Kensington Rd NW. A close second is 10 St NW, just off Memorial Drive and across the river from the downtown core.

Everywhere you look are rows of hard to find, never heard of it before, but wouldn’t that be interesting? books. Imagine a large crowd gathered within a small two story shop, to the point where at least fifteen camp out on the staircase to listen in. Listen to what, you ask? The art form commonly refered to as the ‘Spoken Word’ of artists like Wakefield Brewster. With the tempo of a rap stylist, and the baratone voice of a baptist minister filled to the brim with conviction purely concieved of passion: it is a thing to hear. It will grab you, sit you down and transfix until it ends.

That is the power of the Spoken Word, and is the underlying driving force of the entire People’s Poetry Festival. And, to argue a further point, poetry itself.

The People’s Poetry Festival aimed to bring poetry out of the ‘ivory tower’ and into the hands of the people. The trick is to maintain that passion, foster it even, without losing the quality of the initial material. Unfortunately the quality of material presented at the festival did not equal the passion with which it was presented. The collective voice of the festival is not as refined as it could be; the mixtures of University alums, current University students, retirees, freelance artists and passionate public onlookers has immense potential to be a guiding influence on refining Calgary’s poetic voice.

Bottom line: the Festival demonstrated that Calgary is going through a second (if not third) boom cycle. We’ve had the real estate boom (and bust). We’ve been through the oil boom (and bust). Now, it seems, the Artistic community of Calgary is breaking out its collective voice with as much passion and furious energy as witnessed six years ago.

By and large the festival is a success at demonstrating that Calgary has found its collective poetic voice. This blogger is very excited to see where it leads those brave enough to howl along with the emerging poetic community, where anything and everything has such immidiate potential to literally boom.  

Congratulations to festival organizers and volunteers who made this whole event possible. Looking forward to next year!

For further information:


Posted in Festivals | 2 Comments

The literary world on a string: Reviewing ‘When Words Collide’

August 14, 2011

When Words Collide August 12 – 14 2011

‘When Words Collide’ aimed to provide an informal platform for writers and readers to meet and mingle. The festival did this successfully. It brought together a stellar collection of unique literary voices to Calgary. Romance, fan fiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, script writing and many other genres were fully represented at this convention.  

In truth Calgary has never been considered a literary hub.  Many (including myself) deliberately set out to travel to city centers renown for established literary circles like Toronto, prompting many to wonder what can nurture a prairie author. The realistic answer is those who strive to write typically look outside the Prairies for help, mentors and above all hope that such a thing could be duplicated in their own hometowns.

‘When Words Collide’ provides an informal, and unfortunately temporary, broad spectrum presentation of a unique community. In the span of a single day delegates have the opportunity to attend lectures on thirty five different subjects. Unfortunately, this delegate had to narrow down their interests to a maximum of seven hour long lectures. Seeing as the conference went for three days, the avid attendee could gorge their interests on an average of twenty one separate events.   

A massive thank you to those who had the vision and passion to make this festival a success. Also to those who patiently answered questions with a smile. The following is a brief description of four one hour long sessions that were presented at the conference.

 Sunday August 14, 2011

12:00pm How to Write a Good Pitch and Query

Rule number one when discussing query submissions; do not mention online publications. Doing so will cause an involuntary hush as the question is raised ‘What is your opinion of online self publication’ after which the panelists will offer to discuss ‘the issue’ afterwards over a large cup of tea. Or a beer for the more adventurous libertine.

During this session a series of words were used that I vaguely remember from my misadventures reading random ‘how to publish’ books in the University library. Useful tools of the literary trade were the hot topic of the hour: the pitch, the query, the literary resume, unsolicited submissions, solicited submissions, mass unsolicited submission techniques. There are three separate basic queries to create, one for short story, one for novels and one for the magazine/non-fiction submissions.

 All of which, in a digital world, become outdated when the method of publication is self governed. But for any author wanting credibility and a paycheck, these tools are invaluable.  Thus began a duality of discussion that would surface yet again; the question of reconciling new media publication with the established print media-for-profit mentality.

1:00pm Writing for the Magazine Market

‘Writing for the Magazine Market’ attempted a brief and casual glimpse into the rough and tumble world of magazine publishing. The intrepid panelists Barb Galler-Smith and Diane Walton guided us into a discussion about what opportunities existed and how to take advantage of them.

The discussion inevitably turned to the transitioning of many hard copy magazines to digital copy. The good news; publications can cut costs and thereby survive to publish yet another day. The bad news: uncharted intellectual copyright territory and the four dollar per submission pay day returns from the Pulp Fiction days of the 1920’s.

Again, this session was about opportunity. The opportunity for visibility is there. The opportunity for professionalism still very much remains with the physical copy.  The interesting side note: print copy has an ally in digital copy. It provides an inter-textual self reference that prompts the reader to not only buy an online subscription, but also moves magazine sales at the local store. Mainly to compensate when the internet connection fails or the battery wears down on their favorite e-reading device.

Again, the main idea is opportunity; and opportunities are there.

2:00pm Fan Fiction- How Does it Fit?

Fan Fiction- quite possibly the most misunderstood form of story-telling out there in the Ethernet. Both a joy and a curse to many literary minded devotees, the session opened up an earnest discussion of the pros and cons of the fan fiction Universe.

I call it a universe because fan fiction is a world, many worlds, into and of themselves. They have their own language to communicate about and to each other. There a specific unwritten rules governing this art form. Instead of peer to peer editing, many authors have ‘a beta’. Instead of a genre, fan fiction has created ‘fandoms’ with specific voices attributed to the talented work of successful sci-fi  concepts like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and Highlander to name a few.

The eloquent explanation offered by our intrepid panelists was this: mass hits like Harry Potter created a generation of readers as well as a generation of writers. The advent of imagination, the social impulse of human beings to communicate, the impulse to create a story, and by extension the ability to dream is a defining characteristic of human beings.  Fan Fiction is simply the active manifestation of an audience.

As a result it exists online and in the hearts and minds of a devoted few.

3:00pm: Writing for the Screen

The stellar line up for this panel is a triumph for the festival.  Diverse enough to provoke interesting, if heated, debate. This was a to the point arena with professionals talking as frankly as they can about a profession.

While the basics were covered like logline, synopsis, treatment, script, 3-act structure, marketing, the true bonus was a description of the process. The brutal honesty that a script is a part of a collaborative process, and once sold creative control is gone.  At one point a delegate asked ‘Is there joy in writing a script?’ to which the panel replied no, the joy is in seeing the final production, if that even occurs.

 A novel is a medium unto itself, where bye a script is a tool written for a specific medium. The differences between the two are extensive. Novelists are usually able to transition to screen writing, conversely screen writers rarely transition into the realm of the novel. A few main points to take a way: screen writing is industry dependent; you move to the network of artists who create film or TV. Screenwriting is immensely difficult to get into (to be ‘roomed’ as one panelists described) but highly lucrative if successful. The pressure to produce within industry specific, somewhat migraine inducing restrictions dictated by actor contracts, writers guilds and director creative control is immense.  A script can be purchased and green lit but never aired.  

Is there a sense of joy in script writing? No, but there is an opportunity for a professional career as a writer, which makes all the difference to some.

4:00pm How to Give Author Readings

You know you are in the presence of authors when a t-shirt with the slogan ‘Careful or you’ll end up in my next novel’ is prominently, if not proudly worn. You also know the group by a misguided sense of humility as the seventh and last person enters the room to a collective ‘Awesome, We got one more!’.

The term ‘Author Readings’ is a grave misnomer in my opinion. Sure an author presents their work; but a successful ‘reading’ is anything but a reading. Performance based presentations of the written word are an opportunity to promote your work. As the panel suggests you must take ownership of your work and present it with an air of enthusiasm to your audience. The notion of passivity is completely abandoned.

A few pointers for the intrepid performance piece:

Avoid at all costs: being dismissive, rude, speaking in monotones.

Always: drink water, connect with your audience and be prepared.

Above all DO NOT PANIC and.. slow. Down. And. Use. Punctuation.

A few links for those interested:

Alexandra Writers’ Centre


Writer’s Guild of Alberta


Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (ARWA)


Mystery Writers’ Ink (MWI)


OnSpec: The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic


Posted in Festivals | 68 Comments