Pretty excited to be a part of this event put on by one of my publishers, Crwth Press. It’s on Facebook Live and is free! If you have questions about publishing or writing or illustrating, this is the event for you!
This year’s young author’s conference looked quite a bit different than it has in years past. It’s my favourite conference, and one that I look forward to every year all year. In a normal year, I’d take a few extra days off work, take a road trip checking out favourite spots (or newly discovered spots) along the way and then visit family in Vernon before heading home.
This year was different.
When the pandemic hit and many conferences were being shut down (I was also scheduled to be on a Dungeons and Dragons panel for the BCLA conference this year), I took the initiative and suggested to the organizers of the Kamloops YAC that they take their conference online.
I wasn’t the only one who had suggested this, so after a meeting with organizers I pledged any help that I could provide (you do this sort of thing when you believe in the value of something as much as I do this conference) and it was taken online to Zoom.
I was asked to teach a workshop for grades 6/7, and another for teens grades 8-12. And these workshops could not have gone better.
Chances are you can tell I’m a bit of a Dungeons and Dragons fan. I got into the game when I was 12 years old, and was hooked ever since. This was the game that taught me how to write a story, and how to write a book. How could D&D teach you to write books?
That was my first workshop. I talked about the game, how it’s played, the collaborative storytelling, and all my maps. You can see by my table setup above that I wanted them to see how the game can inspire creativity.
My second workshop for the teens was on crafting a great villain–and I talked about my favourite villains (Darth Vader, Johnny Lawrence from Karate Kid, Hans Gruber from Die Hard, and the Governor from Walking Dead) and also about how I got published.
The world has certainly changed. But to me this means creativity and teaching kids to think outside the box is more important than ever. We need the arts and stories to get us through this, not only to help with boredom but also to spark imaginations to come up with creative solutions to problems we encounter in this new normal.
I hope if you’re reading this you’re doing okay. If you’re finding you’re sleeping more and not feeling productive–be easy on yourself. Things will get better.
This past spring break, I had the opportunity to do six workshops for the Surrey Public Library system. Working with this library as an author is always a huge pleasure, as the librarians and library techs work so hard to make their programs a success. Plus, they are incredibly knowledgeable and interesting to chat with.
My first stop was Ocean Park Library, and a handful of teens all prepared to write showed up to learn how to come up with story ideas by making their own maps.
I showed them all sorts of maps, including the 3D printed map I use in my Dungeons and Dragons game.
Second, I went to the Semiahmoo branch and met with a handful of teens ready to pen their own tales.
Next, I was at Strawberry Hill where I was met by Orlando Bloom (in a photo) and we each did our thing to encourage teens to read and write.
Him, holding a book so tightly as if to say “You can never have this book,” obviously to make you want it even more since you can’t have it. Me, teaching the one teen who woke at 11am during spring break to come learn how to create stories with maps and cartography.
Before going to the Cloverdale Library, I stopped in at the Rustic Rooster for some food.
And I took a selfie by the dinosaur outside the museum next door!
And then I went to work, talking story writing with the creative writing club. Librarian Carmen, who runs the club, came on her day off to participate in the workshop. Thanks, Carmen!
My penultimate stop was at the City Centre library, where we chatted about how Dungeons and Dragons inspires writing. We also wrote some stories, and drew some maps. One of the teens expressed disappointment that there wasn’t enough time to actually play a game of D&D!
My final stop was at the Guildford branch, where I taught the teens how to create multi-ended stories as a computer game using a program called Inkle. They picked it up fast and wrote some interesting tales!
Again, a big thanks goes out to the Surrey Public Library for hosting my workshops. All of you at the library who were so kind to me were absolutely amazing, and you do an incredible service to your community. Keep up the amazing work!
Spring break is just around the corner, and if you’re a teen looking for something to do the Surrey Public Library will be hosting my workshops!
Registration begins February 25!
Ocean Park, Mar. 22, 1-2:15
Semiahmoo, Mar. 22, 3:15-4:30
Cloverdale, Mar. 23, 2:30-3:45pm
Strawberry Hill, Mar. 23, time TBD
Do you sometimes get stuck while writing a story? This workshop will unleash your creativity so you can say goodbye to Writer’s Block through the design of maps–whether you write fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, or romance.
Storytelling with Dungeons & Dragons, 12-1:15pm, Fri. Mar. 29th
Many of the best-known authors these days got their storytelling start through a game called Dungeons and Dragons. Learn how this storytelling game can unleash your creativity through character design, plot elements, map-making, and collaboration.
Writing with Inky, Fri. Mar. 29th, 2:15-3:30
Do you enjoy those books that have multiple endings? Would you like to know how to create one of those stories into a text-based video game? This workshop will show you a different style of writing that will have you writing your very own games for you and friends to play!