Last Class at Place des Arts

Just taught my final class at Place des Arts for the foreseeable future. While it was sad to say goodbye, it was an amazing feeling to have so many students want me to stay. Ended the semester with full classes, and rumours of a wait list for the next. (I’ll be leaving things in good shape for the next instructor!) A couple students brought gifts, but the card I received from one student who thanked me for being a “great mentor” really made my day. I even got to liken James Frey’s “agency” with summoning a Crossroads demon in Supernatural. And my students knew exactly what I was talking about. My life is awesome.


Teaching Young Writers at UBC Writing Centre

Had Jonathan Dalton speak to my class about graphic novels. My class came up with this character, a peg-legged ex-dragon slayer now turned soybean farmer who farms with a spork/shovel. (Sporkvel?)

What do you think?


Summer Workshops

Over the last few weeks, I taught several workshops at Place des Arts in Coquitlam. My afternoons were spent with the 8-12 year olds, working on comics that they starred in. How did I do that, you may ask?

First, the students created characters – completely independently and not as a group. (I find this is key.) They were then randomly placed into groups, with strange characters (one group had Darth Vader and a genie,) where they wrote a two-page comic.

Next, I used my green screen as background. The students then chose from a plethora of props and costumes, and posed in place as a photo was snapped. The photo is then uploaded into a program called Comic Life Magiq (unfortunately, this is a version no longer available,) and the green screen background is replaced with one of the student’s choice.

The morning I spent with the teens, and we worked on making a magazine. The students created an amazing product that they designed and wrote – and then using iBooks we created a pdf and iBook version.

All in all, it was a fantastic couple of  weeks at Place des Arts with dozens of children and teens who all worked hard at stretching their creative brain even though it was sunny and hot outside.  As for me, I found it inspiring and encouraging to see so many youth so happy and having such a great time. And yes, I even managed to get my own writing done!


CWC Class Rates Books

One of the courses I taught this term was a 15-week creative writing class where the students wrote a chapter a week to finish with a 15 (or more) chapter novel. They also designed covers, back cover summaries, and they read and discussed a different novel each week.

Of the 15 novels they read, these were the highest rated and most loved. The group consisted of students ages 10-13.

Tied at fourth place: Found, by Margaret Haddix  and Books of Umber – Happenstance Found, by P.W. Catanese.

Third place: Metro Dogs of Moscow, by Rachelle Delaney

Second Place: Guinea Dog, by Patrick Jennings

First Place: Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper

Student Comic

One of my students created a comic based on the longer novel he’s writing, and though he didn’t want it in his finished book I couldn’t let this wonderful piece just disappear into the recycling bin. This is from Dean in the CWC class – and he’s twelve years old.

page_01_Dean page_02_Dean

Comic Fun at Place des Arts!

One of the summer programs I’m teaching this year is, “See Yourself In A Comic,” at Place des Arts. This is a unique way of approaching comics, as it puts the student in the comic as the main character. Over the course of five days, we design characters, write a script and use photographs to make a sequential panelled story.

I can’t show you the finished products (due to legal and contractual reasons,) but I can show you some of the pre-design work the kids did. This was a class of 8-12 year olds, who all had a blast starring in their own comic.

The classes continue throughout July and part of August, are one-week each, and are for one hour. There is still some room left in a few of the classes – so sign up now!


Making a superhero.


Making a superhero.


Making a superhero.


Making a superhero.


Making a superhero.

Safari Writing Camp!


Student plots out a choose your own adventure story.

From June 29 to July 4 I taught at the CWC Safari-themed creative writing camp. This was quite the adventure, with fellow instructors Lee Edward Fodi and Kallie George. We began the camp with an introductory video, shot by Luke Spence Byrd, and set the tone for a week of imagination.

My part in this was to teach choose your own adventure, traps and dangers, hidden cities and strange, musical instruments. To set the students up for a writing project, we often did a craft,. Here are some of the traps my students crafted:


A giant slingshot found deep in the jungle!


Student crafts a catapult.


Students hard at work writing their stories.


A student writing his choose your own adventure story.