Category Archives: Workshops

Road Trips

I’m certainly no stranger to the road trip. In 1997 (still can’t believe it was 11 years ago), I took a road trip in a ’68 Beetle from Vancouver to Kelowna, then over to Banff, up to Jasper, across to Edmonton, then down to Calgary through Drumheller, and over to Winnipeg.

The entire way I slept in a tent, and ate food that I cooked over an open fire. (I had a Coleman stove, but couldn’t ever get it to work.) It was the best time I ever had, and probably the most adventurous thing I’d ever done.

Back then, my goal was to inspire myself as a budding writer. I wanted to find my creative spark, and to get in touch with my creativity so that I could one day be an author. Though my friends and family thought that was a little far-fetched, I did it anyway.

Here I am, 11 years later, with three books published – one that’s going into reprint and a fourth due out this Christmas. Life is pretty awesome. The best part – I’m planning another road trip! Granted, there will be some changes this time around. First, I won’t be going on it alone. kc dyer, friend and fellow scribe, will be sharing the experience with me! Second, I won’t be sleeping on the hard ground in a tent. Comfort all the way!

The best part of this trip is that we have destinations planned. Stops in Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Banff, Cochrane, Calgary and Red Deer. We may even have one more to completely fill our itinerary.

Another difference from that first trip is that Comic Life will be along for the ride! kc dyer and I will be blogging our trip through comic, using this easy and fantastic program. (It’s what I used to create my book video, and many of my past posts.) Comic Life has agreed to let us give away a copy of its program to each of our stops – not a bad value for those who come out to our events! Hear two popular authors, eat some chocolate, and be in a draw to leave with a free copy of Comic Life! 

Day 3 at the Korea Camp

Breakfast today was egg-coated fish + kimchi + Imodium.

During the afternoon, Lee, Bo and I took our students on a campus treasure hunt. This was a very interesting lesson for them on listening, as we seem to be having a problem with getting them to pay attention when we are speaking. These students like to assume they already know what to do, and then rush into the activity with assumptions and not instructions.

This time they paid for it. We had a treasure hunt with riddled clues that they had to solve. There were six teams, and each team had a different course to take. The only way to figure out where all their clues were, was to concentrate on their own course and find the clues sequentially.

Of course, even though Lee and I drilled that into them, there were some who thought they could jump ahead a clue grabbing a clue they happened upon by accident. There were others who thought they could win by following another team. There was, in fact, only one team who made it to the end with all the clues.

Lee and I had made a short (4 minute) podcast of our planning meeting on the first day. Because some of my students are following this blog, I haven’t been able to post it until now.

At the University

I decided to experiment and try one of the soft-drink cans that I didn’t recognize. Tastes somewhat similar to Cream Soda…

Breakfast this morning was a choice of rice, fish and Kimchi, or Cereal & toast. Guess what Lee and I chose?








I have this morning to myself, as I’m only teaching one class today from 2-5pm. (Thursday I teach two classes, and Lee teaches one.) So I decided to wander around the campus and take some pictures.





I’m  facing our dorms.








And this is the view from our room. (Although the picture was taken on the lawn outside. There was no way to open the window, and I’d already been yelled at in Korean for turning down the heater – and for another incident that they couldn’t communicate to me. Still not sure what it was that I did … or if I had actually done anything at all.)

There are some very cool rock formations outside. I could imagine that this would make a great location for a movie set, with all the different shaped trees and rocks.

Day One at the Camp


Lee Fodi and I have been joined by Bo, an instructor who is visiting from Sydney Australia. We started off the morning with a breakfast of french toast, and yes we ate it with chopsticks! I found a machine that has soft drinks and coffee, and managed to get myself a Coke.

After registration, Lee and I were introduced to the parents and students – of the latter there are 19! These are full-sized classes of energy filled students, all of whom are extremely glad to be here.



CWC Summer Camp

Monday to Wednesday I spent with the CWC writer’s camp out in Abbotsford. The scenery was beautiful, with green trees and rolling hills. (Of course, to truly appreciate the serenity of the location I had to ignore the gun shots that went off every 5 minutes – apparently to scare away birds from farmer’s crops…)

Monday we arrived and checked in. My roommate for the 3-day camp was fellow author Lee Edward Fodi. The first thing we did (like all good authors do) was to set up our computers and check for wireless. He had a Mac, and I had my PC. Just like on one of those commercials, he had his up and running on the ‘net in a matter of seconds while I spent a good 10 minutes just trying to get a signal. Grrr!

After check-in we had a sort-of pep rally to get the students and parents in the mood for a great time at camp. Kari Winters, Lori Sherritt and Shelley Macdonald offered their expertise in drama, and myself, Lee Fodi and kc dyer took on the writing portion. Our theme was Circus and Magic!

I had all day Monday free from teaching. I spent the day sitting at a bench under a shady tree (still got burned) and wrote to my heart’s content. It was wonderful! To just sit and listen to the birds sing, the dragonflies buzz around me and overlook the wondrous green valley and feel the words spill from my imagination to the page was heavenly. (Of course, do keep in mind that I was writing the darker side of life filled with night scenes, vampires and werewolves.)

What I discovered from doing this was that inspiration comes not just from telling your students about writing, but from them seeing you act on what you preach. At one point that evening Lee Fodi worked at finishing up a drawing for his next book while I scribbled away my chapters. A young lady named Melanie watched in earnest, and finally said, “Wow. I get to see real authors at work creating books that aren’t published yet.” When I was her age I would have loved to have had that opportunity!

Tuesday I had two 3-hour classes with the grade 6-8’s. Our first class we discussed the book, “Tiger Rising” by Kate Di Camillo. We spoke about the tiger being a metaphor, first for the boy’s caged emotions and also of the girl’s savage anger. I also tied it into circus, and of how many people feel it’s wrong to cage animals for entertainment. We created characters, backgrounds, and even maps where their imaginary worlds might exist.

That evening Shelley MacDonald worked with them to develop skits. I came in during the second half and helped out a little; after all, I do have a short-term theatre background. Wednesday morning the students had a chance to finish any stories they were working on, and also to practice their skits. For during the afternoon, they had a performance for the parents to show what they’d been learning while at the CWC camp.

My favourite parts of the camp were the conversations I got to have with the students between classes. These were enthusiastic kids with big imaginations and it was fantastic being a part of their energy. (And believe me, they had LOTS of energy!)

The best part – from Monday to Friday I get to participate in a similar camp at the Vancouver Public Library. For 5 days I’ll have another opportunity to inspire another set of young writers, and to be inspired by them!