Kamloops Young Authors Conference 2020

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.

Book Signing November 16 in Delta, BC

Fun Fact Friday: What was the battle of 300?

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: To Die, or Not to Die, that is the Question…

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? On every Thursday, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Jane Alvey Harris weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

I already have a ‘Zombie Contingency Plan’ ready to go

My good friend James asked me to write up a guest post about what I would do in the event of a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. I bet he wasn’t expecting to hear that I already have a ‘Zombie Contingency Plan’ ready to go. But I totally DO.

​​SML

Here’s the thing. I don’t like zombies. Like, AT ALL.

“Well, duh, Jane,” you might scoff. “Nobody likes zombies!” Yeah, yeah. So you say. But I know some of you secretly can’t wait to get out there and dust up some undead. I for REALS want NOTHING to do with them.

Anyone who knows me well knows what I would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I think it’s an important disclosure, and one that can tell you a lot about a person.

​SLXL

Do YOUR loved ones know about your Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan?

XLLS

Mine do, and it’s pretty simple: I would off myself. Immediately. 

MLXL

Trust me, I know this isn’t a popular plan, and you’re welcome to try and change my mind. But you won’t.  I promiseI would only choose this plan IF there were an apocalypse, and IF that apocalypse produced brain-eating zombies.

IF, PEOPLE!!!

SLXL Because, (sorry, James) why would anyone want to survive a Zombie Apocalypse?? The living turn into MONSTERS, and like, strap strangers to mattresses for their snacking convenience, (I’m still traumatized after reading Cormac McCarty’s “The Road”) and all the undead are gory, gross, brain-eating machines.

I see no tenable future in that scenario.

Emily, the main character in my current series, the My Myth Trilogy, would XLL Shandle things quite differently. She’s a caricature of my own personality, which makes her simultaneously stronger and weaker than I am. Emily would survive to save her siblings Jacob, Aidan, and Claire (whereas I would kill us all). They’re her whole purpose, her reason for striving, her reason for facing her demons, her reason for doing really difficult things that almost paralyze her.

Emily may joke about zombies, but if they ever threatened her brothers and sister, she would decimate them with her masculine and feminine Fae powers of Blaze and Keen.

Bottom line:

You absolutely want Emily on your side in a zombie apocalypse.

You just want to be very careful not to get to close…

and you definitely never want to piss her off.

As for me? I’m guessing you probably don’t want me on your side.

Jane

I have a Humanities degree from Brigham Young University with emphases in Art History, Italian Language, and Studio Art. I’m CRAZY about the visual and performing arts! I enjoy playing classical piano, painting & sketching, singing & acting, and especially writing poetry & prose.

 But my real passion is PEOPLE. I love to watch and study what makes us tick as human beings. I’m definitely a dreamer, and my favorite thing to do is weave together sublime settings and stories for characters to live and learn in…myself included.

 I currently live in an enchanted fairy-princess castle in Dallas, Texas, with my three often-adorable children and their three seldom-adorable cats.

Zombie Apocalypse: Fast Food Zombie

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Jane Whittingham weighs in on her zombie apocalypse survival plan.

What is your best skill in the case of a zombie apocalypse?

 

MY SPECIAL SKILL

On first glance I might not appear to be the best person to have on your team in the event of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve never held a gun. I’m not particularly strong or fit. I have no outdoor survival skills. And I’m not exactly a dab hand with a baseball bat.

What I do offer, though, is a very special skill set gained by watching countless hours of cooking competition shows on television.

Stay with me here. In the aftermath of a zombie attack, food will likely be scarce and hard to come by. As the saying goes, though, an army marches on its stomach. How are we going to feed ourselves with no fast food outlets to rely on?

Friends, this is where my special skill set comes in. Thanks to all those episodes of Iron Chef and Chopped, I will be able to take the most random assortment of ingredients and turn them into something (somewhat) nutritious and (hopefully) delicious (or at least edible). I’ve seen chefs turn ground beef into delectable desserts, so I think I’m well prepared to handle even the most challenging culinary scenarios.

Now, this might not seem like the most vital skill in the face of global annihilation, but nutritious meals will help survivors keep up their strength (and avoid disastrous food poisoning), while tasty dishes will help build morale.

So hand me that tinned asparagus of questionable age, those bags of squished marshmallows, that bottle of cola and that squirrel you just trapped and let me work my magic!

rain city

Jane Whittingham is a children’s book author and librarian. Her debut picture book, Wild One, was published by Pajama Press in Canada in November 2017 and will release in the United States in March 2018.

In addition to books, she’s also passionate about travel and does share the occasional travel-themed post on Raincity Librarian. She also adores anime, Korean dramas, strong black tea, sushi, and her home city of Vancouver (aka RAINCITY).