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2023 Festival Program

The festival program is complete. Please see below for instructions on how to get your own copy.

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2023 Program

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Master Classes

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2023 Festival Guests

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Angela Ackerman
Angela Ackerman

Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression and its many sequels. Available in ten languages, her guides are sourced by US universities, recommended by agents and editors, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, and psychologists around the world. To date, this book collection has sold nearly a million copies.
Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers®, as well as One Stop for Writers®, a portal to game-changing tools and resources that enable writers to craft powerful fiction.

Nicole Baart
Nicole Baart

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. Nicole is passionate about the so-called flyover states, and her books all feature Midwestern settings and small town characters.
Nicole is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels that have been featured in Southern Living, Country Woman, Book Page, Glam, Brit & Co., and on Yahoo Lifestyle. Her 2017 release, Little Broken Things, was a People Magazine Editor's Pick. You Were Always Mine, a domestic suspense about love and betrayal, is Nicole’s most recent novel.
Website: https://nicolebaart.com/

Tanya Huff
Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff lives in rural Ontario with her wife Fiona Patton, five cats, and an increasing number of fish. Her 32 novels and 83 short stories include horror, heroic fantasy, urban fantasy, comedy, and space opera. Her Blood series was turned into the 22 episode BLOOD TIES and writing episode nine allowed her to finally use her degree in Radio & Television Arts. Many of her short stories are available as eCollections. Her latest book is INTO THE BROKEN LANDS, a stand alone, created world fantasy. She’s on twitter at @TanyaHuff and Facebook as Tanya Huff. She has never used her Instagram account and isn't sure why she has it.

Stacey Kondla
Stacey Kondla

Stacey Kondla is a literary agent with The Rights Factory. She has a variety of clients with works that include adult literary fiction, science fiction & fantasy, rom-com, historical, nonfiction science, children's picture books, middle grade, and young adult titles. Her background includes working as a Field Representative for Scholastic Book Fairs, managing at two different big box book stores, freelance editing, and serving on the organizing committee of When Words Collide (A Festival for Readers and Writers).

2023 Special Guests

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Cathy Ace
Cathy Ace

Cathy Ace was born and raised in Swansea, Wales, and migrated to Canada aged 40. Having traveled the world (for business and pleasure) for decades, Cathy put her knowledge of the cultures, history, art, and food she encountered to good use in the Cait Morgan Mysteries—traditional whodunits featuring a globetrotting Welsh Canadian professor of criminal psychology. These books have been optioned by Free@LastTV (Agatha Raisin). Ace also writes the #1 Amazon bestselling WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, featuring four female PIs (one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, one English). They tackle quirky, cosy cases from a Welsh stately home in the rolling countryside of the Wye Valley. Her tale of psychological suspense, The Wrong Boy, also became an Amazon #1 bestseller, and is slated to become a bilingual TV mini-series. Cathy lives on five rural acres in British Columbia, where she works full-time as an author, and also enjoys her other great passion – gardening. She’s been shortlisted for the prestigious Canadian Bony Blithe Award three times, winning once, has won IPPY and IBA Awards, and her work has been shortlisted for Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, as well as Crime Fiction Lover’s Best Indie Novel. Website: https://www.cathyace.com/

Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks

Terry Brooks was born in Illinois in 1944. He spent a great deal of his childhood and early adulthood dreaming up stories in and around Sinnissippi Park, the very same setting for Running with the Demon. He received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, where he majored in English Literature, and went on to earn his graduate degree from the School of Law at Washington & Lee University.
A writer since high school and heavily influenced by William Faulkner, it took him seven years to finish writing The Sword of Shannara, which published in 1977. It became the first work of fiction to ever appear on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list, where it remained for over five months.
He published The Elfstones of Shannara in 1982 and The Wishsong of Shannara in 1985, both bestsellers.
Since that time, he has written numerous novels in the Shannara, Landover, and Word/Void series, including being hand-selected by George Lucas to write the novelization of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
“The Shannara Chronicles,” a first season 10-episode TV show, premiered January 5, 2016 on MTV. It adapts The Elfstones of Shannara and features the creative talents of Jon Favreau, Al Gough, Miles Millar, Jonathan Liebesman, and Terry Brooks as an Executive Producer.
Terry Brooks lives with his wife Judine in the Pacific Northwest and on the road meeting his fans.
Website: https://terrybrooks.net/

Vicki Delany
Vicki Delany

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than forty-five books: clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction, and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing the Tea by the Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Year-Round Christmas mysteries, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates).
Vicki is a past chair of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It Crime Writing Festival. Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Website: http://vickidelany.com/

Steena Holmes
Steena Holmes

Steena Holmes is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with over 2 million copies of her titles sold world wide, including The Forgotten Ones, Saving Abby and The Memory Child. Named in the Top 20 Women Author to read in 2015 by Good Housekeeping, she won the National Indie Excellence Award in 2012 for Finding Emma as well as the USA Book News Award for The Word Game in 2015. Steena has been featured in various newspapers and magazines, websites such as Goodreads, BookBub, RedBook, Glamour, Coastal Living and Goodhousekeeping. To find out more about her books and her love for traveling, you can visit her Website: http://www.steenaholmes.com/

Fonda Lee
Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee is the author of the epic modern fantasy Green Bone Saga, consisting of Jade City, Jade War, and Jade Legacy. She is a winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, a four-time winner of the Aurora Award, and a finalist for the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award. The Green Bone Saga has been translated into multiple languages and named to TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time. Lee is also the author of the acclaimed young adult science fiction novels Zeroboxer, Exo, and Cross Fire. Fonda is an instructor at writing workshops including Clarion West, Viable Paradise, and Aspen Words. A former corporate strategist and black belt martial artist, she hails from Calgary, Alberta and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Her next book, Untethered Sky, a fantasy novella, releases in April 2023. Website: http://www.fondalee.com/

Nicole Luiken
Nicole Luiken

Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age thirteen—on a manual typewriter—and never stopped. She had two novels published while still in high school and over a dozen more since. Nicole writes mostly for teens, including the popular Violet Eyes series, but sometimes dips her toe into adult markets as well. Her books always have an element of SF/Fantasy/paranormal. Her young adult novels have won two Golden Eagle Children’s Book Awards and a Gold-Medal Moonbeam as well as being a finalist for several other Canadian awards including the Monica Hughes Science Fiction and Fantasy Award. Her most recent teen werewolf novel, Feral, received a positive review from Kirkus, calling it a "howling good time" and was a finalist for the Snow Willow Award.
Nicole lives in Edmonton with her family. It is physically impossible for her to go for more than three days in a row without writing. Website: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057574333075

Dave Reynolds
Dave Reynolds

Dave is the Indigo Category Manager for Sports, Reference, True Crime, and Travel, as well as for Local Interest & Local Authors in Western Canada. Dave started with Chapters as a bookseller in 1997 and has held various positions in the stores and Home Office since that time.
Before becoming a bookseller, Dave received a Diploma (Hons.) in Film & Video from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. Dave has written original short- and feature-length screenplays and has also directed and produced several short films. In his spare time, he likes to travel by bicycle. {URL

Morgan Rhodes
Morgan Rhodes

Morgan Rhodes is the New York Times bestselling author of the Falling Kingdoms series. She loves to write about the epic adventures of quirky, interesting characters who inhabit her imagination. Under the name Michelle Rowen, she’s an award-winning author of many paranormal novels. A former graphic designer drawn to sparkly objects and fancy handbags, Morgan lives in Ontario, Canada, where she maintains a very healthy belief in all things magical. Website: http://EssentialEdits.ca

Hank Phillippi Ryan
Hank Phillippi Ryan

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the USA Today bestselling author of 14 psychological thrillers, winning the genre's most prestigious awards: five Agathas, four Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs. Book reviewers call her “a master of suspense” and “superb and gifted storyteller.” THE FIRST TO LIE garnered a Publishers Weekly starred review and was nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Novel and Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her current thriller, HER PERFECT LIFE, received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, which called it "A superlative thriller." It is now an Agatha nominee for Best Novel of the Year. Watch for THE HOUSE GUEST, coming in 2023. Website: https://hankphillippiryan.com/

Edward Willett
Edward Willett

Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages, including the Worldshapers series and the Masks of Agyrima trilogy (as E.C. Blake) for DAW Books, the YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, and the YA SF novel Star Song, among many others. He won Canada’s Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW) and for Best Fan Related Work in 2019 for The Worldshapers podcast, where he interviews other science fiction and fantasy authors about the creative process. He has been shortlisted several times. His twelfth novel for DAW Books, the humorous space opera The Tangled Stars, comes out this fall.
Ed is also the owner of Shadowpaw Press, named after his black Siberian cat, which has published two anthologies of short fiction by guests of The Worldshapers podcast, Shapers of Worlds and Shapers of Worlds Volume II. Volume III is planned for this fall. In addition to publishing these anthologies and republishing Ed’s own titles that have been orphaned by other publishers, Shadowpaw Press is now publishing original novels by other authors, and Ed hopes to do more of that in the future.
Ed’s non-fiction titles run the gamut from children’s science books and biographies to local histories to Genetics Demystified, published by McGraw-Hill. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Ed is also a professional actor and singer who has performed in numerous plays, operas, and musicals over the years.
Ed lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, with his wife, Margaret Anne Hodges, P.Eng., a past president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan. They have a college-aged daughter, Alice. Find Ed on Twitter @ewillett, on Facebook @edward.willett, on Instagram @edwardwillettauthor, and on YouTube at youtube.com/edwardwillett. Website: https://edwardwillett.com/

Returning Festival Guests

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Vanessa Cardui
Vanessa Cardui

Vanessa Cardui is an outlandish and daring musician with an alarming tendency to swing between the whimsical and the tragic. She has written hundreds of songs in various genres, including rock, folk, filk, and choral music, plays nine different instruments, and has a special love of historical and mythological subject matter. Her debut solo album, Thought Experiment, received high acclaim for its authenticity and bold emotional content. High on the success of Thought Experiment, Vanessa went on to release musical tributes to two Canadian subcultures: The Wine-Dark Sea for the pagan community, and Filk and Cookies for sci-fi/fantasy fandom. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, her 2017 album, Patience, represents a new level of sophistication and production quality. With two decades (and counting!) of songwriting experience, she savours every new challenge as a writer, and enjoys giving talks and seminars to help people crack the craft of songwriting. Website: http://www.vanessacardui.com/

James Alan Gardner
James Alan Gardner

James Alan Gardner got his B.Math and M.Math with a thesis on black holes, then immediately began writing science fiction instead. He has published ten novels and numerous short stories, including finalists for the Nebula and Hugo, and winners for the Aurora, the Asimov's Readers' Choice award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. His most recent novels are All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault and They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded, both from Tor. In his spare time, he plays a lot of table-top role-playing games, and has recently begun writing material for Onyx Path's Scion line. In his other spare time, he teaches Kung Fu to six-year-olds. Website: https://jamesalangardner.wordpress.com

Brian Hades
Brian Hades

As a boy, Brian Hades took to the family business with precocious fervor, even when it meant wearing a top hat with a rabbit hidden in it.
Yes, more than half-a-century ago, the grey-haired, pony-tailed 58-year-old publisher of science-fiction and fantasy novels began his working life as a magician. Not just any magician, mind you, but a magician from a family of magicians; a child prodigy who was entertaining Calgarians by the age of seven.
He made birds disappear, pulled rabbits from his hat. Then, at the peak of his powers, he gave it all up.
"I retired at the age of 14 after seven years of service," he says, "My father had this idea that I was going to be a star. At 14, I had other plans." Given his early experiences in the spotlight, it's perhaps surprising that Hades ended up in a career that finds him working a less showy form of magic behind the scenes as the head of EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Canada's largest genre book publisher.
"Publishing fits me to a T," says Hades. "I like being behind the scenes, the guy pulling the strings and getting things organized."
As head of EDGE, Hades is leading the Canadian campaign to add respectability to the often ghettoized genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. A quick glance of his releases this year--which include titles under Hades' three imprints: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Tesseract Books and Absolute XPress--shows that its international roster of authors tackles a wide variety of speculative fiction concerns.
Website: http://www.edgewebsite.com/

Sam Hiyate
Sam Hiyate

Sam worked at the literary magazines Blood & Aphorisms and The Quarterly in the 90s. He ran the edgy micropublisher, Gutter Press, from 1993 to 2002, as publisher. He launched the literary division of The Lavin Agency in 2003, where he built a list of clients and did his first deals.
Sam’s projects for the agency have been in various categories, including memoir, literary and commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction and graphic novels. He’s looking for works of all categories with distinct and compelling voices. He loved to discover and help new writers prepare their works for the market, and to help them build a career with their talent.
Sam is actively speaking about creative writing, publishing and agenting. his newest project is donttalktomeaboutlove.com, a LitSite with writing and art about love.
Website: http://therightsfactory.com/agents/sam-hiyate/

Mark Leslie Lefebvre
Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Mark Leslie Lefebvre's lifelong passion for writing and his love of reading led him to the book industry as a bookseller. His journey began in 1992, the same year he sold his first short story. Twenty-five years later, he has published books in print, ebook and audio formats and has worked in virtually every aspect of the book industry, and has been the Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations at Rakuten Kobo since 2011. A hybrid author, Mark self-published his first book One Hand Screaming, a collection of previously published short fiction, and he continues to firmly embrace both indie and traditional publishing. He has edited the anthologies Campus Chills, Tesseracts Sixteen and Fiction River: Editor's Choice and writes a series of non-fiction paranormal books for Dundurn Press that include Creepy Capital, Tomes of Terror and the August 2018 release (co-authored with Rhonda Parrish), Haunted Hospitals: Eerie Tales About Hospitals, Sanatoriums and other Institutions. Website: https://markleslie.ca/


Shirlee Smith Matheson
Shirlee Smith Matheson

Aviation adventures are featured in eight of Shirlee Smith Matheson’s 21 published books (14 nonfiction books for adult readers and seven young adult novels), as well as short stories and stage plays. She is an alumnus of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and has participated in (and instructed) writing courses and workshops at various schools and organizations. She is a member of The Writers Guild of Alberta, CANSCAIP and Young Alberta Book Society (YABS) as well as several aviation museums and organizations.
Awards include The 99’s Canadian Award in Aviation; Athabasca University Distinguished Alumni; Emerald Award finalist (environmental writing); and Alberta and BC nonfiction awards. Shirlee was employed for a number of years at The Hangar Flight Museum, and also completed a project as Historian for Calgary International Airport.
This Was Our Valley, the ongoing saga of hydro-electric dams on the Peace River, was published in 2019 by Frontenac House). Photo credit: John Chalmers. Website: http://www.ssmatheson.ca

Robert Runté
Robert Runté

Robert Runté, PhD, . Dr. Runté took early retirement as a professor to become a full-time editor so he could work with authors for longer than a semester. He has edited over 30 traditionally published SF&F novels and collections. His own short fiction has been published in Exile Literary Quarterly, Pulp Literature, On Spec Magazine, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, Strangers Among Us, Prairie Starport, Playground of Lost Toys, Polar Borealis, Alberta Unbound, The First Line, and other venues. He has won three Aurora Awards for his literary criticism and promotion of Canadian SF, and in 2017, one of his own stories was shortlisted for an Aurora. The late Dave Duncan called him "the best editor I've ever worked with", and willed Robert all his incomplete manuscripts to finish. The Traitor's Son is the first of these, due out from Five Rivers, August, 2021. Website: http://sfeditor.ca

Robert J Sawyer
Robert J Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer has won the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for Best Novel of the Year as well as a record-setting 17 Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (“Auroras”). Rob’s 24 novels include the #1 Locus bestsellers The Oppenheimer Alternative, Quantum Night, Triggers, and Calculating God, plus FlashForward, basis for the ABC TV series of the same name. He was one of the initial nine inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and is a member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. Website: https://sfwriter.ca/

Confirmed Presenters / Panelists

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R Graeme Cameron
R Graeme Cameron

R. Graeme Cameron lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia. In 2016 he began publishing and editing the online speculative fiction magazine Polar Borealis. In 2021 he added Polar Starlight, devoted to speculative poetry, edited by Rhea E. Rose. He has written reviews of Canadian speculative fiction for the online version of Amazing Stories Magazine since 2014. He has won five Aurora Awards and was inducted into the CSFFA Hall of Fame in 2019. His focus in his retirement years is to promote Canadian speculative fiction. His chief joy is publishing beginning writers for their first time. https://polarborealis.ca/

Tracy Cooper-Posey
Tracy Cooper-Posey

Tracy Cooper-Posey is a #1 best selling Amazon author. She writes romantic suspense, historical, paranormal and science fiction romance, plus space opera and urban fantasy under two other pen names. She has published over 120 novels since 1999, been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, won the inaugural Emma Darcy Award and a SFR Galaxy Award in 2016. She has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian Canadian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. https://tracycooperposey.com/

Laurie Cunningham
Laurie Cunningham

Editor-in-Chief and a writer at ASAP IMAGINATION, L. A. Cunningham released her debut book, Points of Villainy/Points of Virtue, with co-author, P. A. Hayden in November 2020.
In 2021, her second publication came out as a part of ASAP IMAGINATION’s first charity anthology, Perspectives, which included her short story, Just a Second.
In 2022, L. A. Cunningham released her debut comic book, Sister Grim, followed by Points of Villainy #1 and #2, and her dystopian zombie-esque parenting picture book Babies with Rabies: An ABC Survival Guide. Website: https://asapcomicsuk.com

Craig Dilouie
Craig Dilouie

Craig DiLouie is an author of speculative and thriller fiction based in Calgary. His most notable works include six horror novels published by Hachette and Simon & Schuster in addition to numerous small press and self-published novels. Website: http://www.CraigDilouie.com

Frank Hardt
Frank Hardt

Frank Hardt is a science fiction and horror author, former professional mixed martial artist, and sales professional. When he’s not writing novels he loves to enjoy the great outdoors near his home in British Coloumbia.

Faye Holt
Faye Holt

Faye Reineberg Holt has authored 13 adult nonfiction books as well as a mid grade book. All explore western Canada’s fascinating past. She has written articles, short stories and poetry for all ages and co-authored a travel book. Faye is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada, Writers Guild of Alberta, Young Alberta Book Society, Alexandra Writers’ Society and Canadian Authors Association, and she is a friend of CANSCAIP.
A Calgarian with experience as editor, writer-in-residence and manuscript reviewer, she gives feedback on manuscripts for individuals and thorough organizations. As well, she offers writing-related readings and workshops. Website: http://www.wordsandhistory.ca

Arlene Marks
Arlene Marks

Arlene F. Marks has been writing since the age of 6, and she has no plans to stop. A veteran teacher of the craft, she has authored two literacy programs for the classroom. Her short stories have appeared online and in print, notably in an anthology of reimagined fairy tales, Grimmer Tales Volume One. She is also the author of the Sic Transit Terra space opera series (from Edge Publishing) and Adventures in Godhood, her first of several recent releases from Brain Lag Publishing. Short story collection Imaginary Friends and paranormal mystery Weekends Can Be Murder came out last year to great reviews. Arlene lives with her husband on the shore of beautiful Nottawasaga Bay, where she dreams of one day having a tidy, well-organized office. Website: https://www.thewritersnest.ca

Andrew Snook
Andrew Snook

Andrew Snook is the owner/operator for Snookbooks Publishing, a content creation company based in Mississauga, Ont. He has more than a decade of experience as a business-to-business magazine editor. His articles have won him three B2B National Magazine Awards (2019, 2020 and 2022) and two Tabbies International Editorial & Design Awards (2020 and 2022).
Snook is also an accomplished independant fiction writer and has released three full-length novels: Remy's Dilemma (2015), Remy's Dilemma: Special Delivery (2019); and Dungeon Jest: The Ruby of Power (2022), as well as his first children's book, The Snookie-Cookie Crew and The Cranberry Cookie Cruncher (2022).
Remy's Dilemma: Special Delivery won the 2022 Comedy Book of Year at the Independent Press Awards, 2022 Distinguished Favourite at the NYC Big Book Awards and a Bronze Medal for Best Regional Fiction (Canada-West) at the 2021 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). His fantasy game book, Dungeon Jest: The Ruby of Power won the 2022 Specialty Book of the Year at the NYC Big Book Awards. Website: http://www.snookbooks.com