AWCS Schedule: 

Winter/Spring 2014

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A Novel Approach - Year-Long Course

A Novel Approach Application Fee

(Non-Refundable Application Fee)
Member Price: $25
Non-member Price: $25

A Novel Approach is now accepting applications for the 2014/15 year.

Application fee must be paid before applications will be considered.

Please see A Novel Approach under What We Offer for complete program details.

NEW THIS YEAR: All applicants will receive a manuscript review of their submitted pages whether accepted into the program or not.

Youth Programs

Reality Is Optional (RIO) Word Adventure Camp

Kim Firmston
August 25-29, 2014
Member Price: $120
Non-member Price: $145

Spend a week PLAYING with WORDS. Have ADVENTURES in the city. Make ART, get WET, and FILM commercials and movies. CREATE a camp the way YOU want it. Fun times guaranteed.

Ages: 9-14 years

About Kim Firmston

RIO Kids Writing Club

Instructor Training Course

Instructor Training Course

Ellen Kelly
September 13 & 14, 2014
9am to 4pm
Member Price: $150
Non-member Price: $210

Would you like to expand your current writer portfolio and begin teaching others the wonderful art of creative writing? AWCS offers writers the opportunity to grow and expand into the world of teaching. You will learn effective teaching techniques, how to deal with and inspire students and how to design and deliver an introductory level creative writing course.

This course includes the 2 day instructional session followed by an apprenticeship in an introduction to creative writing course with one of our current instructors where you will prepare and deliver at least one lesson under the supervision of the instructor.

Please note: The apprenticeship is required only to teach for AWCS and is not mandatory if you wish to teach elsewhere but is recommended.


*Must be a current AWCS member.

*Previous teaching experience is not necessary. Just bring your willingness to teach and inspire others.

*Must have at least 3 recognized publications: magazines, literary journals, books, online. (Any publication in which a jury has selected your piece.)

The non-member fee includes a one-year AWCS membership.



Feature Workshop - Story Is a State of Mind

Story Is a State of Mind

Sarah Selecky
April 26, 2014
Member Price: $130
Non-member Price: $160

Saturday, April 26, 2014 | 10am to 4pm | Inglewood Community Centre – 1740, 24th Ave SE, Calgary

Lunch will be provided.

As a thank you to the Writers Guild of Alberta for their sponsorship of this event, all WGA members receive the AWCS member rate.

Story Is a State of Mind teaches contemplative writing in a way that is practical, radical and transformative, and allows writers to develop the capacity for deep concentration. To write in this way means to quiet the mind in the midst of the distraction that fills everyday life. In this one-day workshop, participants will learn how to find this state of calm centeredness, and experience how it is an aid to exploration of story. The writing done in this workshop will be practical and generative, and it will help writers develop a compassionate approach to their writing practice. Writers should come prepared to experience moments of insight and a renewed commitment to their relationship to writing. 

About Sarah Selecky

Sarah Selecky is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States and grew up in Southern Indiana and Northern Ontario. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and her writing has appeared in the top Canadian magazines and quarterlies such as The Walrus, The New Quarterly, and The Journey Prize Anthology, among many others. This Cake Is for the Party is her first book, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. She is also the creator of the groundbreaking online writing program, Story Is a State of Mind. She divides her time between Toronto and the rest of the world. You can find Sarah at and on Twitter @sarahselecky.

Feature Presentation

An Evening with Anthony Bidulka

Anthony Bidulka
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Member Price: Free
Non-member Price: $5

Like A Unicorn: Tales of a Canadian Prairie Mystery Writer

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 7pm | Owl’s Nest Books, 815A – 49th Ave SW

Yes. It’s true. We exist. And sometimes even thrive.

This is a story of learning to write and writing to teach.

On Learning to Write: If being a writer has its challenges, being a Canadian prairie writer has more. In the fifteen years since I left a decade-long, hard-won, professional business career to write full time, I’ve come to understand that learning to write and learning how to be a writer goes beyond the technical. It’s about more than learning to create life-like characters out of thin air, dreaming up explosive plot lines, and developing thematic expertise.

On Writing to Teach: Being a mystery/thriller writer, I’ve always believed that what I did was to create work which, hopefully, entertains. But is there more? Can genre writing teach? Impact? Inspire?

About Anthony Bidulka

Following time well-spent and sometimes misspent in the worlds of academia, accounting, footwear, food services and farming, in 1999 Anthony Bidulka, BA, BEd, BComm, CA left a decade long career as a Chartered Accountant to pursue writing. He is now the author of two popular, Canadian-based series.

Bidulka’s Russell Quant mystery series has been nominated for Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards, Saskatchewan Book Awards, a ReLit award, and Lambda Literary Awards. Winning the Lambda Literary Award for Best Men’s Mystery, Bidulka became the first Canadian to win in that category.

Mystery Scene Magazine proclaimed: “Quant makes for a riveting hero…the kind of friend you want to have—unless you’re a killer.”

In 2012, Bidulka began a fast paced thriller series featuring Disaster Recovery Agent Adam Saint. The second book, The Women of Skawa Island, was released June 2014.

Midwest Book Review: Simply stated, ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ is total and undiluted entertainment from first page to last.”

Quill & Quire Magazine: “…genre veteran returns with strong new novel.”

Bidulka has toured extensively and spoken at conferences and literary events throughout Canada and the United States. A great believer in community involvement, he has sat on the boards of Persephone Theatre, The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild, AIDS Saskatoon, Crime Writers of Canada, the International Association of Crime Writers, and is co-founder of Camp fYrefly-Saskatchewan. Bidulka was inducted onto the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education Wall of Honour in 2011.  

Bidulka lives in Saskatoon and when he isn’t writing he loves to travel the world, collect art, walk his dogs and throw a good party.

The Adam Saint books:

When The Saints Go Marching In (2013)

The Women of Skawa Island (2014) 

The Russell Quant books:

Amuse Bouche (2003), Flight of Aquavit (2004), Tapas on the Ramblas (2005), Stain of the Berry (2006), Sundowner Ubuntu (2007), Aloha, Candy Hearts (2009), Date With a Sheesha (2010), Dos Equis (2012).

Please visit Anthony at, Facebook, Twitter (@abidulka), and YouTube.


Weekly Courses (8 Weeks)

Free Verse Revival (FULL Waitlist Only)

Laurie Fuhr
April 24, 2014 (8 weeks)
Member Price: $140
Non-member Price: $200

Calgary may be known for its experimental output, but free verse poetry still lives here! In this course for beginner and intermediate poets aged 17 to 71, we will live and breathe the spark of poetry. We will explore the continued (if masked) relevance of poetry, discuss a few of the most fun and interesting personality and style-driven poetry movements that have made history more colourful, and learn from one another, sharing our favourite poems and poets. We’ll use both individual and group generative activities to write poems weekly, in class and at home (or in your favourite cafe). We will be visited and read to by a couple of great local writers, and keeners will have the option of attending poetry readings or writing meetups outside of class, accompanied by or guided by the instructor. We’ll also explore publishing opportunities and create our own micropress chapbook. We will unabashedly love reading and writing poetry!

Each week will feature a different poetic focus and at least one generative writing activity.

Week 1: Poetry for Everyman, Everywhere
Week 2: Romance and Romantics
Week 3: The Beats go on… and on… and on…
Week 4: Leonard, Joni, Bob, and Neil: The Poetry of Song
Week 5: French Surrealism: An Exquisite Corpse
Week 6: Canadian Poetry: Wild Poets on the Loose!
Week 7: Local Poetry Overview with featured guests TBA
Week 8: Writing Practices and Publishing

Poetry readings during the course and chapbook launch after the course: TBD in class

Please note: Non-member rate includes a one-year membership.

Introduction to Creative Writing (6 Seats Available)

Madelaine Wong
April 23, 2014
Member Price: $140
Non-member Price: $200

In this eight week course, you will learn about the free fall method of writing and how it can be a useful tool for all writing. Then, using short story as a model, you will be introduced to the basics of character, plot, dialogue and setting through discussion, free fall writing, practical writing exercises and mutual feedback.

Note: Non-member rate includes a one-year AWCS membership.

Madelaine Wong Website

First Person Fiction Writing (6 Seats Available)

Rona Altrows
April 22, 2014
Member Price: $140
Non-member Price: $200

The principal objectives of this course are to give you, the writer, the  opportunity to write; to allow you to take yourself  into the mind and body of another person, a fictional person who will emerge naturally from your own creative core; and to let you write that fictional person’s reality.

You will be making extensive use of the freefall writing method for releasing subconscious thought. You will also learn from the Stanislavski System (the theory behind method acting) and from the instructor’s experience as a writer and former actor. You will enter your fictional person and become as one with her or him, without denying your own existence. In giving yourself to the process of merging with your fictional person, you will hear that person’s voice and that person will speak authentically and every part of that person’s self will come through in your writing.

The writing exercises themselves are practical. There will be lots of time to work on them and to discuss, and have a few laughs along the way. This course celebrates process, not product. It is about creativity, not technique. Imagination, invention and recollection will all have roles to play.

Please note: Non-member rate includes a one year membership.

 Rona Altrows Website

Weekly Courses (10 Weeks)

Creative Nonfiction (2 Seats Available)

Ellen Kelly
April 24, 2014
Member Price: $160
Non-member Price: $220

This ten week course gives participants the opportunity to develop their own true stories creatively. Characterization, scene, narration, theme, voice, truth, story/plot development and publication/markets will be discussed as they apply to CNF. Specific interests of class participants will be addressed and students will be expected to write, both briefly in class and more extensively at home. Sharing is encouraged.

 Please note: Non-member rate includes a one-year AWCS Membership


Naomi Lewis
7-9:45 pm
May 7, 2014 (9 weeks)
Member Price: $160
Non-member Price: $220

Are you working on a novel-length manuscript or have an idea for one? Learn the steps involved in writing a novel, such as choosing point of view, setting up a structure, planning out the plot and characterization. Learn and discuss the foundations involved in writing quality novel-length fiction. Students will submit portions of their novel and receive critical feedback from the instructor and other students.

This course is a pre-requisite for A Novel Approach, the year-long novel course.

*Non-member rate includes a one year membership.

About Naomi Lewis:

Please note: This session will run for 9 weeks from 7pm to 9:45pm.

Weekend Writing Intensives

Breathing Poetry Into Life (3 Seats Available)

Sheri-D Wilson
May 3 & 4, 2014
Member Price: $140
Non-member Price: $200

Focus on the possibilities of individual memory, story, dream, rhythm and voice. Poetry is everywhere when our eyes become ears and our ears become eyes. This workshop is about release, personal revolution and revelation. We will also focus on the presentation of your words, which will give you the opportunity to traverse the full meaning and breath to your unique voice.

Sheri-D Wilson

Showing vs. Telling (4 Seats Available)

Susan Forest
Saturday & Sunday
May 24 & 25, 2014
Member Price: $140
Non-member Price: $200

The first “rule” of fiction writing all authors learn is to “show” story events scenically through action, as opposed to “telling” the story. But how is that accomplished? What are the craft techniques that lead to page-turning stories that immerse the reader so he forgets the book in his hands, and lives the story in imagination? And…when is “telling” the tool of choice? This two-day intensive workshop will explore techniques such as time dilation, for interweaving dialogue, internal monologue, description, action and emotion into well-structured, purposeful scenes.   

Note: Non member rate includes a one year AWCS membership.

Writer in Residence Events

The Long Haul – Write In

Ashley Little
June 7, 2014
Member Price: Free
Non-member Price: $25

How much could you accomplish if you had 12-hours of writing time? Join Ashley on June 7, 2014 for an opportunity to do just that. From 11am to 11pm you will have the chance to write and write in a unique venue. Every hour, receive short 5 minutes pep talks, ask questions, carry on.

Think 12 hours is too much? That’s ok. Come for a few hours or stay all day. It’s up to you.

Venue: Loft 112 (112, 535, 8th Ave SE)

Nourishment will be provided throughout the day.

Registration required as there is limited space available.

Novel Writing Made Easy (FULL – Waitlist Only)

Ashley Little
May 31, 2014
Member Price: Free
Non-member Price: $60

Bring the idea for the novel you’ve been carrying around with you and come prepared to leave with a concise synopsis, a six page outline, character charts, and a detailed plot line; the blueprint you need to write your novel efficiently and effectively.

This workshop is not limited to novelists. If you’re writing a memoir or other book length manuscript, this workshop will be a great starting off point.

Note: Non-member rate includes a one year AWCS membership.

Unless otherwise noted, all events are at the 
Alexandra Writers’ Centre, 922 Ninth Avenue SE.

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