Tag Archives: lifelong learning

When Words Collided in Calgary

Congratulations on a successful convention for everyone involved in When Words Collide. What did I learn? I am an experienced writer, but still, I learned far too much to cover today.  However, some of it will be subjects for blogs of the future. Many thanks to presenters and volunteers.

One very important detail that I learned from casual conversations was  that anyone interested in the conference must register early. In fact, some of us registered at this year’s conference for next year! I haven’t done proper fact-checking but I understand that, despite about 600 attendees, another hundred were on the waiting list . Obviously, my earlier blog was far to late to give you a chance of getting in the door! So, watch the When Words Collide website http://www.whenwordscollide.org for when registrations are open to the public for the 2016 conference.

Calgary: A Week Celebrating Our History

Historic Calgary Week is on the horizon, and 2015 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of event. So, what a great year to participate in the vast array of scheduled programs!

As a nonfiction author, I need knowledge or “content” for my writing. Western Canadian history is an important to my work, but also, that history has also been an inspiration to me. Yes, nonfiction writers are certainly content providers. However, ideally, the content we choose will not only be interesting to our readers, it will fascinate us as writers and support our future goals.

See the Famous Five statues downtown or attend the Walk and Talk regarding these amazing women at Heritage Park on July 28.

See the Famous Five statues downtown or attend the Walk & Talk for these amazing women at Heritage Park, July 28.

For me, filling my head with our history is a way of providing options and opportunities for me in the future. Sometimes writers work within the context of their own time and place; sometimes they need a sense of the past or other geographical locations. Yet, for writers who set at least some of their works in western Canada during the early days, attending events during Historic Calgary Week is a great way to discover or rediscover the way things were.

From July 23 to August 3, writers, history buffs, visitors and locals will be treated to a glimpse of  the “insider” stories from days gone by. Topics are so varied, I can’t begin to list them all. However, whether you are interested in effects of the ice age or prefer tea and a talk at the Palliser Hotel, the options are extensive. Tour our cemeteries and gardens. Check out Bricks, Business and Bowness or Salute to the Stones of Signal Hill. With all that alliteration, clearly, writers are being welcomed. In fact, if you are interested in our lesser-known stories of murder and misdemeanours, spend your Friday evening enjoying that tour. It, too, might just inspire the writer within. However, for this and some other events, you will need to pre-register.

For more information, go to http://www.chinookcountry.org and check out The Week At A Glance for an overall schedule. More information can be found in the online or printed “pamphlet” of detailed descriptions. Events are scheduled throughout the city, and a few are hosted in surrounding communities.

WISP & YABS: Who’s Who?

Whether you are an interested teacher or a writer, knowing the similarities and differences in the WISP and YABS author touring programs will help you decide which is right for you.  The Alberta Branch of the Canadian Authors Association (www.albertaauthors.ab.caoffers tours through its Writers in Schools Program (WISP). Young Alberta Book Society (www.yabs.ab.ca) has a number of touring programs, the best known being Taleblazers.

Both organizations assist teachers to host writers in their schools. Also, both programs provide a backup “team” with the experience to help writers and instructors plan for success. As a bonus, their websites provide teachers and other arts co-ordinators with information about Alberta writers, their published work, public experience and types of presentations. For everyone, such support is invaluable.

These organizations are committed to the concept that students benefit from meeting real “live” Alberta writers. Young people discover the impressive array of work by those authors and have an opportunity to ask questions and learn from their guests.  English and language arts classes are enriched, and everyone wins.

Information about programs and participating writers is available on YABS and WISP webpages. YABS has its own website, and most information remains accessible throughout the year. WISP is featured on program pages for the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Authors Association (CAA).  That content is online only during the booking period. It is posted about the first of October. Tours are completed by the end of May, and WISP goes offline until the following October. However, interested authors must register long before the information goes online for schools. So teachers and writers will benefit from printing some of the information while it is online and filing it. That way,  potential  hosts and guests have time to plan. As well, they benefit from a  head start when registration and booking begin for the following year.

The motto of the Canadian Authors Association is “Writers Helping Writers,” so it is not surprising that part of the intent of its program is to assist writers in gaining experience in the school setting. To participate, writers must be members of the Alberta Branch of CAA, and they must have at least one short story, poem, article or book published by an independent publisher (rather than self- published).

The Young Alberta Book Society’s website, with its extensive information on members, is a great place to search out Alberta authors. The primary objective of the society is to “foster literacy and a love of reading among young people in Alberta.”

As well as authors, YABS welcomes other writing-related artists including illustrators, playwrights and storytellers. All must be residents of Alberta. Also, in order to tour with YABS, they must meet very stringent requirements, which are set out in the Taleblazers Presenter Eligibility form. Even a cursory glance at the form will convince everyone of how professional these wordsmiths and other artists must be participate in YABS programs. 

The organization’s best known touring program is Taleblazers in October. For this arts festival, YABS facilitates school visits throughout the province. However, the society organizes other events and programs, too.  

Writers and book-related artists, join the movement to inspire our youth. Teachers, here’s your chance. Alberta artists are at your call!

Beyond Computers and Technology

It’s time to stop stressing about technology and move on to other topics, but before I do, I’ll share one last complication. I discovered that my Outbox disappeared in Outlook 2010. My online search suggested that others have had the same problem, and I have to say that it is truly amazing that, whatever your problem, someone out there has gone through the same thing. Like others, I know these are first world problems, but it is always good to know we are not alone with them. Learning and relearning technology may be good for the brain, but many of us want to use the technology for a specific purpose, so it feels like wasted time. However, after my blog about being obsessed about losing my digital files, I received an email from someone who suggested that she had tried to leave a message on my blog, and after four tries she gave up and simply emailed. It was very kind of her to let me know about the problem of leaving messages and also offer suggestions regarding the safekeeping of files.

In doing so, she has motivated me to have a look at my blog setup. For some time, I have known I should look at all my settings and make changes. So, maybe in a couple of weeks you will be able to reply, but I make no guarantees. Also, I’ll reconsider other areas of the blog that need attention, so watch for changes. However, consider this my last blog on technology, at least for a few months. As a further note, I should tell friends that if you have asked me to be your friend or become LinkedIn, I am not yet on MySpace, Facebook, not tweeting, not part of any social networks, online communities, list serves or discussion groups.  Yes, on occasion, Youtube has provided me with a laugh, but for now, my choosing to be a laggard is about setting priorities and sticking to them.

However, like the turtle in The Hare and the Tortoise, I suspect that one day I’ll become a techno wizard, happy to join new and old friends wherever they spend their time. In the meantime, over two months, I’ll write about writing, this time for the countless English and language arts teachers who have a passion for words and work hard to develop the same love of writing and reading in our young people.