Industry Panels 

Writing and Publishing

Panel Listings

DayStart TimeEnd TimeRoomTitleDescriptionPanelist(s)
Friday7:00 PM8:00 PMAuroraPagans, Heathens and Polytheists, Oh My!Non-monotheist religions have been around since before humans began to write 5600 years ago. In the Western world, within literature and media, more and more there is a move to incorporate these myths, deities and practices, as well as invent others. What makes these belief structures so appealing to write about or even discover as a spiritual path? How to ensure that your writing rings true to these ancient, and often misrepresented faiths? Moira Scott (m), Evan Dales, Sarah WaterRaven, Kathy Hird, Derwin Mak
Friday7:00 PM8:00 PMMarkham AKeeping a Canadian identity in an American worldHow to keep your Canadian identity as a writer in an American market. Should you let some things go and fight for others?Stephanie Bardy (m), MJ Moores, Robert J. Sawyer, Tanya Huff, Amanda Sun, Douglas Smith
Friday8:00 PM9:00 PMMarkham AHow to Edit like a ProDiscussion of all of the tips and tricks of editing your manuscript so that your final professional editor has a clean and clear manuscript to work from. Discuss the savings of time, frustration and , of course, money.J.M. Tibbott (m), Julie Czerneda, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Sienna Tristen, MJ Moores, Douglas Smith
Friday9:00 PM10:00 PMMarkham ASeriously, I Want to be Taken SeriouslyThere is humourous science fiction and there is serious science fiction. But what if you don't want to write either Hitchiker's Guide to the Universe or 1984, but something in between? How do you add humour and comic relief to a basically serious novel? How do you make them laugh while still being taken seriously? Should you even try to blend humour with a serious subject?Jane Ann McLachlan (m), James Alan Gardner, Arlene F. Marks, Jen Frankel
Saturday10:00 AM11:00 AMAuroraApps for AuthorsTapas, Radish, Wattpad; publishing is changing again! The average Canadian spends two hours a day on their phone or tablet. Get up to speed on the latest publishing apps for writers and readers. Sarah WaterRaven
Saturday10:00 AM11:00 AMMarkham APublishing 101Are you ready to take your manuscript to the next level? Wondering what path is right for you? Do you know your path but navigating it feels like the rapids before going head-long over a waterfall? Join us as we walk you through traditional publishing, self-publishing, and being a hybrid author. Come with your questions and finally get some answers.MJ Moores (m), Vanessa Ricci-Thode, A. A. Jankiewicz, Maaja Wentz, Beverly Bambury, Donald Montgomery
Saturday11:00 AM12:00 PMVaughan WestResearch before you WriteDiscussion of the value of research and where to go to find almost anything you need.Arlene F. Marks (m), Tanya Huff, Elizabeth Hirst, Beverly Bambury, Janet Kellough, Tony Pi
Saturday11:00 AM12:00 PMMarkham AAppealing to an Aging ReadershipScience fiction used to be the fiction of young, inquiring, future-minded readers. But now more and more those younger readers interested in speculative fiction are slipping away to fantasy and paranormal fiction. Looking out an a con, we see more and more 'mature' faces. How can we write to this loyal audience? What ideas, themes, plots and characters appeal to them?Jane Ann McLachlan (m). Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Donald Montgomery
Saturday12:00 PM1:00 PMVaughan WestWorldbuilding 201All fiction is speculative. Panelists will discuss the process and fundamentals of realistic world-building, including how and when to combine imagined with real setting details for best effect.Arlene F. Marks, Ed Greenwood, A.A. Jankiewicz, Luke Maynard, J.M. Tibbott
Saturday12:00 PM1:00 PMOakridgesWriting fight scenesThere's nothing more exciting to read than a well-executed fight scene, but nothing more mood-killing tha a badly written one. How do you write a good one? Where do you start, and stop? How do you make it both more interesting and believable? We'll break down the elements of a good fight scene in this panel and share examples of great ones. Catherine Fitzsimmons (m), Herb Kauderer, Jen Frankel, Mike Rimar, Ian Keeling
Saturday1:00 PM2:00 PMVaughan WestGet an editor!It can be hard to accept an editor's comments. Why do authors need those outside eyes? Why do authors find it hard to follow editors' suggestions. Panelists will talk about their strategies for interpreting the comments of editors.Cathy Hird (m), James Alan Gardner, Kit Daven, Mike Rimar, Elizabeth Hirst, Amanda Sun
Saturday1:00 PM2:00 PMOakridgesSpeculative Gender: How Heteronormativity is Holding Back Your FictionWhen creating a story, writers often dive into worldbuilding through language, religion, fashion, etc. but fail to explore an exciting opportunity—gender systems! What if sex and gender weren’t societally correlated? What if being trans wasn’t automatically stigmatized? What if your human civilization (not just your aliens!) had nonbinary gender roles? On this panel, we will explore the benefits of expanding your worldbuilding beyond binary notions of gender, and how doing so can elevate your spec fic.Sienna Tristen (m), Avi Silver, Derwin Mak, Jen Frankel
Saturday1:00 PM2:00 PMMarkham AThe Word PanelWords. They can portray a panoply of emotions. They can engage our imaginations. They can express complex ideas. They are what we use to communicate with each other, and they have power. The panel will explore how writers use words, choose words and, sometimes, abuse words. It is sure to be a panel not to be missed, snubbed, passed over, overlooked, unseen, or disregarded.David Clink (m). Ira Nayman, Robert J. Sawyer, Tanya Huff
Saturday2:00 PM3:00 PMVaughan WestIndie Author Marketing 101Congratulations, you've published a book! Now, it's time to put on your "boss" hat and tell the "art director" to scram. Gain some insight on how small press and self-published authors are able to help bolster their income with tips and tricks of the trade.MJ Moores (m) , Sarah WaterRaven, Avi Silver, Beverly Bambury, Kit Daven, J.M. Tibbott, MJ Moores (m) , Sarah WaterRaven, Avi Silver, Beverly Bambury, Kit Daven, Marilyn Klieber, Rebecca Diem
Saturday2:00 PM3:00 PMAuroraHow to Write a Series Without Losing Your Way (or your mind)Publishers love it when authors propose a series of books. But there's more to it than just writing one novel after another. This is a discussion about the nuts and bolts, the pitfalls and the rewards of diving into series fiction, provided by those who have been there (or still are).Arlene F. Marks (m), Julie Czerneda, Tanya Huff, Janet Kellough, A. A. Jankiewicz
Saturday2:00 PM3:00 PMOakridgesHe don't know talkin' good like usNot every character speaks like an Oxford scholar, and accents and other quirks of dialogue help bring a character to life. But is it y'all or ya'll? How do you write a Scottish brogue that doesn't need translation? Even when you're breaking the grammar rules, there are conventions to follow. Learn to write dialogue that sounds natural and is also clear to read.Catherine Fitzsimmons (m), Cameron S. Currie, James Alan Gardner, Elizabeth Hirst, Tony Pi
Saturday2:00 PM3:00 PMMarkham ATheme: How to Keep Your Readers Thinking About Your Story After They've Read It.A story with universal themes resonates with readers long after they've finished reading the last page. Those are the stories readers talk about, recommend to their friends, and which make them look up the next book by that author. In this workshop you will learn how to identify the natural themes in your story idea and how to develop those themes throughout your story using plot, echo, figures of speech and imagery.Jane Ann McLachlan
Saturday3:00 PM4:00 PMMarkham AWhat You Need to Know Before You Start WritingA story idea has a natural energy to it. It calls to you, it energizes you, until you have to write it. But too often, in the writing, that energy and enthusiasm fades. How do you keep that energy alive, powering your writing?
In this workshop you will learn how to spend more time exploring your idea before you begin to write. Specifically, you will learn the five things you need to know about your story before you start writing, and how to apply each of them to your story.
Jane Ann McLachlan
Saturday4:00 PM5:00 PMMarkham BMi Setting, Su SettingOne author setting a story in another author's established universe is not a new idea. Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis Adalbert Kline were doing it at the turn of the twentieth century. Their incursions into each other's space were the farthest thing from fan fiction; nowadays, things are a lot friendlier. Authors with experience at writing in shared settings will discuss the ins and outs of this unique kind of collaboration, as well as its pitfalls and etiquette.Ed Greenwood (m). Avi Silver, Sienna Tristen, J.M. Tibbott, Arlene F. Marks
Saturday4:00 PM5:00 PM Markham AThe Business of being a WriterSo you are starting out as a writer. Can you deduct those expenses from your taxes? Do you have to register a business name? What about getting paid from another country? How do I.... ? Should I... ? Can I.... ? Our panelists are here to help answer your questions!Larry Hancock (m), Robert J. Sawyer, Janet Kellough, Beverly Bambury
Saturday5:00 PM6:00 PMOakridgesFilm/Youtube and More!Thinking about making a short film, a web series, feature or documentary? Want to learn how to grow your YouTube channel? Need some advice on where to start, how to finish and everything in between? This panel is designed for filmmakers of all levels that want to learn anything and everything about the process of indie and professional narrative film making.Thomas Gofton
Saturday5:00 PM6:00 PMMarkham BTroubleshooting Your ManuscriptYou only get one chance to make a good first impression. Before submitting that manuscript to a prospective agent or editor, make sure it's the best that it can be, using these revision, editing and proofreading tips from a panel of authors and editors.Arlene F. Marks (m), Herb Kauderer, Vanessa Ricci-Thode
Saturday6:00 PM7:00 PMOakridgesHow to publish a beautiful novel with a limited budgetSelf-publishing has more credibility and more advantages than ever. But we've all seen disasters with hideous covers and terrible formatting. How do you create a professional-looking book when you don't have the budget to hire a design team? Learn tips and tricks to make a book that looks just as good on the shelf as a book by a major imprint.Catherine Fitzsimmons (m), Cameron S. Currie, MJ Moores, Maaja Wentz, Beverly Bambury
Saturday6:00 PM7:00 PMMarkham BThe Art of WorldbuildingDo you like to create? Creating fictional properties can seem like an overwhelming task. Do you begin from the small village or city and work your way out, or do you think of the grand schemes of the universe that govern your world and work your way all the way down to the very house your characters will start in? Learn a few tips on making your worlds make sense.Thomas Gofton (m). Karl Schroeder, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, A.A. Jankiewicz, Sarah WaterRaven, Amanda Sun
Saturday7:00 PM8:00 PMOakridgesHow villainous is the villain: pencil-thin moustaches and black hatsWhat is the difference between a cartoonish villain and one who is a real challenge for the hero, a real threat to the world, and a real treat to read?Cameron S. Currie (m) Jen Frankel, James Alan Gardner, Ika Mudzar, Matt Moore
Saturday7:00 PM8:00 PMMarkham BWriting About the Middle AgesOne common thread across the range of speculative fiction is the use of medieval, or medieval-like, settings. From fantasy to paranormal to historical fantasy and historical realism to time-travel science fiction, authors of speculative fiction have been drawn to write about or place their stories in this time period. What about the Middle (or Dark) Ages appeals to writers of all types of speculative fiction? How can we "get it right" - or is getting it right even necessary?Jane Ann McLachlan (m), Cathy Hird, Herb Kauderer, Luke Maynard
Saturday8:00 PM9:00 PMMarkham BWriting Animals in Speculative FictionEverybody focuses on the human characters in a story, but animal characters can add an extra layer to the narrative. Animal characters can add humour, heart and much-needed tension to a story, and help tap into new potential audiences. Join our panel of authors as they discuss their treatment of animals in their stories, and their approach to writing them well. Elizabeth Hirst (m), Avi Silver, Catherine Fitzsimmons
Saturday9:00 PM10:00 PMAuroraWho gets to go?With space tourism on the horizon for the richest, who do writers imagine will be the first colonists? Some writers imagine new colonies as a way to deal with overpopulation on Earth. Some imagine countries on Earth sending their people into the stars. How do writers answer this question? What do we think may actually happen? Cathy Hird (m), Herb Kauderer
Sunday10:00 AM11:00 AMAuroraHow to Give Your Story LegsStories travel on two legs, just as we do. In this workshop, led by a veteran writing instructor, participants will learn how to coordinate conflict and suspense to create the texture and dramatic tension that editors are looking for.Arlene F. Marks
Sunday10:00 AM11:00 AMOakridgesHow to Solve Writers' BlockDiscussion by panel on times they have been stymied by writers block, how long it lasted, what they did to ease it, and what they plan on doing in the future to avoid it.MJ Moores (m). Amanda Sun, Douglas Smith, Karina Sumner-Smith, Maaja Wentz,
Sunday11:00 AM12:00 PMAuroraMaintaining Tension & Suspense through Moral DilemmaMoral dilemmas engage readers. Understanding what makes for a gripping ethical dilemma and the different approaches to resolving them can add depth and complexity to your characters and your story. In this presentation you will learn what an ethical dilemma is, how to create one that is complex and difficult to resolve, diverse approaches to resolving a dilemma and how to show your character's attempt to find the most ethical solution to his/her dilemma, one that will ring true for your readers.

Jane Ann McLachlan
Sunday11:00 AM12:00 PMOakridgesCrowdfunding StrategiesSo you want to fund your film, book, game or invention? Come to this panel and hear the tricks, tips, downfalls and reality of making your next level maneuver in crowdfunding. Learn about the different platforms, styles and methods to help you gain maximum success.Thomas Gofton (m), Caro Soles
Sunday12:00 PM1:00 PMAuroraCreating Extraordinary CreaturesDiscussion of the tips for designing creatures, finding names, modeling after our own fauna, using imagination, and finalizing creating a mystery around them.Ed Greenwood (m), Julie Czerneda, James Alan Gardner, Costi Gurgu, Catherine Fitzsimmons, Sarah WaterRaven
Sunday12:00 PM1:00 PMOakridgesEye of the Tiger, Hide of the RhinoA sharing of strategies for dealing with rejection in all its forms, including bad reviews, form letter "no, thanks" from publishers, and unsupportive friends and family members.Arlene F. Marks (m), Jane Ann McLachlan, MJ.M. Tibbott, Kit Daven, Douglas Smith, Karina Sumner-Smith
Sunday1:00 PM2:00 PMAuroraHow to write a synopsisFor most writers the synopsis is harder than writing the book. How does one conquer the monster and get the step closer to publication or agent representation?Mike Rimar (m) Robert J. Sawyer, Karina Sumner-Smith, Matt Moore
Sunday2:00 PM3:00 PMOakridgesDocumenting AliensReaders and viewers want to see fully-fleshed, believable alien characters in their speculative fiction, including in main roles. But protagonists have to be relatable. How can you create a realistic, sympathetic alien protagonist who won't come across as a human in a costume? Attend this panel discussion and find out. Arlene F. Marks (m), Jane Ann McLachlan, Costi Gurgu, JD DeLuzio, Catherine Fitzsimmons, Donald Montgomery
Sunday3:00 PM4:00 PMAuroraI Hate Common: Exploring Language in Spec FicTired of monolingual fantasy empires? Want to show off the diversity of your multi-species space colony? This panel will discuss the ways language and linguistics can be used to enrich worldbuilding and create interesting conflict in everything from novels to TTRPG campaigns. We'll spend time both on language as a plot device and on tips for creating your own fictional languages!Sienna Tristen (m). Cameron S. Currie, Amanda Sun, Luke Maynard
Sunday3:00 PM4:00 PMMarkham BThe Horrific TouchThe horror genre has changed a lot in the last hundred years, leaving us with the works of some great masters such as Poe, Hitchcock, King, Koontz, Rice, etc. But what makes effective horror? What are the tropes that need to fall away to the past, and what new ideas need to come into the dark light? Karen Dales (m). Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Matt Moore, Jen Frankel
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