Last Saturday, the Calgary Association of the RWA (CARWA) held its annual Spring Craft Workshop. Our featured speaker was James Scott Bell. More than fifty writers attended from Calgary and beyond.
Jim is the author of thrillers such as: Final Witness, Don’t Leave Me, and One More Lie. Writing as K. Bennett, he is the author of the Zombie Legal Thrillers: Pay Me in Flesh, Eating Dangerously, and I Ate the Sheriff.
He has also written several books on the craft of writing including Plot & Structure, Conflict & Suspense, The Art of War for Writers, and his latest, Write Your Novel From the Middle.
On the Friday evening before the workshop, the Board took Mr. Bell up the Calgary Tower to the “Sky 360” revolving restaurant. Since I am CARWA’s Membership Chair, the Board invited me to dinner as well. (Yay!)
The sun does not set until about 9:30 and the evening was clear, so we had an excellent view of the city and the Rocky Mountains. Here are some of the board members on the observation deck of the Calgary Tower.
And here is the whole board with JSB in the “Sky 360” restaurant.
Back: James Scott Bell, Alyssa Linn Palmer, Roxy Boroughs, Shelley Kassian
Front: Moira Stelmack, A.M. Westerling, Brenda Sinclair
Jim is from Los Angeles and has lived there all his life. He was interested in trying something Canadian, so he ordered the elk. I mean, how often do you get to eat elk? He also asked the waitress to suggest a wine that was “conversational without being verbose” and she brought this. A Canadian wine from the South Okanagan, near Oliver, British Columbia. Apparently, it pairs well with the elk!
On Saturday, Jim presented his workshop called WRITING THE KNOCKOUT NOVEL. Some of the topics he covered were:
- What Plot is really all about
- Creating characters that “jump off the page”
- The fastest way to improve your manuscript
- The essentials of great dialogue
And he gave us the best interpretation of Casablanca I have ever heard. He also talked about his new craft book, Write Your Novel From the Middle. Click on the image at the beginning of this post and it will take you to Amazon where you can make the best “under $3 craft book” purchase of your life. Seriously.
After the workshop, we debriefed at the Toad ‘n’ Turtle. Jim chose the Big Rock Grasshopper Ale.
And, ever adventurous, he also tried that Canadian delicacy, poutine. Poutine is originally from Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy and cheese curds. He asked if it came with a cardiologist.
James Scott Bell with Suzanne Stengl
You can find Jim on his website and, on Sundays, at The Kill Zone—where he blogs about writing and writing related topics.
Have you been to a James Scott Bell workshop? Have you read one of his craft books? What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from JSB?
Great post, Suzanne. You nailed it for the essence of the workshop and the photos illustrate it beautifully. Not being a fan of poutine I have to say it looks just as bad as I think it tastes!.
I’ve never actually had it . . . since I try to avoid anything requiring a cardiologist. 🙂
I heard you had an extra ticket and was about to contact you when I found out I actually had to work Saturday. 🙁 I know I missed a wonderful event! So good to see some familiar faces in your lovely photos. Carwa always has excellent events. Miss you guys.
Write on! 🙂
And we miss you! You write the funniest stuff I’ve ever read.
Elk? Yum. Poutine? Um, in this girl’s humble opinion, gravy and cheese do not belong on fries, but kudos to JSB for giving the dish a go.
I read Self Publishing Attack a year or so ago, too long ago to remember specific advice, but since I went on to self publish 10 of my shorts, I’m sure I benefitted from the read. A workshop with JSB has long been on my writing life wish list. Thanks for the post, Suzanne.
And now I’m reminded how long it’s been since I paid Calgary a visit.
SELF PUBLISHING ATTACK is on my TBR list, as are all of his books. I’ve just downloaded the new one WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE and I’m absorbing that one.
Sort of thinking I should at least try the Poutine. Who knows what I could be missing?
Sounds like a fun and productive weekend. It’s always fab to met icons of the industry. I keep intending to read one of his books, but can’t decide which one. Probably plot and structure… but the new one sounds fascinating. There never seems to be time enough to read all the craft books I should.
Try WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE. I had a major AH HA yesterday while reading it. One of those head smacking moments of clarity.
Great photos, Suzanne. A few months ago, I purchased James’ book and loved it. I would have enjoyed listening to him discuss the mirror concept and am so sorry I had to miss the workshop.
Missed you Sheila!
I’m still reading MIDDLE and in this book he discusses the Magical Midpoint Moment aka Mirror Moment.