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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.
James Scott Bell in Calgary Alberta at the Calgary Tower

And here is the whole board with JSB in the “Sky 360” restaurant.

James Scott Bell with the board of the Calgary Association of the RWABack: 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. Sandhill Gamay NoirA 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.

Big Rock Grasshopper Ale

And, ever adventurous, he also tried that Canadian delicacy, poutine. PoutinePoutine is originally from Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy and cheese curds. James Scott Bell and Poutine, in Calgary AlbertaHe asked if it came with a cardiologist.

James Scott Bell with Suzanne Stengl, in Calgary Alberta

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?