Call me eclectic
I (she/her) am an author, freelance writer/editor, and writing instructor/coach who lives and works mostly from Roberts Creek (xwésám, shíshálh for ‘fat fish’) on the unceded, traditional territory of the shíshálh Nation on what is known today as the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia.
I am the author of five books, including a memoir to be published in 2023 by Guernica Editions of Ontario, Canada. I’ve written for more than 50 publications (e.g. The Globe and Mail, The Greater Vancouver Book, The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight) and have co-authored Vancouver’s Glory Years, published by Whitecap Books in Vancouver. (For more details on my writing experience and to view published samples, see Writing.)
Gracie’s Got a Secret is my first children’s book, a fantasy picture book, published by MW Books. Here’s Gracie, by illustrator Lillian Lai:
For details on my latest picture book, Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch, also illustrated by Lillian Lai (Peppermint Toast Publishing, 2019), see the Books section of my website.
Teaching: the art of inspiration
I love to inspire others to write in many genres and to encourage them to explore themselves more deeply through writing. I teach an online creative nonfiction writing course at University of King’s College in Halifax, BC. I have taught travel writing in Continuing Education at Capilano University in Sechelt and other writing courses at private venues. For more than a decade, I have taught screenwriting and writing short documentaries at Powell River Digital Film School. Over five years, I taught creative writing to adults with mental illness through Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, also in Sechelt. Teaching gives me great satisfaction; there is always more to learn from my students.
I have taught professional writing full-time at Selkirk College in Castlegar, BC and Introduction to Journalism at the Kootenay School of Writing in Vancouver. A favorite focus is inspiring students to use writing as a tool in personal transformation. I have offered the latter type of courses through the Vancouver School Board, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre, and in private workshops. The works of Natalie Goldberg (Wild Mind) and Deena Metzger (Writing for Your Life) have provided much rich material for my curriculum. (See Teaching for more details.)
Click here for more information about my SoulCollage workshops.
Writing coaching: Want individual attention?
Besides group classes, I enjoy coaching writers one-on-one, whether they’re beginner or intermediate. I help people initiate, shape and complete story ideas, book projects, personal essays, fiction, screenplays . . . any written venture that requires encouragement and clear direction. (See Coaching for more details.)
TV & film: Write less, show more
As a screenwriter, I have written, produced, and directed a 20-minute documentary A New Way: An Organic Garden Changes Lives, to be released in 2013. I’ve also co-written two Bravo! TV short films, and created segments for Hopscotch, a brief television show aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Vancouver. An avid film viewer, I have taught at Pull Focus Film School in Vancouver and Powell River Digital Film School. I have done consultation work with producers and filmmakers regarding story structure, treatments, etc. A huge fan of documentaries, I blog weekly on many subjects, including film and TV.
Editing expertise: what an eye for detail
As an editor, I work with both individuals and organizations. I have edited web content, books, newsletters, magazines, student writing, and corporate materials. Some recent clients include Sustainability Television and Pacific Wild. Having recently served as guest editor of The Local newspaper, I also spent almost five years as editor-in-chief for PeopleTalk magazine, the province-wide publication of the B.C. Human Resources Management Association. (See Editing for more info.)
Quick & compelling: Consulting in the corporate world
In the corporate realm, I’ve been communications manager for BC Transit and editorial director for Century Communications Corporation in Vancouver. I’ve conceived, written, edited, and served as project manager for many publications from brochures and annual reports to employee booklets. (See Corporate for more details.) I enjoy working as a communications consultant with organizations that share my values of sustainability and conservation.
Creative self-exploration: SoulCollage workshops
As owner of Sunshine Coast SoulCollage and a Trained Facilitator in the SoulCollage process, I also offer fun workshops of self-discovery using a trademarked process called SoulCollage. Find out more from my Sunshine Coast SoulCollage website.
SPIRITED SERVICE: What I offer
Since tapping out tales on my mother’s typewriter at age seven, I’ve wanted to share my words and ideas with an audience. I love the magic and power of stories well told. I love to help others hone their words and share their creative visions with others.
After journalism training, many years working in media, publishing, and education, and decades of diary writing (started while an angst-filled teenager), I have found my perfect niche: creative nonfiction writing or literary journalism. This is like relishing the sizzle and the steak — even though I don’t eat meat except fish and seafood.
After receiving my master’s degree in this exciting genre, I am writing a memoir while continuing to write professionally, teach and consult. This education has helped me bring greater depth and resources to my students and clients and their writing and editorial projects.
PUBLISHING: My precocious start
My foray into publishing began in grade seven, when I won a cartoon contest in The Toronto Telegram. I drew a tortoise with a crash helmet that dared a hare with the words: “Wanna drag?”About three years later, I wrote a letter to MAD magazine artist Mort Drucker, accusing him of plagiarizing a Ronald Searle character from a 1950s Holiday magazine article. In response, Drucker sent me a hand-written letter, saying that his cartoon was a stylized compliment to an artist he admired.
At age sixteen, a letter to the editor I wrote to a Toronto daily resulted in the resignation of a boss I had for a summer job. I learned then the power of the press. Today, I can harness that impact of the printed word to your advantage.
Call me a Creeker: work around the world from home
Most of all, I like to work in Roberts Creek, surrounded by cedars and birds, watching the two bald eagles who live across the road soaring in blue sky. I live about 100 feet from the favored waters of the creek, where I can watch salmon heading upstream to spawn. From the mouth of the creek, which opens into the Pacific Ocean, I can launch my kayak and go for a quiet paddle.
I love where I live on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, only a 40-minute ferry ride northwest of Vancouver. It feels like an island here but we’re part of the mainland coast. There is no road access between Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast; you can only get here by air or sea. Living like this in two parallel worlds, the city and country, is ideal.
To find out more about life as a writer in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast, visit the Chica in the Creek section of my blog.
To read about current issues in topics from Compassionate Communication and Social Responsibility to Peace Activism and Film and TV, read my blog at www.heatherconnblogs.com/.
In Canada’s Pacific Northwest, where I work, the shíshálh and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people have stewarded the land known today as the Sunshine Coast for thousands of years. It remains their unceded, traditional territory.
Today’s Vancouver, BC is part of the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. I thank them all for their stewardship and generous sharing of their land, culture, and resources.
I am an affiliate member of the Greater Vancouver Compassion Network.