Want to support literacy in a fun way?

Check out Simbi.io

Guess what? Kids can interact and learn in a fun, new way with my picture book Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch. By using the Simbi web platform, they can see and hear me read the book and follow along, page by page. Then, they can record themselves reading aloud, at their own pace, and listen back. They can also hear children in other countries read aloud. Isn’t that a great idea? Simbi founders, in Vancouver, BC, Canada, wanted to promote literacy in a globally accessible way. I am proud to be participating in this effort. Check out readings of my book here.

New trail signs to honour value of old-growth forest and shíshálh heritage

I am delighted to have worked as an editor on a new series of interpretive signs for the Community Health Trail on Mt. Elphinstone on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. As part of an initiative by Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), the signs highlight the importance of old-growth forests and their flora and fauna. With himus (Calvin Craigan), a shíshálh Nation knowledge-keeper as consultant, we included shíshálh words on each sign and the First Nations medicinal use of various plants and trees.

I learned a lot on this project, which reinforced how the shíshálh Nation, for many centuries, has lived in harmony with these forests, making full use of bark, berries, trees, and plants to sustain their lives and culture, while today’s non-Indigenous industries seem bent on destroying these lands.

This four-kilometre stretch of trail, designated by ELF, traverses a low-elevation, emerging old-growth forest on the slopes of Mt. Elphinstone. It connects two isolated parcels of Mt. Elphinstone Provincial Park and ELF hopes that the park will expand around it. These small areas face possible destruction by adjacent development and logging.

Watch my Sept. 19 reading on YouTube

In case you missed my Sept. 19 Spoken INK reading on Zoom, you can watch it here on the Burnaby Writers’ Society YouTube channel. About 20 minutes long, it features excerpts from three sources: my essay “A Slow Goodbye,” about love and loss; my romantic visit to the Taj Mahal, from my memoir No Letter in Your Pocket, to be published in 2023; and the start of my 2019 picture book Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch.

Port Moody in-person writing classes resume Sept. 27

Want to join a supportive group of committed writers in a class that focuses on content feedback? Still spaces left in my Mon. night program at Kyle Centre, Port Moody. Sept. 27-Dec. 6, 5:30 to 8 pm.

Many students have published books and/or contribute regularly to publications. All genres and levels welcome. Participants find in-class feedback truly valuable. All COVID protocols followed. Pre-registration required. Call 604-469-4556 or register online before Sept. 25 at this link.

Writing workshop

I’m offering a two-hour online workshop Wild Mind: Freeing the Writer Within on April 10 from 1 to 3 pm. Designed to cure writer’s block and access your deepest writing self. For all skill levels. Contact the Royal City Literary Arts Society to register.

Picture book launch Dec. 7: Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch

It was fun presenting my new picture book, Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch, to an audience of young and old Dec. 7 at Sechelt Public Library. Andy Johnson, storyteller for the shishalh Nation, shared a sasquatch song he composed and told a sasquatch story. I’m honoured to know that he plans to read my book to shishalh kids.

At the event, I wore a red hoodie with the sasquatch design by shishalh Nation member Candace Campo. She explained to me how cultural Indigenous tradition determines the shape of each eye of the creature’s face. At the end of my fictional story, I include some cultural history and trivia regarding the sasquatch and a few URLs and book titles for those who want to find out more about this mysterious creature.

The hard-cover book, published by Peppermint Toast Publishing, features illustrations by talented Vancouver, BC animator Lillian Lai. The book is $18. Ten per cent of proceeds support pediatric palliative care in British Columbia.

Click here to see media photo and event coverage.

Click here to find out more and order a copy.

Métis, Indigenous, and Inuit lives profiled

Did you know that some residents of Churchill, Manitoba consider Thanadelthur, an early 1700s Chipewyan guide and peace negotiator, the founder of their town? That is one of the many fascinating historical facts I learned while writing profiles of accomplished Métis, Indigenous, and Inuit people for Canadian Encyclopedia.

I discovered the many achievements of politicians like Romeo Saganash, Quebec’s first Indigenous MP, and Jody Wilson-Reybauld, Canada’s former attorney-general, and the struggles behind precedent-setting Métis laws. I learned that Louis Riel’s sister, Sara, worked as a mediator between conflicting groups in the late 1800s in the Red River Colony (later Manitoba).

What struck me repeatedly while researching these fascinating lives is that these notable Canadians excelled despite phenomenal racism, setbacks, and government neglect or indifference. I kept thinking that their resilience and successes should have made them household names in this country, but due to systemic racism, many remain unknown or little known in our nation’s history.

Read my roughly three dozen Canadian Encyclopedia profiles here.

Three literary nonfiction authors, including Heather Conn, to read March 30

Want to hear compelling personal stories and learn more about what literary nonfiction is?

Come out to Sechelt Public Library on Thursday, March 30 and hear three Sunshine Coast, BC authors, including Heather Conn, read from their book manuscripts.

Heather, Sheila Cameron, and Claire Finlayson will each present excerpts from their respective works-in-progress. Sheila will present heartwarming stories from Shine Bright: Live a Supernova Life. Heather will share a troubling but inspirational tale of healing and forgiveness from No Letter in Your Pocket: Twenty Years Healing a Family Secret. Claire will reveal her experiences in Ray’s Planet about growing up with a brother who didn’t know he was autistic.

Caitlin Hicks, the Sunshine Coast representative for the BC Federation of Writers, will be on hand to facilitate discussion. This free event will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Coffee and treats will be served.

Heather to teach screenwriting Feb/March in Powell River

I’ll be teaching “Writing Short Documentaries” and helping students brainstorm a group documentary project from Feb. 27 to March 2 in Powell River. This is an annual appearance I make as an instructor at Powell River Digital Film School.

Every year, the content varies, depending on the wishes of school founder and director Tony Papa. Usually, I cover how to write both drama and documentaries. Most years, I include a workshop on Introduction to SoulCollage®.

I encourage students to share their deepest personal stories or sociocultural tales from their community that no one has documented. I love their willingness to jump in and learn new things and to explore storytelling with a compelling, authentic voice.

Job placement students gain insights with SoulCollage®

SoulCollage cards low res

I enjoyed introducing SoulCollage® Jan. 27 to a group of job placement students at M. Magas and Associates, an employment agency in Sechelt, BC.

We did a guided visualization, identified their respective dream job, and discussed accountability, victimhood and what archetypal influences might resonate with them.

I appreciated their openness and willingness to share what symbols were meaningful to them.

Since this was one of their “fun Friday” events, I was advised to keep it “light and uplifting.” I love that SoulCollage® is hands-on and fun but still a revealing form of self-discovery that creates connectedness and empowerment.

group shot low res