September 2017 – Author & Poet Michelle Barker

MichelleSummer break being over we now were starting the new year of meetings for creative writing. Author & Poet Michelle Barker was our special guest this month. She was born and raised in Vancouver, travelled a lot for work and pleasure, and ended up back in Vancouver.

Michelle was the winner of gold National Magazine award in personal journalism in 2002, and finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s literature Award in 2016.

Upon the opening of her presentation about poetry Michelle advised us to bring all the five senses into our writing. Images should not be just visual for the reader. This sounded very challenging, but by the end of the evening one could see (and hear and smell and touch and taste).

Of-course, one big step for Tea & Ink members present was to learn more about poetry that doesn’t rhyme. Michelle eased us through by showing us and explaining the formation of “free verse” and we were able to really appreciate it afterwards.

Michelle brought two poems with her to demonstrate the way to read a poem out loud. This was an eye-opener to Mo in particular. Sherry read the first one. It was strange to see that this poem wasn’t read by the line, but by the punctuation. It made sense to do that. Natalya read the second poem which right through to the end…and it was one page long…didn’t have any punctuation at all. It was meant to be read without stopping. So very unusual.

Following the readings and a discussion about the formation of these two poems Michelle then conducted an activity. We each were instructed to take 10 minutes to write a memory of something. Then we all spilt up into twos. Then we had to take turns reading our mini story whilst our partner jotted down just individual words of note.  The follow up would be to write a poem using those notable words.  Perhaps our next meeting will start with us listening to these new poems we should have written by then. Interesting!

Thank you, Michelle for this very pleasant evening. It was truly great to have you as our guest speaker.

Books by Michelle Barker:

  • The Beggar King – a YA fantasy novel (2013); published by Thistledown Press Ltd
  • Old Growth Clear Cut – Poems of Haida Gwaii , Queen Charlotte Island (2012); published by Leaf Press
  • A Year of Borrowed Men, illustrated by: Renné Benoit (2015); published by Pajama Press Inc
  • Poems written by Michelle also appeared in the Best Canadian Poetry anthology (2011)

Michelle’s website:
Her Blog:


Mar 2017 – Student & Author Natalya Patz

Word of our group Tea & Ink has begun to get around and requests are coming in from hopeful new members. Luckily, we still have sufficient seats for everyone. We even Skype in a member now and then.

At the March meeting, we welcomed Natalya Patz, student and author, as our special guest. Although she is only a young teen, she already has three published books to her credit. Natalya chose to speak about how to build a fictional character – and that means inventing characters, not just describing their looks.

We learned about dreaming up character temperaments, skills, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and even their weirdnesses. To make it easier for us, Natalya encouraged us to consider three basic aspects for each one from “Write! Shoot! Edit!”: a skill; a weakness; and a quirk.

For an activity, to help us absorb the technique, she guided us through a game similar to the game Consequences. We were each given a slip of paper and instructed to invent the name of a character, fold the top of the paper (to hide the name) and pass it to the person beside us. Next, write a skill for the character, fold again, pass again, and add the weakness, fold, pass and then the quirk. Now we had complete character descriptions. After passing the papers around the circle a few times, each of us read out the imaginary, compound character. It was amazing the range of characters we had invented. The game was fun, and we learned a lot, too.

Upon closing, Natalya read a passage from one of her published books, and then treated us to a preview of a work in progress: a high action fantasy adventure that swept us away.

We are all grateful that Natalya came to speak with us to speak about this important part of creative writing. It was delightful of her to share her talents and to be so encouraging to us in our efforts.

Books by Natalya Patz (published by CWC):

  • The Dragons of Earth (2014)
  • Tyria Trouble (fan fiction, 2015)
  • The Magic of Shadow Memories (2016)

Nov 2016 – Author Darlene Foster

Darlene FosterAt our first meeting we were thrilled to host Darlene Foster, children’s author, as our special guest.  She was in town from her home in Spain. She writes a series of books about a 12 year old Canadian girl called Amanda who has many adventures travelling around the world with her parents: Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Madrid in Spain; London in England; Calgary, Alberta in Canada; and even on a river cruise in Europe.

We discussed idea generation for stories. A great topic for our first meeting!

Darlene shared with us where she gets the ideas for her stories. She said that when she visits a country, she observes the people around her and when an idea suddenly sparks in her mind she follows it through until a book is formed. She closed her talk with a reading from her most current book.

From discussion to practice, we spent thirty minutes dreaming up and writing new ideas. After tea we shared our creations. One lady, who was visiting from the States, wrote a fantastic piece about her elderly mother that left us breathless.

It was an honour to have Darlene at our club, embarking us on our writing journeys with professionalism and thorough enjoyment…..Thank you Darlene!

Books by Darlene Foster (published by Central Avenue Publishing):

  • Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask  (2010)
  • Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting  (2011)
  • Amanda in England: The Missing Novel  (2112)
  • Amanda in Alberta: The Writing in the Stone (2014)
  • Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music (2016)
  • Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind (Coming soon, Oct 2017)

Darlene’s website =

Her Blog =