Spotlight On: Creative Ink Festival


In the spring of 2015, the Creative Ink Festival held a one-day, “sneak peek” event, to give local readers, writers, and artists a taste of what to expect in 2016. Well, the main event is almost here and I am ridiculously excited to once more attend as a presenter, panelist, and proud word nerd!

To celebrate and spread the fabtastic news, I invited Creative Ink’s creator, martial arts mama, and my good pal, Sandra Wickham, to come talk about everything inky with me.

Sandra Wickham and Ben Creative Ink Festival

Sandra Wickham and Super Sidekick Ben

Kristene: Welcome to The Coconut Chronicles, Sandra! Pull up a hammock.

Sandra: Thanks! It’s really tropical in here.

Kristene: I know, right?

Now that I have you here, let’s get down to business. Last year you offered a one-day preview of the upcoming Creative Ink Festival. I was fortunate to take part (thank you!) and I’m excited for the full event this year. I know you are a regular attendee at cons and festivals but what made you decide to start your own?

Sandra: I have this horrible tendency to see great things happening and want to try to do them myself. My inspiration came mostly from the fabulous When Words Collide festival in Alberta, put on by Randy McCharles. He delivers an affordable event with so much to offer, I wanted to try and do the same here in BC.

Kristene:  What makes the Creative Ink Festival different from other writing, reading, and arts events?

Sandra Wickham reading

Sandra Wickham, Toronto reading

Sandra: I think one thing that makes us different is our volunteer format, which allows us to keep the cost extremely low while providing an amazing amount of professional authors and artists sharing their knowledge. All our presenters (hooray for them!) except our GoHs are volunteering their time at the festival. The other is that pros and amateurs attend on equal terms, going to the events, socializing and simply enjoying our community without any intimidation factor. Most of all, we focus on everyone creating a positive atmosphere with a big emphasis on fun.

Kristene: I am a big fan of fun, as you (and pretty much everyone else) know.  So, this year is the real deal, so to speak. What can people expect?

Creative Ink Festival Guest of Honour Carrie Vaughn

Guest of Honour Carrie Vaughn

Sandra: Expect to be busy, blown away by the sessions, and to have an awesome time! Preliminary programming has just gone online and let me tell you, it was an interesting puzzle to piece together. We have so much amazing stuff going on including single person presentations, workshops, panels, Blue Pencil critique sessions, Pitch Sessions to publishers, Kaffeeklatches with Carrie Vaughn and Robert J. Sawyer, Ink Club, a group reading, a mass autograph session, a dealer room, social events and even a Creative Crafting Circle.

Our Artist Guest of Honour is an award winning artist and close friend of mine, Galen Dara. Now, I might be biased in bragging about how amazing she is, but, her work speaks for itself. Her artwork is everywhere now, online literary magazines, book covers, and even Amanda Palmer’s tarot card deck. Come out to meet Galen, it will make your year.

We also have a special guest in award winning author, Robert J. Sawyer. He’ll be doing our banquet keynote speech (so excited for that) as well as sitting for a Kaffeeklatch (12 people plus Mr. Sawyer, sitting down for coffee and chat!) for a Blue Pencil session (what? Want to have your work critiqued by Robert J Sawyer? You can!) a presentation on Diversifying Your Income and a panel on SF Noir. Phew! Now I know your readers need to attend!

2015 Creative Ink Festival Panel (L to R) Andrea Westaway, Dani Duck, Jennifer Lott, Randy McCharles, Cathy Ace

2015 Creative Ink Festival Panel (L to R) Andrea Westaway, Dani Duck, Jennifer Lott, Randy McCharles, Cathy Ace

Kristene: They would be crazy not to. (Well, some are a bit nutty, I admit). Now, I’m no Carrie Vaughn or Robert J Sawyer but  I’ll be participating in the festival again this year (hooray!) and you and I are going to be on a panel together that I’m really, really excited about: Real Life Superwomen. Please tell everyone why this is going to be the coolest discussion in the universe. (Did I mention I’m excited about this?)

Sandra Wickham Creative Ink Festival Real Life Superwomen Panel

Real Life Superwoman!

Sandra: Where do I begin to explain the coolness factor of this panel? I’ve never seen anything like it at any event I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been around, let me tell ya) and I think it’s something that needs to be out there. Real women with actual experience in stunts, physical feats, martial arts, sword play, mounted combat, and super powers (okay, maybe that’s going a bit far) are going to discuss what it’s like to really do these things. I’m sure we’ll tackle many myths and misconceptions as well as help people learn how to write about super women. Credit for this panel idea goes to you, our leader, Kristene!

What do you get when you put an MMA fighter, a pro fitness competitor, a mounted combat expert, a warrior poet and a stuntwoman together on one panel? A rousing discussion about the realities of being a “strong woman” and how that compares with their portrayal in fiction. Join authors Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels, Setsu Uzume and Kristene Perron as they KAPOW the stereotypes and share the truth about the lives of superwomen.

Kristene: Okay, I’ll just pause here for a quick bow, lol. But, honestly, putting on an entire festival is a pretty freaking big deal.  What is your dream for the Creative Ink Festival?

Sandra: I would love for us to follow in the footsteps of our mentor, When Words Collide. We’d like to grow so we can bring in more pros, attract more publishers, editors and agents, have more rooms for programming and lots of social events! (Yes, I am Kristene’s friend, after all, there should be no surprise we like to socialize.)

Kristene: No one who knows me is shocked to hear that. Socializing aside for just a (brief) moment, why do you think it’s important for creative types, like writers, to attend events like this?

Sandra Wickham Creative Ink Festival 2016

She won’t bite…honestly!

Sandra: There’s an incredible feeling you get from being surrounded by like-minded people who share your passion. Everywhere you turn, there will be someone who speaks your language, who “gets it’ and is just as excited about it as you are. It’s not only a great way to increase your skills as an artist , to hear from and mingle with pros and amateurs alike, but you also build your network, boost your motivation and take that energy back to your projects.

Kristene: Agreed. I first discovered my “tribe” at an event just like this one.  But you and I both know that cons and festivals can be a bit overwhelming for first timers. Do you have any tips or advice for festival attendees?

Sandra: I’m so glad you asked this question! Luckily our festival, while awesome, is still on the small side so it’ll be a great place to start. Here’s some tips.

  1. Take breaks. No one can run the social gauntlet non-stop (not even Kristene and me!) without some down time. It’s not hiding, it’s recharging. Get some fresh air. If you get a room in the hotel (which I highly recommend) take a break, breathe.
  2. Of course, as a fitness pro, I have to emphasize your health. DRINK a lot of water, as much as you can. It’s going to help keep you from getting dehydrated and overtired.
  3. EAT! Don’t forget to eat. It’s tough when there’s so much to do, but make sure you fit it in.
  4. If you’re in a panel or presentation that turns out not to be what you were interested in or you don’t feel you’re getting much from it, don’t be afraid to get up and move to another room! All the presenters will understand.
  5. Sign up for stuff! This is such an amazing opportunity to either pitch your work, have your work critiqued by a pro, or to sit down with a pro for coffee. Do it! Don’t be shy. If you hesitate, someone else will grab up the spot.
  6. Smile. People will smile back! We’re a friendly bunch because we’re all passionate about the same things. Chat. Ask people if they write (or draw or paint) and what they’re currently working on. Many incredible friendships have been made at these kinds of events.
  7. Be open to new things, new conversations, new people.
  8. My best bit of advice, read Diana Rowland’s post on How To Network at Conventions. It’s perfect: READ IT!

Kristene: These are all wise pieces of advice. I always welcome people to come say hi to me at events and this year is no different. I’ll be manning the co-op author table for a spell, so please come by, I’d love to chat and there *may* be free chocolate.  WINK WINK!

Okay, time for details! Where and when is this year’s Creative Ink Festival and how can people learn more about it?

Sandra: The festival is May 6th – 8th at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre. People can visit our website to see the preliminary program, all our presenters, sponsors, to link to our great deal at the hotel and to sign up! Our website address is People can also email me at if they have any questions.

You can also follow us on Twitter at @creativeinkfest   and use the hashtag  #CIFest2016 or join the Facebook discussion!

Kristene:  Finally, and most importantly, will Ben be there this year? He was a fan favourite last year!

Ben Wickham Creative Ink Festival

Ben steals the show again!

Sandra: Isn’t that really why people are attending? Yes! I will have him there for some of the festival, I couldn’t be without him that long. Honestly, I love to bring him to the festival because of the smiling faces and the positive energy there. It’s a great thing for him to experience!

Kristene: Thanks so much for taking time out of your crazy busy schedule to come chat with me today. I can’t wait to see you and all the Creative Inkers in May!

Sandra: Thank YOU and I’m so excited for the festival. I can’t wait to see lots of shiny, happy faces there!

This entry was posted in Entertainment, Friends, Hobbies, On Scribbling, Women's Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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