After three years of virtual programming with When Words Collide, it was an absolute delight to be back in Calgary in person for what was at first touted as the final When Words Collide. To everyone’s joy and surprise, a new organization is taking over this convention. The Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society has big shoes to fill, but with such a template to work with, I am confident next year’s event will be just as great.
What did I get up to over the three-day convention?
Friday 1 PM — Going Indie: This was a really interesting panel about why we chose to publish our books independently, and how we go about doing it. I learned things from my fellow panellists, and also found I contributed information the others weren’t previously aware of, so it was a nice discussion. The room was pretty full and I think folks got a lot out of it. (With Laurie Cunningham, Alison McBain, Katie O’Connor, Jim Jackson, Krista Wallace)
Friday 3 PM — Show Don’t Tell: This panel on the craft of writing is always interesting. Showing versus Telling is a super-important part of drawing your reader in with depth of emotion; immersing them in the world of the book rather than having them feel like they’re watching from the outside. So important, yet so tough to master as a writer! (With Angela Ackerman, Chase Degenhardt, James Alan Gardner, Krista Wallace, Kevin Weir as moderator)
Friday 5 PM 7‑Fireside Louder, I Can’t Hear You! I am SO glad I did this workshop! So often when I attend readings, the authors presenting their work are intimidated by the microphone, how to adjust it when it doesn’t fit, how to speak into it without being terrified of your amplified voice [hint: that’s the point of amplification … allowing your audience to hear you!] How to hold your book when the mic is in the way, as well as reading techniques. I received a ton of compliments at the end of this workshop, and at least three requests to teach it again at future conventions. Count me in! I’m happy to help.
Friday 9 PM — Feminine Solutions in SFF: An interesting discussion about the roles women can play in fantasy, which of course began with a discussion about warrior women [yes, they truly DID exist back in medieval and earlier times]. The discussion sorta got highjacked and turned into a discussion about feminism in fantasy, which isn’t exactly the same thing. I wasn’t fully prepared for that switch, but it was still an interesting discussion. (With Jenna Greene, Krista Wallace, Jennifer Landels, Virginia Odine, Susan Forest)
Saturday 11 AM — Plotters and Pantsers and Points In-Between: I always love talking about my writing process because other writers find it terrifying. Even other pantsers. (for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, a “pantser” is a writer who writes “by the seat of their pants,” with no real plan, as opposed to writers who write copious notes about how their story will unfold prior to beginning the writing). I’m happy to say I helped at least one writer in the audience think through how to tackle the ending of their novel. (With Edward Willett, Chris Marrs, Krista Wallace, Chase Degenhardt)
Saturday 12 PM — Newsletters for Writers: As someone who is still building her newsletter/email list I came to this one prepared to learn. I learned a few things from my fellow, more experienced panellists, but it was nice to have the balance between them and Sandra and myself, who are both fairly new. I still was able to point out that WordPress has a newsletter plug-in, which others did not know! Interesting discussion about each panellist’s approach to what they put in their newsletter. (With Suzy Vadori, Krista Wallace, Sandra Wickham, and another writer who wasn’t included in the program but it was great that she was there. Her name eludes me, sadly!)
Saturday 3 PM — Get Going or Something – working with an accountability partner: It was SO good to see my accountability partner, Beth, in person again for the first time in YEARS! We talked about how we started meeting every week after WWC 2020, and haven’t missed a week. We were joined by writer friends Leslie and Bonnie, whose process is very different from Beth’s and mine, and the audience told me later how cool it was to hear the different approaches. a lively discussion! (With Beth Wagner, Krista Wallace, Bonnie Jacoby, Leslie Wibberley)
Saturday 8 PM Atrium Autograph Session
Sunday 12 PM — How to Write a Series without Losing Your Way (or Your Mind): A wonderful discussion! I really loved this one, talking about my [terrifying … to others, not to me] writing process alongside some preeminent series writers. The common thread seemed to be about finding organizational tools to keep track of characters and events in your story. I got some laughs, so that’s always fun. (With Fonda Lee, Morgan Rhodes, Katie O’Connor, Krista Wallace)
Sunday 1 PM — How Do You Create Believable Characters? Another super fun discussion! I really enjoyed this one (are you sensing a theme?) Believable doesn’t have to be “Realistic.” Turns out it doesn’t even have to be relatable. It just has to be plausible because of the character’s wants and needs and if their consistent, etc. Talked about “writing what you know” versus using your imagination to build on your own experience or what you learn in research. We talked about believable villains (who are the heroes of their own story), and mentioned Dustin Hoffman. (With James Alan Gardner, D.G. Valdron, Krista Wallace, Susan Calder)
Sunday 3 PM — Live Action Slush — Urban Fantasy: One of my favourite things to do at any convention is to be the reader for the LAS. writers submit their first page, I read it aloud, the panellists talk about what worked and what didn’t work for them. I received compliments on my reading from the panellists, including Tanya Huff! Congratulations to all the writers who submitted their work. It takes a lot of courage to have your work critiqued publicly! All the submissions were really good, I was impressed. (With Krista Wallace (reader), Tanya Huff, Morgan Rhodes, Robert Bose, Sarah L. Pratt, Randy McCharles)
As you can see, I was very busy over that weekend. But it was Good Busy. Great to see folks I hadn’t seen in ages, great to meet new folks I hadn’t met before… I’m already excited about next year.