Attending Write! Canada can impact your writing… and your life!
It was 2009 before I finally attended my first Write! Canada (W!C) conference. I had "virtually stumbled" upon the conference and found out about the existence of The Word Guild back in 2004; but, due to work commitments, was unable to take off that time in June.
Then, in 2009, I was jobless. Jobless but looking forward to W!C. While my first year was overwhelming, it was also soul-satisfying. I was surrounded by kind, thoughtful people who were focused on writing as their ministry, and gifting the talent God had given them back to Him. The unity was inspiring and the conference had such a different "air" about it. I later came to realize that that was the presence of the Holy Spirit.
If I had any remaining doubts as to whether or not I belonged at the conference, they were dispelled when I was sitting at one of the plenary sessions. A lovely woman, whom I had not met before, turned her head back to where I was sitting and introduced herself. When I said my name, she asked my nationality. When I replied, "Armenian," she said, "Deruh eem Hoveevus eh …" in Armenian; she wasn't Armenian; and I repeated in a stunned English, "The Lord is my Shepherd …"
Having now attended in 2010 as well (and looking forward to 2011), I can attest that the conference is a place where God speaks my language–in more ways than one!
A. A. Adourian
Heading out to a new experience, particularly if you’ve only toyed with the idea of writing, can be very daunting. You may think you don’t want to get “stuck” with a bunch of people sitting around talking about what they’ve written.
If there is the prospect of travelling alone, you may even feel self conscious about attending a writing conference, but we encourage you to allow yourself to follow that dream that’s been hiding in you for the past (?) years. And you know what? We’ve all been there. Through different avenues of life, we’ve wondered if attending a writers’ conference was really for us, and we’ve made the step to see what it’s all about.
At Write! Canada you’ll meet people who are just like you, whether it’s contemplating writing, or writing for years and have never attended a conference. Some attendees have been coming out to this conference for over 20 years, some of us are still trying to attain that milestone.
The Word Guild and the Write! Canada conferences have built a community of writers, editors, publishers, and more, who have forged invaluable friendships of like-minded people; and it just may be where you belong.
As a writer who is Christian, attending Write! Canada will be one of the most exciting, interesting, and influential times of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be walking around waving at the person you just met in your last class, or you’ll be sitting at lunch with that writer or editor you wanted to learn so much from. You’ll be able to share your experiences—or lack thereof—with people who know exactly what you’re talking about.
Write! Canada first-timers share their experiences, and you may see yourself among these stories. Each year we have a great number of first time attendees, so if you’ve ever thought about attending, but haven’t quite made up your mind, let 2011 be your year to explore the literary talent that God has given you. Hope to see you in Guelph!
I decided to make my first trip to Write! Canada because I realized how alone I was in the "writing world". I had never heard about The Word Guild and for years plodded along in my writing, wondering what I was doing wrong—or right—and when I heard about them I joined immediately.
The next step was natural—going to Write! Canada. Personally, I needed validation that I should continue writing. I was starting to doubt myself, even though I'd been writing for years. I got the validation I needed and more! A publisher showed interest in my manuscript the first year. The next year another publisher was interested in an article I was writing. But it didn't end there. The friendships I had made through TWG made the experience all the more exciting.
Every year it is like a family reunion and I look forward to that the most. The courses, workshops and plenary sessions can be a little daunting for first timers, because you want to soak up everything, but I wouldn't miss it for the world. You leave exhausted but filled to the brim with knowledge. New and experienced writers can benefit greatly, year after year.
The dedication of those behind the scenes make each conference a success, and to those volunteers I say Kudos! Where would we be without you?
I 'first-timed' TWG in 2010. I found it hard to pick topics, but once I concentrated on one area of personal growth, I was good to go.
Sheila Wray Gregoire's fine presentation on speaking tossed me willy-nilly into personal blogging, Facebook, Twitter and every other medium you can think of. I learned something worthwhile at all the other sessions as well.
Now, less than one year later, I'm writing full-time for three devotional page blogs. I can't attend TWG this year, but I know that everyone who does, and then applies what they learned will move their career forward.
Still haven’t made up your mind about attending your first Write! Canada conference? Each year the group of first-timers share an invaluable experience they’ll never forget. There is so much to learn about your gift, and Write! Canada will be one of the most exciting and satisfying time you’ll have with 250 of your closest friends. It’s like a family reunion.
After a while, you may not even know their names, only faces, but we all—yes, you included—share a distinctive camaraderie.
We’re the people who understand what it’s like to be a novelist / script writer / columnist / poet / editor, and not think you’re strange when you come up with that unique idea.
Want to come “home” with your writing idea? Then Write! Canada 2011 is the place to be.
I attended write Canada last year for the first time. I was awarded a bursary for half of the conference fees, my church paid the other half as an investment in my talent, and my family paid for accommodations as a Mothers’ Day gift. What a blessing!
It was a wonderful experience. I would go again in a heartbeat, but the fees are too high for us to manage in this season of life. Knowing that, I made the most of last year and booked times to see agents, editors, other authors and submitted a critique.
I had a critique with Mags Storey, who encouraged me and praised the first chapter of my book. Hearing an award winning published author say my work had merit was incredibly encouraging. She introduced me to her agent and he signed me as his client.
I have spent the last year working with an editor to get my book ready to submit to publishers. I am very hopeful.
The entire experience was beyond my dreams. I have been writing for eight years now and I had been told over and over that attending conferences and meeting agents and editors in person is a must for a serious writer, which I have found to be true. I made connections there I would have never made elsewhere.
I left the conference encouraged and very excited about the future. I am thankful to Write Canada for offering the bursary which made it possible for me to attend.
Women Helping Women
I attended Write in 2008. I had connected with Donna Dawson who strongly urged me to consider attending the conference. Everything worked out so that I was able to attend. The best part for me was meeting and connecting with so many people who loved the craft of writing. From that conference came a writer's group that now meets out of my home once a month.
It was interesting to hear other people's experiences with writing, publishing and marketing and to speak with some key people in the field and hear their expertise. I also gained a better understanding about writing well from the different classes I attended.
I would urge anyone considering attending the conference to take the leap. Overall…it was a great experience.
Canadian Christian Writing Award winner for
In The Eye of Deception
Read other testimonials from Write! Canada attendees
It usually always starts with a smile—and that is what Write! Canada 2009 did—smile, and smile some more. Through exhaustion and endless questions, all of you volunteers treated us like you loved what you were doing. What is that secret ingredient all about? (Thank you!!)
Everything was "over the top," but the best part for me was connecting with such gorgeous, smart, funny and fascinating women and men. I loved the "one-on-one" interactions, laughter and sharing exciting/discouraging information.
I only knew a couple of people when I arrived, but by the time I drove away on Saturday afternoon, I felt like I had made some inroads into a new like-minded family.
My first Write! Canada—but I can assure you, it won't be my last!
International Author and Speaker
Thank you everyone, for your warm Word Guild welcome! I'm glad I made the effort to attend the conference.
I joined The Word Guild in 2008. As a writer living in a rural area, I have fewer opportunities to learn and share with other writers. The Word Guild provides a network of Christian writers who are willing to help, encourage, and teach each other online and in person.
Winning The Word Guild's God Uses Ink novice writers' competition in 2009 gave me the impetus I needed to attend Write! Canada. I arrived at the conference only knowing people as names on the listserv. However, it didn't take long to feel welcome in this writing "family." There were many informal opportunities to interact with other Christian writers and editors as well as publishers and agents.
The workshops provided information and skills and the bookstore enabled me to come away with helpful resources, some of which were free! I signed up for appointments with professional members and walked into them feeling scared and insignificant. These feelings were quickly put to rest by affirming guidance and suggestions from the authors.
The conference encouraged me in my writing, gave me direction for current projects, and reminded me that God has a unique niche and timing for each of us. Thank you to those of you who gave me feedback or just allowed me to bounce my ideas off you.
Write! Canada helped me clarify my writing goals. Since the conference I have continued to hone my writing skills by joining Revision (The Word Guild's online critique group), actively participating on Twitter, and entering more contests. In September 2009 I won second place in Inscribe's essay contest, and I received payment for my first published article in January 2010.
Ruth L. Snyder
I just managed to clear my schedule and have signed up for my third year at the Write! Canada conference (2009). Each one has been very rich and encouraging. The conference catapulted me into seeing from a broader worldview.
I felt baptized into this community of writers who were Christians. To be around hundreds of people who are passionate about writing and about the gospel is very motivational. I am a richer person for being there.
Write! Canada has been an awesome experience each time that I have attended. I have learned so much. In both 2008 and 2009, I was privileged to be part of the faculty. I spoke on a panel about 'Promotion and Publicity'. My angle was looking at the 'Independently Published' area and how to get access to bookstores, distributors and media. Almost miraculously I have had access for my book Battle for the Soul of Canada to six national TV programs, several radio stations, many mainstream regional newspapers as well as Christian newspaper reviews. BC Christian News unexpectedly did a six-month series on British Columbia historical figures, using chapters of my book with paid permission. Most importantly, my book has ended up in over 225 Christian bookstores across Canada, which I was told could not be done.
If you have not yet signed up, I would encourage you to do it today. Good intentions can leave one in remarkable limbo. I would love to see you there.
(The Reverend) Ed Hird, Vancouver, BC
Battle for the Soul of Canada author
P.S. If I can come from the ends of the earth (BC) to Write! Canada, then those of you in Ontario and Quebec can certainly find a way to make your way to Guelph this June!
"Write! Canada 2008 was fascinating, stretching and fun. I really enjoyed the event. It exceeded my expectations once again."
Grant Mullen, MD
Author of Emotionally Free and The Breakthrough Solution
"I'm so excited! I just got the Write! Canada 2008 news release in my e-mail and the keynote speakers are awesome. So many of the courses–right from orientation all the way through–are right up my alley and I'm sure many others feel the same way. You organizers all did a great job!
I've actually corresponded with Carolyne Aarsen about several of her novels. She's such an inspiring person and helpful, I'm so looking forward to taking her course on romance novel writing.
I'm so excited that I want to register right this minute!!! My heart rate is going through the roof, I can't believe it, it sounds like such a wonderful lineup this year. Can't wait!"
St. Agatha, Ontario
"I attended my first Write! Canada in 2003. At the time I had never had anything published and had never written anything longer than a couple of thousand words. I knew I wanted to write, but I had no idea what or for whom. That year I took the beginner track, which was a great introduction to the various opportunities available in the writing field. I left that conference with a much better idea of the type of writing I wanted to do—fiction—and the form I would like to do it in—short stories and novels.
Writing a book is a daunting task. I spent years wanting to write one, yet I was paralyzed by fear and uncertainty every time I contemplated sitting down and actually doing it. When at last the idea for a story came to me and I did manage to put together the first draft of a novel around making dinner, getting three children ready for school and doing laundry, I sat looking at the pile of paper for weeks, completely unsure of what I was supposed to do with it now.
And that's when I attended my second Write! Canada conference, in 2007. This time I took the fiction track with novelist Jane Kirkpatrick. During those three days I was able more clearly to grasp the fundamentals of the writing process. I learned from Jane, from the workshops I attended, and from feedback I received when meeting with an agent, a publisher, and two other writers who had done my manuscript critiques.
Everything I learned showed me, as N. J. Lindquist is fond of saying, how much I didn't even know I didn't know. I did leave that conference with a clear idea of what I needed to do with my manuscript (basically overhaul it completely), which I started doing as soon as I arrived home.
Over the next year I continued to learn by reading every post on The Word Guild listserv, attending a writers' group that came out of the 2007 conference, and, of course, by actually doing the writing. Many, many revisions later, I submitted my manuscript to The Word Guild's Best New Canadian Christian Author Award 2008 contest.
This year I am heading to the conference with a different perspective once again. The really great thing about Write! Canada is that there is something for every writer, no matter what stage he or she is at or what form his or her writing takes. I will be continuing to learn everything I can from the myriad of much more experienced writers, editors, agents and publishers who will be there.
From the editors and other writers I hope to continue to learn the craft of writing, the art of handling rejection and criticism gracefully, and what motivates them to carry on in a profession that demands so much and can return so little. I am especially interested this year in learning from the agents and publishers what it takes to turn a pile of paper into a marketable, saleable product.
Writing a book is a daunting task. It is a journey that is best taken in small steps and in the company of those who have travelled that way before. I think it's best that we don't know what we don't know when we start out, or we would probably never take that first step. Write! Canada has allowed me to travel this road in stages, each conference bringing me a little closer to my destination, and I can hardly wait to see where this journey is going to take me next."
[Editor's note: Sara Davison was shortlisted in the 2008 Best New Canadian Christian Author for her contemporary novel, Unbroken.]
"I would like to wish you and your Word Guild team another excellent and productive time at this year's Write! Canada conference. I greatly enjoyed and benefitted from last year's event (2007), and know that there will be many Christian writers encouraged and helped again this year. Cheers for the Lord's hands and teachers !"
Christian Life in London Newspaper
"I loved the Write! Canada 2007 conference. It was delightful to put faces to names from The Word Guild's listserv. I found the sessions packed with valuable information and the conference well organized. I'm looking forward to 2008 to learn even more!"
Donna Fawcett/Donna Dawson
St. Marys, Ont.
To read a testimonial about how Write! Canada dramatically impacted one Canadian writer's life, see the blog posted by author Dorene Meyer of Norway House, Manitoba, on February 11, 2008 titled "Learn All You Can" at the TWG Authors Blog.
"Ten minutes after I arrived at the Write! Canada 2006 conference, I was poring over the bios of professionals I only dreamed of meeting one day… book publishers, magazine editors and literary agents who offered 15 minutes of personal face time to conference attendees. All I had to do was pick one and sign up! There were so many, how would I ever choose?
When I asked a volunteer how to select the right person, she asked a few questions about my manuscript and declared, “Oh, you have to see Janet Kobobel Grant, the agent from California. I think your work is a great fit for her!” Talk about qualified volunteers! Janet's agency, Books and Such, offered to represent my memoir and Janet introduced me to the editor of Today's Christian magazine the same day. After he read one of my stories, he agreed to publish it that fall!
Thanks to Write! Canada, I also received a champagne phone call last summer: “Welcome to the Random House family of authors!” Books and Such Agency sold my manuscript to WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House.
The 2006 conference was a life-changing experience for me that wouldn't have happened without the expertise of the organizers and volunteers who care so deeply about our success as writers. I have attended two conferences (2006 and 2007) and will return again to soak in the company of mentors, teachers and fellow writers who dare to use the gift of words to serve."
"Over the course of three years at the Write! Canada conference I met and signed with my agent, met my editors, and subsequently signed a four-book contract with the American royalty publisher, Cook Communications. I can't say enough about how much The Word Guild and Write! Canada have helped me in my writing career. Attending the Write! Canada conference was without a doubt the best decision I have ever made as a writer."
Brad Burke, MD
Windsor, Ont./Metamora, MI
Author of the book series, An MD Examines
"My deepest and most heartfelt thanks for making the conference happen this year (2006). I really feel like this one had the potential to be one of those "significant" turning points in my writing life! I'm excited and eager to apply all I learned. I particularly enjoyed Marshall Shelley's (editorial vice-president of Christianity Today International) continuing classes on journalism skills—and can't wait to start applying some of the many new things I learned… It was wonderful to connect with old friends and colleagues and to meet new ones. I realize it takes months and months and months of work to make this conference happen each year, and to make it run so smoothly. Thanks to each one who contributed his or her time and energies so willingly."
Patricia L. Paddey
Freelance writer, communications consultant
"To anyone who abides by the old saw 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks,' I say you didn't go to Write! Canada!!! I'm an old dog (having written for magazines for a couple of decades) and I learned a whole lot of new tricks. It doesn't matter how brief or long your time as a writer, it's a process of constant learning…and thankfully for us, the level of instruction at Write! Canada keeps on improving. Many thanks to those whose hard work behind the scenes made it possible."
"Just back from a great Write! Canada (2006) and want to say thanks to all the people who made it happen. What a well-organized conference, down to the last detail, with super content, including our own N. J. (Nancy) Lindquist, who spoke prophetically and powerfully. I had the privilege of being on a panel moderated by Denyse O'Leary that addressed the question "Should Christian fiction be message driven?" I wish it could have lasted another three hours or more as the participants were most interesting and had differing views."
Winner, Best New Canadian Christian Author Award 2005
Author, The Defilers, journalist, former CBC television producer
"A special dynamic happens at every Write! Canada conference. I'm a veteran now in some senses, with publishing credits passing 65 articles and poems, but there are writers far beyond me in gifting and skill who are encouraging and challenging me, critiquing my work and showing me ways to make it better. There are writers just beginning to respond to this fascinating call. I can encourage and challenge them, showing ways to make their work better. Standing in the middle, reaching both ways, I am part of a chain lifting writing to a higher level, even as I am being lifted. I'm also having the time of my life as it happens. I go home spiritually challenged and encouraged – tired, but uplifted. I also go home committed and equipped to write with greater skill and deeper passion.
Another dynamic, difficult to measure but of incalculable worth, is the behind-the-scenes work, the professionalism of the administration team, and the invisible prayer team who surround the conference in prayer."
Lover of Poetry, Fiction & Non-Fiction
Author of Laughter & Tears in Trade Paper and Audio CD.
"To all who couldn't be there this time, Write! Canada 2006 was wonderful beyond belief. For me the absolute highlight was N. J. (Nancy) Lindquist's three plenary sessions, "Finding the Courage to Answer God's Call" (you can order them on CD). Nancy shared from her heart her own journey with such vulnerability, honesty and freedom. It was great to put faces to many names, to make new friends and renew connections with old ones. The morning worship sessions were deeply meaningful and joyous…To all the organizers, thank you so very much for going beyond anything anyone could ever ask in order to make this precious time on holy ground, possible. You all truly "laid down your lives" for your friends and we are so very grateful.
…On our return journey, the members of our group The Writers' Nest stopped to have supper and debrief. We had a first-timer with us and when we asked her for her impressions, her eyes filled with tears and she said that she felt that she had stepped through a portal into something vast and she had no idea now what might happen. I'm not doing justice to the depth of emotion or her words. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Bond Head, Ont.
Canadian Authors columnist for Maranatha News
"Amazing, wonderful, a world of its own, Write! Canada can't be compared to anything else. My eyes are blurry but I wrote two articles the day after the conference. I am inspired, energized and ready to 'answer God's call' (the Write! Canada 2006 theme was "Finding the Courage to Answer God's Call"). N. J., your plenary talk was superb. It spoke right to me. We are in this together. I will do whatever I can to help the 'prophets' of this century. It was wonderful to meet new and old friends."
"One of the greatest benefits of attending Write! Canada is the opportunity to network. You get a chance to meet with publishers and editors, but even more, you get to sit down with like-minded friends and share your victories and your struggles. There are people who will counsel you, console you, and pray for you. Last year at Write! Canada, I asked for prayer regarding the printing of the redesigned book covers for my first two books. Several times during the conference, I was stopped by people I hadn't even met and asked how the project was going. It was obvious they were taking my concern seriously and were expecting positive results. And when all was said and done, the project was a complete success."
"When a friend asked if I would like to go to The Word Guild Writing Awards Gala in 2006, I knew it was a step I had to take out of the devastation of my preceding few months. I needed not only to go to the Gala, but to attend the Write! Canada conference that followed.
As the weekend progressed, the friendly chatter and instructional seminars were a healing balm to my soul. Gradually, I regained a glimpse of the girl to whom God had given gifts of writing and communication. A gentle hope that I could live again gradually began to surface. Encouragement from the teacher and participants of the small group fiction intensive class stirred my sorrow to blend with possibilities. Meeting new friends and deepening relationships with acquaintances were rich experiences with enduring results."
Port Perry, Ont.
"Top memory for me would be my first time at Write! Canada (then called God Uses Ink), soaking up the atmosphere and realizing I'd finally found a place where I belonged. I'd been in groups of Christians, and in small groups of writers, but this blend was like coming home. I always feel that I've had two conferences for the price of one at Write! Canada — professional development and spiritual retreat."
"Did you know that, in most cases, if you have been to one of The Word Guild conferences such as Write! Canada and made personal contact with an editor/publisher, there's a free bonus?
Here it is: even for those markets who state "no unsolicited/unagented material accepted" on their website, your proposal or submission will be given consideration if you reference that earlier contact. This applies to all genres, from a brief article, meditation or poem through to a book, fiction or nonfiction. It is not considered to be unsolicited. What a bonus in a highly competitive business!
At the conference, we are strongly encouraged by the editors to submit article ideas — whether that happens during the teaching sessions or when you just happen to meet an editor in the hall and chat. Both formal and informal opportunities are there — in sessions, at table, around corners, walking between classes. That's one of the main reasons both writers and publishers are there."
Patricia Anne Elford
Chaplain, writer, poet
"At Write! Canada 2005, I met with Ethel Rowntree, editor of the new Canadian magazine Beyond Ordinary Living. She read one of my personal account pieces, told me I was a good writer, but that piece was not a fit for her magazine. We talked for a while and I told her about another piece I had written. She listened intently, then said, "Send it to me." I realized I had that story in my file, so she read it right there.
"Yes," she exclaimed, "this is perfect!" Of course not perfect in the literal sense, but a perfect fit for her magazine.
Today I received the magazine with my story in it — my first publication!
Next month, the first of three of my devotionals accepted by The Upper Room magazine will be published. I met Jim Stafford, editor of The Upper Room, at Write! Canada 2004. The devotional to be published next month is one of two that he asked me to submit! His workshops were so informative.
I praise God for friends and acquaintances in The Word Guild, what a blessing and encouragement to belong to this group. How I look forward to Write! Canada 2006!"
[Editor's note: Mary Haskett published her memoir Reverend Mother's Daughter (Believe Books) in 2007, and was shortlisted in The Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2008 for Best Life Stories Book.]
"The day I drove to Guelph for my first writers' conference, I was in the outskirts when I began to have doubts. It was that little voice saying, 'What do you think you're doing here?' But I continued on. I knew no one else, not a soul, but I soon made connections and realized this was where I was meant to be. Nancy Lindquist was one of the first friendly people that I met that afternoon. These people think like me; I feel welcomed and at home.
Each time I have met new people and renewed connections with fellow TWG members. Each time I have taken away valuable information for the unique place where I am. I'm looking forward to June (2006), in spite of a year filled with challenges. I hope to see you there."
"One of my favourite memories of the conference (then called God Uses Ink) was when my head was spinning and my confidence shot; I sat down with Glynis Belec and she calmed me, inspired me and was extremely patient with all my "stupid" questions. I left our talk feeling like I'd received a warm big hug."