Tag Archives: #whenwordscollide

A fun and inspiring writers’ weekend

I spent the August long weekend at Calgary’s When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers. After three years of attending the festival online, it was great to see familiar faces in-person, make new connections, and participate in panels in front of live audiences. I also enjoyed spreading the word about BWL and Bouchercon Calgary 2026 at their Merchants’ Room tables, which were conveniently located next to each other.  

As usual I especially enjoyed WWC’s opening evening keynote addresses. The four Festival Guest Authors were each given twenty minutes to talk about anything they wanted. This year’s speeches were intensely personal and brave. Writing coach and international speaker Angela Ackerman shared her struggle with imposter syndrome despite selling almost a million books in ten languages. I’m sure every writer in the room could relate. Stacey Kondla spoke about her stroke, which prompted her successful new career as a literary agent. Nicole Baart, author of “race-to-the finish family dramas,” discussed how her need for multiple surgeries during childhood led her to becoming a writer. 

On my seven panels I discussed such topics such as creating characters, writing mental health, fiction in a world with COVID-19, putting your characters in danger, and how to write a series without losing your way (or your mind). About the latter, I confessed my method of combing through my notes and earlier series novels to recall a character’s eye colour, age, or divorce date wasn’t the most efficient way of keeping track of continuing series characters and suggested authors use a spreadsheet. Fellow panelist Cathy Ace prefers a series bible, which she described as a word document that she searches for a character’s pertinent details. Whatever works for each writer. 

At the keynote event, WWC chair Randy McCharles passed the torch (a dragon statue) to the festival’s new management, the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society. The AWCS was busy taking registrations for next year’s festival in the Merchants’ Room. WWC 2024 is already 70 % sold out. AWCS has put together an interesting lineup of Guests of Honour and Special Guest authors. Check their website for updates and to register for When Words Collide Volume Two: Every Chapter Has Another Great Story.

Thanks to Diane Bator (above) for organizing the BWL table. Author Layton Park stopped by to chat with Diane and do a table shift. Diane went home with ideas for sprucing up the BWL table next year. Even the Merchants’ Room can be inspiring. 

When Words Collide Chapter One Finale

Last weekend I spent a busy three days at Calgary’s When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers. This was supposed to be the ending of the festival’s successful thirteen-year run, but it will continue next year under new and enthusiastic management. You can read about my experience this year on today’s BWL author insider blog. https://bwlauthors.blogspot.com/

I look forward to connecting with new and old WWC friends next year!

When Words Collide Grand Finale

I’ve attended Calgary’s When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers every year since it began in 2011. That was the year I published my first novel, A Deadly Fall, butI didn’t attend to promote the book. I went as a fan of one of their special guest authors Robert J. Sawyer and because a friend coaxed me into going and WWC was an inexpensive, local event. When I arrived at the host hotel, I was amazed at the festival’s energy. The founders largely came from the science fiction and fantasy community and they know how to party. While WWC included all genres, it helped to understand Star Trek references. I attended several dynamic panels and presentations and did a shift at the book sale table, where I met some interesting people and sold copies of my new novel. 

The following year, I volunteered to lead a dialogue workshop, which had a huge turnout. Buoyed by this success, the next year I volunteered to sit on a few panels. WWC is entirely volunteer-run and presented, although the special guest authors receive expense money. The relative equality between everyone attending creates a democratic atmosphere, even though the guest authors are the stars. A highlight for me every year is the opening night’s two-hour keynote addresses, where the five or six guest authors each introduce themselves and speak on whatever topic they want. Often the speeches are funny and/or thought provoking. 

My involvement increased when I joined the WWC board and worked on developing panel ideas. We tried for topics that would appeal to readers of all genres and writers at every stage of the process, from learning the craft to finding a publisher to promoting their books. I met BWL publisher Jude Pittman at WWC 2017 when we chatted in the Merchants’ Room. After the festival, I sent her a query and soon became part of the BWL family.  

                                 BWL’s Nancy Bell and Jude Pittman at When Words Collide

Connections also occur at WWC social gatherings. The Saturday evening banquet sells out quickly thanks to the festival’s encouragement of costumes. Here I am (left hand side) with two other ladies in red at the Roaring Twenties theme banquet.  

      Then COVID-19 hit. WWC went online in August 2020 and continued with virtual conferences the following two years. I participated in panels and attended some virtual social events, but not as many as I had previously. Staring at a computer screen wasn’t the same as meeting in person. I left the board, feeling I didn’t have the tech skills to contribute much of value. Other board members dropped off and the festival’s main organizers ran out of steam. They decided to return to the in-person festival in 2023, but this would be the final year for When Words Collide. 

Registration for WWC 2023 has reached its cap of 780 attendees, but this is due to 2020 and later registrations being carried forward to this year since the online festival was free. Spots are expected to open up, so it’s worth putting your name on the waitlist if you’re interested in attending. https://www.whenwordscollide.org/Registration/Am_I_Registered.php

I’m looking forward to the WWC finale on August 4-6 with bittersweet feelings, but this might not be a complete ending. Rumour has it another group is thinking of reviving the festival or creating something similar next year. This could give us even greater reason to celebrate When Words Collide’s wildly successful thirteen year run this summer. Hats off to you, WWC! It’s been grand. 

                                               Me with Special Guest Author Will Ferguson

When Words Collide – in person again!

Today on the BWL author blog https://bwlauthors.blogspot.com/I write about When Words Collide, Calgary’s annual festival for readers and writers, which will make its last appearance this summer. I’ll be there and plan to attend many panels and events, sit on a panel or two, and host a table for Bouchercon World Mystery Convention Calgary 2026. https://bouchercon2026.com/. Two great events for lovers of mystery writing.