5 Reasons to Attend the When Words Collide Conference

What’s the best way to get 3 full days of advice on writing, publishing and promoting for $65? Attend the When Words Collide Conference for writers and readers in Calgary, Alberta!

I attended When Words Collide (WWC for short) last year. It was my first-ever writers’ conference, and I was nervous, awkward and unsure right up until the day I arrived. I had a million newbie questions like:

  • What do people wear to writing conferences? (Answer – Really whatever you want as long as your undies aren’t showing.)
  • Should I bring a book? (Answer – Maybe, but at WWC there’s not much time for reading.)
  • What should I say to Jack Whyte, one of my favourite authors who was at the conference? (Answer – “Hello I love your books,” seemed to work just fine.)

Thankfully all my fears were squashed as soon as I arrived and I was greeted by friendly people (like Randy McCharles, the conference organizer) and began attending sessions. Lots and lots of sessions.

This year I’m returning to WWC as an attendee and a panel member/editor. I’ve gathered my top 5 reasons that I think every writer should attend WWC this year, although I realize some (most?) of you may not be close enough to Calgary to make that a reality. If you can’t make it this year, maybe this could be on your conference list for 2013!

5 Reasons to Attend When Words Collide (Aug. 10-12, 2012)

1. Your Biggest Challenge Will be Choosing Which Sessions to Go To.

One of the things that stood out for me at WWC’s inaugural conference last year was the number of sessions. There were times at the WWC conference that I had to make a difficult choice between two sessions that I wanted to attend. Thankfully I was there with a friend, so when times got tough, we split up and went to different sessions and reported back to each other.

The program for WWC is jam-packed again this year. You can check out the full program on the When Words Collide site, but here’s a small sample of sessions to get you started.

  • Writer as Editor – Revising Your Own Work – tips on becoming your own best editor from Steven Owad, Susan MacGregor, Neil Godbout and Virginia O’Dine.
  • Self-Publishing Made Easier? – Derek Donais, Krista Ball and Aviva Bell give advice on self-pubbing.
  • Successful Blogging/Platform Building – with Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse.
  • Historical Research for Writers – with writer/researcher Tereasa Maillie.
  • Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me When I Was Just Starting Out – with Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta.

2. The Friendly Vibe.

Even attending as an unpublished and brand-new writer, I felt welcomed at this conference. Big-name authors mingled with no-namers in the halls before events, said hi in the line for the washroom, and welcomed people approaching them with questions and/or praise after readings and sessions. When Words Collide is a great place to talk to your favourite genre writers. Check out the list of Guests and Presenters to see if there’s anyone you’re dying to meet.

3. You Can Get Feedback on Your Writing.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are lots of ways to get free feedback on your writing. Attending conferences is one of them. At WWC, you can sign up for Blue Pencil Cafés where you’ll be able to share a few pages of your writing with an editor and get immediate feedback.

You can also join a pitch session to practice pitching your book to editing professionals.

And, if you’re really brave, you can put your work into a Live Action Slush pile.

In Live Action Slush sessions, you throw the first page of your manuscript into a slush pile. A volunteer chooses first pages out of the slush pile, and reads them out to a panel of editors. The editors give feedback on why (or why not) they would have continued to read the submission. The writers in the audience not only get feedback on their first page, but also learn from the editors’ comments to other writers.

4. The Speakers & Sessions Are Top-Notch.

I returned from When Words Collide last year with pages and pages of notes and new ideas for my writing career. I had a chance to ask authors about their publishing process, to get tips on the craft of writing, and to connect with several other new writers.

5. It’s Really, Really Inexpensive.

I’m still shocked (but so happy) that the price for WWC is $65 for 3 whole days (and two nights) of writing and reading goodness. I’ve seen other, similar conferences priced much higher. If you’re in the Calgary area already, you can’t really go wrong with registering, even if you can only attend for one day.

Warning: Shameless Self Promotion Ahead

I’m going to be involved in a few sessions at When Words Collide this year. If you’re looking for help from an editor or advice on Social Media, you could check out these sessions:

  • Pitch Session: Saturday, August 11th at 12 pm: “Pitch your manuscript to an editor and get instant feedback.”
  • Social Media Self Promotion Do’s and Dont’s: Sunday, August 12th at 11 am: “The internet age has given authors a whole new tool box to promote not only their fiction, but their author brand as well. Trouble is, the toolbox came without a manual. Writers who make effective use of Blogs, twitter, Facebook, etc. share their secrets.”
  • Blue Pencil Café: Sunday, August 12th at 4pm: “Bring in the first page or two of your manuscript and receive comments and advice.”

So, will I see you there August 10-12, 2012? Let me know in the comments so we can be sure to say hi!

P.S. If you are going to be in the Calgary area and are considering attending, you might want to register soon. The conference is 92.89% full as of today (August 4).

P.P.S Although this is a very fan-girly post, I’m not affiliated with WWC (aside from participating in the conference), nor did they ask me to write this post. This is just my unsolicited opinion on the event :)

Author: Carrie Mumford

Carrie Mumford is a writer and content manager living in Calgary, Alberta. She write short stories and non-fiction articles, and blogs about technology, editing, writing and (of course) books.

  • I’m just hoping this year’s conference can live up to last year’s. That was the best writer’s conference I’d been to in years, so wondering if they can really get same level of synergism again, or if it was just a fluke. Am hopeful because some new publishers (CZP and Five Rivers, etc) will be there, national SF awards (Aurora) etc infusing whole new energy…in addition to same major players as last year….

    • Hi Robert,

      I have high hopes for WWC this year too. One of the highlights of the conference last year for me was having the chance to get feedback from you on my writing. Hopefully you’ll be participating with your editor hat on again this year!

      See you next weekend!

  • I hope the conference was as good as you hoped! I thought it was better than last year, and that is saying something. They did such a great job, and really, for an event like this the cost is shockingly low!


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