Tick, Tick, Tick…Time is slipping away! Ontario Writers’ Conference

It is time to register for the Ontario Writers’ Conference! Our registration closes officially on March 31st. If you have not yet registered, you’ll want to get in under that wire.

We have a very exciting line-up this year. Amazing facilitators, speakers, agents and mentors! For a full list of those involved, and their bios, please visit the LIST OF SPEAKERS page of our site.

To name a few, here, it is REALLY hard to decide who to showcase. I want to list every single one of them! We are very fortunate to have every one of our presenters! I will try to give you a smattering of an idea:

One of the biggest names in Science Fiction in the world, ROBERT J. SAWYER will be presenting the lecture — BOOKS WITH BUZZ!

Acclaimed journalist and W5 favourite, PAULA TODD will be our closing speaker!

Beloved children’s book author ADRIENNE KRESS (who is soon entering the Young Adult market with her new novel, THE FRIDAY SOCIETY, will be presenting the workshopHOW ABSURDITY, MAGICAL REALISM AND STEAMPUNK CAN CHANGE YOUR (WRITING) LIFE!

Internationally renown author SUSANNA KEARSLEY will be presenting the workshop BEST EVIDENCE: DIGGING UP THE FACTS!

For a full list of workshops offered, please follow this link: WORKSHOP/PRESENTATION DESCRIPTIONS


Click on the logo below to be taken to the Ontario Writers’ Conference website. Don’t delay! The registration deadline is fast approaching. Don’t miss out Saturday May 5th, 2012 conference!

Hey WRITERS! Get Your Game Face On! – Trent U. Oshawa Campus Agent Pitch Workshop!

This one is for everybody in Southern Ontario who will be seeking an agent in the next year or so! It’s a MUST attend workshop that will help you nail the 30-second pitch. Ever try to put together an elevator pitch for your novel? Ever want to jump off a tall building in a single bound out of frustration when trying to get your pitch nailed down? Then this workshop is for you.

Let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate—YES, this workshop is sponsored by the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & YES, the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE is having Blue Pencil Sessions and Agent Pitches at this year’s May 5th conference–BUT this workshop is for EVERYONE. You do not need to be attending the conference to register for the workshop. All you need is a desire to nail down that elusive pitch!

My personal experience with pitches is that they are impossible for me to write. Or, I should say were impossible for me to write. Last year, though, I took a workshop through the WCDR. It was an elevator pitch workshop facilitated by NOELLE BICKLE. In the course of that workshop I went from being extremely frustrated trying to distill a novel down to a pitch to being able to write pitches for two of my novels. GOOD pitches. Really good pitches. Noelle is an excellent facilitator. She took the impossible languages of pitches and queries and helped me to make sense of them.

I wanted others to experience this. It only seemed fitting to get Noelle to develop a workshop for the Ontario Writers’ Conference this year, seeing as we were having agent pitch sessions for the very first time. The conference is thrilled to be hosting this workshop. Noelle’s wisdom could be yours—register today for this April workshop. You’ll be grateful you did!

Writers! Get your Game-Face On

A workshop to help you create a captivating 30-second pitch!

WHEN: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 6:30 – 9 pm

Learn how to pitch a story idea, manuscript or screenplay to editors, publishers and producers WITH CONFIDENCE!!!

Cost: $45 ($40 WCDR/WCYR/WCSC/HHWEN)
Location: Trent University – Oshawa
55 Thornton Road South – Right off the 401 and only 25 minutes east of Toronto!
(parking is free)

To register:
Email info@thewritersconference.com
Call 905-985-4409


About the facilitator:
Noelle Bickle is a writer, editor, and certified AWA creative writing facilitator. She is a graduate of Journalism and Public Relations, and alumni of the Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop. She is a certified as a writing workshop facilitator and for almost ten years, has served as guest speaker on achieving leadership and building a thriving business. Noelle has mastered the art of shameless self-promotion.

Workshop sponsored by:

Literati Gala in Durham Region – All are Welcome!

With the arrival of spring comes the annual ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE! This event takes place in the writing hub of Ontario. For those who do not know, Durham Region is a bustling writing community!

The conference takes place in Ajax, Ontario, at the Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility. This blog post, however, is about an Ontario Writers’ Conference hosted event that is open to everybody! Each year the conference has its FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS and it’s ALWAYS open to the public.

Saturday May 5th Conference attendees attend the Friday Evening Festival of Authors for free. The non-conference attending public pays $20 and MUST book ahead (This is because we need numbers for the event venue).


To register for the Festival of Authors, the general public can go to the OWC registration page and CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE REGISTRATION button. This will open a new window. Scroll down to STEP #2 and click the CLICK HERE TO PAY button. This will open again a new window.

In the new window, go here:

Click on the BUY NOW button beneath FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS (if not attending conference). This will take you to Paypal, where you could pay for the Festival using either Paypal or one of the many credit card options.

Once you make the Festival payment, the OWC will receive confirmation and then send you an email verifying your attendance.


Al Dente Restaurant
1305 Pickering Parkway
Pickering, ON L1V 3P2
(905) 839-1200


Friday, May 4th from 7 to 10 pm


MARINA NEMAT Author of Prisoner of Tehran & After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed. Marina will be talking about her CANADA READS experience.

EVA STACHNIAK Author of Necessary Lies, The Winter Palace & Garden of Venus.

BRAD SMITH Author of All Hat, One-Eyed Jacks, Busted Flush, Big Man Coming Down Road & Red Means Run.


Networking opportunities and superb food will be rounded out by this public event including:

  • entertaining and inspiring author readings
  • opportunities to mingle with Canadian and fellow writers, Indie Presses, Literary magazine reps and traditional publishers
  • exciting prizes and more…

All this in a café-style atmosphere with tantalizing refreshments.

THIS EVENT IS A MUST SEE FOR READERS AND WRITERS ALIKE! And being that it is in Pickering, Ontario, it is mere minutes from Toronto! SO worth the drive!

Remember, you MUST register ahead!


Dr. Seuss is a Birthday Cake We Should Always Eat & OWC Agent Pitch Workshop!

Oh, the fun you will have. Oh, the places you’ll go. If you just let your hair down, at least on one side.

Is one ever too old for Dr. Seuss? This may be one of the most fascinating philosophical questions of the 21st Century. Or it may just be a device I thought up to write this blog post. But it truly is a very good question to ask—especially if one is a writer. In fact, I might just be a genius to have come up with it. Especially on such a Seussical day as this. If the good Dr. were alive today, I’d make him the biggest great cake that he ever did see. I’d decorate it in such an extravagant way, and perch it way high in the highest big tree.

Happy Birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, you finest of men, you elegant worder. You wielder of pen, you magic rhyme herder!

A note to all writers out there in the land of Seuss: Go to the bookstore, go to your shelf, pick up a Seuss book, go back to your core! Be a fine word elf, indulge in a language that turns in on itself. ABCs or Horton or Who! Wherever you wander, you’ll run into you.  “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere” in the great land of Seuss.

Be a child today, pick up a Seuss. Try to remember that this thing you do, this writing thing, is something you do because you love words. If you’re anything like me, Seuss has a lot to do with your love of language. Don’t forget your roots. And whatever you do, never grow up! And when words drive you crazy, just never give up!

One more thing before I go!

There is a fantastic Ontario Writers’ Conference PRE-CONFERENCE workshop taking place on APRIL 3rd, at the Oshawa Campus of Trent University! Noelle Bickle will lead workshop attendees through the agent pitch! I’ve taken a WCDR After Breakfast Mini-Workshop in which Noelle taught the elevator pitch. It completely opened my eyes, both to the importance of the pitch and the essence of distilling your manuscript down to the size of a pitch. Now, you too can attend a workshop that will walk you through the agent pitch. Learn how to approach an agent properly. This is an Ontario Writers’ Conference sponsored workshop—which will nicely prepare those OWC 2012 Conference attendees for agent pitches on conference day, but it is also open to any and all who would like to attend. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to improve your chances with an agent. All the details are available on the Ontario Writers’ Conference website (along with a Paypal Link to allow you to register online for the workshop).

The gist is:

A workshop to help you create a captivating 30-second pitch!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
6:30 – 9 pm

Learn how to pitch a story idea, manuscript or screenplay to editors, publishers and producers WITH CONFIDENCE!!!
Cost: $45 ($40 WCDR/WCYR/WCSC/HHWEN)
Location: Trent University – Oshawa
55 Thornton Road South
(parking is free)


2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference – A World of Possibilities!

Tears are a good indication that, as a team, you are doing something right. When I first saw one of the 2010 Ontario Writers’ Conference registrants coming up from her Blue Pencil Mentor Session with a pool of un-fallen tears collecting in the corners of her eyes, I was a bit hesitant to ask her what was wrong. And then her face bloomed into one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. When she tried to speak, her breath caught in her throat. She was too happy to form an intelligent sentence.


When she was finally able to communicate to me what was on her mind, I felt another pang of justification for the long hours of planning we put into the conference every year. Her session was with an agent and the agent had asked her to send her manuscript in when it was completed!


And in 2011, I caught a moment of sheer exhilaration as Wayson Choy’s lecture let out. The crowd was silly with childish glee. And there were butterflies everywhere. When Wayson does something, he does it big! I couldn’t count the butterflies and I couldn’t count the smiles. Origami had taken over at the 2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference. (-: It was a sight to behold. And I beamed…because I pictured all those writers going home to their keyboards, setting their origami butterflies in a place of honour…and typing away with a newfound exuberance for the words they create.


That’s what we do this for…to hear success stories from writers who brave the nervous uncertainty of surrounding themselves with industry professionals for the opportunity to make positive changes in their paths to publication. To see the creativity of writers blossom into something bigger than it was when they arrived at the doors in the morning, eager to begin their day.


Every year as we committee members are running around making sure everything is moving as smoothly as possible, we come into contact with writers in the midst of a joyous moment…of discovery, truth, solidarity, success, enlightenment or recognition. Doesn’t matter what it is. If we see that glint on a passing face, the pool of tears collecting in wide-open unblinking eyes…well, we know. We know that the whole year of planning was worth the effort. That’s why we do what we do…as volunteers for a not-for-profit organization, our payback is in knowing that what we gathered together on the conference day has touched the life of a writer.


If you see one of the conference organizers walking around on the day of the conference with a beaming glow on their face, you’ll know they just stumbled across a registrant in the midst of an aha moment of bliss. Their success is our success! We’ll never get tired of seeing the fruits of our labour!


Wayson Choy – Honorary Patron of the Ontario Writers’ Conference


So when you come to the 2012 conference on May 5th, come with an open heart and mind. Come with bubbling potential. Come with hope and nervous wonder and a willingness to believe in the miraculous. We know we’re not going to change the world in any major way…but we certainly hope to bring a little change to your world.

 …word by word

 Visit the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE YouTube Station – We have a large selection of previous speakers to view at our dedication YouTube channel.

Visit the Ontario Writers’ Conference website to find out about the 2012 conference! We hope to see you there!

 The 2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference takes place on Saturday May 5th at Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility in Ajax, Ontario…just minutes from downtown Toronto. All registrants receive FREE entry to the Friday evening FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS. If you cannot make it to the conference, you can still come out Friday evening to the Festival of Authors (Tickets- $20).

Incomparable Wayson – Ontario Writers’ Conference

It’s time, once again, for the Ontario Writers’ Conference planning committee to switch into high gear. One of my favourite times of the year!

While we get busy planning the 2012 conference, take a moment to watch the incomparable Wayson Choy (Author of the Jade Peony & Not Dead Yet) speak at our 2011 conference. Wayson has been the Ontario Writers’ Conference Honorary Patron since the inaugural conference of 2008.


You can check out all the OWC video and pictures at the OWC website!

http://www.thewritersconference.com – Click on the PHOTOS & VIDEOS tab. There, you will find video featuring our past speakers – including Robert J. Wiersema, Andrew Pyper, Dwayne Morgan, Robert J. Sawyer & more!

The 2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference will take place in Ajax on Saturday May 5th, 2012. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for details. We’ll be announcing speakers, workshops, etc, as they are arranged.

Toronto Writers – There is LIFE East of the City!

I’m quite sure that the little city west of Durham Region has a vibrant writing community. I mean, with a population of roughly 2.5 million…you would think that there were enough writers to form a circle of some sort. Maybe a cozy table of 4 at the local Starbucks? Or perhaps they meet en masse on a downtown street corner and belt out poetry & prose to the throngs of passersby on a Saturday afternoon? Who knows? I’m far too busy with the dynamic writing community here in Durham Region to find out what the little city to the west of us is doing as a writing community (this is not entirely true! Us Durham Region writers often travel in groups to Toronto for writing events of interest!). I’m sure they’re having a blast though.

I wonder if they know what’s happening here? I wonder if they realize that the Durham Region is attracting some of Canada’s biggest writers to their stages and writing events? I wonder if they know how close Durham Region is to their city? It seems a shame that more Torontonian writers don’t get in their cars and make that long mysterious vortex of a trip to the nether regions of EAST OF THE CITY!

In Durham Region, we have the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION, which is a wonderfully supportive writing community for writers.

I wonder if any of the TORONTO writers who stumbled upon this post are brave enough to click on the above logo? I wonder if they are ready to discover an entire writing universe that lingers just EAST of their metropolis? Because if they were to do that (click on the above logo), they would find out that they can attend monthly WCDR breakfast meetings at the posh AJAX CONVENTION CENTRE, which is JUST off the 401 and minutes from Toronto. There is a guest speaker from the Canadian writing community at each of these meetings. And tons of opportunities to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, etc. They would probably be amazed that the WCDR is able to collect over 100 writers together in the same room once a month at 8:30 on a Saturday morning!

After discovering these monthly breakfast meetings, I’m sure Torontonian writers will wonder how they too can take part in such a vibrant Saturday morning activity. They might even want to find out how to JOIN THE WCDR FOR BREAKFAST! (<that’s a link!)

But the WCDR breakfasts are really just the tip of the iceberg. The Durham Region has BOOKS & BEVVIES, a lively night out with fine food and readings. This event gives writers another fine opportunity to mingle, network, enjoy each other’s words and company.

A growing component of the writing community EAST OF THE CITY is the annual ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE This event takes place in Ajax…again just off the 401 and minutes from Toronto.

Toronto writers can even watch past Ontario Writers’ Conference speakers on the OWC Youtube channel. That way, they can see what they missed… and plan ahead so they won’t have to miss another conference ever again!

Yes…if they click on the above logo they will most definitely be taken to the OWC Youtube page. And once there, they can watch such writers as Robert J. Wiersema, Wayson Choy, Andrew Pyper…and a slew of others…give talks at past conferences.

I wonder if Torontonian writers realize they won’t fall off the end of the world if they travel east of Scarborough? I wonder if they realize they would be fully welcomed and embraced by the vibrant writing community that is BUZZING with electric energy and sitting here right in their own backyard?

These are some of the bigger events in Durham Region, but they are by far not the only events for writers. The Whitby Library is always able to attract big name writers to their downtown branch. It’s always worth the drive to Whitby to hear authors such as Robert J. Wiersema and Susanna Kearsley reading from their newest releases!

I wonder if the Toronto writers who have not yet ventured EAST OF THE CITY know of all the remarkable world class writing workshops being led by Durham writers?

What’s that above these words? Why, another link to fabulous Durham Region writing opportunities, of course! I bet there are Toronto writers clicking on that logo right now to discover what Inkslingers is all about!

But there are other busy Durham Region workshop facilitators too! Just click on this link and you’ll discover Durham also has an amazing WRITESCAPE in its playground. I know Toronto writers just clicked on that link. They’d be crazy not to! With all the wonderful retreats being hosted by Writescape, they would want to know exactly what it’s all about!

I wonder if there are any more Toronto writers out there who are willing to take the plunge off the edge of the world and make that worthwhile trek EAST OF THE CITY? If they were to do so, they would surely enrich their writing lives beyond belief. Notice how I said MORE. The Durham Region already attracts a number of Toronto writers to its vibrant community. Some have already discovered the secret of the abundant writing world we have here (lucky them!).

Durham also has a vibrant theatre community…and it’s growing all the time. Don’t miss out on the annual DRIFTWOOD THEATRE’S TRAFALGAR24 PLAY CREATION FESTIVAL. It’s only in DURHAM REGION!

Click on the castle pic above to find out how you can find yourself on the inside, having the time of your life! But only if you brave the drive to WHITBY!

We also have a theatre festival in Durham. The annual Durham Theatre Festival is region wide…and offers a wide variety of plays to choose from. Some written by Durham Region playwrights! I wonder if any of the Toronto writers are going to click on the logo below?

SO, TORONTO…what are you waiting for? The Durham Region Writing community is here. And it’s ALWAYS ready to embrace more writers! Take that leap…make the trip EAST OF THE CITY! It will change your life!

You can Twitter follow some of those mentioned here: @ONTWritersConf @WCDR1 @HotSauced @Inkslingersca @Piquant_Pr @Writescape_ @DriftwoodTheatr

2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference – What a day!

I was going to blog about the Ontario Writers’ Conference today. I was going to talk about how wonderful a day it was, how amazing it was to be surrounded by writers of all stages and ages…how energetic it was to be among so many talented creative people. There was a buzz in the air and I wanted to write about it.

But I’m an organizer. I was in charge of registration for the event. I don’t want to blow my own horn—even though my part was so small. I don’t want to be a representative of the Ontario Writers’ Conference standing up and shouting, “Weren’t we great!” One, I’m not a braggart. Two, I get a tingle of argh! when I see people patting themselves on the back. Three, the magic of the day was as much about the registrants and the presenters and the speakers and the mentors and the media and the booksellers and the venue staff and the vendors and the student volunteers and the honorary patron and the agents and sponsors and the donors and everyone else as it was about the organizers. As organizers, we had but one goal. Make the day as special as we can make it. And that’s what the nine of us did. We tried our best.

I won’t write about all the things that happened at the conference. As much as I am HUGELY biased by my love of the event and my fellow volunteer organizers, I don’t want to spout on about how fabulous the 2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference was.

Instead, I will supply links from people who were at the conference and chose to write about it. I thank all of them now, not only for coming and making the event the success that it was, but also for writing about it. Thank you all for your kind words of support. We really do try our best to make this an event of creative inspiration for all who attend!







I will add more, if there are more. (-:

I want to thank everybody who had anything to do with the conference this year. Whether you were a registrant, a volunteer, a Blue Pencil mentor, a bookseller, a workshop presenter, a skit writer, an actor, a lecturer, a speaker, a reader, a vendor, a sponsor, or anyone I’m forgetting in this post…THANK YOU. You helped to make the day a special one.

2011 Ontario Writers’ Conference!

It’s almost time for the REGISTRATIONS to open for the April 30th Ontario Writers’ Conference! Why am I so excited? I am looking after registrations this year! Also, I know how abfab the event is going to be. I’ve been seeing it take shape behind the curtain and it’s looking absolutely stunning! I can’t wait to see how this one unfolds!

We are a volunteer committee of 9 members and we really work hard to pull together a great conference experience for those attending. The Ontario Writers’ Conference is a non-profit entity. We do this for the love of writing and for the love of writers. Bottom line, we want our attendees to have a great time and take home a wealth of knowledge that they can later translate into writerly success! That’s what it’s all about.


EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS – From November 1st, 2010 to December 15th, 2010.

Some of the line-up:

ROBERT J. WIERSEMA will be teaching a workshop and he will also be our Keynote Dinner Speaker! Mr. Wiersema will be facilitating Slaying Your Darlings – Pushing People’s Buttons: Sometimes keeping the momentum going necessitates driving your story off a cliff! Learn how to push the reader’s buttons to keep them turning those pages.

RAY ROBERTSON will be facilitating the workshop Thou Shalt Not Tell: “Showing” is the foundation of all good writing with an active voice and ample use of all five senses. Exercises and examples will help you hone your craft and bring your writing to life in a whole new manner.

WAYSON CHOY, who is our honorary patron, will be facilitating a workshop this year! Mr. Choy will be facilitating Risky Business – Telling the Story You’re Dying To Tell No Matter What People Think: Who better than acclaimed Canadian author Wayson Choy to use dying, story and “what people think” in the same sentence! He’ll share experiences from his own life and how he turned this into great reading.

Genre Buffet Roundtable (Ziana de Bethune (Horror-Fantasy) | Chevon Gael (Erotic-Romance) | Neil Crone (Humour) | Barbara Fradkin (Mystery) ): Often wondered about writing in a different genre or not know what to do with strange characters that showed up in your head? This is your opportunity to question and discuss erotic-romance, horror-fantasy, humour or mystery with four successful Canadian writers in their fields.

Delayed Gratification – How to Build Suspense facilitated by Annette McLeod : Put a character up a tree. Add a thunderstorm. Then a villain with a chainsaw. Get the point? Learn how to create intensity, build suspense and keep momentum going to the bitter end.

And that’s just a fraction of our wonderful 2011 line-up. For a more comprehensive list, check out the Workshop/Presentation Descriptions

Check out the day’s SCHEDULE
REGISTRATION PAGE will go live on November 1st. Workshops are first come, first serve. Register early to guarantee your workshops!

2010 Ontario Writers’ Conference

2010 Ontario Writers’ Conference – Word by Word

The Ontario Writers’ Conference took place on Saturday, May 1, 2010 at Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility in Ajax, Ontario.

All feedback indicates that this year’s conference was a success! Thank you to all the facilitators, speakers, readers, blue pencil mentors, panelists, vendors and volunteers! And thanks go out to the writers who attended…without them, we could not have enjoyed the huge success we had. Thank you!

Keynote Speakers:

Robert J. Sawyer & Catherine Gildiner

Workshop Presenters:

Gwynn Scheltema, Catherine Bush, Annette McLeod, Barbara Berson, Richard Scrimger, Anne Carter, Marie Campbell, Susanna Kearsley, Robert J. Sawyer, Terry Fallis, Wayne Grady and Collette Yvonne.

Publishing Panel:

Cynthia Macdonald, Hilary McMahon, Terry Fallis, Barry Dempster, Katherine Ashenburg, Mike O’Connor and Barbara Berson.

Blue Pencil Session Mentors:

Martin Avery, Dorothea Helms, Sue Reynolds, Ruth E. Walker, Allyson Latta, Annette McLeod, Carolyn Forde, Collette Yvonne, Gwynn Scheltema and Catherine Bush.

Festival of Authors Readers:

Catherine Gildiner, Barry Dempster, Dwayne Morgan and Catherine Bush.

Mark your calendars for the 2011 Conference – April 30th – May 1st, 2011 at Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility!