Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of When Words Collide?
  2. What kind of format is When Words Collide?
  3. What kind of activities can I expect?
  4. How can the cost of attending When Words Collide be so low?
  5. What is the difference between Festival Guests and Presenters?
  6. Are free passes available?
  7. Are day passes available?
  8. Will there be additional fees once I arrive?
  9. Why does the festival start at noon on Friday instead of earlier in the day?
  10. How do I get to the festival?
  11. I have a question about the festival that I did not find here. What do I do?

1. What is the purpose of When Words Collide?

When Words Collide exists to provide an opportunity for the literary community, from readers to writers to publishers, to gather and share information and inspiration. With the belief that different genres have more in common than they have differences, the festival includes content for all types of literature including Mainstream, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Historical, Literary, and non-fiction.

2. What kind of format is When Words Collide?

When Words Collide is a 3-day festival (Friday noon - Sunday evening) held in a convention hotel. Meeting space is used for concurrent discussion panels, presentations, and workshops on a broad range of topics of interest to readers and writers. A book room, which is open to the public, hosts tables for publishers, book stores, and literary organizations. One low-cost weekend pass grants access to all activities. There are no for-fee events (with the exception of a banquet if one is held and pre/post-festival Master Classes).

3. What kind of activities can I expect?

The festival program includes items you may find at a professional writers conference, such as blue pencil cafe and pitch sessions, as well as items you may find at a readers festival, such as talks, readings, and autographs by best-selling authors. Most of the program items are panel discussions where four authors, editors, or other subject experts discuss the aspects of a topic such as how eBooks are impacting how authors write and readers read. Other popular activities include hands-on workshops, such as learning how people really lived in the Victorian era, or improving dialog in your writing; and Live Action Slush, where editors respond to manuscripts submitted by the audience.

4. How can the cost of attending When Words Collide be so low?

When Words Collide is not a writers' conference, where typically all speakers are contracted by the organization and compensated with speakers fees. The expenses for such conferences are relatively high, which in turn means high fees for those attending. While expensive to attend, such conferences are an excellent resource for writers.

So what are we? Our festival is based on a volunteer convention model popular in the Science Fiction and Fantasy world that is designed to attract writers of all levels while being affordable enough to attract readers. This is accomplished by contracting a very small number of guest speakers, with attending professionals volunteering to participate in the remainder of the program. All speakers, including the festival guests, volunteer their time and expertise, graciously waiving speakers fees they may require at professional events. Expenses are further reduced by all organizers and staff also being volunteers. The registration fee charged to attend the festival covers the cost of meeting rooms, travel & accommodation of our festival guests, printing costs, and little else.

5. What is the difference between Festival Guests and Presenters?

Based largely on suggestions from attendees, When Words Collide invites 5 or so literary professionals each year as festival guests. While we do not provide speaker fees (in keeping with our volunteer-run festival policy), we do offer to cover expenses as well as the option to lead Master Classes immediately before and after the festival. Master classes have separate admission fees with proceeds going toward expenses as well as a modest speaker fee.

Presenters are attending professionals who volunteer to participate in our program, often as a pay-it-forward activity. Many of our festival guests return in subsequent years as Presenters in recognition of the value When Words Collide provides to the literary community.

6. Are free passes available?

In keeping with our volunteer-run festival policy, all attendees are required to purchase a festival pass. The only exceptions are the official Festival Guests, approved members of the media, approved support persons for disabled attendees, and contracted on-site volunteers. The event organizers, who volunteer thousands of hour each year to make the festival possible, are also required to purchase passes.

7. Are day passes available?

To minimize complexity and effort for our volunteers we do not offer day passes.

8. Will there be additional fees once I arrive?

Festival passes provide rush seating access to all day and evening events, with the exception of a festival banquet (if one is held). Your pass also includes access to Blue Pencil Cafe and Pitch Sessions which, due to limited space, are not rush but require sign-up for available time slots. Pre/post-festival Master Classes held immediately prior to or after the festival, do have separate registration fees and are considered external events.

9. Why does the festival start at 1 PM Friday instead of earlier in the day?

Many people attending the festival (around half) live outside of Calgary. The start time allows most of them to drive or fly in without having to stay at the hotel on Thursday evening, thereby avoiding the cost of an additional hotel night.

10. How do I get to the festival?

This information is available under Preparation and Amenities.

11. I have a question about the festival that I did not find here. What do I do?

Email us at info@whenwordscollide.org and we will find you an answer.