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 other speakers?
  6. Are free memberships 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 weekend membership fee grants access to all activities. There are no for-fee events (with the exception of a banquet if one is held).

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 serious 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 cost, and little else.

5. What is the difference between Festival Guests and other speakers?

The festival dedicates the lion's share of our budget each year to honour a few members of the literary community, typically one editor/publisher/agent and four or five authors, by paying their expenses to attend the festival such as travel, hotel accommodations, and meals. We rely on volunteer speakers from among attendees and the Calgary area to fill the remainder of the program. If you would like to volunteer to speak at the festival, please let us know.

6. Are free memberships available?

In keeping with our policy of making the festival accessible to the broader literary community by keeping registration fees low, we require all attendees to purchase a festival membership. The only exception are the official Festival Guests, approved members of the media, approved support persons for the disabled, and contracted on-site volunteers. Speakers who attend the festival must also purchase memberships. That said, speakers who do not attend the festival outside of their presentations have no need to register.

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?

The festival has no events that require additional fees. Weekend membership provides access to all day and evening events, including the Blue Pencil Cafe, Pitch sessions, and festival workshops. We cannot, however, guarantee that time slots for your preferred mentor will be available. We may have pre-festival workshops or a banquet, which are paid for separately, but these are sold separately and only prior to the festival.

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 the 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.