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Alexandra Writers Centre

The Alexandra Writers Centre is officially taking over the planning and implementation of the well-established When Words Collide Festival which happens every August in Calgary.

We have huge shoes to fill, but are up for the challenge. With the support of the current When Words Collide board, local bookstores, agents and other literary organizations, we are excited to be able to keep the festival going and are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2024 When Words Collide Festival is now open.

Even though it’s a year away, festival planning has already begun.

When Words Collide: Volume Two
August 16 to 18, 2024
Delta Calgary South

2024 Guests of Honour

Jessica Johns | P.J. Vernon | Premee Mohamed | Tash McAdam | Wayne Arthurson


The December planning meeting will be held online (virtual) on December 8 starting at 10 AM. This will also include the Annual General Meeting


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That's All, Folks!

• Sunday 2023 August 6 •

Another year, and another When Words Collide has wound to a successful conclusion. Thank you to everybody who went above and beyond to make this year's festival a success!

Future WWC festivals will be administered by The Alexandra Writers Centre. See their website for details. Please give them your support.

Inspirational Music

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Local Interviews

• Thursday 2023 August 3 •

A two-part interview with WWC board member Cliff Samuels and WWC guest, award-winning author Fonda Lee. Credit: the Alberta Morning News with Kevin Usselman on QR Calgary and 630 CHED.

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A Glance at Some of the Festivals Past and Future

• Tuesday 2023 August 1 •

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Life Hacks

• Tuesday 2023 August 1 •

We continue our celebratory series of past festivals with Collision Reconstruction: Life-Hacks. Previous guests Jack Whyte, Leanne Shirtliffe and Robert Runté bring words of wisdom on finding inspiration, battling self-doubt and the loss of literacy.

Listen to the podcast here.

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New Podcast

• Sunday 2023 July 16 •

Our latest Collision Reconstruction features past WWC guests Brandon Sanderson (2014), Jacqueline Guest (2015) and Guy Gavriel Kay (2017). Each has a story to tell about (mis)adventures in the early days of their careers.

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When Words Collide Volume 2

• Sunday 2023 June 11 •

Anybody who is willing to help with organizing the next When Words Collide under new management, please email us with your contact information.

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Cast a Spell: The Power of Poetry

• Monday 2023 May 22 •

Poetry is magical. Writing a poem is like casting a spell. Spells are charged by the intention of the caster, the force of belief and focus the foundation of energy. Does poetry transform us or do we transform poetry? It’s difficult to demonstrate where a poem ends and a spell begins, or vice versa. Tapping into the divine and sharing through poetry is transformative for the poet and for the reader of the poem. Join us in exploring the history and future of poems as spells and spells as poems. Swati Chavda, Nancy M Bell, Sandy Fitzpatrick, Wakefield Brewster, Jennifer Slebioda (M)


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Collision Reconstruction 4

• Friday 2023 May 19 •

Who doesn't love a good origin story? The fourth in our series of Collision Reconstructions, presents festival guests Kevin J. Anderson (2012), Lisa Mangum (2019) and Will Ferguson (2018) describing their first steps toward writing careers.

Listen here.

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New YouTube Video

• Monday 2023 April 17 •

Self Publishing v. Traditional Publishing: WWC 2022

Sandy Fitzpatrick, Faye Holt, Karl Buchner, Susan Forest

What are the pros and cons of self-publishing and the ups and downs of having a literary agent. How has the process of self-publishing changed traditional publishing?

Figure out which direction to go on your own writing journey to publication after hearing tales from both sides of the publishing fence from all the panelists.

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Collision Reconstruction

• Sunday 2023 April 16 •

The organizing committee is pleased by the response to our Collision Reconstruction series of podcasts. We're revisiting previous festivals with mash-ups of related themes from various panels over the years. The third reconstruction is now available. In the 2016 panel "Ghost Of A Chance", 2017's "An Hour with C.C. Humphreys" and "Is Paranormal Romance Dead", and "Romance Through the Ages" from 2012 guests and panelists offered some insights on marketing, labels and sundry subgenres.

Listen to what they had to say here.

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It's a Crime, Eh?

• Wednesday 2023 March 8 •

How do Canadian crime writers feel their home and native land impacts their writing? Our new podcast is another Collision Reconstruction with J. E. Barnard, Anthony Bidulka, David A. Poulsen Dwayne Clayden Stephen Legault and Susan Calder. https://whenwordscollide.libsyn.com/2023-002-collision-reconstruction-canadian-crime-writers

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New Youtube Videos

• Sunday 2023 February 12 •

An Hour with Robert J. Sawyer: WWC 2021

Rob gives his take on the current state of publishing—traditional, self, and hybrid—and the lessons he's learned in trying to navigate all three types.

Terry Brooks Interview: WWC 2022

Avid book collector Cliff Samuels speaks with bestselling author Terry Brooks about his current projects and how living in a COVID world has impacted his life.

Jonas Saul on Self Editing - WWC 2022

We will examine ways to create a thrilling, dynamic manuscript by altering the words you’ve already written to make your book stand out.

How to Craft a Great Villain - WWC 2022:Nina Munteanu, Susan Forest and Ron S. Friedman

How is crafting a villain different than creating your protagonist? What cliches should you avoid? Should you write in the villain’s Point of View? And how difficult is it to get into the head of someone who is nasty, psychopathic, or just downright evil?

Birth of a Poet - WWC 2022: Swati Chavda, Wakefield Brewster, Nancy M. Bell, Sandy Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Slebioda

Truthfully, poets are not a dying breed. In fact, in this day and age there are many diverse poets finding their way to publication. BIPOC friendly, we invite you, the unpublished poet or the published poet, to explore the guts and glory required to become who you already are, the undiscovered poet to the discovered poet. What pangs in becoming yourself? The author page, the medium through which you connect with your readership, the journey of self publishing or the quest for a publisher. Join us in discovering the trials and tribulations bringing about the birth of a poet.

Indies Success - WWC 2022: Nicole Fanning, Stephanie LaVigne, Ann Charles, and Jennifer Lieberman

This panel is all about Indies and key deliverables in having success as Indies: Ann Charles is an USA Today bestselling author as an indie; Stephanie LaVigne has published over 50 books in her lifetime; Nicole Fanning has had widespread media exposure including national Canadian television as a U.S indie, as well as being featured on sites such as Crime Reads Lit Hub and a cover story in Books n pieces magazine; Jennifer Lieberman is a multiple award winning author, actress, and film producer.

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Moving from 2022 to 2023

• Sunday 2022 August 14 •

When Words Collide 2022 has come to an end. A big thank you to everyone who attended and who contributed in any way-- presenting, moderating/interviewing, hosting sessions, tech support, asking questions, contributing to chat, or simply warming us with your presence.

Our festival guests this year were awesome-- Terry Brooks ★ Susanna Kearsley ★ Hank Phillippi Ryan ★ Edward Willett. I hope you were able to enjoy their talks and presentations this weekend.

And a high five to our affiliates who provided most of the program -- setting topics, inviting presenters, and hosting sessions. ARWA, AWCS, Brain Lag, Creative Edge Publicity, Fit 2 Write, IFWA, GoIndieNow!, Prairie Owl Publishing, OnSpec Magazine, SolarPunk Magazine, Tyche Books, and the Writers Guild of Alberta. We couldn't have held the festival without them.

All-in all it has been a wonderful weekend. I'll be carrying it with me through to next year.

Speaking of next year...

The past 3 years we have had to cancel our in-person festival due to COVID and hold our festival online. While the upside of this is that presenters and attendees could participate from the comfort of their couches, I know we all miss the networking, meetups with friends, and book signings that only an in-person event can provide. While we were not confident that an in-person festival this year would meet our and our attendees' expectations, and was perhaps too soon after the worst of the pandemic, we are confident that August 2023 is the time.

Registration will open soon.

When Words Collide 2023

August 4-6, 2023

Delta Calgary South Hotel

Guests TBA

While not everyone will be comfortable attending an indoor event even next year, we believe the festival will be safe for those in good health who are fully vaccinated. Closer to the festival, we will check with health professionals for their current recommendations regarding masks, etc., but we are determined to once again have an in-person get-together.

While those who have an in-person pass or banquet ticket forwarded from 2020 or 2021 are already registered for 2023, we are still determining what the allowable attendance cap will be next summer. Stay tuned over the coming weeks for guest announcements, our official festival poster, and for when registration will open for remaining passes.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and we hope to see you next year.

Randy McCharles

Festival Chairman

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Edward Willett Interview

• Sunday 2022 August 7 •

WWC featured guest Edward Willett was interviewed Sunday, August 7 on The Alberta Morning News (770 CHQR / 630 CHED). Ed talked about the importance of virtual gatherings, influences and live-streaming nearly daily walks in Regina.

Listen to the interview

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Alexandra Writers Centre

• Thursday 2022 July 28 •

Start building your writing community today! The Alexandra Writers Centre is offering all WWC conference attendees a discount on membership until August 31, 2022. Use CODE WWCFRIEND10.

The Alexandra Writers Centre is not-for-profit organization committed to building a community for writers where they can share their stories and explore their craft. With a wide variety of programs to support and help in the creative process – online and in person – there is always something for everyone. More information at www.alexandrawriters.org

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Aurora Awards Live Streaming

• Tuesday 2022 July 19 •

On Saturday August 13 we'll be live-streaming the Aurora Awards ceremony. See our Canvention page for the location and time details.

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2021 Session Videos

• Sunday 2022 June 12 •

An Hour with Jonas Saul – WWC 2021: Jonas will discuss several topics starting with the process of preparing and finishing your novel, and concluding with issues related to the business of writing once the novel is completed. Jonas answers attendee questions!

Time Travel: Not Just a Thing of the Past – WWC 2021: Simon Rose, author of fifteen science fiction and fantasy novels, eight guides for writers, and more than 100 nonfiction books shares tips and tricks to weave time travel elements into the plot for any age group. Learn how to plan and realize your novel with an alternate reality element that takes the reader on a logical journey, in an illogical world.

Character Creation - Nancy M Bell WWC 2021: A good story or novel consists of these things: A good story line or plot, a well crafted backdrop or world, and characters who grab the reader by the throat and won’t let go. So where does an author find these feisty characters? How does one go about convincing them to be part of the story? In a word— yourself. All characters are part of the author. No exceptions. Some characters will be front and centre-leaping up and down and shouting at you. Others will be more reticent and need to be coaxed into the limelight. But make no mistake they are all products of the author’s fertile mind.

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Fact in Fiction

• Thursday 2022 May 12 •

The new WWC podcast is available: Writing facts in fiction. The panel examines why and how to build verisimilitude by rooting your fiction in fact. Tip: it can be the difference between a successful work and one that readers abandon (or throw against the wall). Listen to the podcast.

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Self-published vs Traditional

• Saturday 2022 April 9 •

The latest session from our last in-person festival, 2019, is now available for download as a podcast. This time, we're looking at Self-published vs. Traditional publishing with two prolific authors who work, or have worked, both sides of the fence--Jonas Saul and Tracy Cooper-Posey. Listen through Apple, Google, the Samsung podcast app or at https://whenwordscollide.libsyn.com/2019-026-self-published-vs-traditional.

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New podcast in the wind!

• Saturday 2022 March 12 •

Another recording from our 2019 in-person festival. A gaggle of crime/suspense writers share their processes. Which works better? Outlines? Or Discovery? Where to start? Characters? Or high concepts? Are twists and surprises mandatory? Find out with Alice Bienia, Jim Jackson, P. J. Vernon, and moderator David Poulsen. https://whenwordscollide.libsyn.com/is-plot-king

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Eco-Fiction Podcast

• Friday 2022 February 11 •

The latest podcast from our last in-person festival is available for download. This time, the panel is debating eco-fiction, where to find it in the bookstore, who's reading it and why it matters. The panel: Alexandra Risen, Claudiu Murgan, Merilyn Ruth Liddell, Nina Munteanu and moderator/panelist Candas Jane Dorsey. https://whenwordscollide.libsyn.com/2019-024-what-is-eco-fiction-and-why-should-we-care

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Inside the Minds of Serial Killers

• Saturday 2022 January 8 •

Take a deep dive into the minds of serial killers and the psychopathic and sociopathic thoughts during their horrific actions (some graphic content). Evil Mind Dive

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Worldbuilding in Fiction

• Sunday 2021 December 12 •

All fiction is speculative. Panelists Kevin Weir, Monica Zwikstra, Nina Munteanu, Scott Fitzgerald Gray will discuss the process and fundamentals of realistic worldbuilding, including how and when to combine imagined with real setting details for best effect. https://whenwordscollide.libsyn.com/2019-022-worldbuilding-in-fiction

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Tenth Anniversay Song and Story

• Friday 2021 August 20 •

You can listen to our Tenth Anniversary song by Jim Jackson as well as watching the story of how WWC came to be, narrated by Tony King.

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From the WWC Chairman

• Thursday 2021 August 19 •

Thank you everyone for joining us for When Words Collide's 10th Anniversary. It's been quite a ride. We hope you had an enjoyable weekend.

As there is still uncertainty surrounding the future of the pandemic which could impact our 2022 in-person festival, we are not re-opening registration until January. Those who registered for the 2020 or 2021 in-person festivals are already registered for 2022. Once we are satisfied that we won't be forced to have a lower attendance cap next summer, we will re-open registration. Sorry for the delay.

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That's All, Folks!

• Saturday 2022 August 20 •

Another year, and another When Words Collide has wound to a successful conclusion. Thank you to everybody who went above and beyond to make this year's festival a success despite the pandemic!

Registration and information for 2023 will be available as soon as the situation becomes clearer. Stay tuned!

Inspirational Music