2021 Festival Programming

Program 2021 Bulletin #9
Welcome to those who have recently joined the WWC Presenter mailing list. When Words Collide is a unique type of festival where everyone–organizers and presenters–volunteer their time and efforts to bring readers and writers together in a celebratory weekend. Without you, there would be no festival.
Sorry for the Lateness of this Bulletin

Wasn't June a month? I suffer from hay fever, and the middle of June wiped me out. Then came the heat wave that... wiped me out. I fell a long way behind schedule and must apologize.

The program schedule has been posted for about a month. At this time we are still seeking presenter confirmations, so if you haven't confirmed your scheduled events, please do. We also have several panel discussions with room for additional presenters. If you see a session on the list below that you would like to join, please let us know. We have no plans to add additional content, but some may be cancelled if presenters are unavailable. As always, there will doubtless be some errors. Please let us know of any required corrections.


Many of our sessions do not have moderators. While not exactly necessary, moderators do help sessions go smoothly, especially online sessions as the role of moderator includes monitoring the Chat or Q&A for audience questions. If you would like to moderate a session or two, please let us know which ones interest you.

ZOOM Hosting

We are in the process of seeking volunteers to host our ZOOM sessions. If you are comfortable hosting, please step up. The festival is purchasing ZOOM licenses for the festival, but we do not have the manpower to host all the sessions. Prior to the festival we will provide documentation on how to host and hold some test sessions to verify good connections.

Presenter Itinerary

We have added 2 things to the itinerary PDF:
Format -- which indicates the online platform for each session: ZOOM Webinar, ZOOM Meeting, Kumospace, Twitch TV, etc.
Host -- for each session requiring a ZOOM host, we have added a line item. If you are willing and able to host, please check the long list of "Presenter TBA" for sessions needed a host and let us know which interest you.

Please note that lines in purple indicate presenter confirmation while lines in blue indicate we are still waiting for presenter confirmation.

Note: All times are MDT (Mountain Daylight Time). If your location during the festival is outside the Calgary, Alberta time zone, you will need to calculate your corresponding local time. For time zone help:

2021 Festival Schedule Documents as of July 17, 2021
Click to view WWC 2021 Itinerary.pdf
Click to view WWC 2021 Program Quick Guide.pdf (on the WWC web site)
Click to view WWC 2021 Program Descriptions.pdf (on the WWC web site)

Please contact us regarding the schedule via:
Note: while you will receive email invitations to the sessions where you are presenting, if you wish to attend the rest of the festival, you will need to register as an attendee. Registration is free at:

Panel Discussion with Room for Additional Presenters

Friday 1 PM (MDT)

Seedy Space Ports and Smoking Phasers...
Shannon Allen, J.R. Campbell, Robert Bose, ?
Explore the gin-drenched, cigarette-smoked, laser-fried world of sci-fi noir with this panel of editors and authors, as they discuss the gritty elements of a genre with the feel of a 1950’s detective novel downed with a shot of replicator bourbon.

Romantic Myths & Game Changers
Morgan Rhodes, Mark Leslie (Lefebvre), ?, ?
The romance has long been an industry-leader in innovation and game changing paradigms, from early adoption of the ebook to diverse voices being heard. It is also an industry giant selling as much as sci-fi, mystery and fantasy combined. So why is it still considered superfluous? Join us as our panel discusses what makes this genre a fertile ground for bringing about change, as well as how long a mega women’s market can continue to be ignored. Shattering the myths of romance

Writing YA Villians
Jenna Greene, ?, ?, ?
In YA fiction, the bad guys used to be easy to spot in their metaphorical black hats and handlebar moustaches. What does the revamped ‘villain’ archetype mean for our young heroes? How does it affect the story and the other characters? How might this more nuanced sense of good and bad play out as young adult fiction continues to evolve?

First Time WWC
M. Jane Colette, Lyndi Allison, ?, ?, ? [M]
Is this your first time at the conference? Not sure how to decide where to go or what to do? Panelists will discuss their strategies for choosing what to attend and tips for how to get the most out of the conference. They’ll also discuss conference etiquette and how not to be ‘that guy’.

Friday 2 PM (MDT)

Beyond Live-Action Slush
Adrienne Kerr, Sam Hiyate, ?, ?
You’ve hooked them with the first page, but what do you need in the next 10 pages to prompt an editor to request your full manuscript? What should you avoid at a novel start to keep them wanting more?

Killing 'em Softly: Writing Murder Mysteries/Thrillers for YA Audiences
?, ?, ?, David A. Poulsen [PM]
For a long time, killing people in books ostensibly for teens was an unwritten taboo. That has changed but what are the potential pitfalls? What are the limits? What are still no-go zones? How graphic should descriptions be? Does parental or school censorship have an influence on how or what you write? What are the applicable laws (e.g. child protection laws) that writers need to be aware of?

Friday 3 PM (MDT)

Passive Marketing for Self-published Authors
Ella Beaumont, Diane Morrison, Beth Wagner, ?
Passive marketing is the catch-all term for anything that you create, brand, or put on display for your customers to find. If active marketing is the post you put up on Facebook or the ad campaign you run on Amazon, then passive marketing includes things like the content of your sales page and the branding on your covers. Join a panel of self-published authors as they discuss passive marketing, how you can leverage it, and why it can be your best friend.

Writing Alternative Histories
Chris Patrick Carolan, Robert Dawson, Marie Powell, ?
Based on elements stemming from real life, Alternative History can mix elements of sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction. Writing them requires impeccable research, and scrupulous attention to detail. Our panellists will share what makes a great alternative history and how to write them.

Friday 4 PM (MDT)

Six Shades of Noir: Dark Crime
Axel Howerton, ?, ?, Robert Bose [PM]
How to write dark. From psychological thriller to Hard-Boiled/Noir to Gangster, what are the sub-genres/types of Dark Crime? What elements are common across them, and what aspects are unique? What is it that makes writing dark, creepy and horrifying enough to cause the reader to bite their nails until they bleed?

How Urban Is Your Fantasy?
Jennifer Estep, Kevin Weir, ?, ?, James Bow [M]
What separates Urban Fantasy from other forms of speculative fiction (i.e. contemporary fantasy, magical realism, and paranormal romance), what tropes are used, misused, and overused, and what individual cities like Toronto or Chicago can contribute to the genre. What would an urban fantasy set in Calgary be like?

Writers’ + Editors’ Speed Mingle
Sponsored by @CalgaryEditors 
Speed dating for writers - only instead of looking for a love relationship, you're looking for a freelance editor or writing coach. Expect five-minute blocks of time as you rotate around the room talking about your writing and asking questions of professional editors. This is a great opportunity to find an editor who is right for you! Editors include: Raina Schnider, ?, ?, ?, ?

Friday 5 PM (MDT)

Religion and spirituality in SF&F. Is this still an appealing genre to today’s readers?
Claudiu Mugan, Nina Munteanu, Sandra Fitzpatrick, ?
Description TBD

Friday 6 PM (MDT)

Queer Representation in Mainstream Literature
Finnian Burnett, Cassie L Taylor, J.P. Jackson, ?
Today, it’s more important than ever to give LGBTQ readers characters they can relate to. This panel of diverse authors discuss how to accurately represent marginalized people with sensitivity and realism, including how to do research when writing queer characters, especially as people explore new worlds of gender identity and alternative orientations.

Saturday 10 AM (MDT)

Writing Well: Diversity and Sensitivity 
Bobbi Lee Lintner, Lisa Collins, V. S. Holmes, ?
Proactively looking at writing diversity well in your works. Discussion on how to be mindfully inclusive while navigating the "forced diversity" narrative, how to avoid writing stereotypes offensive to minorities, and best practices on choosing sensitivity consultants/editors/readers.

Saturday 12 PM (MDT)

Stress Out Your Characters
Jenna Greene, Catherine Fitzsimmons, Brenda Chapman, ?
Life isn't easy. Especially in fiction. Much less easy. Authors discuss why making life difficult for their characters isn't abuse.

Chapter One: Your Debut Book
Faye Reineberg Holt, Craig DiLouie, ?, Susan Calder [PM]
Your first book will be published. Hooray! It is a dream fulfilled, but will it also be an anticlimax? What surprises are in store? What is the next stage and how do you prepare? What can you do to attract readers to your debut, make your fledgling book take wings and propel your writing career to a second chapter?

Writing Game Fiction
Stephen B. Pearl, Jennifer Slebioda, ?, ?
Game tie-ins allow for storytelling in a highly predefined format. What are the challenges and advantages of working in a world defined for you by a game? How true to the game must you remain and where can the writer take liberties.

Apocalyptic Fiction and Nonfiction
Jennifer Gordon, Allan Weiss, Diane Morrison, ?
The real world can be scarier than anything a person could make up. What are the common threads between fictional doomsday worlds and real ones, in the present, past or future? What draws us to read about the end of worlds, without hope? What’s the scariest world you’ve encountered in literature, real or imagined?

Saturday 2 PM (MDT)

Marketing Yourself as an Author through the Media World
Jennifer Palmer, ?, Mark Leslie (Lefebvre), Andy Peloquin, Joe Compton [M]
Description TBA

Writing by Dictation
Carol Parchewsky, Konn Lavery, Tony King, ?, Elissa McColl[M]
Panelists discuss the pros and cons of writing by dictation, software and apps they’ve used, and share tips and tricks on what works for them.

Saturday 3 PM (MDT)

Self-Publishing Non-Genre Books
Joanne Morcom, Cassandra Arnold, ?, ?
Non-fiction, memoir, poetry, children's books, etc. When your book is more than simply paragraphs of prose, how do you go about formatting, publishing, and marketing your product? How do you decide on layout? What about covers and illustrations? Special fonts? Where to use colour images? Indie authors of non-genre books discuss.

Saturday 4 PM (MDT)

For Love of the Librarians
Halli Lilburn, ?, ?, David A. Poulsen [PM]
All of us are aware just how important librarians are in what we, as writers, do. What do these people do? How are decisions as to the purchase of books made? How involved are the librarians with author events in the library/school? What can we, as writers, do to help them, make their work easier, and get our books on their shelves?

Bring on the Goths
Chris Marrs, Jennifer Gordon, ?, ?
Victorian, American, Prairie, and Southern Gothic are all facets of the Gothic Horror genre. They may often share some elements like creepy houses, and desolate settings but what are the differences? Panelist will discuss writing in the variations of the Gothic Horror tradition.

Saturday 5 PM (MDT)

The Artist's Way My Way
Cassandra Arnold, Dr. Irene Naested, ?, ?
Julia Cameron’s bestseller The Artist’s Way promises to unblock your inner artist and free the creative within. Does her method work? Panelists will give a quick overview of Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates from the book, then will discuss how they use those tools, how they’ve bent the rules and what works for them and what doesn’t.

Bob Brill, Jim Christina, ?, ?
Description TBA

Saturday 6 PM (MDT)

The Cthulhu Mythos
Daniel Wright, Kevin Weir, ?, ?
The Cthulhu mythos is a shared fictional universe created by H.P. Lovecraft which incorporates slow-creeping madness and cosmic horror along with insanity resulting from contact with the impenetrable “Eldritch Gods”. Its influence can still be seen in today’s Marvel and DC Multiverses. Join our panelists as they discuss the seminal world of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

Sunday 10 AM (MDT)

Live Action Slush – Humour Edition
Talena Winters, ?, ? , Edward Willet [Reader]
Submit the 1st page of your manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and receive comments from our editors.

Book Clubs for Readers
Amy Jo Fleming, Susan Calder, Joy Norstrom, ?
How to form a book club; different types of clubs; informal and formal; in-person and online; novels vs short story clubs.*Book club questions.

Sunday 1 PM (MDT)

Live Action Slush – Science Fiction Edition
Ella Beaumont, Catherine Fitzsimmons, Robert Dawson, ? [Reader]
Submit the 1st page of your manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and receive comments from our editors.

Sunday 2 PM (MDT)

Live Action Slush – Historical Edition
Shirlee Smith Matheson, Jacqueline Guest, ?, Krista Wallace [Reader]
Submit the 1st page of your manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and receive comments from our editors.

HELP! How do I Sell my Book?
Monica Zwikstra, Angela Ackerman, Lacy Lieffers, ?, Merilyn Ruth Liddell [M]
Your book has been published. Now what? Whether you have a contract with a publishing house or are self-published, you have to work to attract a readership and sales. How? Panelists will bring their stories of promotion and marketing successes (and failures), including book launches, readings, social media advertising, newsletters and blogs. Find out what sales strategies might work for you. 

Sunday 3 PM (MDT)

Live Action Slush – Urban Fantasy Edition
Talena Winters, ?, ?, Carol Parchewsky [Reader]
Submit the 1st page of your manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and receive comments from our editors.

Live Action Slush – Kids Critique
?, ?, Finn Lilburn, Alice Willett [Reader]
A panel of teen readers respond to YA long form of any genre.

Sunday 4 PM (MDT)

Talking with Kids
?, ?, ?, ?, Alice Willett (M)
Panel of young readers discuss what they are looking for. . Instruction can 

Shared Authors Table

The IFWA-sponsored Shared Authors Table is now ready to accept submissions by attending authors. Instruction can be found on the bottom of our registration page:

1 on 1 Sessions

Those scheduled for 1 on 1 sessions such as blue pencil, pitches, etc. can set their own schedule. We will collect during the month of July names and emails of those who wish a session with you and forward a limited number of them to you on August 1st. You can then email individuals to arrange a session that works for you. We recommend a time during the week prior to or following the festival. Use whatever medium you like for the sessions: phone, ZOOM, etc. If you require a ZOOM host, let us know so we can arrange one.


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Thank you for supporting When Words Collide by participating in our program.

Randy McCharles
2021 Festival Program Director
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