Write Canada 2015
By Lisa Hall-Wilson

In less than two weeks, Christian writers from across the country will be gathering in Toronto to be challenged and inspired at The Word Guild’s annual Write Canada conference, and Word Alive Press is thrilled to be attending as well! We asked Lisa Hall-Wilson, Assistant Director for the event, to tell us a little bit about how the conference has played a role in her life, and to give us a primer for what to expect this year.

One of the questions I’m most often asked by new writers is: how did I get started? I entered a contest. Hard to believe, right? Winning a single contest could change the path of your life so irreversibly, but it did.

I joined a local writer’s group and someone mentioned Write Canada as the place to be as a Christian writer in Canada. Write Canada is the largest writer’s conference for Christians in the country. I leaned back in my seat and stared at the poster. We had 3 young kids at home and I wasn’t working. We barely had money for food, there was no way I could afford to attend a conference.

But I found out about a contest and first place won free registration. I pulled out a small scene from the novel I was working on and hit send with one eye closed.

I won, and that conference completely changed my life!

Today, I get 50% of my freelance work through the networking and connections at Write Canada. As one of the few true freelancers in the faith-based market in Canada, those connections are absolutely vital! Reading blogs and books is great, but being able to sit down and chat with an author a little (or a lot) ahead of you on the path is invaluable. Having lunch or dinner with an editor and finding out what the current trends are, what no one’s buying, what they’re looking for, what they’re tired of seeing—these are not things agents and editors blog about.

Last year I had the opportunity to sit down with my all-time favourite author Ted Dekker to talk about the novel I was working on, and he not only listened and encouraged me—he gave me ideas on how to improve the plot. He has so many fans on Facebook he doesn’t even try to reply personally, but he sat down with me and helped me with my book.

Most of these writers and editors aren’t interested in critiquing work for someone they’ve never met, but you can get on-the-spot advice from them at the conference. And many of the faculty freely give out business cards (though Ted didn’t, but I’m OK with that) and encourage you to connect with them throughout the year. Some of these published authors have recommended new writers they met at the conference to their own agents or editors, and book contracts have been signed as a result.

Where else can you sit down with the editors of several different denominational newspapers and magazines in Canada and ask them questions? Get them to look at your work? Pitch them your work in person? Only at Write Canada.

I wanted to give back, pay it forward if you will, so this year I’m serving as the assistant director for Write Canada. We’ve relocated the conference to the publishing capital of Canada: Toronto! I know, change is hard. The facility is entirely accessible for anyone with mobility issues, and we’ve got an entire floor of the hotel so there will be plenty of opportunity for networking and chatting like there’s always been. The rooms are cheaper and the food is better.

With the Loonie doing its best impression of a swirlie this year (plane tickets for faculty get even more expensive when you lose 20% on the dollar), we had to get creative. I went to James Scott Bell and said please come to Write Canada. He leaned back from his laptop in his California living room and I bet he thought, Canada? Nah.

I emailed him back. Would you come if you didn’t have to leave your house or even change out of your pyjamas?

What’re you thinking, he replied.

Do a webinar via a live internet connection. We’ll see your face, you’ll see us. We can ask questions in real time, but you don’t have to update your passport.

Sure, he said.

So we have James Scott Bell doing two live webinars for us. JSB is doing one webinar for our professional/career track, as well as Mary DeMuth and Dan Blank. We’re trying some new things that I’m really looking forward to.

Write Canada runs from June 11-13, 2015. We’ve got a great lineup of faculty including Sandra Orchard, Linda Hall, Maggie K. Black, and others. We’ve got an award-winning professional photographer offering a special Write Canada package at a fraction of the normal cost of an author photo shoot. We have a videographer coming you can hire for that promotional video for your website, or that book trailer you’ve always wanted to do.

For the first time, we’ve paired The Word Awards with the conference and have Cheryl Weber from Crossroads TV and gospel artist Steve Bell to get things going.

There are a lot of changes this year, but the publishing industry has undergone a lot of changes and in order to stay relevant the conference had to change too. We have more workshops for those wishing to self-publish than most other conferences because that’s an area of interest for Canadian writers.

Hope to see you there!

About this Contributor:

Lisa Hall-Wilson is an award-winning freelance journalist, columnist, and writer. She’s the assistant director for Write Canada, and lives in London, Ontario.

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