Workshops: Write Canada 2019

Workshop Schedule (subject to change) 

Click here to see the Workshop Schedule

More Workshops May Be Added — Check Back for More Information!

Registrants will soon get an email linking them to part two of the registration: choosing your workshops.

Cyndi Desjardins Wilkens

Keynote Speaker


Cyndi Desjardins Wilkens has overcome many obstacles, including infertility and a quadruple amputation. During her rehabilitation, she worked hard to recapture her relationship with her children and learn to walk, swim, and dance through life again. She has been interviewed by major television personalities, recognizing her strength in adversity. As a wife, mom, author, and speaker, Cyndi has a heart for sharing her story with transparency, bringing tears and laughter in the hopes of shining a light for others facing dark times. Cyndi resides in Ontario and has co-founded Shine On Missions, which is dedicated to assisting families in crisis.  Shine On, her first book, was the winner of the 2017 Women’s Journey of Faith Contest.

Magdalene John

Crossroads Seminar: Handling a Media Interview

Magdalene John has been a Producer, Field Reporter and On-Air Talent for the past 16 years covering a vast array of local, national and international stories. She has reported on some of the major news events of our day from the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the 7.0 Earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010 as well the story of Uganda as it recovers from years of war. Magdalene has also had the opportunity to interview a variety of guests throughout her career from everyday people making a difference in their community to authors; victims of crime; actors; filmmakers; politicians and musicians. But Magdalene is most proud of the work she does with the ministry she founded in 2013 called The Baby Depot which helps families in need in the Hamilton area. Magdalene is also the proud mother of Ethan and Joshua and wife to her amazing husband Elton.


A media interview can be a great tool to help a writer meet their target audience. Learn how to prepare and be ready to maximize the experience.

Carol Ford

Publishing a Book


Carol Ford is a published author and speaker and has several years’ experience as an adult instructor with Seneca College and Bombardier Aerospace. She currently shares her Christian faith in her writing and speaking. Two of her short stories have been published in the Hot Apple Cider series: My Mother’s Gift and My Forever Home 1948, and she is a co-author of As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers. She speaks on the topic of her adoption and birth family reunion and shares God’s blessings and protection throughout her life.


This workshop will discuss the experience of a local writers’ group on the following topics:

  • The initial idea for a book
  • The audience and readership
  • Co-authoring considerations – Who does what? Member’s strengths?
  • Details related to length, layout, etc.
  • Timing, writing, editing requirements
  • Getting endorsements
  • Content of book proposal – research, marketing plan
  • Sourcing and submitting to publishers
  • Finalizing a publishing agreement
  • Launching the book
  • On-going marketing ideas
We will share our experience and lessons learned from co-authoring a book. The discussion, handouts and examples will help you consider the process and questions/decisions that are needed for the full cycle of a published book: book idea, the writing, editing, book proposal, publisher’s contract, timing, book release, and on-going marketing.


Brenda J. Wood

How to Write and Speak Your Personal Life to an Audience

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Brenda J. Wood is a prolific author and motivational speaker known for her common sense, sense of humour and quirky comments. She calls herself the ‘ABCD girl’ because she has survived the ‘ABCD’s’: abuse, bulimia, cancer and the death of her husband.

Brenda teaches writing classes, journaling sessions, blogs on several sites and is a regular contributor to the radio station, She also leads a writing workshop at Georgian Bay Cancer support unit in Penetanguishene. Brenda has been the devotional online writer for since 2011. She is also a speaker for Weight Watchers.

She is the author of more than thirty books, ranging in topics from eating disorders to humour and grief.

The best speaker is the one who turns ears into eyes!

This workshop will discuss personal journaling, how to take your story to the next level and when to say nothing. We will cover personal appearance, how to use a microphone and when to keep your mouth shut. Attendees will get some ideas on how to get speaking gigs and thus sell books.

While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include To My Children’s Children by Bob Greene, any variety of journaling books/articles, and a Bible.

Nikki Rottenberg

Finding Your Voice Through Writing Your Life Story


Nikki wrote her own memoir, In the Eye of Deception, in 2009. It won the Word Guild Award for Life Stories in 2010. Her book has sold well over 1500 copies and has been translated into Russian. Donations have been made to put it into a small edition, which were given to women in prison and living on the streets.

Since then, Nikki has written numerous books and has been published in a number of anthologies and magazines, including the Hot Apple Cider series and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Last year, she wrote Frederick Drydan’s life story, Running for Their Lives, and within the past two years, She has received government grants to write and publish books about the lives of people living in the Burlington area.

Nikki has also run a few writing workshops in Oakville for women.

This workshop focuses on the critical questions a memoir author must ask, which includes:

  • Why are you writing a memoir?
  • Who are you writing to?
  • What is the core theme/message you want to convey?
  • How do I get my story started, and how do I keep it going? How do I know when I’m done writing?

While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Writing Down to the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

Carolyn Wilker

Getting Started on Writing Your Memoir


(Photo Credit: David McCammon Photography)

Carolyn R. Wilker, editor, multi-published author and storyteller, has presented at Write Canada and Toastmasters District 86 conferences. She has also facilitated workshops with Women’s Institute, Kitchener Public Library and Rockway Seniors Centre, and Parish Nurses Information Group. Carolyn’s first book, Once Upon a Sandbox, was shortlisted in 2012 for the Word Awards.

You’ve been wanting to write your stories and family lore, but you don’t know where or how to start. What’s more, you’re not sure you know or remember enough to write them.

This interactive workshop guides participants to write from prompts, explore ways of recalling memory and working with the content to make it appealing to readers.

Participants in this workshop are welcome to bring a photo of an event/time they want to include in writing memories. While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include You Can Write A Memoir by Susan Carol Hauser, You Can’t Make this Stuff Up by Lee Gutkind, Shimmering Images by Lisa Dale Norton, and Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach.

Robyn Roste

You’ve Decided to Write a Book…Now What?

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Robyn Roste helps purpose-driven agencies, entrepreneurs and small businesses translate their heart message into words so they can create meaningful connections. Unlike most business writers, she spent the last decade working as an in-house writer at a national Christian non-profit, which taught her how creating authentic marketing messages builds relationships and makes emotional links with constituents and readers.

If you want to write a book but don’t know what to do next, you’re in the right place.

This workshop will guide you through the four steps you need to take BEFORE you start writing. Takeaways include determining why you’re writing a book, deciding on your theme and genre, and helping you schedule writing time. If you do the work, you’ll walk away with a solid plan to actually write your book.

Required resources for this workshop are a notebook and a pen. Recommended resources include Story Sparks by Denise Jaden, On Writing by Stephen King, Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents, and Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller.

Annabel Robinson

Writing Christian Devotionals


Annabel grew up in London, about a hundred yards from Kew Gardens, which was like her back yard. She became a Christian as a teenager when she attended a camp run jointly by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Scripture Union. At Oxford, she studied Latin, Greek, and Philosophy, became active in IVCF, made many friends, and met her husband Reid. They were married in 1964. After a short spell at Cornell University, they came to Canada, where Annabel taught Greek at the University of Regina until her retirement in 2008. For many years she played the violin with the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

Since then, she has been the Publications Director at Scripture Union Canada and edits their (free) online devotional, theStory. She also writes for theStory and for SU’s Encounter With God.

Annabel and Reid have two children, Heather who lives in Oslo, and Alasdair in Calgary, and four grandchildren.

It goes without saying that you can’t write good devotionals unless you have a vital living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

This workshop will touch briefly on the elements of any good writing: knowing who are you writing for, getting the technical things right (spelling, grammar, accurate and wide vocabulary), attention, care, sentence structure, varying your sentence length, and writing punchy sentences. We will explore the difference between writing for print and writing for online publication.

It will also emphasize the importance of reviewing your work, of being drastic with yourself, and of cutting out all superfluous words and irrelevant thoughts — even beautiful thoughts.


While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Doug Stuart and Gordon Fee, and Logos Bible Software.

Bill Fledderus

Writing for Periodicals


Bill Fledderus is a senior editor at The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, where he edits Faith Today, Canada’s Christian magazine, and a variety of other communications ( He has taught writing courses at Redeemer University College since 2007, focusing on journalism since 2014 ( He lives in Hamilton, ON.

Your book and your career need you to write articles.

Are you a writer focused on book projects who has not published shorter work such as journalism, essays or short fiction? This workshop will examine how to publish shorter work that helps your cash flow, enlarges your readership audience, builds anticipation for a big project, and offers other benefits. We’ll talk about how to develop ideas, whether stand-alone projects or else reworking short sections from a book-length project. We’ll also talk about how to get over the real and imaginary obstacles to finding a magazine, other periodical or website that will publish a short piece of yours.

Aimee Reid

Picture Your Book: Picture Book Creation From Concept to Manuscript

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Aimee Reid is a teacher turned writer whose first book was inspired by a bedtime conversation with her daughter. That book, Mama’s Day with Little Gray, released from Random House in 2014. Aimee has four more picture books under contract with Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House and Abrams Books. You can visit her blog, Good Books to Share, to discover behind-the-scenes information about the publishing process from children’s book authors and illustrators.

Picture books are small masterpieces — perfect marriages of art and text. Many of them become treasured memories for generations of children. What makes a good picture book work? Learn how to think like an editor as we discuss the unique aspects of this rewarding format. We’ll discuss audience considerations, concept ideation, manuscript development, layout conventions, and current trends in the market. You will learn how to create your own picture book dummy and craft a manuscript that gets attention.

Topics include:

  • Key aspects of the genre
  • Concept ideation
  • Drafting a picture book manuscript
  • Layout considerations and formatting a manuscript
  • Revising a picture book dummy
  • Researching publication opportunities

While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include Write Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul and Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen. 

Daryl Driedger

Judging a Book by its Cover: Elements of Great Cover Design

Fiction and Non-Fiction

As a graphic designer, branding expert and web designer, Daryl assists businesses owners: establish their brands; market their product or service, and create an overall strong first impression of their business.

Prior to founding Cowlick Studios, Daryl worked at a variety of industry related businesses, providing a well-rounded skill set that includes knowledge of the sign industry, large format printing, prepress production, offset and digital printing as well as digital media such as websites, SEO, social media marketing and app design. 
At home Daryl enjoys spending time with his kids and wife, playing a variety of sports, and completing home renovations.

You have poured a lot of work into your book. You have carefully chosen the words and are ready to present your book to your audience… but you have to complete the cover. You know that in reality, people do judge a book by its cover and yours will be judged that way as well.

In this workshop, we will examine the basic elements that make a good cover and deconstruct some covers both good and bad to give you a basic knowledge of cover design. You will leave feeling confident that you can create a cover or articulate to a designer what you want your cover to look like. Your book will be judged by its cover, but yours will stand out in a positive way.

Les Lindquist

Seven Things You Should Know Before Self-Publishing

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Les Lindquist is a partner in That’s Life Communications, the publisher of the Hot Apple Cider anthologies, as well as two lines of Fiction. As such, he has been involved with publishing for nearly 20 years and has much practical experience. In addition, as treasurer of The Word Guild since its beginning, he has listened to countless stories from writers about their publishing experiences.

If you are considering self-publishing your work, you will want to understand the implications of your decision.

This workshop is not about “How to Self-Publish”, although that will be touched on. Rather, it is about “Whether or Not to Self-Publish.” What are the elements of publishing that need to be taken into account? What things can you do to make the journey as smooth as possible?

N.J Lindquist

The Art of Crafting Compelling Short Stories

Fiction and Non-Fiction

N.J. Lindquist is an award-winning author, speaker, and writing teacher who loves helping people become everything God created them to be. Her published work includes five YA coming-of-age novels, four nonfiction books, one play, five mysteries (as J. A. Menzies), and five Hot Apple Cider anthologies. N. J. also blogs on various topics, including a series about her life growing up as a gifted, adopted child, and a new series on her journey with cancer. A number of her books, columns, articles, blog posts, and short stories have won awards or been short-listed.

N. J. worked with Wendy Elaine Nelles and other writers and editors to co-found The Word Guild. She served as its executive director until January 2008. N. J. also directed the Write! Canada conference for 11 years.

She was named one of the 100 Fantastic Canadian Christian Women Leaders by Bridgeway Foundation and received the 2006 Leading Women Award in Communications and Media.


When I started writing seriously many years ago, my first published pieces were three short stories: a true story about my relationship with a student I’d taught in high school (published in a magazine for teachers), a fictional story about high school football players (published in a magazine for teenage boys), and a fictional story whose main character was loosely based on my maternal grandmother (a Judges’ Choice in the Toronto Star Short Story contest, published in the Star). Three different genres, three different audiences, three different purposes. But they are alike in that they all had the basic elements of a good story.

Since then, I’ve written many more stories as well as novels, nonfiction books, and blogs. I’ve also edited true stories, fiction, and narrative poetry for our Hot Apple Cider Books. Editing other people’s work was very illuminating because I not only had to identify things in stories that could be better, but I had to come up with concrete suggestions as to how to make them better.

From that, I began to formulate some ideas as to what are the basic elements that every short story—whether true or fiction—needs.

This two-part workshop will focus on those elements. We’ll start from scratch with ideas and go through the process of writing a short story, involving some writing/critiquing on your part.

Even if your goal is to write a novel or a memoir, I encourage you to write a number of short stories before beginning a book.

Deborah Bowen

Writing Poetry with the Book of Nature

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Deborah Bowen has been working with several senior student researchers in the last three years on the Poetry and Ecology Project, which she has been presenting to local libraries, schools, environmental groups, and other interested parties.  She recently retired as Chair of the English Department at Redeemer University College, though she still teaches there part-time, including a course on Environmental Literature.  She has published two academic books, many articles in academic and less-academic journals, and several pieces of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. She loves to get students writing creatively as well as informal prose.


What has poetry got to do with ecology?

Do you have social and ecological issues at heart? Would you like to think about how poetry could contribute to these discussions?

Come and find out about the Poetry and Ecology Project, and maybe get inspired to start your own project! We will read some poems by local poets on the issues of Food, Water, Trees, Birds, Wild Creatures, Flowers and Pollinators, and Degraded Land. Then, you’ll draft a poem of your own on one of these themes, and share it with the group. Who knows where this may lead!

Bring a notebook and a pencil or pen. The Poetry and Ecology Project leaflets will be given out in the workshop to each participant.

Brian Austin

Stimulating and Restarting Stalled Writers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Brian C. Austin is a writer and speaker, a husband, father and grandfather. His work includes print & audio poetry, non-fiction articles, historical fiction and dramatic monologue. Brian is a contributing author to four of the best-selling Hot Apple CiderCanadian Anthologies. Brian has published works on subjects including Aging, Suicide Intervention, Homelessness, Grief, Grand-parenting and Humour. His first published novel, Muninn’s Keep, is historical fiction set in northern England in 892 AD. Brian lives with his wife, Carolyn, in Walkerton, Ontario. He has many aquariums full of fish and loves the title one of his Grandchildren has given him of “Fish Tank Grandpa.”

Muninn’s Keep (Word Alive Press, 2010)

Laughter & Tears(Word Alive Press and Little Box Studios, 2005)


Most of us as writers have times that are almost magical and times that are painfully dry. Because as “Christian” writers, we have a sense of CALLING, we feel we are failing God in times when we do not write. I wonder, though, if we are failing God more when we just keep slogging away at a writing project and it has become drudgery, instead of wonder and joy. If we could learn to back away at those times and do something lighthearted, just for fun, wouldn’t God smile on us again? Expecting it to all be delightful inspiration without labour is self-delusion. However, if it is all drudgery and despair, we are obviously missing something vital. 

While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include The Poetic Bible by Colin Duriez and Red Bird by Mary Oliver.

Lisa Hall-Wilson

How to Use Social Media to Find Your First 100 Perfect Readers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Lisa Hall-Wilson got her start with The Word Guild and has served as co-coordinator and coordinator of Write Canada, and coordinator of the online Write Canada. She’s won awards for her freelance work writing for Testimony Magazine, Faith Today, and others. She’s written for many Canadian faith-based non-profits including Compassion, World Vision, and Youth For Christ. Her debut novel won A Word Award. She teaches fiction writing online with a masterclass and a monthly membership based on her book “Method Acting For Writers: Learn Deep Point Of View Using Emotional Layers”. Lisa blogs at


How To Use Social Media To Find Your First 100 Perfect Readers

Despite the doom and gloom, organic reach is not dead on any social media platform. But here’s the honest truth, if you don’t know who your perfect readers are, where they hang out online, what they’re passionate about – your ads are going to fall flat anyway! Learn how to connect with them and get organic reach FIRST and then put some money into ads if you want.

So, how do you do that? Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest – these three can build a very passionate audience for a blog or book but first you have to be genuinely friendly and helpful. This class will teach the bumper sticker method that drives organic reach and creates raving fans. These first 100 people may be your most passionate readers!

To make the most of this class, being familiar with Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram (how to post, create a page/profile, upload photos, post content, connect with others is crucial).


From Blog or Book To Boom Using Organic Social Media Reach!

Fiction and Non-Fiction

You don’t need a large audience to make a living off your writing. What you need is a passionate audience. And you don’t have to run ads to do it! With even a small list, a Facebook page and group with combined – fewer than 2500 fans, and an active presence on Pinterest (that gets neglected from time to time), you  too can create a part-time income (or a full-time income because these tips are completely scale-able).

Learn how to optimize your blog for social media, how to leverage the free tools to help your content rank well and create powerful engagement that drives organic growth. Learn what will increase and decrease your reach on social platforms and how having an engaged audience insulates your platform from the changes that are out of your control!

To get the most out of this class, participants should already have their own blog and social media accounts. This class will offer downloadable handouts (to save paper) and will focus on audience building through social media, blogs, video creation (simple, easy tips), SEO, analytic tools, email lists, and formatting.

David Kitz

Blogging as a Book Development and Promotion Tool


David Kitz is a Bible dramatist, an award-winning author, a conference speaker and blogger. For more than thirty years, he has served as an ordained minister with the Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada.

David has a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies, in addition to Bachelor’s degrees in both Arts and Education. His love for drama and storytelling is evident to all who have seen his Bible-based performances. For several years now, he has toured across Canada and the United States with a variety of one man plays for both children and adults. Though born and raised in Saskatchewan, David now lives in Ottawa with his wife Karen. They have two adult sons, Timothy and Joshua.

David currently serves as the chair of The Word Guild.

Are you struggling to get your book or writing career off the ground? Do you lack a significant platform to bring your message to the world?

With this workshop, you can discover how blogging can make a difference in your development as a writer and extend your audience in new and exciting ways. Includes a host of tips and practical suggestions for creating an effective reader-impacting blog.

While there are no required resources for this workshop, recommended resources include Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. 

Alanna Rusnak

How Being Creatively Reckless Brings Results: Rejecting Fear & Unlocking Dreams

Fiction & Non-Fiction

Alanna Rusnak is the editor in chief of Blank Spaces, a Canadian literary arts magazine, and an award-nominated author of several books. With over fifteen years of design experience, a powerful understanding of publishing technology, a passionate love for stories and a desire to make dreams come true, Alanna is your advocate, mentor, friend and cheerleader.

By identifying passions, goals, and all the things that block you from even trying, you can be empowered to live a recklessly creative life.

It’s hard to be brave in a world that’s so loud. Learn to tune those voices out and chase after the thing you’re meant to be doing. Nothing is accomplished unless you’re willing to forge your own pathway. Through guided exercise, discussion and reflection, this workshop will help you make those first steps towards your creative goals.

Helena Smrcek

GPS For Writers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Helena Smrcek is a multi-published author of contemporary fiction. Graduate of Jerry Jenkins’ Christians Writers Guild Craftsman Program, ACT I screenwriting program, Donald Maass Breakout Novel Intensive, Writers’ Police Academy, Cec Murphey Intensive, and Novel Writing Bootcamp. She has published four novels, over one hundred articles, and written a screenplay. Her latest novel The Horse Thief was shortlisted in 2019 for the Castle Quay Best New Canadian Manuscript.

Writing a novel is much like a road trip. You can fill up the gas tank and take off in any direction, but how will you get to your destination? The GPS for Writers workshop will guide you from start to finish, finding the shortest possible way from point A to point B, while letting your creative spirit soar.

This interactive workshop guides participants along the milestones of story development, using Hollywood storytelling techniques. The goal is to create a reliable road map, a solid plot outline, that will not only save time and unnecessary frustration, but also leading the author to a satisfying ending of his or her novel.