10 Reasons to Love When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers

Bring together 750 writers of various genres in Calgary–one of Canada’s most vibrant cities–and it’s bound to be a great event. But When Words Collide–a Festival for Readers and Writers truly exceeded all my expectations. It was fabulous in every way. Here are a few photos that help illustrate why.



This was my view from my balcony in the Atrium Building at the Delta Calgary South. It was exciting watching people arrive for the When Words Collide event for writers and readers. So much creativity in the air!


There were many concurrent sessions running throughout When Words Collide. So there was always something of interest for everyone, at any given time.


There were many friendly vendors in the Merchants’ Corner at When Words Collide including Owl’s Nest Books.


As many attendees of When Words Collide write about fantasy and alternate worlds, you will see a lot of merchandise for sale that appeals to enthusiasts of that genre.


The PWAC panel on freelance writing at WWC 2018 consisted of (from left to right) Doreen Pendgracs, moderator, and panelists Bob Bott, Stella Constance, Carey Rutherford, and Paul Verhaegh.

Here are 10 reasons why anyone who loves writing and reading will love When Words Collide (WWC):

  1. It’s grassroots run. Founder Randy McCharles started this event in 2001, and continues to work with a team of organizers to maintain WWC’s vibe as informal, accessible, and ever-evolving to keep it as a top draw among Canada’s annual literary events.
  2. It’s cheap to attend. If you buy your event pass well in advance, you can get it for as low as $45 Canadian. That gives you access to all events over the course of the three days other than the banquet, for which there is an additional charge. PHENOMENAL.
  3. It’s extremely well organized. The program can be found online, and is updated as you draw closer to the event. When you arrive, you receive a well-organized printed program listing all the speakers, presentations, and social events, plus a map of the venue.
  4. The venue is perfect for an event of this type. The Delta Calgary South Hotel is located just 15 minutes from downtown Calgary, has two hotel towers with comfortable guest rooms, great amenities, and an affordable rate for WWC attendees.
  5. There are plenty of opportunities to network (and have fun!) outside of the formal program time with fellow attendees, as well as with the presenters.
  6. WWC makes it easy for authors to sell their books. No charge to participate if you have a pass. The only requirement is an hour of your time to volunteer at the book table during the course of the event. This is truly a writer-friendly event that helps authors connect with readers without a prohibitive overhead or administration fee.
  7. There is a no-pressure “Merchants’ Corner” (which is actually a separate room containing the communal book table) where vendors and service providers can chat informally with attendees.
  8. The vibe is friendly and inclusive. It was my first year attending, so I knew very few people at WWC. But I immediately felt welcome, and that everyone was equal, without any undertones of elitism.
  9. The opportunities to learn are endless. I attended sessions on branding, podcasting, self-publising, working with agents, ergonomics for writers, understanding publishing contracts, a publishers’ panel, and more. I served as moderator for a panel on non-fiction freelance writing presented by the Professional Writers Association of Canada. There was not one session that I attended that was not worth my time.
  10. You get a chance to visit Calgary and its surrounding areas. I’ll do a future post on the highlights of a quick visit to Calgary, but keep in mind that it is just over a scenic’s hour from Canmore, and just 75 minutes from Kananaskis, 80 minutes from Banff, and 90 minutes from Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Have you attended WWC? Please share your comments here, and what advice you may have for anyone planning to attend.

With luck, I will see you in Calgary at the 2019 When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers, August 9-11, 2019. WWC prefers not to call themselves a writers’ conference, but in many aspects, it is. Just much more informal than the majority of writers’ events I have attended.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

29 Responses

  1. Tania Sharma says:

    This was my first time attending when Words Collide as well. I was amazed by the variety of writers and opportunities to speak to them that were offered.

    • Hi Tania, and sorry for my delay in responding. I agree that the fact that readers get to closely interact with authors is a huge plus for WWC. The informality and friendliness throughout the event is truly unique and incredible. Hope to see you there in August/19.

  2. Bobby says:

    This is really wonderful to see you Doreen, glad you shared this amazing post with us. Keep up the great job!

  3. I was impressed with the wide variety of genres and writer/reader discussions at “When Words Collide Festival” in Calgary. A wonderfully balanced environment that inspires friendships, information and creativity.

  4. What a great idea. I hadn’t heard of this conference, maybe because I’m not Canadian. But I assume there were attendees from other countries. Why not if you have the opportunity to market and sell your books.

    • Absolutely, Jeannette! When Words Collide is the perfect event got writers and readers, and, yes. There were attendees from outside of Canada. Ever been to Calgary? It may be a good opportunity to experience one of Canada’s most scenic provinces.

  5. I’m stunned at the price! I’ve never seen that kind of a deal for a writer’s event here in PA. Sounds like it had enough tracks to keep everyone interested. It’d be well worth a trip north. 🙂

  6. Kathe says:

    I’m a conference junkie and proud of it! I haven’t missed a PWAC (Periodical Writers Association of Canada) conference since I attended my first one in the ’80s, and I’ve been to several Editors Canada conferences too. I always come home energized, with fresh ideas for making my work even more interesting and profitable. In fact, I’m boarding the train tomorrow for this year’s PWAC conference in Toronto, and I really *can’t wait*! I’m looking forward to seeing friends I’ve shared drinks and laughs and chocolate (I was Doreen’s original research assistant) with over many years, and to meeting new friends. What we have in common is a commitment to this crazy freelance life. There is no better way to rev up your career and your social life than to attend a conference. (P.S. It’s tax-deductible.)

  7. I enjoy writers’ conferences. Sounds like this one is a great one and a good deal. Unfortunately I am in Ontario so it would cost me more to fly there, but I am looking forward to the PWAC/CMG conference this week and seeing you there Doreen!

  8. Beverly says:

    The conference sounds like it was the perfect opportunity for writers to meet each other. Thanks for the glimpse into this world.

  9. I have never heard of WWC but I do have a love for reading and writing. It seems like a good opportunity to network with like-minded people. I really do need to attend more writers events. Work, motherhood and church ministry takes up a lot of my time.

  10. Janet says:

    Sounds exciting. Were there many seminars for first time writers wanting to get published? Were there many international publishers or were they all canadian?

  11. Arthur Slade says:

    I agree with all of this! It was excellent.

  12. This sounds fantastic Doreen. Wish there were more like this down here! Still maybe one day I’ll make it up there.

  13. Attending When Words Collide has improved my writing and allowed me to indulge my love of reading and writing. Great conference and I can’t recommend it enough.

  14. Carey says:

    This was my first time attending as well, and I was amazed by the variety of writers and opportunities to speak to them that were offered. And some of the reader focussed panels were interesting as well.

  15. gabriele says:

    I continue to hear only heard good things about WWC. Thanks.

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