Notes from the workshop given by Diana Cranstoun at When Words Collide, Calgary, August 11th, 2017.

Biography/Autobiography: the story OF someone’s life.  (Beginning to end, chronological order.)
Memoir: a story FROM someone’s life. (Eg Wartime Memoir)

Family member?

If it is about another person, where are you going to get your research from?

Your family?
For general publication?

Your answer will affect what you put in your memoir and how you present it.


You have a story to tell that only YOU can tell.

  • We all have unique experiences in our lives. If you don’t tell your story, who will?
  • You may have a secret to share.
    • Big Secret – you may have participated in some major event that you have not been able to tell people about.
    • Little Secret – something small, but unique experience that people don’t know about you.
    • Family Secret: Illegitimacy, secret marriage. Eg Who Do You Think You Are.

Understand the past:

  • Writing a memoir can be a gift to yourself – allows you to look back on your life – as well as to future generations.
  • As your past takes shape you may gain a clearer vision of who you are.

Heal from A Traumatic Experience:

  • Allows you to connect with people who may have experienced something similar and offer them encouragement, comfort, inspiration and the assurance that they – and you – are not alone.

Preserve a Family Legacy

  • If you are interested about your parents’, grandparents’ or family members’ lives, sometime in the future, someone may be interested in YOU.


  • Don’t write one for revenge. You don’t want anything out there that is going to harm yourself or someone else.

Please check out this website for interesting insight.

10 ways to tell if a story should be a memoir or a novel by Adair Lara.

Not everyone is comfortable putting pen to paper – or fingertips to keyboard – to write a book, but there are many ways to tell your story.


When Words Collide

I spent a great few days last weekend at the When Words Collide conference here in Calgary. Now in its fourth year, it just keeps getting better and better.

Special guests this years included writers, Jack Whyte (check out his website just to listen to his amazing voice!) Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Jacqueline Guest, Mark Leslie and Shirlee Smith Matheson and editor Adrienne Kerr.

I belong to a wonderful writing group The Alberta Romance Writers’ Association, whose members generously share their knowledge and expertise on both the craft and business of writing, but sometimes you need to get out there and hear from other experts in their field. So much has changed in the publishing world that it’s hard – and sometimes a little intimidating – to keep up, but the focus remains on bringing the best book to the reader whether it is traditionally published or self-published.

The dates and location have already been set up for next year’s WWC – August 14-16th at the Delta Calgary South – and registration is open. At the bargain basement price of $40 it’s a wonderful deal.

See you there!

When Words Collide – The Heroine’s Journey

My second workshop of the When Words Collide Conference this Sunday morning is a discussion on The Heroine’s Journey. Is the Hero’s Journey the same as the Heroine’s?  Do you need to be male to be a hero and female to be a heroine?

My own new personal heroine on this topic is Kim Hudson with her book The Virgin’s Promise.  Please check her out.

If you would like more information on the difference between the male and feminine journeys – and a link to a YouTube interview with Kim Hudson – please click on this LINK.

Happy writing.

When Words Collide – Mark Leslie

Day two of the pre-festival workshops for When Words Collide and yet another great session.

As an author of speculative fiction AND director of self-publishing and author relations at Kobo Writing Life,  Mark Leslie (Lefebvre), offered a unique perspective on the world of Hybrid publishing.

Hybrid publishing? To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the term until I saw the title on the festival programme, but it appears that many writers are finding success by embracing both traditional AND self-publishing.

From his position at Kobo, Mark was able to offer us some very specific numbers.
In 2013, only 12 authors made more than $100,000 through Kobo Writing Life. (Out of those 12, 11 were romance authors.)
5% made more than $50,000
8% made more than $10,000
20% made more than $5,000
Which leaves a LOT earning between $100 and $5,000

He talked too about The Three P’s of self-publishing.
Practice. Patience. Persistence.

And don’t expect the money to come from having only one book out there. The general wisdom is that you don’t start making money until you have a minimum of 3-4 books published.

A great workshop. I came away with a much better understanding of the realities of the self-publishing industry and a cautious optimism (that phrase again) that this is do-able. Thanks, Mark.

Roll on tomorrow when the conference really gets under way.


When Words Collide – Adrienne Kerr

I’m literally just back in the door after attending my first When Words Collide workshop of the conference. Although WWC ‘proper’ doesn’t kick off until Friday, they’re offering several pre-conference workshops today and Thursday.  I wanted to hear Adrienne Kerr, Acquisitions Editor for Penguin Canada, speak about the Author/Editor Relationship.

Wow! Her workshop was so – very – much more than the title suggested.

First off, Adrienne Kerr was a great speaker; funny, knowledgable, personable, thoughtful, perceptive, informative – my brain is literally buzzing as it processes all I learned today. (And I’m not trying to butter her up just because I’m an aspiring author and she’s an editor.) The hours sped by as she offered fascinating insights into the current state of the publishing industry (not just in Canada but also in the US and UK), the history and trials of its recent past and the challenges it faces in the future.

Other topics included:
The Value and Capital Publishers Bring to the Business – and what they can offer an author.
The Economic Challenges Facing Large Publishers.
An Examination of Contracts from the Publisher and Author’s POV.
The Role of the Agent.
The Author/Editor Relationship.
The Differences Between The US Publishing Industry and The Canadian.

It’s a challenging time to be a writer or a publisher. Publishing is a business and like all businesses, the bottom line rules.

Listening to her description of the industry, my mood swung from despair to excitement, settling down around cautious optimism. And that’s probably the best – and most realistic – place to be.

If you’re attending When Words Collide and haven’t yet decided which panels/workshops to attend, I highly recommend you check out those where Adrienne is speaking.