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Tuesday, May 16th

Scott Bury

Building your Author Platform

OIW Book Marketing series Part II


Last year, OIW brought you Rick Prashaw to share his experiences with traditional book marketing. For our second part, OIW's own Scott Bury, a successful author, blogger and marketer, share his online methods for expanding readership and promoting book sales.

Scott detailed his interpretation of self-marketing using his tried and tested 7 Planks of Author Marketing. Scott unveiled numerous tips on building a loyal audience of readers and the pitfalls in doing so.

His main message resonated with all the members: ANYONE CAN DO IT!

Scott Bury can't stay in one category.

After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction with a children’s story, "Sam, the Strawb Part,” followed by a paranormal short story for grown-ups, "Dark Clouds." Then came a historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth, in 2012, followed by erotic-romance-parody One Shade of Red in 2013.

The Eastern Front trilogy tells the true story of Maurice Bury, a Canadian drafted into the USSR’s Red Army to face the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It comprises Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

From 2015 to 2017, Scott published six mystery-thrillers, including the Hawaiian Storm series. 

His latest project is the first English-language podcast focusing on the Eastern Front of World War II: Beyond Barbarossa.

In between writing books and blog posts, Scott helped found an author's cooperative publishing venture, Independent Authors International. He is also President of an authors' professional association, BestSelling Reads.


He lives in Ottawa with a very understanding wife, and three pesky pets.


Tuesday, April 17

Cody Caetano
An Evening with
World-building as a Writer and an Agent
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OIW was delighted to host best-sellling author and agent Cody Caetano for an evening detailing his experience as both a writer and an agent.

Cody is one of the freshest voices on the Canadian literary scene. His first book, a memoir of his childhood, Half Bads in White Regalia, was long-listed for Canada Reads and named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail.  Excerpts of Half-Bads in White Regalia also earned him a 2020 Indigenous Voices Award for Unpublished Prose. His writing has appeared in Grain, Esse, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, and Prism International.

Cody offered a brief reading from Half-Bads, then spoke about his background as a writer, about world-building in writing, and his background as an agent. He offered insights into how trade publishing works and looks, the life cycle of a manuscript, concerns with rights, contemporary trends in publishing, how to procure an agent, and common misconceptions/missteps when querying.

CODY CAETANO is a writer of Anishinaabe and Portuguese descent and an off-reserve member of Pinaymootang First Nation. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, where he wrote this memoir under the mentorship of Lee Maracle.


Saturday, April 8

Bob Barclay
In-person workshop:
Making your Book Look Nice in a Dozen or So Easy Steps 

Long-time Board member Bob Barclay gave an exclusive workshop on April 8th to OIW members that demystified document formatting. For anyone who has ever spent a frustrated hour fiddling with margins and fonts, headers and footers, paragraphs and indents, only to find yourself back at square one, this workshop was the lifesaver.

The hands-on workshop filled up within hours to rave reviews from the members who attended it. We hope Bob will plan another one in the Fall. 



Tuesday, March 21

Phil Gurski
Shaken and Stirred:
Writing about National Security

On March 21, Phil regaled OIW members with insight and words of wisdom from his years spent as a practitioner "not an an expert." 

Phil shared tips about writing non-fiction versus fiction and the sacrosanct relationship with sources. All this to ensure that the next spy thriller or historical non-fiction book, does nlt land the writer in jail! Thank you Phil!

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Distinguished Fellow in National Security at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Spanning a career of over 30 years at CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), he specialized in violent Islamist-inspired homegrown terrorism and radicalization and served as a multilingual analyst on the Middle East. His experience also includes working as a senior special advisor at the National Security Directorate of Public Safety Canada, as a consultant for the OPP’s Ani-Terrorism Section, and as Director of the National Security Program at the University of Ottawa’s PDI.

Phil is the author of seven books to date on subjects such as Al-Qaeda-inspired radicalization and terrorism in the west, extremist violence justified by faith, and a history of terrorism in Canada.

He is a regular commentator on national security, terrorism, and radicalization for a wide variety of Canadian and international media.


Tuesday, February 21

OIW Annual General Meeting and Reading Night

Author Interview

Members! OIW's 39th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was a raging success. Members heard all about the challenges the Board overcame easing out of the Covid pandemic, as well as the list of achievements accomplished, and the line-up for the rest of the year. The Board was unanimously voted back in and all members eagerly await the 2023 year with enthusiasm. 
"Excellent achievements!", "Congratulations!", "You are doing a marvelous job!" were some of the accolades shared in the chat during Tamara's President report. 

The best part of the evening  was the members' reading night. Nine OIW writer's shared their latest and proudest work. Ivan Blake, Joe Italiano, Neven Humphrey, Susan Jennings, Alison Whiddon, Laurie Campbell, Marion Voytinsky, Ian Prattis and Vinod Kodai regaled us with an array of poetry, prose and even a puppet reading.

Well done everyone! On to the next one.

January 2023


Tuesday, January 17, at 7 p.m.

An evening with

 Charlotte Gray

At our January meeting, renowned biographer and social historian, Charlotte Gray, discussed how the non-fiction publishing scene has changed during her twenty-five-year career. She explored the various types of books that fit under the umbrella of “creative non-fiction,” why it is so challenging to publish non-fiction in Canada, and what opportunities remain for a writer with a good idea. She also offered a few tips to those considering writing a biography, as the biographical form evolves, in order to resonate with today’s readers.

Charlotte Gray's ability to provide original and intriguing entry points into Canadian history has earned her a large and faithful readership, and regular requests to appear on television and radio. 

Her award-winning bestsellers include The Promise of Canada: People And Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country: The Massey Murder; Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention; and Gold Diggers, Striking It Rich in the Klondike. Gold Diggers was the basis of both a US Discovery Channel docudrama and a PBS documentary. Her twelfth book, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons; The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt, will be published by Simon & Schuster New York in fall 2023.

Charlotte's work has been lauded as one of the 25 most influential Canadian books of the past 25 years by the Literary Review of Canada and has been made into docudramas and documentaries.  She has chaired the boards of both Canada’s National History Society and the Art Canada Institute, and has served on the boards of PEN Canada and the Ottawa International Writers Festival. She has served on Writers Trust committees and been a juror for the Cundill International History Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the RBC Taylor Prize, the City of Ottawa Book Prize, several CBC awards, and the Kobzar Literary Award.

Born in Sheffield, and a graduate of Oxford University and the London School of Economics, Charlotte came to Canada in 1978. She worked as a political commentator, book reviewer, and magazine columnist before she turned to biography and popular history. An adjunct research professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, she holds five honorary degrees, has won a Scholar Award from the Library and Archives Canada Foundation, and is a member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.


Party Drinks

The Annual OIW Holiday Party & Poetry Contest was held on Wednesday, December 14

at the Clocktower Pub.

Cocktails, games, and some great poetry from OIW members to celebrate the season at this in-person event

Our contest winners were:

1st place - Angelo Fulco

2nd place - Peggy Lehman 

3rd place - Brian McCullough

A safe and happy holiday to all and see you in 2023!


Saturday, November 19th

The Score of a Narrative

 Tim Wynne-Jones

Twenty lucky OIW members spent an afternoon with Tim as he looked at ways in which setting can become more than simply back drop – can become the “music” of a scene. Described as 'unique', 'a different approach to writing', and 'incredibly inspirational, I just want to go home and write', the workshop was a resounding success!

Tim Wynne-Jones has written 38 books including novels for adults, young adults and children, picture books, and short story collections. He has won the Governor General’s Award, twice, among many other Canadian and international honours. His work has been published in 10 languages in 13 countries.

In 2012, Tim was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Tim also taught creative writing for 16 years in the Master’s Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

His most recent book, War at the Snow White Motel, and other stories, was published by Groundwood Book in the Covid Spring of 2020.


Tuesday, November 15

 Kate Heartfield

Magic & Metaphor

The possibilities of fiction are as limitless as our imaginations. Fantasy fiction covers a wide gamut, from epics set in invented worlds to quiet character studies to subversive alternate histories. Historical fantasy author, Kate Heartfield, shared key techniques of incorporating speculative elements into fictional worlds. It was a terrific evening full of tips and examples of how the fantastical can deepen themes and engage readers in inventive ways. 


Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a Sunday Times and Globe and Mail bestselling historical fantasy novel in 2022. Her novel Assassin’s Creed: The Magus Conspiracy, was published in the summer of 2022. She is also the author of the two Alice Payne time travel novellas (2018/2019). Her debut novel Armed in Her Fashion (2018) won Canada’s Aurora Award. She also writes interactive fiction, including The Road to Canterbury, and The Magician’s Workshop, both published by Choice of Games. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Aurora, Sunburst, and Crawford awards. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Lackington’s, Podcastle, and elsewhere. Kate was an opinion editor and columnist at the Ottawa Citizen until 2015 when she left to work as a freelance editor and teacher and to spend more time writing fiction.



Tuesday, October 18

Story & Style: The Art and Craft of Non-Fiction
Andrew Westoll

Creative nonfiction has been called many things – narrative nonfiction, literary journalism, personal essay, memoir, the fourth genre. Writer John McPhee, one of the preeminent practitioners of the form, calls creative nonfiction “the literature of fact,” and for our purposes, this is the best way to sum it up. Because no matter the label all good creative nonfiction shares one key characteristic: the story being told must be true.

This workshop introduced a framework for thinking about works of creative nonfiction, for breaking them down, and analyzing why they work or don't. Participants developed more confidence in their ability to transform true happenings into true prose. They learned the truth behind writer Katherine Boo’s observation: that the hard work of creative nonfiction, although discomforting at times, can be “mind-stretching, life-enhancing, slap-up fun.”

Andrew Westoll is an award-winning writer and Associate Professor based in Toronto. A former primatologist-in-training, Andrew traded the real jungle for the concrete one a long time ago, but his experiences with wild animals still inform his work. Most of his writing explores our fraught, ever-evolving relationship with the natural world. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, is a Gold National Magazine Award winner, and his feature writing appears in premier venues in Canada and around the world. His books have been published in the USA, UK, Australia and Poland, and his work has been anthologized in Cabin Fever: The Best New Canadian Non-Fiction.

Maggie Taylor
Sharon Hamilton
Germaine Peralta

Saturday, October 15
Book Launch for Ottawa Rising

OIW held a book launch event for our "Ottawa Rising" Anthology. After a two year hiatus, the OIW Anthology team pulled another remarkable feat of editing, organizing, and publishing this magnificent collection of prose and poetry.

The team started collecting pieces in January 2022, and by the March 31st deadline there were 47 entries from 47 members. Some of the members were published authors in their own right, and many were emerging; the piece in the OIW Anthology would be their first.


What a marvelous accomplishment for any writer!

OIW member Lisa Zanyk shared her review of the delightful evening here.

The OIW Anthology is the cornerstone of our writing community. All members receive a free copy. To get your copy or to purchase one for $10, please contact us directly.

Stay tuned for details on the 2023 issue!

Lucia Cavalcanti
Ivan Blake
Lena Samson
Bob Barclay
John Gelder

Tuesday, October 4

The Path to Publishing 

A Friesen Press Information Session

OIW and FriesenPress hosted a FREE online information session on the landscape of self-publishing options for independent writers.


FriesenPress is an award-winning hybrid publishing company that is 100% employee owned and offers a full suite of services for all authors.

FriesenPress representatives talked about both self and traditional publishing to help participants better understand the options available for publishing their book.


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Tuesday, September 20

Show Don't Tell
The Art of Detail with

Shyam Selvadurai

Our 2022-23 season kicked off  with acclaimed author and novelist Shyam Selvadurai. He looked at how we can engage vivid detail to bring characters and settings to life in our fiction. The lecture covered the techniques one might use to create vivid detail. He also demonstrated how he used these craft elements in excerpts from his new novel Mansions of the Moon. A fantastic season kickoff!

Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He came to Canada with his family at the age of nineteen. His first novel Funny Boy, won the W.H. Smith/ Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Lambda Literary Award in the US, and was short-listed for the prestigious Giller Prize. In 2020, it was made into a feature film by award-winning director, Deepta Mehta. He is the author of Cinnamon Gardens and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, and the editor of an anthology, Story-wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. His fourth novel, The Hungry Ghosts,  was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award. Shyam’s new novel Mansions of the Moon, released by Knopf in 2022, is a historical novel about the Buddha’s wife. His books have been published in the US, the UK, and India, and published in translation in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, and Israel.

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