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 summer 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. 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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Tuesday, June 22

A showcase of poetry and prose from OIW Members.

OIW Reading Night

After another year of isolation, OIW's traditional June Reading Night was a chance to reconnect and share with some thought-provoking, amusing, heartfelt, and terrific writing.

Over 30 OIW authors across all genres set up shop in Centretown's United Church.

It was our capital's largest book fair featuring more than 30 award-winning authors from Ottawa's own.

Saturday, June 4

OIW Authors
Book Fair

OIW's first in-person book event in over two years, it was well-attended by hundreds of Ottawa residents looking to stock up on summer reading.


Tuesday, May 17th
OIW's Book Marketing Panel
Part I of IV 

'On the Road' with author

Rick Prashaw

Aliya pic rick.jpeg

In the first of our four part series on Book Marketing, Rick Prashaw shared insights on how he successfully tackled the Canadian landscape to broaden his readership and sell his books. Rick spoke candidly about the good, the bad and ugly of his 35 city pan-Canada book tour; book sales, publisher support, writing press releases, local media outreach, setting up tour venues, library pitches, related speaking opportunities, and all the benefits versus the tolls.


Rick is a Canadian author, keynote speaker, and storyteller. He has had a diverse career as a journalist, Roman Catholic priest, executive director of a national criminal justice NGO and political staff to three Members of Parliament. He is a winner of the National Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice Award.


Rick's first memoir, Soar, Adam, Soar, is based on the remarkable life of his son, Adam, who tragically passed away in 2016. Adam, inspired him to be an advocate for both transgender human rights and organ donorship. Soar, Adam, Soar was published by Dundurn Press in Feb 2019. Rick toured 35 cities in Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the US. He spoke in a variety of venues, has also appeared on podcasts and has been featured in local newspapers. 


Rick recently published his second memoir, Father Rick, Roamin’ Catholic, with Friesen Press. He is using the many insights he gained from marketing his first book as he undertakes the task of publishing and marketing his new memoir using a hybrid-style approach.



Tuesday, April 19th

An Evening with Award-winning Author

Alan Cumyn

Where do your ideas come from?
And how do you turn them into worthwhile fiction?

Author and creative writing instructor Alan Cumyn provided a lively talk on the genesis of three of his books: TILT, MY HOT PTERODACTYL BOYFRIEND. and NORTH BY BENJAMIN.  His process from ideation to structure to story is simple and garnered accolades from OIW members. Sometimes wild and sometimes exceedingly vague initial ideas can become workable chapter that can be the foundation for a full and engaging novel. 

Alan Cumyn is the author of wide-ranging and often wildly different literary novels for children, young adults and adults. A two-time winner of the Ottawa Book Award, he has also had work shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, the Giller Prize, and the Trillium Award. He teaches through the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a past Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada. In 2016 he received the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Vicky Metcalf Award for body of work for young people. An Ottawa native and longtime resident, he holds an MA in English literature and creative writing from the University of Windsor, where he studied under Alistair McLeod, has lived and worked in China and Indonesia, and was a human rights researcher for the Immigration and Refugee Board for much of the 1990s.



Tuesday, March 15th
Everything about Being a Writer — Except Writing 

and Elizabeth Zimmer

Being a professional writer requires more just the writing. In fact as Jon indicated, often a writer spends more time, up to 75%, doing things other than writing. These tasks include accounting, marketing, networking-- the elements required to run a normal business because as it turns out, that is exactly how a successful career writer manages their workload. As writers, we find ourselves doing many things other than original composition. Whether it be abridging, translating, keeping up to date with contest and publication rules and format requirements, writing author bios and abstracts or writing acknowledgements, a writer’s craft is more than just putting our stories on the page. And yet, very seldom are these other things mentioned, but that doesn’t make them any less important.

Jon is has been a practicing writer since he was in high school. For many years he free-lanced with the Kingston Whig-Standard as well as writing articles for the Globe & Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star - just to name a few. He recently added book-writing to his repertoire producing a university text-book on industrial relations for Pearson Education Canada, and I’ll mention his most recent projects in the next slide. Jon has been a member of OIW since 1997 and a long-time serving board member as well, in fact still serving as a board member.

Elizabeth has written about dance, theatre, and books for many publications including Dance Magazine and The Village Voice. She offers writing workshops for students and professionals across the country, and edits manuscripts of all kinds. She contributed to the CBC in Halifax and Vancouver from 1971 until 1978, edited the dance section of The Village Voice from 1992 until 2006, and has served as a critic there and elsewhere since 1981.