Past Events

Read below to see who our headlining authors have been so far this year.

Click to to see Featured Authors from 2019

Click here to see our Featured Readers from 2018

Click here to see our Featured Authors from 2017
Click here to see our Featured Authors from 2016
Click here to see who our Featured Authors were in 2015
Click here to see what we were up to in 2014!

Events from 2022 that were Not on Zoom or Not Recorded

Thursday, September 14th, 2022

Non-Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Writers Panel

Nonfiction writing takes many forms, including biographies, history books and travel guides. If you’ve been thinking about getting started, this Nonfiction Writers Panel with two uniquely different authors is a fun, informative way to start.

Peter Jennings is delighted that his book about Ruth Lowe, “Until I Smile At You”, is being made into a feature film while Buffalo resident Timm Otterson is travelling up to share his new book “All Creatures Weird and Dangerous”. It describes his experiences as a veterinarian drawn to care for cryptozoological creatures. His work is an homage to James Herriott’s All Creatures Great and Small, while touching on stories equally appropriate for an X-Files episode, while Peter’s work offer insightful historical biographies.

Peter Jennings

Peter is delighted that his book about Ruth Lowe, “Until I Smile At You”, is being made into a feature film.

Following college, Peter Jennings wrote and produced two ground breaking feature-length films. At Trinity College he joined the campus radio station which led to stints in on-air production and management at professional radio stations leading to roles as Vice President & General Manager at major media companies. He managed advertising agencies before turning to writing. He has served on the Boards of several charities and provides pro bono marketing expertise to various not-for-profit groups. He also mentors members of his community who seek advice on writing and communications.

A member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, Peter’s books include Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival, For Want of 40 Pounds, Ruth’s Wonderful Song, and Pushing The Boundaries. Look for Being Happy Matters and Icons. Growing Up In The Shadow Of Greatness.

Timm Otterson

Timm Otterson (MS, DVM) was born in a US Army hospital on the island of Okinawa where his parents were stationed during the Vietnam War. He was raised on army bases in San Antonio and El Paso and later moved to Shreveport, Louisiana following his father’s retirement from the service. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and a master’s degree in ocean physics from Memorial University in St Johns, Newfoundland. He earned his veterinary doctorate at LSU in Baton Rouge, and has resided for more than twenty years in Buffalo, New York where he practices at an all-feline clinic. He spends the remainder of his time enjoying outdoor activities and working in organized veterinary medicine, veterinary charities, and conservation work.

Join us as we are introduced to his book, All Creatures Weird and Dangerous, which describes the Otterson’s experiences as a veterinarian drawn by chance to care for a variety of cryptozoological creatures. As a practicing veterinarian, the author is called upon, as if by strange forces, to care for a Chupacabra, Sasquatch, Lake Erie’s monster Bessie, mermaids and fairies in Newfoundland, and eventually a unicorn in the Highlands of Scotland. An homage to James Herriott’s All Creatures Great and Small, while touching on stories equally appropriate for an episode of the X-Files.

Thursday, July 14th, 2022

Writers Panel on Grief and Loss

Writers Panel on Conflict and Loss ~ If you’re a writer creating characters in the process of grief or conflict, understanding how these authors used it in their work is beneficial. We discuss this, zombies and the apocalypse with poet Asa Boxer and short story writer Brent van Staddluinen.

Brent van Staalduinen is the author of the novels BOY, NOTHING BUT LIFE, and SAINTS, UNEXPECTED. His short stories have won a number of awards, including the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Fiddlehead Best Fiction Award, and the Lush Triumphant Fiction Award, and have appeared in numerous journals and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. A former international school teacher, army medic, and tree-planter, Brent now finds himself working at his local library and wandering around Hamilton looking for stories.
CUT ROAD is his first collection of stories.

Asa Boxer’s debut book, The MECHANICAL BIRD (2007), won the Canadian Authors Association Prize for Poetry, and his cycle of poems entitled “The Workshop” won first prize in the 2004 CBC Literary Awards. His poems and essays have since been anthologized in various collections and have appeared in various magazines internationally.

Thursday, June 8th, 2022

8th Anniversary Celebration

Voices at Word Up Celebrated 8 years of supporting authors, poets and spoken word artists!

To mark the occasion we’re having an Open Mic extravaganza at the Barrie Public Library. Warm up your performance muscles and enjoy the friendly vibe of other authors and creatives again.

Begins at 7 pm, with special guest voice coach Debora Joy, providing us with a half hour performance development session and then we’ll dive into the Open Mic. You get this dynamo for free!

Dust off your work in progress and come share it with us. Or if that feels daunting, simply show up and be part of the audience.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Comedy Writing Panel

Stand-up comedy is one of the most difficult of the arts. Writing scenes with humour can also be a struggle in any genre. This is your opportunity to gain the tips and tricks of writing to illicit laughter from some of the bravest souls – comedians. 

Join our three panellists, Steve Cooke and Griffin Toplinksy, TV writers and co-hosts of the Canadian Comedy Award nominated podcast Killed to Death, and comic playwright Brendan Main.

Steve Cooke

Steve Cooke is a writer and comedian in Toronto. He’s worked on a variety of TV shows from Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series on Netflixto Creeped Out on the CBBCHe has improvised for years as a member of the The Kids’ Table. You can currently catch him performing some place on some show I’m sure. He is also the co-host of the Canadian Comedy Award nominated podcast Killed to Death. 

Click here to check out the Podcast

Griffin Toplitksy

Griffin Toplitsky is a Toronto based writer and improviser. As a performer, he was one of Bad Dog Theatre’s Featured Players, performed regularly with improv group The Kids’ Table, and has appeared at Toronto Sketchfest, Seattle Sketchfest, Detroit Improv Festival, and the Montreal Improv Festival, among others. To actually make money, he works in television, having recently produced and written 3 episodes of Canadian Screen Award nominated children’s program Gabby’s Farm.

Brendan Main

Brendan Main is a playwright and comedy writer in Midland. His comedy shows, written for troupes Good Morning Apocalypse and The Ringos, have appeared across Ontario – including the fringe show Thirteen Ways the World Ends, which was a patron’s pick of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Locally, he writes screwball comedies and murder mysteries for community theatres. He doesn’t have a podcast, but he does have four cats, and will tell you all about them.

Past Events from 2021

April 8, 2021

World Building Panel

World building is more than just setting up where your story takes place. As a writer, you decide the place in time, and create a landscape for your characters to inhabit. Your world sets the tone of your story, its major preoccupations and themes, as well as the nature of its morality. Let our three panelists answer your questions about how they’ve successfully taken their audience out of this crazy world, and brought them into theirs.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 890 6181 5837 Passcode: 204587

Gord Grisenthwaite

Gord Grisenthwaite’s stories and poems have appeared in ndncountry, Offset17, The Antigonish Review, ELQ and PRISM International, among others. Some of them have earned prizes and awards, including the 2014 John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award and the 2007 PRISM International short story prize. His first novel, Home Waltz, is with Palimpsest Press. His short stories are in Exile’s Bawaajigan anthology and the forthcoming Food of My People.

Gord is from Lytton, B.C. is a member of the Lytton First Nation, resides in Kingsville, Ontario. He graduated from the University of Windsor with an M.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing in the spring 2020.

Click here to get his book and learn more about Gor

Karen Lee White

Karen Lee White’s work has appeared in Exile’s That Dammed Beaver: Canadian Humour; Laughs and Gaffs anthology; the collection of Indigenous writers Impact, Colonialism in Canada, and literary journals.

White holds the torch brightly as a new and powerful voice, her style and sensibility encompassing the traditional and the contemporary. In The Silence, with the Yukon as a canvas, she engages in a deep empathy for characters, emergent Indigenous identity, and discovery that employs dreams, spirits, songs, and journals as foundations for dialogue between cultures.

Click her to purchase her book and learn more about her.

Brian Van Norman

With past awards for play writing and short stories, Brian Van Norman is the author of three previous novels: The Betrayal Path (Amazon) and Immortal Water (Guernica Editions) and Against the Machine: Luddites (Guernica Editions). “No book could be more timely. As concern grows daily about the impact of technology on the planet … Jane Austen meets Quentin Tarantino.” review by Alan Brooke.

He is currently at work writing a sequel to Luddites titled Against the Machine: Manifesto. That novel will launch this autumn.

Once a teacher, theatre director and adjudicator, Brian Van Norman left those worlds to travel with his wife, Susan, and take up writing as a full time pursuit. He has journeyed to every continent and sailed nearly every sea on the planet. His base is Waterloo, Ontario, Canada though he is seldom found there.

Click her to get the book and learn more about this panelist

May 13, 2021

Pacing and Writing Action Scenes Panel

Pacing affects the mood of your story, helps develop ideas and themes, and allows your readers to connect to the characters and the events that surround them. How does a writer determine the speed the story needs, or how quickly to distribute the information needed to move your story along? Join our panelists with your questions to gain their insights and methodologies.

Anna Dowdall

Anna Dowdall‘s first and second mysteries, After the Winter and The Au Pair, have received praise for their evocative Canadian settings and unsettling denouements. Her work has made the long list for the Crime Writers of Canada new novel and US Katherine Paterson prizes.  She reads obscure fiction in English and French and thinks Quebec is an under recognized mise en scène for domestic suspense.  In April on Paris Street (Guernica, October 2021) murder meets carnivalesque play, against the background of Montreal’s mean streets and the Carnaval de Paris.

Anna was born in Montreal, but has lived all over North America, including the far North. She has worked as a nurse’s aide, translator of pulp fiction, journalist, university teacher, urban shepherd, and the list goes on. 

Learn more about Anna here and check out her books!

Katie Zdybel

Equipoise is Katie Zdybel‘s first collection of stories, and was produced with the assistance of a Canada Council for the Arts grant. The Critics and Honey Maiden (from this collection) will appear in both Exile’s CVC9 Anthology and EXILE Quarterly, and other stories have been published in The Antigonish Review, Prairie Journal, and (forthcoming) The Malahat Review.

She has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, and is also a graduate of the Humber College Creative Writing by Correspondence program. Katie resides in the Blue Mountains region of Ontario.

Get her book here!

June 10, 2021

LGBTQ In Writing

We humans categorize each other as a way to describe and assign differences, including differences of race, ethnicity, social class, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. With regard to LGBTQ, we’ll discuss these categories respectfully in terms of who our writers are and how to create well developed characters to avoid perpetuating stereotypes? Join us for an enlightening panel and come with your questions.

Kate Heartfield

Kate Heartfield writes science fiction and fantasy, including the Aurora-winning novel Armed in Her Fashion and the Nebula-shortlisted novella Alice Payne Arrives, along with dozens of stories. She is the author of The Road to Canterbury and The Magician’s Workshop, both of which were shortlisted for the Nebula in game writing. Her next novel is The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy coming in 2022. A former journalist, Kate lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Check out her books and learn more about her here.

H. Nigel Thomas

Recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award (2020), H[ubert] Nigel Thomas grew up in St Vincent and the Grenadines but moved to Montreal in 1968. He is the author of 11 books and dozens of essays. His novels Spirits in the Dark and No Safeguards were shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize. Des vies Cassées (the translation of Lives: Whole and Otherwise) was shortlisted for le Prix Carbet des Lycéens. He holds the 2000 Professional of the Year Jackie Robinson Award, the 2013 Université Laval’s Hommage aux créateurs, and the 2020 Black Theatre Workshop’s Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. The Canadian High Commission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States deems him to be one of Canada’s outstanding immigrants from St Vincent and the Grenadines. His books Behind the Face of Winter and Lives: Whole and Otherwise have been translated into French.

In 1988 he began a career as assistant professor of U.S. literature at Université Laval and held the rank of Professeur titulaire when I retired in 2006 to devote himself to writing full-time.

Click here to learn more about the author.

July 8, 2021

Characters with Disabilities in Fiction

If we want our stories to be well-rounded, it’s important to include disability along with other types of diverse characters. Since some of our greatest real life heroes are not able-bodied, like Rick Hanson and Terry Fox, we can aim to develop thoughtful stories that acknowledge and include them. Join our panel to discuss how to best do this with our insightful, award winning authors.

Emma Pivato

Emma Pivato’s mystery novels in the Claire Burke series is an extension of her advocacy work promoting the inclusion of people with severe disabilities into normal society. In this series, the man character, an interior decorator discovers a dead body, and that her severely disabled, wheelchair-bound daughter Jessie forms a bond with the victim’s husband Jimmy, the main suspect.

Shortly before she retired from her professional work as an academic and psychologist (a B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology, an M.A, in Philosophy, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology) in 2015, she published her first mystery novel and has been writing ever since.

And Along Came Alexis is available in October. Click here to pre-order.

along came alexis, book cover, by emma pivato
Click here to learn more about the author!

Cammie McGovern

Cammie McGovern is the author of HARD LANDINGS, a memoir about the transition her oldest son, who has autism, made into adult services. Author of three books for young adults, SAY WHAT YOU WILL, A STEP TOWARD FALLING, and JUST BREATHE, and three books for middle-grade readers, JUST MY LUCK, CHESTER AND GUS, and FRANKIE AND AMELIA, all featuring young people with a variety of disabilities at the center. She has been widely honoured for her work advocating for people with disabilities. Her books have been called “joyful, inspiring and unforgettable,” by Katherine Applegate. In addition to writing for The New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, and other magazines, she has also written three adult novels and is one of the proud founders of Whole Children/Milestones, a resource center for children and young adults with disabilities and their families. She lives in Amherst, MA with her husband and three sons.

Click to learn more about Cammie and find her books.

Seeley Quest

seeley quest is a trans disabled writer, performer, facilitator, and environmentalist, in Montreal since 2017.  Sie was active with the Sins Invalid project 2007-15, and a bookseller twelve years in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Hir playscript “Crooked” is in the anthology At the Intersection of Disability and Drama, hir digital game narrative debuted for Canada’s National AccessAbility Week 2020, and work featured in Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times’ Rhubarb Festival 2021.  Sie inaugurated a poetry and prose workshop for disabled writers 2021 with the Quebec Writers’ Federation, has blogged for QWF on disabled writing, and has pieces forthcoming in the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, and Canadian Theatre Review. A white person with mixed class, gender, and medicalized experiences since childhood, not on social media, find hir at

March 11th

How to Build Suspense

Building the right amount of tension in your novel or short story can be tricky. Do you show the conflict on the opening line? When do you throw in your red herrings and how many is too many? Join our experienced, award winning panelists to discover just what the stakes are for your work.

Trevor Ferguson

Trevor Ferguson is the author of sixteen novels and four plays. The latter have been produced in both Montreal and New York. The film of his novel, The Timekeeper, was released in 2009. His thrillers, under the name John Farrow, have received extraordinary acclaim around the world, and are published in twenty-four countries. His most recent novel is Lady Jail (John Farrow, 2021, Severn House/ Canongate, U.K.) He lives in Victoria, BC.

Purchase the book from

Jessica Hamilton

Jessica Hamilton was born in Australia but grew up in Canada. She has lived and worked in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, India and Japan. She studied writing at the Humber School for Writers as well as George Brown College. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, son and daughter. What You Never Knew is her first novel.

Judy Penz Sheluk

A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including The Best Laid Plans and Heartbreaks & Half-truths, which she also edited.

She splits her time between Alliston and Goulais River, Ontario, with her husband, Mike, and their golden retriever, Gibbs.

February 11

Creating a Romantic Element: Keeping the Sexual Tension Heated

Writing romance not your thing, but you have to write a scene for your story or book? Join three experienced romance writers for tips on how to make your writing more steamy.

Rosanna Battigelli

As a teenager, Rosanna Battigelli loved reading historical, suspense, and romance novels, and dreamed of writing for Harlequin one day. She is thrilled that her early dream has come true, with two Harlequin Romances published in 2018 and one in 2020, and two more that will be released in March and July of 2021. Rosanna’s first romance, Swept Away by the Enigmatic Tycoon, is set Parry Sound and Georgian Bay, places she loves to visit. Captivated by Her Italian Boss takes place in Calabria, Italy, where Rosanna was born. Her third book, Caribbean Escape with the Tycoon, is set in the Caribbean and was written after going on a cruise. Rescued by the Guarded Tycoon features the hero’s cousin from the first book and takes place again in Parry Sound with scenes in Toronto. Rescued . . . will be released in March 2021. Rosanna’s fifth book, Falling for the Sardinian Tycoon, is set on a private island off the coast of Sardinia. It will be released in July 2021. The books are available at amazon and Chapters

MJ Moores

MJ Moores is a hybrid author who has traditionally e-published 2 non-fiction industry guides and 1 marketing guide. She has completed her self-published Sci-Fi/Fantasy series The Chronicles of Xannia, and now plays in the sandboxs of Romantic Suspense, Steampunk Superheros, and lite Urban Fantasy. Her writing articles have appeared in Authors Publish Magazine, Indyfest Magazine, Easy Writer, and in the Writers Guide: The Writing Spiral published by Sunshine in a Jar Press. MJ taught high school English, was a genre writing coach, freelance writer, and is currently an acquisitions editor for DAOwen Publications. She loves nothing more than helping writers through this crazy journey.

Learn more about here here:

Tracey Richardson

Visit her website at

January 14, 2021

Ready to give 2020 a hard kick? Start the New Year off with a solid plan to write that book or develop your writing skills. Word Up is changing things up this year. Join us on Zoom for a Panel with three skilled writing instructors and mentors who offer methods to stay motivated and techniques for better writing.

Sherry Coman

Sherry Coman is a writer, educator and story editor with more than thirty years experience in theatre and film as the author of her own plays, screenplays and fiction and as the consultant on story editing and film production for clients ranging from young new filmmakers, to emerging playwrights and established international film producers. As a playwright, she has been produced in Canada, the US and Great Britain and in 1991 was nominated for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn prize.

wpoet writer and writing teacher James Dewar

James Dewar

James Dewar teaches fiction and poetry workshops in Canada and internationally. His short fiction and poetry have been published in several anthologies and literary journals. He edits poetry and prose in a mentorship capacity and enjoys his role as the publisher of Piquant Press. He is currently working on a novel and a new collection of poetry.

James has performed his work live on CBC Radio, on several university radio stations, particularly the HOWL Radio show on CIUT 89.5 FM in Toronto.

He has been producing and hosting the Hot-Sauced Words Poetry Performance Series in Toronto since 2006.

ink slingers writing school

Susan (Deepam) Wadds

Winner of The Writers’ Union of Canada’s 2016 short prose contest, Susan Wadds’ short fiction and poetry have been featured in literary journals and anthologies, including Room and carte blanche magazines. The first two chapters of her novel, “What the Living Do,” won Lazuli Literary Group’s writing contest, and was published in Azure’s winter 2017 issue.

A graduate of the Humber School for Writers, Susan is certified in the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method of writing workshop facilitation. She leads writing workshops and retreats virtually, in Canada, and internationally.

Write Your Way In, writing classes


Past Events

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