2023 North Island Writers Conference


  • January 20 – 22, 2023
  • Co-hosts: CV Writers Society & North Island College
  • Sponsors: Peninsula Co-op, CV Record, CV Regional District
  • Location: North Island College – Courtenay campus

Map of North Island College – Comox Valley campus (click to enlarge)

NIC area map









Friday night – January 20, 2023         Stan Hagen Theatre in Komoux Hall

  • 7:00 – 8:30 pm
  • Welcome from CV Writers Society President & North Island College Liaison
  • Keynote speaker: Andrea Routley, 2022 / 2023 Haig-Brown Writer in Residence – On Growing Stories: What the rainforest taught me about writing

Free and open to the public, but must register

Andrea Routley

Andrea Routley is a writer, editor, and the 2022/23 Haig-Brown House Writer-in-Residence. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as Geist, Room and The Fiddlehead Review. In 2020, the title story of her new collection, “This Unlikely Soil,” was shortlisted for the Malahat Review Novella Prize. Her debut collection, Jane and the Whales (Caitlin Press, 2013), was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing from UBC (Okanagan) and is currently at work on her third book, a novel entitled Field Guide to Bats and Other Damage.


Saturday – January 21, 2023             NIC Courtenay campus          Tyee Hall
5-hour workshops      Fee: $52.00 each 
($50.00 + $2.00 admin fee)
3-hour workshops      Fee: $32.00 each 
 ($30.00 + $2.00 admin fee)

8:30 – 8:55: Late registration, networking
9:00 – 12:00: Morning workshop sessions
12:00 – 1:00: Lunch break – brown bag, restaurants in area
1:00 – 3:00: Afternoon workshop sessions (5-hour workshops)
1:00 – 4:00: Afternoon workshop sessions (3-hour workshops)
4:00 – 4:30: Wrap up, networking

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Saturday – January 21, 2023          NIC Courtenay campus        Tyee Hall

Five-hour workshops: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

  • Tilar MazzeoWriting Dynamic Narrative Nonfiction
  • Jan ZwickyPoetry and the Music of Language

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Three-hour workshops:

  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm:
    Michelle SimmsSocial Media for Authors: Building Online Community
  • 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm:
    Tellwell PublishingFrom Writer to Authorpreneur: The Business and Practicalities of Self-Publishing

Saturday Workshop descriptions:  

Writing Dynamic Narrative Nonfiction                            (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)
Presenter: Tilar Mazzeo                                                  TYEE HALL Rm 202
Narrative nonfiction is a storyteller’s bargain with a reader: in it an author commits to inventing nothing in a fact-based narrative, in exchange for being given the freedom as an historian to use all the techniques of fiction or screenwriting. This workshop focuses on how to tell a compelling story within the “nonfiction contract”, from how to develop character (and how to find the facts that will allow you do reveal it) to working with pacing, narrative tension, or scene setting. If you’ve ever wanted to write a memoir, tell a family story, or publish a book about an untold history, narrative nonfiction this workshop offers new techniques and concrete writing skills you can use in your craft.
Registration: $52.00 ($50.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Poetry and the Music of Language                                 (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)
Presenter: Jan Zwicky             WORKSHOP FULL       TYEE HALL Rm 203
What is free verse? How does it differ from prose? How is it related to formal verse? These questions form the foundation of this workshop. Its aim is to activate and develop sensitivity to the musical potentials of language, and to assist you in listening to your own voice.

Through exercises and examples, we will explore rhythm in poetry, punctuation, aural resonance, and the nature of the line. In the last hour, we’ll focus on how to lift a poem off the page into the living voice.

This workshop is suitable for all levels of experience, from beginners to established writers who feel their ear could use a tune up. Please bring paper and a pencil!
Registration: $52.00 ($50.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Social Media for Authors: Building Online Community    (9 am – 12 pm)
Presenter: Michelle Simms                                         TYEE HALL Rm 204
You may have heard that it’s important for authors to be active on social media to sell books. This is partially true—an online presence can benefit those who are committed to it. In this workshop, you will discover the most valuable social media channels for authors, learn how to build and engage your online community, and create a plan for using social media that is simple, intuitive, and above all, useful.
Registration: $32.00 ($30.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From Writer to Authorpreneur: The Business and Practicalities of Self-Publishing
Presenter: Tim Lindsay & Team, Tellwell Publishing          (1:00 – 4:00 pm)
Description: It’s no easy task to write a book. If you’ve done it, bravo! But what next? How do you get your book published? Some authors still work with literary agents or submit directly to large or small publishing houses and are lucky enough to find a good fit for their manuscript. Increasingly though, many authors are choosing to self-publish.

In this workshop you’ll get an overview of self-publishing as a business model, how it fits into the broader publishing landscape, why self-publishing has grown so fast, and questions to ask when evaluating options. You’ll learn that there are at least four different models of self-publishing, each with potential advantages and disadvantages.

From an author’s perspective, you’ll then learn about each stage of the publishing process–what’s involved, common challenges, and what an author needs to do at each step. Based on our experience working on thousands of book projects, we’ll share valuable lessons for authors at every stage in the publishing process–editing, cover design, layout, pricing and metadata, POD distribution, ebooks, audiobooks, and of course marketing.
Registration: $32.00 ($30.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

Sunday – January 22, 2023           NIC Courtenay campus         Tyee Hall
5-hour workshops      Fee: $52.00 each
($50.00 + $2.00 admin fee)
3-hour workshops      Fee: $30.00 each ($30.00 + $2.00 admin fee)

8:30 – 8:55: Late registration
9:00 – 12:00:  Morning workshop session
12:00 – 1:00: Lunch break – brown bag, restaurants in area
1:00 – 3:00: Afternoon workshop session (5-hour workshop)
1:00 – 4:00: Afternoon workshop session (3-hour workshop)
4:00 – 4:30: Wrap up; networking

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sunday – January 22, 2023           NIC Courtenay campus       Tyee Hall

Five-hour workshop: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

  • Jennifer ManuelReimagine the Page: Transform Your Page with Deep Revisions

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Three-hour workshop: 1:00 pm – 4 pm:

  • Randy FredIndigenous Characters in Your Story

Sunday Workshop descriptions:

Reimagine the Page: Transform Your Page with Deep Revisions
Presenter: Jennifer Manuel                                              (9:00 am – 3:00 pm)
Description: Learn four transformative strategies for seeing your fiction through a new lens. By the end of the workshop, you will have concisely identified areas in your fiction that need work using simple yet powerful mapping techniques. Through examples and hands-on practice, you will learn to: survey narrative space; map emotional terrain; measure narrative distance; and mark places of narrative energy. Once you have re-visioned your work, you will then learn how to: boost narrative energy in four ways (friction, torque, magnetism, and illumination); use proportion to set the perfect pace and to signal significant story moments; vary the “camera lens” to make the reader feel intensely close to the story; and shape the emotional terrain on the surface and below it, using subtext. Suitable for writers of fiction, memoirs, and other forms of creative non-fiction.
Registration: $52.00 ($50.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Indigenous Characters in Your Story                                  (1:00 – 4:00 pm)
Presenter: Randy Fred                                                  TYEE HALL Rm 203

Description: Publisher and writer, Randy Fred, will discuss the incorporation of Indigenous characters into your story. He will speak about authors who included Indigenous characters in their stories and their effectiveness and impacts. He will also speak about how modern Canadian reconciliation can improve the inclusion of Indigenous characters in stories. A significant portion of this session will involve participants in discussing their current or desired writing projects that might include Indigenous characters. This session will be insightful and fun.
Registration: $32.00 ($30.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

Blue Pencil Café                                                        Dates TBA
Editor: Trevor McMonagle
45 minute one-to-one sessions
(Date & time will be arranged with registrants after registration form has been received.)
Description: Looking for an editor’s response to your writing?  Not sure if you’re following the conventions of punctuation and spelling? Want some suggestions about how your writing can be improved? Want to hear about a strong aspect and a weaker aspect of your writing? Have a question about the book-making process? If so, take part in a Blue Pencil Café with editor and teacher, Trevor McMonagle.
Registration: $62.00 ($60.00 + $2.00 admin fee*) See note at bottom.

Three of Trevor’s clients said this about his work:

  • “He really got me on the right track. One of the reasons my writing is beginning to fall into place is because of his patience.”
  • “Trevor was flexible, and adapted his approach to my changing needs as I went through the process. Trevor has an editor’s necessary, careful eye for detail.”
  • “Trevor’s editing work took my book to a whole new level. Even though I have worked as an editor myself, I was impressed by his depth of knowledge, attention to detail and his insights on how to improve the content. And besides all that, he was enjoyable to work with.”

Participants will submit by email up to a thousand words of text, as well as three questions relating to their writing and a statement of their goal for the project:  self-publish for family and friends, find a commercial publisher or publication, self-publish and market for a commercial audience, write solely for pleasure, or …

Trevor will read the submission beforehand, then in a one-on-one zoom session, respond to the writer regarding the content, style, and strengths and weaknesses of the submission. As well, he will attempt to answer questions and suggest ways for the writer to achieve their goal.

Submissions in any genre will be accepted, but writers should identify the genre they are working in. Submission date: January 19, 2023.

Submission guidelines:
Text: Submit up to a thousand words of text, double-spaced.
Questions: Also submit up to three questions about your writing sample.
Goal: As well, please state your goal: self-publish for family and friends, find a commercial publisher or publication, self-publish and market for a commercial audience, write solely for pleasure, or …

Student Writing Workshop with Jordan Peters’ English 11 classes at Mark
Isfeld Secondary School
(These workshops are only available to students at Mark Isfeld.)

  • Poems That Whisper / Words That Explode
  • Presenter: Derek Hanebury

*Cancellation Policy:
Refunds, minus the Administration fee, will be issued if notification of your cancellation is received two (2) days before the start date of the workshop.


Saturday Workshop Presenters:

Tilar Mazzeo

Tilar Mazzeo is presently a 2022-2023 Public Scholar with the National Endowment for the Humanities (US), working on a book about nineteenth-century merchant mariner, Mary Ann Patten, Antarctica, and the West Coast Gold Rush. Dr. Mazzeo, a life-long sailor and fourth-generation mariner (and a tenth-generation Mainer) co-captains a cold-molded custom Robert Harris Vancouver 42; her upcoming research includes an expedition to the southern polar regions to retrace Patten’s steps. This work has been additionally supported by the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

A recipient of numerous prestigious awards and fellowships for her creative writing and work in narrative non-fiction, including an award from the Canada Council for the Arts for most recent title, Sisters in Resistance, Dr. Mazzeo’s previous works of cultural history and biography have been New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times bestsellers. Her book on writing narrative nonfiction for general audiences, intended to assist academics, cultural researchers, and others trained in fact-based storytelling, is forthcoming from Yale University Press.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jan Zwicky – by George Sipos

Jan Zwicky is the author of nearly twenty books of poetry and prose including Songs for Relinquishing the EarthThe Experience of Meaning, and, with Robert Bringhurst, Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis. Her most recent poetry collection, The Long Walk, which bears witness to environmental and cultural cataclysm, has been described as “moving, capacious, and profound”. Zwicky’s many honours include the Governor General’s Award and the Dorothy Livesay Prize. She lectures frequently in Europe and North America, and publishes widely as an essayist on issues in music, poetry, philosophy, and the environment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Michelle Simms

Michelle Simms is the Web Manager at Orca Book Publishers and an instructor in the Digital Design and Development department at North Island College. She wrote Orca’s first “Social Media Strategy for Authors” and has worked with many bestselling Canadian writers. Michelle loves that social media rewards those who can connect with their communities in a genuine, personal way and believes that each social platform offers new ways for authors and readers to find each other.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tim Lindsay – Tellwell Publishing

Tim Lindsay started Tellwell Publishing in Victoria BC in 2015. The company has now worked with over 4,000 authors – primarily across Canada but also in the USA, Australia, and Europe – publishing fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and memoirs. Tellwell brings together a creative team for each book, adding a personal approach so authors feel supported every step of the way. Our purpose is to create a more vibrant culture by helping people share their stories. But we’re not just book nerds, we’re software geeks too. We build technology to support and enable publishing.

Sunday Workshop Presenters:

Jennifer Mauel

Jennifer Manuel’s literary novel, The Heaviness of Things That Float, won the 2017 Ethel Wilson Prize and has been optioned for a television series. She has been a Western Magazine Finalist for short fiction and CBC named her a Writer to Watch. She has published two children’s novels. Her first Young Adult novel is out in February 2021 and her next literary novel, The Morning Bell Brings the Brokenhearted, is out Fall 2021. Jennifer’s innovative approach to deep revisions has helped many writers achieve publishing success.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Randy Fred

Randy Fred is an Elder of Tseshaht First Nation, Port Alberni, BC. He survived nine years at the Alberni Indian Residential School. After a lifelong career in multi media, he is currently the Nuu-chah-nulth Elder-in-Residence for the Nanaimo campus of Vancouver Island University.

His most notable accomplishment was the founding of Theytus Books Ltd., which is still actively publishing in Penticton, BC. He also started Tillicum Library Imprint, a division of Arsenal Pulp Press and he has been published in several anthologies, newspapers and magazines.

Trevor McMonagle

Trevor McMonagle – Blue Pencil Café:
Trevor is a Vancouver Island-based editor whose first career as a high school English teacher helped him develop the knowledge and skills that are essential to editing: current awareness of language style and conventions, a quick and perceptive eye for written material, and the ability to articulate an insightful and helpful response to a writer.  He understands that when people present their writing, they have exposed their soul.

In the last ten years, he has helped writers to craft pieces as short as a eulogy and as long as a multi-volume travel memoir, has edited in fiction and nonfiction prose as well as in poetry, and has worked with writers across Canada and the US as well as in Britain. Currently, he contracts for The Self Publishing Agency in Vancouver, and serves as editor for the 2022 issues of Strathcona Collective magazine.

Student Writing Workshop Presenter:

Derek Hanebury

Derek Hanebury is a Vancouver Island writer of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. His first book of poetry, Nocturnal Tonglen (Ekstasis), will soon be followed by his second collection, Voluntary Blindness. He just launched a book of short stories called Both Sides Now (RCN Media) with a solo collection coming out in 2021. His poems and stories have been published in many magazines and broadcasted on CBC radio; and his first novel, Ginger Goodwin: Beyond the Forbidden Plateau, (Arsenal Pulp) went to a second printing. He has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from UBC and taught writing at North Island College on Vancouver Island until his retirement in 2017.

Please note: Derek Hanebury is only presenting his poetry workshop to the English 11 students at Mark Isfeld Secondary School.



Online registration for the 2023 NIWC is now closed. Thank you to everyone who made this Conference such a wonderful event! See you at the Conference in 2024!