Tag Archives: when words collide

A-R International: Randy McCharles

Randy McCharles
Authors-Readers International

RANDY MCCHARLES, is active in Calgary, Alberta’s writing community. An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, usually of the wickedly humorous variety, his short stories and novellas are available from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Tyche Books, House of Anansi, and Reality Skimming Press. He is the recipient of several Aurora Awards (Canada’s most prestigious award for speculative fiction). In 2013, his short story Ghost-B-Gone Incorporated won the House of Anansi 7-day Ghost Story Contest.

In addition to writing, Randy chairs the award-winning When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers as well as organizing various reading and craft events for writers.

His most recent publications include the Peter Galloway detective series, and Aurora Award finalist Much Ado about Macbeth.


I met Randy McCharles through the Calgary writing community where he has always been very active in organizing writing retreats and the annual festival, When Words Collide. During the first two festivals I set up display tables of books by Alberta authors and attended a number of the sessions and panel discussions. These were always extremely informative. But what I commend Randy for the most is that he has created a very cohesive community of readers, writers, publishers, promoters that caused an electricity in the air I have never felt at any other conference I’ve attended. And it was SOLD OUT EARLY EVERY YEAR!! This year, due to the pandemic, When Words Collide has moved online, but will now attract a worldwide audience. Randy was quick to reply when I asked for information about the online version for a 3-part blog series I was planning on writing. Here’s a link to Part 1 of Online Writing and Reading Festivals.

Randy McCharles, along with J. F. Kaufmann (another Authors-Readers International author), also took part with me in a well-attended talk and discussion held at the Calgary Public Library, The 12-Step Programme to Successful Self-Publication – Talk and panel discussion at CPL


A Connecticut Gumshoe in King Arthur’s Court

Sam Sparrow is a lousy cop and a worse private eye. But when the magician Merlin magicks him away from Hartford Connecticut to work cases in King Arthur’s Court, it may be just what Sam needs to address his trust issues, while at the same time proving himself worthy of his elusive idol, Sam Spade.

The Maltese Falcon meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in this rollicking hard-boiled detective satire.

Stay tuned for A Connecticut Gumshoe in Sherwood Forest. (Expected release in 2021)

Much Ado About Macbeth

When drama teacher Paul Samson decides to put on a High School production of Macbeth, he forgets that it isn’t just The Scottish Play, it is The Cursed Play. And Paul soon learns just how cursed. After grappling with his principal, the PTA, his family, and his students, he must contend with witches, ghosts, and skeletons from his past. The show is destined from the outset to end badly, but no matter how desperate or dangerous circumstances become, Paul cannot cancel the play. Theatre has but one rule and one rule only: the show must go on.

The Peter Galloway Detective Series

What Randy McCharles is working on now: Preparing for the 2020 When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers.

For more information about Randy McCharles, his writing, publishing, and events, please see his website.

Randy McCharles has previously been a guest twice on Reading Recommendations:
Aug. 2014, Aug. 2015.




Online Writing and Reading Festivals – Part 1: When Words Collide – Calgary

This is Part 1 in a 3-part series about annually held writing and reading festivals that have moved online this year. The good news is that these festivals are now open to readers and writers all over the world!

(Link to Part 2 and Part 3)

For this first part, I asked Randy McCharles, the brains and driving force behind the very first WWC held in 2011 to tell us about the Calgary festival. I took part in this conference during its early years in Calgary, providing displays of books by Alberta authors in The Book Room. The conference was always sold-out every year, making for crowds of readers and authors, publishers and promoters, gathering together.


When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers

August 14 to 16, 2020

Since its humble beginnings in 2011 as a regional literary festival set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, When Words Collide has grown to become the largest festival of its kind in Canada, attracting speakers and attendees from across the country and from around the world. Each year in early August, attendees look forward to three days of presentations, discussions, and workshops celebrating the written word. With almost 200 presenters participating across a dozen concurrent tracks of programming, there is always something of interest each hour of every day. And if you do take a break in the program, there is a book room, an art show, and several areas to engage in social activities. Past speakers have included Tasha Alexander, Kelly Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Rachel Caine, Diana Gabaldon, Guy Gavriel Kay, Faith Hunter, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Jack Whyte. Like many festivals and conventions, due to the coronvirus pandemic, When Words Collide 2020 has been postponed to 2021. In its place, on August 14-16 there will be a free virtual festival consisting of 5 tracks of programming. This festival is open to the public at no charge, and no registration is required. Just drop in and attend any virtual sessions that appeal to you. Also this year as part of our online festival, we are hosting the 2020 Aurora Awards, honouring the best in Canadian speculative fiction. When Words Collide is 100% volunteer run. Organizers, presenters, and helpers all volunteer their time and talents to make this non-profit festival a top-notch networking experience for booklovers. For those considering attending for the first time, past festival programs are available on the web site to offer a feel for what happens. If you are a lover of books and enjoy networking with authors and other readers, maybe When Words Collide is for you.

Attend free from anywhere in the world on the When Words Collide website.

The only aspects missing from this year’s conference will be … the live audiences!

And the book room and vendors market …




Promotional posters from previous years of the

When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers!


And when I set up a special display of my own novel, Island in the Clouds, at the festival, I had the great pleasure of attracting these three similarly tropical-clad gents!


I even met a Klingon at one of the festivals! You just never know who is going to show up at When Words Collide!!


When Words Collide – a recap


Calgary was the place to be Aug. 14-16, if you had any interest in books, whether reading or writing or publishing them – and you’d had the forethought and good fortune to register well in advance. The 5th edition of the When Words Collide Conference had sold out almost two months before, proving once again that this is one of the hottest Reader Cons in Canada.

I did not attend this year, but was there for the first two conferences, as part of the vendors’ market place (displaying books for authors I was promoting through Alberta Books Canada) and as a presenter. I could tell from the very beginning that this particular reader con would catch on. There was a certain energy I had not felt at other conferences in which I’d participated. And what I enjoyed most was that this was an all-inclusive con, so all genres were represented, and self-published books were just as welcome as those traditionally published.

Speaking with author, Richard Harrison, at the first WWC.

Speaking with author, Richard Harrison, at the first WWC.

Last week, I went back to look at the blog posts I’d written when I was preparing to attend those first two conferences, and I discovered the list of authors I had planned on promoting in 2011. I was delighted to discover that many of these authors have since been promoted on my new-ish blog, Reading Recommendations! And some of those RR– promoted authors were also going to be taking part in this year’s WWC. So I decided to write this blog post about When Words Collide and ask a few of the authors who I have promoted on my blog to tell us something about what this conference means to them.

Receiving some "tropical" support for my own novel at the second WWC.

Receiving some “tropical” support for my own novel at the second WWC.

Also, at that second WWC I attended, I met a Klingon who subsequently read and enjoyed my novel … so you just never know who is going to show up at When Words Collide!

(All authors’ names are linked back to their original promotion on RR.)

Axel Howerton, Author and Publisher – I have attended, and been a participant in, many conventions, festivals and author/creator events in my time–When Words Collide is, hands down, the most edifying, most inclusive, and most enjoyable one that I have ever been a part of. It is my personal most-wonderful time of the year.

Adria Laycraft, Author – Often dubbed the Canadian Readercon, WWC continues to up its game each year. It’s a fine mix of lecture and panel, workshop and pitch session, launch and special guest interaction, with quite literally something for every book lover in every genre.

Dr. Robert Runté, Author and Editor at Five Rivers Publishing – Robert has written a recap of the highlights of this year’s WWC in a blog post he wrote for Five Rivers Publishing.

Brian Hades, Publisher at EDGE Science Fiction and FantasyWWC has turned out to be one of the most important meetups for genre writers and publishers in Canada. It is an absolute ‘must’ for the calendar and better than some of the bigger and more expensive writer conferences out there. The community is strong and supportive with a crossover of genre writers gleening insight and experience from each other – not only in the art of writing but also within the business of writing. It is the conference/festival/meetup that I look forward to attending every year (and I attend quite a few). May both writers and readers continue to come.
(Many authors published by EDGE have been promoted on Reading Recommendations since the beginning, thanks to Brian’s support of the blog.)

Marie Powell, Author – WWC is the best conference for working writers that I’ve attended. It offers lots of opportunities to hear and participate in inspiring panels and workshops, catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and talk writing with so many talented writers. I gained confidence in my writing through the Live Action Slush events and Blue Pencils with skilled editors, and had the chance to practice pitching with supportive writers (like you, Susan.) Last August, I pitched Hawk four times, three in formal pitching sessions and once on the trade show floor, and had invitations to send the manuscript from each one. The result was a contract with the supportive and incredible Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary Agency, a two-book contract with Five Rivers Publishing, and the expert editing of Dr.Robert Runte. We came full circle by launching Hawk at WWC this year, and I took the opportunity to give back by participating in panels on pitching and research. I can’t say enough about this conference. Thanks again to Randy McCharles and all the WWC volunteers!
(I met Marie at the first WWC and have followed her efforts to publish her manuscripts over the time since. I was thrilled that Marie launched her published novel at this year’s conference! Watch for her promotion coming up soon on Reading Recommendations.)

And, finally, a word from Fearless Leader, the man responsible for coming up with the idea of When Words Collide in the first place!

Randy McCharles, Author and Director of WWC – I attend social events for the people. Chatting with old friends. Meeting new ones. Literary events are no different. Yes, I get to discover new authors and top up my reading list. And I get to listen to panel discussions and presentations on topics as diverse as how to kill fictional people with undetectable poisons to the latest trends in fiction. And I can attend workshops on how to use a microphone properly or put on a successful autograph signing at Chapters/Indigo. And pitch a manuscript to an agent or acquisitions editor. Or… There is no end of things to do at literary events, especially at the When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers where there are 10 concurrent tracks of programming. 10 choices of what to see or do each and every hour over the entire weekend. But, really, I do go to see people. My people. People who love books. Some of my people I see regularly; they live in town or nearby. But the mood and atmosphere are so much better while at a well-attended literary event. Others I see less often except on Facebook. When Words Collide is often my best chance to catch up.

When Words Collide was conceived in the fall of 2010 when I was chatting with some friends at the final year of one of Calgary’s annual genre events. “Now where are we going to hang out and talk books?” someone asked. “Let’s start our own event,” I said. “And let’s make it just about books. All kinds of books.” It took us very little time to come up with a name, and 10 months later saw the first annual When Words Collide festival. We’d hoped 150 people would be interested in our rather unusual event, a multi-genre festival set in a hotel. Over 250 people came out, many from across Canada and even the US. The best attended sessions were “Festival Guest Keynotes”, “Turning History into Fiction”, and “Dead Men Do Talk”. Word spread, sending attendance skyrocketing each year.

This, our 5th year, saw a sold out festival with 650 people attending. While being sold out means we have to turn away some who would like to attend, getting too large would make our event impersonal. I said at the start that I attend social events for the people. Large events, like the Calgary Comic Expo and the World Science Fiction Convention (which is taking place even as I write these words) are great, but I no longer attend them. Why? Too many people. While it is possible to find your peeps in a zoo-like crowd and hang out, it is simply that much easier at a smaller event. If you check out my NEWS page on my website, you’ll see a list of literary events I am hosting or attending (so far) over the next year. When Words Collide is the largest of them, and it won’t get much larger. 2016 will see the same attendance cap of 650.

What makes When Words Collide so popular? You can guess my answer: the people. That’s right. This year over 200 attending authors, editors, and experts in various fields volunteered their time and experience to share with the literary community. Dozens of volunteers also put in their time and skills to make the festival happen. Unlike many charitable and non-profit organizations, no one working to make our festival a success is paid. Everyone contributes as a member of the community because they love books and people who read books.

I also feel that I must make special mention of the staff of the Delta Calgary South Hotel. I have worked with a number of hotels over the years to put on events, and had long discussions with organizers working with other hotels, and never have I seen such helpful and cheerful staff. The hotel is a joy to work with and I have to admit that I spent big chunks of time chatting with staff rather than festival goers. So shoot me. It’s all about the people.

And there it is. I love books. And I love book people. You can find both at When Words Collide.

Thank you to all the Reading Recommendations Authors who contributed to this blog post. And a special thanks to Randy McCharles for continuing to present everyone with such a dynamic and successful event every year.

This all has me thinking I’d be wise to join in again next year and set up a display at When Words Collide of some of the many Alberta, Canadian and international Reading Recommendations Authors I’ve promoted. Hmmm … definitely worth considering!

WHO in the World is Reading Island in the Clouds??? – A Klingon!

Yes, a Klingon I met at the When Words Collide conference during this past weekend in Calgary was very interested in my novel. Since he was able to read English, he started into it straight away. I am considering translating Island in the Clouds into Klingon, however, just to broaden the market a little further into the galaxy…

Thanks to Paul Carreau for introducing me to his friend!

ABC Friday Reads – When Words Collide, Calgary, Aug. 10-12, 2012

I`m suggesting an entire weekend of reading possibilities through this year`s When Words Collide Conference, a Reader/Writer Festival being held in Calgary for a second year. Registration is pretty much sold out, but there may still be some tickets available at the door.

Here’s what it’s all about:

About When Words Collide
To bring together the literary community, both readers and writers, in Calgary and beyond, for a sharing of information, for learning, and to build a sense of community.

To bring a wide variety of writers together to share tips and information

To appeal to readers of many genres : Mystery, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Romance, Literary, Historical, Western, Film scripts, Poetry.

We would like a broad presence of local writers and other experts not only attending, but participating on panels.

Alberta Books Canada will be hosting a display table of books by Alberta authors and publishers. The lists of these books are already online and available for anyone-anywhere to read through and discover some great new reads written by Alberta Authors!