Ontario chapters launch fall season

Kim Arnottby Kim Arnott

The season of cottages and barbeques has sadly passed, but the three seasons of professional development are now upon us!

Mark your calendars for the following exciting PWAC events:

PWAC Toronto

PWAC is poised for Culture Days 2014 with the panel discussion ’10 Things That Nobody Told You About Freelance Writing’ hosted by Nate Hendley (Vice-President, PWAC). Join us and guest speakers Corbin Smith (award-winning photographer), Suzanne Bowness (PWAC Executive Board Member), Stacey Marie Robinson (Publisher and author), Jennifer Foster (freelance writer and editor) and Camille Dundas (News writer) on September 27 at 10 a.m. at Metro Hall Room 308.

This promises to be an insightful discussion with leading publishing professionals as they provide tips about the trade and what they learned on the job versus what they were taught in the classroom.

PWAC Guelph

Ever have clients ask you for a lead on a good local writer/editor/designer/web developer? Ever wonder how your colleagues handle the issues you battle with every day: staying fresh, keeping projects on track, managing client/supplier relationships and keeping abreast of the e-revolution?

The Professional Writers’ Association of Canada (PWAC) Guelph Chapter invites you to join us for an evening of networking and facilitated discussion with other local communications professionals. We’re inviting writers, editors, designers and website developers to join us for an evening of refreshments, trend talk, insights and connections. The Joint Cafe, 43 Cork Street East, Guelph. Tuesday October 14, 7:00 to 9:30pm

PWAC Waterloo

Ann Douglas, author of 30 books, advocate and successful freelance writer shares her secrets for crafting a successful freelance writing career. She’ll talk about self-marketing, becoming THE subject matter expert that media comes to, contracts and what you need to know, how to find balance and happiness in a freelance writing career. Here’s the best part: Participants can send questions in advance.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9:30am-12:30pm at the Kitchener Public Library (85 Queen St. N.). Cost is $20 for PWAC members, $30 for non-members and $10 for students.

Kim Arnott has been a freelance writer and editor since 1994, writing on a variety of topics for newspapers, magazines and digital media. She is PWAC’s current Regional Director for Ontario.

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Post-AGM 2014 Letter from Ontario Regional Director Kim Arnott

Hello Ontario PWAC Members,

PWAC’s annual conference and AGM were held at the beginning of June, as part of MagNet in Toronto. As always, the opportunity to meet new PWAC friends and renew acquaintances with others from across the country was wonderful. The conference offered professional development sessions, an awards dinner and our annual business session.

At our awards dinner, I was thrilled to be able to present PWAC Toronto president Jaclyn Law with Ontario’s Regional Volunteer Award. As many of you will know, Jaclyn’s superb leadership and cheerful volunteer energy has helped our Toronto chapter continue to thrive.

Jaclyn Law PWAC volunteer of the year award

Toronto Chapter president Jaclyn Law receives the Ontario Regional Volunteer Award from Ontario Regional Director Kim Arnott – image from PWAC at MagNet

I was also pleased to see and chat with delegates who came out from chapters across the province to attend the AGM, as well as a town hall session. The feedback from members was really useful to me as I enter my second year as your Regional Director. I promised at the time that I would post all of the information that was gathered on a Forum thread and on our Ontario blog (pwacontario.wordpress.com), and I will do that over the coming few weeks.

One of the main topics of conversation this year involved the future of our national conference. As you may know, we have organized our annual event in conjunction with Magazines Canada as over the last three years. At this point we do not have a specific plan for the national conference next year, but a task force has been established to develop options for 2015 and future conferences. Possibilities include partnering with other organizations, holding a virtual AGM and developing regional conferences, or moving to a bi-annual conference.

I believe this year’s business sessions generated some significant enthusiasm and energy to work toward important PWAC goals, including re-orienting the organization to better serve member needs, developing a plan to provide regular online professional development to members, and finding ways to stabilize and enhance the organization’s financial state.

To that end, the Professional Development task force and a Member Services task force are both soliciting volunteers. You should have received a bulletin about this last week, but if you are interested in volunteering and don’t know who to contact, please let me know and I will direct you to the appropriate person.

I wish all my PWAC colleagues a fun, productive and safe summer. I look forward to staying in touch and continuing to cooperatively build our careers and our professional association.

Thanks,

Kim Arnott
Ontario RD

kim.arnott@sympatico.ca

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PWAC at MagNet 2014: Social & Professional Events You Don’t Want to Miss

by Miranda Miller

Miranda MillerIt’s almost here!

This week, PWACers will flock to the Courtyard Downtown Toronto in search of professional development, camaraderie and networking opportunities.

There’s a lot going on – and if you’re like me and don’t get out much, you won’t want to miss a thing. Here’s a roundup of the social and PWAC-specific events happening June 3rd to 7th :

The MagNet Soiree

This year, the MagNet Soiree at 7pm on Tuesday, June 3rd, shines a regional spotlight on Quebec. From MagNet organizers: “Yes, all your favourite flavours of Québec will be on offer: tourtière, braised duck, maple syrup, delicious poutine, craft beer from the region and even a délicieuxsignature cocktail. Come fête the publishers, contributors, industry allies, food and music of Québec while you mingle, reconnect, meet new friends and kick off a sensational MagNet week.” This event is free and no registration is required.

PWAC Town Hall

In addition to the AGM, in which board and staff report on the association to delegates and observers, PWAC is holding an Town Hall meeting Wednesday, June 4th, from 5-7pm. Members are invited to voice their ideas for the organization. Join the Town Hall meeting in the Spadina room at the conference hotel.

MagNet 2014

Cheers with Peers Pub Night 

Wednesday, June 4th, from 7:15 to 10pm, join fellow PWAC members for drinks and conversation at a downtown Toronto pub. Meet in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown at 7:15 to go with the group. Hosted by PWAC Toronto. Venue: Pogue Mahone at 777 Bay Street.

Rise & Shine 5K Run – Cancelled

Thursday, June 5th, meet up in the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown lobby at 7:15am for an approximately 30-minute run through Queen’s Park and the historic U of T campus. Organizer Virginia Heffernan promises you’ll be back in time for breakfast! Updated: Unfortunately, the organizer has fallen ill and the run is cancelled. Sleep in and enjoy the other events!

PWAC Awards Dinner & Ceremony

The spotlight on Quebec continues with French Canadian delicacies served up alongside great conversation, memories and a celebration of our members receiving honours this year. Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, will share a keynote speech on self-publishing. Join fellow PWACers Thursday, June 5th at 6pm – see more on the menu and agenda here.

PWAC logo

Talent Show

Crawl back to the Courtyard Marriott to cheer on creative performances in PWAC’s Legendary Annual Talent Show. Fun will begin about Thursday, June 5th at 10pm in the Coast to Coast Lounge. Anyone interested in performing should contact Nate Hendley at nhendley@sympatico.ca.

Magazine Publishers Success Stories Lunch

Take part in this lunch event from 12-2pm on Friday, June 6th. From MagNet organizers: “At this free lunch event, MagNeteers from all sectors can get valuable inspiration from the OMDC’s unique perspective on Ontario’s magazine sector as the organization presents high-performing print, digital, marketing and business development projects supported by the Magazine Fund. You’ll come away with project ideas, strategies for new business models, examples of best practices and insights on industry trends.”  See more information on the MagNet site.

PWAC AGM

Friday, June 6th from 2-4pm, it’s time to get down to business at the Annual General Meeting in the Spadina room of the conference hotel.

Virginia Heffernan’s House Party

Round out the week at Toronto PWAC member Virginia Heffernan’s house party. Members and partners are welcome. The festivities begin at 7:30pm – please check in at the PWAC booth at MagNet for directions to her house.

Hockey Hall of Fame Trip

Saturday, June 7th, join organizers PWAC Toronto in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown at 9am to depart for the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s a one-block walk to College Station, where you’ll catch the subway to King Station. From there, it’s a two-block walk to the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world. Admission is $17.50.

St. Lawrence Market Tour

PWAC Toronto has organized a tour of the historic St. Lawrence Market in the heart of downtown Toronto on Saturday, June 7th. Meet in the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown at  10am. Admission is $10 – please contact PWAC Toronto to register in advance and pay the day of the tour.

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7 Nifty Resources for Freelancers

Jaclyn Law, PWAC Torontoby Jaclyn Law

Freelancers are a resourceful bunch, and I love finding out about cool tips, tricks and tools from other writers. I’d like to share some recent discoveries, plus a few that aren’t so new but are worth a reminder.

Organize a meeting: The next time you’re planning a meeting, save time and reduce email clutter with Doodle, a simple (and free!) tool that lets everyone indicate their availability. Features like calendar integration, email alerts and encryption are available for a fee.

Centralize your social media: Instead of listing all the co-ordinates for my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts on my business cards, I’ve been using about.me as a hub (see my page). It’s free to create a personalized page; for a fee, you can change the URL to a custom domain, such as your business website address.

Speaking of business cards: Even in this digital age, I think business cards are a must-have. I’ve never been disappointed with the ones I order from Vistaprint.ca. (I pay a little extra for heavier cardstock.) Choose from hundreds of templates or upload a design.

Manage projects in the cloud: A web-savvy client introduced me to Basecamp, an easy-to-use project-management tool. It helps you track assignments, schedule meetings, keep stakeholders informed and more. Try it for free for 60 days. Android and iOS apps are available too. Another one to try is Trello – I haven’t used it, but Matthew MacKinnon, editor of walrus.ca, extolled its virtues at a recent PWAC Toronto Chapter seminar on collaboration.

Read more magazines: The magazine industry can break your heart sometimes, but I’m still a magazine junkie. Next Issue from Rogers lets me read and research more than 100 publications, for a reasonable monthly fee, on my iPad Mini. Try Next Issue free for 30 days. (Full disclosure: Rogers Media is one of my clients.) Or, if you have a Toronto Public Library card, enjoy e-books, audiobooks, magazines, movies and music online for free – details here. Not in Toronto? Ask your local library what it offers online.

Avoid the ATM: I’m not suggesting that you switch banks for this, but I’m enamoured with a new feature from CIBC: eDeposits. Most of my clients still pay with cheques, and I had a weekly ritual of going to (and often lining up for) the bank machine. Now, using the CIBC mobile app, I stay at home and snap pictures of the cheques instead. Presto! The money is in my account.

Save on travel insurance: Going on holiday this summer? Before you book your trip, check the fine print for your credit cards to see what insurance you have. If you need more coverage (as many freelancers do, including me), you have lots of options. While planning a trip to the U.S., I found one that works for me and my husband (who’s also self-employed): BMO MasterCard Travel and Medical Protection. For about the same amount I used to spend on insurance for a single short trip, the Total Coverage option provides emergency medical, trip interruption/cancellation, baggage loss/delay and collision damage waiver coverage for a whole year, no matter how many trips we take. You’ll need a BMO credit card, but there’s no annual fee for the BMO Air Miles MasterCard.

P.S. If you’re visiting Toronto this summer, join PWAC Toronto Chapter for Cheers with Peers! We’re meeting on June 25, July 23, Aug. 20 and Sept. 10 (all Wednesdays) at Pogue Mahone, starting at 7 p.m.

Jaclyn Law is the president of PWAC Toronto Chapter. 

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Voting Counts… it really does

Kim Arnottby Kim Arnott

While Winston Churchill famously exhorted citizens to cast their votes to make a difference, Joseph Stalin more cynically noted that it was those who counted the votes, and not those who cast them, who actually decided an election.

The good news when it comes to the PWAC Annual General Meeting (AGM) is that votes are taken with a show of hands, so it’s easy to see your decision making a difference.

The annual call has been issued for delegates to attend the PWAC AGM and help shape the future of our organization. Ideally delegates – who vote as chapter representatives at the AGM – should be directly chosen by their chapters at meetings organized to discuss any issues or concerns the chapter would like to bring to the attention of the national organization.

However, in the case of less active chapters, members may express their interest in serving as delegates by contacting me directly at kim.arnott@sympatico.ca. The list of delegates is to be finalized by May 15, so if you are interested, please let me know quickly.

Electronic information packages will be sent out to delegates to familiarize them with items to be considered at the AGM. Additional information can also be found at www.writers.ca  under the “my profile” tab. By reading the board minutes from the year, as well as AGM minutes from past years, members can familiarize themselves with the organization’s main issues and challenges.  (Look under PWAC governance, at the bottom of the “about us” page.)

This year’s AGM will be held on Friday June 6 at 2pm, at the conclusion of MagNet. While only official delegates are entitled to vote at the meeting, all PWAC members may attend and observe. There is no requirement for anyone (delegates or observers) to register for MagNet in order to attend the PWAC AGM. If you are within a reasonable drive of Toronto and simply wish to learn more about how your professional association operates, please come out and join us for the meeting.

The number of delegates each chapter may send to the AGM is determined through a formula based on membership. This year’s numbers are below.

  • Guelph – 3
  • London – 4
  • Northwest Ontario – 2
  • Hamilton – 3
  • Ontario Outliers – 3
  • Ottawa – 4
  • Sudbury – 2
  • Toronto – 22
  • Waterloo – 2

Questions? Don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.

In the meantime…
Do you remember?
AGM London
A group PWAC photo taken at the 1997 AGM in London. Can you find current Ontario members Catherine Cocchio, Suzanne Boles, Mark Kearney, Ann Douglas, Trudi Down (she’s hiding) and Leslie Smith? (Oh yes, and I’m in there somewhere too…)

Kim Arnott has been a freelance writer and editor since 1994, writing on a variety of topics for newspapers, magazines and digital media. She is PWAC’s current Regional Director for Ontario.

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The Value of Belonging: Meet the PWAC Danforth Success Group

Danforth Success Group PWAC OntarioBy Jennifer D. Foster

Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is showing up.” He’s definitely onto something there. I’ve been a member of the PWAC Danforth Success Group (a subgroup of the PWAC Toronto chapter) for about four years and it’s proved invaluable.

Founded by freelance writer/editor and long-time PWAC member John Schofield in May 2008, our lively group of nearly a dozen like-minded writers and editors (who also wear many other hats, including award-winning authors, accomplished musicians and singers, mentors, tutors, web gurus, prize-winning photographers, health-care professionals, piano teachers, Amnesty International volunteers and TV hosts) has been meeting at various neighbourhood cafes to commiserate and share tips on freelancing ever since. John says he thought the group “would be a great way for PWAC members living in the area to meet, socialize and discuss our business challenges and triumphs. It was also a response to my own feeling of isolation as a freelance writer working at home.”

I missed our meetings for a while after joining (raising a family, work deadlines and volunteer commitments thwarted my best intentions!), but I’ve recently started attending again with regularity. And I’m so glad I have. Being part of this group is yet another way to get even more out of my PWAC membership. As John says, “There’s no substitute for sharing ideas and advice face to face.” I couldn’t agree more. The informal networking and support provided by our small group setting has provided myriad perks for me, including freelancing writing assignments from a member during her tenure as editor ofa meetings and corporate travel magazine. I wrote eight articles, learned a ton about that industry, increased the range of my portfolio and made several business-related contacts for future articles. I also suggested a fellow writer friend to the editor, who, like me, wrote many articles for the publication.

And our small group amazes me with its generosity, humour and expertise. Someone’s always willing to share sound advice, a great organizing tip or a time-saving technique or offer up a helpful contact or a useful website. And the group is great at brainstorming for story ideas, potential sources and prospective clients. The conversation is always stimulating and diverse, often veering way off (the freelancing writing) track and into life in general, providing much-needed social time and lots of laughs (added bonus: a great stress reliever)!

A number of members have been part of the group since its beginnings and that’s created a comforting sense of continuity. New members are always welcome, though, adding a fresh dynamic to the group and yet another chance to network and make new friends. I’ve made some wonderful friends by being part of this group, friends who totally “get” what it’s like to be a freelance writer.

I’ve also recently been inspired to join a few other writerly organizations, including the Toronto branch of the Canadian Authors Association. And some of our group members are actively involved in other writing groups. I’m considering joining yet another writers’ group to take the creative writing plunge.

Another bonus of belonging to PWAC Danforth Success Group? Being able to tap into a rich talent pool. I recently wrote a feature for the 2015 issue of the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market on the anatomy of a successful short story, and one of our members, who is an award-winning short story author, graciously agreed to be a source. His quotes and information brought much-needed depth and a unique perspective to my piece, thanks to his vast knowledge and experience. In a similar vein is being able to recommend my fellow group members, when possible, to (potential) clients. I’ve passed on work to group members – and vice versa – when I’m just too busy to juggle yet another project and crazy deadline, knowing that (potential) client is in good hands.

Our monthly lunchtime meetings provide an endless forum for sharing writing-, editing- and communication-related quandaries, frustrations, triumphs, milestones and the dreaded client horror stories. And I always leave the group meeting feeling not only energized and positive about the writing biz, but also quite gratified to be part of this fab little community of freelancers.

For more information about the PWAC Danforth Success Group, contact John Schofield at j.schofield@pwactoronto.org.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor, specializing in fiction/non-fiction, custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. Her company is Planet Word.

Image credit: sxc.hu

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Sharing Stories, Sharing Success

Kim Arnottby Kim Arnott

Through the years I’ve gathered an invaluable amount of inspiration, encouragement and practical advice from my PWAC colleagues. I’m always awed by the generosity of our group, with people taking the time to share everything from technology tips and market suggestions to simple advice about managing to be a freelance writer and a sane person all in the same day.

I hope that this space will further that tradition of sharing and networking. And if you have any doubts about the value of such interactions, I offer you the following story.

A number of years ago, I was talking with a former Montreal PWAC member about stories we’d recently had published. She said she’d had success in pitching a story about the city’s great greasy spoon restaurants (“A Dozen Delicious Dives”) to a city mag. When I told her it was a fabulous idea, she urged me to pitch it to a Hamilton magazine, which I eventually did.

I’d never written for the magazine before that, and in the end, they never took that story. But as is so often the case in this profession, the editor called with a different assignment. And then, a few assignments later, she called with an odd question. Did I know anything about trade magazines? Or even home building? The truth?… of course I didn’t. The answer? … I’m a quick learner.

It turns out that her publisher also owned some trade magazines and needed a freelance editor for one of them. I landed what turned out to be a well-paying gig that lasted for several years, offered a great experience and opened some other doors. And I could trace it directly back to my conversation with Julia.

Often our interactions inspire us. But they can also enrich us. The story idea is now yours to pitch, and may it bring you as much success as it brought me. Just be sure to bring your stories back to help inspire us all.

Kim Arnott has been a freelance writer and editor since 1994, writing on a variety of topics for newspapers, magazines and digital media. She is PWAC’s current Regional Director for Ontario.

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