Create Compelling Characters

Create Compelling Characters

Our stories are strong when the people we create come to life and connect with our readers.

On Saturday June 15, join award-winning writer and creative writing coach & editor Ruth E. Walker at Riverside Cottages in Haliburton County. From 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Ruth will lead participants through a series of hands-on exercises and inspiring explorations of character in fiction, memoir and nonfiction.

Topics will include:

  • character development: beats & behaviour
  • motivation: wants & needs
  • dialogue:  the right words at the right time
  • character as a tool: plot, setting & themes

Ruth Walker

Your Facilitator: The first work Ruth E. Walker ever submitted won Canadian Living magazine’s 1996 story contest. Her fiction, nonfiction and poetry have won prizes and appeared in Canadian, U.S. and U.K. journals including Prairie Fire, Geist, CV2, Utne Reader Online and Chapman. Ruth’s novel, LIVING UNDERGROUND is in second printing. She is an editor, writing coach and partner in Writescape, offering workshops and retreats for writers at all levels.

Riverside is located south of Gelert Village on the Drag River in Haliburton County, just over 2 hours from the GTA. Nestled among pine, fir & birch trees, this 2-acre property has long offered writers an ideal space in which to create. Write at the harvest table, in the gazebo, in the screened porch or on the deck by the lazy river.

Register online or email

$65 +HST includes light lunch (soup & fruit & cheese plate)
and refreshments (coffee/tea/water & snacks)
PayPal registration:

Or etransfer to $65 + HST $8.45 = $73.45

Limit 10 participants: suitable for writers at all levels

Registered participants will receive a confirmation email that includes directions to Riverside Cottages and workshop agenda.

Accessibility of Riverside Cottages: The grounds are mostly level. The Rustic cottage is the main workshop location and there are three steps to access the main entrance; the building is open concept inside and the screened porch, rear deck and gazebo are level entrances. The washroom is also on the main floor but is not rated for wheelchair access. Please query if you require any specific accessibility.

Cancellation policy for workshops: We understand that life happens — we couldn’t be writers if we didn’t. But we work hard on preparing our workshop materials and program. Our policy is: up to 1 week prior to the workshop, full refunds. 1 week to 24 hours prior to the workshop, 20% discretionary administration fee.

The full fee applies within 24 hours of workshop start; however, you can transfer your registration to another writer. Please let us know if that is the case.

CAA One-on-one Feedback

CAA One-on-one Feedback

November 18, 2017

Gwynn Scheltema and Ruth E. Walker are offering the Canadian Authors’ Association, Niagara Branch, a special extra on November 18. After the 3-hour creative writing workshop (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), What’s in Your Writer’s Wardrobe?*, this dynamic team of writing instructors and editors will conduct half-hour one-on-one feedback/consultation sessions.

*Workshop details

Contact: Charlotte King at to register for this free workshop

Thanks to Canadian Authors Association, Niagara Branch and St. Catharines Public Library for co-sponsoring this event.

One-on-One Sessions include:

  • written feedback from either Gwynn or Ruth on up to 10 manuscript pages [**see below]
  • a one-on-one session with either Gwynn or Ruth to discuss the feedback
  • an opportunity to ask questions, discuss writing plans and potential markets

Interested participants must:

  • email up to 10 manuscript pages in advance to
  • provide material and payment no later than November 15.

Gwynn’s and Ruth’s feedback sessions are a featured cornerstone of their annual writers’ retreat, Spring Thaw. Skilled editors, they excel at finding a writer’s strengths and offering insights to specific areas that can benefit from further development. Because they are also writers, they understand that the best feedback needs to be specific and constructive.

Maximum of 6 participants.

Fee: $30 + HST includes written feedback from both Gwynn and Ruth

$30.00 CAA Niagara Feedback

Once you select Add To Cart, your shopping cart appears in the right-hand column of this page. You don’t need a PayPal account to use this secure payment method. You will need a credit card.

$3.90 HST will be added by PayPal at the checkout.

**Standard manuscript page:

  • double spaced
  • 12 point font – Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman
  • minimum 1 inch margins all round
  • paginated
  • name and title in header on each page


Get that Grant: Write Winning Applications

Get that Grant: Write Winning Applications


Wish you could get a writing grant? Stop wishing and start winning with this workshop. Learn how to craft a compelling application that will sell you and your writing project to granting organizations. Dozens of grants are open to writers: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays…

Get That Grant is a full-day prep session with hands-on writing activities and how-to tips, so you will:

  • define and clearly state your goals
  • write a project description
  • prepare your writer’s bio or literary CV
  • present your writing history
  • all of which will be invaluable for far more than grant applications

Participants are encouraged to select and bring an actual grant application to work on.

Don’t have a grant in mind? We’ll help you find a grant for now or in the future.

Participants leave this workshop with loads of information, resources and inspiration.

“Thanks, Heather. I had no idea I could apply for research grants.”

“This workshop helped me look at my manuscript in a completely different way. Amazing.”

When: Saturday, October 28, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location:  NewMakeIt Training Room, 1310 Kerrisdale Blvd. Suite 200, Newmarket, ON

Your presenters:

Heather M. O’Connor is a freelance writer and author. She has won five recent grants totalling more than $20,000, including a prestigious Ontario Arts Council Works in Progress grant and a Marion Hebb Research Grant from Access Copyright.

Ruth Walker

Author and creative writing instructor, Ruth E. Walker taught government employees how to write persuasive bios and CVs, and has won bursaries and creative writing scholarships, and Ontario Arts Council writers’ grants.

Together, Heather and Ruth deliver practical workshops jam-packed with useful information and resources.


Register online:

$90.00 +HST
$80.00 +HST Writing organization members discount


Workshops for Teachers: Creative Writing AND Resumes & Cover Letters

Workshops for Teachers: Creative Writing AND Resumes & Cover Letters

Ruth Walker
Ruth Walker

Ruth E. Walker is offering two Summer Learning Institute workshops at the Durham District School Board. Teachers explore their own creative voice with Own Your Voice: Creative Writing for Teachers on August 17. And on August 18, Careers, Co-op and Guidance teachers dissect the good and bad of preparing resumes and cover letters with Presenting You: Resume Writing and Cover Letters.

Own Your Voice: Creative Writing for Teachers

man writingThis one-day workshop builds on several of the successful exercises and approaches Ruth uses as a visiting artist in the classroom, and at arts camp for Grades 7 – 12 students. Using an experiential approach, teachers will try out forms of freefall writing, and use a series of prompts and activities to tap into their own narrative voice. Handouts and exercises are adaptable for classroom use. Group discussions will include diversity, inclusion and creating a safe space for expression and feedback.

Presenting You: Resume Writing and Cover Letters

business man readingA half-day workshop that has been successfully delivered to Careers classrooms at Sinclair Secondary School. Participants tailor their resume in a step-by-step process and learn how craft compelling cover letters. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Ruth was an HR professional in the private and public sectors. And more recently, she worked in the Marketing Unit, Strategic Communications for the provincial Learning Ministries — Education, and Training, Colleges and Universities. Participants will receive a PowerPoint presentation they can adapt to their own classroom needs.


The workshops are being run by the Durham District School Board. Registration is open to the public. For details on fees and registration process, contact: Ramona-Lisa McDonald, 905-666-6927 and Gayle Anniss, 905-666-6929 at the board.

Writescape’s Presenters

Our writing alumni benefit from what these exceptional writing professionals offer: expertise and a passion for words. With them, we explore the art and craft of writing.


Our workshop presenters share their expertise in focused classroom settings


Our retreat guest authors and agents attend select retreats for both structured classes and informal gatherings


Workshop Presenters

Headshot of Dorothea Helms

Dorothea Helms brings writing magic to all her sessions. Practical hands-on exercises balance with lively discussions and shared laughter when Dorothea delivers her workshops.


Anne MacLachlan's headshot

Anne MacLachlan knows what social media can do for a writer. From research to promotion, this fantasy writer is tech-savvy and smart.


Workshop Presenter Heather M. O'Connor

Freelance journalist and author, Heather M. O’Connor crafts irresistible promotional material as the PR and Marketing Coordinator for Writescape. She loves teaching practical, hands-on workshops.

Frances Peck


Frances Peck edits with a passion for the power of words. A true Grammar Guru, Frances will leave no participle dangling. Period.

Workshop Presenter Sue Reynolds

Author Sue Reynolds nurtures writers’ souls and nudges their pens. Certified in the Amherst Writers & Artists method, she approaches creative writing workshops with an open heart and mind.

head shot of Erin Thomas


Novelist Erin Thomas knows a lot about writing for children. From picture books to YA plots, she’s not kidding around.


Retreat Guest Authors and Agents

Retreat Guest Author Jonathan Bennett

Acclaimed by critics, novelist and poet Jonathan Bennett writes his brilliant prose with the eye of a poet and frames his beautiful poetry within the heart of a storyteller.


Retreat Guest Author Susanna Kearsley

Bestselling author Susanna Kearsley blends history, romance and paranormal, crossing genres just as she crosses the hearts — and times — of her characters.


Retreat Guest Author Barbara Kyle


Barbara Kyle‘s bestselling historical novels follow the Thornleigh family through generations of rebellion, passion and Tudor-era treachery.


Hilary McMahonHilary McMahon is a top Canadian agent, who – between trips to the Frankfurt and London book fairs – always has time to share with writers updates on trends, industry insights and exciting new books.


Retreat Guest Author Caroline Pignat

Award-winning novelist Caroline Pignat inspires and excites writers with rich historical and fast-paced contemporary novels that engage teen readers and adults alike.


Retreat Guest Author Richard Scrimger Fun may be prolific author Richard Scrimger‘s middle name but he is deadly serious about crafting his many books for children and young adults.

head shot of Bill Swan


From deadlines to sources of inspiration, journalist, teacher and novelist Bill Swan loves sharing his years of experience and knowledge of the craft of writing.

You Earned It – Now Keep It

You Earned It – Now Keep It

Taxation Tips for Writers and Artists with Gwynn Scheltema.

Are you a writer, storyteller, musician or visual artist? Whether you get paid or not, Revenue Canada offers aspiring and professional arts community members unique tax considerations. These are not available to other occupations. So how can you benefit from them?



Knowledge is the key.

Participants will learn the answers to such questions as:

  • How does Revenue Canada define “freelance”?
  • If I win a writing contest, is that money considered income?
  • What if I’m published but I don’t earn any income?
  • Should I keep all my novel expenses for the year when it’s published?
  • Do I have to register for HST?

This workshop…

  • has information you can use
  • answers writer-related questions
  • has creative writing tax-ercises
  • is loaded with tax-saving tips
  • is practical and easy to understand

Gwynn Scheltema is a full-time writer and editor, owner of The Write Connection, and a partner in Before turning to writing full time, Gwynn worked for over 25 years in accounting, teaching and administration. She received her accounting designation in 1974 and has worked in the accounting field as an accountant, auditor and tax preparer since that time.


Send us an email to be notified of the next date for this workshop:




Memo to Readers: Power of Personal Papers

Memo to Readers: Power of Personal Papers

DATE Since it was first published, The Diary of Anne Frank continues to be a bestselling non-fiction book, attracting thousands of readers each year who discover Anne’s spirit. Clara Callan won both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award. Message in a Bottle. The Notebook. The Bible. Dracula. Griffen and Sabine….

All these titles are bestselling fiction and non-fiction books. All are joined by one basic element: the epistolary form. Using personal papers is not a new technique but it can be a powerful addition. And like any power tool in writing, it needs a thoughtful approach.letter-700386 web size

Let Ruth take you through this form’s limitless possibilities. From grocery lists and memos to diaries and love letters, the epistolary form has been an effective and economical way to convey information and capture the imagination of your reader.

A workshop participant: “I never realized how powerful this could be in my manuscript. Thank you!”

Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Venue: TBA (Durham Region)
Fee: $90 [$80 for WCDR, WCYR, WCSC, SOH, CAA and other writing associations]


Memo to Readers ($90)+HST
Memo to Readers ($80)+HST

PLEASE NOTE: When you hit the “Add to Cart” button, the PayPal order will show up at the top of the column to the right. To be taken to PayPal to finish your purchase, click on the yellow PayPal button. You can use a credit card on the PayPal site – you do not have to have a PayPal account

HST # 821104853RT0001

Mail in registration: Print the attached form and mail to Writescape c/o 101 Morningside Drive, RR3 Havelock, Ontario K0L 1Z0.  Remember to email us at to tell us you are sending your registration and payment by cheque.

PR Launch Pad

Make your Public Relations Plan blast off and bring you attention and readersrocketship

Get inspired, become creative and delve into the wild and dynamic world of book and author promotion. Invest two nights to :

  • create your marketing plan
  • craft press releases
  • design launch events
  • enhance your brand as “author”
  • find contacts
  • research venues
  • examine social media options

Gwynn will help you refine your image and your collection of ready-to-serve bios, literary CVs and author profiles. Ruth will share insights and surprises from her ongoing book tour. Even the authors with a string of titles know they have to work the publicity machine to promote their books. Whether you have a book in hand or are working toward that goal, this workshop series will get you fired up and ready to launch.

Date: Consecutive evenings on Monday, October 28 and Tuesday, October 29

Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Location: Trent University Oshawa Campus

Cost:  $75 ($65 for members of  Writers’ organizations: WCDR, WCYR, WCSC, SOH, PWAC etc.)


Glentula – Summer


Glentula, nestled in five acres of mixed Ontario forest, is the home of Gwynn Scheltema and Don Anderson. “Glentula” means “peaceful hollow”. “Glen” meaning “valley or hollow” comes from Don’s Scottish heritage. “Tula” is from Gwynn’s roots in Zimbabwe, Africa, based on the Ndebele word for “peace” or “quiet”. Glentula is the perfect place to write.

The front shade garden offers a gazebo beside the rock garden, the tea stone sunken bench under the maples, or a muskoka chair on the pink granite surround of the camp-fire pit. Wander the garden paths, have a swing or just enjoy the dappled shade beneath the tall trees.

In the back garden. the large deck overlooks a flower edged lawn, with views down over the footbridge to the water of Burnt Point Bay on Lake Seymour, a campfire and entrance to the magic wood with its surprises.

Lake Seymour is part of the Trent River Waterway System, between the locks at Hastings and Healy Falls. At the water’s edge, sit in the gazebo there, lie in the hammock or sunbathe on the dock. Enjoy watching pleasure craft, explore the river mouth and beaver dam, or just enjoy the quiet lap of lilypads as kingfishers, osprey and heron dive for fish. Then wander back to the house through the woodland trails.

Montage with words -- The many lovely faces of GlentulaDirections to Glentula

From the South West (1½ hours from Oshawa)

  • Take Hwy. 401 east to Hwy 115. Proceed north on Hwy 115.
  • After approx 45 minutes, at Peterborough, Hwy 115 becomes Hwy 7. Continue east on Hwy 7 to Havelock (35 mins.).
  • At Havelock follow map below.

From the East (3 hours from Ottawa)

  • Take Hwy 417 west to Hwy 7 just west of the Scotiabank Place.
  • Proceed west on Hwy 7 to Havelock.
  • At Havelock follow map below.

From the North West (45 mins. from Peterborough)

  • At Port Perry take Hwy 7A east to Hwy 35.
  • At Hwy 35 turn south for a kilometre, then east on the continuation of Hwy 7A to Hwy 115.
  • After approx 15 minutes, at Peterborough, Hwy 115 becomes Hwy 7. Go east to Havelock (35 mins.)
  • At Havelock follow map below.

From the South East (45 mins from Brighton)

  • Take Hwy 401 west to Brighton.
  • Take Regional/County Rd. 30 north to Campbellford
  • At the lights at the bridge in Campbellford, turn west on Bridge Street (RR 30 cont) to Village of Trent River (15 mins)
  • At Trent River, follow the map below

map to glentula

Get the Word Out: Social Media for Writers and Artists

Get the Word Out: Social Media for Writers and Artists

with Heather M. O’Connor and Anne MacLachlan

Fee: $125 [$110 for writing association members-WCDR, WCSC, WCYR, SOH etc.]

Social media: the online cocktail party where writers, agents, publishers and readers mingle, connect, share advice and resources, do business. Are you ready to join the party?

Get the answers you need at this 5-week workshop:

  • Two skilled facilitators 
  • Lots of hands-on help in class 
  • Online support between classes

Who should attend?

  • Intermediate users hoping to develop a writer-specific audience and applications
  • Social media novices needing lots of support

man with social media iconsfinger picking social media iconssocial media cubes in a gift boxFacebook buttonTwitter buttons with birdsYouTube logoSocial media icons on a phone

What’s getting covered?

  • Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube, Pinterest and more 
  • Why writers use these platforms and HOW
  • Ways to develop your craft, connect with the writing community and to promote your writing

For example:

  • Open and customize a Twitter account
  • Learn how, when and what to tweet
  • Find out where to find writers, agents and publishers
  • Attract Twitter and blog followers

What else?

  • Discover social media settings, tools, resources and apps that measure your progress and help you work faster, safer and more efficiently

Learn how to meet, who to greet and how to make a killer impression in the writers’ world of social media. By the time you’re done, you’ll have the foundation for your social media platform. You’ll also have the resources and tools to continue building your social media presence in the arts community.