VMI is an in-depth one-to-one mentorship program that pairs you with a professional author to develop your manuscript to its fullest potential.

We believe there’s no one-approach-fits-all to writers. Participants benefit from a comprehensive, tailored course developed specifically for your particular writing needs, and more than 50 years’ combined professional experience in writing, editing, teaching and publishing from our VMI mentors.

Each VMI writer gains a concrete understanding of how to create an engaging, polished manuscript. Upon completing the program, VMI writers leave with practical knowledge about the craft of writing, how to bring their manuscript to publication, and how to bring newfound skills to future projects.

Find out more about our program or read our recent participant success stories. We also offer one-to-one mentor programs: discover more about VMI Solo.

Success Stories

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Click images to enlarge

Some of the successes our graduates have experienced include:

  • Becky Livingston, 2015 VMI alumna, has published her memoir, The Suitcase and the Jar: Travels with a Daughter’s Ashes.
  • Barbara Black, 2017 VMI alumna, has won The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition.
  • VMI alumna, Jan Redford, has published her memoirEnd of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood, with Penguin Random House.
  • Jonina Kirton from VMI 2012 has been named a finalist for the BC Book Prizes, for her second book of poems, An Honest Woman.
  • VMI 2015 writer Leanne Dunic was announced winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Prize.
  • VMI 2013 Carol Cram finished her debut novel The Towers of Tuscany that was subsequently published with New Arcadia Publishing and is now available on Amazon Kindle for download. The print version was bought and re-issued in December 2014 by the U.S. press Lake Union Publishing.
  • Tina Biello developed and finished her book of poetry, A Housecoat Remains, in VMI 2013 that will be published by Guernica Editions, Fall 2015.
  • VMI 2013 writer Jude Neale finished A Quiet Coming of Light (Leaf Press) that has been shortlisted for 2015 The Pat Lowther Award.
  • Jonina Kirton’s collection of poems, page as bone – ink as blood, developed in VMI 2012, was published by Talonbooks in Spring 2015.
  • Marilyn Belak from VMI 2012 won 2nd place for her poem september–indian summer in Pandora’s Collective’s 2015 poetry contest.
  • VMI 2012 writer Kathy Para finished her debut novel, Lucky that subsequently won Mother Tongue Publishing’s second Great BC Novel Contest and was then nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Award.
  • Judy McFarlane’s book Writing with Grace, A Journey Beyond Down Syndrome, was finished during VMI 2012 was published by Douglas & McIntyre in Spring 2014.
  • VMI 2012 writer Melia McClure finished her novel, The Delphi Room which was subsequently published by ChiZine Publications in September 2013.
  • Beth Kope’s collection of poems, Average Height of Flight: A Companion Piece, was developed in VMI 2011 was published by Caitlin Press in Spring 2015.
  • VMI 2011 writer Lisa Voisin’s The Watcher, a young adult paranormal romance, was published in March 2013 by Inkspell Publishing.
  • VMI 2011 writer Ann Graham Walker developed her chapbook of poems, The Puzzle at the End of Love that was published by Leaf Press in 2012.
  • Leslie Hill’s memoir, Dressed for Dancing – A Sojourn in the Findhorn Foundation, was developed during VMI 2011 and published by Incite Press in December 2012.


Rahat Kurd (VMI 2012) having a consult with Betsy, VMI Mentor and Founder.

Vancouver Manuscript Intensive is structured to ensure that a personal and highly supportive one-to-one mentorship is offered to develop your manuscript as a whole. We match each of our participants with a talented, often award-winning, professional author who is also a skilled editor in their genre.

We keep participant numbers intentionally small, working with just two to four VMI writers at a time to ensure you have productive, focused time dedicated to you.

Our mentors have embarked on a similar writing journey to you, having developed their own manuscripts until ready for publication. Often a writer’s biggest challenge is finishing a manuscript. By working with a professional, you can stay motivated and accountable, while gaining tools and applicable advice to create a fully realized work that matches its potential.

The results speak for themselves: VMI graduates have secured book deals with presses throughout Canada, a number of VMI writers have been nominated or won literary awards.

The Program

Your program begins with an in-person meeting with your mentor to develop a rapport, discuss your manuscript, and confirm your goals. In preparation for this meeting, your mentor will read and assess your entire manuscript, or body of work from which the basis of a manuscript is determined, before developing a suggested strategy for your ongoing work together.

Throughout the next six months, your mentor will provide editorial advice and feedback in three two-hour coaching sessions. Between each session you’ll share progress, queries and ideas via regular email communication. You will be given suggestions for revisions, reshaping, and additional writing required to enhance your work. As a VMI writer you will be also invited to attend two group meetings to learn more about craft, structure, and the publishing industry.

Our program culminates each year with a public reading given by each year’s graduates. This celebratory event consistently attracts an audience of more than 60 people.

VMI Solo Option

If the six-month VMI Program does not suit you, we also offer VMI Solo, where you work independently with a VMI mentor. Acceptance into VMI Solo is determined by a sample of your work, your goals, and if a suitable VMI mentor is available. The cost and duration of VMI Solo is determined directly between you and the VMI mentor. A VMI application and referral fee of $100 applies.



Vancouver Manuscript Intensive mentors are respected, published authors in their field. Second only to the writing process itself is their passion for sharing skills and ideas, and embarking on a successful learning process with VMI writers.

  • Betsy Warland

    Betsy Warland

    Creative Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Mixed-Genre Narratives

    Betsy is the founder and program director of Vancouver Manuscript Intensive. She designed and directed The Writer’s Studio at S.F.U. from 2001-2012 and remains on TWS faculty. She has been on faculty at Sage Hill Writing Experience (SK), U.B.C.’s Booming Ground, and Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts.

    She has been a manuscript consultant and editor for more than 30 years and has published 12 books of creative nonfiction, poetry and mixed genre. Her best-selling book of 24 essays on writing, Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing (Cormorant Books, 2010), has received critical acclaim. Writers and authors she has mentored have gone on to publish books and win, or be shortlisted for, numerous awards.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Rachel Rose

    Rachel Rose


    Rachel Rose (VMI Co-Associate Director) is a dual American/Canadian citizen whose work has appeared in various journals in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Japan, including Poetry, The Malahat Review and The Best American Poetry, as well as numerous anthologies. Her most recent book, Song & Spectacle (2012) won the Audre Lorde Poetry Award in the U.S. and the Pat Lowther Award in Canada. She is the winner of the Peterson Memorial Prize for poetry and the Bronwen Wallace award for fiction, and the recipient of a 2014 Pushcart Prize. She is the Poet Laureate of Vancouver for 2014-2017.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Elee Kraljii Gardiner

    Elee Kraljii Gardiner

    Poetry and Creative Nonfiction (VMI solo)

    Elee Kraljii Gardiner (VMI Co-Associate Director) is a creative mentor, editor and poet with a decade of experience leading workshops and facilitating writing projects. Elee founded Thursdays Writing Collective, a non-profit, low-barrier program of creative writing classes with more than 150 writers from the Downtown Eastside, and is the editor and publisher of eight of the Collective’s anthologies. Her experience working with multi-lingual, racialized, genderized people from a wide-range of life experiences and abilities earned her the 2015 Pandora’s Collective BC Writer Mentor Award.

    Her first book of poems, serpentine loop (Anvil Press, 2016), which was nominated for the 2017 Raymond Souster Award and named twice to The Walrus Magazine’s “Best of 2016” list, is now in a second printing. Her second book, the long poem memoir Trauma Head (Anvil Press, 2019), was nominated for the Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and the Raymon Souster Award. She is coeditor with John Asfour of V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012), an open-genre anthology which was shortlisted for the 2012 City of Vancouver Book Award. In 2019 Anvil Press published Against Death: 35 Essays on Living, an anthology collecting creative non fiction from people who have come close to death. Elee is the recipient of CV2’s Lina Chartrand Award for Social Justice and was a finalist for Malahat’s Far Horizons 2014 Prize. A frequent collaborator, she holds an MA in Hispanic Literature and is an MFA candidate in poetry at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where she is an editor for the journal Chapter House. She is originally from Boston.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Claudia Casper

    Claudia Casper

    Long-form Fiction

    Claudia has written three novels: The Reconstruction, a best-seller, published by Penguin Canada and in the UK, US, and Germany; The Continuation of Love by Other Means, also published by Penguin and short-listed for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; and most recently, The Mercy Journals, published by Arsenal Pulp Press and winner of the 2017 Phillip K. Dick Award for distinguished science-fiction. She has also written creative non-fiction (Event Magazine, Geist, Lit-Hub, Globe and Mail, Dropped Threads etc.), book reviews for the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun, and is currently collaborating on France/Canada feature film adaptation of her first novel. She has taught as a sessional at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and appeared at the 2017 Iceland Writer’s Retreat, and most recently the Pasadena LitFest. She will be the Whistler writer-in-residence for 2018. She has been a mentor with VMI for 9 years.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Cathleen With

    Cathleen With

    Short-form Fiction

    Cathleen’s first book, skids (Arsenal Pulp, 2006), about street kids on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, was short-listed for a Relit Award. Among her many adventures, Cathleen has worked at a camp for disabled kids in Squamish, and in Hawaii and Australia. She served as a drama educator in Kathmandu, a caregiver at Mother Teresa’s Home in Calcutta, a teacher to former sex trade kids in Cambodia, and as a teacher in Inuvik, NT, and Seoul, Korea. Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison (winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Award), is her first novel. She was proud to be in the City of Vancouver short-listed anthology V6A: Writing from the Downtown Eastside (Arsenal 2013). 

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Aren X. Tulchinsky

    Aren X. Tulchinsky

    Screenwriting and Long-form Fiction

    Aren X. Tulchinsky, the writer formerly known as Karen X. Tulchinsky, is an award-winning screenwriter, story editor, novelist and director. He’s the author of The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky, winner of the One Book One Vancouver Prize in 2008, was a Toronto Book Award Finalist and was recently named one of the Top Ten Books about Toronto by the Toronto Star. He’s the author of Love Ruins Everything, Love and Other Ruins and In Her Nature, which won the Vancity Book Prize. He’s written seven feature screenplays, several in development, including I Shot the Sheriff for acclaimed director Clement Virgo (Book of Negroes). He’s story edited numerous screenplays, working with screenwriters from across Canada to develop their scripts. He has worked as story editor, writer and director on many television series, including The Guard, Robson Arms, Kink, The Bachelor Canada, Timber Kings and CBC’s The Nature of Things. He directed Ms. Thing, which has screened at over 50 film festivals internationally, including screenings in Paris, London, San Francisco, New York, Sicily, Hamburg and Mumbai. It won Audience Choice Award at Queerfruits Australia. He teaches screen and television writing at UBC’s Writing Centre and is a graduate of the prestigious Canadian Film Centre, the National Screen Institute, Praxis Centre for Screenwriters and Women in the Director’s Chair at the Banff Centre.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Evelyn Lau

    Evelyn Lau

    Poetry and Creative Nonfiction

    Evelyn Lau is a Vancouver writer who has published twelve books, including seven volumes of poetry.  Her first book, Runaway:  Diary of a Street Kid (HarperCollins, 1989), published when she was 18, was a bestseller and made into a CBC film starring Sandra Oh in her first movie role.  Evelyn’s short stories and novel have been translated into a dozen languages;  her poetry has received the Milton Acorn Award, the Pat Lowther Award, a National Magazine Award, a BC Book Prize nomination and a Governor-General’s nomination.  Evelyn served as 2011-2014 Poet Laureate for the City of Vancouver.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Jónína Kirton

    Jónína Kirton is a Métis/Icelandic poet/author and facilitator. Born in Treaty One (Portage la Prairie, Manitoba) she currently lives in the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh. A Room Magazine editorial board member she is one of the co-founders of their new reading series, Indigenous Brilliance, an exciting new partnership between Room and Massy Books. She is also the curator of their new online poetry series, Turtle Island Responds. Kirton received the 2016 Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. She was sixty when she published her first collection of poetry with Talonbooks in 2015. Much to her delight, page as bone ~ ink as blood, has received critical acclaim. Two years later she brought us her second collection, An Honest Woman, again with Talonbooks. The book was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Betsy Warland had this to say about An Honest Woman: “Kirton picks over how she was raised familially and culturally like a crime scene.” Apparently, all that dreaming about being a Nancy Drew when she grew up did come to fruition. Just not the way she thought it would as a child.

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  • Shazia Hafiz Ramji

    Shazia Hafiz Ramji

    Poetry, Short Fiction

    Shazia Hafiz Ramji received the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry for Port of Being, forthcoming with Invisible Publishing in fall 2018. She was a finalist for the National Magazine Awards and Alberta Magazine Awards. Her fiction has been longlisted for the Fiddlehead’s fiction prize and received an honourable mention for The Humber Literary Review’s Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, judged by Cherie Dimaline and Ayelet Tsabari. Her fiction is forthcoming in The Humber Literary Review, her poetry is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2018, and her writing has appeared in venues such as Quill & Quire, Vallum, Metatron’s OMEGA and ALPHAThe PuritanCV2, Room, The Capilano Review, Canadian Literature. Shazia has offered publishing consultations and worked as an editor for various presses and magazines across Canada. She is currently an editor for the Canadian Women in the Literary Arts and Metatron Press. In April 2018, she founded the Intersections Reading Group, a monthly series dedicated to discussing race, gender, class, and ability in writing and in life. Prosopopoeia (Anstruther Press, 2017) is her first chapbook. Shazia lives in East Van.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Susan Olding

    Susan Olding

    Essays, memoir, hybrid work and other CNF

    Susan Olding writes essays, poetry, fiction, and less easily classifiable things. Her writing has won a National Magazine Award, the TNQ’s Edna Staebler Essay Award, the Prairie FireContest, and two EventCreative Nonfiction contests, and appears widely in literary journals and anthologies throughout Canada and the US. Her first book, Pathologies: A Life in Essays,has become a popular teaching text. A second book of essays is forthcoming from Freehand Books in 2021. Currently, Susan’s a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, where her dissertation project is a hybrid work about transracial adoption.


    With decades as a professional teacher, mentor, and editor in settings ranging from community literacy centres to secondary school English classrooms to graduate-level seminars, Susan also serves as a private instructor and manuscript consultant to individuals and literary presses. She especially loves writing that blurs generic boundaries and engages the mind and heart in unexpected ways.





    Click to read my Q&A


  • Betsy Warland thinks outside the box. Her writing assignments opened my mind up to different approaches that I would never have found on my own. Her criticisms were thoughtful and clear, inoffensive and above all, right. Much of the success of my memoir, Dressed for Dancing, is due to her clear insights and thoughtful commentary. Leslie Hill
  • At our final reading, VMI was described as a process of ‘stepping into the fire’. With Claudia Casper, I planted my feet on the coals. Judy McFarlane
  • After finishing the Manuscript Intensive I also worked with Betsy one-on-one on my fifth and final draft. She again pointed out any holes in my manuscript; the places where I was still holding back and the places where the stringing together of words was simply not working. Betsy would offer nudges towards the bright and true thread of the manuscript. Word by word, poem by poem, she walked me towards a manuscript that has been described as “dark and delicate”. I am proud to say that, page as bone ~ ink as blood was published by Talonbooks in Spring 2015. I could not have written this book without Betsy’s kind assistance. I would have still written a book and it may very well have been picked up by a publisher but it would never be the book it became without her gentle guidance. Jonina Kirton
  • Rachel Rose, Vancouver's Poet Laureate, was my mentor for my latest book, A Quiet Coming of Light. She was able to help me find 'the golden thread' that linked my poetic memoir together. She was a sensitive and subtle editor who shared her enormous talent in one-on-one writing exercises and expert advice. My book has gone on to be finalist in The Pat Lowther Award with a great deal of credit going to Rachel's tremendous belief in my manuscript. Thank you for the perfect pairing. Jude Neale
  • Cathleen With is an excellent mentor. She's kind, insightful and knowledgeable. Her advice was right on the money and her support encouraged me to persist in my writing goals. She has my total respect. Kathryn Para
  • Shaena Lambert is a brilliant writer who shares her knowledge of the art generously.  One of her greatest gifts is her ability to get to the heart of what you, as a writer, are trying to achieve.  She has both knowledge and deep intuitive insights.  I have benefited very much by studying with her. Lorraine Davies


To apply for the 2020 Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, submit the application form and your supporting documents. Your application should include, where possible:

  • a minimum ten-page and maximum twenty-page writing sample;
  • a short description of your manuscript or body of work;
  • a resume.

A non-refundable application fee of $50 plus GST can be paid online.

Dates for 2020 VMI Program:

Application deadline: November 11, 2019
Notifications: November 25, 2019
Tuition amount: $ 2,800 + GST
Tuition due: December 14, 2019
Course start date: January 2020. This date can be flexible based on your requirements and availability.

Tuition for Vancouver Manuscript Intensive can be paid by cheque or PayPal. By arrangement, tuition may be paid in installments.

Keep up to date with VMI news and application information for next year by subscribing to our mailing list.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know that VMI is right for me?

If you are interested in a creative writing course but ready to devote yourself more extensively, our six-month period of working intensively on improving your manuscript with the guidance of a mentor is right for you.

Each mentorship relationship and VMI experience is unique: we pair you with the person best suited to your genre and goals, and work with you on a one-to-one basis to ensure the program is a good fit for you and your work. This personalization helps to ensure the most productive, positive experience for each participant.

What are some of the successes you have had in the past?
Our extended version of a creative writing course achieves results. Since 2011 alone, 11 VMI writers have had their MS published and three of those have been nominated for and won awards. Find out more by reading our success stories.
Can I choose the mentor I work with?

You can certainly indicate which mentor you would like to work with. This is always taken into consideration. Which mentor you are assigned to depends on which mentors are available each year, and our sense of who would provide the best support for you and your manuscript. For example, a nonfiction or memoir manuscript may benefit most from drawing upon far more devices of fiction (dialogue, character development, extending scenes): we may therefore pair you with a mentor specializing in fiction.

What should my application include?

To apply for this manuscript writing course we recommend you include a twenty-page sample, a short description of your MS or body of work that may comprise a MS, and a resume. More details about the application will be posted on this website in early September of each year.

I’m not a professional writer. Can I still apply?

Absolutely. The majority of our participants have not previously published a book – although many go on to do so after the course. We encourage applications from writers with various levels of experience.

Do I need to have a full draft of my manuscript to apply?

No. Often (but not always) it is actually preferable that you work with us before you have a full draft. This allows for early feedback about your manuscript, enabling you to stay on track with a clear understanding of the writing’s focus and potential.

Some VMI writers have a body of work (poems or short fiction or nonfiction pieces) and need help to identify what does and does not belong in the manuscript. Others have a smaller body of work but a compelling idea for a manuscript and need assistance in focusing and developing their manuscript.

Because our program is tailored to each participant, there is no one requirement for the readiness, or extent, of your manuscript.

How do you choose who is accepted to VMI?

The majority of applicants are accepted, with the understanding that only those dedicated to the writing and mentorship program will apply. As our name suggests, this is an intensive program: we encourage applications only from those willing to make the commitment.

How much does VMI cost?

Vancouver Manuscript Intensive costs $2,500 plus GST. Applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee of $50 plus GST.

We accept payment in one sum or in installments – please contact us if you wish to pay by installments.

Do I need to live in Vancouver to participate?

No. Our program can be embarked on from anywhere in the world, with mentor meetings set up via Skype or phone. If you live outside of Vancouver we strongly recommend you travel to Vancouver for your first manuscript consult with your mentor so as to establish a positive working relationship.

I’d like to know more about VMI before applying. Where do I look?

Please contact us if you have questions that are unanswered by the website.

How much time does VMI take?

VMI writers’ time commitment will vary depending on three things: the goals set by the mentor and writer for each consult; how much work the manuscript needs; how much time the writer has to focus on the manuscript. A minimum of time required would be 15 hours a week. Occasionally, due to other commitments, a VMI writer will “miss” a week or two but more often, VMI writers choose to maximize this time and frequently devote more than 15 hours a week.

News & Missives

Photos: VMI Celebrates 2019 Grads

Thanks to everyone who came out to VMI’s 2019 alumni reading last Sunday afternoon at Havana Cafe Theatre in ...read more

VMI 2019 Reading @ Havana Cafe and Theatre

Join Betsy Warland and Vancouver Manuscript Intensive mentors, Claudia Casper, Shazia Hafiz, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Jónina Kirton, and Cathleen With ...read more

Betsy Warland at Jane’s Walk

Betsy Warland was a featured poet for Jane’s Walk, a citizen-led walking tour. Jane’s Walk on Saturday, May 5 ...read more