Home

VMI_logo

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. Our monthly Q & A is an opportunity to engage with issues that affect most writers. This month’s Writer Q&As: How do you find new energy in your writing?

About

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.

VMI_About_F

Mentors

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
  • Claudia Casper

    Claudia Casper

    Long-form Fiction

    Claudia is a novelist who also writes reviews for The Globe and Mail. She has just completed her third novel. Her first two books, The Reconstruction and The Continuation of Love By Other Means, were bestselling and well reviewed. Both are published by Penguin, and optioned for film and published in UK, US and Germany. She focuses on adapting the novel in the age of the internet and discovering ways to increase the drama and power of her narrative. Claudia was a guest lecturer at the University of Shanghai in Spring 2015 and teaches fiction at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Shaena Lambert

    Shaena Lambert

    Long-form and Short Fiction

    Shaena Lambert is a novelist, short story writer and teacher. Her latest book of stories, Oh, My Darling won the CBC Bookie Award for Best Story Collection of 2013, was selected as a top book of the year by both the Globe and Mail and National Post and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Award for the Short Story. Her novel, Radiance, about a Hiroshima survivor who comes to New York in 1952, was a finalist for the Writers Trust Fiction Award, the Ethel Wilson Prize, and the Ontario Evergreen Award. Her first book, The Falling Woman, was published to critical acclaim in Canada, the UK and Germany. Shaena has taught and mentored fiction with The Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, The Humber School for Writers, The Writers’ Studio of Simon Fraser University and the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts.

    Click to read my Q&A
  • Rachel Rose

    Rachel Rose

    Poetry

    Rachel Rose 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
  • Cathleen With

    Cathleen With

    Short-form Fiction Editor

    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
  • Karen X. Tulchinsky

    Karen X. Tulchinsky

    Screenwriting

    Karen X. Tulchinsky is an award-winning screenwriter, story editor, novelist and director. She’s written seven feature screenplays, several in development, including I Shot the Sheriff for acclaimed director Clement Virgo (Book of Negroes). She’s story edited numerous screenplays, working with screenwriters from across Canada to develop their scripts. She 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. She 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. She’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. She’s the author of Love Ruins Everything, Love and Other Ruins and In Her Nature, which won the Vancity Book Prize. She 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

Testimonials

  • 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

Success Stories

AGW ThumbPage as Bone Thumb3Average Height of Flight Thumb5The Delphi Room Cover7Towers of Tuscany Cover910

Click images to enlarge

Some of the successes our graduates have experienced include:

  • 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.

Apply

To apply for the 2017 Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, submit the application form and your supporting documents. Your application should include, where possible:

  • a 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 2017 VMI Program:

Application Deadline: November 21th, 2016
Notifications: November 28th, 2016
Tuition due: December 9th, 2016
Course start date: January 2017. This date can be flexible based on your requirements and availability.

Tuition for Vancouver Manuscript Intensive is $2,500 plus GST that can be paid by cheque or PayPal. By arrangement, tuition may be paid in installments.

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

Vancouver Manuscript Intensive Celebrates Its 2016 Alumni

Thanks to everyone who came out to VMI’s 2016 alumni reading last Sunday afternoon at Britannia Library in East ...read more

New Venue for VMI Grad Reading this Sunday

Hello to all those planning to attend the reading by Vancouver Manuscript Intensive grads this Sunday, June 5th: there ...read more

Reading: Vancouver Manuscript Intensive 2016

Join us for our Vancouver Manuscript Intensive 2016 Reading on June 5th at 3PM and hear eight diverse and ...read more