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.
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.
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Some of the successes our graduates have experienced include:
VMI is a literary mentoring service. We work with writers in all genres and writers with all levels of experience — writers who are published authors, writers who have had training in creative writing programs, and writers who have been working mostly on their own. You may have a complete draft, partial draft of a manuscript, or a body of work that may be the basis of a manuscript. Your manuscript might be a collection of personal essays or short stories, a cycle or group of poems, or chapters from a fiction or nonfiction manuscript.
VMI is structured to ensure that a personal and highly supportive one-to-one mentorship will help you further develop your manuscript. We match each of our participants with a talented (often award-winning) professional author who has substantive editing skills in their genre. We keep participant numbers intentionally small. Typically a mentor works with just one to two writers at a time. This ensures that you have productive, focused time dedicated to your manuscript.
By the end of VMI, few VMI writers’ manuscripts will be ready to submit immediately to a publisher. The arduous process of creating the new writing needed, and revising your previous writing, takes longer than we imagine it will — whether it is your first or fourteenth book! By the end of VMI, you will know what steps are yet to be taken to create a publishable manuscript.
At the completion of the program in June, we hold a celebratory public reading for VMI writers in Vancouver.
The results speak for themselves: VMI graduates have secured book deals with publishers throughout Canada and a number of VMI writers’ books have been nominated for, or won literary awards.
Here’s what you can anticipate during the course of our six-month program:
By the end of November, you’ll learn who your mentor is. Within the first six weeks, your mentor will read your entire manuscript, or body of work you have written thus far. We are one of the only programs where a mentor does this up front. In your first consult, you can expect mentor feedback to help you understand some of the following: the strongest and most unique focus in your writing; what content fits and what doesn’t; any additional writing that is needed; and what is likely to be the most effective overall structure.
At this first consult, your mentor will also discuss which revision techniques and strategies are best for your manuscript. For example: areas of description that need to be rewritten into dialogue; revising inter-related poems into a suite of poems; creating additional settings and scenes to make your fiction or nonfiction more evocative.
Your mentor will also discuss with you how to structure and schedule your consultations on the manuscript, whether that’s a smaller number of consultations to review large chunks of the writing, or more consults to review smaller portions of the manuscript.
In addition to one-on-one mentoring sessions, VMI typically offers a mentor-lead group meeting in which VMI writers can meet one another and learn more about specific craft skills applicable to everyone in the group, or more about the publishing process.
Although VMI mentors will provide you with substantive editing and publishing advice, keep in mind that VMI mentors are not in-house publisher’s editors, copyeditors, nor literary agents. These are distinctly different professions.
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 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 has been a TWS Mentor or on TWS faculty for many of the past twenty years. She has also been on faculty as Sage Hill Writing Experience (SK), as well as U.B.C.’s Booming Ground, Metchosin International Summer School of the Art, and Smithers Rural Writers Retreat (all in B.C.).
Betsy has been a manuscript consultant and editor for more than 30 years and has published 14 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 major awards.Click to read my Q&A
Rachel Rose (VMI Co-Associate Director) is the author of four collections of poetry, including Marry & Burn, which received a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for a Governor General’s Award. Her memoir, The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World’s K9 Cops, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arthur Ellis award for best non-fiction crime book. A former fellow at The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, she is the Poet Laureate Emerita of Vancouver and has taught creative writing at Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio (TWS), Simon Fraser University’s Continuing Education Program, Washington State’s Poets in the Schools, the University of British Columbia, Kwantlen University, and, at present, Vancouver Manuscript Intensive (VMI). Recent fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Bellevue Literary Review, The Antioch Review, The New Quarterly, The Alaska Quarterly Review and Joyland. http://rachelsprose.weebly.com/Click to read my Q&A
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 nine of the Collective’s anthologies.
Her first book of poems, serpentine loop (Anvil Press, 2016), was nominated for the 2017 Raymond Souster Award and named twice to The Walrus Magazine’s “Best of 2016” list. Her second book, the long poem memoir Trauma Head (Anvil Press, 2019), won the Fred Cogswell Award, and 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. Against Death was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize and the runner-up in the Short Story/Anthology category of the Hoffer Awards in the US and is one of BookWarehouse’s Best Books of 2019. Elee is the recipient of CV2’s Lina Chartrand Award for Social Justice and is the recipient of the 2015 Pandora’s Collective BC Writer Mentor Award. A frequent collaborator, she holds an MA in Hispanic Literature from UBC and an MFA in Poetry from the Institute for American Indian Arts. She is originally from Boston.Click to read my Q&A
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’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, 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 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 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.Click to read my Q&A
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 ALPHA, The Puritan, CV2, 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 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
To apply for the 2020 Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, submit the application form and your supporting documents. Your application should include, where possible:
A non-refundable application fee of $50 plus GST can be paid online.
November 11, 2019 Extended till midnight Nov 18, 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.
If you are interested in a creative writing course and are ready to devote yourself to writing more extensively, our six-month period of working intensively with a mentor on improving your manuscript may be 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.
You can certainly indicate which mentor you would like to work with. While we always consider writer’s requests, the mentor you are assigned depends on which mentors are available, and our careful consideration of your work balanced with who would provide the best support for you and your manuscript.
For example, a nonfiction or memoir manuscript may benefit most from drawing upon fictional devices such as dialogue and character development or extended scenes, and we could therefore pair you with a mentor specializing in fiction.
To apply, we recommend you include a twenty-page sample from your manuscript, 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.
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.
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 the pieces that do or do 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 requirement for prior training (nor publishing) although it is a benefit. We’re looking for evocative, or even provocative writing by promising, hardworking writers who are engaged in the times we live in.
We accept a majority of our applicants, based on the understanding that the writers who do apply are committed to an intensive program of effort and learning to produce an improved manuscript. As our name suggests, this is an intensive program: we encourage applications only from those willing to make the commitment.
In September, check to VMI website application page for the current tuition for Vancouver Manuscript Intensive. In 2020, the tuition was $2,940 plus GST. There is a non-refundable application fee of $50 plus GST.
We accept payment via PayPal, e-transfer, or cheque.
Our program has had students from across Canada, in Latin America and in Europe. Each mentor and student decide on what modality suits them best; hardcopy via post or digital attachment; Skype, zoom, Face Time, or phone call etc. Meeting in person is ideal, but meetings can be set up via the modalities above. If you live outside of Vancouver, we do recommend that you, if possible, travel to Vancouver for the first manuscript consult with your mentor. A face-to-face meeting fosters a clear sense of one another’s communication styles.
Please contact us if you have questions that are unanswered by the website.
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; and how much time the writer has to focus on the manuscript. Writers should expect to spend a minimum of 10 hours a week on their manuscript. 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.
Keep up to date with VMI news and application information by subscribing to our mailing list.
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