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 for writers. VMI participants benefit from a comprehensive, tailored course developed specifically for their particular writing needs, and more than 50 years of 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 completion of the program, VMI writers leave with practical knowledge about the craft of writing, a plan to bring their manuscript to a publishable standard, and confidence in applying their newfound skills to future projects.

While we welcome applicants with various levels of experience, acceptance is determined by a number of factors and not all applicants may be accepted. One of our core values is that our mentors are enthusiastic about the proposed project and feel they are capable of helping bring it to the next level. Find out more about our program or read our recent participant success stories here. We also offer one-to-one mentor programs: discover more about VMI Solo here. We also offer online workshops on a range of topics across genres. This year we inaugurate a fully-funded Fellowship: find out more about it here.


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

Click images to enlarge

Recent news from our graduates, participants, and mentors include:

  • Mentor Mark Winston, is the current Writer in Residence at Simon Fraser University.
  • Director and VMI mentor Elee Kraljii Gardiner’s interview with poets Joyelle McSweeney and Ken White appeared in Carousel Issue 44.
  • Director and VMI mentor Rachel Rose’s new book of short stories,The Octopus Has Three Hearts, is hotly anticipated by 49th Shelf! Rachel also has a poem featured in Vancouver Poetry Phone. Feel free to call the number and listen in at: 1-833-POEMS-4-U (763-6748)  You can also listen online on the homepage here.
  • Mentor Susan Olding’s essay, “Past Lives” appears in the latest issue of the Humber Literary Review. A lyric essay appears in Sweet Literary. Her new collection of essays, Big Reader, is forthcoming from Freehand in May 2021.
  • Mentor Evelyn Lau speaks with Rob Taylor about her latest poetry book, Pineapple Express.
  • Mentor Betsy Warland and Shaena Lambert are leading a Dark and Stormy writing retreat next fall at Hollyhock on Cortes Island.
  • VMI Fellow, Pervin Saket’s essay on (not) writing during the pandemic has just been published by Singapore Unbound. Pervin has recently been named poetry editor of Bombay Literary Magazine.
  • Adrienne Drobnies (VMI 2007) published her first book of poetry Salt and Ashes in 2019 with Signature Editions.  Her long poem poem “Randonnées” won the Gwendolyn MacEwen award for emerging poet in 2017 and was shortlisted for the CBC literary prize.
  • Carol Cram (VMI 2014) has been busy publishing! The Towers of Tuscany (Lake Union Publishing, 2014) designated Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society in the UK, and won the Grand Prize Chaucer Award for best historical novel pre-1750 (Chanticleer Awards). The Towers of Tuscany was the novel completed during the VMI program with Cathleen With as mentor. It has been translated into both German and Czech and is available as an audio book. A Woman of Note (Lake Union Publishing, 2015) designated Editors’ Choice by the Historical Novel Society in the UK and won a First in Category Goethe Award for best historical novel post-1750 (Chanticleer Awards). A Woman of Note is also available as an audio book. The Muse of Fire (Kindle Press & New Arcadia Publishing, 2018) won a Bronze “IPPY” award for Best Historical Novel from the Independent Publishers Awards and a First in Category Goethe Award for Best Historical Novel post-1750. Pastel & Pen: Travels in Europe (New Arcadia Publishing, 2018) with artist Gregg Simpson — a non-collaborative collaboration of art and writing. All three of Carol’s published novels relate to stories about women in the arts–painting in The Towers of Tuscany, composing in A Woman of Note, and the theater in The Muse of Fire. Carol is currently completing The Merchant of Siena, a continuation of The Towers of Tuscany. Carol launched her own publishing company, New Arcadia Publishing, in 2014, initially publishing The Towers of Tuscany until it was acquired by Lake Union Publishing in the US. Carol was thrilled to publish Nine Birds Singing by Edythe Anstey Hanen in 2018. The novel is currently a finalist for the Whistler Independent Book Awards. A current project is the development and launch of Art In Fiction (www.artinfiction.com), a directory website that lists close to 1000 novels (so far) inspired by the arts in ten categories. www.carolcram.com
  • Carole Harmon’s memoir, Wolverine, an Untold Tale of Banff, Family and Photography was workshopped in VMI 2017 with Betsy Warland as mentor. A revised version, also mentored by Betsy, is this fall being considered by NeWest Press for the second time. Carole’s long poem Yarrow’s Offering was on the shortlist for the 2018 Gwendolyn McEwan Poetry Prize. Carole is hoping to find a publisher for this project as a chapbook or audio chapbook. Metamorphosis of My Mother, an excerpt from Beasts & Flowers, the poetry and lyric prose manuscript she is currently working on, was long listed for the 2019 Humber Literary Review and CNFC Creative Non-fiction Competition.
  • Jan Redford (VMI 2009) published her memoir, End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage & Motherhood with Random House in Canada and Counterpoint Press in U.S. in spring of 2018.
  • Jane Mortifee (VMI 2015) published her first novel, Out Of The Fire, available on amazon, at Banyen Books in Vancouver or on the website www.janemortifee.com
  • Jude Neale was a graduate of VMI with Rachel Rose in 2014. She has published 7 books. Her most recent book (Ekstasis Editions 2019) was A Blooming. She wrote and performed the narrative for the St Roch Suite with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra in the spring.
  • Judy McFarlane (VMI 2012) is the author of Writing with Grace, A Journey Beyond Down Syndrome, published by Douglas & McIntyre in 2014. Her book was a 2015 IBBY Outstanding Book for Young people with Disabilities and a finalist for the 2015 Edna Staebler Award for Non Fiction. A book length excerpt was published in Reader’s Digest. Judy is currently working on a play and on a novel set in the near future.
  • Leslie Hill (VMI 2010) published a short essay, ‘Scum’ in Blank Spaces, had it reprinted in ‘Just Words’ and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
  • 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.

The Program

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.

The Results

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.

What To Expect

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.

VMI Solo Option

In addition to the six-month VMI Program, we also offer VMI Solo 1 & 2, a year-round opportunity to work independently with a VMI mentor, without group contact, in a package of either 3.5 hrs (1) or 12 hrs (2). Acceptance into VMI Solo is determined by application of a sample of your work and a statement of your mentoring goals, and is dependent upon whether a suitable VMI mentor is available. VMI Solo 1 is designed for someone looking for general feedback on up to 50 pages of work (depending on genre) and a conversation about the work. VMI Solo 2 offers the opportunity for more sustained feedback and conversation around a larger selection of work. Please note that these hours include mentors’ reading time. Solos are well-suited for someone considering application to the six month VMI program, gathering a small collection (such as a chapbook, a suite of poems, a few short stories or essays) returning to a project, or looking for a concentrated timeline of feedback (in accordance with the mentor’s schedule). Solos can be renewed as often as necessary (as long as the mentor is available)

Option 1: 3.5 hours, $475
Option 2: 12 hours  $1,350



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.

Elee Kraljii Gardiner

VMI Director

Poetry and Creative Nonfiction

Elee Kraljii Gardiner 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, 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 Raymond 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 of American Indian Arts. She is originally from Boston.

Click to read my Q&A

Rachel Rose

VMI Director

Poetry, Creative Non Fiction, Fiction

Rachel Rose 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 bookA 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 ReviewThe New Quarterly, The Alaska Quarterly Review and Joyland. https://rachelsprose.weebly.com/

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Betsy Warland

VMI Founder and Mentor Emerita in 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 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.

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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.

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Claudia Casper

Long-form Fiction (on hiatus until end of 2021)

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.

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Cathleen With


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).

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Evelyn Lau

Poetry and Creative Nonfiction

Evelyn Lau is the Vancouver author of thirteen books, including eight volumes of poetry.  Her memoir Runaway:  Diary of a Street Kid (HarperCollins, 1989), published when she was eighteen, was made into a CBC movie starring Sandra Oh in her first major role.  Evelyn’s fiction and non-fiction have been translated into a dozen languages;  her poetry has received the Milton Acorn Award, a National Magazine Award and the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman, as well as nominations for the BC Book Prize and the Governor-General’s Award.  From 2011-2014, Evelyn served as Vancouver’s Poet Laureate;  she has also been writer-in-residence at UBC, Kwantlen, VCC and Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Calgary.  For many years Evelyn has worked as a manuscript consultant and led poetry workshops through SFU Continuing Studies.  Her most recent collection is Pineapple Express (Anvil Press, 2020)

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Gurjinder Basran


Gurjinder Basran is the award-winning author of two novels: Everything Was Good-bye (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2010; Penguin, 2012) and Someone You Love is Gone (Penguin Canada, 2017; Harper Collins US, 2017). Her groundbreaking debut novel, Everything Was Good-bye, was the winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was listed on many must-read lists including Chatelaine magazine’s book club pick, and CBC’s Writers to Read. A former SFU Writer’s Studio alumna, Gurjinder has taught fiction workshops at SFU,  Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the Vancouver Public Library. A director in the technology industry, Gurjinder balances the demands of her career and her creative life as she works on her third and fourth novels.

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Jónína Kirton

Poetry, VMI Solo for 2021

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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Mark L. Winston

Non Fiction

Mark L. Winston is the recipient of the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction for his best-selling book Bee Time: Lessons From the Hive, and an Independent Publishers 2019 Gold Medal IPPY Award for his book Listening to the Bees, co-authored with poet Renee Saklikar. His work has appeared in seven books, commentary columns for the Vancouver SunThe New York TimesThe SciencesOrion magazine, and many other outlets.

As an award-winning writer and editor, Mark works with students as well as scientists, other professionals and community writers to develop proposals and edit manuscripts for non-fiction writing, from newspaper opinion pieces to books. He was a founding faculty member in the Banff Centre Science Communication Program, and has taught in SFU’s Nonfiction for the Weekend Student course for the past five years. He currently is the SFU Library’s inaugural Writer in Residence for Nonfiction 2020-2021.

In addition to his writing experience, Mark has had an illustrious career researching, teaching and writing on bees and agriculture, environmental issues and science policy. He directed Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue for 12 years, where he achieved international recognition as a distinguished Canadian educator concentrating on creating leadership development opportunities for students that contribute to social change in communities. As a consultant and thought leader, he partners with universities, corporations, non-profits, governments and communities to advance communication skills, engage public audiences with controversial issues through dialogue, and implement experiential learning and community engagement in educational institutions.

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Shazia Hafiz Ramji

Poetry, Short Fiction (on hiatus until Summer 2021)

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.

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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.

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  • 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


Apply for 2022 VMI Program

Application deadline: November 9, 2021
Notifications: November 30, 2021
Tuition amount: $ 3,080 + GST ($154): $3234
Tuition due: December 14, 2021
Course start date: January 2022. This date can be flexible based on your requirements and availability. An orientation online will take place in the first week of January.

To apply for the 2022 Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, submit the application form and your supporting documents. Your application should include:

  • a minimum ten-page and maximum twenty-page writing sample
  • a short description of your manuscript or body of work
  • a statement about the intended direction for your project that may include key texts, a mention of aesthetics or other literary influences
  • a resume
  • anything else you would like us to know about you as a candidate

A non-refundable application fee of $50 plus GST ($2.50): $52.50 can be paid online.

Tuition for Vancouver Manuscript Intensive can be paid by e-transfer.

Apply for VMI SOLO

Application deadline: Rolling
Notifications: ASAP
Tuition amount: Option 1: 3.5 hours, $475 + GST ($23.75): $498.75. Option 2: 12 hours  $1350  + GST ($67.50): $1417.50

Start Date: At the discretion of the mentor and mentee.

To apply please send to info@vancouvermanuscriptintensive.com a sample of writing from your project (10 pages or more), a short description of your manuscript or body of work, what kind of support you envision, a statement about the intended direction for your project that may include key texts, a mention of aesthetics or other literary influences, and anything else you would like us to know about you as a candidate. We will contact you in case a short telephone call or more information is necessary.

Make sure to indicate which option of the Solo you prefer: Option 1(3.5hrs) or Option 2 (12hrs), and a potential start date (which will be respected as much as possible according to the mentor’s schedule). Note: total hours include the mentor’s reading time. Please mention three names of mentors you are interested in working with which we will take into account.

Acceptance into VMI Solo is determined by application of a sample of your work and a statement of your mentoring goals, and is dependent upon whether a suitable VMI mentor is available.

Please note Solo programs can be renewed back-to-back according to the availability of the mentor.

Tuition for Vancouver Manuscript Intensive can be paid by e-transfer.

Apply for VMI Fellowship

For a writer of exceptional promise with a manuscript in progress, who has faced significant barriers to fulfilling that promise, including but not limited to racism, poverty or class barriers, geographic dislocation or refugee status, single parenthood, disability or serious illness. This competitive Fellowship includes a full scholarship (value $3234.00) to the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive 2022 program to work with award-winning poet and VMI Director Elee Kraljii Gardiner. While Canadian, U.S. and international applicants can apply, please note communication and work will be in English. Winning candidate will be a feature reader at the program finale reading in June 2022 and may be interviewed for publication on VMI’s website and in literary journals.

Application deadline: November 9, 2021
Notifications: November 30, 2021
Tuition amount: WAVED
Course start date: January 2022. This date can be flexible based on your requirements and availability. An orientation for the group on Zoom will take place in the first week of January.

Please submit your application in an email with one attachment (a Word document with all components within) to info@vancouvermanuscriptintensive.com

Application should include:

  • a cover letter briefly introducing yourself. If you have previously studied creative writing (workshops, programs, mentors), please let us know
  • a statement about the intended direction for your project that may include key texts, a mention of aesthetics or other literary influences
  • 20 pages of work (double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman)
  • please indicate if you would like your application to be considered for the paid VMI Program if you are not awarded the Fellowship this year. We will be happy to read it in that pool of consideration.


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 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.

What are some of the successes you have had in the past?
Our extended version of a creative writing course achieves results. Since 2012, 25 VMI writers have had their manuscripts 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. 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.

What should my application include?

To apply, we recommend you include a ten to twenty-page sample from your manuscript, a short description of your MS or body of work that may comprise a MS, a resume, and anything else you would like us to know about you as a candidate.

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 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.

How do you choose who is accepted to VMI?

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, competitive program: acceptance depends upon factors including mentor availability and fit. One of our core values is that our mentors are enthusiastic about the proposed project and feel they are capable of helping bring it to the next level.

How much does VMI cost?

The tuition is $3,080 plus GST ($154) total: $3234.There is a non-refundable application fee of $50 plus GST ($2.50) total: $52.50.

We accept payment via e-transfer.

Do I need to live in Vancouver to participate?

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 given the health guidelines during the pandemic we suggest meetings be set up via the modalities above.

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; 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.


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