The Professional Writers Association of Canada (formerly the Periodical Writers Association of Canada) represents professional freelance writers working in Canada's magazine, newspaper, corporate writing, government writing and book publishing industries. For more information about PWAC, including how to join, please visit To find a Canadian writer, please visit

Monday, July 31, 2006

writer re-hired

According to a report today in the BC online paper The Tyee, regular columnist and writing coach Vivian Smith has been rehired by the CanWest paper The Victoria Times Colonist after recently losing her job. According to this and other reports, Smith had her contracts cancelled after she wrote a column describing the many wonderful free activities for tourists in and around Victoria. Apparently, the Times Colonist received a number of complaints about that column from local tourist industry representatives, some of whom, presumably, are advertisers in the paper.

Here is an excerpt from the story in The Tyee:

"I need to be able to write without fear or favour on matters that I think will be of interest to readers," Smith told The Tyee, adding that she thinks the incident might be useful to publishers everywhere. "I think it will remind all parties about the importance of separating advertising concerns from editorial."

Read the full story here:

Veteran Journalist Fired, Rehired by Times Colonist

Thursday, July 27, 2006

ED Reviewed

Congratulations to PWAC's Executive Director, John Degen, for the rave review he received on his first novel, The Uninvited Guest (Pub. Nightwood Editions), in the Globe and Mail this past weekend. Way to go John!

Read the review online here.

Suzanne Boles
Professional Writers Association of Canada

Monday, July 17, 2006

using the audience

Moral rights take a beating —

Following up on the last item, here’s a bit of older news (a week and a half old) from the blogosphere.

It seems the National Post so liked what they read on spacingwire, the blog for Toronto’s excellent Spacing magazine, that they reprinted it as a Post item, with the blog writer given a byline… but without actually asking permission. The original posting was written by Spacing editor, Shawn Micallef.

Read all about it various places – the link above is directly to the spacingwire item; the Canadian Magazines blog mentions it, and the Toronto Star’s media watcher Antonia Zerbisias had it first.

Some interesting bits from the spacingwire coverage:

"If, for example, the National Post had written their own piece on fans’ reactions to World Cup victories and quoted Shawn’s post, all would be okay in our world. But instead, they lifted the piece, edited out parts that they wished removed, and gave Shawn a byline — all without our permission. It seems the “©2006 Spacing Publications” at the bottom of every page on this website does not hold much weight.

Shawn had originally quoted text from John Barber, a Globe and Mail columnist and a National Post competitor. The quotes from Barber played an integral role in shaping Shawn’s Spacing Wire post. But the National Post removed Barber’s words which dramatically warped Shawn’s point-of-view. To add a bit of intrigue to the situation, Shawn is a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail and has consciously decided not to have anything to do with the National Post.

We asked that Shawn be paid more than what he would have received if he was commissioned to write the piece. We also asked for an apology that would appear on page A2 of the paper. Both requests were granted..."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

part of the audience

We're getting to this article a little late, by web standards (it's a week old), but it's worth a read nevertheless.

Clive Thompson, blogger, technology expert and one of the smartest, most successful Canadian freelance magazine writers working today muses on the evolving practice of journalism. This article was written for, which has recently turned ten years old.

Media in the age of the swarm

Some interesting bits:

Compare the Christian Science Monitor and The Wall Street Journal...

The Monitor leaves all its stories permanently online for free, while the Journal locks its behind a pay-to-see wall. Bloggers thus almost never link to Journal articles, while they love to link to Monitor articles. Because it makes itself so amenable to blogging culture, the Monitor taps into pass-around culture and these rolling cascades of popularity.

...Ask writers who blog regularly (like me), and they'll tell you how exciting it is to be wired in directly to your audience. They correspond with you, pass you tips, correct your factual blunders, introduce you to brilliant new ideas and people. The Internet isn't just an audience: It's an auxiliary brain. But you have to turn it on, and it takes work. You can't fake participation and authenticity online.

For science and new technology writers, you might want to add Clive's blog to your bookmarks:

Collision Detection

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

June Achievements

Summer doesn't slow down professional writers. The PWAC Member Achievement bulletin for June is available here.

And here are some highlights:

Lanny Boutin’s second book, Mummies: All Wrapped Up is now out. The richly illustrated 32 page children’s book, which investigates the who, how and why of Mummy making, was developed by Reed Publishing, for the school market, to assist children in writing informational reports. It will be available through Thompson Canada.

Paul Lima is holding a series of summer workshops in Toronto, including: How to Conduct Effective Interviews (and Write Powerful Article Leads); How to optimize your Web site for the best possible Search Engine results; Copywriting 101; How to Write Media releases; The Art of the Query Letter; How to Find, Price and Manage Corporate Writing Assignments. Descriptions, prices and registration information are available at his website.

Ellen Michelson, retiring from Central Technical School, Toronto, will work with the Pedagogical Centre and the Home Rule Government in Greenland, advising on English instruction. English is Greenland's third language; Danish is the second, and Kalaallisut (related to Inuktitut) is the first for most of the island's 60 000 residents.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Free Inquiry @ Indigo

Having prompted much recent discussion among freedom of expression advocates, Indigo has returned Free Inquiry magazine to its magazine racks. According to this Globe and Mail story, the original blocking of the June/July issue was done "by accident."

Indigo made headlines a short while ago, after intentionally blocking the distribution in their store of Harper's magazine, apparently as a result of Harper's publishing a series of controversial Danish cartoons.

Thanks to bookninja for the tip on this story.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

the write initiative

What happens when a writer is sure there's a market they can tap, but his publisher doesn't believe him? He goes ahead and taps it himself.

Read how a US non-fiction author produced his own profitable audio-book (from The New York Times):

Do It Yourself Audio Book

And some highlights:

While growing in popularity, audio books remain resolutely mass-market-oriented, and Mr. Rubinstein's nonfiction book, which sold fewer than 15,000 hardcover copies, simply had not generated enough revenue to justify the costs of producing a recorded version.

For many authors that would have been that. Mr. Rubinstein, however, was unbowed. He enlisted the help of a friend and sound-studio operator, Joe Mendelson, and managed to recruit a cast of some of his well-known fans...