The Winter Novel Workshop: Crafting Your Novel From Start to Finish in Three Months

We’re pleased to announce a new offering from Can-Con: online workshops!  We’ll have more announcements regarding other online workshops leading up to Can-Con this fall (have you bought your ticket yet?), but today marks the day we launch our first online workshop, offered by Can-Con co-chair and multi-published author, Marie Bilodeau!

Marie’s already offered this workshop to great success and demand for more, so we’re thrilled to host her here!*

Space is limited and it starts in just two weeks!   All prices are in Canadian dollars.



Winter is cold! Hide away into your book and craft instead of hibernating! Winter has come and so has the time to get down to business and finish your novel! With this structured 12-week course, you can do just that.

Here’s what you’ll get:

Weekly live webinars led by multi-published author Marie Bilodeau, who will lead you step-by-step through the creative—and practical!—process of drafting a complete novel. (Can’t make the live webinar? No worries! Everything will be made available to you in a private group so you can watch/review at your own convenience.)

  • The chance to ask some of those writing/publishing questions you’ve always wanted answers to.
  • A tool box full of ideas that you can use again and again for taking your story from idea to completed first draft—and for polishing it to make it even more awesome.

Who should take this workshop:

  • Anyone who’s always wanted to write a novel but hasn’t known where to start.
  • Anyone who’s tried to write a novel but never quite been able to finish it.
  • Anyone who’s written a novel but took months (or years!) to do so and wants to learn to write faster.
  • Anyone who’s completed a novel but faced multiple rejections and wants to improve their craft.

When?  Where?  What???

  • Workshop will start on January 10 and end on March 28.
  • Webinars will take place on Wednesdays from 7-8:30 pm ET.
  • Webinars will be recorded and posted in private group.
  • Exercises will be provided as necessary, but the homework mostly consists of “write your novel.” (Simple and efficient.)
  • This is for all genres! I specialize in speculative fiction, but exercises are applicable to different genres and will be catered according to workshop attendees.
  • Space is limited – register today!

The Plan

WEEK 0 (Bonus material!)
Preparing to Write

Things you need to have in place to complete a novel in a short period of time. 

Story and Arcs

What’s your story about?  Are you sure you know? Are you writing a caper?  A space exploration journey? An epic fantasy? A character-driven romance? Figuring out what exactly your story is about will help you create a tight novel with clear direction (and lots of planned misdirections for your reader!)

Structure / Outlines

Are you a pantser or a plotter?  Or maybe you’re a bit of both (a plantser). No clue?  We’ll give tips, tricks, and tools for figuring out what approach to storytelling works best for you, and discuss the pros and cons of each.  We’ll also chat about basic story structure such as The Hero’s Journey and the Three Act Structure.


Who’s driving your story, and why? We’ll talk about goal, motivation, and conflict (internal vs. external) for protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters. Learn what a sack-of-potatoes character is and how to avoid creating one. We’ll also talk about the importance of point of view (POV) and how using the wrong one can leave your reader feeling ‘meh’ about your story.

More Characters

Push the boundaries of character development. Learn how to avoid clichés and get to know your character’s limits. How much can they take before breaking? And how can you keep them believable throughout your story?

Setting and Worldbuilding

Regardless of what type of story you’re writing, the setting can increase tension, heighten the senses, and draw your readers in. Learn how to avoid the dreaded information dump and instead use your setting in subtle ways that will make your novel pop. 

Tension and Pacing

Story hooks, chapter hooks, word choices, sentence structure, breathing space. Learn ways to keep your reader on the edge of their seat and flipping pages long into the night—and at the same time, discover the importance of giving them room to breathe sometimes, too.

More Tension!

Weave tension and conflict like a pro throughout every aspect of your novel by pushing every element a little bit more. Do the unexpected! Challenge your characters! Keep your readers guessing! And above all, avoid that sagging middle!

Writer’s Block / Routines

Butt in chair.  Laptop on. Words not flowing. What do you do when the muse seems to have deserted you? We discuss tips and tricks for getting past the dreaded writer’s block and keeping you engaged in your own story, and for finding and setting a routine that works best for you. (Hint: sheer determination is key here.)

Tricks to reach “The End”

Finishing a novel is tough.  Life gets in the way. Your characters get in the way. Heck, you get in the way. Let’s have an honest chat about pushing through and getting it done—and why it’s important not to cave to that impulse to go back and start rewriting before you’ve finished.

Substantive Edits

Your novel has to shine, and sometimes we don’t see the flaws until that first draft is complete. Regardless of where you are in the drafting process, these pro tips will help make the dreaded edits go faster and easier.

Language Edits

Your story is solid. Your characters are so real, they practically jump off the page. Your ending is brilliant. Now to make sure your prose is as good as your story! We discuss the nitty-gritty things that can make a world of difference between an okay story and a great one: purple prose, repetition, varying sentence length, and more.

Now What?

You’ve reached The End…or you’re almost there.  What do you do now that your story and words are all nicely polished and ready to be sent out into the world? We’ll talk different publishing routes (indie vs. traditional vs. small press) as well as further learning tools to help you continue to grow and succeed as an author. 

How Much is All of This Writing Goodness?

You have a choice!


Learning and Writing

  • Bonus webinar “Preparing to Write”
  • 12 webinars as described above
  • Access to Private group (to review materials and meet other participants)
  • One completed novel (if you stick with it)
  • $200


Coaching and Guidance

If you want personalized feedback, this is the package for you! Includes everything in the Bronze Level, plus…

  • One half-hour chat (via Skype) and feedback time with me per week
  • Ass-kicking as requested (“Why aren’t you writing? That’s not a good reason. Go write. I’m waiting. Go on.”)
  • $450


Ultimate Writing Package

Includes everything in the Bronze and Silver levels, plus…

  • Full critique of your novel (up to 55,000 words) after the course
  • I will harass you to finish that draft, since this must be claimed within six months of workshop ending (consider it extra motivation)
  • $850


Mix and Match

Choose four webinars of your liking!

  • No access to private group or workshop archives
  • $75

Who the Heck Am I?

I’ve published eight novels through both small and larger press publishers, and I’m also self-published. I’ve written across the gamut of speculative fiction: horror, fantasy, and science-fiction. My writings have been nominated four times for the Aurora Awards, and I won the Bronze Medal in science-fiction in the Foreword Book Awards. I’ve been a bestseller in multiple countries, translated into other languages, and I am a full time working artist.

I love writing and words, lifelong learning, and the challenge of maintaining a career in this crazy, fun business called writing.

You can find out more about me (and check out my wall of tiny book covers) at

*We didn’t give her any choice – it was either we host it, or no more paper airplane competition.


Thanks for Making 2017 our Biggest Year Yet!

We knew we were in for something different when we checked our pre-registration numbers and saw that we had 100 more than last year. A hundred!  And then people kept registering on site.

We busted out of our venue, to say the least. People were kind and accommodating, but they sat on the floor and they remained standing.  And we had no more chairs to give.

All in all, we were more than 350.


That’s a far stretch from our max attendance of 275 last year!

We’ll now refer to this as our boom year. What was the magical ingredient?  Was it our impressive lineup of Guests of Honour (Steven Erikson, Sheila Gilbert, Kim-Mei Kirtland)?  Our Special Guests who are just as amazing?  Our extensive list of panelists, who are also amazing?  Our kickass, targeted programming? Our welcoming and responsive volunteers? Our quirky tweets? Our central location? Our glitter signs that acted like a bright beacon in downtown Ottawa?

Although we’re certain all of these things helped, because amazing(!), when we asked, we heard it was word of mouth. People are talking about Can*Con, sharing their experiences, and coming in eager to learn and network.

So, it’s all thanks to you, you wonderful people. Thank you!

The Can*Con team is already planning next year, from venue to programming and guests. We’re hoping to announce dates and some fun details as soon as possible! Keep an eye on this space!

As always, we’re dedicated to making Can*Con a safe and welcoming environment. To newcomers, please never hesitate to approach any of the organizers with questions or concerns. We’re thrilled you came – we hope you come back!

If you’d like to provide us with feedback, suggestions or ideas, please do so via this form:

AND, if you’d like to be a part of our amazing team of volunteers, please head here:

Can*Con is still growing and will continue to do so thanks to amazing community support, and its tireless organizing committee. This year’s committee:

Derek Künsken, Co-Chair, Programming
Marie Bilodeau, Co-Chair, Corporate
Nicole Lavigne, Logistics and Website Coordinator, and RPG Game Guru
Brandon Crilly, Program Coordinator
Evan May, Program Coordinator
Kate Heartfield, Accessibility Liaison
‘Nathan Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Gisele Thomson, Social Media Support
Lisa Toohey, Outreach Support
Jaggy Sue (Susan), Volunteer Coordinator
Caycee Price, Con Suite Jedi
Etienne Price + high school students, Con Suite volunteers (Caycee’s Army – like Dumbledore’s but with more snacks)
Marie-Pierre, Registration Rockstar
Dario, Everywhere Rockstar
Tyler Goodier, AV Runner/Dragger
Tim Sellmer, OPS Support

We are ever grateful to you all, and hope to continue being a destination for writers, readers, and just lovers of freaking awesome stuff. We will strive to keep on getting better and better, and are grateful to the people who help us make this possible!

We’ll see you next, and we can’t wait!


Marie Bilodeau                                                               Derek Künsken
Co-Chair, Corporate                                                      Co-Chair, Programming