Here’s What Really Happened

Quite a few years ago, I received an email advertising a fabulous writing conference to be held in Banff, Canada. The email was from a very legitimate and well-known writing website. I went to the website and investigated the conference’s workshops, the luxury hotel overlooking Lake Louisa, and the very impressive facilitators. Of course, it was pricey, but the opportunities for editorial and agency input and  connections were great enough to warrant the expenditure for me. I thought.

So I spoke with the organizer, a woman, who very nicely told me the only way to pay for it from the U.S. was by bank transfer. Everything checked out, so I made my plane and hotel reservations and sent the conference payment via bank transfer. I was so excited to be going to this heavenly place where I could eat, sleep and drink writing techniques and possibilities, and then have a peaceful haven in which to write my own creations while overlooking the mountains and lake all around.

About three days before the conference was to begin, I received a phone call from the woman organizer telling me that the conference was cancelled. I forget now the reasons/excuses she gave, but at this point even they sounded valid.

Well, to make a long and sad story short, the woman performed this kind of scam as a way to make a living, I guess. The whole thing was a lie to extort money from innocent people. The hotel, the facilitators, and definitely the potential conference attendees were all scammed. At first, she answered her phone and blamed the delay in returning the attendees’ funds on the Canadian mail system. Then she left the apartment she was sharing with some young man she’d met and left the city.

A very diligent Constable worked with me and the other attendees to try to find the woman and get our money back from the conference, at least. I learned already that I wouldn’t get my flight tickets’ money back. The hotel understood, being a victim as well, so we didn’t have that additional expense.

In the process of searching for her whereabouts, we (the attendees had formed a group and communicated via email) learned that she was wanted in the U.S. for attempted murder. She had pinned her mother against a concrete picnic table with her car! She had also “organized” other writing conferences in the States, canceling and running with the fees collected.

The very diligent Constable caught her and had her in jail there in Banff, I believe. She was given a trial and sentenced and put back in jail. For some reason, the judge then released her–before any of us could collect money from what was purported to be her “trust fund.”

I experienced a pretty crummy feeling after that. No money returned and no justice. (The money I lost was about $3,000.) I stewed for a couple weeks. The others who had been scammed and I commiserated for a while, but we tired of that soon.

I finally decided that I would NOT be a Victim. So I sat down and wrote “Roar of Image  Revenge.” (

Let’s just say she got what was coming to her and I got some satisfaction. No weapon. No fingerprints. No DNA.