Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers<br>La société canadienne des auteurs, illustrateurs et artistes pour enfants

NOTES from April 2018 Meeting; SPEAKERS Peter Carver and Heather Camlot

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 4:56 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

NOTES from April 2018 Meeting; SPEAKERS Peter Carver and Heather Camlot


President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone and thanked the CANSCAIP volunteers.


Newcomers introduced themselves.


In Regan McDonell’s absence, Sharon introduced Black Chuck, a YA (14+) from Orca Book Publishers, released on April 3, 20. In this gritty young adult novel, Réal struggles with his guilt over a friend's violent death and his feelings for the dead boy's pregnant girlfriend.

Catherine (Cathy) Rondina introduced Carey Price: How a First Nations Kid Became a Superstar Goaltender (Lorimer Books), a non-fiction book aimed at reluctant readers. 

Mireille Messier introduced A Qui le Coco? (Whose Egg is This?), a short, non-fiction, French language book about birds, eggs and nests, illustrated by Caroline Merola. It’s a rhyming book for the 3+ crowd.

Lana Button introduced her picture book My Teacher’s Not Here, illustrated by Christine Battuz, (Kids Can Press). Lana announced a launch celebration at A Different Drummer in Burlington on Sunday, April 15, 1-3.

Theo Heras announced a launch for Where’s Bunny and Babycakes (presented at last meeting) at A Different Booklist on Saturday, April 21, 3-5.  


As the CANSCAIP-IBBY liaison, Lana Button announced a meeting about IBBY’s new Children in Crisis initiative on Monday, April 16 at 7:30 at the Palmerston Library. Refugee claimants face long waits and children need support in this transitional time. Volunteer readers and committee members are needed. 

IBBY Canada's Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award was awarded to A Pattern for Pepper, illustrated and written by Julie Kraulis (Tundra). Honour Books were also named: Town is by Sea, illustrated by Sydney Smith and written by Joanne Schwartz (Groundwood), and When the Moon Comes, illustrated by Matt James and written by Paul Harbridge (Tundra).

Michele Nidenoff, CANSCAIP’s illustrator rep, said the artwork in the upcoming art show in May is fabulous, with about 70 pieces on display. She asked for volunteers, especially with cars, to transport art, food and drink, for the opening reception on May 2.  Michele announced that she placed first in CAPIC’s Double Vision exhibit, in which illustrators and photographers are paired up to create portraits of each other.

SPEAKERS: Peter Carver and Heather Camlot

Peter Carver edited Heather Camlot’s novel Clutch for Red Deer Press, and they talked about the editorial process.

Heather said Clutch is set in 1946 Montreal, the summer when Jackie Robinson was on Montreal's baseball team. The story is about a twelve-year-old boy determined to get his family out of the Jewish ghetto after his father passes away.

The book got to Peter through CANSCAIP; it won the Writing for Children Competition in 2014! Heather refined the book in Anne Laurel Carter’s workshop. Heather, a journalist, was used to being edited and had previous worked with Anne on her writing. Anne suggested sending it to Peter, who loves baseball. By the time Heather sent it to Peter, the book was in fairly good shape. 

Peter said Heather was smart to workshop the book with Anne. Classes are a good place to make industry connections, though the quality of writing will always win out in the end. He said when he got the submission, he was struck by the historical element and the portrayal of the community as well as the protagonist’s struggle and ultimate success. Red Deer publishes only ten books a year. It took approximately nine months to get a contract to Heather.

Heather was intimidated at first by Peter’s reputation. She approached him at a meeting when he’d had the book for a while but she hadn’t heard from him. He said, ‘Oh, the baseball writer. We like your book—we’re going to do it.’ Later, Heather moderated a PYI panel Peter was on and he had to take direction from her, and that experience made her less scared of him!

Peter described his editing process as putting comments and questions in the margins. He might also suggest cuts and better words. He is an author’s editor, and said it’s important for the editor and author to get along, to be harmonious. He is there to support, not to browbeat.  Voice--and keeping a kid’s voice kid-like--is the hardest thing for writers. Heather said Peter told her to listen to her twelve-year-old son, and when she did the voice in the book improved.

Peter noted the title was changed from The Boys of Summer because there is a well-known non-fiction baseball book by that title.

Peter quoted Claire Mackay: ‘You don’t have to do everything your editor tells you.’ It’s a conversation, not a dictum.  Heather said she did do everything Peter told her to—and moremaking changes up until the end!

Peter talked about Martine Leavitt's book Tom Finder. After Peter had considered the book to be finished, Martine asked to rewrite the ending, and ended up rewriting the whole book. The writer can be right! Peter said there is always a second pass for smaller things, once the bigger things are taken care of. (And sometimes more passes.)  The most important thing is for everything to seem real.

Heather noted the first chapter was based on a real family anecdote but she made up the rest of the story. She didn’t want to get anything wrong because it was very personal—her family’s story. Her father died just before she got the book contract, and the book became a tribute to him. She had to edit it while mourning her father, which Peter didn’t know.

Heather talked about legal issues associated with the editing process. She had to get permission for all the newspaper and personal quotes she used to start chapters. She wasn't able to get some permissions, and some wanted to charge too much. She had to find a lot of new material at the last minute, but luckily, had newspaper connections who helped her.

The businessman in the book was initially a real character—Samuel Bronfman—but in the end, she decided to make him a composite character, which was freeing. Heather said public places don’t like when bad things happen in their locations so watch how you use a real place.  Peter reminded authors they couldn’t use song lyrics.

He said Heather is a very conscientious writer and there were 109 emails between them—more than average. (Many were due to the legal issues.) Peter said sometimes it’s better to talk on the phone than to email because you don’t register tone in an email. Peter said the editing process took six months (substantive edits, pickier stuff, copy edits and proofreading). By the end, he had read the manuscript seven or eight times.

Peter talked about his background as a high school teacher and freelance editor and writing instructor. He has worked at Red Deer for 22 years. Peter never reads the book once it’s published—he’s too afraid there will be a mistake! (He once misspelled Nellie McClung in a book and it had to be reprinted.)


Gillian O’Reilly mentioned that Tim Wynne Jones says he spends 24 hours ranting after receiving an edit letter, then he tells himself maybe he’ll try to keep them happy, and then he ends up doing everything.

Someone asked for an example of major things that would jump out in a substantive edit.  Peter said voice, that often kids sound like adults.

Someone asked who took on the responsibility for the legal issues and the answer was Heather took on full responsibility.

Someone asked how long it took from starting to write the book to publication and Heather said seven years.

Someone asked Heather if she got permission for place names and she said only for one dispensary because she had someone working there. Peter mentioned people should not use product names but generics instead.


Sharon thanked Peter and Heather. Working with an editor is always a dance!

At the May meeting, Theo Heras and Marthe Jocelyn will discuss writing for very young children.  

Our June meeting will be a get-together in Guelph.

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