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

NOTES from December 2018 meeting

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 8:38 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

NOTES from December 12, 2018: Program – Open Mic

WELCOME:  President Sharon Jennings welcomed everyone to our holiday meeting. We got off to a late start because everyone was having too much fun to take a seat! She thanked the volunteers in the room tonight: Holly Main, Michele Nidenoff, Cathy Rondina, Theo Heras, Patricia Storms, Bill Swan, Rita Bates, Gillian O’Reilly, Jennifer Maruno, and Jennifer Mook Sang, reminding everyone that CANSCAIP has one part-time staff person: Administrative Director Helena Aalto. Thanks to all who brought seasonal treats and to Starbucks for their coffee donation.

Congratulations: Sharon invited Tziporah Cohen to take a bow. She is the winner of the CANSCAIP Writing for Children Competition, picture book/early reader category, for her story Sweet Success: The Story of Milton Hershey. 


Patricia Storms and her co-author/husband Guy Storms, along with illustrator Milan Pavlovic, presented Moon Wishes, a picture book by Groundwood Press, March 2019. In this bedtime story, the moon shines its light to guide a journey home, glisten over the snow, and wish peace and safety for travellers, friends, and troubled hearts.

Kari-Lynn Winters presented her On My…Series, picture books for babies, toddlers, published by Tradewind Books (2009-2018). This whimsical and engaging series for young children (illustrated by Christina Leist) introduces simple back and forth plots, using literary devices like rhyme and onomatopoeia. A Vancouver family explores different outdoor activities throughout the changing seasons. Recently, this series was chosen by the Niagara Conservation Authority and the Niagara Catholic District School Board to be transformed into a story walk.

Hungry for…STEAM Series. ELKP to grade 3. Published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside (2016-2018).  The second in the series, Hungry for Science looks at concepts like erosion, chemical reactions, forces, pollination, the human body, structures, and life cycles, through poetry. This fun and informative picture book, co-written by Lori Sherritt-Fleming and illustrated by Peggy Collins, is the perfect fit for young science gurus. 

Nadia Hohn is excited to present her 5th book, Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, published by Harper Collins. This book is part of the “I Can Read” Series and is illustrated by Gustavo Mazali. Nadia was thrilled to have a newly discovered photo of Harriet to use in this story.

Randy Coates presented Stay Above the Storm, a YA title published by Baico Publishing, Inc. Javier is in grade eight, anticipating his move to high school. Problems at home lead to a vacation in Mexico, where Javier runs into a supply teacher from his past. When stranded on an island together, Javier and teacher work through a horrific secret to understanding.

Vincent Teetsov is thrilled to announce some upcoming workshops with Toronto Public Library. He and illustrator Laani Heinar will be performing the picture book Pumpkin and Stretch with bossa nova and jazz songs inspired by the story.

Mireille Messier presented her latest French picture book Tellement Sauvage! (Editions D’Eux) A child asks, “Dad, what do the wild animals do when we are sleeping in our tent?” The father replies, “I think they are sleeping, too.” But dad is wrong! This is a very silly story about camping and the shenanigans of nocturnal animals.

Program: Sharon explained that because this is our annual holiday meeting, to which we bring good things to eat and great books to sell – and it is so hard to get the boisterous crowd to settle– the committee decided to have an informal evening of questions and answers. 

We began with Christie Williamson, the manager of the children’s department at the Indigo store at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. She was delighted to organize a signing for as many of our Members as possible before tonight’s meeting. Through many questions, we learned from Christie to always show up and introduce ourselves at bookstores whenever, wherever we can. Booksellers love what they do, want to meet us and find out about our latest book – why we created it, why we’re passionate about it. ‘Word of mouth’ is often created by booksellers, but we need to be our own best marketer, too. Organize a signing well in advance of a pub date, and chat to everyone in the store! Christie informed us that managers have the power to curate their own departments, and have often influenced the Home Office based on what they hear from their customers – about diversity, for example, for parents who can’t find books that reflect their child’s life. We should do our research regarding which store might have the best audience for a particular book’s launch. She also pointed out that it was useless to replace our books on the Heather’s Picks table!

Many questions were asked throughout the evening. ‘How is one supposed to handle the silence from an editor who has previously given notes for a revision, but after three months has not responded?’ Several colleagues volunteered advice, including an editor. Editors are often overwhelmed, and although three months is not that long, it is permissible to email the editor and ask directly if they are still interested. A cautionary note: if we haven’t received a contract, any revisions done do not mean that a manuscript will be accepted.

Sylvia McNicoll went to Ottawa on our behalf to argue/plead our case about copyright in the schools. (More on this elsewhere.) She pointed out that many of our MPs do not know very much about the reality of creating books for children, and they were surprised to learn about our precarious financial plight. Never underestimate the power of writing that letter to your MP and explaining why we need protection around photocopying.

Questions were asked about filing taxes on royalties earned in the U.S (you must do so), and about writing contests for children (check with your local library for best, up-to-date sources). Of interest was whether or not we need an agent. Although it is not usually necessary in Canada, check the submissions guidelines of publishers about whether or not they accept unagented manuscripts. CANSCAIP’s ‘Blue Pencil Program’ was also touted for its value in giving us a head start.

For new creators, advice was given about checking out the library at The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (local library or bookstore, too) to see who is publishing the kind of book you want to write.

Another topic was how to submit a ‘concept’ book. Several suggestions included constructing a very detailed storybook that outlined your idea. (Publishers can’t visualize a book from nothing!) This is what Jon Arno Lawson did with the hugely successful Sidewalk Flowers, which was then illustrated by Sydney Smith. Kari Lynn Winters did the same thing with some of her ‘simple’ picture books.

Many people recommended attending our annual Packaging Your Imagination to have a one-to-one with an editor or designer.

Happy New Year to all!

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