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

NOTES from Past Meetings

To extend the content of our monthly Toronto meetings to our full membership across Canada, we provide notes from these meetings on our website.
  • Tuesday, May 24, 2016 6:58 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    Notes for Meeting May 11th, 2016

    Recording Secretary : Anne Laurel Carter (

    Our Vice-President, Jennifer Maruno, chaired the meeting and began by welcoming visitors and new members.

    New Creations:

    Stepping Into Traffic, fiction by Karen Rankin for ages 13 + from Thistledown Press about a sixteen year old boy who plans to make good in his eighth foster home.


    Helena Aalto announced that our PYI annual conference will be held Sat Nov 19th at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, downtown Toronto at Shuter & Victoria close to the subway and the Eaton’s Centre. 

    Helena reminded us that CANSCAIP is providing some of the programming at the Canadian Writers’ Summit at Harbourfront June 16th - 19th, 2016. 

    The deadline for the new Writing for Children competition for unpublished writers is July 31st, 2016. 

    Note: Our meeting location on June 8th only will be Durham College in Whitby (near Hwy 401). All are welcome at the dinner in the College with our speaker Kat Mototsune, the editor for children and teens at Lorimer Books. 

    Speakers Panel: 

    Jennifer Maruno introduced this evening’s panel of speakers: 

    Don Aker from Nova Scotia (right), Karen Bass Alberta (centre), and Charis Cotter from Newfoundland (left). These authors were visiting Toronto for the as nominees for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Awards, and CANSCAIP President Sharon Jennings arranged for them all to come to our meeting.

    Jennifer asked the panel the following questions:

    1)    Describe your writing environment and how long you actually write.

    2)    Where did your desire to write come from?

    3)    What advice do you have for a writer who’s maybe experiencing the doldrums?

    4)    Describe the ideal publisher.

    5)    Do you ever say no to your editor?

    6)    Do you work with a critique group? 

    Don Aker

    1)    Don wishes he was more disciplined but thinks every successful writer needs a “wife” (or supportive spouse). He wrote his first 2 novels writing from 5 - 6:30 am before his children got up and then worked all day as a teacher. He tours (now that he’s retired) and feels he has less time for writing. But when he’s home, he’s an early riser, has breakfast with his wife, goes for a walk on the beach and then works straight until 4 pm.

    2)    He became a writer because he didn’t know how to teach writing and had to in the classroom. He went back to do his Masters and one of his courses was the Martha Vineyard 2 week Writers’ Course where he had to face a blank page and create/write every day and read something at the end of the 2 weeks. The instructor told him his piece was publishable and he started writing and struggling WITH his students. Writing a story with the critiquing support of a class, he won the Atlantic Writing Competition and didn’t look back.

    3)    Don quoted Phillip Pullman saying Plumbers don’t get plumbers block, Writers don’t get writers’ block. It’s a matter of putting one word down after another. Don remembers writing a novel about a young man coming to terms with his brother’s suicide and feeling stuck about the scene where the boy found his dead brother. Sitting beside a woman on a plane, as usual he questioned her intensely and she told her story about seeing the towers come down in Manhattan and first reactions which were of shock. That conversation enabled him to write the scene: the boy would go and do something normal.

    4)    Don believes the most important quality is promotion. Harper Collins has had excellent editors who have helped him make the best book. They also helped him laugh at himself. Don suggests writing competitions are an excellent way to get exposure.

    5)    He had a book in 2012 he hated and asked the publisher to delay it. When he got a new editor, every suggestion she made was excellent and he trusted her and the book as a result was much better.

    6)    He had a critique group early in his career and liked it. He no longer does because he became too busy. His first reader is his wife whose opinion he respects.  

    Karen Bass

    1)    She has an office where she squirrels away to write a first draft. She feels she wastes her morning time on social media before settling down to work 2 - 10 pm.  When she’s doing research she has no schedule.

    2)    Karen was always an avid reader and when her daughter was four she went to work at the local library and took a writing course and got hooked.

    3)    Karen went through a crisis when there were medical emergencies in her family and had to set it aside. Karen thinks instead of trying to empty yourself on the page, go fill yourself up with reading or travelling or any kind of life experience.

    4)    Karen feels she has a great publisher, Pajama Press.

    5)    Karen feels they are mostly right although she has argued a historical fact when she knows she’s right. She has hired a freelance editor.

    6)    Karen lives in a small community and has two trusted readers not a critique group. 

    Charis Cotter

    1)    She lives near the water 90 minutes from St. Johns and begins her day with a walk, thinking about the story. She often sits on her couch looking out over the water when she’s not at her desk.  She feels she’s like a cat, getting tea, getting up, and finally settles down to a couple of hours in the morning, and couple in the afternoon 3-4 hours in a day. If she’s editing a story she can spend longer.

    2)    Charis loved daydreaming as a child and put herself in her stories. As an adult she wrote her first novel for her nephew (which didn’t get published). She worked freelance as an editor for publishers. It took her five years from her nonfiction books to make the switch to writing fiction.

    3)    Charis has recently thought about writers’ block and her only advice is to persevere. If Charis is stuck she writes about anything, the weather, her family, anything. Keep at it.

    4)    Charis would like to be taken her out to expensive lunches, respect her ideas, listen, give her a great advance so she could live on it, they’d market and sell her books. Charis doesn’t have an agent but uses Sally Keefe Cohen to negotiate her contracts.

    5)    Charis generally tries to trust her editors and consider their questions and suggestions although she will fight for something she feels strongly about.

    6)    Charis prefers to work on her own.

  • Friday, May 13, 2016 3:07 PM | Sharon Plumb (Administrator)

    Award-winning author and professor of Children's Literature Beverley Brenna's presentation "Writing the World for Today's Kids: Diversity Essentials" is now available on YouTube!.

    Beverley gave an overview of Canadian books that have characters with diverse abilities (all 134!) and provided 10 tips for writing about such characters. She also identified some gaps in topics in existing books, and read from some of her own work. Her website is .

    Thank you to the Saskatchewan Writers Guild for sponsoring this talk through a Writing Group Grant.

    You can watch her presentation at

  • Wednesday, April 27, 2016 1:11 PM | Lena Coakley

    Notes for Meeting April 13th, 2016

    Recording Secretary : Anne Laurel Carter (

    Our president, Sharon Jennings, chaired the meeting and began by welcoming visitors and new members.

    New Creations:

    Stepping Into Traffic, fiction by Karen Rankin for ages 13 + from Thistledown Press. Book Launch is May 1st at 2pm in the Lillian H. Smith Library rotunda.

    Shire Summer, fiction by Noelle Jack for middle grade readers from Archway Publishing. For  Book Launch details check out:


    SCBWI members remember to vote for Crystal Kite Award. Voting ends April 14th at 5 pm.

    A week of inspiration and feedback for your YA Novel

    with Anne Laurel Carter

    at the University of Toronto Summer Writing School

    Mon-Fri July 11 -15, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

    Downtown Toronto Campus

    Helena Alto announced that our PYI annual conference will be held Sat Nov 19th at the Li Ka Shing Institute, downtown Toronto at Shuter & Victoria.

    Don Aker, Karen Bass and Charis Cotter will be visiting Toronto from Nova Scotia, Alberta and Newfoundland and part of a lively and informative panel discussion for our May meeting.


    Catherine Rondina introduced our two talented speakers and siblings, Ann and David Powell. They formed Puppetmongers Theatre in1974 and have become internationally recognized and awarded for their decades of fine work.

                Ann began their presentation by showing us a gift she received from her brother when she was eight: her first marionette (with useful instructions in the box). They both loved playing with the dog on strings, received more puppets as gifts, and began making their own. Their puppet creations and story-telling grew as they did and both Ann and David eventually graduated from OCAD.

                David showed us the first marionette he made as a boy: a wolf made of cardboard covered in cloth whose body could slink and pounce and whose jaws opened wide to reveal a long red tongue.

                They love to perform on stage, visibly moving their puppets in front of a clever background set designed and built by them to enhance the story they are telling. They took their first show, The Miller, to Iran and came home to create a story and puppets fitted with rods into the back or into the top of the head based on a style of puppets from that country. Puppet bodies were rag doll and of different sizes to denote social status. They used cranking movie boxes in which the audience viewed pictures painted on a scroll of paper that enhance the story.

                Invited to festivals, they became more and more inspired by creative ideas they’d seen around the world in Object Theatre. They showed us numerous video clips of their past performances to illustrate how they used shadow puppets on the wall to show violence and puppets made from fabric, wood, bricks, whatever material and tradition they needed to enhance the telling of a particular story. Large and small puppets can show characters in the foreground or the background of the story setting.

                Ann often uses ideas from fairy and folk tales to inspire her works. For both of them, the goal has been to tell stories to contemporary audiences in historical ways that spoke of a slower and more relaxed time.

                They don’t tend to sketch but see the puppets in their heads, then make them. They also don’t start by writing out a script but use storyboards to visually help them tell the story, then create the puppets needed as characters. Then the puppets tell them what they will say. As puppeteers, they are on stage and part of the show. They visibly move the puppets’ bodies and arms (which have no joints). David explained that he feels and directs the puppets’ movements from his fingertips.

                In the eighties (as now) when funding collapsed for their performances in schools, they diversified their work and began performing live in theatres. They continue to create and performed shows for adults, families, and children and offer workshops to other puppeteers and the general public called: Teach Your Puppet To Act.

                Puppeteers often start their careers as children who discover the delight of acting out a story using puppets as their characters. Watching Ann and David perform and interact throughout their unique presentation gave us the magical sense that we were watching a brother and sister who were lucky, talented and creative enough to maintain a life-long enjoyment of playing and telling stories to each other as children.

  • Monday, April 18, 2016 8:21 PM | Sharon Plumb (Administrator)

    Children's author and professor Beverley Brenna will give ten tips for writing about differently-abled kids. Her award-winning fiction portrays characters with exceptionalities and her perspectives call for titles that reflect contemporary kids with diverse abilities.

    If you live in Regina, Saskatchewan, you can attend this talk live on Monday April 25, 2016 at 2 pm at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild office. If you aren't fortunate enough to live there, or if you can't come then, you can watch Bev's talk online live or for about two weeks afterwards.

    For details, see .

  • Thursday, March 31, 2016 3:00 PM | Lena Coakley

    Wednesday, March 9, 2015 7:00 PM

    Minute Notes: Saumiya B.

    Our president, Sharon Jennings, began by welcoming all present (and we were a big crowd) and recollecting how she started off her career with her first book published by Annick Press.

    Past-president Karen Krossing shared key takeaways from her attendance at the international SCBWI conference attended by over 1200 members. Karen noted the following:

    Jane Yolen – Spoke about the importance of re-invention and genre hopping.

    William Joyce—This award-winning author/illustrator and filmmaker spoke on new media and how it is bringing democracy to storytelling.

    The kid’s division publisher’s panel noted that the climate on kid’s books is good, and the Indies are not going away. Trends are now on new media.

    Gary D.Schmidt – author of Orbiting Jupiter talked about writing to express and engender empathy in a broken world.


    • Marina Cohen
    • The Inn Between- Middle grade fiction from Roaring Brook Press.
    • Lana Button
    • Willow’s Smiles—a Kids Can Press picture book to be launched on April 3 at A Different Drummer Books.
    • Joyce Grant
    •  Gabby – published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside won the Rainforest of Reading award for Montserrat.
    • Tagged Out—middle grade reluctant sports reader from Larimer.
    • Deborah Kerbel
    • Feathered- Middle Grade Fiction from Kids Can Press.
    • Kathy Stinson
    • Harry and Walter – this picture book published from Annick Press is a hug of re-assurance.
    • Jo-Allen Bogart
    • The White Cat and the Monk—picture book from Groundwood Books.
    • Cheryl  Grossman ( a new member)
    • Cheryl won an Honorable Mention in the 84th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition for her children's story The Gardener Princess
    • Michele Nidenoff and photographer Olga Kozitska won second prize in the 2016 CAPIC (The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators) Double Vision 2016 contest. 


    Kathy Rondina extends her invitation to all to enroll for her course at George Brown in Creating Non-Fiction for Children.


    Theo Heras then introduced Rick Wills who founded Annick Press in 1975 with Anne Millyard. Annick Press, which doesn’t turn away from difficult themes, has been called a publisher built on kindness, warmth and compassion. Theo would add intelligence and innovation as well. She invited Rick to speak to us and let us know how he did it for 40 years.

    Rick began with a quick history of Annick. He and Anne co-founded Annick with deep concerns that Canadian values and sensibilities were not being reflected in books. They began well with great reception and coverage on national news—until their volunteering accountant announced they were near bankruptcy. Rick had to learn a different sort of “books” to avoid disaster!

    How is Annick unique?

    It is an owner-managed publishing company. Rick looks out for good books, distinctive literature. Annick publishes 25 books per annum. Last year it received close to 90 awards and citations. Rick insists that Annick remain an editorially-driven company, but it is always changing. For Annick and most Canadian publishers, 66-67% of sales are to the US. He also said that books are becoming more focused on the visual; the present generation is processing more visually.

    Rick is a little pessimistic about changes in the industry and publishing pressures. Right here in Ontario, Grade 3 and Grade 6 EQAO reading standards are dropping. Rick went on to highlight that what kids read doesn’t matter as long as they read. Reading for pleasure is the key. 80% of students who met reading standards in grade 3 and grade 6 went on to pass grade 10 and were reading for fun for more than one hour.

    Figures from the UK show that kids who read for fun are faring better in school.

    Dr.Stephen Krasher’s research in the field proves that kids who read fare better both academically and socially. They have more empathy, are informed voters, and are better at critical and analytical thinking.

    Rick emphasized that initiatives such as The National Reading Campaign and events such as those supported by TD will help improve skills of good readers.

    Oftentimes economic factors affect student outcomes, but reading books can even counteract the effects of poverty. Rick’s biggest frustration is that society doesn’t understand the phenomenal social good that comes out of reading.

    Some problems that face publishers today:

    • 1.     Not enough reviews
    • 2.     Loss of Indies.

    E-books are not the answer according to Rick.

    If authors and publishers can give the public powerful, relevant stories that connect, we can be part of the conversation about contemporary issues. Annick tries to do this and producing books about difficult subject and diversity is part of its identity.

    For Authors

    Rick then spoke of the importance of writing what you want to write about. He emphasized the importance of query letters. Even after you have convinced an editor, it will be used to sell the book to the sales team.

    He said it is important for creators to know their competition, to check out other books. One thing he stresses is to never tell readers to think. As writers, we must help them to connect the dots.

    Rick then went out to list some of Annick’s key non-fiction titles, books that set out to change the conversation.

    • 1.     Dreaming in Indian, an anthology of Native American and Canadian voices.
    • 2.     Patient Zero by Marilee Peters, about epidemics.
    • 3.     Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton, a YA fiction dealing with HIV, but it also a story about loyalty, friendship, loss and struggle.

    In closing, Rick emphasized Annick’s collaboration with the Top Grade program, which Catherine Mitchell told us about at a previous CANSCAIP meeting. It is an initiative that helps to bring Canadian Books to Canadian kids. Rick believes educators need help in getting good books that connect to their curriculum. He also believes kids must be given choices.

    Questions from The Audience

    Q: What is the market like for YA Non-Fiction?

    Rick said that the book needs to be very well done and ensure that subject matter ties in to curriculum. He also re-stated the importance of an impressive cover letter.

    Q: A member from the audience alluded to Rick’s mention of Dr.Stephen Krasher and highly recommended his book The Power of Reading.

    Q: Kids are visual. Is Annick doing graphic novels?

    With most graphic works they do, the writer is also the illustrator. Although they are expensive to produce, the market is growing.

    Q: Does Annick do Middle Grade?

    There is a healthy market, but publishers need a critical mass of Middle Grades to do well. They are focusing on YA in novels.

    Q: From the 25 books published yearly by Annick, what percent comes from the slush pile?

    It varies. There is no quota—just as it happens.

    Q: How do illustrators approach Annick?

    Send in samples to the Art Director, Sheryl Shapiro.

    Theo thanked Rick and said (rightly so) that we were fortunate to have Rick speak to us. Join us in April for The Puppet Mongers and in May for a panel out-of-town guests here for The Forest of Reading awards.

  • Monday, February 29, 2016 4:57 PM | Karen Krossing

    CANSCAIP in partnership with The Writers' Union of Canada, is pleased to announce the winners and finalists of the 18th annual Writing for Children Competition.

    A cash prize of $1,000 will be presented to two winners: for a Picture Book / Early Reader and for a Chapter Book / Middle Grade / Young Adult. Eight additional finalists have also been selected. CANSCAIP will submit the winning entries and the finalists to three Canadian children’s book publishers for their consideration. Some of the previous finalists and winners of the Writing for Children Competition have had their entries published.

    WINNER PICTURE BOOK / EARLY READER: Shelley Motz – Solomon's Football
    A young Muslim boy is whisked away from Pakistan and plunked down in a Canadian suburb. His first tentative steps into this strange, new world are eased by his love of soccer. The daughter of a refugee, Shelley Motz writes about and works on immigration issues.

    A teen boy fends for himself and tries to save his father from the gallows during Ontario’s Rebellion of 1837. Rita Bailey is a teacher, and began Rebel Moon in a novel-writing class. She continues to take courses, attend conferences and work with a critiquing group.

    Saumiya Balasubramaniam – When Grandma Wore a Baseball Cap
    Loretta Garbutt – The Riding Lesson
    Jodie Robulak – Piggies on Parade
    Ann Severn Benedek – Fred No Matter What

    Sylvia Chiang – Cross Ups
    Kristen Ciccarelli – In the World to Come
    Ruth Deakin-Nobes – The Gadget Meddler
    Tanya Trafford – St. Govan's Chapel

    CANSCAIP received close to 400 entries for the 2015 Writing for Children Competition. All the entries were evaluated by a group of first-round readers who selected entries that would proceed to second-round readers, who then selected entries to proceed to the final juries. The juries were comprised of bestselling authors Anne Laurel Carter, Ruth Ohi and Kathy Stinson (Picture Book / Early Reader Jury) and Barbara Greenwood, Susin Nielsen and Arthur Slade (Chapter Book / Middle Grade / Young Adult Jury). The first-round and second-round readers were: Karen Autio, Lena Coakley, Don Cummer, Aubrey Davis, Theo Heras, Susan Hughes, Sharon Jennings, Janet McNaughton, Jennifer Mook-Sang, Bev Rosenbaum, Valerie Sherrard, Jocelyn Shipley and Ted Staunton. CANSCAIP is grateful for the support and participation of these Members.

    The 2016 Writing for Children Competition will be announced in April.

    The Writers' Union of Canada initiated the Writing for Children Competition in 1996. The competition has grown in popularity since its inception, and in 2014 CANSCAIP took on this initiative as a partnership with TWUC. A goal of the Competition is to discover, encourage, and promote new writers of children's literature across Canada. CANSCAIP is a national organization representing Canadian authors and illustrators of children's books and children’s performers.
  • Thursday, February 18, 2016 8:11 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)

    MEETING NOTES: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    President’s Remarks

    President Sharon Jennings welcomed a surprisingly large crowd to the blustery February meeting. She noted that many in attendance in January had mentioned how much they learned about estate planning for creators with lawyer Marian Hebb. This topic might be a future all day seminar.

    Tonight, Sharon’s ‘monologue’ (or ‘rant’ she intimated) was on the subject of writing letters to the editors of newspapers concerning the dismal lack of coverage for children’s literature. Sharon read out a couple of her letters that The Toronto Star did print, and a couple that they did not. Two themes emerged: reviews claiming that a book for adults is breaking new ground, when in fact a Canadian children’s book had already done so; and the Star’s unwillingness (despite letters to the editor) to separate juvenile books into two lists – Canadian and international – as they do for adult titles. Sharon told us that when Member Lena Coakley’s The World of Ink and Shadows was number one on the juvenile list, the Star chose a photo of a Wimpy Diary title to showcase.

    An audience member suggested that the CANSCAIP office alert us to any such issues in order that we may inundate a newspaper with our letters.

    Sharon asked any newcomers to introduce themselves, and we met several arts students from Seneca and Centennial, all keen to hear Gary Clement.


    Rick Wilks of Annick Press will be our guest speaker.

    New Creations by CANSCAIP Members

    AUTHOR: Kate Blair
    TITLE: Transferral
    GENRE / AGE: YA - speculative fiction
    PUBLISHER: Dancing Cat Books
    SYNOPSIS: London, England, present day. This is the world as we know it, but with one key difference: medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick. The catch? They can only transfer the diseases into other living humans.
    PROMOTION/LAUNCH: Signing at Indigo Oshawa at 2pm on February 28th. The Globe and Mail called it a 'solidly engaging debut' and it got 4/4 stars from the Canadian Review of Materials.

    AUTHOR: Nadia L. Hohn
    TITLE: Music
    TITLE: Media
    SYNOPSIS: Both books are part of the Sankofa Black Heritage Collection series. Sankofa is a contemporary literacy resource for all students in Grades 4 to 8. Sankofa is designed to help promote understanding of the African Canadian narrative during Black History Month and throughout the school year.
    GENRE / READING AGE: Genre Non-fiction Multi-genre Music Grade 5 and Media Grade 6
    PUBLISHER:  Rubicon Publishing Inc.
    LAUNCH/PROMOTION: Launched February 19th at the Reading For the Love of It Conference

    AUTHOR: Nadia L. Hohn
    TITLE: Malaika's Costume
    GENRE / AGE: Picture book, age 3-9
    PUBLISHER: Groundwood Books
    SYNOPSIS: It’s Carnival time. The first Carnival since Malaika’s mother moved to Canada to find a good job and provide for Malaika and her grandmother. Her mother promised she would send money for a costume, but when the money doesn’t arrive, will Malaika still be able to dance in the parade?
    LAUNCH: March 5, 2016 2-4pm at A Different Booklist Bookstore
    TOUR DATES: April 2, 2016 Albion Public Library (Toronto, ON), April 9, 2016 Knowledge Bookstore (Brampton, ON)

    AUTHOR: Angela Misri
    TITLE: No Matter How Improbable (book 3 in the Portia Adams Adventures)
    GENRE / AGE: YA Mystery
    PUBLISHER: Fierce Ink Books
    SYNOPSIS: Being the newest consulting detective to hail from Baker Street proves to be too much for our young sleuth, so she heads to Italy on a case with royal implications. But on her triumphant return she finds everything has changed - her friends, her family and even her very purpose are thrown into question. Will Portia Adams lose her way, or follow the clues to her new place in the world?
    LAUNCH/PROMOTION:Will be the featured book in my TD Canadian Children's Book Week tour 2016 as I travel to Manitoba!

    Guest Speaker Gary Clement

    Award-winning political cartoonist and children’s illustrator/author Gary Clement gave an inspiring, entertaining and informative presentation on his work and career. Gary first discussed his 18 year and still-going-strong stint as a political cartoonist for The National Post, outlining the challenges of creating insightful and topical cartoons on a tight deadline. (He does five per week!) He gave us a sneak preview of the next day’s cartoon, and mentioned that the U.S. Republican candidates are a cartoonist’s dream come true.

    For this audience, Gary focused on being a children’s book illustrator and author, working mainly with publisher Groundwood Books. Gary has been illustrating children’s books since 1991, starting with Get Growing by Candace Savage. He talked mainly about the three books The Great Poochini, which won the Governor General’s Award for illustration in 1999, Oy Feh So? (written by Cary Fagan), and his newest book, Swimming, Swimming, which is based on the well-known camp song, and which the audience gleefully sang out loud.

    We learned about Gary’s creative process as well as the materials that he prefers to use when drawing and painting. Gary works in watercolour and inks with Speedball pen and ink, and he prefers to use Hot Press paper because there is less texture in the paper, and the art appears cleaner and smoother when printed. Gary also discussed the challenges of getting watercolours ‘just right’ when checking proofs for printing.

    Gary also informed us that he has succeeded with his goal in life: to never feel that he has a ‘job’!

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2016 11:48 AM | Lena Coakley


    For January 13, 2016


    “Many of us don’t think about our careers beyond our next royalty cheque,” said CANSCAIP President Sharon Jennings as she began the January meeting, “but tonight we’re here to talk about what happens to our work in the long term—about how we can control and protect our careers even after we are gone.” 

    Our guest for the evening was Marian Hebb, here to talk about Estate Planning for Creators.


    The NEWS is here!

    Sharon directed us to the latest issue of CANSCAIP NEWS, which includes her column on being in despair as a creator, Marsha Skrypuch’s "Meet the Professional" interview with Forest of Reading director, Meredith Tutching, and VP Lena Coakley’s article on "Worldbuilding for Fantasy Authors." The featured creator is two-time GG winner, Caroline Pignat.

    Having an book launch or event?

    In the interest of supporting each other, the CANSCAIP office is now announcing events like book launches through the CANSCAIP email. Tell the office about your upcoming events and we would happy to spread the news! We’d like to support each other.  (Email

    Canadian Writers’ Summit

    Helena, our administrative director, informed us that CANSCAIP will be part of a new multi-organization conference that will take place June 16-19. There will be sessions on writing craft, aboriginal writers, cover design, copyright issues etc. Kenneth Oppel will be CANSCAIP’s keynote speaker on the 18th and Jean Little will be the Writers Union keynote.

    Helena is on the planning committee (Go Helena!) so the kids books world will be well represented. 

    Packaging Your Imagination

    Our annual conference will be back at Humber in November. Dates to be announced.

    Writing for Children Competition

    We had a record number of entries this year which has resulted in a few delays. Winners will be announced in February.

    Volunteers Needed!

    Are you interested in volunteering for CANSCAIP? We need help in the following areas:

    • Blue Pencil Mentoring Program (organizer)
    • Writing for Children Competition (coordinating for next year)
    • Marking 

    Email Helena if interested. Volunteers do not need to be local to the Toronto area.


    Teresa Toten’s novel, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, has won ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award, given to a book that embodies the disability experience. 


    The legendary Paulette Bourgeois took the floor. “It’s been a long time since I stood up with a new book,” she said.  Paulette told us that after her success with the Franklin series, she went back and did an MFA in creative writing for screenwriting. Though many of her screenplays have been optioned, none were made.  However, she was asked to write a novelization of producer Anne Tait’s film, Iron Road. Her new book  Li Jun and the Iron Road is is a historical novel for young adults about a Chinese girl who dresses as a boy and joins thousands of Chinese men blasting a path for the new railway through the "impassable" Rocky Mountains. From Dundurn Press.

    Vice President Lena Coakley told us about her new book, Worlds of Ink and Shadow. The book is a YA portal fantasy based on the fantasy worlds created by the famous Bronte siblings.  Lena did quite a bit of research for the book including traveling to the Bronte parsonage in Yorkshire twice, where she was allowed to study in the parsonage archives. 

    Jennifer Maruno was delighted to announce that she had completed the third book in her series about Michiko Minagawa, a girl of Japenese heritage living in Canada around the time of the second world war. Cherry Blossom Baseball was launched this month to a large crowd. In this installment Michiko must once again adjust to a new situation as the only Japenese student in her school—until Eddie Adams, seeing her amazing baseball skills encourages her to try out for the all boys local team. When the truth comes out, there are consequences to face. She has to make a decision: Play ball amid all the harassment, or pitch like she's never pitched before. From Dundurn.


    Paulette Bourgeois introduced our speaker, saying, “I have known Marian Hebb since 1986. A publisher was interested in my new book, then called The Turtle They Called Chicken. I joined the Writers Union and saw they had a brochure called “Help Yourself to a Better Contract.”  I turned it over, saw Marian’s name, and decided then and there to hire her to negotiate my contract.

    Since then Marian has worked tirelessly for authors. If you have received an Access Copyright payback, you should thank Marian because she was instrumental in securing those rights for authors. She is a founder and past chair of Artists’ Legal Advice Services, a governor of the Canadian Copyright Institute, and a member of the joint copyright legislation committee of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and the Canadian Bar Association.

    There is now an Access Copyright research grant in the arts in her name (The deadline has been extended to February 16th if you are interested!), and she was the lawyer for the heirs of the LM Montgomery estate. 

    “You own copyright,” Marian began. “This distinguishes you from many others who make wills.”

    Marian went on to advise us that in Canada, everyone should have a will.  However, she told us a surprising fact. Many writers and illustrators who DO have wills, forget to mention copyright! Often a lawyer may not know to advise you on this important consideration. Remember to bring this up when making a will.

    If you will be making a will soon, here are some things to consider thoroughly:

    1) Figure out what is part of your literary estate. Keep good records for your heirs. Upon your death your executors should have all your contracts and other information such as lists of where your work is published, your latest royalty statements, your agency contract, etc.  DON’t give your current contracts to an archive because they won’t be able to find them when needed. DON’T rely on your publisher to have copies of contracts. This is not their responsibility. 

    Keep in mind that your copyright assets also include stories in anthologies, joint authorship, and sound recordings of your work.

    2) Do you need a literary executor?

    Some people will name a literary executor in addition to their executer. This person would handle all matters regarding your works under copyright.

    Family members are the first place to look for a literary executor. They have an interest in keeping your work alive. Young family members such as a grandchild might be a good choice as your heirs will own copyright for many years into the future.

    If you don’t name a literary executor, your general executor will take on the task of dealing with your copyrighted work. This may be fine for you as well. A middle-ground option would be to name a “literary advisor” who wouldn’t have legal rights but can advise your executor.

    3) Consider: What happens when those executors are gone? If you appoint a literary executor and they die, their executor becomes yours. Do you want that?

    4) Consider: Do you want the work you haven’t finished destroyed? Kept? Continued by someone else? If you are an artist/illustrator, what do you wish to happen to your unsold work?

    Because you don’t know how publishing will change after you die, it’s sometimes better to leave some of these decisions to your executors and heirs. Often it’s preferable to find an executor you trust than to try to lock-in your decisions in your will. You can direct your executor with a letter that is not legally binding but which spells out your wishes.

    About Your Copyright

    • Copyright begins when something is published or recorded. 
    • To have copyright there must be a degree of originality. 
    • Creators also have moral rights that most countries recognize. They help artists retain the integrity of their work.
    • Creators can waive their moral rights but, unlike copyright, can’t give them to someone until they die.
    • In Canada copyright runs out 50 years after death. This will change if Canada signs the TPP agreement. Then it will be extended to 70 years.
    • In most of the rest of the world, moral and economic rights already last 70 years after death.
    • Although Marian isn’t in favor of TPP for other reasons, she does believe that copyright should be extended to 70 years. 50 years after death isn’t always enough time for heirs to publish. There can be sensitive issues. 
    • On the death of a creator, moral rights and economic rights pass to the person you have named in your will, or if no one is named, the law figures out next of kin.
    • Canada’s copyright law is not clear about whether things on your website published or unpublished.

    Marian ended with a wrap-up of what she considers her three most important points:

    Have a will!

    Have the word copyright in your will!

    Keep copies of current contracts!

    Our next meeting will be on February 10th and will be in Illustrators’ Night with Gary Clement!

  • Wednesday, December 16, 2015 12:13 PM | Lena Coakley

    Wednesday, December 9,2015 7:00 PM

    Minute Notes taken by Saumiya B. Pictures by Debbie Ohi.

    Our president, Sharon Jennings began by with an anecdote (from Facebook) that said, ’People who engage in artistic activities are 73% less likely to suffer from memory decline’.

    She then informed the members about her many efforts and letters to the Toronto Star to improve and include children’s books in the best-sellers list. CANSCAIPers on the list include Robert Munsch, Eric Walters, Linda Bailey and Lorna Schulz Nicholson.

    Sharon also mentioned CANSCAIP authors who were winners at the 2015 TD Canadian Children’s literature awards gala.

    Marthe Jocelyn for What we Hide, Amy Mathers Teen Book Award.

    Jonathan Auxier for The Night Gardener, Monica Hughes Fantasy and Science Fiction Award

    William Bell for Julian, John Spray Mystery Award

    Marsha Skrypuch for Dance of the Banished, Geoffrey Bilson Award

    Kira Vermond for Why We Live Where We Live, Norma Fleck Award

    Cybele Young for Nancy Knows, Marilyn Baille Picture Book Award

    Jonathan Auxier for The Night Gardener, TD Canadian Children’s literature Award


    Sylvia McNicoll :  Survival, Grades 6-12

    Sylvia paid tribute (in Swedish) to the late Paul Kropp, then translated the same from her book Survival. Her dedication to Paul will read:

    For Paul who launched a thousand reading and writing ships

    and this one small airplane.

    Brooke Kerrigan: Fisherman Through and Through, Picture Book by Red Deer Press

    Kathleen Gauer : High in the Sky, Picture Book by Skipping Stone Press

    Kate Blair: Transferral, Young Adult Sci-fi by Dancing Cat Books

    Helen Alto, CANSCAIP Administrative Director, spoke about the success of PYI . The registrations increased from 118 in 2014 to 140 in 2015, with virtual PYI numbers soaring to 44 from 23 last year. The art show numbers also exceeded 2014 figures.

    Sharon informed us that the executive board is approaching publishers asking them to let CANSCAIP know of their events, so it is easier for our members to be aware of ongoing programs.


    Patricia Storms, programme committee chair, said the special potluck night of delicious goodies was a great opportunity to learn how to produce best-selling Christmas books. She then introduced Lisa Dalrymple who has lived with chickens in South Korea, lizards in Thailand and two sisters in the U.K.

    Lisa, who is well known as the "skink lady" for her book Skink on the Brink, said that she would rather be known (suited to the occasion) as the A-Moose-Goes-a-Mummering lady.

    Lisa’s first book was If It’s No Trouble…a Big Polar Bear, which according to her did not do as well, in spite of being a Christmas book that Quill and Quire featured it in its Fall 2012 preview alongside Robert Munsch’s Finding Christmas.

    At this book’s launch in Newfoundland, while standing right in front of tall shelf stacked with multiple copies of A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, her publisher expressed her views. “We need a 12 days of Christmas in Newfoundland book,” she said. At first Lisa did not think she was the right author for this project, not being a Newfoundlander, but her publisher was persistent.

    Lisa learned that the history and heritage of Newfoundland was very different from her own home province. For a Newfoundland Christmas book, Lisa figured there had to be a moose, a moose in a spruce. It was by chance that when she was talking about her work-in-progress that an acquaintance said, “Oh, a Newfoundland Christmas book. Is it about mummering?” At first, Lisa didn’t know what mummering was.  

    She discovered that mummering is a Christmas-time house-visiting tradition practiced in Newfoundland. A group of friends or family dress in disguise and visit homes within their community or neighbouring communities during the twelve days of Christmas. If the mummers are welcomed into a house, they often do a variety of informal performances that may include dance, music, jokes, or recitations. The hosts guess the mummers’ identities before offering them food or drink. They may poke and prod the mummers or ask them questions. To make this a challenge for the hosts, the mummers may stuff their costumes, cross-dress, or speak while inhaling – ingressive speech. Once the mummers have been identified, they remove their disguises, spend some social time with the hosts, and then travel as a group to the next home.

    When asked (by someone in the audience) about the challenges in producing Christmas books, Lisa said that a Christmas book has the potential to sell very well every year, but it’s a big risk for the publisher. Some won’t take that risk.

    The second half of the evening was informative and inspiring, as Werner Zimmerman discussed the visual aspects of creating Christmas books. He is a life-drawing instructor at Seneca and Humber Colleges and an award-winning illustrator.

    Werner shared slides of his rough drafts and thumbnails for his bestselling book written by Helaine Becker, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree.

    His process is to first break down the story into storyboards. Then he doodles for a while, creating character sketches and playing with colours.

    Werner often draws real-life animals. He visits places such as the zoo and the ROM where he spends several hours drawing beavers, puffins, dogs etc.

    Werner talked about how where the eye naturally falls when looking at a picture. Artists can learn to play with this to subvert expectations and to create a sense of motion through a narrative. As with words, there is also that rhythm in pictures.

    As Werner progressed through his Porcupine in a Pine Tree slides, he spoke about breaks in “picture frames” – where the illustrations begin to go in and out as opposed to back and forth. This adds variety. For the puffins' spread, he broke down the picture frame, making the birds seem to pop from the page. (Werner said he’d love to literally do this with a pop-up book, but Canadian publishers find them too expensive to produce.)

    Werner concluded his presentation with a picture of him in the Scholastic office where he was given a desk to work at. Even after all the work he does at home, there are many comments from editors and art directors to be addressed, and his art is covered with many sticky notes.


    Sharon was curious about what was on the sticky notes. Werner said that those were tiny missing or extra details, or something like a character not looking consistent throughout the work.

    Sharon then asked the industry lead time. Werner and Lisa both agreed that it was 2-3 years from acceptance to publication.

    Lisa was asked if she went through an agent. She said she did not and that it was harder in Canada to find agents that would represent picture books.

    Helena asked if it were true that authors and illustrators rarely met.  Lisa and Werner said that this is not unusual, but it was not true in Lisa’s particular case. Werner said that as an illustrator he preferred not to have an author looking over his shoulder, but Lisa said that her illustrator for Skink on the Brink found Lisa’s input useful for biological accuracy, as Lisa had become something of an expert on skinks and their habitats.

    The evening ended with merry holiday socializing and delicious treats and desserts brought out by members. Sylvia McNicoll and Debbie Ohi won the raffle for the evening – prints of Werner’s lovely paintings.


    January 13th
    Marion Hebb—founder and past chair of artists' legal services at TWUC will conduct a session on legal services at the 
    CANSCAIP meeting in January.

  • Thursday, November 19, 2015 12:08 PM | Lena Coakley

    Books For Young People with Disabilities and Silent Books: Final Destination Lampedusa

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015 7:00 PM

    Meeting notes taken by Saumiya B.

    Our president, Sharon Jennings (dressed like a poppy) began by welcoming visitors and members.  She held out Linda Granfield’s In Flanders Fields—a story of the famous poem by John McCrae—and highlighted the growing statistic of increased children’s attendance and participation in Remembrance Day commemorations. Sharon rightly pointed out that we (as writers of children’s books) are doing a wonderful job of producing those books and living up to our mandate of ‘teach and delight.’

    Helena Aalto announced that a couple (literally) of spots were available for registering for the upcoming PYI conference this weekend, November 14. She thanked the conference committee for their contributions to organizing this wonderful event: Lena Coakley (One-to-One Coordinat

    or), Heather Camelot (Speaker Coordinator), Jean Mills (Communications), Melanie Fishbane (Social Media), Jenny Watson (website) and Nicole Winters for taking on the huge job of coordinating virtual PYI. Helena also thanked Humber College who host and provide support for the conference. Melanie Fishbane asks that PYI participants  tweet at #PYI2015.

    Tied in to PYI is an amazing art show featuring over 20 great artists including Michael Martchenko, Holly Main, Barbara Reid, Ruth Ohi, and Oleg Lipchenko to name a few. Helping with the mountings is Jennifer (who writes under the nameJ M Filipowicz) and coordinating the art show is Holly Main. 


    Caroline Pignat for The Gospel Truth

    Sydney Smith and JonArno Lawson for Sidewalk Flowers


    The Jock and the Fat Chick by Nicole Winters, a debut YA romance from HarperCollins

    Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang, humorous middle grade from Scholastic


    Theo Heras (retired children’s librarian from Toronto Public Library) introduced Leigh Turina, librarian for the IBBY Collection for Young People with Disabilities and Mariella Bertelli, children’s librarian and storyteller. 

    Leigh is a children’s librarian of over 25 years who now oversees the IBBY collection of books for young people with Disabilities. She said the IBBY collection (in over 40 languages) is open 7 days a week and is an excellent opportunity to see what amazing work people are doing in other countries.

    From over 159 submissions (across 27 countries), an outstanding collection of over 50 books is summarized into a catalogue available online through the Toronto Public Library website.

    Leigh talked about the 3 main categories and the wonderful books in each classification.

    1) Specialized Formats (such as books in braille, specialized fonts, or pictograms)

    These include wonderful books like Off  to the Park, My first Braille ABC, and Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads.

    2) Universal Access (These books provide universal access to all young people, especially those with learning, intellectual or developmental disabilities.)

    e.g The Great Big Book of Families

    3) Portrayals of Disability (general books that portray young people with disabilities).

    Leigh told us that the ALA once did a study and reported that most productions tackling disabilities were orthopedic or visual. 

    She then went into more detail, recommending wonderful books in this third category, Portrayals of Disability. Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of room 13B tackles the mental issue of OCD in a way that sets tough issues in a realistic way. Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind is the must-read story of a brilliant girl who cannot speak or write. Wonder—an inspiring story of a boy who is born with a facial difference—proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. Maggot Moon is an unforgettable story of courage, friendship and rebellion. Mallko y Papa is a book about a father’s initial struggle and ultimate acceptance of his son’s Down’s syndrome. Writing with Grace is an inspiring and informative story that delves into what it takes to face one's own prejudice, and what it means to live a full and worthy life.

    Our second speaker, Mariella Bertelli, is a children’s librarian, storyteller and a longtime member of IBBY who promotes Canadian children’s literature abroad—so much so she hosted a pancake party with Canadian maple syrup that she carried in her luggage to Lampedusa- a tiny island that looks like a stone in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea. 

    We heard first-hand about IBBY Italia’s activities in Lampedusa. Mariella shared the stories of the many Africans who try to escape poverty, terrible work conditions, and wars who die at sea or as soon as they make it to the island. Although European laws welcomed refugees, the reality told a different story. But when bodies began to wash ashore on Lampedusa, the islanders (about 6000) of them wanted to help the surviving refugees.

    Mariella and Deborah Soriah wanted to bring books to the locals and the refugees. A library would provide a wonderful public space for the wellbeing of all children living on the island. IBBY International supported the project, and many IBBY sections from around the world donated wordless picture books. The Silent Books Collection and Exhibit became a reality.

    Mariella said that they hope to expand the project to build a special study center to further reach out to the refugee kids.

    Theo Heras thanked Mariella and Leigh and urged CANSCAIP members to visit the IBBY website and join/support online for the work they do internationally.

    Before we dispersed to walk down to the concourse level to view the exquisite collection, Sharon Jennings concluded the meeting by reminding us of the Seasonal Potluck meeting with speakers Werner Zimmerman, Lisa Dalrymple on December 9th. All are encouraged to bring in books and goodies for the December Party!

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