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.
  • Monday, June 22, 2015 11:13 AM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Recording Secretary:

    Our new president Sharon Jennings chaired the meeting. At our creative May meeting, over fifty members attended the field trip to hear Susin Nielsen and Susan Juby at the North York Library,which made it a great success, not only for the library but for the authors and the bookstore selling their books.



    Details for the CANSCAIP Writing for Children Competition have been announced. This year there will be two winners of $1,000 each:

    • picture book/early reader 
    • chapter book/middle grade/young adult  

    See the CANSCAIP website for more information.


    Helena Aalto, CANSCAIP's Administrative Director, announced that details will soon be on website for CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination conference in November. This year, One-to-One manuscript and portfolio critiques will be available on the same day. And we'll also have something new--website/social critiques. We will again have Art Show in November where pieces can be sold. 

    The conference will be held on Saturday, November 14th so SAVE THE DATE!

    TD Book Week Call for Applications

    Want to be a book week touring author, illustrator or storyteller? Information is on the CCBC website. Deadline is June 30th.

    Call for Applications

    Toronto Public Library’s Young Voices has a call for an e-writer in residence with a June 26th deadline. Remuneration is $10,000.00.


    Anne Laurel Carter will be leading a YA Novel writing course this summer,  July 13-17, at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies (details at:

    TWUC Survey

    Sharon Jennings announced TWUC's disappointing results from their recent national survey: we are earning 27% less from our creative work than we were in 1998. 

    TWUC considers this an emergency. Sylvia McNicoll encouraged us to attend TWUC’s annual meeting next year and join the discussion table.


    Catherine Rondina recently published a piece, A Famous Egg, in the anthology on food “Dear Tomato”, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte, and published by  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


    Nominations and award winners will be announced at our September 2015 meeting.


    Patricia Storms introduced the speaker, Julie Kraulis, an artist, author and illustrator.

    Since completing her Bachelor of Design in Illustration at OCAD, Julie spends most of her days in her studio with a pencil or paintbrush in hand, working on a wide range of projects from fine art to illustration to picture books. 

    Her dream (since high school) came true when Tundra Books published her first two books, Whimsy's Heavy Things and An Armadillo in Paris.

    Julie has worked as a freelance artist full-time for 5 and 1/2 years and finds it a demanding beast, but one worth the challenge. Work ebbs and flows and  no day is like the last. 

    She incorporates moving  - a walk or run - into her days because it helps her sift and unravel things in her mind. Her work includes fine art, illustration, house & people’s portraits, logos & corporate work. 

    Music, books, conversations, podcasts and Instagram inspire her. 

    There are Meccas of inspiring ideas around the world and Instagram is an excellent place on the web to find them. In particular, she’s inspired by French artists. 

    In terms of her technique, Julie loves working on a soft wood panel, usually pine. She covers it with gesso, then paints thin layers of oil paint, and works with a graphite pencil. 

    She uses varying degrees of sandpaper to create varying degrees of texture. 

    When she was 28 years old,  Julie signed her first contract as an author-illustrator with Tundra for Whimsey’s Heavy Things which has a slightly autobiographical theme - how to cast off the heavy things that weigh you down.

    An Armadillo in Paris (also  Tundra) concerns Arlo who is humble, covered in armour, and hates the cold ( a little like Julie).

    It’s the first book in a series about Arlo who explores cities, looking for a monument. 

    How did Julie get her lucky break? She was introduced to a freelance designer who works for Tundra and to whom she showed her portfolio. The designer’s important advice:

     Fill your portfolio with work that exemplifies the work you want to do. 

    Julie pitched her stories to this freelance designer and Tundra called her in for a meeting. Her third book Arlo in New York will be out next year.

    From the time she signs a contract to seeing the book on a shelf takes 2 years. The art itself takes 2-3 months of full-time work. 

    In terms of process, words and images happen simultaneously for her. She does small thumbnails to figure out where the text will go and the graphic design of the book.

     Then she goes to black and white linears, to size. Then she moves it to final art work which is the real joy. 

    Our next Toronto CANSCAIP meeting will be held on September 9th.

  • Monday, April 13, 2015 12:03 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Bill Swan took the podium for the last time as CANSCAIP President. Earlier that evening, we CANSCAIPers held an Annual General Meeting to vote in a new board of directors. (Drumroll, please!) Your new board is:

    President: Sharon Jennings (pictured)

    Vice President: Lena Coakley (one year)

    Treasurer: Maureen McGowan (one year)

    Member at Large: David J. Smith

    Friend at Large: Lorna Poplak

    Bill Swan will now become our Past President—an advisory position—and will also take on a new role of investigating grants and sponsorships for CANSCAIP.

    Many, many thanks to Past President (or is it Past Past President now?) Karen Krossing, who headed up the nominations committee. In addition to the slate above, Karen also made recommendations to the new board regarding the appointed positions. These will be announced next month.  (Note that Recording Secretary is now an appointed position according to our new bylaws.)


    With that we rolled right into the meeting. The afore-mentioned Karen Krossing had a new work:

    Punch Like a Girl by Karen Krossing, YA fiction, Orca Book Publishers, ISBN 978-1459808287, $12.95.

    When 17-year-old Tori shaves her head in the middle of the night, her parents are stunned. When she punches a stranger at the mall, even her friends are shocked. Nobody understands why she’s become so moody and violent. It takes one small girl’s bravery to show Tori the value of speaking up rather than lashing out.

    It was a night for Past Presidents, because our other new creation was by Gisela Sherman:

    The Farmerettes, by Gisela Tobien Sherman, Second Story Press, ISBN 978-1-927583-64-7, $12.95.

     The Farmerettes follows a group of teenage girls over the summer of  1943, as they work on Highberry Farm in Winona, to replace the men who have left for war. Their stories are woven together with fun and friendship, the hard work and simple pleasures of farm life, romance, tragedy, history, self-empowerment, and hope.

    (There is a correlation here: volunteer for CANSCAIP=Get published. Just saying.)


    Jennifer Maruno introduced the evening’s speakers, remarking that she was leaving the programming committee on a high note. 

    Kathy Kacer has won the Silver Birch, Red Maple, Hackmatack and Jewish Book Awards, and was a finalist for the Geoffrey Bilson and Norma Fleck Awards. She has written many unforgettable stories inspired by real events, many of them about the Holocaust. Her books have been published in many countries including Germany, China, Slovenia, Thailand, England, Japan, and Belgium.

    Her son, Canadian actor Jake Epstein, made his professional theatrical debut in a Soulpepper Theatre Company production of Our Town. He became well known after being cast in a lead role as Craig Manning on the television show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Epstein attended the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal and graduated in 2008. He made his Broadway debut in Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and originated the role of Gerry Goffin in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

    These two talented people have come together to write a new play, Therefore Choose Life, which will open at the Harold Green Jewish Theatre on April 18th. Based loosely on a true story, the play is about a Holocaust survivor who remarries and starts a new life in Canada. When a letter from the past arrives unexpectedly, he is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma about leaving his wife of thirty years, or returning to his first and true love.


    Kathy: The project started for us about six years ago. I was in between writing projects and Jake had just finished touring the play, Spring Awakening.

    Jake: I had come back to Toronto and didn’t have an apartment, so I was living with my parents.  My mother and I had talked in the past about writing something together. She had already written one play, an adaptation of her book The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser, which had toured Canadian schools.

    Kathy: Then I heard a story about a man who gets a letter from the wife he thought he had lost in the Second World War. For some reason, I thought it would work better as a play than as a novel. Jake and I spent about four months writing the first draft.

    Jake: In our play, the man who has lost his first wife has moved to Toronto and married again. Twenty-five years have passed. He gets a letter saying that his first wife is alive and has been living in communist Russia. She is coming to Toronto to find him. His second wife, his son, and his son’s girlfriend all become entangled in the choice this man has: stay with his second wife, or return to the first.

    Kathy: I was interested in the Holocaust element. What is the impact of that journey for this elderly man?

    Jake: I was interested in telling the story of the second generation, of the children of survivors. In a way it’s my mom’s story, which is something that, for all her writing, my mom has never told.

    Kathy: A lot has been written about the effect of trauma on the children of survivors. We inherit the trauma of our parents.

    Jake: Once we were done with the draft, the question was, what do we do with it? I called a bunch of actor friends and we had a table read. You cringe through your first draft. We started applying for grants and festivals and found help with the Harold Green Theatre’s In the Beginning: A Jewish Playwright's Festival, which has a mandate to encourage and discover new Jewish Canadian playwrights.

    Kathy: We have access to actors because Jake is an actor, but we also cold called actors we admired. I was surprised to learn that actors love to be in these kinds of projects. They want to be the ones considered.

    Jake: The main reason I got Beautiful was that I was in on the ground floor. Ideally, the writers start rewriting the part with you in mind.

    Kathy: We revised. We received a grant, and with the funding, we approached the Harold Green Theatre again to do a joint workshop with us.

    Jake: We did a weeklong workshop with Harold Green. We got to try out some casting.

    Kathy: In terms of the writing process, we started by talking. A lot. In the beginning, we had days of conversations about the themes that interested us.

    Jake: Then we started mapping things out. We had to be on the same page about what each character’s emotional journey would be. Then Kathy and I took ownership of different scenes.

    Kathy: We started out by saying I would write the older voices and Jake would write the younger. 

    Jake: We’d email each other scenes and then start to revise and rewrite each other’s writing.

    Kathy: Then we would merge our work. The pattern was: Go away and work—Come together and merge. Once we had a draft, we’d sit together and duke it out.

    Jake: What was really fascinating was that once we started table readings and getting feedback, we’d both take a scene away to revise and sometimes we’d independently come up with the same lines. We really both got on the same page.

    Kathy: Each time we brought our scenes together we would get closer and closer to what we both thought the story was.  I just want to mention the phenomenal cast. Jake is acting in the play…

    Jake: Hey I need to write a gig for myself!

    Kathy: …and we were thrilled that Sheila McCarthy asked to audition for a role. She wasn’t what I had in mind but she turned out to be fantastic. I learned that in playwriting, the more you give away the more space you leave for others to bring something to your work.

    Jake: Also in the cast are Lisa Horner, Amelia Sargisson, and Avery Saltzman. It’s directed by Rachel Slaven.

    Kathy: We wanted to end by asking each other the following question: Jake, what was it like to work with your talented mother and would you do it again?

    Jake: Well. I’m kind of on the spot here, Kathy.  Actually, it’s been great. When this started, I knew that the idea of writing with my mom sounded a bit disastrous, but it’s been such a joyful experience. I was the first reader of a lot of my mom’s books. As a young writer to have a mentor who is also your parent has been a gift.

    So I guess I should ask the same question of you.

    Kathy: I always said that whatever happened with this play, the opportunity to write with my child was a golden opportunity. We came to it with great respect for other’s writing and thinking. I learned that we share the same kind of work ethic, which is so essential when you have a writing partner. We came to this as equals, and we had to work at that, but it’s never felt within the writing process that one was an authority figure. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.


    Q: How much rehearsal time do you get?

    A: For this play it was 3.5 weeks, which is longer than some. That’s because this piece has never been done before. There is no blueprint.

    Q: What’s the impact on the rest of your family.

    A: They’ve been quite involved. They’ve been at every table reading and feel a part of it.

    Thanks so much for joining us, Kathy and Jake!

    Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 13th. Keep an eye on the CANSCAIP website for more details.

    (Past President, Sylvia McNicoll and our guest, Jake Epstein)

  • Monday, March 16, 2015 3:52 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    President Bill Swan opened the meeting by congratulating those nominated for the CLA Young Adult Book Award, The CLA Book of the Year Award for Children, and Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award! Have a look at these fabulous lists, which include many CANSCAIPers.


    The CCBC has increased fees for book week, and CANSCAIP has played a role in this decision. The standard Canada Council rate is $250, and we supported raising fees to this amount. Past president of CANSCAIP, Sharon Jennings, also on the board of the CCBC, brought up this issue and collected letters of support from many CANSCAIP authors and illustrators and many professional organizations including our own. All visits will now be $250 per session.

    Cathy Rondina will again be teaching her Creating Non-fiction for Children course in Toronto, beginning April 6th. More info here.

    Sean Cassidy took the podium to tell us about Access Copyright and the changing landscape of copyright protection.

    Canadian content is an important part of teaching in our country. In the past publishers and creators have been compensated when teachers use our materials in the classroom.  Now, some are saying this material should be free under an interpretation of the “fair dealing” clause of new copyright legislation. This is disheartening to creators whose work is important enough to share in the classroom. We can educate ourselves by checking out the Access Copyright website to learn the following:

    What is educational “fair dealing”?

    The Value of Access Copyright’s Repertoire

    Not registered with Access Copyright? You should be! Learn more here:

    Registering with Access Copyright


    Six years ago Sharon Jennings published Home Free, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary award. Though Second Story always wanted a sequel, she didn’t know what the story was. Now she’s found it.

    In Connecting Dots (Second Story Press) we find out the true story of Cassandra Jovanovich, (a secondary character in Home Free.)

    Sharon’s dedication says, “With gratitude to CANSCAIP,” and she told us at the meeting that she doesn’t know where she’d be without the friends she has made here.


    Helena Aalto has announced the date for the upcoming Packaging Your Imagination conference! PYI will be Saturday, November 14th at Humber College, Lakeshore Campus! Pitch Perfect, one-on-one sessions will take place on the same day.


    We were joined by Nancy Davidson, who is the dynamo behind Kid’s Lit Quiz in Canada. The quiz was started in 1991 in New Zealand by Wayne Mills, a teacher who was tired of the hype around children’s sporting events. He wanted to celebrate kids who read in the same way. For two decades, Kids’ Lit Quiz has been inspiring youth to become lifelong readers by channeling knowledge of children’s books into a fun and challenging tournament.

    Today, the competition continues to thrive despite distractions like video games, cell phones and computers. In fact, participation rates have continued to rise amongst girls and boys in recent years.

    In the style of popular learning competitions like the Scripps Spelling Bee, Kids’ Lit Quiz is a highly spirited and intense team event for students around the world. Now over 1000 schools participate.

    Nancy has seen the enthusiasm for reading grow as schools take on the program.  Kids don’t know categories of the quiz in advance, so they must read widely and depend on their team members. A lot of kids who love to read find it hard to work as a team and communicate with their team members. Kid’s Lit Quiz helps them develop an important life skill.

    How well would you do? (Answers at the very end of this post.)

    • 1)            Who killed Cock Robin
    • 2)            What was the wimpy kid’s name?
    • 3)            Whose life is cursed until he meets Hector Zeroni?
    • 4)            Whose best friends are Grover and Annabeth?
    • 5)            Who has friends called Linus, Peppermint Patty and Snoopy?
    • 6)            How many players in a Quidditch team?
    • 7)            Who was late for an important date?
    • 8)            How was the bully, Steve Kosgrov, in I Funny by James Patterson related to Jamie Grimm?
    • 9)            What type of creature was a Psammead?
    • 10)                  Characters from which book literally jump out of the pages?

    Some of these questions Nancy asked at the meeting, some were taken from the Kid’s Lit Quiz website. Test your knowledge further with more practice questions.

    Each year each country generates its national champion.  The finals are held in a host country. This year, the finals will be in Connecticut, USA. In 2016 they will be in Aukland, NZ and in 2017, they will be in Canada, the city to be announced.

    Kid’s Lit Quiz is a life-changing opportunity for many kids. Thanks so much to Nancy for all her hard work.

    (CANSCAIP President Bill Swan and Admin. Director Helena Aalto)


    • 1)            Sparrow with a bow and arrow
    • 2)            Greg
    • 3)            Stanley Yelnats
    • 4)            Percy Jackson
    • 5)            Charlie Brown
    • 6)            Seven
    • 7)            The White Rabbit
    • 8)            Step brother
    • 9)            Sand fairy
    • 10)        Inkheart

  • Monday, February 16, 2015 2:17 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    After CANSCAIP President, Bill Swan, welcomed us all, Sylvia McNicoll leapt up to introduce her new book with Tundra, Best Friends Through Eternity, which was inspired by the true story of a teen who was killed at a railway crossing.

    Charis Cotter, visiting from Newfoundland, also had a new book, a first novel, which is already garnering praise, including a Kirkus star! The Swallow is a ghost story that takes place in 1960’s Toronto.

    Jennifer Maruno introduced the evening’s speaker, who she had the pleasure of meeting at TD Book awards. 

    Catherine Mitchell is a publishing consultant in Rights, Sales and Marketing. She was the Director of Foreign and Special Markets for children’s book publisher Tundra Books from 1998-2010, and was previously involved with sales, marketing and promotions at Tundra. Prior to her career in publishing, Catherine was an elementary school teacher. Catherine has served on boards and committees for many organizations, including the Montreal Children’s Literature Roundtable, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, the Association of Canadian Publishers, and the Fun of Reading International Forum on Children’s Literature. She is a post president of IBBY Canada.


    One of the initiatives of ACP is a program called Top Grade, and this is what Catherine came to tell us about. There are fewer and fewer school librarians in Canada and this is a major concern.  For years, Catherine and Liz Kerr were co-chairs of the Canadian Coalition for School libraries.  They worked on ways to connect publishers with schools in order to get Canadian books into the hands of Canadian children.

    Catherine was very passionate about her quest to get OUR books into schools.  Canadian children should be reading Canadian books, she believes, but with budget cutbacks, a greater onus is now on teachers, who do not always have information about building a collection and culling a collection.

    We, the authors, are “foot soldiers” in the classrooms and can have an influence.  Publishers have the books, but are not always the ones in the classrooms.

    The objective of Top Grade is to reach key educators in school boards in all Canadian provinces and territories through a book sampling program which brings them new and recently published, ACP-member books suitable for use in classrooms and libraries in kindergarten through high school.

    Top Grade also serves to connect to school boards to key cultural institutions and to promote the authors and illustrators creating the books.

    Catherine believes in a simplified process.  She doesn’t want to make things difficult for teachers.  The program happens in the fall and spring. Boxes of books go out to educators in 10 provinces and 3 territories. Each box contains:

    ARCs, F&Gs or finished books

    -Publishers’ catalogues

    -Promo material

    -A Top Grade catalogue

    -Order sheets

    -Canadian Children’s Book News

    (CCBN is an important inclusion, Catherine told us, because this is where teachers should be getting this info, but they might not know about it.)

    So far, Top Grade has been a big success. High School teachers were particularly thrilled with the initiative, which tells Catherine that A) they don’t see enough of this sort of program, and B) they have the will to support Canadian books.

    Want to know if your publisher is involved? The Top Grade page of the ACP website lists participating publishers and includes downloads of flyers, catalogues and order forms.

  • Saturday, January 17, 2015 10:59 AM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Minutes for the January 2015 CANSCAIP Meeting

    CANSCAIP President, Bill Swan, began the evening with big news about Brenda Clark and Eric Walters.  They join CANSCAIPers Barbara Reid, Robert Munsch and Jean Little as members of the Order of Canada! Congratulations Brenda and Eric!


    Second Story is holding a contest for contemporary writing for young readers that reflects the modern experience of Canadian Aboriginal – First Nations, Métis, and Inuit – people. The jury will be particularly looking for stories with an urban setting.

    Canadian writers who identify as Aboriginal are invited to submit their original, previously unpublished, manuscripts by March 31, 2015. The winner of the contest will be announced in April 2015 and will be offered a publishing contract from Second Story Press.  Further info.

    Bill asked newcomers to introduce themselves. We met and welcomed Randy, who wants to get into children’s illustration; Linda, who writes and illustrates; and Cathy and Anita, who are both children’s illustrators.


    Anne Dublin took the podium to tell us about Helen Drazek, who was born in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland in 1941.  She and her parents were the only survivors of a large, close-knit family that was entirely annihilated during the Holocaust.

    In Odyssey through Hell, Helen (with Anne as co-author) tells the harrowing story of her parents’ desperate attempts to survive in the ghetto, their narrow escape into hiding, and their ultimate journey to freedom in a new land.


    Our speaker for the evening was the lovely Patricia Storms, who began her talk by telling us about IBBY Canada’s Illustrator in Residence program, and later when on to talk about children’s book covers.

    Patricia was very honored to be this year’s IBBY Canada Joanne Fitzgerald illustrator in residence.  This is only the second year of the program.  It is hosted by the public library, administered by IBBY Canada, and funded by the family of Joanne Fitzgerald.  Patricia found out about the program through CANSCAIP and the CCBC.  She is a great fan of Joanne Fitzgerald, the GG-winning illustrator of Plain Noodles, Dr. Kiss Says Yes, and Emily’s House. Patricia didn’t know if she was good enough to apply, but her friend, author Helaine Becker, said “Apply for everything! Make them decide if you are good enough!”  Patricia applied in 2013 and didn’t get it.  (Martha Newbigging did.) However, she was encouraged to apply again and got it the next year.  Martha turned out to be a great support.

    For those interested in applying, you must be a Canadian citizen with a minimum of four children’s books illustrated. You must have a vibrant online presence and experience with presentations. Patricia’s application was seven pages long and included two references. She was asked to suggest activities for kids and adults. Patricia got to have a launch at the Northern District Library with her own work on display.

    Some of Patricia’s workshops for adults were:

    How to Illustrate for Publishers

    Building a Professional Illustration Portfolio

    What Makes a Good Picture Book?

    Creating a Successful Book Cover

    With kids she often created characters.  She asked them, How do you recognize a character like Bart Simpson?  What makes him unique and interesting? She told them a little bit about how a book is made, explaining the relationship between illustrator and art director. Then she told them THEY would be the art director and THEY would tell her what to do.  She did this for every class.  As Patricia drew, the kids told her what sort of hair, clothes etc. to draw. (Unicorn horns were very popular.) Here is some of the art they came up with:

    Then she turned the tables, getting the kids to draw what she told them to.

    Part of her duties as Illustrator in Residence was to do portfolio reviews one-on-one. She tried to be realistic, telling attendees what they needed to work on. She encountered people who were very talented and was struck by how many talented people are afraid to take the next step.  She wanted to tell them, You know, you’re going to DIE one day! (Something we should all remember when we avoid risk taking.)

    The application process for this program will be starting again soon. Sign up for the IBBY Canada Newsletter to get the call for submissions.


    Patricia studied graphic design and started out by designing book covers. She got freelance work from her blog, eventually freelancing for Scholastic.  She was asked to redo the Gordon Korman classic, Liar, Liar Pants on Fire, updating the cartoony font.

    Her connections at Scholastic helped her to get her first illustration job, a Halloween counting book that came out in 2007.

    In terms of her technique, Patricia still hand draws her work, then colours in Photoshop. She did the cover for 13 Ghosts of Halloween first, because the cover is the first thing marking folks need. Because she used watercolour for her original version of the cover, some online versions look washed out. For the final version, she used Photoshop and is much happier with the vibrancy of those colours. 

    What makes a great cover? Patricia says one important factor is simplicity of title and message.  You can see this in the two rough concepts she created for Joel Sutherland’s Be a Writing Superstar.

    And now the final version:

    Patricia feels that certain colours sell better, noting that the blue background of Be a Writing Superstar is very popular.

    Patrica gained fame with her books, The Pirate and the Penguin, and especially, Never Let You Go.  Now she says she is starting to have more confidence.  She was very insistent about the cover for Never Let You Go, feeling that it was an iconic image and that nothing else would communicate the mother-child bond so well.  She says it was one of the few times she got her way.


    Q: What illustrators inspire you?

    A Patricia is having a “Mary Blair love fest.” Mary Blair worked for Disney and did backgrounds for Song of the South and Alice in Wonderland. Patricia wants to experiment more with bright, bright colours.  She admires the cover of Oliver Jeffers new book, which is a gorgeous bright orange.

    Q: Hardcover or softcover?

    A:  You have to be a big name to get hardcover.  If you’re really good, a paperback will come out after that. Numbers are crunched.

    Q: How did you get started in cartooning?

    A: Patricia is mostly self-taught, although she was trained in graphic design and has taken classes here and there. 

    Q: Other than developing your skill set and having a professional attitude, what do you recommend for aspiring illustrators?

    A: Develop a thick skin. Rejection is inevitable.

    Neil Gaiman says that there are 3 secret keys to success:  Be nice.  Do good work.  Show up on time.  You only have to do 2 but three is better. Immerse yourself in world of picture books.  Devour everything.  Study the illustrators of the past. Who were Maurice Sendak and Robert McClosky? Then find out how the game has changed.

    Author and storyteller Kari-Lynne Winters piped up with the last word: And don’t leave it on your computer.  Submit it!

  • Thursday, January 15, 2015 3:11 PM | Karen Krossing (Administrator)

    Are you interested in raising your profile, building your network, strengthening your leadership skills and implementing new ideas within our community? If so, CANSCAIP has an opportunity for you.

    The CANSCAIP nominating committee is currently seeking volunteers for the executive, including both Members and Friends. Terms are for two years, beginning at the end of April 2015. 

    Interested Members and Friends should contact Past President Karen Krossing at Karen is also available for phone calls, upon request, to discuss options and details.

    Don’t have time for a two-year commitment? Please consider becoming a Short-Term Volunteer. Administrative Director Helena Aalto is also looking for people who can volunteer for special projects as well as one-day tasks.

    Not in the Greater Toronto Area? CANSCAIP can Skype you in for any meetings. In order to deliver national programming, CANSCAIP’s volunteer pool needs national representation.

    Still interested? Here’s a breakdown of CANSCAIP’s volunteer positions:

    • Short-Term Volunteer: Members or Friends who volunteer through the CANSCAIP office for special projects as well as one-day tasks.
    Board Members
    • President: A Member who helps to implement CANSCAIP’s strategic plans, guides staff in day-to-day operations and presides over meetings.
    • Vice-President: A Member who assists the President. (Note: The VP is no longer in charge of the annual PYI Conference. The VP is not required to become President.)
    • Treasurer: A Member who helps to manage the CANSCAIP finances.
    • Member-at-Large: A Member who assists the Board in making decisions about plans and policies.
    • Friend-at-Large: A Friend who assists the Board in making decisions about plans and policies.
    Non-Board Members
    • Past-President: A Member who mentors the incoming Board members and seeks the executive for the next term.
    • Co-Recording Secretaries: Members and/or Friends who record meeting minutes.
    • Co-Program Chairs: Members and/or Friends who plan the programming for Toronto monthly meetings from September to June.
    • Illustrators’ Representative: A Member and/or Friend who advises the Board on plans to benefit illustrator members.
    • Performers’ Representative: A Member and/or Friend who advises the Board on plans to benefit performer members.
    • Co-membership Chairs: Members and/or Friends who greet membership at Toronto monthly meetings and advise the Board on plans to benefit membership.
    • News Editor: A Member who edits CANSCAIP’s quarterly newsletter.
    • Listserve Manager: A Member who monitors CANSCAIP’s Member-Only listserve.
    • Regional Representatives: Members and/or Friends who advise the Board on regional needs and may organize local events.
    • PYI Team: Members and/or Friends who create our annual Packaging Your Imagination conference under direction from the Administrative Director. PYI positions include:
      • Communications Coordinator: Writes and distributes conference messages.
      • Speaker Coordinator: Coordinates information to/from PYI speakers.
      • Volunteer Coordinator: Recruits and directs volunteers for on-site PYI roles.
    • Communications and Marketing: Members and/or Friends who source, write and disseminate CANSCAIP information and marketing messages. Communications and Marketing positions include: 
      • Website Coordinator: Posts messages and images on the CANSCAIP website.
      • Social Media Coordinator: Writes and posts messages for Twitter, blogs, Facebook.
      • Outreach Coordinator: Sources potential audiences beyond CANSCAIP members.

  • Thursday, December 11, 2014 3:25 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    A special thanks to Anne Laurel Carter for taking these minutes of Wednesday's Toronto meeting!

    President Bill Swan took the blame for starting our festive meeting twelve minutes late, welcomed all, and shared his happy news that he is now a grandfather.


    1. CANSCAIP and Access copyright will be holding a webinar for a©eCreator, a cloud-based service developed to help you during and after your content creation process by providing an easy way to send, track, monitor, locate, and backup your work. And the best part: a©eCreator is a complimentary service and one of the many benefits to being an Access Copyright affiliate.  Information will be available soon on our website, so check back or contact the office or Bill Swan for information. 

    2. We are looking for volunteers to be Officers on the Board of Directors, or general volunteers for CANSCAIP.  Board terms begin in April. Contact the office or Karen Krossing for more information. 


    1. THE OLD WAYS by Susan Margaret Chapman, illustrated by John Mantha, Fifth House.

    The book was inspired by a survival story Susan read in the Globe & Mail. 

    2. DO NOT OPEN UNTIL CHRISTMAS by Jean Little, Red Deer Press.

    This book includes twelve Christmas stories. Rush out and get it! says Jean.

    Her book launch is Saturday Dec 13th at Lillian H Smith Library 2 - 4 pm. All welcome.

    3. Eric Walters had 4 new creations! 

    SKYE ABOVE illustrated by David Parkins in Orca's Echoes. Set in Costa Rica.

    SLEEPER, a sequel in The Seven series with Orca.

    HOPE SPRINGS illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, Tundra. This picture book concerns a water project at the orphanage Eric supports in Kenya. 

    WALKING HOME, Doubleday.  Eric walked across Kenya in order to journal this non-fiction book. Some of the proceeds support the orphanage.

    4. EMILY ROSE’S DAY AT THE FARM by Simone Da Costa, illustrated by Anindiat Modale, Tate Publishing. 

    The story concerns a curious girl who feeds rambunctious animals onher grandmother’s farm. 


    Temperatures may have plummeted outside but members and friends warmed to Ted Staunton as he shared his thoughts about the writing craft. When he’s not writing or speaking, Ted teaches at George Brown College, and also performs in a jug band. 

    Ted amazed and amused us by playing guitar and singing several songs to illustrate seven points about performing and writing.

    1. Performance and writing seem to be in direct opposition to each other. Performance is all about immediate gratification. Writing is about delayed gratification (lots of waiting before the book is finished and finds a publisher). However - the best way to start both is to get to the point. You have two paragraphs or one song to grab the reader or audience.

    2. Structure is very important to both. Stories have a structure and flow, so does a musical performance.  A beginning has to grab listener or reader. Add complexity. Build to a climactic note. End on a grace note. 

    3. What you leave out can sometimes be more important than what you put in. 

    4. Pacing. If you get off to a fast start you can stretch out in the middle.

    5. Sometimes in a performance the best stuff is the result of the unexpected. The same has been true for Ted writing novels. His first novels he plotted out which were a useful safety net. Writing the last few novels, he knew the start and finish but wasn’t quite sure how to get there. He likes being open to new ideas coming into the story. 

    6. You’re not in it alone. Even though a musician is alone on the stage and the writer faces the blank screen alone, there are people who can give feedback on our work-in-progress and in a concert you’re always with an audience. 

    7. Every audience wants you to succeed. Every reader wants to love your book.

    Have a lovely holiday, everyone!

    (Photo: Ted (top) with (L-R) Rob Morphy, Nancy Hartry, Jo Ellen Bogart, Jean Little, Sylvia McNicoll)

  • Thursday, November 13, 2014 3:58 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    It was a dark and dreary Wednesday night, but many CANSCAIPers came out yesterday to attend our November Toronto meeting.  Werner Zimmerman, Sylvia McNicoll, Sharon Jennings, Nicole Winters and Jocelyn Shipley were just a few of the authors and illustrators in attendance.  Werner Zimmerman even brought some of his illustration students to their very first CANSCAIP meeting.

    CANSCAIP President, Bill Swan, opened the meeting with congratulations to all the members who were winners at the TD Children’s Book Awards Gala last week. 

    The big winner was Kathy Stinson, who, with illustrator Dušan Petričić, won the TD Children’s Literature Award for their picture book The Man With the Violin.

    Karen Bass, a longtime member from Alberta, won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People for her book Graffiti Knight.

    Rona Arato, a frequent attendee of our Toronto meetings (though not present at this meeting) won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction for her book The Last Train, A Holocaust Story.

    Ted Staunton, teacher of George Brown College’s popular Writing for Children courses (many of his students were in the audience) took home the John Spray Mystery Award for Who I’m Not.

    Finally, the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy was won by Erin Bow, a favourite speaker at this year’s Packaging Your Imagination conference.


    New Bylaws

    All full members should have already received an email regarding a special meeting to be held on December 10th at 6PM, in Toronto, before our regular meeting.  There we will be voting on some necessary changes to our bylaws.  New regulations require that all members of an organization must vote.  Therefore, a notable change will be that Friend Members will now be able to vote.  A Friend of CANSCAIP will also represent Friend Members on the board of directors.

    Because we’re holding the meeting under the old bylaws, only members will vote in December, but Friends will be welcome at the meeting.

    If you are a full member and have not received an email with a copy of the proposed bylaws, please contact the office.


    CANSCAIP has a beautiful curated art show at INSPIRE, this year’s Toronto International Book Fair, being held this weekend.  It features illustrations by Werner Zimmermann, Sue Todd, Holly Main, Brenda Clark, Michael Marchenko, Barbara Reid and many more.  Please drop by our booth to say hello.


    Both Sharon Jennings and Sylvia McNicoll announced their courses in writing for children at Ryerson (Sharon) and Burlington’s Living Arts Centre (Sylvia)--worth every penny.

    Peter Carver, editor at Red Deer Press, wrote to invite us all to Jean Little’s book launch for Do Not Open Until Christmas on Saturday, December 13th at the Lillian H. Smith Library in Toronto from 2-4. All are welcome.


    Heather Anne Hunter took the podium to announce her self-published book, Ravi’s Revenge, a finalist for the INSPIRE award, given out Sunday at TIBF.

    Jeff Pinkney was delighted to show us his very first novel, Soapstone Signs, an illustrated chapter book in the Orca Echoes series that won the Writers Union Children’s Writing Contest (now run by CANSCAIP) in 2007. Jeff studied at Trent with CANSCAIP member, Joanne Findon, who he thanked in the acknowledgements. 

    Bill Swan was also sporting that new-book glow.  He showed off Real Justice: Jailed for Life for Being Black.  The book is about Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter.  Bill said it was “A story of friendship and triumph in the face of almost insurmountable odds.”

    Finally, Nadia Hohn placed an article in Canadian Children’s Book News and will have two books out in January!

    PROGRAM: All About a©eCreator

    Sylvia McNicoll, a director at Access Copyright, introduced Garner Pridmore, Digital Services Specialist at Access Copyright.

    Garner came to the meeting to tell us an exciting new perk to being an Access Copyright affiliate.

    a©eCreator is a cloud-based service developed to help authors, illustrators and other creators during and after the content creation process by providing an easy way to send, track, monitor, locate, and backup all our work. And the best part: a©eCreator is a complimentary service and one of the many benefits to being an Access Copyright affiliate.

    a©eCreator offers:

          Access to files anytime, anywhere using only a browser.

          Secure file backup on multiple servers.

          Auto generated record of where, how, and when files were sent.

          Unlimited data storage.

          Ability to share large files with others (e.g. publisher, literary agents).

    Garner suggested that authors could use this service to keep track of large projects like novels, including multiple drafts and versions, contracts, and other documents related to publication and submission history.  With multiple servers in and outside of Toronto, it is the only backup necessary. 

    Sylvia McNicoll has been using a©eCreator as a beta tester and recommended it highly.  She particularly liked seeing when a publisher downloaded and viewed her submissions, and felt that this record could protect her should any copyright violation ever take place.  She also liked that she could download any version of her work from anywhere, using only a browser.

    Interested?  If you are already an affiliate, all you have to do is to contact Garner at for a username and password.

    If you are a published author or illustrator and are not an affiliate of Access Copyright, you should be!  Affiliates are eligible to receive the annual Payback payment. What’s that, you ask?  Each year, all eligible affiliates receive a share of the Payback payment depending on how much they contributed to the repertoire of works licensed by Access Copyright.

    More information about signing up to be an Access Copyright Affiliate can be found here.


    Q: We’ve heard that this service can be used to send large documents to our editors.  What about tracking changes?  Will that be possible?

    A: Not yet, but we’re hearing that authors want this.  It’s the next big change to the system that we will be working on.

    Q: What about privacy?

    A: The system is completely private.  “Even I don’t even have access to Sylvia’s files,” Garner told us.  “No one else has access to your files.”  Also, none of their backup servers are outside Canada, so no need to worry about NSA snooping.

    Q: When are our cheques coming?

    A: With only a slight roll of the eyes, Garner told us that he did not work on the Payback payment side of things.  BUT he couldn’t help noticing that there was a lot of envelope stuffing going on at the Access Copyright office.  It won’t be long!

    On that happy note, we all broke for coffee.  Join us on December 10th for our next Toronto meeting.

  • Thursday, October 16, 2014 12:08 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    In our final post featuring 2014 Packaging Your Imagination speakers, we have a cornucopia of three very different book experts: Holly Kent, who will be speaking about social media, Ashley Spires, who will be speaking about graphic novels, and Susin Nielsen, who will be delivering our Claire Mackay memorial lecture entitled “Confessions of a Word Nerd.”

    Holly Kent is the Community Manager for the National Reading Campaign, a not for profit dedicated to making Canada a reading nation. Holly manages the NRC’s entire web presence, including the blog Readerly, two interactive websites, and several social media accounts. Previously, Holly created the social media strategies for Scholastic Canada and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

    Lena Coakley: The topic of your CANSCAIP presentation is: Social Media for Authors & Illustrators: Reaching Readers Online.  Can you give us a little taste of what you'll be talking about?  What are some tips or nuggets of wisdom you'll be sharing with PYI attendees?

    Holly Kent: Because I'm expecting a wide range of social media abilities, I'll start with a social networking bootcamp. I'm going walk attendees through all the online tools that authors and illustrators have at their disposal, from Facebook to Tumblr to the 49th Shelf. I'll also share some secret (and less than secret) tools to achieve social media goals, like gaining followers, driving traffic to your website, or meeting likeminded individuals. I anticipate a lot of specific questions about social media, so please don't be shy. If I don't know the answer to a question I'll find it - probably by asking my Facebook friends. 

    BC author, illustrator and cat enthusiast Ashley Spires is best known for her junior graphic novel series, Binky The Space Cat. She likes to make picture books too, namely 2014’s The Most Magnificent Thing and Edie’s Ensembles. Her work has won the Silver Birch Express, the Shining Willow and the Hackmatack awards.

    Lena: What about you, Ashley? What will you be sharing with PYI attendees?

    Ashley Spires: I notice that my presentation, The Accidental Graphic Novelist, is being billed as a writers workshop. That's quite humourous because I still don't totally consider myself a writer (thus the accidental part of the title.) I was, and will always be, an illustrator first. The world of graphic novels, where the words and the pictures are splitting the story-telling workload, is a perfect place for an excited illustrator/ hesitant writer to find a home. I'm going to talk a lot about that wonderful place where the pictures and the text overlap, because the real story exists in that crossover space. 

    Lena: How do you stay motivated? 

    Ashley: My trick to staying motivated may not be the healthiest, but it sure works. Basically, what I've accomplished thus far is never enough. I'm always wanting the next book to be better- whether that means that it sells better or earns more awards or I just plain think I did a better job than the last book. Maybe when I'm not so new to this career I will feel differently, but right now there is just so much to accomplish that I can't help but work, work, work! Which reminds me, I better get back to that painting...

    Susin Nielsen is the author of the best-selling novels Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom and the Governor General’s Award-winner, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. Her new novel, We Are All Made of Molecules, will be published in Canada, the US and the UK in Spring 2015.

    Lena: Can you give us a little peek into what you’ll be sharing at PYI, Susin?

    Susin Nielsen: I'll be talking about my journey to becoming a writer, and along the way I -- an eleventh grade math dropout -- will also attempt to prove a mathematical equation. 

    Words of wisdom: Malcolm Gladwell says it takes ten thousand hours to become an expert at something. I think this is mostly true - except, I'm pretty sure I've done ten thousand hours of writing, and (sorry) it doesn't get easier. That said - I do believe that the more you write, the better you get at your craft - or at least, better at sniffing out what isn't working. 

    Lena: We’re all eagerly awaiting your next book.  Can you tell us about it?

    Susin:  My new novel is called We Are All Made of Molecules. It comes out in spring 2015, and will be published in Canada, the US and the UK simultaneously - which is a first for me. I have two narrators, one of whom appeared in a smaller role in Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom. It's about a blended family ... and loss, love and acceptance of differences. 

    Lena: Thanks you three!  See you on Saturday!

    There is LESS THAN ONE DAY left to sign up for PYI.  Registration closes at 11:59 tonight, Thursday the 16th. 

  • Monday, October 13, 2014 11:54 AM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Thanks so much to Sylvia McNicoll for writing up Wednesday’s Ontario meeting, which did NOT take place in Toronto as per usual, but at the Art Gallery of Burlington, in the Fireside Lounge.


    President Bill Swan welcomed everyone to the first trial of having our Toronto meeting outside Toronto and deemed the venture a success with over 30 people attending. 

    Heather Rath, a long time writing member, made it to a meeting for the first time in 15 years, as well as Diane Matich, a Friend, Caroline Freibauer, a teacher/librarian from Assumption College in Brantford, and many more.


    PYI:  Lorna Poplak the co-director of Packaging Your Imagination listed five reasons to sign up for Packaging Your Imagination by the cutoff date Thursday, October 16.

    1) The amazing array of workshops. 

    2) The Industry Panel

    3) The Networking opportunities

    4) The All day Pitch Perfect on Sunday, October 19 both for authors and illustrators. The author spot is full, there are three spots for illustrators

    5) The art exhibition running untill October 17th, Monday to Friday  from 10 to 5 at Humber College, Lakeshore campus.  “Capturing Imagination: The Art of Storytelling” features illustrations from such stars as Sue Todd (illustrator of the beautiful woodcut above) Brenda Clark, Michael Marchenko, and Barbara Reid.  (It will also be on display at Inspire: the Toronto International Book Fair, November 13, 14, & 15th.

    Sign up today!


    Congratulations to CANSCAIP member, Lesley Choyce, (East Laurencetown, N.S.) who is a nominee for the Governor General’s Award for Jeremy Stone (Red Deer Press) a young adult novel written in free verse about a First Nations teenager finding his spirits.


    CANSCAIP friend since 2010, Nadia Hohn thanked CANSCAIP for its support and encouragement. The story she’s struggled with over the years, Malaika’s Costume, won the  Helen Issobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Award and will be published by Groundwood Books in 2016.  Nadia also wrote a feature  “Who Will Write Our Stories?” article for the Fall 2014 Issue of Canadian Children’s Book News.

    Lana Button signed a contract for another Willow picture book with Kids Can Press for 2016, tentatively entitled  Willow’s Picture Day Smile

    In April 2014, Ellen Jaffe worked with students at the Hamilton Hebrew Academy (grades 3-7) on a poetry and art project about the Holocaust, to help them understand and empathize with children of that time. Some of the students' poems and artwork will be published in the Hamilton Spectator's "OUR PULSE" page on Tuesday, Oct. 14.  This weekly section features work from students in the public and Catholic school boards and from private schools in the area.  Ellen and the teachers and principal at HHA were very impressed with the students' ability to connect with this painful time, and to express their feelings in writing and art.

    PROGRAM: The Mystery of Writing Mysteries for Kids with Liam O’Donnell

    Liam O’Donnell is an award-winning author, educator and literacy advocate. He has created over 35 graphic novels and books, including Max Finder Mysteries, Graphic Guide Adventures, and Geeked Out Mysteries. The first book in his upcoming series, Battle for Minecraft, will be published in November, and his new series, Tank & Fizz, comes out in Spring 2015. Liam teaches Grade 1 in Toronto, where he uses video games and other alternative sources of literacy to engage reluctant readers.

    (Liam and PYI co-coordinator, Lorna Poplak, chat after the meeting.)

    The Mystery Behind the Writer

    Liam O’Donnell admits to being empowered by a strange inner mantra:  “I don’t know.” When he first applied for the position of editor at Owl Magazine some 20 years ago, he was instead offered another opportunity: Could he take over the writing of ‘Mighty Mites' (originally written by Emily Hearns and illustrated by Mark Thurman)? With his media writing background, he seemed a natural. Despite having no clue about whether he could do it or not, he agreed, took the Mites into outer space and gave them superpowers. Many years later, when Owl editors felt 30 years of Mighty Mites had taken them everywhere they could possibly go, they asked if Liam had any other ideas.

    Writing the Mystery

    While inwardly chanting his mantra, outwardly he said, “Sure.” He asked the editors for the weekend to formulate his thoughts.  While he had no idea whether he could write a mystery, he knew he liked Encyclopedia Brown. What if he did something like that in comic-book form? Owl signed him on for three trial episodes of Max Finder which ended up continuing for another 12 years.  

    As Liam fumbled (his word) through 30 mysteries, he soon understood that each was a puzzle to be layered with truth, red herrings, suspects and alibis. Of course, says he, there is no murdering in middle-grade mysteries.  Theft, vandalism, sabotage, talent shows that end in disaster because things go  missing-these are the only possible crimes. Still they were fun to create, and he learned that adding elements of mystery to any genre is a great way to get a story going.

    Regarding writing series, he’s learned to involve a growing cast of characters in a central location. Tank and Fizz is his new series involving a troll and goblin who live under a mountain. In it, text and comics tell a kind of diesel-punk-noir detective story about a war between technology and wizards using magic and gadgets. The Case of the Slime Stampede will be out with Orca in the spring of 2015. 

    The Mystery of the Market

    Fast forward through some 35+ books, (Liam wrote System Shock in 2008 and many Max Finder Mystery novels).  A lack of consistent income made him take up teaching grade 1 five years ago. In the classroom he’s known for using alternative text, comic books, graphic novels and even video games to encourage literacy. He says that while in 1999, graphic novels were not condoned as quality reading materials for the schools, today they are actively pursued. Currently, video games enjoy that same mark of disdain.

    Just as he uses non-traditional avenues to get kids reading, he’s also pursuing “indie” publishing methods to get his books out there. He hates contracts (and the hit-and-miss route of pursuing them) and feels that the 25% industry standard royalty rate on ebooks is blatantly unfair. He began with Ganked, a story he intended as a 15,000 word Orca Soundings that somehow overflowed the box into a 25,000 word YA. Instead of hunting for someone to publish this stand-alone, he put on a publisher’s hat and hired editors and designers to help format the book. He says he’s never had so much fun in his life. He notes that life became too busy for him to properly market the work, and he intends to pay more attention to that aspect in the future.

    When he was approached by a book packager with an offer to write a 20,000-word Minecraft book in three weeks for $2,000, he instantly declined but recognized the potential of such a project. He decided to write and publish the novel on his own. This way he can put out a series before his young readers tire of the video game. Watch for Battle for Minecraft: Descent into Overworld.

    Liam loves the mystery of the new choices and opportunities and thinks CANSCAIP can potentially play a huge roll in assisting us all with these ventures.  Will his indie books succeed or will traditionally published books triumph and will both happily coincide? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.   As he says, this mantra charges him. “Not knowing can either fill you with fear or thrill you with opportunity.” It’s clear that Liam is thrilled.

    Our next meeting topic: WAR WRITING--details to follow
    Room 224, Northern District Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto

    Parking: There are several Green P's within walking distance.
    Transit: Just north of the Eglinton subway stop on the Yonge line.

    Interested in starting a CANSCAIP meting in your community? Contact the office about help, seed money, and more.

    (Authors Anne Gray and Gillian Chan after the meeting.)
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