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


Keep up-to-date on the latest news from CANSCAIP through the CANSCAIP blog, including news about upcoming meetings and conferences, industry events, awards, new creations and more.

Note: Members and Friends of CANSCAIP can submit information about events, awards and new creations for posting on the CANSCAIP blog. To submit, click here.
  • 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.)
  • Monday, October 13, 2014 8:08 AM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Today we're continuing our series of interviews with 2014 Packaging Your Imagination conference speakers with physicist turned poet turned YA fantasy author, Erin Bow

    Erin's first novel, Plain Kate, one of my favourite fantasies, received numerous honours, including the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Her second novel, Sorrow's Knot, is nominated for the Monica Hughes award for Science Fiction and Fantasy and made the Kirkus Best Books of 2013 list. 

    Lena Coakley: Hi Erin! Thanks for stopping by the CANSCAIP blog. The topic of your presentation is: Details: How Little Things Bring Your Writing to Life.  Can you give us a little taste of what you'll be talking about?  What's one tip you'll be sharing with PYI attendees?

    Erin Bow: Details are a paradox: They are both the thing that bog readers down in boredom, and the thing that makes writing feel real and lively and moving.  This is a workshop about telling the difference between those two.  It’s about where to use details, which ones to use, and what effects to get out of them.

    I’ve got one really good concrete tip for you, that I adapted from something I heard from Hugh Cook.  It’s called the ladder of specificity.  For example you could describe a classroom floor as:

    The floor

    The linoleum floor

    The checkerboard linoleum floor

    The old, cracked floor, cheap in the seventies and cheaper now. 

    My quick advice is to match how high you go on the ladder to the emotional intensity of the scene.   People – and our characters -- notice things more in intense situations.  Say your character is entering a new classroom for the first time.  She’s had to transfer schools because her old boyfriend was killed by a werewolf and she was framed for it.  The HORROR.  Now everyone is staring at her, including the people she suspects are secret werewolves.  She looks down at the floor. 

    It’s a cracked linoleum floor, right?  Brown and maybe it used to be cream but now it’s kind of spoiled-milk yellow and one of the bad-milk squares is cracked off at the corner, and the triangle of untiled floor is black with sticky dirt. 

     Whereas the day before she was framed, it was just a floor. 

     What I’m saying is you don’t want an unremitting pile-up of specificity. That’s the kind of thing that makes readers scan ahead and hope for explosions. But you want to build an ebb and flow of specificity that matches the ebb and flow of the story.  A bunch of bottom of the ladder things will breeze by the stage business of the story.  A couple of third-step-of-the-ladder every couple of pages will keep the world seeming real.  Go to the top when you need an emotional punch. 

    Lena Coakley: Wow.  Thanks Erin. Now, I’d like to ask you a completely unrelated question, but, as a novel writer, one that’s close to me personally: How do you stay motivated?

    Erin Bow: My trouble is not staying motivated, it’s getting started.  I go to the office with lots of amazing ideas and I still end up wondering if maybe I should play solitaire for an hour or two. I have the willpower and attention span of a goldfish. So I have some systems. 

    First, I have an office.  I have a place that I go where I don’t (and can’t) do my dayjob.  Where I am not (and can’t be) a hands-on parent.  Where I can’t do the laundry.  I have set hours that I go there, and I go with my figurative writer hat on.  Second, I have rituals that key my tiny goldfish hindbrain that it’s time to write: I have a soundtrack and certain kind of tea and other, sillier things.  If I thought a literal hat would help I would totally get one. Third, I make I deal with myself that I’ll spend 15 minutes working on something small.  Often this is all I need to get going.  Finally, and this has been key to me, I give myself a sticker when I get 1000 words. 

    The stickers mark my good days with a wee ritual, and motivate me to at least TRY on days when writing sucks and I suck. They make a book seem more manageable -- 100 or so is a draft, which isn't an impossibly huge number -- and they help me keep track of what I did when.  But mostly , I do stickers because it’s amazing what my tiny goldfish brain will do for a sticker. Honestly, there are days when scrubbing the toilet sounds better than writing, but even on those days, I'll write for stickers.   

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2014 3:00 PM | Lena Coakley (Administrator)

    Today we're continuing our series of interviews with 2014 Packaging Your Imagination conference speakers with Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator of the picture books I'M BORED and NAKED (both written by Michael Ian Black) and of numerous Judy Blume covers.  Debbie has the most vibrant internet presence I know, so I am sure her PYI talk, Lightning Rods, Agents & Book Deals: Building Your Personal Brand will be chock full of useful information.  Lucky for us, she's agreed to give us a little preview.

    Lena: Can you give us a taste of what you'll be talking about at PYI?  What's one tip or nugget of wisdom you'll be sharing with attendees?

    Debbie: However you feel about the word "brand," everyone has a personal brand. You DO have control over it (yes, even the shy and introverted) and it can have a big effect on how successful you are in achieving your personal and professional goals. Some keys, I've found: Be authentic, find your niche and don't try to do everything. Come to my workshop and I'll explain more, including social media tips for those who aren't quite sure what to do with their social media.

     Lena: I’m a great fan of I’M BORED and NAKED.  Tell us about your next book.

    Debbie: I'm super-excited about my next book because it's also the very first children's book of which I'm author as well as illustrator. WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? is a picture book about a little boy named Spencer whose beloved books are mysteriously vanishing, one at a time. Who is taking them? Spencer needs to solve the mystery before his bookshelves are empty. WHERE ARE MY BOOKS? comes out from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in May 2015.

    Lena: I love that premise! If you could offer one piece of advice to an aspiring author/illustrator, what would it be?

    Debbie: Don't try to do it on your own. If I could have given my younger self one piece advice, it would have been to start meeting other author/illustrators and attending conventions like Packaging Your Imagination much earlier. While it's possible to find publishing success on your own, the journey can be made easier and much more enjoyable if you can commiserate with, encourage and learn from others.

    Lena: Do you have a marketing strategy?  Could you tell us what's worked for you and what hasn't?

    Debbie: I believe that everyone needs to find a marketing strategy that works for them; there is no ONE right way to do it. My own marketing strategy (if you could call it that) developed because I wanted to avoid asking people to buy my book. So instead of doing that, I do what I can to make people interested in me and my work, so that when my new book DOES come out, they're already aware of it. If they want to buy the book, that's great. But if not (even the most avid bibliophiles have limited book-buying budgets), that's also fine. But in either case, I'm hoping that they might borrow it from the library or read it in the bookstore. And if they like it, maybe they'll let others know about it by word of mouth or social media.

    As for what's worked and what hasn't worked for me, I have no hard sales data thatconnects specific marketing strategies to sales. However, I do notice certain patterns with what people respond to via sharing or Likes on social media. 

    What's worked for me:

    Sharing my process, sharing my excitement about my own books  as well as other books. I've found that people respond most to when I add something personal. Including something visual (whether it's a book cover or especially a sketch or illustration) also gets more responses.

    What hasn't worked for me:

    Anything resembling direct marketing.

    Lena: I feel like I’ve watched your success happen before my eyes.  How have you grown as a writer/illustrator between your debut and your latest book?  What advice do you have for debut authors?

    Debbie: One thing I've learned: the angst NEVER ENDS, so it's important to enjoy every success, no matter how small. I used to think that getting my first book published was the ultimate goal. As soon as my first book got published, however, I realized that there was a whole new level of angst waiting with each book: What kind of reviews would the book get? Would there be ANY reviews? What would sales be like? How much promotion should I do? How would I juggle promotion and working on my next book? How do I keep from getting into a rut? and so on and so on.

    I still angst, of course, but I also try to enjoy the process and the journey.

    Another piece of advice: Don't get so caught up in promotion and marketing efforts that you forget to CREATE.

    Lena: I SO agree that the angst never ends, but I sometimes find it a bit demoralizing.  How do you stay motivated?

    Debbie: I make time to play (doodle and write for the fun of it) every day. I keep working on my craft, learning new techniques that I can't wait to try out.

    And as I said above, I attend events like Packaging Your Imagination where I can learn from others in the industry. I also surround myself with creative types who inspire me, or follow them online.

    Lena: How have you built an audience over time.  Any tips?

    Debbie: I'll be sharing many more tips in my PYI workshop, but here are just a few:

    Before diving into social media, figure out what you want to get out of it first. Too many authors and illustrators join Twitter just because they know their publishers want them to, but then get frustrated because they're not sure how to use it.

    Decide who your target audience is, and then post accordingly. Don't try to be everything to everyone. Pick your niche. How can you stand out? What are your strengths?

    Don't get obsessed with follower count. Therein lies madness and frustration. Focus on good content and non-spammy interaction.

    Give good karma and it will come back to you.

    Lena: That’s such perfect advice, Debbie, and if there’s anyone I know in the kidlit world who gives out good karma, it is you.  Thanks so much for dropping by the CANSCAIP blog.

    Follow Debbie on Twitter!

    Lightning Rods, Agents & Book Deals: Building Your Personal Brand

    (Professional Development, Beginner)

    Debbie will explain how an effective author or illustrator brand can give you a major edge in finding agents, landing book deals and marketing your work. She’ll also offer practical tips on how to find your own authentic brand as well as how to build it online.

    (Please note: this workshop will not be conducted in the tub.)

    CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination conference will be held on Saturday, October 18th in Toronto.


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