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  • Virtual PYI 2015 (Packaging Your Imagination Conference Online)

Virtual PYI 2015 (Packaging Your Imagination Conference Online)

  • Saturday, November 14, 2015
  • 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Your computer


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Live-Streamed to Your Computer in Real Time

What's at PYI this year?
  • More sessions: choose 4 hour-long advanced, beginner or intermediate sessions (previous years offered 3 sessions) PLUS keynote sessions
  • Two keynotes: Loris Lesynski and Linda Granfield
  • Publishing experts from Annick, Dundurn, Groundwood, Penguin, The Rights Factory, Transatlantic Agency
  • Author and illustrator speakers from A to Z (Andrew Larsen to Werner Zimmermann)

CANSCAIP is proud to partner with the Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts to deliver Virtual Packaging Your Imagination 2015 via Blackboard Collaborate.

CANSCAIP is grateful for the support of the Toronto Arts Council.


  • Virtual PYI is live-streamed to your computer in real time, for an experience that is almost as good as being there. Virtual PYI participants can even send questions to the speaker during the Q&A.
  • Virtual PYI participants receive clear and simple directions for access. Not much of a techie? If you know how to Google search, follow links, and open emailed attachments, you have the know-how to participate in Virtual PYI. 
  • To facilitate the live-streaming of Virtual PYI, the conference speakers wear lapel microphones, and high-quality video cameras follow their presentations. Speakers' visuals are uploaded ahead of time and pre-tested for Virtual PYI.
  • A dedicated Virtual PYI moderator monitors the virtual delivery of each session. If you have any questions or problems, let the moderator know and they will respond immediately. When Virtual PYI participants send questions for the speaker, the moderator asks the speaker that question. 
  • In 2014, the Virtual PYI experience was seamless with excellent reception quality and great participant feedback. This exciting option will be even better in 2015. 

  • Full day of Virtual PYI sessions and keynotes is $125 (scroll down for session descriptions and speaker bios)


  • Opening keynote Loris Lesynski: 9:00 to 9:30 am EST
  • Morning sessions: 9:45 to 10:45 am EST (choose 1 of 3)
  • Mid-morning sessions: 11:00 to 12:00 EST (choose 1 of 3) 
  • Lunch Break 
  • Afternoon sessions: 1:00 to 2:00 pm EST (choose 1 of 3)
  • Mid-afternoon sessions: 2:15 to 3:15 pm EST (choose 1 of 3)
  • Closing keynote Linda Granfield: 3:30 to 4:30 pm EST
  • Your computer


  • Refunds with a cancellation fee of $45 until Friday, October 18. We regret no refunds can be offered after that date.


9:00 to 9:30 AM

Loris LesynskiThe Finding, Care and Feeding of Your Writer's Voice (KEYNOTE)

Loris Lesynski, half-Polski, half-Finnski, writes poems that make people grinski. And also sometimes illustrates them. Fourteen books of rhythmic, funny, rhyming verse have come to be, some as picture book stories (like Boy Soup), some as collections (such as the wildly popular Dirty Dog Boogie), and the latest three “Crazy About” soccer, hockey and basketball.  She also loves speaking to kids, for the fun and the hugely beneficial effects of reciting out loud together.

to 10:45 AM
(Choose one of 1, 2 or 3)

1. Valerie SherrardThe Lazy Antagonist (MASTER CLASS) 

Are you getting the most out of your antagonist? A closer look at the role this character plays, as well as a few ways you can inject new life, purpose and depth into the thorn in your protagonist’s side.  
Valerie Sherrard is the author of 25 books for children and teens. She and her husband Brent, who is also an author, live in Miramichi, New Brunswick.

2. Andrew LarsonThe ABCs of Picture Books

You’ve come up with a great idea. In fact, it’s the perfect idea for a picture book story. Now what? In this engaging workshop, explore the journey from inspiration to publication from an author's perspective. Topics will include revisions, submissions, and more. 
Andrew Larsen has been writing stories for as long as he can remember. He has been publishing them since soon after he became a stay-at-home dad. Andrew’s picture books include The Imaginary Garden, In the Tree House and See You Next

3. Sally Keefe CohenNegotiating a Book Contract: The Devil is in the Details

Must-know info on how to negotiate your way through a typical Canadian book publishing contract and how to choose your battles with your publisher. 
Sally Keefe Cohen is a Canadian literary consultant, based in Toronto, who has negotiated book contracts for Canadian writers and writers’ estates for over 20 years. Her clients include children’s book authors, illustrators, cookbook authors, academic writers and writers of fiction and creative non-fiction. She acts on behalf of previously unpublished and published authors to ensure that their rights are protected and the most favourable book contract possible is completed.

AM to 12:00 PM
(Choose one of 4, 5 or 6) 

4. Crafting Science Fiction and Fantasy Teens Love (PANEL)

SFF is a genre with a rich history: How do we balance the—half-century-old!—tropes we love with crafting meaningful work for young readers, whose magic worlds and possible futures are built on entirely different assumptions? Join our terrific panelists for a discussion of trope sets, craft pointers and industry trends in YA’s science fiction, fantasy and horror section.

E. L. Chen is the author of the contemporary fantasy novel The Good Brother. Her short fiction has been published in anthologies such as Masked Mosaic, The Dragon and the Stars and Tesseracts Fifteen, and in magazines such as Strange Horizons and On Spec.

Megan Crewe is the author of several critically acclaimed novels for teens, including Give Up the Ghost, the Fallen World trilogy, and the Earth & Sky trilogy. She loves all things speculative and fantastical.

Maureen McGowan is the award-winning and bestselling author of two popular YA series, including the dystopian thriller series The Dust Chronicles: Deviants, Compliance and Glory. Her exciting, fast-paced novels are enjoyed by teen and adult readers alike.

Emily Pohl-Weary's latest Ghost Sick is a collection of poetry about tragedy and resilience in downtown Toronto. Previous books include the YA fantasy, Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, a Hugo Award-winning biography of her SF writing grandmother, a ghost love story, a female superhero anthology, and a girl pirate comic. She's currently working on a new teen novel.

MODERATOR: Leah Bobet is a novelist, editor and bookseller with Bakka-Phoenix Books, Canada's oldest science fiction bookstore. Her debut, Above, was short-listed for the Prix Aurora Award and the Andre Norton Award and commended by the CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens; her second, An Inheritance of Ashes, will appear from Scholastic in October 2015.

5. Werner ZimmermanMaking Pictures Live: Telling the Visual Story (MASTER CLASS)

Every picture book has a visual life. It’s more than a collection of images; whether richly complex or elegantly simple, it’s a matter of design. This workshop looks into what makes both the pictures and overall story come alive as well as 10 things you should keep in mind when designing your characters and your visual story. 
Werner Zimmermann has been writing and illustrating children’s books since his first illustrated book Farmer Joe’s Hot Day in 1987. Since then he’s also taught life drawing, anatomy for artists and picture book illustration at Sheridan, Seneca and Humber Colleges. Nominated for GGs and winner of Mr. Christie and Libris awards, he loves to draw and bring stories to life.  

6. Marsha SkrypuchAuthor Visits: How to Get Them, Do Them and Get Paid

Author visits are an excellent way to augment income, but how can you carve your own niche in this competitive market? Once you get a yes, what happens then? And how do you create the content of the visit itself? Is there a way to transform a single request into more? How do you become a dream visiting author? 
Marsha Skrypuch is the author of 19 books from JK to adult, fiction and non-fiction. Her awards include two Silver Birches, the Crystal Kite, Red Cedar and the MYRCA. With Valerie Sherrard, she's run Authors' Booking Service for nearly a decade and has arranged thousands of gigs for her fellow book creators. She now limits her own visits to about 100 a year.

to 2:00 PM
(Choose one of 7, 8 or 9)

7. Publishing: What's Up? What's Down? What's Ahead? (PANEL)

Olga Filina joined The Rights Factory in 2013. She has been sales manager and buyer for national and independent book store chains, and literary assistant at The Cooke Agency. She represents authors of historical fiction, romance, mystery, business, lifestyle and memoir,  and young adult and middle grade novels. 

Carrie Gleason is a seasoned editor of children's and YA books, and currently managing editor at Dundurn Press. She is also a published children's author.

Lynne Missen has been editing books for over 25 years, and is Penguin Canada's Publishing Director, Young Readers Group. She has worked with acclaimed Canadian children’s authors Susan Juby, Eric Walters, Kenneth Oppel, Kit Pearson, Valerie Sherrard and Caroline Pignat, among others.

MODERATOR: David Bennett and his wife, Lynn, founded Transatlantic Agency, developing a client list of talented children’s writers and illustrators whose works he sold into the UK, US, Europe and Canada. Transatlantic is now a full service literary agency covering adult trade, children's and young adult authors, and illustrators.

8. John MartzCapturing Ideas and Finding Inspiration

How do we get ideas for illustrations and stories? Where do they come from, and what do we do with them when we have them? How do we recognize the good ones from the bad ones? Learn about keeping a virtual shoe box of inspiration and images, and other methods of capturing new ideas and encouraging creativity.
John Martz has illustrated children’s picture books including A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories, Black and Bittern Was Night and Dear Flyary. He also illustrates comic books, web comics and iPad picture books, and was founding editor of the illustration blog

9. Wesley KingFinding Your Story (BEGINNER) 

Been sitting on an idea for years? Are you ready to start your own novel? Participants will learn how to develop their ideas, create an exciting, immersive universe and the characters to go in it, and carve out the necessary time to write their own amazing novels. 
Wesley King is the award-winning author of The Vindico series and The Incredible Space Raiders (From Space!). His novels have been optioned for film and television and he has visited hundreds of schools across the country.

to 3:15 PM
(Choose one of 10, 11 or 12)

10. Sheila BarryTaking Your Picture Book from Pitch to Publication (MASTER CLASS)

Are you curious about what happens once an editor decides s/he likes a picture book manuscript? Groundwood Books publisher will give insights into what happens in-house. Discussion topics include what editors consider before an offer to publish is made; what happens during the editorial, illustration and design process; and what to expect after publication. 
Sheila Barry has been publisher of Groundwood Books since 2012. She speaks and writes frequently on all aspects of children's book publishing, and is currently serving as Vice-President for both the Book and Periodical Council and the Canadian chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY Canada). 

11. Hugh BrewsterKeeping it Real: Writing Non-Fiction for Young Readers

There’s a story from history or from real life that has fired your imagination. Or maybe you just like the idea of writing non-fiction and are in search of ideas. This workshop will walk you through the process––from the idea stage right through to the writing, publishing and promoting of real stories for real kids. 
Hugh Brewster has over 40 years of experience at writing, editing and publishing non-fiction for young readers.  He is the author of 15 books including award winners At Vimy Ridge, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and On Juno Beach.

12. Ishta Mercurio & Sheryl ShapiroSecrets of Great Submissions

You’ve written your manuscript. You’ve revised it (and revised it, and revised it...). Your portfolio looks great. You’re ready to take the next step! But how? Learn the basics of writing query letters and submissions in this workshop that will give you the tools to identify the difference between a good one and a GREAT one.  
Ishta Mercurio has been writing and critiquing queries since 2009. Her first query was awful, but her most recent query was great enough to get her several full requests and an offer of representation. Her first book, Bite into Bloodsuckers, is coming in 2015. She blogs about queries and other writerly things at
Sheryl Shapiro has been creative director / art director / designer at Annick Press for almost 25 years. A few years after completing four years of training in fine arts and teaching, she changed careers, graduating from OCAD in editorial design. Sheryl has also co-authored children’s books and worked in other areas of design.

3:30 to 4:30 PM
The Claire Mackay Memorial Lecture

Linda GranfieldTips for Creatively-Inclined Girls and Guys

Linda Granfield is the award-winning author of 30 non-fiction history titles for adult and young readers, such as In Flanders Fields and The Road To Afghanistan. She has conducted research for documentary films and is an associate historian for the Royal Canadian Air Force. She also successfully lobbied for the Year of the War Bride in Ontario. She has presented remembrance programs to young readers in schools, at the Canadian War Museum and at the National World War I Museum in the United States. Over 15 years of research have gone into her current (adult) book project that deals with the Rape of Nanking in 1937.


New to CANSCAIP? Want to find out what being a CANSCAIP Friend is all about? 

Join the community and keep growing as a writer or illustrator. Expand on what you learn from our exciting lineup of workshops and grow your network of children's culture creators as well.

How? By joining CANSCAIP as a Friend!

As a Friend you receive our quarterly newsletter, CANSCAIP News, featuring profiles of our professional members explaining how they practice their craft, up-to-date marketing information and cross-country news about what’s happening in the children's literature community.

As a first-time Friend, join at the special PYI fee of $35 (regularly $45) when you send your application with your registration form.

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Phone: 1-416-515-1559

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