1. Building a Better Story: The Art of Picture Book Story Construction
These days, “picture book” describes a wide range of sub-genres that include story books, biographies, concept books, non-fiction and poetic moments. The only rule you can't break when writing one is that it must be entertaining! With a focus on story structure, explore how to tackle this most challenging genre of writing.
RUKHSANA KHAN is the author of 13 books, and has won or been nominated for 42 local and international awards. Her picture book Big Red Lollipop was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 greatest children’s books in the last 100 years.
2. Going Deep: Creating Characters of Depth and Dimension
Multifaceted characters who come across as authentic are essential to every good story, every genre, and every age of reader you’re writing for. Explore methods to find a character’s voice, write dialogue that feels real, and dig deep into POV, all to help create powerful, resonant stories.
DANIELLE YOUNGE-ULLMAN is the author of three YA novels, including Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the White Pine Award, the Prix Sorcieres of France, and the Prix des Libraires du Quebec, and named one of CBC’s Best Books of 2017.
3. Writing Middle Grade Humour and Fantasy
Want to enthrall your readers with memorable characters and fantastical worlds? Want to make them laugh out loud? How about both? Humour and fantasy are a winning combination to capture the hearts and minds of young readers. This workshop explains how to craft a story that both sparks the imagination and tickles the funny bone.
WADE ALBERT WHITE writes middle grade fantasy and science fiction and is the author of the Adventurer’s Guide series, including The Adventurer's Guide to Dragons (and Why They Keep Biting Me). His time is dictated by three children, a cat, and a hamster, and he strongly believes that a mid-afternoon nap is a legitimate method of research.
4. Taking the Mystery Out of Negotiating Your Book Contract
Your publisher sent you a book contract offer and it's so exciting that you're tempted to simply sign it. But should you? In this session, which includes Q&A from participants, you'll learn about basic, often confusing, clauses, conditions and terms—from premium sales to electronic and film rights and more—contained in a typical contract, to ensure you don’t sign everything away.
SALLY KEEFE COHEN is a literary consultant, based in Toronto, who has been acting on behalf of Canadian writers and writers’ estates for over 30 years, negotiating book contracts with both large and small publishers to ensure that creators’ rights are protected and respected.
5. Become Your Own Plot Doctor
Whether you’re outlining, writing or revising, an analytical examination of your story will help diagnose and treat any plot problems. Learn how to become your own plot doctor by asking yourself questions about your characters and story, and then intuitively answering those questions.
KAREN KROSSING has written seven novels for kids and teens, including Punch Like a Girl, runner-up for the Kaywell Books Save Lives Award, and Bog, winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. She conducts writing workshops to empower emerging writers, and is currently enrolled in an MFA at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
6. Picture Your Cover!
What makes an eye-catching and memorable picture book cover? A few weeks ahead, Rebecca will provide you with details and art direction on a mock cover assignment for a picture book. You’ll bring rough work and/or final art for discussion to learn what works and what doesn't.
REBECCA BENDER is the art director at Pajama Press, and an author-illustrator. Her Giraffe and Bird was chosen as the TD Grade One Book Giveaway for 2018.
AFTERNOON SESSIONS 1:00-2:00
(Choose #7, #8 or #9)
7. Breaking-in Panel
If you’re a kidlit writer trying to get your first book published, this is the session for you! Our panel of newly-published authors tell how they got there. Lots of specific, practical advice... plus bring your questions for the Q&A.
S. K. ALI is a Toronto-based author and teacher. She has a degree in creative writing and has written about Muslim life for various media. Her first novel, Saints and Misfits, was featured on many top ten YA lists and was a finalist for best debut YA fiction by the American Library Association. She is working on her second YA novel, a story about love.
NASEEM HRAB is the marketing director at Kids Can Press and the author of the picture books Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings. Her comedy writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Rumpus.
JEAN MILLS has a communications background in writing, editing and college teaching. Her features, reviews and children’s stories have appeared in publications across Canada, and two novels were published in the educational market. Skating Over Thin Ice is her first YA novel to make it through the door at a trade publishing house.
8. Get Crafty: Practical Tips for Finding Your Focus
Great idea! Now, how do you actually start? Get crafty to get the best story. How do character and plot work for different ages? Which genre is best for you? What voice to use? What makes a first chapter? Can an outline help? Show or tell? Tips and tools of tradecraft that could make the difference for you.
TED STAUNTON writes picture books, novels, non-fiction, and graphic novels. In 2013 he won the CCBC John Spray Mystery award and his work has been nominated for many others. His newest novel, What Blows Up (Scholastic), will be published in December. Ted teaches the Writing Children’s Fiction courses at George Brown College and has presented everywhere from Inuvik to Addis Ababa.
9. The Essentials of Character Design
When creating a picture book world, designing a character that compliments the story is key. How do you develop an endearing, eye-catching and original protagonist? How do you give them energy and personality in a few simple strokes? This workshop will guide you to creating the humans or animals who will inhabit those stories and bring them to life.
QIN LENG is an award-winning illustrator of over 40 picture books, board books and chapter books. She made her authorial debut with I am Small (Kids Can Press). Qin won the APALA Prize for best picture book in 2015 and was a finalist for the Governor General’s award in 2014.
MID-AFTERNOON SESSIONS 2:15-3:15
(Choose #10, #11 or #12)
10. PANEL—Three Publishers and an Agent
Our annual publishing panel always packs the room. Hear the latest about the state of kids lit from the book industry’s best.
BARBARA BERSON is a literary agent with the Helen Heller Agency, specializing in YA, literary fiction and memoir; and a freelance editor recently named a finalist for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence. Previously, she was Penguin Canada’s children’s publisher, and worked with many award-winning authors.
PATRICIA OCAMPO was most recently managing editor and children’s book editor at Simon and Schuster Canada. She is a past president of IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People) and a former literary agent. She acquires early readers, middle-grade fiction, young adult fiction, and parenting books.
ERIN O'CONNOR is senior editor at Scholastic Canada,for non-fiction, picture books, and book-plus projects. Erin began her publishing career as assistant art director and editor at Owl and Chickadee Magazines, and at Scholastic spent many years with the school book clubs division.
ANDREW WOOLDRIDGE is the owner and publisher at Orca Book Publishers in Victoria, BC. After starting in the warehouse more than 25 years ago, he has performed many publishing duties including editor, marketer, forklift driver and, most successfully, squirrel catcher.
11. Turning Fear into Stories Readers Will Die For
Two authors share their insights on writing horror for middle grade and young teens. From plot to pace, character to setting, lots of tips and tricks to help you craft your own horrific masterpiece.
MARINA COHEN is the author of middle-grade horror novels including, The Inn Between, The Doll’s Eye, and coming in 2019, A Box of Bones. Her books have been nominated for awards in both Canada and the US.
JOEL A. SUTHERLAND is the Silver Birch and Hackmatack Award-winning author of Haunted Canada 4 to 8 andSummer's End. His new series, Haunted, includes The House Next Door and Kill Screen, and has been praised by Goosebumps author R.L. Stine.
12. From the Lab to the Library: Science Writing for Kids
Fresh, fun science writing not only conveys facts, it inspires future scientists. In this workshop, explore genres in science writing and discover the best publishing pathway for your working style and goals. Then learn advanced research techniques that will take you well beyond Wikipedia… and into editors’ hearts. Strategies for organizing and managing research will also be discussed.
L. E. CARMICHAEL is an escaped lab monkey with a PhD in wildlife population genetics. She’d much rather talk about science than actually do it, and has written 21 books for kids and teens, including the award-winning Fox Talk and Fuzzy Forensics.
CLOSING KEYNOTE 3:30-4:30
Claire Mackay Memorial Lecture
DEBORAH ELLIS is best known for The Breadwinner, recently made into an Oscar-nominated animated film. She is the author of more than 40 works of fiction and non-fiction. Her books are populated by resourceful young people around the globe, living in war, poverty, and oppression. Named to the Order of Canada in 2016, Deborah's literary awards include the Governor General’s Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work, and the Ontario Library Association’s President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement.
BOOK SIGNINGS 4:30-5:00
Books by the speakers will be available to purchase on-site from Another Story Bookstore.
ONE-TO-ONE EVALUATIONS 4:45-7:00
For an additional $75, you can get a 15-minute One-to-One evaluation of your manuscript, illustration portfolio, author website or online presence. CANSCAIP pairs participants with publishers, agents, art directors, marketing directors, or other industry experts.
About a month before PYI, we ask participants for 1000-word manuscript excerpts, illustration portfolios, or website/social media. We forward those to your mentor before PYI so they can prepare for their 15-minute session with you. One-to-One meetings get started following PYI's closing keynote speaker.
Registration for the conference is required for a One-to-One evaluation. Space runs out quickly for these unique and highly useful sessions.
One-to-One Manuscript Mentors to date (more to come):
Mentors will be announced shortly.
Mentor will be announced shortly.
One-to-One Website/Social Media
Mentors will be announced shortly.