Notes from December 14 2016 meeting; SPEAKERS Ruth Ohi and Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Thursday, February 02, 2017 5:20 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)


PRESIDENT: Sharon Jennings

RECORDING SECRETARY: Sharon Jennings (filling in)


President Sharon Jennings welcomed an enthusiastic holiday crowd. The delicious goodies contributed by our attendees helped to make the evening bright!


Sylvia McNicoll announced her new book The Best Mistake Mystery (Dundurn Press), a humourous middle-grade mystery, the first of The Great Mistake Mystery series. Twelve-year-old dog-walker extraordinaire Stephen Noble counts and analyzes his mistakes while solving crime with the help of flashy feisty side kick Renée Kobai and furry clients Ping the Jack Russell terrier, and Pong the rescue greyhound. By the way, Sylvia is teaching a course Writing for Young Audiences at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre; registration is $155; classes begin on January 23 and end March 7.

Nell Coleman talked about her Osmid series (Amazon/CreateSpace) with the titles The Osmid Version, The Seedlings, Earth Boy and The Listener. An advanced species, the Osmids are planning to take over the universe, starting with Earth, because they think we’ll be the easiest. Big mistake! The Osmids are clever but no match for children being, well, just children!  Each of the books deals with a different Osmid plan, and a different set of children who thwart it.

Anne Braun is the author of I Dreamed About a Hippopotamus in a Lipstick Factory, a novel for ages 8-12 (Friesen Press). Eight year old Nicoletta and her most unusual friend Deloris are the main characters in this story of friendship, coping with change, finding value in your own unique gifts and talents, overcoming challenges, and realizing that you don’t have to be like everyone else to be special.

Joanne Levy announced the release of her middle-grade novel Crushing It (Aladdin Mix, Simon & Schuster), and the launch party on January 28, 2017 at 2:00 at Hamilton Public Library Westdale Branch. Twelve-year-old Kat woos the boy next door on behalf of her best friend, and in the process realizes that true beauty—and true confidence—comes from the inside. Joanne is also author of Small Medium at Large.

Nicole Winters announced the Toronto Romance Writers Contest, deadline January 31, 2017. There are 8 categories, and you might win a 3-month mentorship.

Sharon Jennings announced her 8 week winter term at Ryerson – Writing for the Children’s Market – beginning January 21st. Check out CWWR298 in the Ryerson calendar.


Patricia Storms introduced our speakers, sisters Ruth Ohi and Debbie Ridpath Ohi and their presentation Siblings in the Biz.

Watching these two in action was highly entertaining and begged the question: how did they survive growing up together?! The energy was overwhelming, and their presentation was fun and informative, answering such important questions as, “Who is older?” We were treated to lots of slides and background information, including their conviction that their creativity stemmed from their parents’ encouragement of a love of reading from the get-go.

They’re frequently asked if they compete with each other, but because they came into the business from different backgrounds, they celebrate and support each other. They’d love to work together on a project, but it would have to be right for both their styles. Debbie works mostly digitally, but is starting to incorporate non-digital media into her illustrations; Ruth uses traditional watercolour plus ink or pencil, but is beginning to incorporate digital work. They don’t brainstorm their independent projects with each other because they each have their own creative process. Ruth creates book dummies a bunch at a time, and then revisits and revises them over months or even years. Debbie will often talk over her ideas with her agent or editor.

Debbie offers a free, 15-minute Q&A Skype visit to schools as a way of growing her market. She insists that the kids have read at least one of her books and have prepared questions. Because the students are looking at her through a screen, she seeks interesting visual ways to engage with them.

Ruth offered loads of advice on a successful, in person school visit. Rule # 1 – never be late! She googles the nearest coffee shop and arrives in the area at least an hour ahead of her start time. She always has a back-up plan in case something goes wrong with tech at the school, and has questions ready if kids don’t have any prepared. “Does anyone want to know about how I….?” That allows her to control the visit and keep it lively. Which is probably her Rule # 2 – keep it lively!

Debbie cautioned that there is angst at every level of an artist’s career, everything from “Will I ever be successful?” to “How can I maintain this level of success?” But perhaps the best advice came from Ruth: Never cut your bangs before a school visit.