CANSCAIP (Mini) Prairie Horizons Conference!

Getting together once every two years just isn’t enough! So CANSCAIP Sask Horizons is holding a mini-conference this year: GROWING STORIES, GROWING MINDS: CREATING FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES

 

WHEN: Saturday, May 26th, 2018, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Queen’s House (601 Taylor St. W., Saskatoon)

COST (includes lunch and snack breaks): $50 for CANSCAIP Members and Friends, $60 for non-members

Can’t make it but really want to check it out? You can register to receive post-conference video links for $20 (CANSCAIP Members or Friends) or $30 (non-members).

SPEAKERS: Vikki VanSickle (author and Marketing & Publicity Manager for Young Readers at Penguin Random House Canada), Danica Lorer (storyteller), Alice Kuipers (author).

SCHEDULE

REGISTRATION

If you would like to come a day early and/or stay a day late at Queen’s House, you can contact Pauline at 306-242-1925 for reservations. ($60/night for a single room, $15/supper, $9/breakfast, $13/lunch)

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Meet Our Members: Sally Meadows

Sally Meadows is a multi-award-nominated author and singer/songwriter. Her picture book featuring a child on the autism spectrum, The Two Trees, was shortlisted for two awards. To date, over 3000 Saskatchewan students have seen her The Two Trees presentation and participated in her hands-on science activities. Sally’s next book, The Underdog Duck, releases in the fall of 2018. Sally is an avid photographer and happily spends her time creating from her Saskatoon home.

Want to keep up with Sally’s latest news? Sign up for her newsletter at https://sallymeadows.com.

 

Describe your workspace.

As an empty nester, I have the run of the house! I have a formal corner computer desk in our family room that I occasionally sit at, but most of my work is done at our kitchen table. This lets me look out our big windows and feel inspired by the trees, the birds, and the occasional bunny. I generally stay off the computer at night so in the early evening I also do research or write out stories longhand while sitting on my comfy couch in my living room. Music composition, not surprisingly, happens at my piano.

 

Describe a typical workday.

I start my day with warm lemon water. I then sit quietly meditating for about 20 minutes. While my breakfast is cooking I quickly review my emails. After breakfast I dive immediately into the work of the day. I am getting better at putting a priority on the most important activity of the day right off the get-go, and not getting sucked into the social media tornado. If I am not out leading workshops, doing school presentations, travelling, doing concerts, having meetings, doing trade shows, or a myriad of other things outside the home, I spend most of my day on the computer writing, blogging, editing, doing training, and organizing photos for my upcoming publications. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of song writing—it was one of my priorities for the first quarter of 2018. I also take time twice during the day to exercise—usually walking or the elliptical—for at least 20 minutes per session. Near the end of the day I address emails and pop onto social media for a bit.

 

List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

   

 

 

 

 

I am a self-proclaimed science geek—I used to do science shows for kids, and most of my kids’ books have some element of science in them—so I like keeping a few science gadgets at the ready to fiddle with if I feel so inclined. I am also an avid crafter and often have a project sitting in the middle of the kitchen table ready to go for evenings and weekends. (Luckily I am disciplined enough not to work on crafting projects during the day!) Finally, my camera is always within reach if I see an interesting bird outside.

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?                             

Not really; at least, nothing more to add to what I have already mentioned above. I do try to keep a record of what I do every day in a day timer. Scheduled events are put in ahead of time. Most times I record what I do as I do it. There is the odd time that I go back and record things after the fact. So I guess my ritual is to record everything I do.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

I like silence. As a musician, if I had music on in the background, my brain would go to the music and not on the work I am doing.

 

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

I usually have a glass of water close by. I rarely snack when I am working but I do get up mid-morning and mid-afternoon to walk around and have a piece of fruit and/or a few nuts.

 

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

I develop a lot of my story ideas in my head over a period of time, so that by the time I actually put my fingers to the keyboard, the story flows rather quickly. Having said that, I do a LOT of fine-tuning after the initial draft. Music is an entirely different beast. I most often start writing a song after getting a snippet of melody in my head. I then go to the piano and build the song from there. What the song is going to be about can come quickly or take a long time. And like my writing, I do tons of revisions, especially for the lyrics.

 

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

Nope, not going to happen! I need my space. I even find it hard to work when my husband is at home, even though he spends most of his time at the basement level! On the other hand, I would LOVE to share my space when it comes to writing music. The only caveat—he or she has to be as dedicated to the process as I am.

 

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

I have discovered that I truly am happiest when I am creating. As much as I don’t mind doing marketing and other administrative work, after a while it saps my soul. I am so happy that I have found my groove in 2018 by putting a priority on the most important thing I do—writing and song writing—as recommended by a number of successful authors. As a writer and musician, my ultimate success will depend on producing quality work and lots of it. Everything else is secondary.

 

Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.

Meet Our Members: Judy Swallow

Judy Swallow is a visual artist/illustrator living in Alameda with her husband Glenn. They have two children and five grandchildren.

Judy has a strong connection to nature, creating a body of work entitled “The Vanishing Valley”. She has published Limited Edition Prints, Art Cards and Note Cards as well as two children’s picture Books and numerous magazine and book covers.

Judy especially loves children book illustration and working with children of all ages. She invites you to view her website at: www.swallowsartnest.com

 

Describe your workspace.

 

 

 

 

 

My former studio was a tiny 7×7 foot rounded corner in our veranda. (Proving art can happen anywhere) It was cozy and I loved everything about it except the size. Recently we built a studio off the breezeway in our home. There are many large windows, providing loads of welcome light and a fireplace providing warmth and coziness. I have space for all kinds of art classes and workshops that I provide and tons of room to create. I absolutely love it!

 

Describe a typical workday.

I work full time as an artist/illustrator. My typical workday begins around 9 in the morning and ends at 7 pm. I take a half hour at lunch to get out of my studio and small breaks throughout the day before starting the after school and evening art programs.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

I have a lot of favorite, meaningful things in my studio. My books transport me to my creative world, my nature items, rocks, feathers, wood pieces, are my inspiration and nature connection and the little stuffed characters on their rockers are reminders to the child within, imagination and playfulness.

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

I can find a thousand things to distract me, so I like to develop a pattern of habits that encourage and coax me. What I find works well for me is to begin my day by journaling. It centers me and helps me to dump any negative stuff. I then like to take a walk. It clears my head and I feel ready to go to work. When I get in my studio, I bring along a cup of black coffee and a tall glass of water. I usually take a minute or two to sit and look out my studio windows. I have a huge evergreen right next to the windows and the birds and squirrels provide me inspiration. This is my daydream state and I come up with all kinds of ideas for illustrations. Then I begin working on my latest art project. Some mornings are filled with taking care of business, I brainstorm ideas for art classes and create and plan workshops.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Most often it is silence. I find noise distracting and it seems to pollute and dissolve any creative thought and ideas. I do sometimes however, love to listen to classical music and jazz.

 

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

I drink water and black coffee. I try to avoid food as it seems to stop my creating and I am prone to making a mess.

 

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

My muse is my Pied Piper. Often my story ideas come in the form of visual thought first and often dialogue. So I do lots of thumbnail sketches. When developing story ideas in written form, I love brainstorming, then ideas, thoughts, phrases and words are jotted down and I draw connections. I have journal booklets, which I make, filled with ideas and sketches.

 

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

I share the studio with my husband! Glenn and I write stories together and we both love the space we have created for these times.

I share my workspace daily with children and adults of all ages. This is awesome!

 

What media do you use and which is your favourite?

Picking one is too hard! My favorite mediums are acrylic, ink and prismacolor. I do love watercolor too. It seems to depend on the project I am working on. I do find pen and ink relaxing and will often ‘doodle’ in the evening with ink. I create pieces and urge myself to never destroy anything I create, just work with it.

 

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

There are many words of advice that resonate for me but the one that I keep coming back to is… ‘Don’t judge it, just do it!’

 

Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.

Meet Our Members: Glenda Goertzen

Glenda Goertzen is the author of the Prairie Dogs Adventure series for children, and the YA fantasy novel, Lady Oak Abroad. A love of writing and television launched her into a career in multi-media production, which evolved into a career in libraries. She now spends her days, at home and at work, surrounded by books in various stages of completion. Her signature style is a blend of humour and suspense set in environments where her love of hiking, biology and fascinating ecosystems plays a strong role.

In 2007 she acted as the Chair of the CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) Prairie Horizons Conference.

More information about Glenda Goertzen can be found at www.glendagoertzen.ca.

 

Describe your workspace.

My traditional workspace, my office, is dismantled as I have recently moved. Until it can be assembled, I carry my workspace with me. With my digital voice recorder and Smart phone always at hand, I record and transcribe notes or entire passages which I email to myself. Ground zero of the creative process is the computer in the corner of my bedroom.

 

Describe a typical workday.

I’m not sure I know what a typical workday is like.

 

List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

The view out my window, which prevents me from falling so deeply into the worlds I create that I forget to eat or sleep.

The variety of cartoon and fantasy figurines scattered around my office.

My great-grandfather’s antique writing desk, which I continue to use for that purpose.

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

I like to revise the previous chapter before launching into the next. I find it builds momentum. I also set a timer for each hour I’ve set aside for writing. An artificial deadline encourages me to use the time productively.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Instrumental music, preferably movie soundtracks. With a background in film and video production, my writing tends to have a cinematic quality.

 

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Drink: ginger tea

Snack: No snacks allowed until I’m finished writing. Before the days of keyboarding, when I always had one hand free, I scarfed down many pounds of sunflower seeds while writing.

 

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

Step 1: I have an idea.

Step 2: I come up with more ideas related to the first idea. I stick all the ideas together and decide if I have enough to make a book.

Step 3: I write an outline.

Step 4: I disregard the outline and write the manuscript in a meandering, disjointed fashion that I fix during the revision process.

 

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

I can think of any numbers of creators I would be happy to share my workspace with, so long as they are quiet and well-behaved.

 

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

Take a break from your work for at least a month before you revise it.

 

What media do you use and which is your favourite?

I’ve used many media, my initial favourite being coloured pencil, but these days I am a slave to Photoshop.

 

Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.

Meet Our Members: Sharon Plumb Hamilton

Sharon Plumb Hamilton writes stories and plays for children of all ages. She has two traditionally published books, a picture book about a bear who shovels snow off his roof and a young adult science fiction novel about a lonely dragon and his girl. Right now she’s finishing up another YA novel with all dragon characters, and touching up a middle grade adventure novel set in a garden of giant vegetables. She also writes and directs children’s Christmas plays. You can find her at http://sharonplumb.ca.

Sharon is currently the president of CANSCAIP Sask Horizons, and really excited about these Meet Our Members posts. Other writers have been a huge help and encouragement to her, and she hopes this group can be the same for you.

 

Describe your workspace.

I have three workspaces: my desk and my treadmill in my bedroom, and a large table in our family room where I write regularly with two friends.

 

Describe a typical workday.

I don’t really have a typical workday, but one that happens fairly often (a couple of times a week) starts with my friends Alison and Marie coming over to write at the table I mentioned above. We usually talk a little bit before we get going, but then work quietly and steadily. If we ever start talking again, my son Richard, who works at his computer in the same room, reminds us why we are here. These mornings are good because we all know that this is writing time and that’s what we do. If there isn’t something else I need to do after they leave, I often keep writing. I also do my best to write on the mornings when they aren’t here.

 

List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

Other than the friends I write with…

1. My treadmill desk. Sitting too long makes me sleepy and stiff, so I love walking while I work. I learned the hard way, though, that I can’t walk all the time. I did too much at first and had to stop for over a year while I went to physio and repaired the damage. Now I pace myself and stop after 45 minutes, then do it again later if I want to. Now that the sidewalks are icy, I’m extra glad I can walk inside again.

2. My office glasses, which are for seeing close and medium distances and make it comfortable to look at the screen. With the progressive lenses in my regular glasses, I had to tilt my head back to see the screen out of the bottom of the lenses. Not comfortable at all! Sometimes I wear the office glasses all day at home, because even when I’m not writing, most of the things I do are close at hand.

3. Richard, my best story coach. He analyzes everything I write with his super-logical mind, then points out every part that doesn’t make complete sense or is inconsistent with something that happens on another page. Then he gives me suggestions for how to fix things, or discusses my fixing ideas. When I hear him say “I like it!” then I know I’m onto something good. (He likes to read other people’s manuscripts too, as long as they are fantasy or science fiction and the author is looking for honest feedback.)

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

Not really, except that I am taking the advice Alice Kuipers gave in her Facebook talk last spring (https://skcanscaip.wordpress.com/category/workshops/) to do the writing first and leave the other things for later. I had already noticed that whatever I started in the day was what I got done. So now I try to be intentional about doing the thing I most want to accomplish that day. If I don’t answer your emails until later in the day, that could be why.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Nothing. If I listen to music that’s what I think about. I like silence when I work.

 

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Tea. Green or black in the morning, and herbal later in the day or I can’t sleep.

 

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, a muse, or some other technique?

I can’t seem to create story content and compose nice sentences at the same time, so I do a lot of pre-writing with a pen in a notebook. I let the ideas flow and ask myself lots of questions until I have a good idea of what the story is about, who the main characters are, and where the story takes place. Then I write a general outline. Then I outline the chapter I am going to write. Sometimes I carry on without an outline, but when I get stuck or bored, I do more pre-writing and outline again.

The main thing I need to know before writing a scene is what eacDraco's Child, by Sharon Plumbh character wants to accomplish. I make sure there are conflicting goals and that something is going to change by the end of the scene. Sometimes the characters come to life and change the direction of the story, but that’s fine. For example, in the dragon novel I’m writing now there is an impromptu love triangle that just happened. Since I hadn’t planned it, I had no idea how to resolve it until one of the characters surprised me at the end by doing something I didn’t expect. Problem solved, and I didn’t have to figure it out.

All my planning and pre-writing is a way to bring my characters to life so they will take the story into their own hands. There are always plenty of things I don’t know about the story until I write it.

 

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

I suppose it would be Alison and Marie and Richard, who already share my space a lot of the time. But if I had to choose someone I don’t know, it would be Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear and the third book in his trilogy, which I am impatiently waiting for. I would sit quietly and watch and hope to learn how he creates such a vivid and compelling story. From the amount of time between his books, I expect part of the answer is hard work and a lot of thought.

 

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

There are a few, but I often go back to what I heard from Anita Daher at a talk on self-editing at one of our Prairie Horizons conferences. She said (and I paraphrase), “It doesn’t matter if you write horribly as long as you edit beautifully.” This advice has enabled me to write when I am painfully aware that I’m not doing justice to the story I envision. And I like editing.

 

Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.

Meet Our Members: Bev Brenna

Bev Brenna’s background as a classroom teacher and special education consultant has inspired various portrayals of characters with special needs, and her writing often explores issues and topics from socio-political viewpoints. Bev’s most recent intermediate novel is Fox Magic, a story about hope and transformation for twelve-year-old Chance Devlin after her two friends have taken their lives. Bev’s most recent young adult novel is The White Bicycle (Red Deer Press/Fitzhenry & Whiteside), a continuation of the fictional story of eighteen-year-old Taylor Jane Simon, a young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome. This trilogy was begun in Wild Orchid and extended in Waiting for No One. The White Bicycle was a Printz Honour Book from the American Library Association and shortlisted for a 2013 Governor General’s Award, and Wild Orchid is listed on CBC’s 100 Young Adult Novels That Make You Proud To Be Canadian. Bev is now a professor in Curriculum Studies at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, and her research interests include literacy and children’s literature. In addition to her new academic text Stories for Every Classroom (Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2015), she has published eleven fiction books for young people. She has a passion for hiking and long distance cycling. For more information about Bev and her writing see: www.beverleybrenna.com.

 

Describe your workspace.

My workspace is often our dining room table. I like the ability to spread out photographs, artifacts, newspaper articles, and notes to myself, while trying to synthesize something on my laptop.

Describe a typical workday.

I have a gloriously rich teaching load at the university where I teach from 80 – 120 Education students each semester. They come first, and after I am finished meetings and planning for the next day, I switch gears to work on my usual goal of 5 good pages in whatever draft I’m working on creatively.

 

List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

Proximity to the fridge; ability to look into the backyard where the outside world is always a welcome relief from writing problems; a blanket. When I sit still I get cold pretty fast!

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

Just reminding myself that my work is generally bad to start with. “It will get better. It always/usually/sometimes does. Keep going!”

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Actual sounds in the environment, never anything digital or electronic. I have an obsessive brain and song lyrics or melodies stick with me and plug my thinking.  

 

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Cinnamon tea. Lentil soup. Celery. Gummy dinosaurs. When things are going really badly, chocolate chips.

 

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

Most of my work is character driven and so I start with a character and then see what happens. Sometimes current events take hold, as in my newest novel Fox Magic, and make me think about writing to change the world.

 

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

My husband Dwayne. We were together at the Wellstone Centre Writing Residency in California, and when it rained we did share a writing space—a very small wooden kitchen table. He sat at one end and I sat at the other. It worked great! His work motivated mine, and then we’d take breaks and read aloud our newest stuff.

 

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

Read. Read copiously the kinds of things you want to write, and the kinds of things that escape you. And write. Just keep writing.

 

Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.

Meet Our Members: Miriam Körner

Miriam Körner is a writer, illustrator, photographer, and wilderness guide. Her YA debut novel, Yellow Dog, is currently nominated for four 2017/18 Young Readers’ Choice awards and her picture book (co-authored by Bernice Johnson-Laxdal), When the Trees Crackle with Cold: pīsimwasinahikan, won the 2017 Moonbeam Gold Medal in the multicultural non-fiction category. She lives with her husband and their twelve sled dogs near La Ronge in northern Saskatchewan. When she’s not out exploring the vast wilderness of her backyard, she writes about her adventures or — better yet — invents a whole bunch more for her novel characters.

Describe your workspace.

My workspace fluctuates throughout our hose. Depending on what I’m workingon, I occupy the kitchen/dining room table, my computer desk, the couch, the floor, the bed.

I try to keep either the couch or the table clear so we have a spot to eat, but that doesn’t always work out.

Describe a typical workday.

I’m still aspiring to a typical workday. It usually starts with best intentions to put my writing first and then morphs into checking emails and working down my to-do lists that seem to get longer rather than shorter as the day moves on. I usually free a block of time for writing and once I’m deep into a writing or illustrating project, I do not care about anything else on my list (including the ever growing pile of dirty dishes.)

List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

My computer — that’s where all my stories start to take shape and that’s where all my published and unpublished manuscripts live. I have about 30,000 photographs from adventures by dog team and canoe across Canada’s Far North on my computer and I like to look at them to evoke memories of places, feelings, smells that then flow into my characters’ description of places, feelings, smells, etc.

Pencil and paper — sometimes ideas don’t come in words but in images.

Whichever dog is lingering in the house (right now Bandit and Bianca.) Nothing keeps your mood up better than a dog begging you for a belly rub.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

I force myself to quit writing when I notice myself staring at the screen instead of typing — uYellow Dog, by Miriam Koernersually after about four to five hours. That’s all my brain can handle.

What do you listen to while you work?

Dogs barking. Ravens cawing. Dogs howling.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Water. And I eat lots of gummy bears.

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

I tried writing an outline once. In the first sentence I typed after I had finished my outline, a character appeared that wasn’t in my outline, Actually the opening scene wasn’t in my outline either. I gave up on planning after that. I kind of like it that way. It’s a surprise to me what will happen in the novel. Sometimes my characters do things I do not expect at all. That usually requires a bit of research. (It’s kind of embarrassing when your character knows more than you do.)

What media do you use and which is your favourite?

I use all sorts of media. Acrylic paint, pastels, watercolour, collage. I think watercolour is my favourite. I have a tiny set of paints and it’s put away quickly, so we can eat supper on a table.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of our choosing, who would it be?

My workspace? Sharing? Not possible. (Except of course with Salty, Pepper, Happy, Bianca, Ferdinand, Lucy, Silu, Grace, Earl, Mercedes, Snoopy, Fuzzy.)

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

It was at a CANSCAIP Prairie Horizon’s conference. Sean Cassidy said to me: “If you are in this [writing/illustrating] for the long run, it’s inevitable that you will be published one day.” I then realized it’s not about writing a good manuscript and then finding a publisher. It’s about continuing to write/illustrate and not giving up.

 

Thanks to Jennifer Chambliss Bertman for the use of her Creative Spaces interview questions.