Save the NEW Date!

The date of the 2019 CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons conference has been changed! It will now be the weekend AFTER the May long weekend. More details are coming, but for now – mark your calendars! We hope to see you there.

CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons conference

May 24 – 26, 2019 at Queen’s House, Saskatoon

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What I Read When I Was Young: Jeanette Montgomery

A whole world opened for Jeanette Montgomery when her Grade Two teacher taped a Norman Rockwell print on the blackboard and instructed the class to write a story. She wrote a three page story and was thrilled when the teacher read it to the class. Life progressed as normal through school years, marriage and children. She jumped at the opportunity to live in Australia and Saudi Arabia and, while living overseas, travelled worldwide. Several years later when she finally had a moment to catch her breath, Jeanette began putting to paper all the stories that had been rolling around in her head.

She currently works full time, is a member of two writers groups and sits on the Board for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. She writes YA fiction, poetry and has completed a YA novel, Bloodkin, for which she is currently looking for a publisher. Someday Jeanette hopes to re-write her grade two story of Rockwell’s picture A Boy Meets His Dog from an adult perspective.

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

Who of us does not hold a special place in our memories for stories that took us to new and fascinating worlds in our childhoods.

When I turned 5 years old I was allowed to get my own library card.  I don’t remember the name of the first book I borrowed but I remember the dark blue cover with a silhouette of a girl petting a puppy. Inside were wonderful water colour pictures of kids and dogs. I also remember the librarian cautioning me to take good care of the book and bring it back on time so I could get another one.

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore. The book was tattered and the spine was broken but my sisters and I read pretty much any childrens book that came through the house.  I think this one had been passed down from cousins.

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.  I was ‘horse crazy’. What wasn’t to love! From the cover art of a rearing black horse to the adventure inside the covers, I loved it all.

 

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

With so many amazing books on offer I never re-read The Black Stallion.  Perhaps it’s time.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

Mom wouldn’t let us spend our money on comic books but we had some Golden Classics in the house, again, probably passed down from cousins. My favourite was Ivanhoe. That’s probably when my love of high fantasy was born.

 

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Definitely fiction. I lived in the real world with all its problems. Why would I want to read about it!

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

My introduction to series was my brother’s Hardy Boys and Spin and Marty books. For some reason our town library didn’t carry them so I had to wait until my brother received one for a birthday or Christmas. And then I had to be patient while he read before I was allowed to.

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

 Our town library was probably my favourite place until I hit my teen years and noticed boys. The librarians were wonderful, often holding back books for my sisters and I that they knew we would enjoy. When I was 14 I went through a phase of reading myths and legends. I don’t remember the librarian’s name but she went out of her way to bring in books from other branches once I’d plowed through what our small branch owned.

During summer holidays I would go to the library with my sisters and our friends. We would borrow books, go sit on the lovely shaded front lawn of the library and read. Sometimes we would return the book the same afternoon and get a new one before going home.

What I Read When I Was Young: Bev Brenna

Bev Brenna is a professor, a hiker, a long distance cyclist, and a terrific writer. Her 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.

 

 

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

I liked One Kitten is Not Too Many by Dorothy Levenson because at an early age I learned to read it by memorizing the gently repetitive text. Then I felt like a “real” reader until a family member said, “Oh, that’s all very well, but you know you’re not really reading it.” Also, in the storyline, the kids “won.” Yay kids!

 

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

I read and re-read Penrod by Boothe Tarkington. It is the story of a bad boy and I relished the idea that I, too, could be bad. If only the stars would align.

 

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

Mouse Mountain by Fred Lindsay was my favourite, because it was one of three novels I was repeatedly read aloud at bedtime by my all suffering mother (“Oh no, not that one again!” she’d moan). I liked it because the protagonist was an adult, and the other characters were talking animals including a mosquito. My mother gave the mosquito a high, squealy voice when she read his part. Perhaps my interest in mosquitoes was hatched then and there.

 

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I re-read lots chapter books I read as a kid, and consider the “chronotopic” movement (see Bakhtin’s definition of this, from his applied work on Einstein’s theory of relativity)  through time and space as I read them. When I read Anne of Green Gables, for example, I remember exactly how it was to be a nine-year-old reader. I’m also interested in how I now gravitate towards different characters during adult re-readings, in contrast to the subjects I focused on when I was a kid. Current readings of Anne see me relying heavily on Marilla and Matthew. Old is interested in old! Maybe readers really do like to “read up.”

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

I read comics voraciously but do not recall any of them. I treated them a bit like candy. And in those days, perhaps they didn’t have the same substance that many comics do today.

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I preferred fiction simply because that was what I had the most access to, I think. Also, the non-fiction of my childhood was very text heavy. Today’s non-fiction for kids is often glorious!

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

I read the Anne series out of love, and the Nancy Drew series out of greed—trying to have a higher stack on my bedroom floor than my friend’s stack. Beating my friend turned out to be easy, however, as when my sister moved out, I fell heir to her dozen ancient Nancy Drew books. At that point, I stopped competing and turned to other things. Many really great series’ books—such as most of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books—I didn’t discover until I became a teacher. My own kids enjoyed the “Redwall” series—that was a lengthy and joyous find!

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

The children’s books in our local Saskatoon library seemed limitless. I knew I could never read them all, but I dragged in a big basket every Saturday, and I really tried! And…I’m still trying!

What I Read When I Was Young: Melanie McFarlane

Melanie McFarlane is a part-time author and full-time claims adjuster, living in Moose Jaw with her husband and two daughters. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, Melanie jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. She likes to write dark stories from the past, present and future for teens and tweens. She has four novels traditionally published and believes that a writer’s strength comes from their writing community.

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

Little Blue Ben, by Phoebe Gilman. I obsessed over this book as a child and still have my copy! It’s written in rhyme, and I know the opening lines by heart… Little Blue Ben lives in the glen, with his brother blue cat and his mother blue hen… It’s the first fantasy story I can remember (what human had a cat for a brother and a hen for a mother!).

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

I definitely do not remember that far back 😉

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

Charlotte’s Web. I also still have that copy! I loved the magic and mystery that Charlotte was a spider who could communicate through her web.

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I did read it to my children, but they weren’t quite as taken with it as I was.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

Outside of Archie comics, I didn’t read any until I was a teen. Archie comics were the easiest to find back in the 80’s because they were at grocery stores (usually near the checkout). But when I became a teen I remember my younger brothers obsessing over the death of Superman – and that was when they sucked me into their world of superheroes.

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I’ve always preferred fiction over non-fiction. We grew up very poor, so escaping into stories was the only holiday/adventure I had for a long time.

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

 

In middle grade I read the Hobbit and LOTR and loved it. I also obsessed over Choose Your Own Adventure Books and the Fear Street books, but as high school progressed I learned about Ray Bradbury and nothing was ever the same again.

 

 

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

From kindergarten to grade 3 we lived in Midale, and I only remember the school’s library – massive and beautiful with all of its shelves of pretty books. Once we moved to Moose Jaw, we lived quite a ways from the public library and all I remember is that my parents were always working. So I relied again on my school library until I was old enough to go across town on my own.

 

What I Read When I Was Young: Dianne Young

Dianne Young is primarily a picture book writer, who lives in Martensville. Her newest book, Grampa, Will You Tell Me A Story?, will be out in October.

 

 

 

What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

I loved the rhythm and the rhyme of it and the pure silliness. I remember that my parents had friends that we would go visit, whose kids were older than me so weren’t terribly crazy about having to play with me. But they had a whole set of Dr. Seuss books! Every chance I got, I would sneak into the living room (while our parents played cards in the kitchen) and hide in the corner by the book shelf and read their Dr. Seuss books. Bliss!

 

What was the first chapter book you read?

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

I borrowed it from the book trailer that came to the parking lot in front of the Safeway (?) on Grant Road in Regina when I was in grade four.

 

 

 

What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

My first always remained my favourite. Island of the Blue Dolphins was so exciting! And it was about a girl! A strong, independent girl.

 

Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I did, and loved it just as much the second time around.

 

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

I sure did! Like every kid I knew I read a lot of Archies, but I think my favourite was Casper the Friendly Ghost.

 

 

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction, unless it was fairy tales or tales from other lands.

 

Did you like series? Which ones?

I was, and still am, a fan of series. I started with The Bobbsey Twins, then moved on to Trixie Belden, and Cherry Ames. I don’t remember reading a lot of Nancy Drew, because I soon discovered Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous sleuth and was hooked on them.

 

Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

We moved every three years when I was growing up, so I have a few different libraries that I have great memories of – the public library in Prince Albert that my dad would take us to (I remember the children’s section being downstairs and the picture books were under the window); the book trailer in Regina that I mentioned earlier, that my friend Leslie and I would ride to on our bikes; the tiny little library in Meadow Lake that always had that dusty book smell to it. I loved them all.

Meet Our Members: Judith Silverthorne

Judith Silverthorne is an international award-winning author of numerous novels for children, some of which have been translated into other languages, plus a picture book, a YA novel, and two adult biographies. Judith teaches writing classes, has presented hundreds of readings and writing workshops at libraries, schools, and other educational institutions, and has given many presentations at conferences and literary festivals. The love of nature, people, and history inspire her writing and help shape many of her books. Regina-based, she loves to travel the world acquiring knowledge of cultures, exploring mysteries, experiencing significant events, and the everyday lives of people, which she weaves into her stories. For more information about Judith and her writing see: https://judithsilverthorne.ca/

 

Describe your workspace.

I mostly write at my dining room table where I can gaze out of the large-windowed balcony doors to a delightful view just above the trees across the city. Beside and behind me, I have my living space with over-filled bookshelves and artwork, (and the usual furniture pieces too, though they are often covered with books and papers). As an empty-nester, I live on my own in a 6th floor apartment near a beautiful inner city park.

 

Describe a typical workday.

Now that I’ve retired from a full-time job, almost as soon as I get up, I start writing on my laptop. I can be there for hours before I realize I should probably eat, or exercise, or do something beyond sitting at the computer. (Actually I used to do this when I was regularly employed too, only then I had to tear myself away to get to my job on time.)

I do eventually stop to eat, go for a walk outside or on a treadmill, answer emails, and converse with friends and family. But most of my day is spent writing and researching, and editing, and then writing some more or planning a variety of projects. I continue to write in the evening, if the mood strikes me and the energy lasts.

 

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

Did I say how much I love my large balcony windows? The sky is always changing as is the weather and these inspire me. I also love having the doors and windows open during warmer weather to have fresh air, and the wind rushing through. I love the openness of my living-dining room space.

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

Not that I’m aware of, although maybe automatically heading to and sticking at my laptop is a trained habit?

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Only the muse in my head. Music distracts me. Either I get nostalgic or I want to get up and dance and then I’d never get any work done.

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

Water, water, and more water, and occasionally snacks like apple slices with almond butter. Sometimes a trail mix or a handful of nuts perk me up. When I do remember to have a meal, I’m often eating while I work too.

 

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

My characters tell me where they want to go and what they want to do…I just follow along, writing about their actions.

 

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

If I was forced to have someone sharing my workspace, I might never get any work done. I’d probably be so busy chatting with them, sharing our work, discussing writing, and other related topics. I prefer to be on my own though probably several of my closest writing group friends would be fine. They’d likely keep me on task.

 

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

Keep writing, and read what you want to write, and write some more.

 

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

 

Meet Our Members: Arthur Slade

Arthur Slade was raised on a ranch in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan. He is the author of eighteen novels for young readers including The Hunchback Assignments, which won the prestigious TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and Dust, winner of the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. He also co-created the graphic novel Modo: Ember’s End.  He lives in Saskatoon, Canada.

Check our Arthur’s website here.

 

Describe your workspace.

I have a workplace designed by a medieval inquisition. First, I stand on a horrible torture device called a treadmill desk. It is truly frightening, It forces the author to walk and write. AT THE SAME TIME. Also, my eye catching device is called an iMac. It forces the author to stare at the screen until a novel (or Facebook post) is finished. Finally, I have a wireless keyboard. I kind of like it.

 

Describe a typical workday.

I get up at 6 AM when the rooster crows and write until 8 AM. If it’s a perfect day I continue writing from 9 to 11 AM (after the child is off at school). And spend the afternoon answering emails, being pithy on social media, and drinking tea. That’s the perfect day. Often I’m answering emails and other “stuff” after 9 AM to catch up. I try to always protect those first two hours for writing. At the very least.

 

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

My treadmill desk. Yep, I make fun of it. But it keeps me healthy and I do feel more energized as I’m writing. My bookshelves because they have books on them and seeing printed books is somehow inspiring. And I love having a big screen on my iMac for my old, old eyes.  

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?   

Bang my head against my desk for the first five minutes. And whenever I get an edit letter.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Heavy Metal. Lots of heavy metal. I follow that up with heavy metal. And Adele.

 

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

Turtles. The chocolate kind. Not real ones. They don’t taste very good.

 

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

I fly by the seat of my imaginary pants. Don’t worry, I have real pants. I’m too lazy to plot.

 

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

Stephen King. Then I could borrow ideas and money from him.

 

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

Don’t give up your day job. Keep writing until it becomes your day job.

 

 

 

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