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My computer — that’s where all my stories start to take shape and that’s where all my published and unpublished manuscripts live.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.

Advertisements

“The First Thousand Words” Editing Fundraiser

If you’ve written a YA novel, a MG fantasy, a chapter book for early readers, or a picture book, the first thousand words are what will capture a potential publisher or agent. They have to be pitch perfect.

Or maybe you’ve started a new project and you’re not sure if the opening is working.

We are here to help. Submit the first thousand words of your manuscript and up to two questions and our volunteer team of experienced, published authors will give you editorial feedback so you can polish those pages or find out if you’re headed in the right direction.

The edits will be done anonymously as Tracked Changes in a Word Document, as professional publishers use. Your pages will be returned to you within six weeks, with comments alongside the text, and with edits done on lines that need them.

The cost for CANSCAIP Members or Friends is $25, and $40 for all others. Maximum of 2 edits per person. The funds raised will go towards the CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons Conference in 2019.

This offer will be open for the month of January only. Links for Submissions and Payment will be added to this page on January 1st.

Meet our Editors here.

Questions? Contact us at CANSCAIP@gmail.com

Meet Our Members: Ted Haas

Ted Haas lives in Lloydminster and has been writing for public presentation for decades. He lived north of the Arctic Circle for 10 years among people who used English as a second language. They told him he was easy to understand … whew!

As a grandfather, Ted loved “rassling” with the 6 – 10 year olds (bestest fun ever).

As a mature writer, Ted “rassles” with bringing characters to life on the page, whether they are in his two young reader books or the general fiction novel that is just about ready for the printer.

He opened a little business called blueturtlebooks. It’s on Facebook but needs work (which he has recently made connections with somebody to do, as he’d rather chop wood than rassle with social media). Also, his website is presently being built. And Ted occasionally publishes “fridge” calendars. The issue for 2018 is old pioneer-era sheds with occasional brief phrases of his poetry scattered throughout. His granddaughter designed it.

Describe your workspace.

I work in a small spare bedroom. Shelves along the outside wall. Some of my books are on them – in need of organization – and some “things” that I keep handy for no reason at all. A storage unit is in the closet. My laptop is on one of the first “computer tables” that were made. A 4-drawer file snuggles in the corner. There are a couple favoured photo/art frames hanging someplace. And I’m forever trying unsuccessfully to organize my space.

Describe a typical workday

I no longer have a typical workday. But when I did, I wrote after swimming numerous laps in the pool and then going to one of two coffee shops in the morning where I listened to black coffee white noise. After lunch I stayed home.

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

I could say that the books I’ve used for research are prized possessions. But then, if I’ve enjoyed any book, magazine or download and made it to be my friend by scribbling in it, they too are prized possessions.

I also found a favourite pen (not that I write with it). Although it’s a bit too short for my liking, the other features cover that with shadow. It’s stainless steel, fine point black ink which seems to be of higher quality. They last forever (I think. Time will tell). I got mine at Staples, branded Zebra … and I don’t lend it around.

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

Story ideas come as I write the first sentence, which comes to me, um … ah … I’m not sure when or how. But I’m always carrying that pen and a pocket notebook to note a word or theme, a phrase or edit. If I used an outline, the characters would choke.

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

Share my workspace? I couldn’t live with the distraction.

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

Two supports that have helped me are my own application (although I suppose they’ve been used by others, as well): “strong by choice,” and “I write for love, not money.”

I’ll conclude by saying that when I sit down to write – I. Feel. Good.

 

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

Meet Our Members: 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.

Melanie has a new book coming out on Nov. 21st – Here Skies Surround Us.

Connect with Melanie at www.melaniemcfarlane.com for free books and swag.

 

Describe your workspace.

In my bedroom I have a desk, set between two dressers with a whiteboard above it. It’s similar to a cubicle, which keeps me focused. I used to have the desk near a window, but I’m easily distracted.

 

Describe a typical workday.

I work full-time and have two young children, so my writing time does not occur until the evening once they’ve gone to bed. It makes for some late nights during the week, but I do enjoy getting up earlier on weekends to get some writing time in before the rest of my house wakes up.

 

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

My mother is a potter and made me a sculpture of a rabbit surrounded by books, with some of my titles and old favourites scratched into the covers. Aside from that, I always have a stack of reference books on my right, which changes from time to time depending on the genre I’m working on.

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

I need about an hour of work to get into the writing “zone”. This is why I can’t write early in the morning. During that hour I read through social media, blog posts, and a few pages of the genre I’m working in.

 

What do you listen to while you work?

Because my house is sometimes hectic, I will write with a stream of music playing on YouTube. I like my music a little louder and on the alternative side. I can never go wrong with Nirvana, Radiohead, or The White Stripes.

 

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

Coffee. Make that black coffee. I rarely eat while writing.

 

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

I like to consider myself a plantser – plotting and pantsing it as I go. I don’t do a lot of set up beforehand, just a running list of bullet points usually separated by chapters. I’ve started paying more attention to the beat of my story, but that tends to come at the end when I start working through a second draft.

 

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

I’ve been desperately trying to get my husband to work as my PA so we can have back to back desks, but so far no luck.

 

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

To never stop learning. No matter where you are in your career.

 

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

Meet Our Members: Alice Kuipers

Alice1

photo by Emma Love

Bestselling author Alice Kuipers has published five award-winning YA novels internationally, most recently, Me and Me, described by Bif Naked as mesmerizing. Her two picture books feature twins Violet and Victor, and she has an upcoming chapter book series with Chronicle Press. She is writing a memoir about teenager Carley Allison with Kids Can Press. She has had stories produced for CBC and essays published in Bristol Review of Books and Easy Living magazine. She blogged for Today’s Parent, and The Huffington Post. Alice’s work is published in 34 countries. She has four children.

Join her free writing course here.

 

Describe your workspace.

Right now, I’m working in Citizen’s Cafe in downtown Saskatoon. I work anywhere I have a laptop and headphones.

Me and Me-2.jpg

 

Describe a typical workday.

Not enough writing, a lot of emails, fun with the children, exhaustion from the children, lots of reading.

 

 

 

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

Coffee. To keep me going. My phone. To stay connected. A message on my laptop that reads: I Love You, Mumm.

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

No rituals–I just work whenever I get a moment.

What do you listen to while you work?

Spotify playlists.

fabulous-fairy-taleWhat is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Coffee and herbal teas.

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

I try to outline, and I end up deleting a lot of words that I could have saved myself writing if I’d stuck to my outline.

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

With my partner, Yann. He’s sitting right next to me now.

Alice2

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

To read. Every good writer I’ve ever listened to says it–and it’s very true.

 

 

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

Meet Our Members: Dianne Young

Dianne

Dianne Young is a retired educational assistant and primarily a writer of picture books. Her last book, Dear Flyary, won the Saskatchewan Book Awards SaskEnergy Children’s Literature Award in 2014. Her next book, due out Fall 2018, is a collaboration with Pickles comic strip creator, Brian Crane.

Dear Flyary, by Dianne Young

 

 

 

 

Describe your workspace.

My office is in my bedroom. It occupies most of the wall between two windows.

OfficeThis picture is rather misleading. I’m a piler, so usually the printer, the scanner, the desk and the floor around the desk are covered in stuff. I cleaned it up (as in temporarily relocated the piles) for the picture.

My other workspace is at my friend Paula’s kitchen table on most Monday mornings when we get together to write. Separately, but together.

Describe a typical workday.

Posey

Posey

Now that I’m retired, my days are anything but typical. But most mornings start with a trip to the dog park with Posey. If I’m going to get any writing done that day, it will either happen after the dog park, or after lunch. At least that’s the way it’s working out now. But I’m retired, so I can pretty much schedule my day however I like. (Doesn’t seem to make me any more productive, though.) If I’m not writing, I’m attending to the business of writing, or researching, or whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. Evenings are for activities, and late evenings are for working on the online calculus class I’m taking.

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

Screensaver The desktop image on my laptop. It’s my favourite picture of my husband, Bill, who died three years ago. Turning on my laptop is always a joy when the first thing I see is him. (My sons cringe when they see all the icons on my desktop. Told you I was a piler!)

 

 

robin

My stuffed robin. It reminds me of the wonderful writing group I belong to, known as the Robins. I’ve been with this group over 25 years. They have taught me so much about writing for children, and we have grown as close as sisters. (For perspective, it’s about five inches across.)

 

 

 

 

desk

My desk. It used to be an entertainment stand. I cut the drawers off the bottom, and removed the glass doors from the right side. I think it was a stroke of genius!

(Don’t look to close at the top. The piles have begun to return!)

 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

No. (Truth be told, I don’t even have any work habits!)

What do you listen to while you work?

Nothing. I find it too distracting.

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

Tea station

My Tea Station

Water. Sometimes herbal tea, but that’s more for when I’m taking a break. If I’m having tea, I’ll also have a couple of Anna’s Ginger Thins. I have a tea station set up outside my bedroom, so I don’t have to go all the way to the kitchen to get my tea fix. Not that it’s an arduous journey, but it’s a distracting one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

If it’s fiction, I’m a pantser. If it’s non-fiction, I’m an outliner.

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

Sam Elliot? No, then I’d never get any writing done! I guess I’d go with my friend Paula, whose workspace I already invade most Monday mornings.

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

Don’t give up. My favourite writing quote is from Barbara Kingsolver, and it’s about rejection:

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it, “To the editor who can appreciate my work,” and it has simply come back stamped “Not at this address.” Just keep looking for the right address.

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

 

 

 

New Feature: Meet Our Members

Hi,

My name is Dianne Young and I am the new Social Media Person for CANSCAIP Sask Horizons. First off I would like to say Thank You to Sharon Plumb Hamilton, who has been the President and Social Media Person for many years. She is still President (but would really like someone to step up to replace her) and has graciously agreed to answer all my questions as I start out in this position.

CANSCAIP Sask Horizons is a community of children’s authors, illustrators and performers that live in Saskatchewan, and a chapter of the national organization CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers). Since we are a community, I think it’s time we get to know each other better.

I am hoping to feature an interview with each and every one of you, based on the Creative Spaces interviews that Jennifer Chambliss Bertman has on her blog. (She has given me permission to copy her questions.)

I’ll go first, to give you an idea how it will look. I will also email the list of questions to everyone. Ideally, I’d like to be able to post a new interview every two weeks, but that will depend on how many people submit material and when.

I’m looking forward to getting to know each of you better.

Dianne