Meet Our Members: Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams was born and raised in BC and now lives in Swift Current with her wee family. She loves to create; writing, painting, knitting, sewing, crochet, scrapbooking, pottery, stained glass… you name it and she has something in her house that she made herself, even if it didn’t turn out very good. An advocate for mental health awareness, her first book, Mama’s Cloud was named one of the best indie books of 2018 by Kirkus Reviews. Her favorite quote is “in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Describe your workspace.

I just did a renovation to give myself more space, but up until now it was a tiny upcycled desk in a corner of the spare room. 

Describe a typical workday.

I don’t have a typical work day, ha! Every day is different. If I have a book coming out, my day is focused largely on social media and planning. Mostly I will spend my time playing with whatever manuscript or idea is stuck in my brain. 

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

My plants, especially my shamrock because it took a long time to find a place where it was happy and it turns out my office is that space.
My laptop because it was an investment I made in my writing and it reminds me of my commitment.
When I have a new title coming out, I will get a single illustration from that book printed on a small canvas. They hang over my desk and remind me of what I’ve accomplished.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

Not really. I do love a good cuppa when I’m working though.

What do you listen to while you work?

Nothing. I can’t listen to music without trying to memorize the lyrics so it’s too distracting.

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

Tea. All of the tea. 

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

I make general notes on an idea or line that has stuck with me and then try to flesh it out from there, usually by drawing big webs of ideas all over pages and whiteboards.

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

An illustrator, like Anna Daviscourt or Jessika von Innerebner. I love their work and I’d love to watch them create. I probably wouldn’t get anything done though…

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

It’s common advice, but write every day. 

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

Online Discussions Revisited: School Readings – What YOU Need to Know

From 2013 to 2017, CANSCAIP Sask members took turns posting a monthly article on a topic that would be of interest to others in the group. We are posting links to one of these articles every other week for the next few months and then, hopefully, starting the practice up again. This is the first article, by Dianne Young, which was posted on Nov. 15th, 2013.

Author’s note: I think this article is still relevant today. Make sure you also read the comments – they contain more great ideas.

Online Discussions – Revisited

From the Fall of 2013 to the Spring of 2017, CANSCAIP Sask members took turns posting short articles they thought might be of interest to other members. People could read them and comment, creating an online discussion of the topic.

Well… THEY’RE BACK! A link to one of the previous discussions will be posted here every couple of weeks (on Fridays), until we get through them all. Then (hopefully), people will be willing to post new topics of interest. It’s worth a shot, right?

The topics will be posted from oldest to newest, starting this Friday! Any and all comments and feedback are welcome.

What I Read When I Was Young: 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.



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

The first picture book I recall was Tweety Bird. It stands out in my memory because of the word “Kalamazoo” and because I insisted my mother read it to me every night until I could recite every word along with her. At that point I proudly announced that I had learned to read. After explaining the difference between memorizing and reading, she challenged me to pursue the latter.

As for picture books that gave me the “feels”, The Velveteen Rabbit goes to the top of the list.



What was the first chapter book you read?

Hard to say; there was a children’s book collection that I read all in one year. It included The Wizard of Oz, Heidi, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

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

My favourite chapter book was This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! by Gordon Korman. Aside from being the funniest book I had ever read, I learned Scholastic had published it when the author was in high school. This provided the inspiration to become a teen novelist myself.

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

I’ve read it several times and still found it funny. I think I would still enjoy it today, although I might raise a disapproving eyebrow at the panty raid.

Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

I read Mickey Mouse and Batman comics as a child. I’ve been reading Elfquest comics for 35 years.

Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?



Did you like series? Which ones?

The Tom Sawyer series (not many people realize it included four books); Oz, the Chronicles of Prydain, Bruno and Boots, and every series written by Beverly Cleary, and any series featuring animals.


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

I didn’t have access to a public library with a children’s collection until I was fourteen. I remember a friendly librarian and a peaceful corner where I spent my weekends reading every book in the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series.

Introducing Our New Executive Team

We all know that creative people such as writers value their time to practice their craft, and don’t give slices of it away lightly. Therefore CANSCAIP Sask Horizons is very thankful to the following people who have offered a slice of their precious time to become the executive of our organization:

President – Paula Jane Remlinger

Paula Jane Remlinger's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

Treasurer – Melanie McFarlane

Image may contain: 1 person

Social Media People – Dianne Young and Glenda Goertzen

2019 Conference Recordings Available

Discovery Panel: Kristine Scarrow, Judy Swallow, Rolli, Shelley Tanaka, Tanya Trafford

If you didn’t make it to the Prairie Horizons 2019 conference in Saskatoon on May 24-26 and wish you could have seen it, or if you did go and were so inspired you would like to watch the sessions again, you can!

You can order recording of all of the sessions (except Kristine Scarrow’s Journaling session and Brenda Baker’s Performance presentation) for $40 here:

Here is what is included:

7:00 pm –Vision and Voice Panel (with Miriam Körner, David A. Robertson and Art Slade, moderated by Alice Kuipers): Each of these distinguished guests shares what vision and voice means to them in the changing landscape of creating books for children and young adults.

David A. Robertson Interview: David talks about two of his books: Monsters and When We Were Alone. He shares how these books began as ideas, the themes and topics he explores in them, and how and why to connect huge ideas with young readers.

I Wrote a Children’s Book. Now What? Tanya Trafford of Orca Book Publishers will offer an insider’s view of the journey of a manuscript, from acquisition through to publication. 

Illustrator Panel (with Miriam Körner, Rolli, and Judy Swallow) Discover the process of illustration and how illustrations interact with text.

Rolli – author of the acclaimed middle grade novel Kabungo (Groundwood Books) and frequent contributor to Highlights, Ladybug and Spider – will take you on a whirlwind tour of the world of children’s literary magazines. He will provide a variety of tips, tricks, and insights to help put you on the path to magazine success.

Shelley Tanaka Interview: In a conversation with Alice Kuipers, Shelley will talk about how to figure out what to do with an idea in a changing market. She will answer questions and go in-depth sharing her unique perspective as editor at Groundwood Books.

Keynote address:  YA, picture book and middle grade Governor General’s award-winning author David A. Robertson explains how each of us can use our Voice (the result of everything that has formed who we are) to communicate our Vision (the passion that drives us) to our readers, and in the process, change the world.

Discovery Panel (with Rolli, Judy Swallow, Shelley Tanaka, and Tanya Trafford, moderated by Kristine Scarrow): A chat about books and the working relationships between authors, editors and illustrators.

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