Our new executive!

At our Biennial General Meeting on May 22nd, we said good-bye and thank you to outgoing president Paula Jane Remlinger and Secretary-Treasurer Melanie McFarlane.

Introducing our new president – Kristine Scarrow:

Kristine Scarrow has worked as a freelance editor and as editor-in-chief for two magazines. She also spent several years editing for a book publisher and considers the editing process to be one of the most challenging but satisfying parts of crafting a book. Kristine is currently the Writer-in-Residence at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon. She is the author of four young adult novels. (Photo by Danielle Mase)

and our new Secretary-Treasurer – 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.”

Thank you to Krisitine and Jessica for stepping up to fill these roles!

Online Auction (May 7-22)

Thanks to the generosity of CANSCAIP Member Joan Almond, CANSCAIP Sask is auctioning off two beautiful matted and framed photographs of Pelicans. The frames are 13.5 x 15 inches. Shipping will be free. The online auction will take place on our Facebook page, but if you don’t have Facebook, you can email your bid to me (dianne.young@sasktel.net). I will post the current bids here each day.

Here’s a big more info from Joan about these photos:

“Prairie Horizons CANSCAIP?” I said.

“There’s a CANSCAIP in the West? Nobody told me!”

The cat looked up at me, before walking across my computer. Could my recent dream be unfolding? What were the chances? I registered for the conference on the spot!

Didn’t I have travel points waiting to be used? Wasn’t there a seat sale?

Then the travel gods smiled down on me, in a serendipitous phone call. 

“Yes,” said one of the organizers, over the phone. “I can pick you up! I’m picking up others; one is coming in on your flight.”

May 19, 2019 arrived. I left my apartment in Waterloo, Ontario, picked up at my door by Airways Transit. My Saskatoon adventure stretched out before me, like a secret treasure, waiting to be discovered. Disembarking in Saskatoon, the air shifted. The stress of a difficult year lifted.

Shelley Tanaka, (MG editor Groundwood Books) on my flight from Pearson International Airport, greeted Tanya Trafford, (MG editor Orca Book Publishers) coming in from Vancouver. Like seasoned travellers, the superheroes of Canadian Children’s Literature wheeled their suitcases out of Saskatoon Airport. 

Our driver led us to her car; the author’s storytelling washing over me, beside the refreshing waters of Saskatoon hospitality. 

On our way to the hotel, our volunteer guide pulled over…

“The Pelicans are back,” she told us. “The American White Pelicans migrate to the river in Saskatoon each spring.”

“Pelicans?” I said to myself. “In Saskatoon? Who knew?”

I raced down the path; my cell phone ready. Then they appeared; The American White Pelicans: quirky and comical, white and wonderful. 

Editing the photos over the weekend, became my place to pull away and be still. 

I came to Saskatoon in bad need of a vacation! We laughed, we shared, we learned, we ate, and our writing improved. Before face masks, or self-isolation, and  long before COVID; I returned to Ontario. 

It’s difficult to explain;  I still long for the West, to one day be there again on a warm spring day, when the Pelicans fly into town. 

The Job Jar

CANSCAIP Sask needs you! The following jobs will be up for grabs at our Biennial General Meeting on May 22nd. If you are a Saskatchewan member or friend of CANSCAIP, please look over the job descriptions and consider if you would be willing to run for one of the positions. Thanks!


  1. Provide general direction for the other officers and the group as a whole.
  2. General Meeting (every second year at the Prairie Horizons conference)
    • Make agenda
    • Send notice to all members about the meeting, two weeks in advance
    • Chair meeting
  3. SWG Writing Group Grants application
    • In June, write and submit report on previous year’s grant usage.
    • In June, apply for SWG Writing Group Grant.
      • Fill in application
      • Collate member information including SWG memberships, expiry dates, and age categories. If there are not enough SWG members (2/3), ask non-members to join or renew
  4. Prairie Horizons
    • Maintain arms-length contact with committee and advise as necessary.
    • Open conference and welcome everyone. Tell them about CANSCAIP.


  1. Set up a joint bank account with the President to manage CANSCAIP Sask Horizon funds
    • Deposit cheques as they come in
    • Co-sign cheques with President as needed.
    • Keep track of incoming and outgoing funds and receipts and make sure they match bank statements.
    • Download and save monthly bank statements.
  2. Prairie Horizons Conferences
    • Maintain arms-length contact with committee and advise as necessary
    • Accept mailed registrations and deposit cheques. Give paper registration information to CANSCAIP Liaison. Email receipts to people who pay by cheque. (Online registrations are automatically receipted.)
    • Pay conference expenses as needed.
    • Take cheques to conference to give to presenters. Find out amounts needed from the committee.
  3. General Meeting:
    • Prepare budget report for the previous two years.
    • Take minutes at the meeting.
    • Prepare minutes to be placed on website before the next General Meeting.

CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons Conference 2021: New World, New Opportunities

WHEN: Fri. May 21st – Sat. May 22nd
WHERE: Your house! (also known as ONLINE)


Conference Fees:
By March 31st – $60 CANSCAIP Members or Friends /$80 non-members
After March 30th – $80 CANSCAIP Members or Friends /$100 non-members

Interested in becoming a CANSCAIP Member ($85) or Friend ($45)? Details and applications can be found here.

Portfolio and Manuscript Critique Event: Saturday 1:00 pm to 2:45 pm
$75 (CANSCAIP Members or Friends ONLY)
Only 5 portfolio slots left. Manuscript Critique slots are now full.
You must be registered for the conference to participate in the Portfolio and Manuscript Critique Event. (This event is an option on the Conference Registration page)
Portfolio Critique – Submit a maximum of 10 images in a single PDF and receive feedback during the conference from Sara Gillingham, Consulting Creative Director for Greystone Kids.
Manuscript Critique – Submit your first thousand words and receive feedback during the conference from Heather Nickel (publisher at Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing) or Kathryn Lane (Associate Publisher at Dundurn Press). Manuscripts will be randomly assigned to each editor.
Portfolios and manuscripts to be submitted by April 15th. (Submissions details provided upon registration)

Post-Conference Videos only
All sessions except Kenneth Oppel’s opening interview, Critique Event, meetings, and Open Mic
$40 CANSCAIP Members or Friends/$60 non-members
Available on Conference Registration Page


CONFERENCE SPEAKERS (photos and bios here)
Rhonda Donais (performer)
Sara Gillingham (illustrator and Consulting Creative Director for Greystone Kids)
Kathryn Lane (Associate Publisher at Dundurn Press)
Heather Nickel (Publisher at Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing)
Kenneth Oppel (author)
Margriet Ruurs (author)
Elaine Will (graphic novel illustrator)
Mark Allard Will (graphic novelist)

Our Sponsors

FTW Fundraiser 2021 – NOW CLOSED

If you’ve written a Young Adult novel, a Middle Grade novel, 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 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 $40, and $60 for all others. Only two registrations per person. The funds raised will go towards the CANSCAIP Prairie Horizons Conference in 2021.

This offer will be open from January 1st until January 31st or until 110 registrations have been received. Register through the CANSCAIP national page (if you are a member make sure you log in first, to get the member pricing). Register HERE.

Meet our Editors here.

Questions? Contact us at canscaipsk@gmail.com

Meet Our (National) Members: Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? and Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Her illustrations also appear in books by Judy Blume, Michael Ian Black, Linda Sue Park, Rob Sanders, Lauren McLaughlin, Aaron Reynolds and others. For more info about Debbie and upcoming projects, see DebbieOhi.com. Her blog for readers, writers and illustrators: Inkygirl.com. You can find Debbie on Twitter at @inkyelbows, Instagram at @inkygirl and Youtube at @debbieohi.

Describe your workspace.

My office is in the basement of our house. I have two tiny windows but because one opens up under our back deck and the other is blocked by a bush, I don’t ever use them, at least not as windows! These days, half of my small office is my writing and art space, and the other is my photo studio space.

Describe a typical workday.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I haven’t really had a typical workday. My goal is to try to focus on my writing first thing in the morning, but sometimes I need to move stuff around because I have a virtual meeting or workshop or school visit in Google Meet or Zoom. Just before lunchtime, I try to get some kind of exercise – either a walk outside or indoors via Ring Fit Adventure or Animal Crossing (I try to only play the latter when I’m standing up, walking or jogging in place).

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

1. A paint-spattered striped blue shirt that hangs on a hook in my office where I can always see it. My mom-in-law used to wear it when she painted, and I miss her dearly.

2. A reader letter I have pinned up on my Inspiration Board that reminds me of why I do what I do.

3. Printouts of tweets from Judy Blume to me, when I was working on illustrations for her books. I remember being soooooo excited when i saw that she had tweeted me!

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

I try to avoid rituals because I don’t want to become too reliant on them. (“Oh dear, I can’t work on my middle grade novel today because my pencil sharpener is broken and I *need* to have three freshly sharpened pencils within reach at all times….”)

What do you listen to while you work?

It depends on the stage of my work and what kind of work.

If I’m writing anything or in early stages of illustrating a book, then I can’t listen to anything with English words or I find it too distracting. Instead, I’ll listen to mellow soundtracks (I have a playlist on Spotify) or Italian progrock. Or silence, but I try to avoid doing that too often in case I have to work in an environment where silence isn’t possible….especially when I’m traveling.

If I’m working on a repetitive stage of illustrating that doesn’t require as much concentration (color flats, inking etc) then I’ll put on some of my current faves. These days, it’s often the soundtrack to Hamilton! 

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

Drink: water.

Snack, when I’m being good: baby carrots, celery and hummus. Cupcakes, when I’m not being so good.

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

I use a very rough outline for the early drafts, but I try to give my muse a lot of wiggle room.

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

Someone who preferred working at night. That way I could have my workspace to myself during the day! Yes, I tend to be anti-social when doing creative book work.

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

Linda Sue Park: “Read. That’s the single best thing an aspiring writer can do for his or her work. I once heard an editor say, ‘Read a thousand books of the genre you’re interested in. THEN write yours.”

What media do you use and which is your favourite?

For playtime: Pentel Pocket Brush (love the variable width of the line), crayons, found object art.

For books: I mainly work digitally but have recently started incorporating real-life textures and objects. I used 491 Crayola crayons in the making of GURPLE AND PREEN: A BROKEN CRAYON COSMIC ADVENTURE (written by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by me, coming out from Simon & Schuster on Aug.25, 2020)!

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

Meet Our (National) Members: Mahtab Narsimhan

Mahtab was born in Mumbai and after a brief sojourn in the Middle East, immigrated to Canada in 1997. She started writing in January 2004, and after four years and countless rejections, her debut novel, The Third Eye, was ready for publication. It won the Silver Birch Fiction Award in 2009 and Mahtab has not looked back since. To learn more, visit her website.

Describe your workspace.

My office is spacious and has a small window with a lovely view. I’ve spent many contented hours reading, doodling, researching in there. However, it also doubles up as my office for my daytime job. I find that taking a break from it when working on a new manuscript, a change of scenery so to speak, helps the words to flow.

My latest manuscript, a YA historical novel, is taking shape in my guest bedroom where I have zero distractions. Often, when I need new perspective, I change my writing location. It really helps!

Describe a typical workday.

My alarm is set for 5:00 am but I usually get out of bed by 5:30 and am at my writing spot by 6:00. I write for however long it takes me to complete my daily quota of 1500 words. Some days I manage that in an hour and a half, sometimes it takes two. I check email and respond to the most urgent ones after I’ve finished the word count.

My day job starts by 9am and I work till about 3.30pm with a break for lunch.

Evenings are for research, critiquing my friends’ manuscripts and catching up on the “business” aspect of being an author, plus the most important pastime of all: reading.

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

Sam. He’s always sat on top of my bookshelf, inviting me to pick up a book and relax. I love his goofy expression.

My (very) old Koss Boombox. No matter how hard I try, I’m unable to get rid of it. I used to play some of my favourite tapes (totally dating myself here!) and CDs on it and still do even though most music is available online.

The lunchbox I brought back from India for the cover of my book, The Tiffin published by DCB in August 2011. The book symbolizes the teamwork of the dabbawallas who work hard as a family to maintain their almost perfect delivery stats; one box in six million lost, which is also the premise of this story.

The other, and more important, reason the tiffin-box is special is that because of my trip to India in March 2011, I had the chance to say goodbye to my favourite aunt who passed away of cancer one day after we arrived. The Tiffin is dedicated to her.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?

None really. I just avoid the internet, phone, any kind of distractions and just get down to it. It’s not too hard first thing in the morning and when it becomes a habit.

What do you listen to while you work?

Eclectic Mix but always instrumental. Words distract me. My faves:

Adrian von Ziegler

Thomas Newman

John Williams

Ramin Djawadi

Buddha Bar

Or any ambient chillout music.

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

Tea with lemon grass and mint leaves. Sometimes I’ll switch to tea with ginger and cardamom.

No snacks in the morning. However, if I’m revising or reading, later in the evening, a cheese platter and a glass of Chardonnay often keep me company.

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

During my earlier novels, I never outlined. I was a discovery writer.

Of late I always have an outline and I always know my ending. When you have a dynamic ending, it’s much easier to write towards it. As Brandon Sanderson, one of the hosts of the podcast Writing Excuses (which I love and highly recommend) said; “Plot backward and write forward.” This has worked out very well for me.

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

I cannot work with anyone in the room. It’s just the way I’ve worked and do not see myself changing anytime soon. But if forced, Roald Dahl. I wouldn’t be able to write, I’d just peek over his shoulder to see what he was writing.

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

I love Stephen King’s Book, On Writing. However, this bit of advice was from an interview with him. A journalist asked Stephen King how he managed to be so prolific. His answer? One word at a time.

Often when I’m overwhelmed with the thought of writing a 60K or 90K word novel, I think of King’s words and only focus on the day’s goal; 1500 words.

A book is made up lots of words. I can write a word. And then another and then one more. I’ll get there in the end. So will anyone else who aspires to be a writer.

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