Meet Our Members: Paula Jane Remlinger

Paula Jane Remlinger is currently the President of CANSCAIP Sask. She has been involved in children’s writing for about 20 years, and has written several (unpublished) picture books, poetry, and would like to explore more young adult writing. Her first book of poetry, This Hole Called January, was published in May 2019 by Thistledown Press. “I’m so pleased to be part of the CANSCAIP community here in Saskatchewan!”

Describe your workspace.
I tend to move from place to place in my house with my laptop.  Often I’ll sit at the kitchen table so I can see outside, watch the birds and squirrels in those moments when nothing seems to be coming.  I used to have a writing desk, but I found I rarely used it, so now I’m a free-range writer.

Describe a typical workday.
At this point in my life, there’s no such thing.  I’m working half-time for the Sask. Human Rights Commission, and on those days I don’t write. I published my first book (poetry) in the spring, and since then, I’ve been having a hard time getting back to regular writing practice. I’ve always tended to be a binge writer–I write a lot when the spirit moves me, and not always on a day-to-day basis. But I’m trying to do ten minutes a day to get back into the rhythm of regular writing practice.

List three of your most favourite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
Tough question since I’m a collector of small things that speak to me. 

  1. A stone with a labyrinth symbol on it that reminds me writing is a journey, and even when I feel lost, it’s important to keep moving forward. 
  2. A Snoopy plaque that says, “I’m a great admirer of my own work.”  It helps to remind me not to take myself too seriously. 
  3. Letter-writing materials. Sometimes if I’m stuck, I write a letter and tell one of my friends the problem I’m having with whatever I’m writing. It’s surprising how many times I’m able to sort out the problem by “talking it through” with someone on paper, and then I can go back to writing, plus I have a letter to send.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits?
Often I’ll start by writing a letter or even a postcard to a friend just to get into writing.  (Yes, I often write poetry by hand still, but it works just to get my brain in a creative space.)

What do you listen to while you work?
I’m not someone who can work with a lot of distractions, so I prefer silence. If I listen to music, which is rarely, it would be classical or in a language I don’t understand. Words distract me.

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

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I’m often struck by an image or an idea, and then I need to let it lead me in the right direction. I find myself asking questions on paper … why would that happen?  what does that person want? — so I make notes of the ideas I have, as well as letting the writing itself develop organically.  I have an idea of where I’m going, but not always how to get there.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
My husband Trent would actually be a good choice because he’s very respectful of my writing time and he’s also willing to answer my questions or read things over and provide an opinion when asked. (He’ll also tell me the writing is fabulous and to keep going if I just need encouragement.)  Chai, the cat, is also welcome.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Poet Karen Solie once told me, “Mobilize your oddity,” which I took to mean, I should allow myself to be quirky.  Write about the things I’m interested in, not just things I think I should be interested in. Let my unique point of view shine through. That’s really what finding your voice is all about – being authentic in your work. Writing about what matters to you.  I’ve realized that humour finds its way into almost all my work, and I need to be open to that and not stifle it.

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

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.

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.

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.