SCBWI Canada East Blog

November 2, 2016
October 27, 2016
Happy Halloween!

October is full of events for us creative types. This year I participated in Inktober for the first time. My goal was to become comfortable with a dip pen and to experiment with different colour ink lines - both things I would like to incorporate into my illustration style. 

I also participated in Dani Duck's Smart Dummies. I didn't have time to complete my dummy in one month but I did get a great start on it. 

Of course I couldn't resist entering Susanna Hill's Halloweensie contest. I volunteered to do storytime at my children's schools so I could share my Halloweensie poems and a related craft. (Yes poems - I wrote two and then translated both so I could share with my child's class.) I may be biased but it's an awesome craft (a pet ghost) and was a huge hit with the kids. I hope you'll pop over my blog to check it out. 

I'd also love to hear what you've been up to this month.

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October 19, 2016
The "P" Word.

Well SCBWIers,

We are well into October and, for most of us a regular work schedule has at least been on our minds, if not already started.  All the kids are settled into to school and we, as writers and illustrators, are left to our own devices.  For some artists this is a relief but if you are like me it is more than a challenge.

When I am asked by non writers what is the most difficult part of writing, I have two answers: Getting started and editing.

I will tackle the former as it not only affects the latter, but all my work.

I am not a naturally self disciplined person.  When one is a freelance writer, this is rather costly character defect. (Harsh?)

When in high school and  university, I never had a problem getting my assignments in on time.  I realized that this was because I always had an authority figure providing an external deadline.  I would also face considerable consequences for failure to meet the teachers' or professors' expectations.  But unfortunately, skipping a day of writing holds no severe fallout.  I understand that it means that my manuscript take longer to finish and that much longer to my ultimate goal of a published book. However, for whatever reason, this is enough motivation for me.  I admit, this is not something I like. And yet, I have not found a working method to overcome the evil habit of procrastination.

I have an office which, at the moment, is a dumping ground for everything and not usable as a work space.  I have a flock of yarn just waiting to be knit. And too many apps on my mobile phone to play. I am sure I am not the only one who struggle with this issue.

Although I have many good intentions; setting my own  deadlines; creating a schedule; and removing all distractions.  Unfortunately, these have not helped.  It is just too easy to ignore these rules.
So what do I do?  There are a few things.

1.  Don't give up.  It sounds too simple but it is a fact.  The most important part of falling down is getting back up.  As long as I keep trying, I am that much closer to succeeding.

2.  Find a writing buddy that I respect.  I have.  Though I am not as diligent getting my work to her as I would like, I am completing work and it is being acknowledged.  Progress not perfection.  (Thank you Catherine).

3.  When I have accomplished something, it is OK to feel good about it.  But I can't rest on my laurels.  I am not writing to say something; I am writing because I have something to say.  And I want to say it as best I can and that means continuing to do the do things.

At this stage, these steps to improving my work ethic are just enough.  When I have a grip on 1,2,3;  I will add 4.

Any other suggestions and comments are always welcome.
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August 14, 2016
Illustrators Featured for the Culture Days Illustration Showcase!


At Ellena's Cafe in downtown Napanee

Featured Illustrators:

Wallace Edwards
Alma Fullerton
Sue Todd
Rebecca Bender
Andre Jolicoeur
Annette Gaffney
Carmen Mok
Catherine LaPointe Vollmer
Ellie Arscott
Johanna Linnarz
Julien Chung
Kim Whalen
Marla Lesage
Peggy Collins
Rachel Comeau
Rob Justus
Rose Liu
Sharon Ramsay Curtis
Susan Jaehn-Kreibuam
Tara Radford
Kai-liis MCinnis

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SCBWI Illustrator SHOWCASE - OPENING PARTY & SHOW - Sept 30 & Oct 1



at ELLENA's CAFE in Beautiful Downtown Napanee

Friday, September 30

10:00am - 3:00pm
For more details and to Register click here!


6:00 - 9:00pm
7:00pm - Starving artist showdown - participating (and visiting) artists & authors will create art based on food at Ellena's!
8:00pm - Starving artist auction - ie... on-the-spot art auctioned off to support L&A Library purchase of new children's books!

Saturday, October 1
10:00 am - Picture Book reading & chat - Peggy Collins and  Alma Fullerton
10:30 am  - Sue TODD - reading/activity
11:00 am - ROB JUSTUS - Reading and more
11:30 am  - Rebecca BENDER- Reading/activity
12:00 pm - Andre Jolicour - reading and drawing activity
12:30 - 1:30 mix n' mingle + book signings!
1:30 pm - Wallace Edwards - demo and reading (either at library or Ellena's)
2:00 - Ellie Arscott doing street art demo/sketch crawl for kids/adults 
2:30 Wrap and thank you + meet and greet if you are still around!
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July 25, 2016
Twitter Pitching.

What a great idea. 
This is an opportunity to get your finished, polished manuscript seen by those who can get it published. 
On August 10th, Pajama Press and Transatlantic Literary Agency are hosting a Twitter Pitch Party. This is exclusive to Canadian writers, agents, and publishers. 
This is a cost effective way to get your work seen by agents and publishers. In fact, if other such events are any criteria by which to judge, your work is almost guaranteed to be seen by a publisher. This is an opportunity that should not be missed. 
For more details, check out #CanLit Pit section of for details. 
Good Writing and Good Luck to all. 
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June 15, 2016
Critique Circles at a Conference

There are many ways that we can glean information at an SCBWI Conference. 
The key note speaker and faculty members are always informative and full of advice fit for the published and unpublished writer. 
I have found that the critique circles are an under rated source of info.  Perhaps it is because they are held at the end of the weekend and many attendees are overwhelmed and have reached information overload. But sometimes a surprise gem is found. 
This happened in the mid grade circle of SCBWI Canada East Conference held in Ottawa this past Spring.
We were all sitting around our assigned table, exchanging ideas and suggestions to one another in the usual helpful and respectful manner. Then, suddenly, a website is mentioned that will improve all our manuscripts. 
I know many members have foregone the critique circles; however they are just another way to learn that should not be over looked. Here is the website of which I write. 
Thank you to all members who share their experience strength and hope. 

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SCBWI Canada East Spring 2016 Ottawa


Well, as usual, Alma, Michelle and Rachel  put together a fabulous conference for us. 
If you couldn't make it, take a look at what you missed. 
It opened Friday evening with a Steam Punk Costume party. 

On Saturday we were regailed with the always entertaining Helaine Becker. She found a creative way of explaining the business side of writing. "It's all about the money."

Alexandra Arnold told us to make sure our story had some meat. Give your protagonists a mission, conflict and consequences. Make the reader cheer for your hero(ine). Whatever the stakes, make them higher. 

Grace Kendall taught us about character building. How the protaganists speaks to secondary characters will tell a lot about his or her relationship with those characters and the secondary characters themselves. Some are more important than others. Keep those circles of friends moving. 

Jennie Dunham shared with us how to interpret the inevitable and dreaded rejection letter. The words used and the turn of phrases by agents and editors can be similar to a secret language. Now we know the key to the code. 

Tim Wynne-Jones gave us 10 Questions to ask your manuscript while revising. His presentation gave a systematic way to see where a story can be improved. I don't think it could replace a critique, but the manuscript will all the better. Now I know right questions to ask. 

I would like ro thank all the faculty for adding to our skills and knowledge. The SCBWI Canada East volunteers again put together a faculty that was both informative and entertaining. 
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Non Fiction.

I have made an effort to start a non fiction or historical fiction novel. And have run into challenges. 
I know that there are many SCBWIers out there who have had considerable success in this area. 
Obviously there is a considerable amount of research needed. But how do you know when your research is done?  How do insert a fictional character into a historically significant event?  How much historical facts do you need?  These are all questions that I would think all historical fiction writers must ask. 
For a non fiction/educational book, how do you keep it age appropriate?  How do know when you have too much information? How do decide what children/midgraders/young adults want to know?
My ideas all seem to revolve around historical events of which we should not be proud. Again, this begs the question what is appropriate to what age group. But I also want to teach young people they can change the world without sounding preachy. This is a challenge in all my work. 
I look forward to any help out there. Please comment. I am sure I am not the only one who needs this kind of help. 

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June 12, 2016
Culture Days Illustration Show...

It's official - we are moving forward with a BIG PLAN for an AWESOME show, opening September 30, 2016 - featuring SO MUCH SCBWI talent I could explode. Wait for June 16 for the list of participating artists and authors...

Show will take place from September 30 - November 30 at Ellena's Cafe
in downtown Napanee.
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May 3, 2016
Art of Story - First Pages

I had a fantastic, educational, and inspiring time at the Art of Story Conference this weekend. I really enjoy the First Pages Sessions - when else do we get to hear the first impressions from editors/agents/art directors when they are going through submissions? 

What did you learn from the session? 

Here's my notes:

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April 26, 2016
Art of the Story Spring 2016


Well there are only a few days left until we all get together for sharing, learning,and whole lot of fun. 
The faculty line up has some of familiar names and faces. I am looking forward to hearing about their insight in a more formal setting. 
The weekend will start with a costume party. Bring out your Steampunk Selves. If you have questions about steampunk, do some research on line and find some images for costume example. Raid your closet or the closet of your teen and show us your stuff. 
Whether you are a writer of picture books, middle grade or young adult there is something for you. There will probably be more information than you can imagine. Make sure to chat with your fellow conferencers because they may hear something you've missed. 
And the illustrators have not been left out. Portfolios will be on display and for everyone to admire. Though I am not an illustrator, I know there will be something to learn. 
So SCBWIers, get your sleep this week and all your best material ready for a weekend full of encouragement, knowledge and inspiration. 
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