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Tuesday
Oct212014

CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination Conference

Thanks so much to CANSCAIP for inviting me to be a speaker at the Packaging Your Imagination conference at Humber College this past weekend. I had a fantastic time and once again appreciated what a wonderful kidlit/YA community we have here in Canada.

I've posted some of my photos on Facebook and on Flickr.

Kate BlairThanks to Kate Blair for being my "shadow" during the event; Kate helped get me find the right rooms, introduced me at my workshop, made me feel welcome. Kate is a middle grade and YA writer, and placed 2nd in the 2010 Toronto Star Short Story Contest (out of 1800 entries!) as well as being longlisted for the CBC short story contest in both 2011 and 2012. You can find out more about Kate and her work at Kateblair.com.

Anyway, the subway was shut down between Eglinton and Bloor so I ended up taking a cab and arrived way early! The organizers were still setting up. I think I was one of the first to pick up my speaker badge:

Ran into my Torkidlit friend Karen Krossing, who helped distract me from my pre-talk jitters by walking around the venue with me, figuring out where the speaker coats could be stored, etc. Here are CANSCAIP Administrative Director Helena Aalto and PYI Co-Director Lorna Poplak, just before the conference officially opened:

I also had time to check out the art show. So much wonderful children's book art, and I also loved the process sketches that some people included. I'm new enough that I also got a thrill to see my own art up on display...and also very cool to see my sister's art right beside it:

Teresa Toten's opening keynote was inspiring! I've just started reading THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B, Teresa's novel that won the 2013 Governor General Literary Award For Children's Literature, and am loving it so far.

Teresa Toten, giving her inspiring opening keynote

After that were the first set of workshop sessions, including mine. Thanks SO much to the Humber AV crew, who did a fantastic job at PYI (especially Tom on the far right, who was my AV helper):

and the E-Learning team in my session, who helped the streaming portion run smoothly for virtual attendees:

The photo at the top of this post (courtesy GABBY author Joyce Grant) is from the beginning of my session. Here's one from GRACE author/illustrator Kate Parkinson, who was a virtual attendee:

And here's her screen with the live video in the top left and my current slide on the right:

After the conference, I asked Kate how the streaming went and she reports it ran smoothly, thanks to the Humber College tech crew. You can also read Kate's report about being a virtual attendee at CANSCAIP's event on her blog. Kate's FIRST children's book (she's author/illustrator), GRACE, comes out from Holiday House Books early next year!

Back to PYI. Judging from feedback afterward, the session seemed to go well, yay! I was still nervous, but it was a bit easier than last time I gave a talk, plus the attendees were enthusiastic and asked interesting questions. Partway through, I was actually having fun.

After my session, I chatted with some of the attendees, including Rebecca (who had flown from NEWFOUNDLAND for PYI!) and Peter Shelton, then stayed in the room so I could hear Ashley Spires talk about her work:

Ashley Spires during her session at PYI

I so love Ashley's bubbly enthusiasm and energy! Ashley talked about the creation process for Binky The Space Cat series of junior graphic novels, which I found fascinating, entertaining and informative. Did you know that Ashley initially drew all her herringbone and other intricate textures by HAND? Wow. I think Ashley noticed the look of awe (ok, maybe more like horror :-)) on my face when she told us this. 

Anyway, finally getting to meet Ashley Spires in person was one of my personal highlights at PYI.

With my talk over, I could relax at lunchtime and just chat. Thanks to my lunchtime companions for some great kidlit/YA conversation (including my Torkidlit pal Nicole Winters in the bottom right):

I looked around for my MiGWriters critique partner, Andrea Mack, but missed seeing her! Happily, we ran into each other later in the conference. 

Above: Lana Button, Jan Dolby and Joyce Grant at PYI 2014. Joyce and Jan are the creative team behind the GABBY series from Fitzhenry and Whiteside Publishers. Finally getting to meet Jan Dolby in person was another personal highlight during the conference; we were seatmates at one of the sessions, plus I had a chance to admire her very cool custom pencil case.

In the afternoon, I was faced (again) with an impossible choice: I wanted to attend all the workshops! I ended up opting for the industry panel with Susan Rich (Editor-At-Large at Little, Brown) and Tara Walker (Editorial director at Tundra Books):

An excellent panel, so informative AND entertaining. Teresa Toten was a fabulous moderator. And I loved the rapport between Susan and Tara -- lots of laughter during this session :-D.  They both were so generous with their info, and we all learned a great deal.

I missed getting a photo of Susin Nielsen (maybe because I was laughing too hard), who gave a wonderful closing keynote - see audience above. We even got to see a clip of her acting role in the original Degrassi Junior High (she was a screenwriter)!

Plus LOOK, I won a prize in the raffle! I never win anything but thanks to CANSCAIP and the Vermont College Of Fine Arts, I won this bag of goodies:

The popcorn and the chocolate are already gone (yummmmmm), and I'm using the water bottle in my office; it'll be a nice reminder of this excellent event.

Thanks to Lena Coakley for giving me a lift to a small gathering hosted by Sharon Jennings afterwards. Sadly, a bad headache prevented me from staying as long as I had wished but it was fun chatting with some of the others who came. Thank you, Sharon!

Torkidlit pals Cheryl Rainfield, Nicole Winters, Lesley Livingston & Maureen McGowan at PYI

And again, THANK YOU so much to CANSCAIP and all the volunteers and organizers. Everything went so smoothly and I had so much fun, plus came away super-inspired.

If you're a Canadian children's book author, illustrator or performer, I strongly recommend you checking out CANSCAIP's website....and do consider attending next year's PYI event!

Reader Comments (2)

Great round-up, Debbie. Your session on "personal branding" was excellent--smart and practical. I suspect there were many different kinds of people in that room, from newbie to more experienced, and yet you managed to reach all of us with your great tips and advice. I really appreciated the fact that you had reached out to agents and editors beforehand, to take the pulse of the industry and to let us know their thoughts about what they respond to. That was extremely helpful. For instance, you pointed out that many agents said they check out people's online brands--which may not be something that creators even realize--and they sometimes make decisions based on what an author or illustrator is like, online.
There were many "a-ha!" moments like that in your talk, which is great.
And one thing I want to point out to other people, because you won't say it yourself, is that you tend to be extremely generous with credit and with the sharing of the spotlight. You never fail to point out when someone else was involved in something, and to provide a link to their material, which is much appreciated.
Anyway, really good seminar--I got a lot out of it.

October 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce Grant

Wow, thanks so much for this feedback, Joyce. Really happy that you found my session useful. Great to see you at PYI and also delighted to meet Jan Dolby, the illustrator genius behind your GABBY books. :-)

October 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterDebbie Ridpath Ohi

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