Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers<br>La société canadienne des auteurs, illustrateurs et artistes pour enfants

Packaging Your Imagination 2016 (ONLINE REGISTRATION CLOSED)

  • Saturday, November 19, 2016
  • Toronto: Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, 209 Victoria St (at Shuter), Toronto, ON M5B 1T8


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:
  • (Sandwich lunch. Coffee and snacks served all day between sessions.)

OUR 32nd YEAR!



Saturday, November 19, 2016

Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
Victoria Street & Shuter in downtown Toronto

  • Choose from a dozen sessions, including three Master Classes and our popular panel of publishers and agents
  • Terrific NEW location in the heart of downtown Toronto--close to subway, hotels, restaurants, theatres, museums, shopping...and more! 
  • Two keynotes: Ashley Spires and David Booth
  • One-to-One evaluation of your manuscript, illustration portfolio or author website/social media (additional fee)
  • Full day of PYI sessions and keynotes for $195 (scroll down for our fantastic line-up of sessions and speakers)
  • Sandwich lunch
  • Coffee, juice and snacks served all day between sessions 
  • Add a One-to-One evaluation of your manuscript OR your author website/social media for $75 (you must also register for PYI for this option)
  • Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, 209 Victoria Street (at Shuter) in downtown Toronto 
  • By car: Many parking lots in the area 
  • By transit (TTC): Two blocks from Dundas and Queen subway stations


We’ve got special CANSCAIP rates at the Pantages Hotel at 200 Victoria Street on any of these nights: Thurs. Nov. 17, Fri. Nov. 18 and Sat. Nov. 19 (some rates and rooms may not be available each night).  

  • $179 Deluxe Room (one queen or king bed)
  • $209 Double Room (two queen beds)
  • $229 Boutique Suite (separate queen or king bedroom, kitchenette, laundry)
  • $279 Skyline Suite (separate queen or king bedroom, living room, kitchen, laundry) 
BOOKING: Call 1-855-852-1777 or 416-362-1777 and refer to CANSCAIP and booking code 13639. (You can’t book online for these rates.)

Although we don't have special CANSCAIP rates at Cambridge Suites Hotel or Marriott Toronto Eaton Centre, both are just a short walk from the PYI venue.  And there are many others, plus B&Bs and Airbnb. 


  • Please use the hashtag for the conference: #PYI2016
  • Follow us on Twitter @CANSCAIP
  • Join us on Facebook!


  • Even if you can't be there in person, you don't have to miss out. With Virtual PYI, you can be part of PYI wherever you are, and whenever you like.
  • PYI presentations are videotaped, participants view PowerPoint slides and other visuals, and audio is picked up by lapel microphones.
  • About a week after the live PYI conference, links to the videos of your selections will be emailed to you. 
  • Registration for Virtual PYI is just $125.
  • CLICK for more info on Virtual PYI! 


    OPENING KEYNOTE 9:00-9:30 (everyone attends)

    Ashley Spires—An Author's Guide to Insecurity

    Ashley Spires is the award-winning author/illustrator of many children's books, including the best-selling The Most Magnificent Thing and The Binky Space Cat series of graphic novels. She drinks tea and collects cats at her home in Ladner, BC. 

    MORNING SESSIONS  9:45-10:45 (Choose 1, 2 or 3)

    1. Kathy StinsonWriting Short and Simple: A Complicated Undertaking    Master Class

    A picture book text is short and simple, especially compared to a novel, so why is writing a good one often such a long and complicated undertaking? Discover the challenges picture book writers face and how to meet them.

    Kathy Stinson is the author of many successful picture books including the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin, as well as novels and works of nonfiction. Her most recent picture book is Harry and Walter.

    2. Judy BrunsekPeeking Behind the Curtain: An Honest Look at Marketing Children's Books  

    What happens once that book comes off press and it goes out to market? What happens inside the marketing department of a publishing company? An unvarnished look at the world of marketing children's books from an industry veteran. 

    Judy Brunsek is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Owlkids Books. She has more than 30 years of experience in publishing, including being a publicist, publisher of Quill & Quire, head of marketing and sales at multinational and Canadian-owned publishers, as well a consultant in a variety of capacities.  

    3. Lee Edward FödiMagic, Monsters and Mystery for the Middle-Grade Novel

    Children’s author and illustrator Lee Edward Fodi delivers some of his top tips for enriching our world-building, with different methods and tools to help add texture, detail, and intrigue to stories. This workshop is the perfect fit for fantasy writers, but the tools and approaches can be easily applied to other genres.

    Lee Edward Födi is a children’s author, illustrator, and educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a daydreaming expert. He wrote the Kendra Kandlestar series and has illustrated many books for other authors. He has taught writing workshops and programs in Canada, the US, Korea, Thailand and England.

    MID-MORNING SESSIONS  11:00-12:00
    (Choose 4, 5 or 6) 

    4. Wallace EdwardsThe Law of the Jumble (Making Stuff Up)    Master Class

    For Wallace Edwards, creating art is a holistic process. In this seminar, he shares his method for making pictures, from basic concept to finished piece – getting those illustration ideas out of your head and onto the page in a practical way. With examples of the step-by-step creation of paintings in his books, and ways to break out of creative blocks and artistic “sticking points”. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and to bring their work for critique.

    Wallace Edwards is a Governor General’s award winning author/illustrator who has been making picture books for the last 15 years. He works in a variety of mediums including watercolor, acrylic, pencil and ink.

    5. Jacqueline Guest—Channeling our Ghosts: Creating Historical Fiction for YA Readers 

    Persuading teens to read history is critical. Creating historical fiction that is relevant and readable for a YA audience is challenging. The past can be resurrected for young readers with all the facts they need and all the fiction they crave. Join Jacqueline Guest to discover how to channel our ghosts, bringing historical fiction to life!

    Jacqueline Guest is an international award-winning author of 19 novels. She has stood on an iceberg, flown a kite in a hurricane and worn bedroom slippers in Parliament while on the job as a writer.  With over 20 years of experience working with students, she has presented across North America and as far away as Tanzania on the importance of reading. 

    6. Helaine BeckerNon-Fiction Truths: How to Plan, Pitch and Promote Your Nonfiction Project

    Writing successful nonfiction requires plenty of research - and that's even before you begin the project! In this hard-nosed, nuts-and-bolts session, you'll get a step-by-step guide to how to take your idea from "Should I?"  to Sold. Learn how to Evaluate and Structure Your Idea, Do an Effective Market Comparison, Create a Clear, Complete  Proposal and Craft a Winning Cover Letter. Plus an up-to-the-minute look at the contemporary nonfiction market and how to target and evaluate potential customers, both in Canada and the US.

    Helaine Becker is the bestselling author of more than 70 books for children and young adults, including the #1 bestseller, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree. Her nonfiction books are multiple winners of the Silver Birch Award and the Lane Anderson Award for Science Writing for Children. Her two most recent nonfiction titles have been recognized by the Junior Library Guild.  

    LUNCH  12:00-1:00 (sandwiches provided)

    AFTERNOON 1:00-2:00 (Choose 7, 8 or 9)

    7. Panel: Breaking In and Getting Published

    In this unique panel discussion, three newly published authors compare their approaches, share their learning, summarize their strategies for success and, yes, vent their frustrations.

    Kate Blair was born on a tiny island stuck to the south coast of England. She has worked as a museum curator, a clown, a furniture maker, and a cook. She now lives in Toronto and is a young adult author, a mother, and very, very tired.  Transferral is her first novel, published by Dancing Cat Books.

    Mahak Jain is the author of Maya, a picture book about the power of imagination. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in The New Quarterly, Joyland Magazine, The Humber Literary Review, and Room Magazine. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph.

    Caroline Fernandez is the creator of Parent Club and listed as a Top Mom Blogger. This Canadian author broke into publishing with a UK publisher. Her first book, Boredom Busters, won the 2016 Silver Birch Non-Fiction Honour Book Award. More Boredom Busters was published in 2015 (Cico Books). Follow Caroline on Twitter @ParentClub and Instagram at parentclub.

    Joyce Grant "broke in" with her first picture book in 2013, after hearing author Deborah Kerbel speak at a CANSCAIP meeting! She has since published two other picture books and her first novel, Tagged Out, in 2016. What advice did Deborah give at that CANSCAIP meeting? Join us at the Breaking In panel and find out!

    8. Sydney SmithChanging Illustration Styles

    There is a wonderful feeling you get when you finally know that your illustrations are exactly right for your story. Sometimes it's a giddiness that makes you want to dance; other times it's simply a slow exhale. This workshop explores the different steps in discovering what's right for you and the story, and how to get to that feeling with every project you do.

    Sydney Smith discovered his love of children's illustration while studying drawing and printmaking at NSCAD University in Halifax, NS. He is the award-winning illustrator of Sidewalk Flowers. Check out his work on Tumblr.
    Photo: D. Edwards.

    9. Shane PeacockSpeaking in Effective Tongues: How to Make Your Dialogue Believable

    Master Class  

    Effective dialogue is important in any novel, but especially so in Young Adult and Teen novels where a sprightly pace is essential. Shane will bring his experience in many genres to this workshop, helping you get your characters speaking in believable and compelling language.  

    Shane Peacock is the multi-award-winning, best-selling author of The Boy Sherlock Holmes series, The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim trilogy, Seven series novels, as well as books for adults, picture books, magazine articles, television documentaries and plays. He has spoken and given workshops in thousands of schools and other venues across North America and Europe.

    MID-AFTERNOON 2:15-3:15 (Choose 10, 11 or 12)

    10. Panel: Publishers and Agents


    Barbara Berson has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years, most recently as Penguin Canada’s children’s publisher.  She is now a freelance editor, and a literary agent with the Helen Heller Agency, specializing in YA, adult fiction and memoir.

    Christie Harkin is the consultant publisher and fiction editor at Clockwise Press, and former children's book publisher at Fitzhenry & Whiteside. She was previously an educator and hosted a TV program, Bookmarks: The book report show for kids.

    Peter Carver is the children’s and young adult editor at Red Deer Press. His work has honoured by the Vicky Metcalf Award (three times) and the Lois Hole Award.

    Suzanne Sutherland is the children's editor at HarperCollins Canada. She is also the author of three novels for teens and young readers, most recently Under the Dusty Moon.

    Michael Solomon has been art director at Groundwood Books since the company began, and his award-winning work has helped build the company's reputation as one of Canada's finest children's publishers.

    11. Patricia StormsStoryboarding Picture Books: The Blueprint for Your Great Idea

    You’ve got the most amazing concept for a picture book story. Wonderful! But how do you write and/or visualize your idea? Writing it out on paper is fine, but picture books are visual creatures, and you really need to see how the pace of your story moves as a whole. A picture book is like a mini-movie, and every great movie starts with a great storyboard. Patricia’s workshop will help writers and artists in how to best present their picture book concept, from rough thumbnails to clean storyboards. 

    Patricia Storms is an illustrator/author of children’s books and humour books. She has illustrated many children’s books and she has written and illustrated The Pirate and the Penguin and the much-loved Never Let You Go

    12. Anne CarterTen Tips to Guide a Novel Revision       Master Class

    First drafts are like a first garden. Some bits work. Some need reshaping. All of it needs weeding. This interactive workshop will provide essential tips for revising your first draft into a strong and engaging story. Bring 2 copies of the first page of both your first and last chapters, plus 2 differently coloured highlighters.

    Anne Laurel Carter teaches Writing for Children as well as the YA Novel Workshop at University of Toronto. Her novels have twice won the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award, a Jane Adams Honor Award, and provincial award nominations.

    CLOSING KEYNOTE 3:30-4:30 (everyone attends)
    David Booth—Claire Mackay Memorial Lecture   

    David Booth is a renowned educator at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and a program consultant for Scholastic's Timeline graphic novel series. He is the author of books for educators and parents, as well as many award-winning books for children.

    BOOK SIGNINGS 4:30-5:00 

    Books by the speakers will be available to purchase on-site. 

    ONE-TO-ONE EVALUATIONS   4:45-7:00

    For an additional $75, you can get a 15-minute professional evaluation and critique of your manuscript, illustration portfolio, author website or online presence. 

    Registration for the full Packaging Your Imagination conference ($195) is required to sign up for a One-to-One evaluation.

    Space runs out quickly for these unique and highly useful sessions pairing individual participants with publishers, agents, art directors, marketing directors, and other industry experts. 

    Complete information and schedules will be emailed to registered One-to-One participants prior to the conference.

    One-to-One Manuscript Evaluation (SOLD OUT)

    One-to-One manuscript participants will be requested to send 1000-word excerpts before the conference, which CANSCAIP will forward to your expert to evaluate in preparation for their 15-minute session with you. CANSCAIP will select the expert for your One-to-One session. Our manuscript experts are: 

    Barbara Berson, agent at Helen Heller Agency, and former Children's Editor, Penguin Books.

    Peter Carver, Children's and YA Editor, Red Deer Press.

    Christie Harkin, Publisher and Editor, Clockwise Press.

    Lynne Missen, Publishing Director, Young Readers Group, Penguin Canada.

    Debbie Rogosin, Interim Publishing Director, Owlkids Books, and former Picture Book Editor, Kids Can Press.

    Suzanne Sutherland, Children's and YA Editor, HarperCollins Canada.

    Patricia Ocampo Managing Editor at Simon & Schuster; formerly Editor, Annick Press, and literary agent.

    Karen Boersma, Publisher, Owlkids Books.

    One-to-One Portfolio Evaluation (SOLD OUT)

    One-to-One participants will be requested to email a link to their online portfolios or samples of artwork in digital formats, which will be forwarded to your expert to evaluate in preparation for their 15-minute session with you. Our portfolio mentor is:  

    Michael Solomon, Art Director, Groundwood Books.

    One-to-One Website Evaluation

    Our digital marketing experts will review your author website (prior to the conference) and make specific, easy-to-apply suggestions to improve its effectiveness. They can also make suggestions and answer questions about social media and how to more effectively market your book online.

    Angela Misri is a YA author who spent 14 years as CBC Radio's digital expert. She teaches digital journalism at Ryerson University and U of T. Photo: Eugene Choi.

    Joyce Grant is a picture book and middle-grade author. She has created and implemented award-winning marketing campaigns, ads and strategic marketing plans for multi-national corporations. She is also the former co-owner of a small ad agency. Photo: Beverley Daniels


    Not a member of CANSCAIP yet? Why not join CANSCAIP as a first-time Friend when you register for PYI? 

    As a Friend, you'll expand on what you learn at PYI and you'll expand your network of children's creators as well. You'll receive our announcements and invitations, plus our quarterly CANSCAIP News, featuring profiles, writers craft, marketing information and news about the kid lit community.

    Become a first-time Friend for the special price of $35 (regularly $45) when you register for PYI.

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