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

CONFERENCE: Packaging Your Imagination 2017

  • Saturday, November 11, 2017
  • Toronto ON


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:


Saturday, November 11, 2017
Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
in downtown Toronto

  • Choose four sessions from the dozen offered, plus two keynotesScroll down for our fantastic line-up!
  • Add a One-to-One evaluation of your manuscript, portfolio or website/social media (for an additional fee).
  • NEW! Hard to decide which sessions to choose? This year you can order additional recorded sessions so you don't have to miss a thing! MORE INFO TO COME!
  • Books by the speakers will be available to purchase on-site, provided by Mabel's Fables.
  • Virtual PYI will be back--if you can't be there in person, you can register for access to the recordings of all the sessions and the keynotes. MORE INFO TO COME!
  • We're delighted to be back at last year's terrific downtown location: Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, 209 Victoria Street (at Shuter).
  • Our PYI venue is in the Yonge and Dundas area, a short walk to subways, hotels, theatres, the Eaton Centre, and much more. 
  • CAR: Underground parking right under the building for about $10 a day. 
  • TRANSIT: Dundas or Queen subway two or three blocks away.  
  • Full day of PYI sessions and keynotes with sandwich lunch and snacks is $200 for CANSCAIP Friends and Members and $225 for non-members 
  • NOTE: If you're not a Friend or Member or your membership has lapsed, to register at the $200 rate, please join or renew first and then come back to register for PYI.    
  • You can add a One-to-One evaluation of your manuscript OR portfolio OR author website/social media for $75 (must also register for PYI for this option)


      • Can't be there? All PYI sessions will be professionally recorded so you can watch whenever you like; about a week after the conference, you'll be emailed links to the recordings of your selections. 
      • Registration for Virtual PYI is $125 for CANSCAIP Friends and Members ($150 for non-members)


      We’ll have special rates at the Pantages Hotel, which is right across the street from PYI. (However, you may find similar rates through online booking sites.) MORE INFO TO COME! 

      The Cambridge Suites Hotel and the Marriott Toronto Eaton Centre are just a short walk from the PYI venue. You can also search online to find great downtown B&Bs. 


      • Use this hashtag for the conference: #PYI2017
      • Follow us on Twitter @CANSCAIP
      • Join us on Facebook! 

        OPENING KEYNOTE 9:00-9:30 

        ANDREA BECK—Ditching the Inner Imposter

        ANDREA BECK is the best-selling author/illustrator of books including this year’s TD Grade One Book Giveaway, Good Morning, Canada, from her growing Canada collection. Other titles include the Elliot Moose and Pierre le Poof series. 

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

        1. MELANIE FLORENCEDark Arts 101

        No, it’s not a class with Professor Lupin or Snape. But it is a workshop about writing dark subjects for kids and teens. How do you write a book with a disturbing subject and keep your story accessible? Why is it important to write these stories for kids? What is considered taboo? We’ll look at some popular dark stories and discuss why some people bristle at the idea.

        MELANIE FLORENCE is a writer of Cree and Scottish heritage. She is the author of the award-winning Missing Nimama, Stolen Words, Righting Canada's Wrongs: Residential Schools and YA novels He Who Dreams and Rez Runaway.

        2. EMIL SHERLearning to Adapt: Transforming Books for the Stage

        You have a beloved book in hand and your eye on the bright-light stage where it can bloom. How do you get from here to there? This workshop will walk you through those steps, from book options to opening night.

        EMIL SHER’s acclaimed stage adaptations include Karen Levine’s Hana’s Suitcase, Ian Brown’s The Boy in the Moon and a musical version of Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater that premieres this fall. Emil is the author of the YA novel Young Man with Camera and the picture book Mittens to Share.

        3. BARBARA REID—Colour as Character

        Human and animal characters may take centre stage in picture books, but colour plays a major role as well. This session will explore how the use of colour can affect the mood, heighten emotion, advance a story and boost the impact of your illustrations.

        BARBARA REID created more than 25 picture books, including The Party, The Subway Mouse, and Picture a Tree. Her unique plasticine illustrations have won dozens of awards including the Governor General’s Award and The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award. Her newest book is Picture the Sky.
        PHOTO: Ian Crysler

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

        4. PANELThe Realities of Fiction  

        Your novel may be a work of fiction, but that doesn’t mean you can write whatever you want. Our panel of experts address a variety of legal queries -- from using real people and places to quoting song lyrics and literature -- and discuss the most common red flags when writing your manuscript.    

        KATE HENDERSON is the founding partner of Henderson & Co., a boutique entertainment and intellectual property law firm based in Toronto. She has been providing expert advice to writers and other creators for over 20 years. Visit

        WARREN SHEFFER is engaged in a broad intellectual property and business law practice. He regularly advises authors and performers as well as professional organizations that represent them. Warren has since been in private practice with Marian Hebb for over a decade. 

        Moderator HEATHER CAMLOT has been a journalist for almost 20 years for publications including Quill & Quire, Style at Home, TV Guide and Owl. Her debut novel, Clutch (Red Deer Press) was inspired by her father’s 1940s childhood in Montreal, and won CANSCAIP's Writing for Children Competition in 2014.

        5. SHEREE FITCH—Lipslippery Adventures: The Read-aloud-ability Factor in Poetry/Picture Books  

        Veteran storyteller and poet Sheree Fitch talks about the importance of oral tradition, how authentic voice translates into written work, and finding the balance between writing for the ear -- paying attention to the musicality of language and telling the tale. Includes guided exercises Sherri has used as a writing teacher for the past 25 years.

        SHEREE FITCH is an award-winning author, storyteller and educator whose most recent book is Polly MacCauley's Finest Divinest Wooliest Gift of All. Sheree is also co-editor of Whispers of Mermaids and Wonderful Things: Atlantic Canadian Poetry and Verse for Children. She recently opened Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery (named after her popular character), a seasonal bookshop in rural Nova Scotia.

        6. DEREK R. DOUGLASIllustration: Your Voice, Your Brand

        You’ve spent countless hours training and honing your ability, ready to be hired by the top art directors and agents. Will they take you seriously? Would you hire you? This workshop takes you through the simple, yet critical steps of finding your own unique style and then presenting yourself in the most polished manner possible.

        DEREK R. DOUGLAS is a children’s book illustrator who fills his days knee-deep in 2 & 3D worlds made from collages of splattered acrylic ink and patterned paper. Between books and assorted illustration gigs, Derek loves to get super messy in his interactive “What’s an Illustrator” presentations for kids.

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

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

        7. PANEL: Breaking In

        If you’re a kidlit writer trying to get your first book published, this is the session for you! Our panel of newly-published authors tell how they got there. Lots of specific, practical advice... plus bring your questions for the Q&A.

        HEATHER CAMLOT’s debut Clutch (Red Deer Press) was inspired by her father’s childhood in Montreal. The story won CANSCAIP’s Writing for Children Competition in 2014.

        MELANIE J. FISHBANE is an expert on L.M. Montgomery, and her first novel Maud (Penguin Random House) stars the famous author as a teenager.

        JON-ERIK LAPPANO’s first book, Tokyo Digs a Garden (Groundwood) was heaped with honours – including winning the GG.

        Moderator JOYCE GRANT is the author of two sports-themed middle grade novels (Lorimer) and the Gabby picture books (Fitzhenry & Whiteside).  She vividly remembers what it was like to be a "pre-published" author.

        8. ARTHUR SLADEIt Lives: Bringing Your Backlist (and Career) to Life
        How do you bring your backlist back from the dead ? Continue a cancelled series? Or, finally, release something brand new on your own? Arthur Slade, a self-described geek, explains how to shock some life into those new and “old" books, including how to reach out to undiscovered audiences through social media and mailing lists. He’ll detail his experiences using ebook and print on demand to sell his books to the world.

        ARTHUR SLADE is the author of 19 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 lives in Saskatoon.

        9. CAREY SOOKOCHEFPicture and a Thousand Words? Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books

        This workshop will examine being both an illustrator for another author’s picture book and an author/illustrator of your own picture books. Based on her experiences, Carey Sookocheff will discuss the differences between these two scenarios, as well as the challenges and rewards of taking on the dual roles in the same book.

        CAREY SOOKOCHEF is the author and illustrator of Wet and Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems, and the illustrator of the Buddy and Earl series. Her award-winning illustrations have also appeared in publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. 

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

        10. PANELPublishers and Agents

        Our annual publishing panel always packs the room. Hear the latest about the state of kids lit from the book industry’s best.

        YVETTE GHIONE is the editorial director at Kids Can Press, where she began her publishing career nineteen years ago. Her books include A Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery, Leap! by JonArno Lawson and Josée Bisaillon, Nicholas Oldland’s Life in the Wild series and The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear and Katty Maurey.

        ANNE SHONE is a senior editor at Scholastic Canada. Anne has worked in book publishing for close to twenty years, concentrating on children’s books for the last fifteen. She edits fiction and non-fiction, with a particular interest in picture books and middle grade.

        AMY TOMPKINS has worked in publishing since 2002 and has been with the Transatlantic Agency since 2007. She represents both adult and children’s authors and is also the international rights agent for Orca Book Publishers Ltd. and Islandport Press. She represents books for young people at all levels and in all genres, with a focus on middle grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction.

        TARA WALKER is publisher of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers.The authors and illustrators she has worked with include Isabelle Arsenault, Linda Bailey, the Fan Brothers, Kyo Maclear, Julie Morstad, Susin Nielsen, Ashley Spires, Esmé Shapiro, Frank Viva and Mélanie Watt. She has acquired and edited bestsellers such as The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and the Scaredy Squirrel series along with many award-winning picture books and novels.

        11. KIRA VERMOND—Juggle: Make Money (Really!) Writing for Kids and Adults

        The average Canadian writer makes less than $13,000 per year. But that doesn’t have to be your story. Diversify! Learn how to juggle children’s book projects and freelance writing gigs for adults. From productivity hacks to invoicing, pitching, and even creating your own business plan, here’s the secret to creating an exciting, long-term writing career that actually pays the bills.

        KIRA VERMOND leads a triple life. As a 20-year veteran journalist and columnist, she has written over 1,500 pieces for The Globe and Mail, the National Post, Chatelaine and others; she crafts corporate content; and she writes award-winning kids’ non-fiction about money, puberty, geography and lies. In other words, she likes to mix things up!

        12. RICHARD SCRIMGERThe Voice of Reason/The Reason for Voice

        What exactly is voice and why is it so important? Learn what distinguishes one author's voice from another, how to find and develop your own unique voice, whether voice can and should change, and how it differs from style.

        RICHARD SCRIMGER is the award-winning author of more than twenty books for children and adults, including The Nose from Jupiter, Zomboy, Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book and The Wolf and Me. When he’s not writing or talking about writing, Richard teaches at Humber College.

        CLOSING KEYNOTE 3:30-4:30 

        Claire Mackay Memorial Lecture   

        KEN SETTERINGTON has been a children's librarian for over 30 years. His most recent position was Children and Youth Advocate for the Toronto Public Library - a job created for him. He is also a storyteller, book reviewer on the CBC and writer. He is the author of numerous books including the award-winning Branded by the Pink Triangle.

        BOOK SIGNINGS 4:30-5:00 

        Books by the speakers will be available to purchase on-site from Mabel's Fables. 

        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 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. 

        About a month before the conference, everyone who is registered for a One-to-One will receive instructions for submitting your manuscript, illustration portfolio, or author website.

        One-to-One Manuscript Evaluation 

        About a month before the conference, we will ask One-to-One manuscript participants to send 1000-word excerpts about a month before the conference. The excerpt will forwarded 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 One-to-One manuscript experts are: 

        • Amy Tompkins, Transatlantic Agency
        • Anne Shone, Scholastic Canada
        • Debbie Rogosin, freelance, formerly Kids Can Press and Owlkids
        • Karen Li, Owlkids
        • Katie Hearn, Annick Press
        • Peter Carver, Red Deer Press
        • Samantha Swenson, Penguin Random House Canada
        • Yvette Ghione, Kids Can Press

        One-to-One Portfolio Evaluation

        About a month before the conference, we will ask One-to-One participants to email a link to their online portfolios or samples of artwork in digital formats. The link or samples will be forwarded to our portfolio mentor to evaluate in preparation for her 15-minute session with you. 

        TARA WALKER, publisher of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers,is our One-to-One portfolio mentor.

        One-to-One Website/Social Media Evaluation

        About a month before the conference, we will ask One-to-One participants to send their author website or social media information. Our digital marketing experts will review your website and social media before the conference, and in their 15-minute meeting with you they will make specific, easy-to-apply suggestions, and answer questions about social media and how to more effectively market your book online.

        Our One-to-One digital marketing mentors are: 

        ANGELA MISRI, YA author, digital journalism teacher at Ryerson and U of T, previously CBC Radio's digital expert 

        JOYCE GRANT, picture book and middle-grade author, and former co-owner of a small ad agency

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