September 07, 2014

Learning through Writers' Organizations – Ramona Heikel

Although writing is a challenging task and the publishing world is in constant change these days, organizations are making themselves available to help writers at all stages and skill levels. Here I will list a few resources that have come up on my radar, most for children’s writing and for Canadian writers.

SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – Canada West, is a great organization to help children’s writers. Although I didn’t join the organization, I contacted them a few years ago for information, and they invited me to meet the local group at their monthly meetings. This connection led to me joining a critique group that met at one of the members’ homes near me. I met with them for quite some time and found the camaraderie, their talent and honest feedback to be key in my growth as a writer.

Angela Ackerman, the organizer of that critique group, a generous mentor and an extraordinarily talented writer of young adult fiction, co-writes a blog for writers of all genres. Originally called The Bookshelf Muse, it is now called Writers Helping Writers, at . There you can find information and tips for various writing topics, and information about their books. The first one, which I was privileged to help launch, is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, which helps writers find words and phrasing to describe—show not tell!—their characters various emotions, and is endorsed by James Scott Bell. Two subsequent books are entitled The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws.

CANSCAIP is the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. The page on their site I have used the most is their links page, which is a lengthy list of many helpful resources, ending with the list of Canadian children’s publishers, which has been guiding my own search for a book publisher. They also offer competitions, blogs, book trailers, mentorship, and information on library visits. The most fascinating part of their home page to me is that the organization has a traveling art exhibit of original illustrations created by 35 Canadian illustrators which have been published in children’s books.

Some more quick mentions for lack of space: the Canadian Children’s Book Centre is another organization that helps children’s writers and authors via their website, which includes their Get Published writing kit, and their listing of Canadian Children's Book Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Manuscripts. The Purple Crayon at has been a long time favorite place for me to visit, and is run by a children’s book editor. Having taken the Children’s Writing course from The Institute of Children’s Literature, and having benefited from the great articles and information on their website for years before I took the course, I cannot help but point you to this quality organization. This was by far the best writing course I’ve taken, with excellent detailed feedback on everything I wrote.

I do not doubt that many of you have also found these resources useful and hope you will share your experiences, and also add some resources of your own!

Posted by Ramona



  1. Hi Ramona,
    Thank you for sharing these resources. I don't write much children's lit but I did find, as you may have, that when I took the course from The Institute of Children's Literature that the exercises and their feedback helped me grow as a writer and equip me for all genres. So even the children's resources you mentioned are worth my while checking out because if we can write for children we can write for anybody!
    Pam M.

  2. Thanks Ramona for the writer's helping writers link ... plan to check that one out!
    Keep happily writing!

  3. Thanks for the resources. I have written children's literature in the past--perhaps I should get back to it with the help of your information.

  4. Ramona,
    Thanks so much for the resources! Having recently written a children's picture book, I plan to check them out.

  5. Oh, I'm so glad these are helpful! Happy writing, all!


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