Calgary Children’s Book Fair and Conference

I spent four wonderful hours at the Calgary Children’s Book Fair and Conference on Saturday. I wish I could have spent the entire day, but another writing related event was taking place that afternoon (more on that next week) so I had to cut my day at the conference short.

The Conference is a fabulous event for readers and writers alike. The Hillhurst Community Center was filled with authors and illustrators and other writing and book related folk. Kids (and kids at heart) could talk to real life authors and illustrators, listen to them read from their work, buy autographed copies of their books and fill their pockets with all manner of give-aways from tattoos and bookmarks to postcards and puzzle sheets.

And books.

Simon Rose, one of the organizers of the event (and the Master of Ceremonies for the day), gave away a lot of the participating authors’ books throughout the day.

Many of the authors gave generously of their knowledge as well. Writers dreaming of publication could take in sessions with titles like “Developing Your Idea into a Marketable Book,” and “Raising the Dead: Writing Historical Fiction.” Last year, I spent almost the entire day in that room, madly scribbling notes. In fact, it was at last year’s inaugural conference that the self-publishing seed was planted.

This year, I spent most of my time in the big hall, talking to authors. The only session I took in was the one led by Carol McTavish on “The World of Self-publishing.” No surprise there. With Leaf drawing ever nearer to his “birth” date, the more I can learn about the care and feeding of my self-published book the better.

Carol crammed a lot of information into her 35 minute time slot and then invited anyone who wanted to continue the conversation to visit her at her table. I took her up on that offer and lapped up a considerable amount of her warmth, enthusiasm, encouragement and knowledge. Thank you, Carol!

I had similar conversations throughout the day. Every author I talked to was very generous with their knowledge and expertise. In fact, without exception, every author I asked said they would happily share their self-publishing journey here with all of you. So look for posts in the weeks ahead from Carol McTavish, Sharon Montgomery, Valerie Walker, Lisa Young and Suzanne Alexander-Heaton. In the meantime, click on their names to check out all they have to offer.

Other people I didn’t get the chance to ask about being a guest blogger (yet), but whose work I’d like to promote, are Roberta Heembrock and DeAnn Mary Allen (authors), Mike Boldtman (author, illustrator), Lori Nunn (author, book designer, no website, but she can be reached at, and Pat Kozak (writer, editor).

My only regret was that I couldn’t have been as generous with my money as all these people were with their knowledge. I wanted to buy a book from every author I talked to. I was able to buy a few (which was better than last year when there was absolutely no budget for books) so, if that trend continues, I should be able to spread the wealth among even more authors next year.

Assuming I’m not too busy manning a table myself.

Thank you Simon Rose and your team for organizing the Children’s Conference and Book Fair. And THANK YOU to all you wonderful, brave, creative and generous writers who have chosen to walk the challenging road of self-publishing. You are an inspiration!

PS: The illustrations on the Conference website are all by Val Lawton, a Calgary artist who cheerfully answered all my questions about the fairest way to pay my illustrator. She also illustrated one of the books I bought that day, The Always Team written by Holly Preston. (How could this green-blooded Saskatchewan transplant NOT buy a book about the Saskatchewan Roughriders? – especially on the eve of the Grey Cup!)

PPS (Post Grey Cup): You put up a good fight, team. We’ll get ’em next year. Go Riders!

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2 Responses to Calgary Children’s Book Fair and Conference

  1. Thanks, Maxine, for taking the time to mention the Calgary Children’s Book Fair on your blog. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit with the authors, I certainly enjoyed the day chatting with kids and parents alike. I look forward to seeing you next year with your own book.


    • maxinespence says:

      And thank you, Valerie, for stopping by to have a look and leave a note. I enjoyed meeting you and, yes, chances are very good that I’ll be spending the 3rd annual Calgary Children’s Book Fair and Conference chatting with children and parents and fellow writers about my book. It only seems right since the self-publishing seed was planted at the first conference and watered and nurtured at this second one.

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