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I spent many years as a puppeteer.
I wrote children’s plays.
I performed in them.
I created little people in the form of string marionettes and I crafted miniature sets.
My highlights were collaborating with Cirque du Soleil and participating in the 2012 World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, China (with my 9 month old daughter attached to me)!
Then in 2013, I made a huge leap. I decided to leave the world of theater and return to my first love, literature. I wanted to pursue my dream of writing books for children.
What was the first thing I did? I became a member of SCBWI. And that, of course, was the best decision ever! Along with the multitude of resources available, I also learned about the SCBWI Eastern and Western chapters specifically devoted to Canadian authors. Then I began to wonder, what other resources were available for us Canadian authors? And the more I researched the Canuck kidlit and writing scene, the more I discovered how rich it is. Here are a few examples:
- CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors Illustrators & Performers)
- QWF (Quebec Writers’ Federation)
- The Writers’ Union of Canada
- UNEQ (l’Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois)
- PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada)
- Canadian Authors Association
After a few years and countless rejection letters, I got my first book published, THE DILLY DALLY BEDTIME ROUTINE. Then I thought to myself, I would love to do school visits! But how?
Luckily, in Quebec we have a program called Culture in the Schools. It’s organized by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, and UNEQ juries the applicants. The program is designed for professional artists, both Anglophone and Francophone. They range from visual artists to dancers to writers. These artists are given the opportunity to visit schools across Quebec, share their craft, and offer workshops to children.
Since I had been giving puppetry and theatre workshops since 1999, I decided to apply to the program. And (yay), I got accepted! I got a shiny new profile in the repertory and got to work. I learned the ins and outs of the program and soon realized it’s extremely well organized. The Minister establishes the day rate for all artists (so we don’t have the pesky task of negotiating fees), and artists also get reimbursed for materials, per diems, gas, and accommodations if necessary. A day consists 3 workshops of 1 hour each, or 2 workshops of 2 hours each. I have come to love the program and school visits have become a significant part of my career. Here I am below, surrounded by the charismatic students at Westpark Elementary School. This was particularly thrilling for me because I attended the school years ago!
I’m happy to have found all these valuable resources in Canada that have helped carve my path as a professional author. Of course, writing is a universal craft. Though writers may hail from different parts of the world, we all share similar adventures and challenges. Thanks to social media, we can easily connect with one another. And I feel grateful for how generous and open the writing community is!
Lydia Lukidis is a children’s author with thirty three books and eBooks published, along with numerous short stories, poems and plays. Her background is multi-disciplinary and spans the fields of literature, theatre and puppetry. Lydia writes fiction and nonfiction, and also composes educational texts and lesson plans. She is passionate about spreading the love of literacy and has been facilitating workshops for children since 1999.
For more information, please visit lydialukidis.com.