Cabin Tales Episode 8: Revision

The Never-ending Story (Episode 8)

The final fall episode of Cabin Tales is about the final stage of creative writing: revision. You’ll hear 26 Canadian authors talk about their revision process, and their recommendations to young writers who want to improve their first draft. 45 minutes.

Read or download the full episode transcript here:

Episode 8 Shownotes:

[0:00] Introduction

[1:30] Commentary on Revision

[3:55] Author Interviews

[4:00] Monique Polak envies writers who love revising

[5:07] Lori Weber separates drafting from revising

[6:15] Karen Krossing uses her intuition

[7:35] Caroline Pignat separates creation and evaluation

[9:00] Kari-Lynn Winters tries to resist editing while drafting

[10:20] Philippa Dowding does not edit while she drafts

[11:20] Tim Wynne-Jones usually revises along the way

[12:50] Amanda West Lewis discovers more with each revision

[14:40] Commentary on revising for young writers

[16:00] Interviews on revising while young

[16:00] Cary Fagan on the chore of revising while young

[17:15] Sarah Raughley on taking your time while young

[18:45] Commentary on how to revise

[19:15] Revision Recommendations

[19:45] Jan Coates reads aloud and uses a thesaurus

[20:45] Jeff Szpirglas saves his drafts to combine and revise

[21:45] Rachel Eugster is looking for ways to lessen revision

[22:25] Robin Stevenson has learned to revise wisely

[24:00] Ishta Mercurio starts revisions with a blank page

[24:50] Wendy McLeod MacKnight drafts very quickly

[26:05] Amelinda Bérubé finds the drafting a slog

[28:15] Commentary on getting help with revision

[29:55] Interviews about critiques

[30:00] David McArthur encourages critiques

[30:55] Lena Coakley spent 10 years on her first great book

[31:45] Raquel Rivera revises with help from friends and editors

[32:55] Marty Chan advises critique group

[35:00] Lisa Dalrymple offers critiquing advice

[36:10] Don Cummer is grateful for critique groups

[37:20] Frieda Wishinsky says critiquing is a life skill

[38:50] Kate Inglis likes the support of other writers

[40:05] Karen Bass has learned to put story over ego

[43:40] Thanks


Music: Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use). 

Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at

Art: The B&W image for this episode is from a wood engraving by Frederick Sandys from Reproductions of Woodcuts by F. Sandys, 1860-1866.

Guest Authors:

Karen Bass

Karen Bass has twice won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction and has received numerous other nominations and accolades for her stories, including one being named as a USBBY Outstanding International Book. 

Aside from writing, Karen works occasionally in a library, and so has a constantly growing pile of books waiting to be read. She loves having a whole new part of Canada to explore and use as inspiration for new stories. Find her online at; on Facebook @karenbassYA on Twitter @karenbassYA and on Instagram @karenbassYA.

Amelinda Berube

Amelinda Bérubé is a freelance writer and the author of the YA novels The Dark Beneath the Ice and Here There Are Monsters. A mother of two and a passionate gardener, she lives in Ottawa, Ontario, in a perpetual whirlwind of unfinished projects and cat hair. Find her online at

Marty Chan

Marty Chan writes books for kids, plays for adults, and tweets for fun. He’s best known for Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul, which won the 2007 Diamond Willow Award. His newest book, Haunted Hospital, launched October 29th. He works and lives in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their cat Buddy. Find him online at, on Twitter @Marty_Chan; on YouTube MartyChanAuthor; on Instagram @MartyChanWriter; and on Facebook @MartyChanAuthor.

Lena Coakley

Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed—nothing was ever good enough to hand in!—but undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She has published two YA novels, Worlds of Ink and Shadow and WitchlandersWicked Nix, her first book for middle-grade readers, was nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award, the MYRCA Sundogs Award, and the Rocky Mountain Book Award. She now lives in Toronto with her two cats, Bonbon and Pirate Jenny. Find her online at; on Twitter @lenacoakley; and on Facebook @lena.coakley. 

Jan Coates

Jan Coates grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia, and has lived in Wolfville for most of her adult life. She has published six picture books, six middle grade novels, and 18 levelled chapter books for emergent readers. Her first novel, A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk, was a finalist for the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Awards.

Find her online at

Don Cummer

Don Cummer is the author of the “Jake and Eli” stories published by Scholastic, set during the War of 1812. The first book, Brothers at War, was short-listed for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young Readers. Don spends his time between Canada and Ireland – where he’s finding many more stories to tell.

Find him online at .

Lisa Dalrymple

Lisa Dalrymple is a wandering, wondering, dabbling, babbling, addle-brained author and mind-muddled mum. She has written 11 books for young readers, including Fierce: Women who Shaped CanadaA Moose Goes A-Mummering and Skink on the Brink. Lisa has taught kindergarten in South Korea and Thailand, caught and eaten piranha in the Amazon jungle and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She now lives in Fergus, Ontario with her husband and their 3 highly-energetic children. Find her online at; on Facebook: @LisaDalrympleBooks; on Twitter: @DalrympleWrites; and on Instagram: @lisa_dalrymple

Philippa Dowding

Philippa Dowding is an award-winning children’s author, poet, musician, and marketing copywriter.  Her 2017 middle-grade novel, Myles and the Monster Outside, won the OLA Silver Birch Express Honour Book award. Her latest novel, Firefly, won the Governor General’s Award for children’s literature. Philippa lives in Toronto with her family.

Find her on her website at

Rachel Eugster

Rachel Eugster is the author of the picture book The Pocket Mommy and the “Ingredients of a Balanced Diet” series. A theatre artist, singer, and choral conductor, Rachel premiered in her original play Whose Æmilia? at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in 2015. 

Find her online at

Cary Fagan

Cary Fagan writes picture books and novels for children and adults. His many awards include the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Award, the Betty Stuchner–Oy Vey!–Funniest Children’s Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for his body of work. Cary lives in Toronto. Find him online at

(Photo by Mark Reynes Roberts)

Kate Inglis

Kate Inglis is an award-winning author for adults and children. Her novels, non-fiction, and poetic picture books are infused with the salt, woodsmoke, and fresh air of the North Atlantic coast. Kate is also a photographer and a corporate writer.

Find her online at

Karen Krossing

Karen Krossing is the author of seven award-winning novels for kids and teens, including Punch Like a GirlBog, and Cut the Lights, plus two picture books on the way. Karen encourages new writers through workshops for kids, teens, and adults. She lives in Toronto. Find her online at

David McArthur

David McArthur is a graphic designer and creative writer based in Victoria, BC. His “What Does…” picture book series started as a game that David played with his son as they were driving to daycare. Find him online at

Wendy McLeod MacKnight

Wendy McLeod MacKnight is the author of three middle grade novels: It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! , The Frame-Up and The Copycat. In her spare time, she gardens, hangs with her family and friends, and feeds raccoons. Visit Wendy online at .

Ishta Mercurio

Ishta Mercurio was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She now lives and writes in Brampton, Ontario, where she serves as the Chairman of the Board for The FOLD Foundation. Her picture book debut, Small World, illustrated by Jen Corace (ABRAMS Books for Young Readers), was selected as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2019 and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Canadian region. Find Ishta online at

Caroline Pignat

Caroline Pignat is a two-time Governor Generalʼs Literary Award-winning author of novels, non-fiction, and poetry. With over 20 years’ experience teaching in schools, workshops, and at conferences, Caroline loves helping young writers find and share their unique voices. Find her online at

Monique Polak

Monique Polak is the Montreal-based author of 29 books for young people and a two-time winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and YA Literature. She has been teaching English and Humanities at Marianopolis College in Montreal for over 30 years. Find her online at

Sarah Raughley

Dr. Sarah Raughley is the author of five YA fantasy novels, including the bestselling Effigies series and the forthcoming Bones of Ruin series. Her books have been nominated for the Aurora Award for Best Young Adult novel.

Find her online at .

Raquel Rivera

Raquel Rivera is a writer, artist and performerbased in Montreal. She has published five books for young readers. She also writes about books for Constellations, a library and online database of quality children’s literature, for use by teachers, librarians, and the public. Visit her online at

Robin Stevenson

Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of 29 books for all ages. She lives on the west coast of Canada. Robin is launching three new books in 2021: a picture book, PRIDE PUPPY, a middle-grade non-fiction book, KID INNOVATORS, and a young adult novel, WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE. 

Find her online at .

Jeff Szpirglas

Jeff Szpirglas is the author of over 20 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including entries for Scholastic’s “Countdown To Danger” series and Orca’s “Tales From Beyond the Brain.” He has co-authored two books about film soundtracks, and is a regular contributor to the award-winning horror magazine Rue Morgue. Jeff has worked at CTV and he was an editor at Chirp, chickaDEE, and Owl Magazines. These days, he spends his non-writing time as a full-time parent and full-time classroom teacher (and part-time werewolf). Visit him online at and find him on Twitter @jeffszpirglas or on Facebook

Lori Weber

Lori Weber is the author of eight books for young adults and middle-grade readers, including Yellow Mini, a novel in verse, and Deep Girls, a short-story collection. A native Montrealer, she taught at John Abbott College for decades before her recent retirement.

Find her online at

Amanda West Lewis

Amanda West Lewis is a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her writing for children and youth ranges from historical YA fiction to craft books on the art of writing. She is the Artistic Director and Founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre.

Find her online at

Kari-Lynn Winters

Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters is an award-winning children’s author, playwright, performer, and academic scholar. She is an Associate Professor at Brock University and the author of French Toast, Jeffrey and Sloth, On My Walk, Gift Days, and many other imaginative picture books. Find her online at

Frieda Wishinsky

Frieda Wishinsky has written over 70 picture books, chapter books, novels and non-fiction books. Picture book biographies are one of her favourite genres. She’s written biographies about Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Frederick Law Olmsted and most recently, Emily Roebling (How Emily Saved the Bridge). Frieda loves sharing the writing process.

Find her online at

Tim Wynne-Jones

Tim Wynne-Jones has written 35 books for adults and children of all ages. He has won the Governor General’s Award twice and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award twice, most recently for the thriller, Blink & Caution. He has twice won the Arthur Ellis Award of the Crime Writers of Canada, as well as the Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America. His books have been translated into a dozen languages. Tim was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012. His latest novel, The Starlight Claim, came out in 2019 and his newest collection of short fiction, War at the Snow White Hotel, was released in 2020. Find Tim online at; Blog:

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