The guest author for YAC X

The guest author for YAC X is Amy McAuley.  She and her family live in London.  Her second novel, Violins of Autumn, is published by Walker & Company and is available at Chapters.  Do you find history less than interesting?  Have a go at this novel and you will come away with a better understanding of the Allied invasion of France late in World War II than you could ever get from a history textbook.

What is the YAC?

What is the YAC ?

The YAC (pronounced 'yack') stands for Young Authors Conference, which we have held each year since 2004. We invite students of grades 6, 7 and 8 to come together on a Saturday in April to hear a published Canadian author of young adult fiction speak about his or her books and career, and to give the young writers some understanding of the publishing industry.

We then move the young writers into small groups of 10 to 12 members to create a new piece of writing or to work further on a piece in progress, while the guest author visits the groups to answer questions and to give advice. Each group is under the direction of an experienced teacher or instructor. After lunch, which we provide, the conference participants may explore another aspect of the writer's craft, such as blogging, illustrating, poetry, comedy, persuasive argument or editing. Many choose to continue with the piece of writing they had started before lunch.

Conference participants are invited to submit some of their creative writing for inclusion in the commemorative book of the conference. Sending work in for the book is purely voluntary, but this year 38 of the 106 participants in YAC IX (pronounced 'yack 9') submitted prose, poetry or an illustration for the book. Everyone who attends the conference receives a copy of the book, whether they contributed something to it or not. In addition, a copy of the book is donated to each school that sent students to the conference.

For YAC I (2004) through YAC IX (2012), there has been no cost to participate. PDK London, Phi Delta Kappa International, the Thames Valley District School Board, the London District Catholic School Board and the Barbara Stewart Guest Authors Series fund have underwritten the costs of the conference.

How did the YACs begin?

The PDK London YACs are the result of the drive and vision of London Kappan Barbara Stewart. One Saturday morning in the spring of 2003, Barbara accompanied her husband, John, on a visit to the St. Bonaventure University Chapter's young authors conference in New York State. Barbara's response to what she had seen? "We can do that in London!"

By the time Barbara and John had driven back to the border, they had mapped out the basics for the YACs:

1. One Canadian guest author per conference.

2. No competition element - no "best author in conference" honoured with a plaque or medal. The purpose of this form of a YAC would be to encourage all young authors to increase their skill by learning from a published Canadian author and from experienced instructors.

3. Model the publishing industry by creating a commemorative book of work created at each conference. Contributions to the book would be voluntary and all conference participants and all conference staff would receive a copy of the book. The book editors would be copy editors, which means that they would focus on spelling, grammar, punctuation and paragraphing issues and make no changes to plot, setting or characters.

4. Offer the YAC on a Saturday in April to students in grades 7 and 8 of the Thames Valley District School Board. The YACs began very modestly, but grew quickly from a half-day event to a full-day event which brings in students of grades 6, 7 and 8 of the London District Catholic School Board to join with those of the TVDSB.

The site for the YACs alternates between the two boards. YAC IX was hosted by A. B. Lucas Secondary School of the TVDSB. YAC X will likely be hosted by St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School of the LDCSB. YAC XI will return to the TVDSB for a suitable site.

Barbara Stewart died in August 2008, after having seen YAC V successfully completed.

The YACs continue to grow. The steering committee is examining the best area of growth to explore next:
a) students in private schools?
b) students in grade 9?
c) students beyond the area served by the TVDSB and the LDCSB?

It is a pleasure for the conference staff to help such enthusiastic young people who are devoted to the writer's craft. At the same time, we are keeping Barbara's vision alive.