January Speaker Night: Educational Children’s Books with Kara Cybanski

Summary by Tom Vradenburg and Coryl Addy. Edited by Stephanie Mason

We editors like to think of ourselves as adaptable and curious about new subjects and other genres. However, our real professional lives often involve grinding through the same kinds of material day after day. 

Kara Cybanski gets to live our dream at DC Canada Education Publishing, a small firm based in — who knew — Ottawa.

On January 19, Kara joined us to discuss her many roles as an editor for children’s education. She discussed the multiple hats she wears and the facets of publishing she works on, including design, translation, content writing, and editing. As an editor for educational children’s books, she also ensures she has educational value in mind.

In any government department, specialized teams handle each of those roles. We’re told we should ‘collaborate’, but specialists are usually reluctant to step out of their lanes. 

DC Canada, like many small businesses, doesn’t do lanes. But it’s not a brand-new startup, either. Founded in 1999, its first title was an ESL book for Grades 1 to 12.

Kara highlighted the editorial process for DC Canada’s small team by noting that before reviewing submissions, searching for illustrators, and finally getting to designing and printing, the team ensures that their materials meet two criteria: 1) it’s a good book for children; and 2) it has educational value. Kara highlighted that a wide variety of materials can be considered “educational”, with recent release, Recess in the Dark, focusing on cultural education. 

Every new title goes through a similar submission process: three to five staff will read a manuscript and recommend accepting or rejecting it. As with all book publishers, marketability is a consideration, as well as whether it’s the right book for the company at the right time.

DC looks  for a balance of good storytelling and educational value, which may not always be apparent in the theme or subject of the book.

Recess in the Dark, for example, is about children going to school in the North; its title refers to winter school days of little or no sunlight. It does explain that dog teams are still used in the North because they’re more dependable than snowmobiles. But much of the text is poetry, and Recess in the Dark walks readers through the fundamentals of verse.

A notable asset of DC Canada is that it showcases educational materials in English, French and Chinese. The company began as a resource for teaching ESL learners and has since grown to include books, games, read-alongs, and a wide range of multimedia resources for children.

Kara also shared a few favourites she would recommend, including Our Farm in the City, which details the experimental farm in Ottawa to talk about science and nature, and One Story a Day, that illustrates a different topic for each day to stir a new conversation each day with your child (365 stories total!)

Kara’s  advice to children’s book authors was inspiring: “When you’re coming up with a concept for that children’s book, think about what’s unique about your book.” She went on further to say, “You have this responsibility to share important messages” about ideas like kindness, respect, immigration or historical events, for example. 

We ended our time with Kara by engaging in a short question and answer period, in which one of the interesting questions posed to her was, “Have you found guidelines or resources on ethics for children’s publishing?” They then noted that the issue they were pointing to is ‘massaging’ to ‘cover up the truth.’ Kara noted that it’s a fine line to tread, especially when introducing heavy topics, such as slavery, in an age-appropriate manner. She also noted that a story about a child with two mothers might not sell in countries that frown on homosexuality.

Overall, a wonderful and engaging night spent musing about the inner workings of an important piece of the publishing industry!

Speaker Nights: January, February, and March 2022

Welcome to a new year, everyone! We’re so excited to announce our next three Speaker Nights to kick off 2022.

On the third Wednesday of every month, we host a free Speaker Night to hear from a wide variety of hosts and to discuss topics related to editing, publishing, and more.

Speaker Nights are currently conducted through Zoom and are free of charge. Speaker Night runs from 6:30pm to 8:00pm EST.

January 19: Educational Children’s Books with Kara Cybanski

Join us for our first speaker night of 2022! To kick off the new year, we’ll be speaking with editor Kara Cybanski of DC Canada Education Publishing, a small innovative publisher of children’s books, games, and music in Ottawa.

February 16: Self-Publishing Night with Wayne Jones

Join us for an overview of the self-publishing process by Wayne Jones! The evening will include discussion of technology, editing, publicizing, and sales; so if you’re working with self-publishing authors or hope to self-publish your own book, don’t miss it.

March 16: Editing Academic Research Grant Proposals with Letitia Henville 

Join us for a conversation about editing research grant proposals led by Letitia Henville (she/her), an award-winning instructor and academic editor. Letitia will share some of her favourite tips and resources for editors looking to expand into this field. You can send questions ahead of time to Letitia on Twitter @shortishard or through her website at shortishard.com/contact.


If you’re planning on joining us for Speaker Night, let us know by emailing publicrelationsog@editors.ca with your name, your Editors Canada branch/twig, and the Speaker Night you intend to attend. You will receive the Zoom link via email in advance of the event.


Stay tuned for our upcoming seminars for 2022 as well! Our online seminars are live events and will not be recorded as webinar courses, so be on the lookout and register early for these opportunities for professional development.

Lending Library Pilot Launch

Members, we are excited to announce your branch Lending Library! You will discover a growing collection of editing-related books that you may check out online for pickup or delivery.

What’s in the library?

More than 50 printed books about publishing including style guides, reference works, writing memoirs, and graphic design titles. Donations to the collection are welcome. Please contact us here or by email if you have any works to contribute.

Who may borrow materials?

Only Editors Ottawa–Gatineau members may borrow books free of charge as a membership benefit.

How does it work?

Fill out the form in the Lending Library to select up to four books and a member of the branch executive will email you to make a borrowing plan. In the pilot stage, each loan will be handled on a case-by-case basis to ensure you have a suitable amount of time to access, read, and return your borrowed books.

Happy reading, editors!

Holiday Speaker Night: Book Conservation with Christine McNair

Updated January 13, 2022

Though we were once again unable to gather for a holiday party, this past November 17, we marked our holiday speaker night by deviating from discussing the written word in favour of learning about books as objects.

We were joined by Christine McNair of the Canadian Conservation Institute, who spoke on book conservation and the book as evidence and showed a myriad of photos from projects she’s worked on.

Book conservation is an interdisciplinary field that requires knowledge of materials, archaeology, history, preventative conservation, binding, and even ethics. Protecting the words on the page is as important as protecting the page itself as well as all evidence of a book’s history—from pricks and rulings, editor’s marks, marginalia, and previous conservation efforts.

Christine walked us through these basics of book conservation and then treated us to a case study on the Salzinnes Antiphonal.

An antiphonal is a liturgical book, and the Salzinnes Antiphonal comes from the Abbey of Salzinnes in present-day Belgium. It is one of only a few illuminated manuscripts in a Canadian collection and is unique for its illustrated portraits of nuns. You can imagine, then, why its conservation would be important.

Christine discussed the Canadian Conservation Institute’s work on this project, which included detailed analysis of everything from paper to pigments to binding, consultations about level of intervention, and finally the cleaning, repair, and conservation work itself. Christine’s presentation was accompanied by many photos of the book and its amazing illuminated interior as well as of the conservators at work.

Upon concluding this fascinating presentation, Christine graciously answered questions from our members. Several folks received tips for keeping their own books in good condition (keep those books away from moisture and harsh sunlight!) alongside the discussion of responsible conservation, history, and art.

We concluded the evening with a round of trivia in which our members tested their knowledge on conservation and medieval manuscripts. It was a lovely way to close out our 2021 programming!

For more information on conservation, visit the Canadian Conservation Institute website. To learn about the Salzinnes Antiphonal check out Centuries of Silence: The Discover of the Salzinnes Antiphonal or view images through the Almire Foundation database.


Looking for more professional development opportunities? See what other seminars are coming up and register today, before it’s too late! Our online seminars are live events and will not be recorded as webinar courses.

October Speaker Night: Epic and Urban Fantasy with Krista Walsh

We’re excited to announce our next two Speaker Night events for October. Currently, Speakers Night is hosted virtually through Zoom. These events are also completely free to register and attend!

October 20: Epic and Urban Fantasy with Krista Walsh

Krista Walsh writes about magic, assassins, dragons, and badasses. Her books include the Meratis trilogy, the Cadis trilogy, and the Invisible Entente series. She self-publishes through her own imprint, Raven’s Quill Press, through which she also offers proofreading services. Join us for a discussion on epic and urban fantasy, writing, and self-publishing.


Looking for more professional development opportunities? See what other seminars are coming up and register today, before it’s too late! Our online seminars are live events and will not be recorded as webinar courses.

A Welcome From Capital Letters

Hey, folks!

Whether it’s been a while or you’re here for the first time, thank you for reading the revived Capital Letters. After taking a break and being compelled to think creatively about the future, we’re back with something new.

Our vision for the site is to create a space where wide-ranging interests can be indulged and explored. We want our members, local editors, and the wider publishing community in Ottawa–Gatineau to read and contribute stories, book reviews, thoughtful discussions, and withering insights. To help facilitate this, we’ve even launched our MatchUp program to help local editors meet other local editors!

So, let’s go word nerds, let’s talk about editing, reading, complex ideas, and creative work. Thanks for joining us on this discursive endeavour.