Natasha Deen (AB)

In Canada, Natasha’s family found refuge from the political and racial violence of Guyana, South America. Her experiences as a child of two nations are the foundation for her dynamic presentations, which help students find the story and power that lives inside them. She routinely speaks to an entire school during the course of a half day, and travel costs are included in her fee. $500 + GST for half day, $700 + GST for a full day. Writers' Union Member.

“You captured the attention of over 500 students in grades 4-8 from the moment you said your first sentence. You did not simply give a talk, but a gift, to our children.” ~ Kari-Ann Ellery, Teacher-Librarian

Natasha Deen’s books have been described as “gripping” (School Library Connection), “engaging” (CM Magazine) and “feel good” (VOYA).  Students enjoy her sessions because she makes them laugh and help them see it’s okay to be different. Teachers appreciate the presentations because they connect with curriculum and showcase writing skills in easy to implement ways.

PRESENTATIONS

"Don't split your infinitives, careful of dangling participles, i before e -- except after c, know the difference between its and it's." Writing is difficult work, and often, by the time students are done learning the mechanics and rules, they've forgotten the best part of writing: it delivers STORY and stories change the world!

Natasha's dynamic sessions celebrate the funny, sometimes sad, moments of being a kid and being part of an immigrant family. She uses her experiences to connect with students on the universal moments of growing up: feeling different, wanting friends, being bullied, and hilarious moments when the grown-ups act more like kids.

During her visit, she also talks about why Canada is the most amazing country to live in (her family moved to Canada from Guyana to escape the country’s political and racial violence), falling in love with the book she assured her mother she would hate, and her hilarious (and often, disastrous!) attempts to make friends in school. Through the presentation, she weaves in literacy tips as well as themes of inclusion, diversity, resiliency, and embracing individualism.

Students will come away with two important lessons:

  1. Writing is a way to deliver the part that's most fun: STORY
  2. In life, just as in writing, it's not about where you start, but where you end.

Natasha has specific presentations for FDK, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-9, Grades 10-12, as well as presentations for mixed-age audiences (i.e. K-8). She is also happy to customize her presentations/workshops per your students' needs.

 

Equipment Needs:

A speaker, projector, and microphone for presentations or large rooms/audiences

Whiteboard/smartboard, projector for writing workshops

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Julie Burtinshaw (Vancouver)

Award winning YA author, storyteller, speaker, workshop leader, ideas person, traveller. Writers Union Member Julie’s rates are $275 per session, $500 for two sessions, $900 for four sessions. Julie will be in Toronto in September and October 2017. Julie's partner is a pilot and therefore she is able to be in Ontario with very little notice. Travel, $150 per day.

Julie was born and raised in Vancouver where she still lives. She loves to travel the world and is passionate about the health of our oceans.  She attributes her fascination with teenage resilience and courage to her own experiences to a tragic family loss. Her books reflect her admiration for the choices teens make when facing impossible situations.

Julie writes both historical fiction and coming of age stories set in current times. Her previous eight novels explore the issues that face young adults and in particular young men in a candid style that engages readers and encourages discussions and exploration.

When not writing, Julie teaches creative writing workshops, and is an active participant in the writing community. She has served as a judge for the BC Book Awards, Red Cedar Awards, Illinois Women's Press Association Communications and mentored many emerging and upcoming writers.

Presentations: Readings and writing workshops for grades seven to college/university. Julie’s ability to engage even the most reluctant teens in discussion and conversation has earned her the praise of many high-school teachers.  Julie employs a series of highly interactive creative writing prompts, games and exercises to ensure that every student leaves her workshops armed with a strong sense of accomplishment, and a newly a discovered passion for the written word in its various forms.

All venues

Depending on the length of the presentation, the size of the class and the goals of the educator, possible topics include (but not exhaustive):

The process of writing
Sourcing ideas
Accessing creativity
Research
Plot development
Character development
Publishing tips and tricks
Poetry
Writing dialogue
Writing Memories

Julie customizes her workshops, readings and presentations depending on the ages, group size and goals of audiences and requests a short email exchange with educators prior to in-classroom visits.

For readings and presentations Julie is comfortable with large groups. For creative writing workshops group sizes should not exceed thirty, although smaller groups are ideal.

Students attending creative writing workshops should bring pen, paper and their imaginations.  Julie will need a flip board, a white board, water, desk or table and a microphone for larger groups.  She uses Keynote format for large group presentations so will require a screen and computer table.

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Lisa Lawrence (Edmonton, Alberta)

White Pine nominee for YA novel Rodent. Available for school or library visits (accessible by public transit) in the Toronto area on May 15, 17, 18, and 19, 2017. $200 for a 45 – 60 minute session and $150 for subsequent sessions in the same school. No travel costs. Available Fridays for Skype visits ($100 for 45 – 60 minutes).

Lisa grew up as a free-range kid in small towns in British Columbia and Alberta. She could often be found in the library during summer vacations or hammering away at an old typewriter. She graduated from the University of Alberta with a BA in Romance Languages, an MA in Italian Studies, and a B.Ed in Secondary Education. She currently works as a teacher and writer in Edmonton, where she lives with her husband and three children. Rodent is her first novel.

Lisa’s presentations are intended for students in grades 7 and up (ages 12 to adult). They include a reading and discussions with students about finding the writing spark, the writing and editing process, tips for aspiring writers, and any other questions or interests students have. As a relatively new writer, she engages with youth who someday hope to publish their work, those who enjoy reading, or those who are simply curious about the behind-the-scenes process.

Class sizes can be negotiated, with preference to groups of 40 students or less at one time.

All venues.

Needs: A bottle or glass of water while presenting, for the teacher to be in attendance, and lunch if presenting to classes in the morning and afternoon at the same school.

 

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Dave Atkinson (PEI)

Dave Atkinson. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Writers' Union Member. Dave is a fun and funny Hackmatack-nominated Middle Grade author, journalist, and broadcaster.

One session is $225, two for $400, three for $550 and 4 for $700. Plus HST and local travel.

Dave Atkinson is a children’s author, journalist, columnist, and broadcaster. His first novel for middle-grade readers, Wereduck, was nominated for the 2016 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award. Dave is a multiple award-winning journalist whose work for the CBC has appeared on The Current, Atlantic Voice, Tapestry, Maritime Magazine, and regional radio programs across the country. He and his wife are homeschooling their three silly kids in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Dave’s presentations are fast paced, funny, and a lot of fun. A professional broadcaster, he is able to freely flow from animated readings of his books to discussions about writing, publishing, and how to take the mystery out of the creative process. Dave can grab the attention of students and pull them into his stories, but still allow for a fluid, student-led conversation with lots of questions. Discussions often touch on where ideas come from, how to turn those ideas into tangible stories, and how to learn to love the red ink of a teacher or editor. Dave is available year-round in the Maritimes. He tours through Ontario in the fall and spring. Contact him for dates or to make special arrangements.

Dave’s presentations are geared towards Grades 3 through 6. He is comfortable with individual classes and groups as large as 90. Dave requires a bottle of water and a microphone when speaking to larger groups.

Dave will facilitate workshops for adults on writing for kids, getting noticed by a publisher, working with an editor, and promoting your work in traditional and social media. Fees are adjustable by the length of the workshop.

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Judith Graves (Alberta)

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Writers Union Member. Golden Oak Nominee. Award-winning author and screenwriter, entertaining and engaging speaker utilizes multi-media in presentations, drawing on clips from music videos, TV and film to illustrate the concepts covered.

$350 for 1 session, $600 for 2, $850 for 3, and $1000 for 4, plus travel and accommodation. Visiting Ontario around the time of the Golden Oak Award, May 27 to June 3rd.

Judith is also the co-publisher of a small press and works as a library technician in an elementary school. She sees the publishing industry and literacy promotion from many perspectives and her presentations reflect this. Judith has presented writing workshops and keynote addresses to teachers, library staff, students, and writer groups – during conferences, professional development events, author panels, as well as through numerous school and library visits. She also writes new-adult fiction under the pen name, Judith Tewes.

Judith offers a variety of workshop topics that can be modified to suit the intended audience.

Super Heroes With or Without Capes (Grades 3-6)

Super stories need super heroes – characters willing to take risks, embark on epic quests, and face their greatest fears. Capes are completely optional. Discover the various types of characters that already exist in books, film, and TV, and how you can use these to develop your own heroes worthy of fandom.

Screenwriting to Die For (Grade 7-12 and Adults)
Novelist and screenwriter, Judith Graves offers a general introduction to screenwriting by examining story structure, character development, and the art of sharp dialogue. From gripping logline to epic showdown, Graves features tips and tricks from the world of screenwriting that apply to creating fiction in any format.

Horror Fiction to Die For (Grade 6-12 and Adults)
Young adult paranormal/thriller author, Judith Graves, helps you dig deep and unearth the killer themes lurking in your horror and thriller fiction. This genre isn’t just writing tales of blood and guts – it’s creating fiction to DIE for. Learn how to get under your reader’s skin, play on their primal fears, and hold mirrors up to their own inner monsters. These FANGtasic tips will keep your readers turning the page…to the dire end.

Fan Fiction to Die For (Grades 6-12 and Adults)
Young adult paranormal/thriller author, Judith Graves, explores the origins of fan fiction, its appeal for youth and adults alike, and how teachers can use this growing format in the classroom. Learn how fanfic writing challenges and mashups can spark interest in creative writing, as well as build and stretch student writing muscles.

Author Visits to Die For (Adults/Teachers/Library Staff)
Judith Graves offers an overview of what makes a virtual author visit successful, the technology basics, and how to connect students or library patrons with authors willing to provide this wonderfully interactive (and inexpensive!) service.

Publishing Tips to Die For (Adults)
Join middle grade/young adult author and co-publisher of Leap Books, Judith Graves, for a look at the dynamic worlds of middle grade and young adult fiction. She’ll share tips for navigating the various roads to publication and how to market your work once it’s out in the world. If you’re writing children’s fiction and want more information about the publishing industry, query process, book marketing, etc…this is the session for you.

Library or classroom and an audience size of 30-60 is preferred. Equipment required: display table, projector and speakers, microphone and PA system for larger groups or gym presentations.

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Kira Vermond (Guelph)

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Guelph. Writer’s Union Member. Silver Birch (Non-fiction) nominee 2017. Kira Vermond is an award-winning author of four non-fiction children’s books and 1,500+ articles for adult and children’s magazines, newspapers and websites.

$250 for one hour-long session, $450 for two, and $600 for three, plus HST. (Outside local area, multiple presentations preferred and can be shared with partnering school.) Writing workshop rate is $400 + HST for a two hours. No travel charges within the Guelph/Kitchener/Waterloo area.

Kira received her first (friendly) rejection letter from a kids' magazine when she was 11, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to be a writer. Today, she’s a busy author, journalist and winner of last year’s Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction. Her favourite part of being a writer? Talking to kids (and adults) about writing! Those who have attended her sessions have described them as, “amazing, informative, entertaining, cool, educational and fun.” She didn’t even have to pay these people (much)….

Presentation: We’re all liars! (And that’s normal) 

You were probably taught that honesty is the best policy. So why do your parents ask you to pretend you like all your birthday gifts, even Aunt Dora’s knitted dinosaur sweater? Does “being polite” mean lying? And aren’t card players encouraged to bluff when they play poker? Talk about mixed messages! This fun and thoughtful presentation will guide students (grades 4-6) through the ethically complex maze we call deception.

From the moment we jump out of bed in the morning until we climb back in at night, we’re living with so many different sneaky lies, cheats, frauds, and deceptions, we don’t even realize they’re there! We’ll cover food fraud, bogus advertising, the placebo effect, online trickery and cheating at school (plus how to stop). Finally, we’ll prove there’s a 100% accurate lie detection method (about 50% of the time).

From spaghetti farmers in Switzerland, to rattlesnakes in ball pits (eek!) and compulsive liars who just can’t stop, this interactive and fascinating session based on Half-truths and Brazen Lies will give students something to think about long after it’s over. (Honest!)

Special for Forest of Reading! As a way to celebrate reading, drawing and their book’s Silver Birch nomination, Kira Vermond and illustrator Clayton Hanmer will present together to a select number of schools in 2017! Clayton has a decade of experience “live drawing” in front of an audience. See how their engaging and hilarious rapport on the page translates to real life. Please book at least two months in advance to accommodate combined schedules. Contact for fee details.

For other presentation topics (money, bullying and cliques, why we live where we live, writing non-fiction, adult writing workshops, Q&A, etc.) please inquire using the contact form below.

Maximum number of students per session: Up to 80 students. Smaller groups (20-35) tend to work best. I’m comfortable presenting in the classroom, library, auditorium, and gymnasium. Please provide a glass of water and access to a black or white board with writing supplies. I request that a librarian, teacher or other school representative be present throughout presentations.

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R.J. Anderson (Stratford ON)

Silver Birch nominee. Writers' Union Member. Author of thrilling yet thought-provoking speculative fiction for children and teens. $300 for one hour-long session, $525 for two, $750 for three, and $900 for a full day, plus mileage for visits outside local area. Willing to travel anywhere within a 150 km radius from Stratford (which includes most of the GTA); open to travelling further if accommodation and meals are provided.

R. J. (Rebecca) Anderson was born to missionary parents in Uganda, grew up in various parts of Ontario, and has become a bestselling author in England, to her great surprise and delight. Having endured years of bullying in primary school, she loves to encourage creative young minds and inspire readers to think deeply about prejudice and discrimination.

 

Presentations and Workshops:

Rebecca is a dynamic public speaker with 20+ years’ experience. Her passion is to inspire and educate young and upcoming writers, helping them find their creative voice and take their storytelling to the next level with practical, down-to-earth advice. She also gives lively dramatic readings — no droning or mumbling here!

Although she writes fantasy, Rebecca’s stories are grounded in real-world history, folklore and science, and many of her books feature distinctly Canadian characters and settings. Ultraviolet is set in Sudbury, its companion novel Quicksilver in Kitchener-Waterloo; and A Pocket Full of Murder and its sequel A Little Taste of Poison take place in an alternate-universe version of Toronto during the Great Depression. Her books also touch on serious discussion topics such as prejudice and discrimination (Pocket), disability (Knife), mental illness and neurodivergence (Ultraviolet), and Quicksilver has been widely praised for its frank but sensitive portrayal of asexuality.

In addition to visiting numerous schools, libraries, festivals, and after-school book clubs in person and via Skype, Rebecca has taught writing workshops at a wide variety of events including Packaging Your Imagination, SCBWI Canada East, Write!Canada, Book Camp London, and the Young Authors’ Conference. She is able to tailor her content to the needs and interests of her audience, including Christian and other conservative religious schools, and is happy to work with any age group from Grade 5 to adult.

Sample presentations for general school and library audiences:
- From Brainstorm to Bookstore: The Life Cycle of a Novel
- I Became an Author – You Could Too!
- The Real-World Roots of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Sample writing workshops:
- Finding Your Character’s Voice
- Revision: The Magic Key to Successful Writing
- Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
- Get (Un)Real: Writing Authentic Fantasy and SF
- Time Management and Motivation for Struggling Writers

Further topics available on request.

Needs:

Microphone for large audiences or rooms with poor acoustics. A small podium or note-stand and a table for books and other items used in the presentation. Bottled water or hot tea appreciated, and for full day bookings, a simple bagged or cafeteria lunch.

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Ellen Schwartz (Burnaby, BC)

Ellen Schwartz. Burnaby, BC. Writers’ Union member. Silver Birch Fiction nominee. $275 plus GST for one session, $500 for two, $750 for three. Ellen prefers to do a maximum of three readings per day. A day can be shared between two cooperating schools. For the GTA, Ellen can travel by GO train or subway but needs pick-up and drop-off at GO stations.

Ellen is an award-winning author of picture books, middle-grade and young adult fiction; and creative writing teacher. She never dreamed of becoming a writer (she wanted to be a dancer), but once she started writing, she found she could not stop. She has published 16 award-winning books for kids. Her Silver Birch-nominated book, Heart of a Champion, has received praise from School Library Journal, CM, and the Historical Novel Association.

 

Ellen’s presentations focus on her writing process. She discusses how she got the idea for the story, the brainstorming and research she did, the many drafts she wrote, all the way to the publication of the book. She shows them her beloved writing clipboard and pen, her messy drafts, her research materials, and the book galleys. She leaves plenty of time for questions.

Ellen conducts writing workshops with intermediate grades and up. She gives the kids a writing prompt and then, once they have written a short scene, takes them through a fun self-editing process. They share their work with a partner and then the whole group.

Maximum 60 students, though Ellen will negotiate rates for full assemblies. For writing workshops, maximum 30 students.

Library preferred. Classrooms and auditoriums also OK. Ellen prefers not to present in gyms if possible.

A glass of water, a microphone if speaking to a large group, and a projector suitable for showing a PowerPoint presentation. Lunch, please, if presenting to classes in morning and afternoon.

 

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Simon Shapiro (Toronto ON)

Nominated for 2017 Red Maple and Rocky Mountain Book Awards. Writers Union member. Passionate about sparking an interest in Science. $275 for one session, $475 for two, $650 for three, $800 for four (full day). Full day price can be split between neighbouring schools. Travel fee waived for Toronto and GTA.

Simon majored in Math, Applied Math and Computer Science and later completed an MBA at York University. After retiring from a career as an Information Technology professional, one of his interests has been writing books for children. He believes that it’s important for students to be STEM-literate (Science Technology Engineering and Math). He loves to spark kids’ interest in Science.

 

Presentations

Simon’s latest book, Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas that Transformed Sports, nominated for both 2017 Red Maple and Rocky Mountain Book Awards, and is also a finalist for the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 2017 SB&F Prize, shows kids that basic science concepts are highly relevant to sports. He tells fascinating stories of people who came up with bright ideas which had a huge impact on various sports. For each innovation, he explains the science of why the innovation was so effective.

Some innovators were athletes, many of them quite young (the youngest was twelve!) But other backgrounds include scientists, a farmer and a security guard. The human interest in the stories is compelling and inspirational. A clear message is that being inquisitive and exploring can result in significant discoveries.

By telling the story of several innovators, a presentation can be tailored to demonstrate the widespread significance of basic scientific concepts such as:

  • Energy and the conversion between kinetic, elastic and potential energy.
  • Fluid resistance (air and water).
  • Centre of gravity.

Other themes that can be highlighted:

  • Disabled sports. The inventors of the sports wheelchair and the blade prosthetic were both young adults who were injured in sporting accidents. They were both determined not to let their injuries prevent them from active lives. They were dissatisfied with the quality of wheelchairs and prosthetic legs, respectively. And both came up with radically new inventions to meet their own needs.
  • Innovation as a result of crossing fields of expertise. Examples include using fiberglass fishing poles to develop vaulting poles; hang gliding technology for wheelchairs; aircraft technology for skis.

For all presentations it would be extremely helpful to have computer projection available to show a Powerpoint presentation and / or images and video. Simon will bring these on a USB (‘thumb’) drive.

The scientific concepts are best for grades 7 and up.

 

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Casey Lyall (Strathroy ON)

Middlesex County and London, ON. Writers’ Union Member. Silver Birch nominee. Middle grade author. $250 for one session, $450 for two sessions, $650 for three sessions, $800 for four (a full day). (Each session is approximately 1 hour.)

Writing Workshops: $400. (Approximately 90 minutes each.)

Virtual Visits: 60 minute Skype visits are also available for $150 a session.

Travel fees: No travel fee if booking within 100km of London, or 150km if booking for a full day. Neighbouring schools can split the full day cost.

Casey is the author of the middle grade mystery series, Howard Wallace, P.I. She is a library branch assistant experienced in running programs for both elementary and high-school-aged students. Casey aims to entertain and inform while leaving her audience excited about creating their own stories.

Presentation Details:

Casey takes students on an in-depth, behind the scenes look at her path to publication. She shares every part of the process: elementary school writing, failed projects, rejection and editorial letters, as well as revised and finished manuscripts. She offers tips and tricks for finishing a story and how to tackle the dreaded revisions. Other topics Casey will touch on include developing characters, the elements of a mystery, writing with humour, surviving rejection, the value of persistence, and how to find your voice as a writer.

Casey is a very flexible presenter and will adapt her program to suit any audience of grades three and up. Each presentation is approximately 1 hour with time allowed for student Q&A throughout.

Writing Workshops are also available for smaller groups and run for approximately 90 minutes. (Maximum size is one class.)

Workshop topics available:

Building Your Story - focus on creating a story arc, writing dialogue that crackles, and developing characters and setting.

Making Your Story Shine – focus on pacing, building tension, deepening relationships between characters, and sticking the ending. (Students should have an in-progress story to work on during the session.)

Venue: Casey prefers to present in a classroom or library space.  Maximum group size per session is 3 classes or approximately 100 students. A librarian, teacher, or other school representative should be present throughout the presentation (or workshop if the group is a full class.)

Equipment required: a glass/bottle of water and a table. A microphone for larger groups if the room acoustics require it. Lunch if booked for a full day presentation.

Casey will also deliver presentations for adult writers as well as educators looking to start a student writers’ workshop. Listed pricing would apply. Please contact her for more details.

 

 

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Kathleen Cherry (Kitimat, B.C.)

Silver Birch Fiction nominee for Everyday Hero. Writers’ Union Member. Available the week of May 15, 2017: $250 + HST for one, $400 for two, $800 for three and $900 for four, plus travel from Toronto. Kathleen is interested in visits to more remote areas in Ontario, May 18th and 19th. Virtual Visits: $120 + HST.  50 minutes Skype or Google Hangout.

Kathleen is a school psychologist and has worked as a school counsellor, special education teacher, regular classroom teacher and newspaper reporter and photographer. She has a specific interest in First Nations history and culture and has worked with students to write and publish several books, including one based on a Haisla legend. Kathleen’s non-fiction work about Kitamaat Village’  G'psgolox totem pole was featured in Highlights for Children, May, 2010, Vol. 65 Issue 5.

Kathleen also has a passion for working with students in remote locations and helping them to achieve their hopes and dreams despite distance and other challenging factors.

Trained as a teacher and in speech arts, Kathleen is a lively and enthusiastic presenter. She can tailor her presentations to any age group.

Presentations:  Kathleen is happy to provide presentations for any age group (ask for more details) and is willing to do as many as four in a day.

Grades 3-7: Kathleen is happy to work with groups of any size and in any setting; e.g. classroom, gym or library.

Everyday Hero is about an autistic girl’s challenges and her recognition of herself as a hero and friend. Kathleen talks about aspects of bravery – both the big and small. Personal challenges and diversity are discussed. Sensory issues are also explained with a tie in to mindfulness.  Self-regulation strategies – ‘milkshake breathing’, glitter jars and positive self-talk are explored and can be demonstrated, if group size allows. Kathleen is happy to tie this into any educational program, for example, Fun Friends, MindUp, Zones of Regulation, WITS.

Kathleen also discusses her background.  She talks about the process of getting a book published and how sending out her manuscripts after multiple rejections was her own act of bravery. She discusses how her mathematical struggles helped her to develop resilience and achieve her writing goals!

All Kathleen’s presentations are as interactive as possible and designed to involve students. Bookmarks, instructions for milk-shake breathing and glitter jars are provided for participants. Draws for a book give-away and stress balls also add to the fun.

 

Or for those English teachers out there…

Kathleen is happy to discuss aspects of writing. This includes setting, characterization, conflict, and voice. In Everyday Hero, voice is vitally important and Kathleen has some fun and interactive ways to demonstrate this. It was also a challenge as an author to maintain the consistency of this voice. Terms like ‘first person’ and ‘third person’ and why an author might choose to write in one of these forms are mentioned.

Important issues of research and the different types of writing are discussed. As a perpetual student (Kathleen is part way through her doctorate), a nonfiction freelance reporter and fiction writer both for adults and kids, Kathleen has a lot to say on this subject!

Community Professional Development workshops: Kathleen is more than happy to do an evening workshop at a library for any interested adults or teens. Price is negotiable depending on size.

Needs: A glass of water and a microphone if speaking to a large group in a gym or theatre.

 

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S. J. Laidlaw (Vietnam)

Writers’ Union Member. White Pine nominee for Fifteen Lanes. Available in May for in-person visits, or anytime for Skype visits. $275 for a one hour session, $475 for two, $700 for three, and $925 for four, travel fees waived for presentations in Toronto, Guelph, Whitby and Ottawa. Skype visits: $150 for a 40-minute session, which includes a reading and question and answer period. Skype proceeds donated to AAWC, a leading Mumbai-based NGO that provides programs and support for the children of sex workers.

S.J. Laidlaw has been a teacher and adolescent counsellor for many years. An experienced presenter, she’s happy speaking to both large and small groups as well as delivering writing workshops. She has been a guest speaker at the Tata Literature Live and the Khala Ghoda Literary Festivals in Mumbai, India, and has delivered writing workshops at a number of international schools and universities.

Susan first went overseas more than thirty years ago as a volunteer teacher with CUSO. She has now lived overseas for more than half her life in countries including Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Nigeria, Honduras, and Russia. Her second book, AN INFIDEL IN PARADISE, is set in Pakistan and draws largely on her experiences while living there. Her third book, THE VOICE INSIDE MY HEAD, is set on a small island off the coast of Honduras where she owns a cottage. Susan learned to dive and snorkelled with whale sharks as part of her research for the book.

A trained teacher with a Master’s degree in Social Work, Susan has developed and implemented programs for disadvantaged children in many countries and is a passionate speaker on the plight of children living in poverty around the world. Susan spent more than two years working with the children of sex workers in the heart of Mumbai’s red-light district while researching her latest book, FIFTEEN LANES. A Teacher’s Guide for FIFTEEN LANES is available here:

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She is currently teaching in Vietnam while researching her new book.

Susan is versatile when it comes to engaging young readers and can tailor her presentations to the needs of your school or library.

 

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Michelle Barker (Vancouver)

Michelle Barker. Vancouver. Writers’ Union member.  Award-winning author of poetry, a picture book, a young adult fantasy novel, short fiction, and non-fiction. 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award nominee. All ages.  Michelle’s rate is $275 for one presentation, $425 for two, $650 for three, and $825 for four. No travel costs within the GTA. Available in the Toronto area mid-November, 2016, early February, 2017, and early June, 2017.

Michelle grew up in Vancouver but has lived in Jerusalem, France, Quebec and the Okanagan region of BC. She has four children. In 2014 she graduated from the MFA program at UBC. When she isn’t writing, she works as an editor and mentor. An energetic presenter, she has run creative writing workshops and given presentations to people of all ages.

Michelle offers the following presentations for different ages:

  1. K1 30 minutes / 30 students max.

A Year of Borrowed Men

  • Reading
  • Time Capsule Activity
  • Q&A
  1. 25   60 minutes

A Year of Borrowed Men

  • Reading with projected illustrations
  • Slides and discussion about life on the farm in 1940s Germany
  • Some historical information
  • Time Capsule Activity
  • Q&A
  1. 5-12 60 minutes

What She Said: Writing Effective Dialogue

  • What good dialogue can do
  • The pitfalls of writing dialogue
  • Student participation and hands-on writing exercises
  1. 8-12 60 minutes

Poetry for the Terrified

  • Why so many people don’t like poetry
  • Imagery and telepathy
  • To rhyme or not to rhyme
  • Making every word count
  • Hands-on writing exercises
  1. 7-10 60 Minutes

The Beggar King

  • Reading from the novel
  • The pitfalls of writing fantasy
  • The writer’s life—pros and cons

With the exception of the youngest classes, the maximum number of students per session is flexible, but Michelle prefers to use a microphone for groups over forty.

Equipment requirements are a projector and a screen for a PowerPoint presentation. And a glass of water, please. Michelle brings a lap top. She would ask that a librarian or teacher be present throughout the presentation.

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John Spray (Toronto and Tweed ON)

Toronto & Tweed On. Writers Union member. Fiction/Non-fiction.
$250 for one session plus HST. $400 with Arthur the boxer. Travel fee waived for Toronto and Tweed.

John has written a critically acclaimed book on the young life of Arthur Biyarslanov, a Pan-Am gold medalist boxer and an Olympian.

Arthur can accompany John with his gold medal and boxing gloves and will be there for Q&A after John’s reading. John is a seasoned speaker and yearly gives out the ‘John Spray Mystery’ award at the T.D. Book Awards. His forty years as a private investigator also add colour to his presentation. John will speak to middle-grade students, Y.A. and adults and is particularly adept at encouraging reluctant readers and readers new to English. John can do up to four, one hour presentations on any day and can travel anywhere in Ontario.

John’s presentation includes tips on writing and how to get the most out any book. He also has many amusing anecdotes from his forty years as a private investigator. The book itself spans three countries, a war, both soccer and boxing and Arthur's struggles growing up in poverty. These are rich topics for both children and adults and by their very nature, spawn curiosity from inquiring minds.

John has no media set-up as the whole idea of reading is to stoke the imagination.  For large rooms or when the acoustics require it, a microphone is requested.

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Darren Groth (Vancouver)

Darren Groth 3Vancouver BC. Writers’ Union Member. YA. Aussie adopted by Canada; GG Finalist,  BC Book Prizes, multi awards in Australia. Fees: $300 for 1 session, $500 for 2, $700 for 3, $850 for 4 (plus HST). Because. A day can be shared between two cooperating schools.

For the GTA (and Toronto bookings near GO stations), Darren can GO TRAIN (not buses or subway) travel both ways all day; he requires pick up and drop off at the GO stations. Where GO Trains are not feasible, car or taxi pick-up from Darren’s hotel is requested.

Bio: Darren is a Canozzie (Canadian-Australian), ex-PE teacher, proud ASD parent and author of five novels, including the acclaimed YA work ‘Are You Seeing Me?’, winner of the 2016 Adelaide Festival Award for YA Literature (Australia) and finalist for seven major prizes on both sides of the Pacific including the Governor General’s Literary Awards and the BC Book Prizes.

Presentations: Despite his occasional confounding accent and Aussie-isms, Darren is a brilliant speaker and presenter for schools, libraries and writing organizations. Presentations include:

  • ‘Seven Pieces of Priceless Advice from Perry’; an entertaining insight into the decorated YA novel ‘Are You Seeing Me?’ and an exploration of life lessons provided by protagonist, Perry Richter; includes two interactive games with prizes: ‘AYSM Numbers’ and ‘Jackie Chan or Ogopogo’; Grades 5-12; 60 minutes; suitable for individual classes or large groups.
  • ‘Coming to Canada’; a reflective and humourous look at cultural difference in Darren’s fiction, teaching and real life; includes one interactive game with prizes: ‘Aussie Interpretations’; Grades 5-12; 60 minutes; suitable for individual classes or large groups.

Workshops: Darren is a facilitator highly skilled in co-operative learning techniques. His sessions are designed to not only produce great writing, but also great collaboration. Workshops include:

  • ‘Authorship: The FAQ’; a comprehensive and interactive overview of ‘insider’ author knowledge; includes five co-operative group exercises; half-day, only for creative writing groups (max. 16); suitable for secondary students and adults.
  • ‘Seeing is Believing’; a flyover of the ‘Are You Seeing Me?’ journey, from conception to publication; includes two co-operative group exercises; 60-90 minutes; only for creative writing groups (max. 16); suitable for secondary students and adults.
  • ‘Small Stories, Big Dreams: Adventures in Flash Fiction’; a deep dive into the world of flash fiction, its craft, its creation and its publishing opportunities; includes multiple writing exercises, an open mike session, and a competition/prizes; half- or full day; only for creative writing groups (max. 16); suitable for secondary students and adults.

Equipment requirements: Water, tea, lunch (Vegemite sandwich lol) if staying for the day. A screen and projector for Power Point.

Virtual Visits: $100 plus HST, 30 minutes; $150 plus HST, 60 minutes Skype.

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Christie Harkin (Aurora)

christieharkinAurora, ON. Christie is a Toronto-area publisher and editor of many award-winning children/ young adult novels and picture books. She is also a former English and ESL teacher/tutor and experienced presenter. $175 for a 1.5 hour session. $350 for one half-day session (3 hours). No travel fee for York Region or Toronto. Standard kilometrage for other areas.

Christie is the former producer/host of Bookmarks: The Book Report Show for Kids, a cable-access TV show that gave children the opportunity to talk about books and interview authors on television.

These Topics can be tailored to suit all grades from Junior to High School:

The Publishing Process (1.5 hrs)

How is a book “made”? What does it take to become a published author or illustrator? Students will learn about the publishing industry and process of getting a book published. Audience limit: flexible/negotiable/large group.

Self-editing and peer-editing: Why a good editor is a writer’s best friend (1.5 hrs)

  • Stages of writing (preparation, the writing process, revision)
  • What to look for in your own work and in your partner’s work when you are editing
  • Common errors and bloopers
  • How to be critical and encouraging at the same time
  • What to do when you are STUCK
  • Peer-editing workshop

Crafting your own picture book: Presentation and workshop: 1.5 hrs

  • Thinking about AUDIENCE
  • Thinking about STORY
  • Thinking about ILLUSTRATION
  • Turning the page: Thinking about DESIGN
  • Picture book planning workshop

Diversity on the Bookshelf: Who are books for? Presentation and workshop: 1.5 hrs

  • Discussing the role of books in addressing issues of diversity, inclusion, race, gender, ability, socio-economics, and sexuality.
  • Exploring books that present characters and scenarios that both represent and challenge students’ experiences
  • Shelf-study workshop; evaluating a collection critically

Workshop: The Literary Journal: (2-hour minimum)

Students will workshop the creation of a class or school literary publication using submissions that are collected in advance. They will learn to examine submissions critically and consider topics of inclusion, voice, diversity, style, balance, and merit. Working in groups, they will formulate a “vision” for their publication, begin to select pieces, make editorial notes, and create a preliminary table of contents.

Requirements: Water, projector/screen and apparatus to connect a laptop for PowerPoint presentations, microphone if the space warrants. Classroom presentations and workshops: Audience Limits: 40 students per session.

 

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Leah Bobet (Toronto)

LeahBobetwp1

Toronto. Shortlisted for the Cybils Award, the Aurora Award, the Sunburst Award, the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Award, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy; OLA Best Bets selection; winner of the Lydia Langstaff Prize.

$275 for one hour-long session, $500 for two, $750 for three, and $950 for four, plus travel outside Toronto. Happy to discuss arrangements with high-needs schools.

With a wide range of experience in the books and reading world, award-winning novelist, bookseller, games writer, and editor Leah Bobet gives inclusive, information-rich presentations that help students develop new skills—and recognize what they're already rocking! Leah has given presentations and workshops at Toronto Public Library, Essa Public Library, London Book Camp, Word on the Street, the Tucson Festival of Books, and more.

Leah believes in fitting the presentation to the students' needs, not asking students to bend to fit the presentation: every presentation is custom-tailored to fit your group's interests and the topics they're studying right now. The goal: to make sure students leave feeling confident, curious, and inspired!

Recent presentation topics include:

The Secret History of Toronto

Using Leah's 2012 YA novel Above as a basis, this presentation gives students a quick history of Toronto's oddities, dead architecture, secret subway stations, and more, with an emphasis on how the city has grown in welcoming diverse citizens and helping out its most vulnerable. This hour-long presentation, with a Q&A at the end, discusses how writers meld history into brand-new stories and the treasures you can find digging in your own figurative back yard.

Reading and the Writing Life

A 15-minute reading from Above or An Inheritance of Ashes, followed by an in-depth, practical, and occasionally goofy presentation on Leah's path to publication, the writing life, what novels are and can be, finding one's own voice as a writer, and fitting writing into the rest of your life. Includes an in-depth Q&A session so students can focus on the topics that matter to them.

Writing Urban Fantasy: Finding Magic In Your Neighbourhood

A workshop-style presentation for fantasy readers or Writer's Craft groups, this presentation introduces students to the core concepts of writing urban fantasy and finding places in one's everyday world where magic can fit. Includes a 30-minute writing and sharing activity, and focuses on the basic skill of reading and writing fantasy: seeing wonder in the everyday.

Where It Comes From: World building, the Apocalypse, and All Our Stuff

Using Leah's 2015 YA novel An Inheritance of Ashes as a basis, this presentation talks about the everyday things we use—sugar, plastic, soap—and how many people's work goes into building our average day. Through showing how Ashes builds a post-apocalyptic world without industrialization, the group discusses re-purposing, reusing, sharing economies, and how making it yourself can be a lot of fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SS-G24mPGc

This presentation is great for classes focusing on sustainability, materials science, or environmental studies.

Leah is happy to work with adult or student groups of all sizes, although workshops will run best when capped at 30 students. She requires a screen, projector, and laptop for Powerpoint presentations. If the room is larger or has difficult acoustics, a microphone is appreciated, as is a bottle of water; for multi-presentation days, a low-sugar snack is greatly appreciated.

Virtual Visits cheerfully accepted, at $150 for 60 minutes via Skype or $175 for 90 minutes.

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L. E. Carmichael, PhD (NS)

Carmichaelwp1N.S. Writers' Union Member.  Award-winning author of 21 science books for young people.

Fees: $250 for a one-hour presentation, $400 for two hours, plus travel expenses. Contact me for full-day pricing. Fees include supplies for experiments. Skype visits also available.

Lindsey is comfortable presenting to small groups or entire gymnasiums, and loves to combine book talk with hands-on science experiments. Lindsey is also an experienced writing instructor, offering workshops for both children and adults.

Presentations:

Lindsey specializes in making science cool and accessible to kids, so she's most often invited to speak about the subjects of her books. She can also present on academic writing skills, or speak to the terror – and thrill! – of researching and writing non-fiction for kids.

Sample presentations and workshops are described below. Lindsey will create custom programs to suit your needs, but additional development fees may apply.

Grades K-3: Laura and the Locusts

In 1875, a swarm of Rocky Mountain locusts destroyed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family farm. This presentation integrates Laura’s descriptions of the swarm (On the Banks of Plum Creek) with the newest scientific information on Locust Migration. Prepare to be fascinated and creeped out all at once!

Grades 3-6: Decoding Domestication

Ever wonder where domestic animals came from? Why they look the way they look and act the way they do? Learn about a remarkable experiment that decoded domestication. Based on Lindsey's book Fox Talk, this program includes video of experimentally domesticated foxes and answers the eternal question, "What does the fox say?"

Special requirements: If a docile, kid-friendly dog is available, students can take part in a live communication experiment during the presentation.

Grades 7-10: Forensic Science: Digging Into DNA (1 hour)

Inspired by Lindsey's 2014 Lane Anderson Award-winning book Fuzzy Forensics: DNA Fingerprinting Gets Wild, this presentation explores the way scientists use DNA to solve crimes against both people and wildlife. Includes a signature "myth busting" section on TV forensics and plenty of time for questions.

Grades 7-10: Forensic Science: Finding A Match (2 hours)

A variation on Digging Into DNA, this program covers the history and science of fingerprinting – both traditional and DNA varieties. It also includes two hands-on experiments with extensions for later home or classroom use.

Special requirements: Lindsey provides most of the ingredients, but requests that schools supply mugs, paintbrushes, kettles, and newspaper.

Grades 7-12: Creative and Academic Writing Workshops. Topics can include:

- research and interview skills
- descriptive writing
- world building for sci/fi and fantasy
- touching your reader’s emotions
- revision and editing techniques
- lab reports or argumentative essays
- and more!

Grades 10-12: Creative and Academic Writing Workshops. Topics can include:

- research and interview skills
- descriptive writing
- revision and editing techniques
- lab reports or argumentative essays
- and more!

General Requirements for all presentations: Projector and screen, with computer (Lindsey's Mac does not play well with others). A table for setting up displays. For large room and groups, a microphone is required. Lindsey has a lot of food allergies and prefers to provide her own meals.

Download Writers-in-the-Schools subsidy form here: WITSApplication

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Martin Springett (Toronto)

Martin Springett 1Toronto. Writers' Union Member.  GG nominee, among others, and winner of the Aurora Award for fantasy illustration and the Ruth Schwartz Award for picture books.

Please note: Martin is not scheduling school and library visits at this time.

Martin’s fee is $250 per one hour session. An all day visit, typically four sessions, would be $900.

Martin Springett has been an illustrator of fantasy book covers and children’s books since 1984 when he illustrated the covers for Guy Kay’s classic fantasy trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry. He has won the Aurora Award for fantasy illustration, the Ruth Schwartz Award in the children’s picture book field for The Nightwalker and been nominated for the Govenor Generals Award for Who. His books include Mei Ming and The Dragon's Daughter, The Follower and Too Many Suns. Martin created his first authored and illustrated book, Jousting With Jesters in 2006, and in, 2011, Fitzhenry and Whiteside released Breakfast On A Dragon's Tail. Kate and Pippin, An Unlikely Love Story, was released in 2012 and has won numerous awards including The Blue Spruce award.

Martin Springett's presentation covers a wide range of topics. As an author, illustrator and musician, Martin uses all his creative skills to engage students in the art of story telling; from flights of fantasy in Breakfast On A Dragon's Tail, to the true life tale of Kate and Pippin, An Unlikely Love Story.

From the original sketches, in the case of Breakfast On A Dragon's Tail, to the first photos that Martin saw of Kate and Pippin, to the finished books on the School Library shelf, Martin will take students through the journey that is the creation of a book. Martin uses a slide show to draw the students in to the world of each book, drawing on the spot, (a gentle art lesson) and live guitar music, usually at the end of the presentation. Students usually love to hear The Dragon, as well as see Martin create a dynamic drawing of one.

For older grades and adult audiences, Martin focuses on the more technical aspects of creating images for picture books and book covers. In his long career as an illustrator Martin has created images for almost all areas where illustration is required.

Martin has also created two graphic novels, What's For Dinner, an all ages book, and The Gardening Club, a companion graphic novel to his vinyl LP of the same name, which is being re released in May 2016.

Martin is comfortable with audiences of all sizes, although in elementary schools, 60 students in a library is ideal.
Set up is - lap top and projector for slide shows / easel with unlined paper for drawing on the spot / a table to display books and original art works. One cup/bottle of water.

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Arlene Chan (Toronto)

ArleneChan2016Toronto. $250 for one session, $400 for two, and $550 for three. No travel charges within the Greater Toronto Area.

Arlene has written seven books about Chinese festivals and the Chinese in Canada. Arlene has given hundreds of presentations to students from grades one up to grade twelve. She was a guest author at the 2014 Toronto International Book Fair and the 2013 Word on the Street.

Here’s what Vivien Keiling, Youth Services Librarian, Vaughan Public Libraries, has to say about Arlene’s presentation:

Presenting to school-aged children is not an easy thing - they're easily distracted and aren't always that interested in hearing what the presenter has to say. Arlene Chan was amazing - she was able to take a large group of  11 year-olds (65 of them) and keep them engaged, interested, and enthusiastic for a full hour presentation [about the dragon boat festival]! The children were asking tons of questions and even after it was time for them to leave, they didn't want to go! Arlene was a fantastic presenter - the best author visit I've had.

You will enjoy 60 minutes of lively and interactive presentations geared for the age of the audience. As a retired librarian, who planned and presented programs at the Toronto Public Library, I know what teachers and school librarians expect, and how to keep students engaged. (I’ve also been a guest on many television and radio shows, like CBC Radio’s Here and Now and Fresh Air.) There’s always lots of time for questions. I’m at ease in making presentations in classrooms and libraries.

Best for grades 1-6. Audience up to 80 children at a time. A separate room is preferred to contain the noise of excited children during their simulated dragon boat races.

Special Occasions:

 “The Dragon Boat Festival” – May/June, depending on lunar calendar. Best for grades 1-3. Preferred audience size of 30. This presentation can be scheduled as two 30-minute presentations instead of one 60-minute one.

“The Moon Festival” – September/October, depending on the lunar calendar. Best for grades 1-6. Audience up to 80 children at a time.

“Chinese New Year and other Celebrations” – January/February, depending on the lunar calendar; Asian Heritage Month in May. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

Historic Events:

“The Role of the Chinese in the Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway”

Righting Canada's Wrongs: the Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century

The Chinese Community in Toronto: Then and Now. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

People in History:

“A Proud Chinese Canadian”. The Spirit of the Dragon: The Story of Jean Lumb. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

Immigration:

“Canada’s Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies, 1885-1967”. Righting Canada's Wrongs: the Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century. Best for grades 7-12. Preferred audience size of 30.

Equipment and other Requirements

Projector or SmartBoard for Powerpoint presentations

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