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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Ella Burakowski (Toronto)

ella-burakowskiwp1aHiddenGold_cover2.inddToronto. Writer’s Union Member.2017 Red Maple non-fiction nominee for Hidden Gold, A True Story of the Holocaust. Regular columnist for The Canadian Jewish News.

Middle grade author. $250 for one session, $450 for two sessions, $650 for three sessions, $800 for four (a full day). (Each session which includes a question and answer period, is approximately 1 hour.)

Ella is a second-generation survivor, whose mother and father both suffered through the Holocaust. Ella’s mother died when she was 14 years old, before she could share her story. Ella's uncle David Gold, her mother’s brother, was able to describe their family’s terrifying struggle during the Holocaust. Ella feels that she is a unique link to the past and the future.

Ella’s presentation includes two parts.

She discusses Hidden Gold by first reviewing the basics of the Holocaust and its historical significance, then segues into how the Holocaust directly affected her family. She also describes how their affliction affected her growing up. Her presentation includes a film,in which Ella’s uncle, David Gold recounts their harrowing story of near misses with death.

The second part of the presentation reviews how Ella went about writing Hidden Gold as narrative non-fiction.She explains the different elements involved in verifying and interlacing her family’s story with historical facts and scientific data. Finally, Ella discusses the emotions of her characters, her family, as they stared death in the face repeatedly.

A question and answer period follows the 40-minute presentation.

The presentation requires audio/visual availability, either by projector, smartboard or television. Ella brings her laptop and has most cabling for connections.

The presentation can be tailored for grades 6 through high school and there is a free Study Guide available on her website, as well as on the Publisher’s website.

Ella has done presentations for children in one classroom, as well as presenting to the entire intermediate division of a school. She does presentations for adults and has spoken at libraries, book clubs, women’s groups and seniors’ residences where other Holocaust survivors were present.

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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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Sue Irwin (Grimsby ON)

Writers’ Union Member. Niagara, ON. Teacher. Nominated for a 2017 Silver Birch Nonfiction award. Grades 3 to 8. $250 for one session, $400 for two, $600 for three, $800 for four. Happy to do multiple visits in the same school or area in a day. Sessions are 45 to 60 minutes long. Skype visits $150 (45 to 60 min).

Sue Irwin enjoys every step of the writing process. A proud Canadian and avid hockey fan, she’s especially interested in the lives of her fellow-citizens, both famous and not-yet-famous. And she loves to share newly discovered facts with kids. Her work has appeared in AppleSeeds and Highlights for Children magazines. She has also written for Reading A-Z. Safety Stars: Players who fought to make the hard-hitting game of professional hockey safer is her first book.

An elementary school teacher, Sue is comfortable doing presentations with children from JK to Grade 8, but the subject matter of her book Safety Stars is most suitable for students in Grades 5 to 8. (Resource Guide.)

Having been a fan of the sport for as long as she can remember, Sue thought she knew the game well. But as she conducted her research for the book, she was excited to learn more about the history of the game, its rules, and the competitors themselves. All of the hockey players featured in Safety Stars are Canadian citizens, and many grew up in Ontario. When Sue comes to your school, she’ll highlight the hockey heroes from your hometown, whenever possible. Prepare to be surprised by the fun facts that she’ll share!

Sue’s presentation topics include:

– how she became interested in hockey. She’ll share memories of her first (embarrassing!) game experience.

– the exciting world of nonfiction

– the process of writing for publication (includes researching, writing, and revising)

– Ha, Ha! Hockey Talk (includes hockey trivia and funny quotes from professional players)

– how students’ actions can make a difference in the lives of others

– concussion safety (includes ways to reduce injury risk, concussion symptoms, the importance of reporting injuries, and treatment of concussions)

Sue enjoys interacting with her audience, and will intersperse opportunities for Q & A throughout her presentation.

Equipment and Other Requirements

Venues: Flexible, but the library or a classroom is preferred.

 

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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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Deborah Kerbel (Thornhill ON)

dkerbelWriters’ Union Member. GG finalist. MG, YA Fiction. $325 for one presentation, $575 for two, $850 for three, $1000 for four, + travel (no travel costs within GTA). Full day fee can be split between two neighbouring schools. Out of town visits require two or more bookings.

Deborah Kerbel was born in London, England, but moved to Canada before she was old enough to cultivate a posh accent or a love of marmalade. She is the author of six acclaimed novels for kids and teens. From school groups to large events and international festivals, she’s an experienced presenter and enthusiastic speaker who uses humour and an interactive style to engage her audience. Deborah loves visiting schools and meeting readers and writers of all ages. Based in Thornhill, Ontario, she’s the proud mom of two book-loving children, both of whom continue to inspire many of her story ideas.

Presentations

Deborah’s 60 min presentation consists of:
-details about her Middle Grade and/or Young Adult novels (depending on ages present)
-motivation, rejection, determination, and the rocky road to publication
-interactive PowerPoint quiz about famous children’s authors
-discussion about where ideas come from
-personal anecdotes about writing
-reading and Q&A session
-each student receives a signed bookmark

Grades: 4 - 8

Maximum number of students per session: 60-80 (flexible)
Venue: All acceptable, but library preferred.
Equipment requirements: Projector and screen, glass of water, microphone for larger groups

Workshop details:

Deborah enjoys mentoring emerging writers through workshops, library visits, and short-story competitions. Her interactive workshop is designed to help emerging writers take their craft to the next level. Participants can expect to come away with a variety of creative new ideas and material for their writing as well as the tools to implement them. During the final part of the workshop, participants will take several minutes to write a scene using some of the character traits, setting ideas, and action scenes that were collectively brainstormed within the group.

Maximum workshop size: 15

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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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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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Melanie Florence (Toronto)

Toronto. Writers’ Union Member. Winner of the TD Children's Literature Award! Author of novels, non-fiction and picture books and recent winner of the Second Story Press Aboriginal Writing Contest.

Melanie’s rate is $300, two is $550, three is $800 and four is $1000, plus travel from Toronto. (No costs for travel within the GTA.)

Melanie tailors her presentations to the age of her audience and makes them fun and interactive. Groups can choose one of her books for her to do a short reading from and she discusses her experience as a writer, what led her to become a writer and where she gets her ideas. She also talks about the process of writing … from idea to publication.

Each presentation is 50 minutes in duration with 10 minutes for Q&A. She also talks about what drove her to write books with Aboriginal characters and issues, such as residential schools, racism and teen pregnancy.

Melanie can also gear her presentation to discuss Aboriginal issues, such as residential schools and missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Melanie’s most popular visit is a serious but enlightening history of residential schools and introduces students to what life in the residential schools was really like, which is a great addition to the Aboriginal studies curriculum.

Melanie’s books include a strong element of her Aboriginal roots and she encourages discussions and questions on Aboriginal history, residential schools, and especially diversity.

Melanie can tailor a writing workshop to your group but her favourites are Exploring Your Culture Through Writing where the group will  explore their own unique stories and The Importance of a Good First Line, where Melanie and your students will look at famous first lines and talk about what makes them strong. Using a list of strong first lines, the workshop participants will choose one to start their own story.

All venues (classrooms, libraries, auditorium, gymnasiums etc.)
Equipment and other requirements: I like to use power point if possible– can bring my own laptop but will need a projector and screen.

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Rene Schmidt (Trenton)

ReneSchmidtwp1Trenton ON, Writers' Union Member. Canadian Disasters series, Red Maple Honour Book, Fiction, Canada’s little known best-selling author.

Rene will charge $175 for one session, $300 for two, $500 for three and for $650 for four sessions. Free mileage within 100 km of Trenton.

Rene Schmidt is a man of wide experiences, from hard-rock mining to truck driving, construction work, crewing on freight ships, acting, teaching, and travels extensively by bicycle, motorcycle, canoe, or truck through Canada. Rene is an award-winning author and engaging story-teller. Reluctant readers and book-shy individuals will find themselves drawn to his stories, of both fictional and true events.

Rene’s books on Canadian Disasters are likely already in your school library.  These best-selling books by Scholastic Canada have accurate and compelling stories of Canada’s dangerous past, written in brief and high-interest format. Rene’s school-setting fiction novel, Leaving Fletchville traces the heart-warming tale of a boy who defies authority to act as surrogate father to his siblings.  Leaving Fletchville was a Red Maple honour book. As a retired teacher, Rene can adapt to any size audience from 5 to 500. Students are held spellbound by his voices and accents.  The recently discovered HMS Erebus is an open portal to Rene’s extensive research on the fate of Sir John Franklin and his men.  Rene has all the details, gruesome photos and cannibalistic theories to share with your classes. He will adapt his presentations to whatever grade or curriculum needs you ask for, from Grade 4 to adult.

Presentation Details

As a retired teacher, Rene can adapt to any size audience from 5 to 500. Students are held spellbound by his voices and accents. The recently discovered HMS Erebus is an open portal to Rene’s extensive research on the fate of Sir John Franklin and his men. Rene has all the details, gruesome photos and cannibalistic theories to share with your classes. He will adapt his presentations to whatever grade or curriculum needs you ask for, from Grade 4 to adult.

 

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Lorna Schultz Nicholson (AB)

Alberta. Writers' Union Member. Fiction and NF. Red Maple Nominee.Multi nominations and awards.K-12.Adults.

$300 plus HST for 1 session, $550 for 2, $750 for 3 and $900 for 4. Travel will need to be negotiated. She always has accommodations in Toronto and Niagara.

 

Lorna is a passionate, energetic and experienced presenter who will make sure that every presentation suits each group. She is the author of picture books, (Puckster is always a hit with the primary grades), middle grade fiction and non-fiction, YA fiction and reluctant readers. She loves writing about diversity. She also loves speaking to adult groups and leading writing workshops for grades 4 to adult. FragileBones

Presentations by Grade: Lorna’s presentations and workshops are lively and fun and can be tailored to fit the age and the group. She can present to all age groups, is open to groups of 100 or less and is definitely open to travel. Lorna’s books deal with many aspects of the school curriculum.

K-2 - Lorna will discuss her Puckster characters (they’re all animals), and how she gets her ideas for her stories. She will work with the students on story comprehension, (and fun), by having the children pretend they are at hockey game. Using her characters, she will talk with the students about family and friend dynamics and how to resolve conflicts. She would prefer two 30 minutes story sessions for the price of one full session.

Grades 3-8 - Lorna will talk about her middle grade fiction books and her characters and their problems and relationship choices and ups and downs. We all have them, right? Then she’ll discuss the process of getting a book published. How she goes from idea to finished product, including editing and editing and editing. Yup, editing.She will encourage the students to listen to their teachers and edit their own work. Yeah!!!! A reading and Q and A will end the session.

High school classes - Lorna will engage the students by discussing Fragile Bones and how the world is full of diverse people. For this group, (depending on the size, location and if school has technical needs), she has a fun but enlightening Power Point presentation to keep the students engaged. She will also discuss how she develops a story, moves from idea to finished product and different research techniques. Students will be encouraged to rewrite their work. A reading (yes, she loves to read to high school students) and Q and A session will end the presentation.

All questions will be answered except, “How old are you?”

Writing Workshops (grades 3-12, adults) $500 for a half day (two hours). Or can be negotiated depending on group and needs.

Let’s Make a Story – Every student gets to pick a character and a setting out of a hat. Then the trade game begins. If the student wants to trade either setting or character they can, but the game is controlled and only one trade is allowed. This gets them thinking about a story to write about, and if they really do want to trade, makes their brains start working. Of course, every story also needs a problem. This workshop is hands on. If time permits the students will read their stories aloud!

Creating Cool Characters - Let’s develop some cool characters through an interactive workshop. It’s all about pretending to be someone else. In this workshop, students will learn how to create characters that will jump off the page. Lorna brings a suitcase full of costumes and students will get to put them on and pretend to be a character. Then the entire class will write sentences to describe the characters being portrayed. Emphasis will be on creating a picture using description. This workshop is for grades 3-6.

Mystery Writing - This hands-on workshop is all about the Who-dunnit. Emphasis will be on developing the main sleuth and his/her supporting cast. Plus, Lorna will work on the pace of a mystery story and adding red herrings to make a plausible mystery that will keep readers guessing. This workshop works for grades 3-8. Time permitting, stories will be read aloud.

Telling Tall Tales - Are you interested in true stories? Do you like reading about fascinating people? Writing non-fiction is just as creative as writing fiction. In this class you will learn how to interview, gather information and write incredible stories that will keep your reader turning the page. Be prepared to have fun writing about someone else! This is a great workshop for junior and high school students.

Virtual Visits: $100 plus HST, 50 minutes (may be divided into two 30 minutes) Skype

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Maggie De Vries (BC)

maggiedevries Vancouver, BC. Writers' Union Member. Fiction & NF. 2016 White Pine nominee. Multi awards. All ages.

$350 plus HST for 1 session, $600 for 2, $850 for 3 and $1000 for 4 (can be shared between two schools in the same area). No additional cost for travel or accommodations.

Available in the Guelph area, May 9 to 13, and in Toronto, May 16 and May 18 to 20.

Maggie writes YA and middle-grade novels, narrative non-fiction and picture books. She is sought after for her rich, dynamic presentations for all ages. Maggie can do up to four presentations in the same school or area in a day. As an experienced editor, a lecturer in UBC’s Creative Writing Program and the author of an adult memoir, she also loves speaking to adult groups and giving writing workshops to adults and young people.

RabbitEars
Presentations

Maggie tailors her presentations to the needs of each audience.

Grades 8 to 12: 60 minutes. Maggie has written two books for teens: Rabbit Ears (a White Pine nominee for 2016) and Hunger Journeys, a historical novel set in the Netherlands in WWII. She is also often asked to speak to teens about her adult memoir, Missing Sarah: a Memoir of Loss, which is about her sister who is one of Vancouver’s missing women. She speaks about research and the writing process, about the challenges of writing for young readers about war, and about the difficult issues that arise in Rabbit Ears. A talk on both Missing Sarah and Rabbit Ears works very well for older teens.

Grades 3 to 7: 60 minutes, a 3-grade spread at the most. Maggie’s three animal stories—Tale of a Great White Fish: a Sturgeon Story, Fraser Bear: a Cub’s Life and Big City Bees— and her two linked middle-grade novels—Chance and the Butterfly and Somebody’s Girl—form the focus for a presentation that mixes science (learning about sturgeon, black bears, Chinook salmon,honeybees and butterflies) and research and writing tips. This presentation is rich in photos from Maggie’s research.

Workshop Topics, Grades 5 to 12 (and adults): Sources of Story in Everyday Life. Growing Ideas into Stories. Transformative Revision. Building Stories Using Scenes. Or a different idea proposed by the hosting school. The smaller the group, the better, and groups for workshops should not be larger than 30.

All venues, library preferred.

Equipment required: A glass of water, lunch (a sandwich or salad and a piece of fruit) if she’s staying for the day. A table to spread her things out on. A microphone for larger groups or in the gym, or if the room acoustics are questionable. A screen and projector for Powerpoint.

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Rona Arato (Toronto)

 

RonaArato2Writers Union Member. Historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. Multiple award winner and accomplished speaker.

Rona’s rate is $250 per one-hour session, $450 for two sessions, $700 for three sessions and $900 for a full day. There is no travel charge within the GTA. For travel outside the GTA, the standard kilometrage applies. Virtual visits are $250 for a one-hour presentation.

Rona is an accomplished speaker. She is comfortable with audiences of children and adults. Rona has spoken at schools, libraries, historical societies, and conferences. She conducts writing classes and workshops for all age groups.

As a former teacher, Rona understands what teachers and school librarians want from an author’s visit. She uses an interactive reading/discussion approach to involve children and excite their curiosity. Rona links her presentations to current issues such as immigration, bullying, and social responsibility. A theme that runs through much of her work is that one person can, and often does, make a significant difference. By involving the children in examining these issues, she helps them think about the way they interact with friends, family and the community at large.

Rona has a PowerPoint presentation for each book, with images that bring the stories to life. For example, for The Last Train, a Holocaust Story, she has pictures taken by the American soldiers who liberated the death train. Her presentation for Working for Freedom, the Story of Josiah Henson, includes pictures that are excellent for Black History month.  For Ice Cream Town, her pictures include historic photos of New York’s Lower East Side, and Ellis Island. For her latest book, The Ship to Nowhere, on Board the Exodus, her presentation includes pictures of the historic ship, the refugees on board and her protagonist, Rachel and her family.

Rona’s presentations are PowerPoint and she requires an LCD projector (provided by the school or library), a screen, and a microphone if speaking in an auditorium or gym. If a laptop is available, she will bring her presentation on a USB flash drive. If not, she will bring her own laptop.

Rona teaches several workshops including one on the difference between fiction and non-fiction and a creative writing workshop that she calls “Painting with Words,” on how to make stories come alive.

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Sylvia McNicoll (Burlington)

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Burlington. Writers' Union Member. Silver Birch Winner, Creative Writing Instructor  Grade 2-Adult

Her rate is $250 for solo sessions or $225 for multiple presentations + travel.

An experienced speaker and arts educator and internationally acclaimed author as well as a former magazine editor, Sylvia McNicoll teaches creative writing at the Living Arts Centre in Missisauga and has given hundreds of presentations and workshops across the country. She has toured for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre many times and spoken at Teacher and Reading Conferences as well as Family Literacy Nights and literary festivals such as Word on the Street (Saskatoon, Vancouver and Toronto) and Telling Tales and most recently Kingston Writers’ Festival. She has also acted as a Writer in Electronic Residence (WEIR) for several school boards. Sylvia enjoys sharing her passion with all age groups; her most recent published works are targeted at junior and intermediate students.

“Sylvia’s sense of humour and extensive knowledge of the writing profession are what allow her to have a natural ability to connect and build positive rapport with the students,” says Lisa Hayes, teacher at Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School.

Involving the student, generating reading excitement and sharing writing tips, these are Sylvia’s goals. From idea to finished book, she takes her audience through her writing process as it relates to an age appropriate book, using slides and humorous anecdotes, and calling on students to demonstrate props, read scripts or participate in a writing activity, and fielding questions.

Presentation: 55 minutes.  Audience size: 60-200+.

Setup Requirement: a projector suitable for Power Point hookup, a microphone for auditorium or gym presentations.

Writing Workshops

Smaller numbers of students (20-40) work better with a minimum of 90 minutes to facilitate feedback. Creation of Dialogue, Character and Mood are three topics she addresses in these but can design a special workshop depending on the educator’s needs.

Some sample workshops she has designed:

Bring your own zombie to life: Lurching, moaning monsters are cliché.
Learn how to create an irresistible demon, vampire, ghost or zombie.

Let your characters speak: Work with a partner to write a script that gives us action, conflict and a resolution.

Blog your passion: You need to tell the world how you feel. Learn how to enchant as you rant.

Life is like a box of chocolates: What is life like for you?  Practice using the five senses to create powerful metaphors, poetry and evocative scenes of description.

Literacy Nights: These can be designed to a theme and are usually aimed at a multi generational audience. Some reading, some activity, lots of fun and laughter.

Download free Teacher's guide here: best-friends-through-eternity_guide

 

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Robert Priest (Toronto)

Robertpriest 7Toronto ON. Writers' Union Member. Poetry, song and Y/A fiction. People's Poetry Award. SOCAN airplay award. Multi-awards All ages.

$300 for one session, $550 for 2, $800 for 3 and $1000 for 4, +travel.

Robert is an experienced and entertaining poet, singer-songwriter, and Y/A novelist for all ages. His ability to do up to 4 presentations in the same school or area in the same day makes him an ideal economic choice. With his repertoire of picture books, children's songs and poems, Y/A novels and adult songs and poems he is comfortable with large groups and can do up to 4 of them a day. For smaller groups he has a variety of workshops in poetry, prose and lyric writing.

Robert is known for his energetic thoughtful and entertaining performances. Interactive songs and poems meant to engage the audience in the process are a feature. A good question and answer session is also a mainstay. Robert's most important job is to make sure to enthuse as many students as possible about writing and reading literature.

Here is an example of his themes by grade

JK to 2: two 30 min. song/poetry sessions for the price of one. ($300) using material from Day Songs Night Songs and Rosa Rose. Themes of play, cooperation, ecology and mutual respect.

2 to 4: 45 to 60 min. poetry/interactive song session plus Q&A on a variety of curriculum appropriate themes. (Rosa Rose, Day Songs Night Songs, The Secret Invasion Of Bananas plus songs from Summerlong.)

4 to 8: 45 to 60 min. Most of Robert's poetry, children's songs and Y/A novels are for this age group. Poems serious and humourous on topics of social justice, bullying, the environment, technology and fantasy. Can include some poems from his adult books as well. Robert loves to talk about the writing process and where he gets his ideas. (Rosa Rose, The Secret Invasion Of Bananas, Y/A fantasy novels The Paper Sword and Second Kiss.)

7 to 12 Robert has 3 Y/A fantasy novels, a repertoire of poetic rock songs, 2 books of Y/A poetry and selections from his 10 acclaimed books of adult poetry for this age group. Themes of literacy, war, repression, oppression, rebellion, friendship, bullying, the use of power, poetry, military force, coming-of-age and romantic love to name a few.

Maximum group sizes for presentations : one classroom for JK to 3. 100+ for other ages.
Writing workshops work best with no more than 15 participants.

Workshop topics:
Poetic animation—creating fun narratives and characters from real world objects.
How to write a line–some techniques for generating micro-poems and beginning lines of poems and/or lyrics
How to write a fantasy series—a talk with lengthy Q&A on Robert's process writing his Spell Crossed fantasy series.
Song lyric writing—strategies for developing new song lyrics or for writing lyrics to existing melodies. Robert likes to talk about writing his number 1 hit Song Instead of a Kiss and other aspects of the music business. Venues. Library preferred.

Equipment required—solid surface to display books and hold papers. A microphone for larger groups or in the gym, a blackboard or other large writing surface.

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Sharon McKay (Burlington)

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Burlington, ON. Writers' Union Member. Sharon travels across Canada several times a year. Sharon E. McKay (Mick-EYE) writes fact-based fiction for young adults. Multi-awards, all ages.

Sharon is available in Ontario, Sept to March, excluding November. Flat fee of $900 for a full day, four sessions and includes a free (optional) brown-bag lunch for anyone interested in writing. Flat fee of $600 for an afternoon. Parents and media are welcome in all sessions.

Sharon would like to hear about your hopes for an author visit as well as the special needs of individual students. She has done two tours of Afghanistan. Sharon has had a child in the classroom who had lost a family member in Kandahar. Another student had an uncle who was severely injured. War Brothers, a novel and a graphic novel, is about child soldiers in Uganda. She has had a child soldier in a classroom. The list goes on…

In January 2008 Sharon was accepted into the Canadian Forces (War) Artists Program or CFAP. She is the first children’s writer to hold the title. In 2009 and again in 2013 she went to Afghanistan to, in the words of the program description, “capture the daily operations, personnel, and spirit of the Canadian Forces.”

The content of presentations is adaptable although all are tailored to the needs of the classroom/school.  All grades, 1 hour writing workshop. ‘Beat the Blank Page.’ Maximum group size: 45 for JK and 100, or three classes for the rest.

Length: 60 min. or one class period.
Venues: Classroom, Library, Gym and Theatre
Equipment and other requirements: To be discussed with teacher.
Notes: Students do not have to read the book in advance. Teacher’s Guide’s available for most books.

Venues: Classroom, Library and Theatre
Visits kindergarten and grade one during breaks. Fifteen minutes Focus: fun.

Grade 1-2 Read-a-loud. 30 min. Focus: Story telling vs story reading.

Grade 2-4 The Boy-Girl Challenge. 30 min. “Would a boy read a book dubbed Our Canadian Girl? Let’s vote.”
Focus: Judging a book by its cover.
End of the Line, hidden children, Amsterdam, WW2. 1939-45
Focus: Courage, loyalty, WW2.

Grade 5 -6 Charlie Wilcox, flexible time
Focus: literacy, history, role of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in WW1 in changing Canadian history. Teacher’s Guide available.

Grade 7 and up, flexible time
Thunder Over Kandahar, girls in Afghanistan
Prison Boy, street kids, worldwide. (Amnesty International)
War Brothers, child soldiers worldwide
War Brothers the Graphic Novel, with Dan Lafrance
Esther, Jews in New France. Canadian history.
Whispers from the Ghetto, Hiding, Camps. With Kathy Kacer.

Virtual Visits: $150, 60 minutes, Skype.

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Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (Brantford)

International School of Helsinki

Brantford ON, Writers Union Member. fiction & NF, 2X Silver Birch winner. Multi awards. All ages.

$400 plus HST for 1 session, $600 for 2, $850 for 3 and $1000 for 4, + travel.

Marsha is an experienced and passionate international presenter who tailors each presentation to the group in front of her. She can do up to four presentations in the same school or area in a day. As the author of picture books, middle grade novels, narrative non-fiction and YA novels, she routinely presents to an entire school over the course of a day. She also loves speaking to adult groups and she loves loves loves giving writing workshops.

Recently Published Works

Presentations by grade

Marsha is an extremely flexible presenter. No two groups are ever the same and no two of her presentations are ever the same. She likes to have a conversation with the audience rather than stand up there like a talking head. For most presentations, she works in why she thought kids' books were evil when she was a kid herself, and how she finally learned to read. Marsha talks about why she writes on topics that have been ignored by others and why she considers herself a librarian/detective. She also explains how she became a princess if asked.

Here is an example of her themes by grade:

JK to 1: two 30 minute storytelling sessions for the price of one full session ($400+HST) using When Mama Goes To Work.

2 to 4: 45 to 60 minutes: Storytelling session plus Q&A on topic/book of your choice. Current favourite is Adrift at Sea (plunging into the shoes of a war refugee) but she is happy to present her older books as well.  (Enough, Silver Threads, Airlift and Aram books)

4 to 8: The majority of Marsha's books are for this age group. 45 to 60 minutes. Includes how she transformed herself from a non-reader into a writer, how she does research, historical background on the books of your choice. Writing tips and Q&A are worked in.

Stolen Child/Making Bombs For Hitler/Underground Soldier: bullying, World War II, immigration, coming to Canada, slavery, racism. Living in the 1940s and 1950s.

Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land: WWI, WWI internment operations in Canada, Quebec, immigration, bullying, racism, living in 1914.

Last Airlift/One Step At A Time: Vietnam war, fall of Saigon, orphans, polio, hospitals, living with a disability, English as a second language, immigration, racism, living in 1975.

Adrift at Sea: Marsha can also give an age appropriate presentation/discussion on the current refugee crisis and the parallels with the 1981 Vietnamese Boat Person refugee crises.

7 to 12: Marsha has five YA novels, her Armenian Genocide trilogy, The Hunger/Nobody's Child/Daughter of War, plus a stand-alone WWII novel, Hope's War, and her brand new WWI novel, Dance of the Banished.

Maximum group sizes for presentations: 45 for JK to 3. 100+ for everyone else.

Writing Workshops work best with 16 or so participants

Writing Workshop Topics:

Teaching fun self-editing techniques to students in grades 4 to 12.
How to assist gifted student writers (of any age) without tearing your hair out in frustration.
Techniques for punching through writer's block.
Grade 12 Writers' Craft
personal memoir writing
Other topics upon request.

All Venues, library preferred.

Equipment required: A glass of water, lunch (egg salad sandwich on brown bread) if she's staying for the day. A table to spread her things out on. A microphone for larger groups or in the gym, or if the room acoustics are questionable. A screen and projector for power-point.

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

Please note: Her surname is pronounced SKRIPP-ick.

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Shane Peacock (Cobourg)

Cobourg, ON. Writers' Union Member. Fiction, Governor-General’s Award nominee, 3 x TD Children’s Literature Award nominee. All ages.

His fees are: $400 for one presentation to a small to medium sized audience, $550 for two presentations or one to a large audience, $750 for three presentations, and $950 for four.

Shane is the author of the critically-acclaimed, bestselling “Boy Sherlock Holmes” series and “Last Message” in the groundbreaking “Seven, the Series.” His first picture book, “The Artist and Me,” the first novel in his YA horror trilogy, “The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim” and “Separated,” the prequel to the “Seven Series,” are his latest works. He is also a playwright, documentary screenwriter and journalist.

Shane has a well-known reputation as a dramatic and effective speaker, and has appeared more than a thousand times in schools, at conventions and in seminars across Canada, the U.S., and Europe. He offers upbeat presentations about why reading and writing are among the most exciting things a kid can do. They appeal to all ages and genders, though teachers say they have a particularly positive effect on boys and reluctant readers.

During his visits, he usually discusses why it took him a while to get interested in reading as a kid, how he became a writer, and the wild and crazy things about which he’s written. He shows students how to tell stories by telling a few good ones – a favorite is his account of The Great Farini’s high-wire duel with Blondin over Niagara Falls, first told in his biography of the former. He also describes how he conceived and wrote the “Boy Sherlock Holmes” series, was involved in the “Seven Series,” and created the dark novels in “The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim.” He also reveals a few secrets of his trade and delivers a short, dramatic reading.

Sometimes, caught up in the strange stories he’s telling (and has told in print), Shane gives lessons in high-wire walking and sumo wrestling … believe it or not.

Though until this year his presentations have been for grades 4 to 12, beginning in early 2016 with the publication of “The Artist and Me,” he will offer a talk for Kindergarten to grade 3.

Shane also does workshops, Creative Writing seminars for high school students, and Skype presentations.

Libraries or auditoriums with theatre-like areas are the best venues, but Shane will also speak in your gym if that makes the most sense in terms of availability and audience size.

The only equipment Shane requires is a projector or Smart Board of some sort, with speakers, to which he can hook up his laptop.

There is no limit on audience size, though a single presentation to a very large audience will have a slightly higher fee.

 

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David A. Poulsen (AB)

DavidPoulsenAlberta. Writers' Union Member. Fiction, Multi-award winner. Grades 1-12

$325 plus GST for 1 session, $600 for 2, $850 for 3 and $1000 for 4, + travel.

David is one of Canada’s most sought-after author-presenters in schools and makes between 80 and 100 school visits per year. Because he has written picture books, middle reader and YA novels, David is comfortable and willing to present to virtually every grade (and adult audiences as well). He can do up to four presentations in the same school or area in a day and is especially excited to conduct workshops (grade four and up) and work with the school’s young and often amazingly talented young writers.

 

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, football coach, rodeo cowboy, stage and film actor and—most of all—writer. The author of twenty-four books from picture books to adult mystery/suspense will see his YA novel Numbers re-released by Dundurn (Toronto) in the fall of 2015. Numbers was awarded the Sakura Medal (voted by English speaking high school students in Japan as their favourite novel of the year) and has been added to the new English curriculum for Grade 10 in Saskatchewan.

David’s one-hour presentations with students are high energy, informative, infused with his passion for reading and writing and, most of all, they’re fun. He begins by sharing his journey to becoming a writer; it is sometimes hilarious (“The world’s worst rejection letter” and “The scariest moment of my life” are two examples), sometimes poignant (his first successful story was inspired by the tragedy of the Battle of Dieppe), sometimes inspiring (“if I can get my picture on the back cover of a book, so can you”) and always entertaining. Next, David’s reading will focus on a recent book written for the age group to whom he is presenting and as a former actor, he admits to ‘performing’ his readings. And finally, there is David’s favourite part of the presentation—the Q and A as audience members pepper him with questions that ‘never fail to amaze and delight.’ It is an hour that student and adult audiences alike have called everything from “inspirational” to “totally a blast.”

David’s presenting requirements are minimal—a table, a stool (not a chair), water and, most importantly—coffee, a lot of coffee…

Workshops:
David’s writing workshops will give students useful, easy-to-understand strategies they can use in creating their own stories. He focuses on helping young writers create real, believable stories that include all of the elements of good story writing including (and focusing particularly on) character and setting. The workshop content is David’s response to seeing too many students’ stories that focus only on plot, as kids—surrounded by superhero films and video games--try to create an action movie on paper. The best part of the workshop is that the students not only have fun but take hold of the hints and tips David gives them and “head off in directions I hadn’t even thought of.”
For his workshops David will need a whiteboard and markers or flipchart and pens. (Oh yeah, and the coffee again!)

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Gail Sidonie Sobat (AB)

GailSidonieSobatwp1Alberta, Writers’ Union Member. YA, New Adult, 2x White Pine Honour. Multi-awards. Grades 4-adult.

$375 for 1 session, $600 for 2, $850 for 3 and $1000 for 4, plus travel and accommodation.

Gail Sidonie Sobat is an award-winning author of eleven books, and many educational and academic articles. She is the creator/coordinator of YouthWrite®, camps for kids who love to write…just about anything!©. A dynamic performer, speaker, international workshop presenter and writer in residence, she has toured across Canada, the US, and has worked in Helsinki, Finland; Doha, Qatar; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Istanbul, Turkey and with the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries.

Presentations and Workshops

When Gail presents or gives a reading, she chooses and performs excerpts that are dramatic in nature. She has a background in performing arts, professional speech and singing training, and often peppers presentations with personal anecdotes and music, sometimes inviting the students to join in.

As an award-winning arts educator who has worked in elementary, junior high, high school and university settings, and as writing mentor and writer in residence, Gail has worked extensively with people of many ages and from diverse backgrounds, including at-risk youth.

Gail is comfortable with large groups or workshops with smaller groups, and is very familiar with the rigours and requirements of the elementary or secondary school teacher (Grades K-12). An ideal workshop size is 15, but she can work with groups of 20-30 people.

She is very familiar with Writer’s Workshop and 6+1 Trait® Writing.
Any workshop, reading or presentation can be tailored to meet your needs or requests. E.g. Presentations may consist of a 20-30-minute reading, followed by Q&A (total of one hour) OR of a 20-30 minute reading, followed by Q&A, culminating in creative writing exercises (half-day). Discussions may include the writing process from brainstorming to writing drafts to finished product, and/or may focus on young adult markets and requirements for student submissions.

Readings/discussions can be tailored to fit within current English/Language Arts area of study, matching objectives for curricula (K-12), or appropriate to AP or IB English studies.
Longer sessions may include several classes to a full-week or longer residency (writing creatively, incorporating drama into the creative process, working on editing and proofing skills, working one-on-one, facilitating student/staff anthology creation, or facilitating a culminating activity such as café readings or school-wide student presentations.

Gail is also happy to work/meet with any staff interested in writing and/or publishing or PD presentations.

Some possible themes:

Writing in Role
Finding a Voice
Found Object/ Found Poetry
Wordplay
Poetic Licence
Fantastic Voyages & World Building
Get Cracking! Get Creative
Gimme Goose Bumps
Life of the Writer (or any presentation on any of her titles)
Graphic Novels
YouthWrite

All venues, but library is preferred
Equipment required:

· glass of water
· table for displays
· microphone & sound system for larger groups or in the gym
· LCD projector & speakers
· Internet access during presentations

Virtual Visits: $150, 60 minutes, Skype

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