Ishta Mercurio (Brampton)

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Writers' Union Member. Red Maple Non-Fiction Nominee. Writer of non-fiction science books for kids and picture books.

Fees: $200 for one one-hour presentation, $375 for two on the same day, $550 for three on the same day, $650 for a full day (four presentations). No travel costs.

Skype Visits: $75 for 1/2 an hour; $100 for one hour.

Ishta Mercurio has been an actor, an environmental activist, a behaviour therapist, and is now a children’s author of both fiction and non-fiction. The daughter of a Philippine mother and an American father, she has lived in three different countries, and brings an appreciation of diversity and sense of adventure to her writing and her presentations.


Everything is Connected: JK-SK, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

In this presentation, Ishta uses anecdotes about her own early writing attempts, her experiments while researching her books, and her travels throughout the world to foster curiosity about the world around us, and develop the understanding that it is the connections between everything in the world that can lead to good stories. Presentations are tailored for each age group.

Writing Workshops: Fiction Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

Ishta expands upon the theme of finding unexpected connections, and incorporates traditional idea-generating writing and drawing exercises with improvisational theatre techniques to explore ways that an idea can grow into a story. Workshops are tailored for each age group.

Writing Workshops: Non-Fiction Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

How do we get ideas? Once we have a good idea, how do we find out more? Ishta works with children of all ages to discover how exploring the real world around us can lead to new and exciting discoveries. Workshops with Grades 7-8 include an interactive discussion about using the internet for research and how to distinguish a good, accurate source of information from a poor or inaccurate source of information.

Skype Visits: Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8

Ishta offers Skype visits that cover the same ground as her presentations, but including a tour of her office and an interactive discussion about a typical day in the life of an author.

Ishta prefers to speak to groups of no more than 100 children, but she can be flexible if necessary. Writing workshops are limited to one classroom (approximately 30 children or fewer) at a time. Ishta requires a whiteboard/chalkboard or a flip chart for presentations and workshops of all sizes, and a microphone for large groups.

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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.



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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Leah Bobet (Toronto)


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.

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.


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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Peter McMahon (Toronto)

petermcmahon_headshotGreater Toronto Area. Writers' Union Member. Non-Fiction. All grades K to 12. Mobile Planetarium Shows: $500 for one session for up to 30 students, $650 for 2 sessions, $750 for 3 sessions, $885 for an unlimited number of sessions (20-45 minutes per session) HST extra.


Science / space author and planetarium presenter Peter McMahon has written about the universe around us for publications like Canadian Geographic, Reader's Digest, MSN, Today's Parent, CTV, Discovery Channel, and SkyNews magazine, where he is a contributing editor.

Peter's books include science-experiment titles Ultimate Trains and Space Tourism (Kids Can Press, 2010, 2011) plus the upcoming Space Adventurer's Guide (KCP, 2017) and one on the First Nations constellations of North America (due out in 2018 from OWL Kids Canada)

Tour of the Universe mobile planetarium experience

Peter's signature show, which takes place inside a 30-person inflatable planetarium that comes to you!

This audience-participation experience showcases the constellations of the ancient Greeks and First Nations of Canada, planets, moons, galaxies, meteors, the Northern Lights, Canadian achievements in space, and much, much more.

Grades: 1-9 (including content specific to Grades 1, 6, and 9 space unit curriculum)

Duration: 18-45 minutes per session

Max # of participants per-session: 30

The Adventures of Robot Space Puppy

Especially for Kindergarten classes!

Take Robot Space Puppy on a walk around the planets as he searches for the perfect place to play in the universe.

Don’t let him get too close to the Sun (it’s VERY hot!) or too far away (***"brrr!"***)

Don’t worry if he starts howling at the Moon. He does that sometimes.

You’ll need to have Robot Space Puppy back to Earth in time to feed him – so don’t go more than a few million km from home...

"You could really consider this Peter's first children's fiction book...a living, breathing work that kids participate in", says Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board teacher David Howard.

Grades: JK, SK, 1

Duration: 18-25 minutes per session

Max # of participants per-session: 30


Especially for high-school classes: Go faster-than-light on a fictional survey mission to another star in this exclusive hands-on, multi-environment experience designed specifically for high school students (with a different level of mission for each grade – can be tailored to specific science courses.)

Inspired by movies like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and 2001: A Space Odyssey, this truly unique interactive experience tasks science classes with the strategy, critical thinking, leadership and imagination needed for the management of the first human mission to another solar system (don't worry if that sounds like a lot - there's help along the way...)

Grades: 9-12

Duration: 45-60 minutes per session

Max # of participants per-session: 30

Writing workshops

Peter also delivers workshops on writing and careers in science for students and staff - Please inquire if interested in learning more for a separate visit or to add on to a visit

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Patricia Storms (Toronto)

PatriciaStormsNewPhotoToronto. Writers’ Union Member. Fun and funny cartoonist, children’s illustrator and picture book author and ukulele lady.

$300 + HST for 1 session, $500 for 2, $800 for 3 and $1,000 for 4. I’m very happy to do 2 one half hour JK-K sessions for $300 + HST. No charge for travel within Toronto and the GTA.

Patricia Storms is a picture book author, and an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator specializing in humorous illustrations for children and adults. She can do illustration and writing workshops for JK all the way up to college level.

Presentation Details

Humour is essential in Patricia’s workshops! Laughter & learning go hand in hand. Doodling and drawing cartoons is a great way to in enhance memory, focus, and independent thought. Creative children become great problem-solvers. Patricia is very versatile and will tailor each talk to the age level of the group. Original drawings are always donated to the class at the end of the session!

JK-K :
Patricia performs an entertaining and dramatic reading of The Pirate and the Penguin, as well as a cartoon demonstration.

K- Grade 2 classes:
Singing with a ukelele! Drawing! Puppets! Cute ghosties! In this fun Halloween book, THE GHOSTS GO SPOOKING, written by Chrissy Bozik, little ghosts go trick-or-treating by ones, twos and up to ten in this spooky and fun-filled take on ‘The Ants Go Marching’. After the presentation, Patricia engages the audience in a ghost drawing workshop.

Patricia shows a slide presentation of her picture book NEVER LET YOU GO, along with a quick drawing demo showing the class how penguin families are similar to people families. After the slide show Patricia demonstrates to the group how to draw a penguin. Time permitting, Patricia encourages the kids to make their penguin look like someone within their family or themselves.

Grades 3-6:
This workshop engages the class into drawing and creating characters as well as introducing concepts such as setting, characters and action in creating a story.

Patricia invites the students to be her art directors, providing ideas of what kind of hair, eyes, nose, clothes, etc., to draw, in order to create their unique character. In the second half of the session Patricia becomes the art director and editor of a picture book. She presents a short silly story and then encourages the audience to illustrate all or part of the story explaining the concepts of setting, characters and action.

Grades 5-12:
The first half of the presentation is a slide show demonstrating the development process in creating book covers for publishers. In the second half of the presentation the class gets to create their own book cover, with guidance and inspiration from myself, if needed.

Grades 7 to college level:
The art of writing a picture from an illustrator’s perspective.
The step-by-step process of illustrating a picture book.

Maximum group size for presentations: 45 for JK to 2, 100+ for everyone else

Patricia is comfortable presenting in a classroom, library, auditorium or gymnasium.
Equipment required:
Easel, flip chart, and coloured markers. and for the students if they are drawing: paper, pencils and erasers. A table at the front of the group in order to showcase books and art.

Data or media projector and laptop for slide presentations, and a sound system or microphone for large group presentations. A librarian, teacher or other school representative should be present throughout the presentation. Water and lunch would be lovely for a full day presentation.

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Natalie Hyde (Cambridge)

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ON, Cambridge. Writers’ Union Member. Middle grade and YA author. Fiction and non-fiction. 3x Silver Birch Express nominee. Award nominations in Canada and U.S. Grade 3 and up.

Natalie’s rate is $250 for one session, $450 for two, $600 for three, and $800 for four, plus travel from Cambridge.

Natalie Hyde is the author of over forty-five books, from middle grade and YA novels to non-fiction on a wide range of topics. An engaging and enthusiastic presenter, she encourages audience participation with interactive presentations.

"Natalie's warm personality and open smile engage elementary students to listen and learn from her experience creating both fiction and non-fiction material. Her visual presentations allow students to see how a book is compiled from concept ideas to the final product. Natalie's wide range of titles for Elementary students offer the high interest of Non-Fiction for reluctant readers with her works of fiction that entice students to simply enjoy the pleasure of a good book,” says Cambridge Libraries outreach coordinator, Sandra Sydor.

Presentation Details

Setup Requirements: Natalie requires a projector suitable for Power Point hookup. For auditorium or gym presentations a microphone would be appreciated. She requests that a librarian, teacher, or other school representative be present throughout the presentation.

Grades 3 – 6: (approximately 40 minutes) Natalie starts by talking about what it’s like to be an author, her writing process and her path to publication including the value of rejections. Then, students are taken on a ‘behind the pages look’ at the research and writing of the text, where they discover the real stories behind the story. Using the example of the seed idea for one of her novels, they have fun learning how to turn everyday happenings in story ideas. She invites and enjoys answering questions.

Grades 3 – 6: (approximately 50 minutes) Writing non-fiction is like going on a treasure hunt to find the truth of a subject. Natalie likes to give some examples of things she has learned about our fascinating world through her own non-fiction research and then present the journey a manuscript goes through from rough first draft through many rounds of revision to finished book using visuals of actual examples of her non-fiction books, Cryptic Canada and Glow-in-the-dark Creatures. Finally, she invites questions.

Grades 5 - 8: (approximately 50 minutes) Natalie likes to start by talking about what it’s like to be an author, her writing process and her path to publication including the value of rejections. Then she likes to reveal the real hockey girls that inspired the novel, Hockey Girl. With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, students look at differences in hockey from the time of the original hockey girls until today. She ends with a question and answer session.


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Karen Patkau (Toronto)

KarenPatkauwp1Toronto ON. Writers’ Union Member. Author and illustrator, nonfiction and fiction, multi-awards, JK to 6.

Karen’s fee is $275 plus HST per session, plus travel from Toronto.

As an author and an illustrator, Karen shares two passions in her presentations. One is her love of learning about nature. The other is the art of the picture book. Karen aims to educate and entertain, as well as to give children and teachers insight into her research method and creative process.


Presentation Topics
JK to Grade 1 with Reading Buddies
This session includes a reading of One Hungry Heron and a retelling/drawing activity that incorporates math, language and visual art ­– OR – two half-session readings for two groups of students without reading buddies.

Grades 2 to 5 PowerPoint Presentation
This session includes a presentation based on Karen’s Ecosystem Series: Who Needs a SWAMP?, Who Needs an ICEBERG?, Who Needs a JUNGLE?, Who Needs a DESERT?, Who Needs a PRAIRIE? and Who Needs a REEF? Students will discover how each ecosystem is a remarkable community of living things interacting with its unique environment and a contributor of life-sustaining services for the whole planet.

Grades 3 to 6 PowerPoint Presentation
This session includes a presentation about the picture book illustration process and a drawing activity. Students will learn what it takes to illustrate picture books and the specifics of illustrating nonfiction. They will then analyze the composition of a landscape, draw their own scene and add imaginary elements to make a Magical Landscape. Pencils, erasers, paper and clipboards are required.

Venues, Equipment and Details
– Karen can present in a classroom, library, auditorium or gymnasium.
– Sessions are 45 to 60 minutes in length.
– PowerPoint presentations for Grades 2 to 6 are on a USB Flash Drive.
– A dark room, computer, digital projector, screen, display table and chair are required for PowerPoint presentations.
– Maximum group size for a PowerPoint presentation is 100.
– Presentations to Grades JK to 1 are without AV equipment. Chart-paper, a stand and a wall to tape up drawings are required. Students need copies of handouts, drawing materials, tables and chairs.
– Maximum group size for a Grades JK to 1 presentation is 30.
– Karen has her own voice amplifier for small rooms, but prefers a microphone for large venues.
– A ten-minute alert before the end of a session is requested.
– Please note that Karen’s surname is pronounced PAT-co.


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James Bow (KW)

jamesbowp1Kitchener author. Writers' Union member. MG&YA, SF&Fantasy, plus non-fiction science books for kids. Recently published Icarus Down with Scholastic Canada. Grades 4 to 12. $300 for one session, $550 for two, $800 for three and $1000 for four plus HST (plus standard travel fees outside Waterloo Region)

James Bow is a freelance writer and the author of four fantasy and science fiction books for young adults. His latest book, "Icarus Down" will be released in September 2016 by Scholastic Canada. He lives in Kitchener with fellow author Erin Bow and their two children. His non-fiction writing includes over 30 science books for children, and a weekly column with the local community newspaper.


  • A Writer's Path – this presentation will discuss how to become a writer, the importance of persistence, and failure as a path to success. Props include a set of manuscripts to show how often a book is written and re-written before it is published.
  • World Building – a presentation on how to build the world your story takes place in and the importance of detail. Amazing facts about astronomy, the solar system and exoplanets (with pictures) will be discussed. Digital projector required.

Venues: Classrooms, libraries and gymnasiums. No more than 90 students per session. Workshops are also available on these topics, where students will be given writing exercises and encouraged to share their efforts with their classmates. No more than 25 students per workshop.


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Helaine Becker (Toronto)

Toronto. Writers' Union Member. National Bestseller. 2+time Silver Birch winner. Multi awards. K-8. Please note: Helaine is fully booked for the 2016-17 school year. Booking now for fall and spring 2017-18.

Helaine’s rate is $375 plus HST for one session, $650 for two, $850 for three and $1000 for four, plus travel from Toronto.

Helaine is an experienced and passionate presenter - and so funny that she is often told she should be a stand-up comedian. She can do up to four side-splitting and inspirational presentations in the same school or area in a day. As the author of picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, 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 showing off her underwear (her underwear puppet, that is).
Helaine is a very versatile presenter. She adapts every presentation to the age and interest level of her audience, and will shift topics on the fly if kids seem especially keen on a particular subject. Every presentation includes both funny bits and serious bits - about the power of literacy and the importance of hard work and determination. Her goal: to make sure every kid leaves with at least one inspiring new idea.

Here is an example of her themes by grade:

JK to 2: two 30 minute storytelling sessions for the price of one full session ($375+HST) using The Haunted House That Jack Built, Little Jack Horner: Live from the Corner, Ode to Underwear and/or Juba This, Juba That (Christmas books, seasonally) + Q and A

2 to 4: 45 to 60 minutes: How and Why We Write/The Power of the Written and Spoken Word Intro plus free-wheeling Q&A, discussion/reading of assorted titles as per kids interests. (Zoobots, Dirk Daring:Secret Agent, The Insecto-Files, quiz books, and picture books may all feature; Christmas books, seasonally)

4 to 8: 45 to 60 minutes. How and Why We Write/The Power of the Written and Spoken Word Intro plus free-wheeling Q&A touching on Writing Techniques (the dreaded Rough Copy, How to Come Up with Ideas, The Power of Punctuation, Knowing Who Your Audience Is); Dealing with Rejection/disappointment, What Science Is, and Creating Humour.

(Zoobots, Dirk Daring:Secret Agent, Gottika, Trouble in the Hills, quiz books, and picture books may all feature)

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

Writing Workshops work best wish 16 so so participants

Writing Workshop Topics:

Funny Business: How to Write, Draw, Direct or Sing Seriously Funny Stuff. This session teaches tried-and-true comic techniques, plus idea development for writers (of any age)

All Venues, library preferred.

Equipment required: A glass of water, lunch and coffee 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 chair.

Virtual Visits: $200 plus HST, 60 minutes (may be divided) Skype


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