Melanie Fishbane (Toronto)

Toronto. Writers’ Union Member. Author of the young adult novel, Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery.

Melanie’s rate is $250.00, two is $450.00, three is $700.00 and four is $900.00, plus travel. Skype visits available.

An experienced teacher, lecturer and presenter, Melanie has internationally presented on children’s literature, historical fiction and the life and work of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery to people of all ages. Her presentations are adaptable to the skill and knowledge of the group and she incorporates her experience as an English college teacher to engage students in writing about what they are interested in.


Book Talks

Melanie is an animated speaker who enjoys bringing props to her presentations, which may or may not include her first writings (and most definitely not her journal from when she was 12-years-old). Geared to grades 5 and up, her presentations can be adapted to the grade level and/or size of group. All presentations discuss path to publication, writing life, with a focus on research best practices, and the writing process. Depending upon the length of the book talk, details to be explored can also include any or all of the following:
• The life and times of L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables
• L.M. Montgomery as Teen Writer
• History of women during late-19th century Canada – L.M. Montgomery and her contemporaries
• Larger discussion on how to write historical fiction

Writing Workshops

Writing Historical Fiction: This 1 to 2-hour writing workshop provides an outline and framework on best practices in writing historical fiction, including the difference between primary and secondary sources, important questions to consider, as well as focusing on plotting, character, structure, description and dialogue. Workshop can be adapted for time requirements.

Journal Writing: Many writers, such as Anne Frank and L.M. Montgomery, used journal writing to explore their feelings about the world and work on their writing. This workshop shows how journal writing can not only be the first step in the writing journey, but it also be a tool for self-exploration and examination. This 1 to 2-hour writing workshop gives students the opportunity to tap into their creativity, while also exploring freewriting, discussions on the inner critic and strategies for writer’s block.

Equipment and Other Requirements

For lectures and talks, 30 to 50 students, but will take larger groups for lectures. For writing workshops, 16 or so.

I’ll require a table, water, laptop & projector for PowerPoint, and access to a microphone for larger groups or in the gym.

For writing workshops, a white board or flip paper with markers. Students should come with a notebook and pencil or pens. No laptops or cell phones, please.

 

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Natasha Deen (AB)

Natasha Deen

Available Oct 16 to 20. Alberta. Writers' Union Member. 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. $550 + GST for half day (2 sessions, or entire school in one), $1000 + GST for a full day.

“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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Kate Blair (Toronto)

kateblairwp1Toronto. Writers' Union Member. Kate's debut YA novel Transferral was nominated for multiple awards and optioned for a potential TV series. Tangled Planet is set for release in the fall of 2017.

$200 for 1 session, $375 for 2, $500 for 3, $600 for 4 sessions. Limited to visiting schools accessible by public transit, or where a teacher is able to provide transport from the nearest transit stop/station - no travel costs within Toronto; actual transit cost elsewhere in the GTA.

Kate's presentations are suitable for grades 5 to 12.

Kate Blair has been a museum curator, a clown and a ride operator at a theme park. She holds a degree in history and a masters in museum studies with a specialty in education.

Her first young adult novel, Transferral, is set in an alternative version of modern London, England, where criminals are punished by having the diseases of the innocent transferred to them. It explores ideas around justice, punishment and poverty. Her second, Tangled Planet, is set in the far future, on a generation starship that has just arrived at its destination planet, and deals with the struggles of the crew to adapt to their new home.

Kate loves to share her enthusiasm for reading, writing, and finding your place in the world. Presentations are tailored to meet the needs of the group, and are flexible, responding to the interests and curiosity of the students. She has years of experience in museums leading school workshops and presentations with all age groups, keeping students engaged and entertained.

Kate’s presentations can cover a variety of topics, adapted to suit the audience and their interests, including the following:

Writing a book: what does it take and how do you get started? Including: how to spark ideas; how to create characters; how to keep your reader reading; how to edit and how to research.

The importance of failing and how no one is any good at anything when they first start. The role of passion and time in cultivating success, rather than 'natural' talent.

Space colonization: Talking about the research that went into creating a believable, fact-based world in Tangled Planet, and the effort that goes into getting the science of stories right. Explaining issues that face future astronauts and space missions, from the trivial - such as using the bathroom in zero-gravity - to more serious challenges associated with long-distance space travel, exploring exoplanets and finding a home for humanity among the stars.

Crime and punishment: Talking about the research that went into Transferral and the odd and intertwined history of disease, poverty and punishment in England.

All venues, library preferred.
Maximum group size: 200
Equipment and other requirements:
A microphone and podium for larger groups, or if the presentation is in a gym or auditorium.
A glass of water.
Lunch (a sandwich is fine) if Kate is booked for morning and afternoon.

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Sue Irwin (Grimsby ON)

Writers’ Union Member. Niagara, ON. Teacher. Grades 3 to 8. $250 for one session, $400 for two, $600 for three, $800 for four, plus travel. 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.

Nancy Kettles (Grimsby Public Library) recently had this to say about Sue's visit there: "We had a wonderful afternoon with Sue Irwin. They were very engaged by her presentation and asked a lot of questions about hockey, injury, and her experiences as a writer. Her visit was a wonderful addition to Ontario Public Library Week."

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 -

A table to display books and other items, a screen for PowerPoint, and a mic for larger groups or questionable acoustics

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

 

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Willow Dawson (Toronto)

Willow Dawson

Toronto. Writers’ Union Member. Author / illustrator of Graphic Novels, Picture Books. Multi Awards. All ages.

550 for two sessions, $750 for three, and $900 for four plus HST and travel outside of the downtown Toronto core. Willow requests a minimum of two sessions, can be shared between two schools or libraries.

Willow Dawson has lots of experience giving presentations and workshops to kids and adults of all ages. Infact, she often presents to several different grades at the same school or library in a single day. She loves speaking about her books and more generally about comics and graphic novels, writing techniques and the illustration process. Each presentation is tailored to the needs of the group and is lively and educational with questions encouraged throughout!

Presentations by grade:

Willow likes to work with a general framework for her presentations informed by the teachers or librarians but which is open enough to accommodate the needs of the audience in the moment. She likes to let people ask questions throughout so that she is able to gauge interest areas and adjust as necessary. When she can, Willow tries to work in how she overcame the reading and writing difficulties she faced as a child only to become both an author and illustrator today! Teachers and librarians love her because her presentations are lively, informative and inspiring.

Here is an example of her themes by grade:

JK to grade 2 – two 30 minute storytelling sessions for the price of one full session ($375+HST) using The Wolf-Birds.

Grades 2 to 3 – 60 minutes: Storytelling session plus Q&A on The Wolf-Birds.

Grades 4 to 7 – 60 minutes. Presentations include an overview of the book of choice with a bit of historical background and information on how she creates a graphic novel, including: research, writing, illustrating, editing and revising.

Avis Dolphin: World War I, the sinking of the Lusitania, life in the 1910’s, friendship, the power of storytelling, survival. Collaborating with an author.

Hyena in Petticoats: Nellie McClung, The Famous Five, early Canada, feminism, women’s rights, suffrage, enfranchisement, The Persons Case. Life in the 1920’s – 1940’s.

No Girls Allowed: Hatshepsut, Mu Lan, Alfhild, Esther Brandeau, James Barry, Ellen Craft, Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, girls dressed as boys, women’s rights. Collaborating with an author.

Grades 7 to 12 – 60 minutes. Biography, autobiography and memoir. Willow uses the above books as well as her ongoing work on 100 Mile House (memoir) to discuss the differences and similarities, challenges and joys of writing biography, autobiography and memoir graphic novels. This presentation includes personal stories and anecdotes, including how she found her voice and became an author and illustrator.

Maximum group sizes for presentations: 45 for JK to Grade 3. 100+ for everyone else.
Workshops work best with smaller groups, around 15-20 participants.

Graphic Novel Workshop Topics:

Character Development
Creating Tension and Drama, Creating Humour
Panel Transitions
Words and Pictures
Writing Engaging Dialogue
From Script to Thumbnails
Art Stages: Penciling, Inking, Colouring (includes an overview of design and lettering)
Other topics upon request

These workshops can be adjusted to suit the needs of any age group. They also work well for Writers’ Craft classes.

Writer-in-Residence Program:

3-10 (or more) sessions. 60-120 minutes each. Participants get in-depth, hands on experience with each stage of the process of creating a comic or graphic novel, as well as a window into the worlds of self-publishing (‘zines and webcomics) and publishing (working with Editors, Art directors, and Publishers). Each stage of the process is handled in a separate session with an end goal of developing their stories into finished 1-3 page comics that are then photocopied and bound together as a small, collective comics ‘zine.

All Venues are acceptable.

Equipment required: A glass of water, a table for her presentation materials. A microphone for larger groups. A laptop, screen and projector for PowerPoint.

Willow sends her PowerPoint ahead of time. Please ensure it is set up and ready to go prior to her arrival.

Handouts will be sent for the teacher and/or librarian to photocopy in advance, along with a list of any materials the students may need if there is a workshop. Workshops require desks or tables and chairs for participants.

A librarian, teacher or other school representative should be present throughout the presentation or workshop.

 

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J. Torres (Whitby)

Whitby ON, award-winning comic book and graphic novel writer. Middle grades.

J.’s rate is $350 for one session, $650 for two, $950 for three, plus travel outside of GTA.

J. has written for all the major North American comic book publishers including Archie, Dark Horse, DC, Image, and Marvel Comics. He currently writes the Chirp comic in Chirp Magazine. His creator-owned graphic novels include Alison Dare, Bigfoot Boy, and DoGooders among others. He has also written for children’s books and magazines, as well as animation and television.

His presentation is intended for grades 3 to 6. He talks about writing comics and graphic novels, how stories go from script to art to the printed book, and ends with a fun reading involving audience participation. He requires a projector or smart board and preferably a laptop although he can usually bring his MacBook.

He prefers groups of no larger than 60 students per presentation but is flexible. Presentation time is approximately 45-60 minutes with optional Q&A, signing, and book sales upon request.

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