Apply for Writer & Illustrator Bookings

APPLICATIONS OPEN SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

Browse writers & illustrators below — or filter them by literary genre and grade-level expertise.

Before requesting a writer or illustrator, read their profile carefully, noting individual program locations, travel parameters, and other requirements.

Writers who must travel 2+ hours for a WITS visit may require overnight accommodations at the expense of the school. Hosting a WITS visit also requires ensuring writers have adequate breaks (between sessions) and an offer of lunch (if working for a full day).

Step 1.

To initiate a request for a writer or illustrator to visit your school, click the “Request this Author” button found at the bottom of each profile.

After making a selection, you will see the requested name appear in your “WITS cart,” located at the top of the profiles section.

You may select multiple authors within a single request form, but please do not request more writers than you are able to accommodate into your school programming year.

One teacher or school representative should make all WITS bookings for the school.

Step 2.

When you have finished making your selections, click “Check Out” in your “WITS cart.”

You will be taken the to WITS application form, where you can choose full-day or half-day visits for each of your requested authors (up to a maximum of 5 days per school). Carefully fill out and submit this form.

Step 3.

A formal confirmation of approved WITS funding is sent within 3 – 4 weeks of the receipt of your request.

This confirmation includes a list of writers approved for visits at your school, contact information for each writer, the details of the agreement, and an estimate of the co-pay payable by your school. Contact these writers within one month of receiving confirmation to discuss the specifics of their visit (regardless of whether the visit is happening immediately or next May).

Schools that have cancelled past bookings without appropriate reason or notice may not be able to participate in the WITS program.

Step 4.

After the visit, WFNS will issue an invoice to your school via email, which is payable by cheque within 2 weeks of the visit.

To request hard copies of invoices by mail or fax, please contact Linda at: wits@writers.ns.ca

Schools with outstanding fees from previous years will not be able to participate in the WITS program until all outstanding fees have been paid. 

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WITS Writer & Illustrator Profiles

John A. Read


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: n/a

Home Region: NS

Will travel:

40 minutes

Availability:

all visit lengths; all terms

Areas of Expertise:

Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Exploration

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Will bring telescopes, or will demonstrate astronomy software on the computer.

About the Author:

JOHN A. READ is a telescope operator at the Burke-Gaffney Observatory a member of the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) and recently graduated with a degree in astrophysics from Saint Mary’s University. In 2020 he was presented with an RASC award for Excellence in Science Communication. John also cohosts RASC’s series “Explore the Universe Online.” He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


John A. Read

Telescope operator and non-fiction author

Kanaar Bell


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region:

Will travel:

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

About the Author:


Kanaar Bell

Community builder and spoken word artist

Clare O’Connor


Works with Grades: Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: n/a

Home Region: Halifax Regional Municipality

Will travel:

Anywhere in Nova Scotia

Availability:

Single periods or half day within a 100Km radius of HRM, Half day outside HRM

Available for grades 3 to 6

Areas of Expertise:

Middle grade fiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

All workshops/presentations are considered a partnership with the teacher or librarian. Within the topics noted above, presentations are customized to support learning outcomes based on student and school interest. However, general themes are resilience, dealing with change, challenging assumptions, and bullying. Depending on the length of time provided, exercises are also included.

Skateboard Sibby was identified by Quill and Quire magazine as a “helpful classroom resource to provide an entry point for anti-bias and inclusive language and to open up important conversations on gender identity, self-identity, and inclusivity.” I have created a chapter-by-chapter downloadable discussion guide to support teacher or librarian led classroom discussions about Skateboard Sibby. This guide, or a portion of it, can be used in advance of a presentation if of interest.

About the Author:

I am the author of Skateboard Sibby, a middle-grade novel about an 11-year-old super skateboarder dealing with lots of changes, including the loss of her confidence and her identity as a skateboarder. I have written extensively as a freelance writer and have now published my first middle-grade fiction. I enjoy speaking about the process of writing and using Sibby to launch into discussions on change, resilience, confidence building, bullying, and inclusivity.


Clare O’Connor

Author of "Skateboard Sibby"

Genevieve Graham


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Will travel:

Half an hour outside of Halifax

Availability:

Half day, any term, and I’m always available for virtual visits.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Why Historical Fiction Is Important / Writing Historical Fiction
  • Canadian History Isn’t Boring
  • British Home Children
  • Klondike Gold Rush/early Mounties (NWMP)
  • Acadian Expulsion
  • Halifax Explosion

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I generally begin by reading a chapter, then I do a little talk with Q&A but I am open to suggestions.

About the Author:

Genevieve Graham moved to Nova Scotia in 2008 and fell in love with the integral history woven into every aspect of this province. Almost immediately, she realized how little she knew about the history, not only of this province but of all of Canada, and she embarked on a mission to correct that. Using her love of historical fiction as a palette, Genevieve began in-depth research into the Halifax Explosion, life on Nova Scotia’s home front during both World Wars, the reality of German U-boats skulking around our rocky coves, and the Acadian Expulsion, weaving compelling, heartbreaking, yet hopeful fictional stories into the facts. Those three Nova Scotia-based novels (“Tides of Honour”, “Come From Away”, and “Promises to Keep”) spent numerous weeks on the Globe & Mail bestsellers list, bringing Nova Scotian history to thousands of Canadian readers. Determined to reach beyond Nova Scotia, she turned her attention to the West Coast, where she delved into the Klondike Gold Rush and the early Mounties (NWMP) in “At the Mountain’s Edge”. Having already achieved a following of historical fiction readers across the country, “At the Mountain’s Edge” became an “instant bestseller” on the Globe & Mail bestseller list. Most recently, Genevieve focused her research and passion on the dark, little known story of Canada’s British Home Children in “The Forgotten Home Child”. Despite bookstore shutdowns across the country due to COVID-19, “The Forgotten Home Child” became an “instant #1 bestseller” and remained on that list for 19 weeks – 11 of those at #1.

Genevieve Graham is prolific and determined, dedicated to bringing Canadian history to life through the popular, mainstream market of commercial historical fiction. Having started writing relatively late in life (in her forties), she has already published five novels with Simon & Schuster Canada in five years, and is eager to keep on that same track for years to come.


Genevieve Graham

Dedicated to bringing Canadian history to life

Virginia Konchan


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region:

Will travel:

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Adult and YA literature, storytelling, poetry, memoir, and mentoring young writers

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Visits include a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation/discussion about writing and the editing process, a short reading, and a collaborative writing activity such as Exquisite Corpse or working with prompts. The presentation has been adapted for online delivery.

About the Author:

Virginia is the author of three books and four chapbooks, and her writing has appeared widely in the US and Canada.  A seasoned educator, editor, literary publisher, and certified yoga instructor, in her spare time she enjoys teaching yoga, singing, playing the piano, and exploring Nova Scotia’s walking trails.

Notable books: The End of Spectacle, Any God Will Do, and Anatomical Gift 


Virginia Konchan

Author of poetry, short fiction, translations, and criticism

Janice Landry


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region:

Will travel:

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

About the Author:


Janice Landry

Non-fiction writer with a focus on wellness

Greg Loewen


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Maximum group/class size: 20

Home Region: Colchester County

Will travel:

Northern Health Region

Availability:

open

Areas of Expertise:

fiction, non-fiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Grades 7-9:
–   Fiction: What is a story and why tell one? The history of storytelling and the written word. The differences between facts, beliefs and opinions and how the truth participates in all three at once. How can you communicate your experiences to others through writing? How much of oneself gets put into something that isn’t exactly true? How does your experience translate into characters and plots? The basic mechanics of narrative.
–   Non fiction: What is the world and how do you describe the world as it is? The differences between science and history, between nature and culture. How did facts originate and what are their purposes today? Format and presentation: seminar and workshop with writing break-outs, sharing of work, script-like role-play readings and reading assignments.

Grades 10-12:
–   Fiction: Character creation and development, use of allegory, metaphor, the construction of plot and the conveyance of emotional intensity. How to communicate human concerns using non-human characters and unearthly places and spaces. How to make your story have a purpose beyond itself.
–   Non-fiction: What is discourse? What is authority? How do you question both? Learning how to read for meaning and not mere descriptive fact. How did the concept of factuality develop and who does it benefit? Blurring fact and fiction can make for great writing but also for dangerous lying; how to avoid the dark side of creativity.
–   Bonus: university and college preparation: What do professors want? How to write for post-secondary courses and what it means to learn how to think for yourselves.  Format and presentation: seminar and workshop with writing break-outs, sharing of work, script-like role-play readings and reading assignments.

About the Author:

G.V. Loewen is the author of over two-dozen books in print and is one of Canada’s leading contemporary thinkers. His non-fiction works include books in education, ethics, health, aesthetics and social theory. He recently wrote a eleven volume adventure saga for young persons and other shorter fiction works.


Greg Loewen

Author of over two-dozen non-fiction books

Suzanne Rent


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region: HRM

Will travel:

Willing to travel outside of HRM.

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Newspaper and magazine writing and editing, interviewing, and publishing.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

About the Author:

Suzanne Rent has worked in the Halifax media since 2003 and has experience in newspapers, magazines, television, and radio. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, Halifax Magazine, East Coast Living, Halifax Examiner, Globe and Mail, Canadian Business, and many others.

She has experience mentoring students and adult learners in the writing and editing process. When she was the editor of Our Children Magazine, she created a student-correspondent program in which she mentored elementary-age students whose work was published in the magazine. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence for this student-correspondent program.

She taught a Journalism 101 program to adult learners at the Dartmouth Literacy Network and the Bedford-Sackville Literacy Network.

Suzanne is currently working on a 10-episode radio show called The Great Nova Scotia Songbook,  which will be launched in November 2018. This series will chronicle the history of music in Nova Scotia, including the music of First Nations communities to today’s hip-hop artists. To date, she’s interviewed 45 musicians and industry talents for this project.

Suzanne has a special industry in Nova Scotia history, genealogy, music, community news, and the extraordinary stories of everyday people.


Suzanne Rent

Experienced newspaper, magazine, television, and radio writer

Jen Powley


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region:

Will travel:

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

About the Author:

Jen Powley is a 39-year-old prairie girl living in Canada’s ocean playground. She left Alberta after a degree in social sciences at the King’s University College in Edmonton, where she edited the school newspaper. Powley moved across the country to pursue an after-degree in journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax. Following that, in 2001, she moved back to Halifax after a summer in Alberta. She then held jobs at the Independent Living Resource Centre (now Independent Living Nova Scotia) and the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities. Realizing she could not engineer the type of societal change she wanted, Powley returned to school earning her Master’s of Urban Planning at Dalhousie University, and then worked for five years at the Ecology Action Centre. Losing her voice due to her multiple sclerosis, Powley recognized that the presentations required by the job were no longer feasible, so she returned to the University of King’s College to pursue her Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction. In May 2017, Powley released her first and only book, a memoir Just Jen, published by Roseway, an imprint of Fernwood Publishing. 


Jen Powley

Journalist, creative non-fiction writer, and memoirist

Cooper Lee Bombardier


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region:

Will travel:

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

About the Author:

Cooper Lee Bombardier is a writer and visual artist originally from the South Shore of Boston. He has been a construction worker, a cook, a carpenter, a union stagehand, a bouncer, a welder, a shop steward, a dishwasher, a truck driver, and a housepainter, among other things, for a paycheck. His writing appears in many publications and anthologies, such as The Kenyon Review, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, and The Rumpus; and recently in the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology The Remedy–Essays on Queer Health Issues (ed. Zena Sharman) and Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Speculative Fiction From Transgender Writers, winner of the 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Barbara Gittings Literature Award (eds. Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett). The Huffington Post listed Cooper as one of “10 Transgender Artists Who Are Changing The Landscape Of Contemporary Art.” His visual art was recently curated in an exhibition called “Intersectionality” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, and hung recently in shows at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, NM, the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco, and at Helltown Workshop in Provincetown, MA. A veteran of the original Sister Spit tours, he’s performed, lectured, and exhibited art across North America. Cooper is the fiction editor at Gertrude Press, an ELL volunteer tutor for immigrant community members at his local public library. He has received fellowships from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Lambda Literary Foundation, and RADAR Labs. Cooper Lee has taught writing at the University of Portland, Clark College, Portland State University, and at various Portland-area high schools as a writer-in-residence through Literary Art’s program Writers in The Schools. He is a 2018 Visiting Writer at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Critical Studies graduate program.


Cooper Lee Bombardier

Writer & visual artist originally from Boston

Beth Ann Knowles


Works with Grades: Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 30 - 40

Home Region: South Shore

Will travel:

Anywhere within an hour of Bridgewater (South Shore, HRM, Valley…)

Availability:

Sept – June

Areas of Expertise:

Fiction (ages 4-8), Picture Books

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Beth Ann’s fun-filled creative presentations include the reading of her debut children’s book, Row Bot, and involve student-centered discussions of environmental and friendship themes. Workshop content can depend on the age of the group but often includes illustrating, creative writing, making predictions, coloring, rhymes and humour, as well as discussions on the road to being a writer and illustrator.

About the Author:

Beth Ann is an ESL teacher and works with pre-K to junior high students. She has presented to elementary classes and community groups and she is passionate about the environment.


Beth Ann Knowles

South Shore writer-illustrator and ESL teacher

Nancy Rose


Works with Grades: Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: I have worked with classes of 40 up to assemblies. Smaller is better so everyone can see the pictures in the books as I read, and can see the miniature props I bring along.

Home Region: HRM (Hubley)

Will travel:

Preferably within an hour of HRM weather permitting, and further if accomodations are provided for schools more than a couple hours away.

Availability:

I am retired so all days are available.

 

Areas of Expertise:

fiction, grades p-6 and photography and crafts

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

My presentation style is relaxed and paced for the age group I am speaking with.  I like to read one or more books to the students after discussing how I went from being a photographer to the author of four children’s picture books. I bring along some of the miniature props I have made which appear in the books and the students love to look at them and speculate about where I hid the peanuts. We usually have quite an interesting discussion about fiction and non-fiction and the challenges of writing a story using real photos of real animals…how the story is created in my mind but how it also needs to be edited to match the actual photographs. Older students are intrigued with the craft and photography aspects of the process and I talk about the role of the editors and publishers and how a book goes from “backyard to bookstore”.

About the Author:

Nancy is a retired high school Family Studies teacher and Guidance Counsellor who rarely goes anywhere without her camera. The curious little red squirrels in her backyard became the subjects of many of her photos. To make the photos more interesting, she started making squirrel size props (a barbecue, mailbox, washer and dryer, etc) and dioramas, and she lured squirrels into her sets by hiding nuts. Her humorous photos of the squirrels appeared online and in newspapers and magazines world-wide. In 2014 her first children’s book, The Secret Life of Squirrels, was published in Canada and the U.S., followed by three subsequent books in 2015 and 2016, and July 2018. For classroom visits, Nancy brings along a tote box filled with some of her homemade props to show the students and she talks about the art and craft of recycling and being creative.

Nancy’s first two books have also been published in South Korea, and Japan and all are available in paperback to schools through Scholastic Books. The first is also available as a board book for the youngest readers.

Nancy spends her free time with her grandsons when not photographing the expanding number of animal visitors in her backyard in Hubley.

 


Nancy Rose

Retired high school Family Studies teacher and live squirrel dioramist

Hui Zhou


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 20-25 students

Home Region: Hammonds Plains NS

Will travel:

Anywhere in Nova Scotia

Availability:

September – June

Areas of Expertise:

Nonfiction, real stories, entomology, integrated pest management

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Hui loves to invite children into her scientific world which is populated with creatures such as insects, chickens, and other animals. She will explain how these creatures have played an indispensable role in human existence, and suffer from misunderstanding, depopulation, and the effects of human greed and selfishness. Working with the children, Hui will tell them interesting stories about chickens, and pass on the basic and accurate knowledge about insects.

About the Author:

Hui is a graduate from St. Mary’s University, and has a Masters Science Degree and a long career in entomology, integrated pest management (IPM), and vector-borne disease control. She is a bilingual writer (English/Mandarin), interpreter, and translator. Focusing on real stories and non-fiction books for children, Hui has published many life stories in national/local media such as magazines, newspapers, and radio broadcasts in China since the 1990’s and later in Canada. The success, in its writing, book design, photography, self-publishing, marketing, promotion, and distribution of her book Running Wild with Bossy Boy provides Hui with a high level of confidence in writing, and is planning another non-fiction children’s book based on her expertise and personal interest.


Hui Zhou

English-Mandarin nonfiction children's author, interpreter, and translator

Geraldine Tuck


Works with Grades: Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 25 - 30

Home Region:

Will travel:

all of Nova Scotia

Availability:

Sept – June

Areas of Expertise:

taught grades 2, 4, 5, 6

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Grades 3-6: This interactive presentation dresses volunteers as book characters, detective, rum runner, and gold miner. The large, hands-on display illustrates the historical research needed to write this series set in the 1930’s in a town on the south shore of Nova Scotia. The author reads exciting passage from each book. An oral exercise demonstrates editing techniques. Drawing for a free t-shirt end the visit.

Grades 5-7: The fourth book in the Marauders Series is suitable for older grades due to the content dealing with the Halifax Explosion. A power point presentation discusses the explosion and how the author used artifacts and newspaper clippings to plot a story. An interactive lesson where students piece together their own historical fiction is offered.

About the Author:

Author of Midnight Marauders, Moonlight Marauders and Mystery Marauders, Mystery Marauders and Halifax Explosion–all available on the Teachers’ Book Order List! Books also available in all Chapters Book Stores.


Geraldine Tuck

Author of the "Marauders" series

Sarah Sawler


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 30

Home Region: HRM

Will travel:

Will travel an hour outside of HRM in any direction. May consider travelling farther depending on circumstances.

Availability:

September 2019-April 2020

Areas of Expertise:

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Elementary (Grades 3-6): Presentations wll include a discussion on research methods, fun readings and interactive trivia (with a prize!) and a hands-on activity. With two books on the Hackmatack reading list, 2018/2019 will be a particularly fun year.

Junior High/Middle School: Presentations wll include a discussion on research methods, including the importance of critical thinking, readings, interactive trivia, and a hands-on activity. 

High school: Visits will look at the various ways writing can be incorporated into a career, focusing on my experience as a journalist, a business writer, a graphic novel publicist, and an author. Presentations will also include a hands-on activity and readings.

About the Author:

Sarah Sawler is the award-winning author of three books: 100 Things You Don’t Know About Nova Scotia; 100 Things You Don’t Know About Atlantic Canada – For Kids; and the Moonbeam Spirit Award-winning Be Prepared: The Frankie MacDonald Guide to Life, the Weather, and Everything (with Frankie MacDonald). Both books have been nominated for the 2019/2020 Hackmatack Awards.

When she’s not writing books, she’s working as a publicist for graphic novel publisher Conundrum Press, reviewing children’s literature, writing web content for tech companies, or marketing comic books. She lives in Nova Scotia with her partner, two kids, one cat, one dog, one bearded dragon, and one crested gecko.


Sarah Sawler

Publicist and award-winning author of three non-fiction books

Julian Smith


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Maximum group/class size: Any

Home Region: Yarmouth County

Will travel:

Anywhere in Yarmouth, Digby, & Shelburne Counties. Will travel further, but mileage and/or accommodation may be required.

Availability:

Year-round

Areas of Expertise:

Science Fiction & Fantasy (Speculative Fiction)

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Julian is available to teach fiction workshops that focus on imagination, creativity, and storytelling through the lens of speculative fiction. Many of today’s most popular books, movies, and video games fall under the umbrella of science fiction and fantasy. These genres have a remarkable ability to capture the imaginations of young people and reading and writing speculative fiction encourages students to think about the world in new and imaginative ways.

In his workshops, Julian introduces students to some important narrative ingredients — such as character, conflict, and setting — and uses examples from literature and pop culture to keep students engaged. Through a series of brainstorming activities and writing exercises students will learn how to generate compelling ideas and turn those ideas into their own stories. By the end of the workshop, students will have the foundation of a work of original fiction.

About the Author:

Julian Mortimer Smith has published more than a dozen science fiction and fantasy stories in some of the world’s top speculative fiction magazines, including Asimov’sTerraform, and Daily Science Fiction. He has also published non-fiction pieces in SaltscapesCottage Magazine, and The Skinny. He is a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and SF Canada.

Julian lives in Yarmouth and spends his days writing copy for a web design company. He previously made a living as a freelance editor, working on projects ranging from romance novels to board games. When he lived in Edinburgh he worked as the books section editor of The Skinny, a Scottish arts and entertainment magazine.

Julian has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from McGill Univeristy in Montreal and a Master’s in Communication and Culture from York University in Toronto. You can find out more about his writing at his website: http://julianmortimersmith.com/


Julian Smith

Author of over a dozen science fiction and fantasy stories.

Sarah Mian


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: Any

Home Region: Queensland

Will travel:

Maritimes

Availability:

Areas of Expertise:

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I possess a BEd in Secondary School Education and have extensive Primary-12 classroom experience as a substitute teacher. I have given creative writing workshops at the Writing on Fire Teen Writing Experience and taught an adult fiction course at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

I am passionate about inspiring young writers and have developed a variety of creative writing exercises suitable for all grade levels. As a Writer-in-the-Schools, I engage students in the creative writing process and share the journey of how I achieved my childhood dream to become a published novelist.

About the Author:

Sarah Mian is from Dartmouth, NS. Her debut novel When the Saints won the Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award, the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, and was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. She lives in Queensland, Nova Scotia.


Sarah Mian

Winner of the Dartmouth Book & Savage First Book awards

Doretta Groenendyk


Works with Grades: Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: one class at a time, approx. 25 - 30 students

Home Region:

Will travel:

within the Annapolis Valley/Halifax

Availability:

Oct-June (Full Days only)

Areas of Expertise:

Picture books, Illustration

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Stories seem to follow me wherever I go: they chase my bicycle, appear under rocks, pour out of a teapot and fall from the sky. I love to look at pictures and make paintings of things I dream about doing, or of events that I find enchanted, cosy or whimsical. Sometimes I can’t tell what comes first, my pictures or my words.

When I share my work with classrooms, it is usually a bright and creative adventure. I have travelled and have lived in different places and these stories usually creep into my classroom visits. I often bring in objects and paintings and have a lot of fun sharing all the stuff behind the making of each book. Mostly I can inspire kids to feel that absolutely they have stories to tell and this can happen in words, pictures, or both.

This year I have a new book: A Harbour Seal in Halifax based on the actual events in the city of March 2015. Students will be active drawers for this one, and begin their own story strip!

As well, I can offer workshops on BULLY 101. these have been engaging presentations, complete with collage making.

About the Author:

Doretta graduated from NSCAD with a BA in Art Education. She then worked in Swaziland, Africa for a year and then Igloolik, Nunavut for another two. Before and after these diverse experiences, she was an avid traveller and tree planter.

Once settled in Nova Scotia, Doretta worked as an artist in classrooms through AVRSB, the program Arts Infusion, the Paints program, and as a volunteer. Her paintings are represented by the Harvest Gallery in Wolfville, Details Gallery in Charlottetown, and Art Sales and Rentals at the AGNS in Halifax.

To date, Doretta”s books include:

  • Bounce Beans and Burn
  • Fiddles and Spoons
  • I’m writing a story
  • Snow for Christmas
  • Thank You for My Bed
  • A Bluenose Christmas
  • Spin to Sea
  • Bully 101
  • Step outside
  • Hockey Morning Noon and Night
  • I’m Drawing a Picture
  • A Harbour Seal in Halifax


Doretta Groenendyk

Illustrator and author of children's picture books

Norene Smiley


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: Norene is flexible on group size, depending on ages – please discuss this with her before the visit.

Home Region: Chignecto-Central

Will travel:

throughout NS

Availability:

Oct, Nov, March – May. Full and half day visits. Overnight accommodation would be nice if traveling over two hours each way. Norene has friends around the province who are often willing to put her up for the night depending on location.

Areas of Expertise:

fiction writing, children’s and young adult fiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

All presentations promote reading and writing. Norene has years of experience teaching writing and working within the writing and publishing industry. She enjoys working with children and students, helping them tell their stories.

P – 6: Fiction – Discussions about where ideas come from; background of some of her own stories and how they changed from the original idea to their published form; what makes a good story; what makes characters come alive and makes us care about them; importance of students’ own stories.

7 – 12: Writing Workshop – All aspects of writing including developing characters, structure, conflict and tension, revision and marketing work. MINIMUM HALF DAY SESSIONS RECOMMENDED.

For Norene’s presentation, she will need a large flip pad, stand and markers, or a black board/white board, paper/pencils for students to write, table for display, water.

About the Author:

After a number of years working with geriatrics and mentally handicapped children, Norene changed direction in the 1980’s to focus primarily on the book industry. She has been a bookseller, editor, writer, teacher, book reviewer, book publisher, publicist, event organizer and cultural administrator. Norene is based in Pugwash.


Norene Smiley

Bookseller, editor, writer, teacher, and book reviewer

Sherry D. Ramsey


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size:

Home Region: Cape Breton

Will travel:

within Cape Breton and Strait Regions, further if accommodations are arranged.

Availability:

Full and half days.

Areas of Expertise:

Fiction, non-fiction, Poetry, Editing and Publishing, Science fiction & Fantasy

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

For grades P-3, Sherry often offers interactive visual presentations on storytelling or how books come into being. This includes a brief storytelling session or reading. For older students, she often offers an interactive session with students where they brainstorm story ideas from student input. Her talks generally revolve around at least one of the following topics: how to build interesting stories and characters; discussion and practice creating vibrant backdrops for stories; discussing the different stages of writing as they apply to students and professional writers. She also often addresses topics that revolve around writing speculative fiction and poetry — definitions of “speculative”, finding ideas, and what makes a strong story within or outside various genres.

For elementary grades Sherry can manage two classes together (if they are not too large); for junior high and high school she prefers no more than one class at a time.

About the Author:

Sherry D. Ramsey writes speculative fiction for both adults and young adults, and is one of the founding editors of Cape Breton’s Third Person Press. She has published over thirty short stories nationally and internationally, and her award-winning debut novel, One’s Aspect to the Sun, launched in 2013 from Edmonton’s Tyche Books. The sequel, Dark Beneath the Moon (Tyche Books) followed in 2015, and a third book in the Nearspace series, Beyond the Sentinel Stars, released in 2017. She has also published the YA fantasy The Seventh Crow (Dreaming Robot Press, 2015), and the middle grade science fiction adventure, Planet Fleep (2018). Some of her short stories are collected in To Unimagined Shores (2011) and The Cache and Other Stories (2017). A collection of stories for young readers, Beacon and Other Stories, came out in 2019. Her most recent short fiction has appeared in Wild Musette JournalPulp Science Fiction From the Rock, and  Apocalypse: Dark Drabbles #6. She’s currently adding more titles to her urban fantasy Olympia Investigations series and working on a comic fantasy novel as well as a new Nearspace book.

Sherry has co-edited six anthologies of regional short fiction with Third Person Press and conducted numerous writing workshops in person and online. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Writer’s Council, Sherry is also a past Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Web Administrator of SF Canada. She is an active participant with Writers In The Schools and loves talking to students about writing and creativity. You can visit Sherry online, read her blog, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @sdramsey, and find some free fiction and sample chapters on her website.


Sherry D. Ramsey

Author of speculative fiction for both adults and young adult

Philip Moscovitch


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 30

Home Region: HRM

Will travel:

Throughout NS. I enjoy travelling throughout the province for visits. Please keep in mind that I will require meals and accommodation if I’m travelling a considerable distance.

Availability:

Sept – June. Full and half days.

Areas of Expertise:

Fiction, Graphic novels, Journalism, Non-Fiction, Interviewing techniques, Radio, Documentary.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I am most frequently asked to offer workshops on writing comics, but I also offer presentations on kickstarting fiction writing, working on non-fiction, and effective ways to interview and ask questions.

Comics

Ever wonder how a comic is put together? What does the writer do? How about the illustrator? Using real-life examples from my 14 years writing the “Daisy Dreamer” comic for Chickadee, I talk about the process of writing comics and share scripts and artwork with students. I also share exercises for building characters and stories. These sessions generally run 45-60 minutes.

I also offer longer sessions (half day or more) that go more deeply into the process of creating comics and that include time for students to work on their own longer-term comics creations.

Narrative non-fiction

Let me help your students find stories in unexpected places. For upper elementary and junior high, we will practice using our senses and powers of description to write short non-fiction. For older classes, I offer workshops on shaping facts into stories. I draw on my own years of experience writing non-fiction articles and my book, Adventures in Bubbles and Brine.

Oral History/Interviewing

“Someone should write that down!”

For teachers and students interested in finding and recording the stories around them, I offer a workshop on how to zero in on great stories and get people to talk about them.As a freelance writer and broadcaster, I have interviewed hundreds of people – including the first person from PEI to play Major League Baseball, a member of the last Leafs team to win the Stanley Cup, the first photographer to snap underwater shots of Titanic, the most active 99-year-old I’ve ever met, and even family members. Students have the technology they need to record stories. My workshop teaches them how to find those stories, and how to approach subjects in a way that encourages them to share them.As part of this workshop we practice hands-on in class, which is always fun.

Kickstart Your Fiction

In school, I was the kid who never had any ideas. Now I have too many of them. This workshop uses photos and fun, effective writing prompts to help students find and quickly develop their ideas for short stories, comics, or longer works.

Other Workshops

I am open to ideas! If you have something different you’d like me to do, let’s chat about it.

Language

I am bilingual (I make part of my living as a French-English translator) and can do presentations and workshops in French for immersion classes.

Je suis bilingue, originaire de Montréal, et tous mes ateliers et présentations sont également disponibles en français.

 

About the Author:

I am a freelance writer, editor, and audio producer with a passion for telling stories and have been publishing non-fiction for more than 25 years.  For five years, I was the editor of Canadian Screenwriter magazine, and I’ve been a writer and story editor for several documentaries. As an audio producer, my work has aired both regionally and nationally on CBC Radio. While my focus is mostly non-fiction, I have also published short fiction and poetry.

My interests are broad. I’ve written about everything from professional wrestling to mental health, and from food to art.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can also keep up with me on Twitter @PhilMoscovitch.


Philip Moscovitch

Freelance writer, editor, and audio producer

Jessica Scott Kerrin


Works with Grades: Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 100 (if larger, school must provide a mic)

Home Region: HRM

Will travel:

Anywhere in Nova Scotia if a full day is booked. Please note: schools located farther than a 90-minute drive from Halifax are required to pay for meals and licensed accommodation, because these expenses are not covered by WITS.

Availability:

April-May, full-day only; does not work with grade primary

Areas of Expertise:

Fiction series, Mystery, Adventure, Picture book

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Jessica’s jam-packed presentation to young writers is a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday experiences that she writes stories about. She includes props, audience participation, a short reading and video clips sure to keep students engaged and glued to their seats. She has three presentations to choose from:

For grades 1-3: SENSES – Her new picture book, The Better Tree Fort, is featured. She shares an interest in birding with the characters in this story. She will include a fun mini-lesson on local birdsongs during her presentation that encourages young writers to use all their senses.

For grades 4-6: DETAILS – Her new novel, Clear Skies, is a historic novel that depicts the 1960s space race to the Moon. She will use this story to demonstrate the importance of including accurate facts and engaging details for better fiction.

For grades 4-6: STORY IDEAS – Her travel adventure novel, The Things Owen Wrote, explores the relationship between a boy and his ailing grandfather. She features this novel in her presentation to demonstrate where she gets her story ideas.

About the Author:

Jessica Scott Kerrin is the author of Martin Bridge, a highly acclaimed award-winning adventure series. Her trilogy, The Lobster Chronicles, features the accidental capture of a giant lobster as told from the perspective of three different boys. Her mystery novels, The Spotted Dog Last Seen, and its prequel, The Missing Dog is Spotted, feature a historic cemetery inspired by one in Halifax. Her adventure novel, The Things Owen Wrote, brings readers to Iceland. Her picture book, The Better Tree Fort, features a father/son team-building project. Her newly released historic novel, Clear Skies, is all about the exciting 1960s space race to the Moon.

Jessica grew up on the Canadian Prairies. Today, she lives with her family and their hunting dog in downtown Halifax in a house that is close to 150 years old. The floors slope, and all the balls she tosses to her dog roll into one corner.

 


Jessica Scott Kerrin

Author of the novel "Clear Skies"

Martine Jacquot


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 30

Home Region: Annapolis Valley

Will travel:

throughout NS

Availability:

Sept – June. Full and half day visits.

Areas of Expertise:

children’s lit, Acadian culture, French-language, Francophone countries and their culture, fiction, non-fiction, young adult, journalism, poetry, writing and publishing industry

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

With little ones, I use a PowerPoint presentation to play a game with them: they feel that they create a story when they are actually learning words and rhymes. With P1-2, I use some of my novels for young readers and we turn the story into a play full of magic as each child is assigned a part based on the story. This way, they memorize some phrases and create their own and feel they are part of an artistic event. With P3-6, I use my novels for young readers to show them what “ingredients” I use to create a story. Depending on the novel they chose, they learn about Mi’kmaq, Acadians or French cultures while having fun.

With grades 10-12, I can talk about Acadian or French cultures, or about the culture of different countries where I spent time. I can also explain how those places inspired me and became part of my stories. This is specially appreciated by teachers who teach them social studies. We can also talk about my novels for older readers, depending on their choice. Since I am also a journalist, I can offer a workshop in journalism. With all age groups, I love spending time to answer questions and explain what it is to work as a writer. I prefer groups of 30 students or less and a computer and/or a projector are useful for showing PowerPoint or pictures.

About the Author:

Martine Jacquot has studied and lived in France, England, Switzerland and Canada. Martine writes poetry, novels, short stories, essays, articles, and travel writing in both English and French. Pour plus d’informations cliquez ici.


Martine Jacquot

Award-winning Acadian author of 30+ books in French

Monica Graham


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: 30

Home Region: Chignecto-Central

Will travel:

throughout NS. Accommodation may be required for schools 3 or more hours away.

Availability:

Sept – June. Full and half day visits.

Areas of Expertise:

Non-fiction: history, biography, news, trivia, opinion (suitable for grade 7 and up); workshops for younger kids; memoir–everyone has a story to tell.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Monica uses props and games to explain the differences among fact, fiction and opinion; and individual and group writing exercises to demonstrate how to make facts interesting. She talks about cheating – using dictionaries, thesaurus, spell-check and other tools to gain an advantage. She reads to students and answers questions about writing. If older students have writing they want to share and discuss, teachers should let Monica know in advance in order to adjust the presentation time and style. If a particular topic or project interests the students, please let Monica know.  A flip chart or chalk/white board is handy, and students should have pen/cils and paper. Monica does not usually employ electronic gizmos as her experience shows they are frustrating and time-consuming to set up. BUT during the Covid-19 pandemic she is stepping out of her comfort zone to reach young writers in schools.

She prefers working with groups of 30 students or less and a scent-free audience is preferred. Coffee and maybe a biscuit are appreciated after a long drive.

About the Author:

Monica Graham lives in the woods in Pictou County, where she keeps three big vegetable gardens, grows raspberries and blackberries, swats black flies, hunts for moose tracks and mushrooms and tries to keep her little dog out of the swamps. When she’s not playing in the mud or skiing or snowshoeing,  she hides in her office and writes books and stories and even poetry. She used to write for newspapers, but retired to fire up her imagination for more fiction!  She likes history and imagining the people who lived in a place long ago. , Monica has written news and feature articles for  the Halifax Chronicle HeraldRural Delivery, and others. She wrote the books Looking Back at Pictou County, The Historic Town of Pictou, Scotch Willy and Other Nicknames from Pictou County, The Great Maritime Detective, Bluenose, Historic New Glasgow, Stellarton, Trenton & Westville, and  Fire Spook, a true ghost story released in October, 2013.  In May, 2015, Nimbus Publishing released a collection of her columns called In the Spirit: Reflections on Everyday Grace. Two months later, her history of Pictou Academy, called Cradle of Knowledge, was launched in advance of the school’s 200th anniversary in 2016. In the works are a story about finding a good place for her aging mom to live, an historic novel, a funny tale about husbands that she calls My Next Husband Will Be Normal and more – she has more ideas than time!

Monica served as 2011-12 Writer-in-Residence at Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, and was Writer-in-Residence at Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, in 2008.


Monica Graham

Author of nine non-fiction books

Sylvia Gunnery


Works with Grades: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Maximum group/class size: for readings, up to 75 with teachers present; 15 to 20 at writing workshops

Home Region: South Shore

Will travel:

Throughout NS. When traveling more than 90 minutes each way, it may be necessary for the school to provide overnight accommodation

Availability:

Oct & Nov, Jan – May. Full day visits only, please (3 sessions per day).

Areas of Expertise:

Fiction (chapter books for ages 6 to 8, juvenile for ages 9 to 12, teen from ages 12 to 16); picture books (non-fiction guided reading books for primary and grade one); teacher resource books on writing

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Sylvia offers two WITS presentations as well as writing workshops.  The presentations are The Story Behind the Cover (recommended for grades 4 – 12) and Finding Stories Every Day (recommended for grades primary – 3).  These presentations are updated every year and are accompanied by PowerPoint visuals. Students will hear excerpts from her books, find out what inspired her story ideas, and learn some behind-the-scenes details about getting a book published.  In writing workshops, students will be active writers, creating their own fictional characters and making them walk and talk on the page.  Follow-up lessons will be suggested. Teachers and students may be interested in a series of workshops which Sylvia has very successfully done for several years at two NS high schools.

About the Author:

Stories have always been part of my life—my family shared stories around our kitchen table on Hillside Avenue in Halifax’s North End; I made up stories to tell my sister at night in our bedroom; I wrote stories as soon as I could form sentences and paragraphs. But I did not take myself seriously as a writer until I was almost 30 years old. That summer I studied at the Banff Centre in Alberta for five weeks. One of my teachers was W.O. Mitchell, a well known Canadian writer who taught me to trust in my own writer’s voice and to keep on writing. Alice Munro, another teacher at Banff (and who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature), gave me this advice:  “When you’re not writing, read.” Now I have 26 books in print, including books for teens and younger readers and teachers.   Game Face, the third novel in my Lorimer sports series, was nominated for the 2015 Hackmatack Award.  Road Signs That Say West, my latest YA novel, was published in 2017.  Now, I’m working on another YA novel what I know about next.  Most days you can find me here at Crescent Beach on the South Shore, writing or reading or walking on the beach.


Sylvia Gunnery

Author of 25+ books for teens and children

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