Apply for In-person & Virtual Visits

APPLICATIONS OPEN SEPTEMBER 8, 2021

Step 1: select writer(s)

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

Before requesting a writer or illustrator, please read their profile carefully, ensure that their home region & travel range, availability, and areas of expertise are a match for your needs.

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.

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

Step 2: complete application form

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). Complete and submit this form.

Step 3: receive confirmation

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: provide co-pay

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 Hudson, Arts Education Officer, 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

(Alphabetized by first name)

Alice Walsh


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: HRM

Travel range for in-person visits: throughout Nova Scotia

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Sept - June. Full and half days.

Maximum size of group/class: 45-50

Areas of expertise: Picture Books, Juvenile, Young Adult, Fiction and Non-Fiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

My workshops are a mixture of discussion and hands-on writing. Using short writing exercises, students will explore the importance of dialogue, imagery, description, and showing vs. telling. Using examples from my own writing, I will discuss how real life experiences and events can be transformed into fictional stories. Also, I will show how to create unique, vibrant, and unforgettable characters and their importance to the story.

Depending on the length of the workshop, the students will create a character, and will invent a problem (conflict) for that character. I will then discuss how this problem is essential to the development of the plot.

For younger children, P-2, I will discuss story characters, and how they grow in the writer’s imagination. Using examples from my own picture books, we will explore concepts such as: Who is the main character? What is the character’s problem?  How does the character go about solving the problem?

The main focus of my workshop is to get students excited about the creative writing process.

About the author:

Alice Walsh writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and children, and her articles and short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies.  Her published work includes three books for adults as well as eight books for children and young adults. A number of her books have been short listed or won awards such as the Hackmatack, and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice. Her juvenile novel, Pomiuk: Prince of the North (Beach Holme) won the 2005 Ann Connor Brimer award. Another YA novel, A Sky Black with Crows (Red Deer), was nominated for the same award. Her most recent novel, A Long Way From Home, was a finalist for the 2013-14 Hackmatack award.

Alice has degrees in English and Criminology from St. Mary’s University, and a MA in Children’s Literature from Acadia University. She has worked as a pre-school teacher, a creative writing instructor, and a probation officer. She has participated in The Labrador Creative Arts Festival, Winter Set in Summer Festival, and was Writer in Residence at Terra Nova National Park during the summer 2005.


Alice Walsh

Picture books; juvenile and YA fiction & nonfiction

Andre Fenton


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Halifax, NS

Travel range for in-person visits: Mostly within HRM, but can do virtual for classes outside.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Available for all terms

Maximum size of group/class: Any size

Areas of expertise: Young adult fiction, spoken word poetry.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

A versatile writing workshop that looks at our own unique stories through a new lens of self reflection and discovery. Students will have a fun warm up exercise, followed by mapping out their own story through the art of poetry and/or fiction, and will leave our workshop with multiple pieces of work. This will be a supportive workshop that will inspire students continue their journey down the path of writing. For more information, contact andre.fenton@live.ca

About the author:

Andre Fenton is an award-winning African Nova Scotian author, spoken-word artist, and arts educator who has represented Halifax at seven national poetry festivals across Canada. He was the 2015 recipient of The Spirit of The Slam Award. Andre is an author of two YA novels, Worthy of Love, which won bronze in The Coast Best of, and was selected for In The Margins annual Fiction Recommendation List to highlight best fiction and non-fiction titles focused on youth populations living in marginalized existences. He is also the author of ANNAKA that was shortlisted for the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature in the 2021 Atlantic Book Awards. Through the lens of fiction and poetry, Andre has facilitated workshops at over 30 schools across Nova Scotia helping young writers and performers develop their craft. He is currently working on his third novel, The Summer Between Us, and a feature screenplay. Andre is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia


Andre Fenton

YA fiction; spoken word poetry

Anne C. Kelly


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: HRM

Travel range for in-person visits: 1.5 hours from Metro Halifax (Truro, Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Wolfville, Kentville, etc.)Also available virtually across the province.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: half days or full days fall, winter and spring (September-June)

Maximum size of group/class: 25-30

Areas of expertise: English as an additional language English writing skills Canadian history

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

For grades P-6, Anne shares stories of her own writing experience and discusses where story ideas come from, how to do historical research for a story, and the importance of editing and re-writing. Anne’s presentations are interactive and  informal, with lots of time for students’ questions. She also emphasizes the importance of the students’ own reading and writing.

About the author:

Anne has a Masters degree in Teaching-English-as-an-Additional-Language, and worked with adult Newcomers to Canada for twenty-five years as an EAL teacher, program coordinator and language assessor. She has been passionate about reading and writing since she was a young child. While at home with her children, she completed two writing courses through The Institute for Children’s Literature in Connecticut. The short story which eventually became her novel, Jacques’ Escape, was written as an assignment for one of these courses.

Along with reading and writing, Anne also loves Canadian history. She learned about the deportation of the Acadians in elementary school, and became curious about what happened to the Acadians after they left their homes in Acadia.  That curiosity led her first to Grand Pre and then to the Massachusetts archives, and became the basis for her book.

Anne is a natural teacher, and loves to share her passions with young readers and writers.


Anne C. Kelly

EAL; writing skills; Canadian history

Beth Ann Knowles


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: South Shore

Travel range for in-person visits: Will travel within the South Shore. Happy to do virtual visits all around the province.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Half/Full DaySept – June

Maximum size of group/class: 30 - 40

Areas of expertise: Fiction (ages 4-8), Picture Books, Creative Nonfiction (any age)

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

For younger grades, Beth Ann’s fun-filled creative presentations include the reading of her debut children’s book, Row Bot, and involve student-centered discussions about the role of an author, illustrator, and publisher, as well as how a book is made. She challenges students to think about what the most important part of a picture book is; the pictures or the words. Workshop content can depend on the age of the group but often includes illustrating, creative writing, making predictions, coloring, rhymes and humour.

With older students Beth Ann discusses her writing process and the bumpy road to getting published. She reads from her nonfiction book, The Kimchi Experiment, a publication that began as an email, and engages students in fun creative writing exercises.

About the author:

Beth Ann is an award-winning writer and an ESL teacher who loves incorporating humour into her classes, presentations, and her writing. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Dalhousie University, has lived in Bosnia and South Korea, and coaches soccer in the summer.

Her debut publication was a children’s book which she wrote and illustrated. Row Bot, was published in 2017 by MacIntyre Purcell.

Beth Ann’s nonfiction manuscript, The Kimchi Experiment, will be published in the spring of 2022 by Pottersfield Press.

 


Beth Ann Knowles

Picture books; children's fiction; nonfiction

Brenda MacLennan-Dunphy


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person only

Home region: Inverness and Victoria counties / Port Hawkesbury

Travel range for in-person visits: Within 100 km

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, winter, and spring

Maximum size of group/class: 30

Areas of expertise: Dialogue, writing for theatre

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Formal-style informative presentations as well as interactive workshops that allow students to work with their own experiences to develop ideas and scripts

About the author:

Writer, director and  producer, Brenda MacLennan-Dunphy has had two novels published by Pottersfield Press as well- Never Speak of This Again (2018) and The Silence of the Vessel (2020), which was nominated for an Atlantic Book Award. Four of Brenda’s plays have been on the stage at Strathspey Place, a 500 soft seat theatre in Mabou, Cape Breton- John Allan Cameron’s Last Show (November 2021), John Archie and Nellie (2016, 2012) , The Weddin’ Dance (2013), and Displacement (2014). Her play The Reiteach was put at two small stages in 2020. She was a featured writer at the 2021 Cabot Trail Writers Festival and also won the HR Bill Percy Novel Prize in 2017 for Never Speak of This Again. Born and raised in Inverness County, the mother of four is a teacher by trade, but a gypsy by nature. She loves to find characters along the way in life. Brenda lives in Skye Glen, Inverness County, with her wonderful and patient husband, Ed.


Brenda MacLennan-Dunphy

Dialogue; writing for theatre

Briana Corr Scott


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Dartmouth Nova Scotia

Travel range for in-person visits: 30 min

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall , Winter

Maximum size of group/class: per class.

Areas of expertise: children's lit/ picture books. Sable Island, Folklore, Fairytales, Art, Art Making, Drawing, Drawing Natural Objects, Life Drawing

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Ages: Grades 1, 2, 3 & 4

“The Book of Selkie”.

Briana will read the story, and share the process of making the book. Briana will tell stories about seeing seals as a child where she grew up, and talk about the Selkie from Scottish Folklore. She will also share about visiting the seal colony on Sable Island. Briana will share pictures of the cliffs in Ireland that inspired the landscape in the pictures, and talk about making the art for the book inside of a castle. This talk will end with a short “How to draw a seal” , and “Design your own Selkie House” activity, and a Q & A.

”Wildflower”

Ages: Grades 1, 2, 3, 4

Briana will read aloud her latest picture book, “Wildflower”, and share the process of making the book. She will explain how she came to retell the Hans Christen Anderson story of “Thumbelina”.

This talk will end with a drawing activity, “how to draw a swallow” and a Q & A.

This talk has visuals if A/V is available.

 

She Dreams of Sable Island 

Briana shares the journey of writing a book about Sable Island. This talk includes a slideshow of the day she visited Sable Island to research her picture book. Briana will share the sketchbook she made on the island, and talk about how sketching informs her art and writing.

Briana will read the book, and end the session will end with a short “how to draw 4 things on Sable Island” activity and a Q & A.

This talk has a slide show if AV is available

About the author:

Briana Corr Scott is an illustrator & author based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She tells stories about the beauty of the natural world in her hand painted botanical illustrations, surface patterns, paper doll kits and children’s literature.

Briana begins every project and painting by drawing from life. All of her art and stories are inspired by experiences in nature, and she loves to make art about the overlooked details of the Atlantic coast. Weeds, moths, periwinkles and fog are some of the star subjects in her work. Briana paints her botanical art with gouache and oil, then turns them into illustrations, animations, wall paper, murals, surface patterns, and books.

Briana studied painting and museum education at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She moved to Nova Scotia after her graduation in 2005.

Briana’s picture books blend the art she makes with the stories and poems that she writes while walking in nature. Her first and second picture books, “She Dreams of Sable Island,” and “The Book of Selkie” were published by Nimbus Publishing Ltd. in 2019. Her latest picture book, “Wildflower”, is a retelling of the classic tale of Thumbelina and was released in April 2021.

Briana has shown her work in solo and group shows at Argyle Fine Art and Teichart Gallery in Halifax. Her illustrations have appeared internationally in online features, film and magazines. Her short stop motions have been featured on CBC Nova Scotia. She has read aloud from “She Dreams of Sable Island” and discussed her writing process and art practice at many events, including public talks at Argyle Fine Art, “Word on the Street” at the Halifax Public Library and the Museum of Natural History in Halifax.  Briana’s recent body of work “The Happy Place” includes a series of paintings and a stop motion short about the imaginary island she visits to make her work. Her animated short, “The Happy Island” was an official selection of the Lunenburg Doc Fest in September, 2021.


Briana Corr Scott

Children's literature; picture books; illustration; nature & life drawing

Carolyn Jean Nicholson


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Nova Scotia

Travel range for in-person visits: Halifax region

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, winter, and spring

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: Researching and writing historical fiction and non-fiction, especially about one's ancestors.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Writing Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction, including how-to and resources for researching your ancestors and structuring the material into an article or book for family and friends or a wider audience to enjoy.

We all have ancestors. How much do you know about your ancestors and why are they important?

If you were to trace your ancestors – just direct line: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents (no uncles, aunts, or cousins) – back just ten generations, you would have 1, 022 ancestors and if just one of those 1,022 ancestors had died in childhood, you would not be here today.

That’s how important your ancestors are to you!

  • Intro: why and how I started researching my ancestors and what I found out
  • Discussion: what do you know about your ancestors? How did you find this out?
  • Barriers and Aids to Research: not every family wants to find out about their ancestors. Why might that be? Some people are adopted. Why might they want to find out about their biological ancestors? Do you know where you might begin doing your own research?
  • Some resources and places to start.
  • Discussion: What if you find out something shocking? A few stories about what some people found out.
  • How to begin researching and writing your family story: first considerations.
  • A brief reading from your instructor’s book.

About the author:

My interest is in researching and writing historical fiction and non-fiction. My book, William Forsyth: Land of Hopes and Dreams – a story from early Nova Scotia, was published in 2021 and my second book has the working title Traitors, Cannibals, Highlanders, and Vikings. It’s about the people who came to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the 1700s and early 1800s. It is due to be published in March 2023.


Carolyn Jean Nicholson

Fiction (adult and YA)

Chad Lucas


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: Virtual (but can accommodate in-person if necessary)

Home region: Halifax area

Travel range for in-person visits: Within 90 minutes (in person), open to virtual

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Winter, spring

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: middle grade fiction, non-fiction, developing your voice, writing diverse stories and characters, tackling tough topics, journalism, sports writing

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction – as a published author (fiction) and former journalist I can talk about the similarities, differences, and skills needed for fiction and non-fiction writing.

The Writer’s Journey – Having worked in multiple areas of writing, I can talk about career options and opportunities for writers, the path to publication, etc.

Writing from Different Perspectives – My middle grade novels each incorporate different points of view. I can talk about voice, choosing points of view (e.g. first person, third person), using multiple narrators, and important things to consider when writing a character outside your own experience or ethnicity.

About the author:

Chad Lucas is a former newspaper reporter and columnist and the author of two middle grade novels, Thanks a Lot, Universe (2021) and the forthcoming Let The Monster Out (2022), both from Amulet Books/Abrams Kids. Thanks a Lot, Universe earned a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and starred reviews from the School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews. A proud descendant of the historic African Nova Scotian community of Lucasville, Chad lives with his family outside Halifax.


Chad Lucas

Middle-grade fiction; nonfiction; diverse characters; journalism

Charlotte Mendel


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Enfield, Nova Scotia

Travel range for in-person visits: I am happy to travel

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: I am available for half day, full day, or online visits, any term.

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: Depending on the age group, I speak about

  • The Climate Crisis
  • Bullying
  • Divorce
  • how to write fantasy
  • opportunities for individual action
  • how young people can dispel despair and apathy in the face of seemingly insurmountable issues

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I do two types of presentations. The first fits well with English or Writing courses; the second fits with science, global politics, social studies etc.

An interactive writing session: normally I start with a dramatic reading to whet the students’ creative juices; then I introduce a writing concept or skill and ask them to apply it in their own writing. There will definitely be time to share!

A role-playing game conducted as a United Nations emergency climate summit: Global stakeholders (the students) need to establish a plan that limits warming to 2 degrees or less. Using an interactive simulator called En-ROADS, the kids experience what it’s like to negotiate a climate deal to address one of the greatest human challenges of this century.

I am open to ideas that a teacher may have. If my books fit into a unit of study or if the teacher has a way in mind to integrate my stories, please feel free to ask.

About the author:

Charlotte Mendel is a thrice-published, award-winning novelist.

Research shows that kids today are overwhelmed by problems and issues and can find it hard to feel hopeful. Many kids feel that action and change are impossible in the context of seemingly insurmountable issues, like climate change. We need to find new and creative ways to engage our young people.

This is why art—and stories—are important; they help imagine new possibilities.

Reversing Time (https://www.guernicaeditions.com/title/9781771836050) is a fast-paced adventure story set in the reality of contemporary events, including the pipeline dispute currently gripping Canada. Time travel, mystery, and family drama intertwine to create a page-turning read; but the story’s focus on opportunities for personal action is one of its greatest strengths. It is also an inspirational coming of age story that charts one boy’s journey from bullied introvert to hero.

In pursuit of creative ways to engage kids, Charlotte  has volunteered with the EAC to deliver climate-based programming to schools for years in NS. This year, she is also facilitating an online, role-playing game conducted as an Emergency Climate Summit to 75 schools in England, as part of their COP26-related educational plan (https://www.climateinteractive.org/tools/climate-action-simulation/).

This game and Reversing Time both imagine new possibilities—we  need to seize this moment to inspire young people.
For more information about Charlotte Mendel, you can visit her website, www.charlottemendel.com


Charlotte Mendel

Fantasy; climate; bullying; divorce

Chris Benjamin


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: Virtual only

Home region: Halifax

Travel range for in-person visits: 100 km

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Half or full days, any term

Maximum size of group/class: 35

Areas of expertise: Social Justice, Shubenacadie residential school, environment and sustainability, fiction, journalism, magazines

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Ranges from interactive to informational. As I believe residential schools are an important curriculum component, I am particularly interested in talking about my learnings from writing Indian School Road. Questions from students are always appreciated. Happy to do readings as well or encourage students to share their work and thoughts.

About the author:

Chris Benjamin has given presentations and workshops based on the broad scope of his work, fiction and nonfiction, and magazine editing. He sometimes gives more focused talks on the history of the Shubenacadie residential school that ran in Nova Scotia from 1930 to 1967. He strives to make each visit an eye opening experience for students, a chance to learn something different from their usual curriculum yet relevant to life in Nova Scotia. Whether focused on storytelling/sharing or activism, he aims to inspire youth to make a difference in their communities, to be positive forces for good.


Chris Benjamin

Social justice; environment; fiction; journalism

Clare O’Connor


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Halifax Regional Municipality

Travel range for in-person visits: Anywhere

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: I’m available for either virtual or, where Covid restrictions allow, in-person visits. These include single periods, half day or full day visits.Available for grades 2 to 6.

Maximum size of group/class: n/a

Areas of expertise: Middle grade fiction. Topics cover resilience and perseverance

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

All workshops/presentations are considered a partnership with the teacher or librarian. If requested in advance, presentations can be customized to support learning outcomes based on student and school interest. However, general themes are resilience, perseverance, challenging assumptions, and the writing process. Depending on the length of time provided, exercises may also be 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 this is of interest. It can also be used in support of a presentation if requested by the school.

I consider school presentations a privilege and enjoy working with the school to make the visit fun and engaging.

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 in Skateboard Sibby. 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

Middle-grade fiction; resilience & perseverance

Cooper Lee Bombardier


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Halifax

Travel range for in-person visits: I'll come anywhere in the province!

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Available any season, happy to do half- or full-day sessions, but prefer full-day for out of HRM visits.

Maximum size of group/class: Since I make my presentations interactive, smaller class sizes are preferable, but I will work with schools as needed around presentation size.

Areas of expertise: Memoir, essay, nonfiction, fiction, experimental/hybrid forms

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I offer interactive and engaging presentations/workshops where I get students of all levels to participate in writing activites in a fun, accessible manner. I give a bit of background on what a “writer’s life” is like, for this writer, at least. My focus is on creative nonfiction primarily, but I also enjoy teaching fiction, hybrid/experimental forms, and on occasion, poetry. I can customize my presentation/workshop to the needs of teachers and schools.

About the author:

Cooper Lee Bombardier is a queer, trans American writer and visual artist living in Canada. He is the author of the memoir-in-essays Pass With Care, a finalist for the 2021 Firecracker Award in Nonfiction. Cooper first taught creative writing to young people through the Americorp program WritersCorps in San Francisco in the mid-1990s, and was a writer in residence at various Portland, Oregon public schools through that city’s WITS program for four years. He’s been thrilled to be a writer in the schools through WFNS and loves to visit schools all over the province.His writing appears in The Kenyon Review, The Malahat Review, Ninth Letter, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, Longreads, Narratively, BOMB, and The Rumpus; and in 19 anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, The RemedyEssays on Queer Health Issues, and Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Speculative Fiction From Transgender Writers, which won a 2018 American Library Association Stonewall Book Award. The Huffington Post listed Cooper as one of “10 Transgender Artists Who Are Changing The Landscape Of Contemporary Art.” He teaches in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at University of King’s College and in women and gender studies at Saint Mary’s University.

FB: cooperfrickinleee Twitter: @CooperLeeB  IG: cooper_lee_bombardier


Cooper Lee Bombardier

Memoir; essay; fiction; experimental & hybrid forms

Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Halifax Regional Municipality

Travel range for in-person visits: Happy to discuss this. I love to travel and visit different places, and if it works for my schedule and our budget, I’m open to it!

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Flexible availability. Let’s chat about what works best for both of us!

Maximum size of group/class: Flexible

Areas of expertise: I can speak to history, nonfiction, fiction, and picture book writing, creativity, perfectionism, and flow. I find students mostly want to pick my brain about life as an author, how and why I came to be a writer, and what I find the biggest challenges (and rewards are). They also love to share their connections with the text, aircraft, and people and places featured in my books.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Happy to work with you to design something that complements your curriculum needs and your students’ interests. We could do (for example) a Q&A style session, facilitated discussion, writing workshop, or read-aloud – often it’s a combination of several of these.

About the author:

I am a warm, funny presenter who loves to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds around books, writing, history, and more. I’ve done read-alouds to groups of kindergartners; done interactive presentations with teens in the juvenile justice system; and worked with elementary school students on their writing. I adore kids’ quirky questions and digging deep with empathy and bravery.


Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail

History; nonfiction; fiction; picture books

Deirdre Dwyer


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Nova Scotia but if outside my 100 km radius she asks that schools provide accomodation.

Travel range for in-person visits: Throughout mainland Nova Scotia & if over 100 km radius & Cape Breton I ask for accommodation

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, spring and winter if there are storms or ice.

Maximum size of group/class: 20 & less preferred but will take larger.

Areas of expertise: Poetry, prose, publishing

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

A mix of reading, discussion, & writing exercises, so that students have some writing to work with later.

About the author:

Presentation style/workshop ideas: With the students, she will talk a little about her writing background, but  will focus on reading and discussing her work and most importantly, have the students to do some writing exercises, based on the discussions. For instance, for a travel poem about Thailand, she will discuss how the palm trees are like earrings for elephants, so the students write will write about jewelry for wildlife. Deirde prefers to work with groups of 25 students or less. Or she will have students write about wildlife after she talks about her time with the Hope for Wildlife rehabilitation centre. For older students, she will discuss emotions and how to include their interests in writing.About the Author:Deirdre Dwyer is a poet who engages her classes in discussion about her poems, non-fiction, and the writing process. She creates various writing exercises about simile, metaphor, about animals and people, and asks the students to read their writing aloud. Her experience at the Hope for Wildlife rehabilitation center, as a community volunteer, as ex-Coordinator of a Farmers’ Market, and traveler motivate her and her students to write on a variety of topics. She is working now on finding a publisher for two poetry collections, and is working two non-fiction manuscripts about her travels in Japan, Asia, Europe.


Deirdre Dwyer

Poetry; prose; publishing

Don Aker


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: HRM

Travel range for in-person visits: Anywhere in Nova Scotia. However, schools located farther than a two-hour drive from his home are required to pay for meals and accommodation, expenses that are not covered by WITS.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: All year (weather permitting). Half-day and full-day sessions. Maximum 3 presentations per day.

Maximum size of group/class: Author talks are available for groups of any size. (The larger the group, the less opportunity there is for interactivity, but Don has comfortably presented in the past to groups as large as 400.) Writing workshops are ideally suited for groups of 15 to facilitate sharing (maximum of 20).

Areas of expertise: fiction, non-fiction (memoir, expository essay, persuasive essay), poetry, and screenwriting

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

In his author talks, Don usually provides a brief overview of his books, followed by a discussion of his writing process — where he gets his ideas and the three questions he needs to answer before he can being writing any story. He always ensures there is time for students to ask questions and may offer a brief reading. Don is completely comfortable tailoring his presentations to the needs of a specific audience, particularly classes who are reading one or more of his novels. Having taught middle level and high school students, Don is also comfortable conducting writing workshops on a number of topics. However, in order to conduct workshops, Don prefers to be physically present in the school.

Samples of Don Aker’s Writing Workshops:

  • Inside Story: Writing Fictional Narratives
  • We Are Our Stories: Writing Personal Memoir
  • The Essence of Experience: Writing Poetry
  • Image is Everything: The Art of Writing Screenplays
  • From Argument to Action: The Power of Persuasion

About the author:

Author and educational consultant Don Aker has written more than 20 books and has conducted workshops for students and teachers across Canada as well as internationally (most recently in Vietnam). He is widely known for his bestselling young adult novels, among them Of Things Not Seen, winner of Atlantic Canada’s Ann Connor Brimer Award and the Canadian Authors Association’s Lilla Stirling Award; The First Stone, winner of the Ann Connor Brimer Award and Ontario’s White Pine Award; and The Space Between, which earned the Canadian Library Association’s Honour Book Award. A former classroom teacher, literacy mentor, and university instructor, Don enjoys speaking to students in grades 6 to 12, many of whom are familiar with his books in their classrooms. Don’s most recent books are Scars and Other Stories (Pottersfield Press), Delusion Road (HarperCollins, 2015) and Brothers in Arms: The Siege of Louisbourg (Scholastic, 2015). For more info, visit his website: www.donaker.com


Don Aker

Fiction; nonfiction; poetry; screenwriting

Doretta Groenendyk


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Kings County

Travel range for in-person visits: within the Annapolis Valley/Halifax

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Oct-June (Full Days only)

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

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

Picture books; illustration

Dr. G.V. Loewen


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Cape Breton

Travel range for in-person visits: CBRM and the island as a whole

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: open

Maximum size of group/class: 20

Areas of expertise: critical non-fiction, scholarly non-fiction, commercial self-help, fantasy adventure YA fiction, short fiction, introspective adult 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 37 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.


Dr. G.V. Loewen

Nonfiction; self-help; fantasy; YA fiction; short fiction

Geraldine Tuck


Preferred grade levels: Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: South Shore, Chester NS

Travel range for in-person visits: all of Nova Scotia

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Sept – June

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: taught grades 2, 4, 5, 6. Public speaking at Chester Playhouse and Rope Loft Tavern

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, (rumrunning), Moonlight Marauders (goldmining) and, Mystery Marauders (Oak Island) and Halifax Explosion–all available on the Teachers’ Book Order List! Books also available in all Chapters Book Stores and by contacting the author directly.


Geraldine Tuck

Historical fiction; public speaking

Hugh R. MacDonald


Preferred grade levels: Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person (but can accommodate virtual if necessary)

Home region: Cape Breton

Travel range for in-person visits: 200 kms

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, and spring, and some winter, depending on the weather..

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: Historical fiction, mainstream fiction, short story, novel, poetry, songwriting

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Hugh enjoys going into schools to meet with young people and sharing his passion for writing. His presentation includes readings from his work, using his songs and his videos to share thoughts on his writing process, and encouraging young people to try their own hand at writing.

Most often Hugh bring copies of his published novels: Trapper Boy and its sequel, Us and Them, and discusses the genesis of the books, especially pointing out that Trapper Boy began as a song, which he later turned into a novel. The song was also made into a video, and then recorded by the Men of the Deeps on their 50th Anniversary CD.

As mentioned, part of the presentation includes: readings from his novels, and playing the video of  the song “Trapper Boy” which will, hopefully, strike a chord with the young people and give them a visual of what many of their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers had to endure in their younger years.  Hugh discusses the importance of reading, explaining that it will help bring about ideas for future stories they may wish to write.

About the author:

Hugh R. MacDonald is a writer of fiction, and a singer/songwriter. Hugh has been a member of the Writers Union of Canada and the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) for many years. His YA novel, Trapper Boy was published by Cape Breton University Press, and the sequel entitled Us and Them was released in October 2016. Hugh is a graduate of Cape Breton University, and worked in the human services field for 25 plus years, and is now happily retired.

September 2017 — “Trapper Boy” was included in the Reading Nova Scotia publication of “150 Books of Influence” in Nova Scotia

Trapper Boy was selected by Dr. Patrick Howard of Cape Breton University’s Education Department as a novel around which to develop a Teacher Resource. The resource is currently available at no charge for teachers using Trapper Boy. http://cbup.ca/wp/wp-content/Special/Trapper-Boy-Teacher-Resource.pdf

Trapper Boy and Us and Them are available from Nimbus Publishing  https://nimbus.ca/product-category/children-and-teen/children12/page/3


Hugh R. MacDonald

Historical fiction; mainstream fiction; short story; novel; poetry; songwriting

Hui Zhou


Preferred grade levels: Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: Virtual only

Home region: Hammonds Plains NS

Travel range for in-person visits: Nova Scotia

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: September – June

Maximum size of group/class: ~25 students, 45-50 minutes/session, ~10-minute break between two consecutive sessions

Areas of expertise: Writing: creative non-fiction books towards school-age children, essays/real stories for all ages; Natural science (M. Sc.): especially in entomology, integrated pest management (IPM) and infectious disease.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Hui’s presentation covers three topics: her childhood in Beijing China, stories about insects/chickens and key steps for non-fiction writing. During her presentation, Hui develops a good rapport with students and fully engages their participation.

The presentation can be adapted to more story-telling and games for early elementary, or extended to such topics as cultural difference, self-publishing experience and basic knowledge of infectious disease for higher grades or any interested schools. Hui is also open to a discussion with schools on presentation topics within her coverage.

About the author:

Immigrated to Canada in early 2000’s, Hui is a postgraduate of Saint Mary’s University and considers herself a well-adapted Nova Scotian.

With a solid science background, diverse interests and an open mind, Hui’s creative nonfiction writing covers various topics and crosses different fields. Many of her nonfiction prose have been published in newspapers, magazines or radio broadcast in China since 1990’s and since 2006 in Canada.

Her creative non-fiction children’s book “Running Wild with Bossy Boy” (2018) tells interesting stories about a flock of chickens raised locally and reflects chicken’s different personalities (chicken-alities).

Through the real stories and seventy matching photographs from the hundreds Hui took, children can easily understand the chicken-alities, learn chicken biology related to the stories and imagine how joyful their life is when running freely.

The book also has a wide appeal to adults who are eager to learn what a natural chicken life looks like, who speak up loudly for chicken’s welfare or are interested in a harmonic lifestyle with backyard chickens.

Hui keeps writing for print media, for children and revises her prose chosen for a Creative Nonfiction Collection.


Hui Zhou

Nonfiction; natural sciences

Jacqueline Halsey


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person (but can accommodate virtual if necessary)

Home region: Dartmouth

Travel range for in-person visits: One hour from Dartmouth for in-person visits.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Full or half-day visits. All terms.

Maximum size of group/class: 2 classes maximum ie. approx 50 students

Areas of expertise: Historical fiction for elementary children, research tips, early grade programming

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

  • Grades 3 and up, my presentation consists of a reading of one of my local, historical fiction books, followed by a power point slide presentation of the actual historical event. Students can see for themselves the background and context of the story. I end with an author “Question and Answer” segment.
  • For the younger grades, I start with an animated reading of The Terrible Horrible Smelly Pirate. (sequel: The Terrible Horrible Smelly Beach is coming out next summer) There will be an art segment, a mermaid story telling, and maybe even some riddles from the Mermaid’s secret riddle book.

About the author:

Jacqueline is an author, artist and story teller and has written five books. Before becoming a full-time writer she worked for many years in the children’s department of the Halifax Public Library. Her work this year included research for the book she is writing about local, teen hero Joe Cracker, and making a WITS Resource video – “How to be a Research Detective.” She was featured in an episode of Eastlink’s successful author series “Final Draft” that aired nationally earlier in the year.


Jacqueline Halsey

Historical fiction; research

Jan L. Coates


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person (but can accommodate virtual if necessary)

Home region: Annapolis Valley

Travel range for in-person visits: In 2021-22, only within Kings and Hants Counties

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: I prefer half-day visits, especially for virtual visits. For the school year 2021 – 2022, I'll be doing in-person visits in Kings and Hants Counties, but I'd love to do virtual visits anywhere! I did virtual visits using both Google Meets and Zoom last year, and they worked really well. One thing I enjoyed about that platform was that I could present to a few classes at the same time. (One thing I didn't enjoy was seeing a giant me projected on the classroom screens:)Months I'm available this year include: October, January, February and April.

Maximum size of group/class: I prefer to work with one class at a time, but I'm open to other situations as required

Areas of expertise: Fiction writing (middle grade novels, books for emergent readers, picture books)

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Grades P-4: I read one of my picture books, A Halifax Time-Travelling TuneSky PigRainbows in the Dark, Dancing with Daisy, Karissa & Felix or The King of Keji, then chat about it. This requires 30 minutes for P/1 groups, and I also have relevant activity sheets we do together re wishing, dreaming and/or rainbows.

Grades 2, 3, and 4:  Picture book presentation takes about an hour as I have a 25- minute PowerPoint I use to generate discussion of the writing life, and also a hands-on, fun, guessing-game creative writing exercise.  Each student chooses either a place or a thing and writes a brief description of it using the “other” four senses (not sight). The students then take turns reading their descriptions to their classmates who attempt to guess what the place or thing is. It’s harder than it sounds! But it’s a great exercise to get kids thinking beyond how things look when they use description in their own writing, and it’s fun!

Grades 4/5-7: I read a bit from Say What You Mean, Talking to the Moon, A Hare in the Elephant’s TrunkThe Power of Harmony, The Hermit or Rocket Man, depending on the age level, or the teacher’s choice. I also use my PPT to generate discussion around the books’ themes (searching for a place to belong, bullying, pursuing dreams, Lost Boys of Sudan) and chat about tools we all possess and use as W.R.I.T.E.R.S. (words, reading, imagination, thesaurus, experience/emotions, rewriting, senses), and I’m happy to answer any and all questions. I use the same writing exercise described above, which works well with all ages, and I’m always open to discussing specific aspects of the writing process, as suggested by teachers.

Grades 2 and up: I am open to suggestions from teachers if there’s a certain aspect of writing they’d like me to address. As well, I sometimes read from one of my current works-in-progress as I’m always looking for feedback from readers.

 

About the author:

I’m curious about everybody, and I like to watch strangers and imagine their lives; Why is he doing that? How did that raccoon get in there? What would she do if…? Basically, I’m nosey. Being a visiting author is one of my favorite parts of being a writer because I get to share my love of reading and writing with lots of other people with big imaginations and amazing ideas. For more info visit: www.jancoates.ca


Jan L. Coates

Fiction; middle-grade novels; picture books

Jen Powley


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: Virtual (but can accommodate in-person if necessary)

Home region: Halifax

Travel range for in-person visits: Prefer to stay in Halifax

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Half-day

Maximum size of group/class: Any size

Areas of expertise: non-fiction, interactive fiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Workshop: have kids explore their level of ability and what it would be like to be otherwise able.

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

Nonfiction; interactive fiction

Jessica Scott Kerrin


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: Virtual only

Home region: Province-wide

Travel range for in-person visits: During the ongoing pandemic, I am pleased to offer virtual presentations based on the three topics I have been delivering in person (see below), but tailored to an online platform. I also offer a technical rehearsal with schools in advance of my actual presentation to ensure everyone is comfortable with the platform. Post pandemic: 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.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: During the ongoing pandemic: virtual presentations from November to April. Post-pandemic: virtual and/or in-person (full-days only) in April and May.

Maximum size of group/class: Any size

Areas of expertise: Fiction series, Middle Reader, Picture Book, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, Father/son relationships, Mental health, Coping with Loss

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, 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, about a father/son relationship is featured. She also 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 alongside the issue of mental health. She will also 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 who is coping with loss. 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

Fiction; historical fiction; mystery; adventure; picture book; mental health

Jo Treggiari

Author of "Blood Will Out" and "The Grey Sisters."

John A. Read


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Halifax

Travel range for in-person visits: 40 minutes

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: all visit lengths; all terms

Maximum size of group/class: n/a

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

Astronomy; astrophysics; space exploration

Julian Smith


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Yarmouth County

Travel range for in-person visits: Anywhere in Yarmouth, Digby, and Shelburne Counties. Will travel further, but mileage and/or accommodation may be required.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Year-round

Maximum size of group/class: Any

Areas of expertise: Science Fiction and 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

Science fiction; fantasy

Kate Inglis


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person (but can accommodate virtual if necessary)

Home region: Lunenburg County

Travel range for in-person visits: Will travel to Halifax area, on the south shore side, no further than an hour from Lunenburg.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: All

Maximum size of group/class: Any size

Areas of expertise: Novels, poetry, and creative exploration

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Presentation style/workshop ideas: Kate has led student experiences from kindergarten to grade 12 across the country, from downtown Calgary to the Inuit outport of Makkovik, Labrador. Workshops include:

(Grades K-3): Childrens’ Monster Poetry—Through imaginative physical play, this workshop encourages young children to become their own storytellers.

(Grades 4-6): The Craft Of Story-Making—This workshop inspires kids to write, illustrate, and share their stories, with creative prompts and media to practice plot, suspense, dialogue, setting, description, and voice development.

(Jr/Sr High) The Creativity Myth—In this workshop, we’ll consider the very different practices of writing and editing, and we’ll explore storytelling as a tool to grapple with (or escape from) life. Students will be encouraged to develop their own voices, and turn reflection into poetry, prose, or stories.

About the author:

Will travel: South Shore, Annapolis Valley & HRM (ideally no more than 1 hour drive from Lunenburg each way)

Is available for visits: Jan – Dec

Areas of Expertise: Fiction (ages 4 – 8, 8 – 14)

About the Author:

KATE INGLIS is an author and photographer living on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Her fourth book, Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief (Shambhala, 2018) won the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Literary Award. She also writes children’s fiction, including award-nominated novels — her fifth and most recent picture book, A Great Big Night, launched in September 2020 and was awarded a Kirkus star. Kate’s work has been featured in poetry anthologies, and she also co-authored a best-selling book on the craft of photography.

www.kateinglis.com


Kate Inglis

Kate Inglis lives along the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada,...

Lauren Soloy


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Annapolis County

Travel range for in-person visits: Will travel within two hours of driving (Halifax, South Shore, or Yarmouth.) Will consider further trips with overnight stays.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: winter, spring

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: writing, illustrating

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Lauren can do presentations that focus either on writing or on illustrating, or a mix of the two.  All presentations are adjusted to match the age of the students.

For a writing-focussed workshop, she will do a reading from one of her books and then talk about what goes into crafting a good story. She will talk about editing and rewriting, where she gets inspiration, and what it’s like to be a professional author. She will include time at the end for questions.

For an illustration-focussed workshop, she will show work from the books and talk about the work that goes into crafting a good illustration. She will talk about the process of revising images, building up from starting small, and where she gets inspiration. She will include time for questions and live drawing requests. *For all virtual visits, Lauren will include a studio tour, and sneak peek into the process of making the next book.

In addition, Lauren can offer a presentation specifically designed around her book, WHEN EMILY WAS SMALL, published in June of 2020. When Emily was Small was inspired by the writings of famed Canadian artist (and honorary member of the Group of Seven), Emily Carr. Lauren can talk a little bit about Emily’s life and work, as well as what it meant to be a Canadian woman painter in the early 1900s. For younger students, there are activity sheets and craft activities. For older students, she can trace the process of being inspired by another artist’s work, and how to incorporate that into your own work in fun and surprising ways.

 

 

About the author:

Lauren Soloy is the author and illustrator of When Emily was Small and Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem. She has lived on both coasts of Canada, always within reach of the sea.  She currently lives in a 140-year-old house in the wilds of Nova Scotia with her librarian husband, two curious children, an ever-expanding collection of books, two hives of bees, and one cat.  She has a Visual Arts BFA with Honours from the University of Victoria, and a certificate of Fine Furniture from Camosun College.  Along the way, she has learned to make a Queen Anne Highboy, a pottery mug, a hand knit pair of socks, a headstand, and a mess.  

Lauren has been employed by the Annapolis Valley Regional Library as a library clerk and programmer for several years, and has run programs for all ages – from toddlers to seniors. She specializes in art and craft programs that are fun to make, and provide impressive results!


Lauren Soloy

Fiction; children's writing; illustration

Lesley Choyce


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: HRM

Travel range for in-person visits: Anywhere in Nova Scotia

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Half day visits only, preferably afternoons

Maximum size of group/class: Any size

Areas of expertise: Young adult novels, fiction, history, children's fiction, poetry

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Lesley will read from such kids’ books as Skunks for Breakfast and Far Enough Island, as well as such young adult novels as The Book of MichaelThe End of the World as We Know ItWave WarriorSmoke and Mirrors or Shoulder the Sky (winner of the 2003 Ann Connor Brimer Children’s Literature Prize). He can talk about the history of Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia Shaped by the Sea) as well. The main focus of the presentation is to get students enthusiastic about writing, imagination and creativity. Lesley also has stories to tell about skunks and ravens and brings along his poetry music videos to inspire non-book kids. He’s guaranteed to entertain, intrigue and provoke. When not writing, Lesley teaches at Dalhousie University, performs spoken word poetry/music and surfs in year round.

About the author:

Lesley teaches at Dalhousie University, runs Pottersfield Press and has published over 86 books for adults and kids. His Young Adult novels concern things like skateboarding, surfing, racism, environmental issues, organ transplants, and rock bands. Lesley surfs year round in the North Atlantic and is considered the father of transcendental wood-splitting. www.lesleychoyce.com


Lesley Choyce

Fiction; children's fiction; YA novels; history; poetry

Marcia Harding


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Liverpool

Travel range for in-person visits: Anywhere in Nova Scotia

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: March - June

Maximum size of group/class: 30

Areas of expertise: Theatre and plays; grades 3 - 6 (was an elementary school teacher for 33 years)

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

During my presentation, student will: learn how my childhood fantasy inspired me to write a YA novel, see breathtaking photographs of Sable Island and its wild horses (courtesy of Zoe Lucas), handle artifacts from Sable Island (including a rusty horseshoe, ancient shells, a piece of a shipwreck, a bottle of Sable Island sand, and the skull of a Sable Island horse), hear me read from my novel, listen to Rosalee Peppard’s song The Graveyard of the Atlantic which captures the mystery and tragic/triumphant history of this haunted island, have an opportunity to ask question.

About the author:

Marica Harding grew up in Lockeport, N.S. When she was fifteen, her family moved to Liverpool where she met her future husband, Craig Harding. After completing their university education, they returned to Liverpool where they raised two children and lots of lab puppies. During her 33 years as an elementary school teacher, she enjoyed writing, directing, and producing plays with her students.


Marcia Harding

Theatre; plays

Marjorie Simmins


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Cape Breton

Travel range for in-person visits: In general, 2 - 3 hours, round-trip. Will come to Halifax if given notice. Again, given notice, I am available to travel around the province.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, winter, and spring

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: Memoir writing; short and long-form non-fiction; biography; literary essays; coastal perspectives; Western and English horseback riding; harness racing

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I am happy to offer presentations on all aspects of non-fiction. In particular, I enjoy focusing on memoir writing, biography, short-form life writing, and journaling. Our time together would include writing prompts and exercises for the students, and readings by myself and by the students.

As well, I like to offer some fun games and exercises, in small and large groups, which serve to underscore the different elements of memoir writing, and the many similarities all people/writers share. Take-aways include learning the differences between fiction and non-fiction, and making achievable goals as an emerging writer.

Workshop I: “Memoirs, Autobiographies and Biographies: What’s the Dif?”
Subjects covered: What is the difference between a memoir, an autobiography and a biography? Who writes memoirs and autobiographies?  If you are a notable, chances are you’ve had a biography written about you. With memoirs, though, you can be famous or a regular person. But why write a memoir? What’s in it for you?

Writing exercise I, Biography: Using photographs from magazines and online sources that I will provide, students will write short life stories or “biographies” about the people in these. Students will be encouraged to let their imaginations run free! We will share some of the stories by reading them aloud and discuss the story lines and themes that emerge from the readings.
Writing exercise II, Memoir: Students will be asked to write a short “memoir,” on the subject of their earliest memory. When done, I’ll ask for volunteers to read some of these stories aloud. We will discuss how some memories seem to stay with us, vivid and clear, and how others, less distinct, can be teased out by the process of writing.

In consultation with a teacher, I am happy to tailor-make other memoir-only writing workshops for grades 8 – 12. The above workshop is a comprehensive primer of three related genres. Handouts will include a list of current and most popular memoirs for young adult readers, including memoir graphic novels.)

About the author:

Marjorie Simmins is a freelance journalist, author and writing instructor. She is also a memoir specialist, with an M.A. in Research, focusing on memoir studies from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. She has written memoir essays about family, animals, coastal perspectives and aspects of rural and urban life. These have appeared in numerous provincial and national magazines, including Canadian Living, Magazines Canada, Halifax Magazine, Progress, Atlantic Business and Saltscapes, and in several anthologies. Raised in Vancouver, Marjorie now lives in Cape Breton. Her memoir, Coastal Lives, about becoming a Maritimer, was published by Pottersfield Press in 2014.


Marjorie Simmins

Memoir; biography; nonfiction; essays; coastal perspectives; horses

Monica Graham


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person (but can accommodate virtual if necessary)

Home region: Northern Nova Scotia to Antigonish/Gu

Travel range for in-person visits: throughout NS. Accommodation may be required for schools 3 or more hours away.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Sept – June. Full and half day visits.

Maximum size of group/class: 30

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

Nonfiction; history; biography; memoir

Nancy Rose


Preferred grade levels: Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: HRM (Hubley)

Travel range for in-person visits: Preferably within an hour of HRM, and further if accommodations are provided for schools more than a couple hours away. Virtual is a better option for distances.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: I am retired so all days are generally available but fall and spring are best for travel.

Maximum size of group/class: Any size. Smaller is better so everyone can see the pictures in the books as I read, and can see the miniature props I bring along and ask questions. I have a slide show for large groups.

Areas of expertise: Children's Picture books and illustration using photography and craft miniatures

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

My presentation is 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.  I bring a tote box filled with some of the miniature props I have made for my books, which inspire students to think about how they could make their own props and take photos for the stories they write.  We discuss fiction and non-fiction and the challenges of writing a story using real photos of ‘wild’ animals, versus drawings.  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 the author/photographer of 4 childrens book in the Secret Life of Squirrels series, and a new (2021) Alphabet board book featuring Oakley the Squirrel.. She is a retired high school Family Studies teacher and Guidance Counsellor with a love for photography and the curious antics of her backyard squirrels. In about 2010 she started taking 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, U.S. Japan and South Korea.   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 is available again for Google Meet sessions, which went over very well in the 2020 school year, and also for live classroom presentations.

 


Nancy Rose

Picture books; photography

Pauline Dakin


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: NS

Travel range for in-person visits: 5 hrs

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Available fall, winter and spring

Maximum size of group/class: Any size

Areas of expertise: Memoir, biography, writing for audio/radio/podcasting; scenes and dialogue

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Using scenes and dialogue to write compelling non-fiction.

Challenges in writing memoir. This workshop explores the difficulties of memory, recreating dialogue and scenes, and writing about family members or friends.

Audio writing for radio and podcasting.

About the author:

Pauline Dakin is a well-known and award-winning writer and broadcaster who teaches in the School of Journalism at The University of King’s College in Halifax. Her first book Run, Hide, Repeat: A Memoir of a Fugitive Childhood (Viking/Penguin Random House Canada: 2017) won the 2018 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. It was also named one of the best 100 books of 2017 by The Globe and Mail. For many years Pauline was the national health reporter for CBC National Radio News, and the host of CBC’s regional documentary show, Atlantic Voice.


Pauline Dakin

Memoir; biography; audio broadcasting; scenes & dialogue

Philip Moscovitch


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: Virtual only

Home region: HRM

Travel range for in-person visits: 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.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Sept – June. Full and half days.

Maximum size of group/class: 30

Areas of expertise: Fiction, Graphic novels, Journalism, Non-Fiction, Research, Interviewing techniques, Podcasting Documentary.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

What I love about writing is that I am constantly learning fascinating new stuff, and I get to meet all kind of interesting people and share their stories. And when I’m writing fiction, I get to make use my imagination and make things up. How great is that?

I bring this enthusiasm for writing to my classroom sessions.

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.

For younger grades, I focus more on reading and storytelling than writing exercises.

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.

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.

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:

While most of my writing is non-fiction, I have also written and published comics, fiction, short stories, and poetry.

I am the author of Adventures in Bubbles and Brine, a book that looks at the history and culture of fermentation in Nova Scotia. While it is a book about food (and has recipes) it is primarily based around telling contemporary and historical stories.

For 14 years, I wrote the Daisy Dreamer comic for Chickadee Magazine (readers ages 6-9), and I continue to be interested in comics and graphic novels.

I also host and produce podcasts, and am a big believer in the power of telling stories through audio.

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


Philip Moscovitch

Fiction; graphic novels; nonfiction; journalism; podcasting

Rebecca Rose


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Halifax Regional Municipality

Travel range for in-person visits: I would be willing to travel anywhere within Nova Scotia.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Available all. I do work 9-5 but my work/boss is flexible.

Maximum size of group/class: Any size.

Areas of expertise: Non-fiction writing, journalism. Local 2SLGBQ+ and feminist history.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

I can offer two types of workshops (or a blend of the two):

  • An overview of 2SLGBQ+ history in Halifax/K’jipuktuk and Nova Scotia in the 1970s and 1980s including: the formation of Nova Scotia’s first LGB advocacy organization, early LGB hangouts including the Turret and Rumours bars, early drag performers/performances, women’s/feminist organizing including International Women’s Day and Take Back the Night, African Nova Scotian/Black 2SLGB experiences/spaces, the first LGB+ pickets and marches in Halifax/K’jipuktuk and more.This workshop can be tailored to be for all ages.This workshop can include archival photographs, materials, and music from the 1970s and 80s mentioned in Before the Parade.
  • An interactive workshop about researching and documenting local 2SLGBTQIA+ and/or other underrepresented histories. I will use my experience researching and writing Before the Parade to guide students in researching and writing about underrepresented his/herstories that they are passionate about.

Both workshops will include an overview of the importance of documenting marginalized and 2SLGBTQIA+ histories.

About the author:

Rebecca Rose is the author of Before the Parade: A History of Halifax’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Communities (1972-1984), published by Nimbus Publishing. Before the Parade is a narrative non-fiction account of some of the people, places, and events that made up the 2SLGB community of 1970s and 80s Halifax/K’jipuktuk. It features over 30 interviews with local 2SLGB elders. Rebecca was shortlisted for The Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award for Before the Parade in 2021.

Rebecca is a sought after speaker and has hosted workshops or given keynote speeches for groups including: The MacPhee Centre For Creative Learning, The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, the X School of Journalism, the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM), the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG), and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Born in Cape Breton and raised in Dartmouth, Rebecca now lives in the hills of Dartmouth with her partner and cat.


Rebecca Rose

Nonfiction; journalism; 2SLGBTQ+ & feminist history

Sarah Mian


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Queensland, ns

Travel range for in-person visits: Maritimes

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Any/all

Maximum size of group/class: Any

Areas of expertise: Fiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

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 process and share the journey of how I achieved my childhood dream to become a published novelist.

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 Afterwords Literary Festival, the ‘Writing on Fire’ Teen Writing Experience and have taught adult fiction courses at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia.

About the author:

Sarah Mian’s debut novel, When the Saints, won the Jim Connors Book Award, the Margaret & John Savage First Book Award, and was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. She recently co-wrote the screenplay adaptation for Lady Hammond Entertainment, and is now working on her second novel, The World in Awful Sleep.


Sarah Mian

Fiction

Sarah Sawler


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: Virtual (but can accommodate in-person if necessary)

Home region: HRM

Travel range for in-person visits: Will travel an hour outside of HRM in any direction. May consider travelling farther depending on circumstances.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, Winter, Spring

Maximum size of group/class: 30

Areas of expertise: Nonfiction

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Elementary (Grades 3-6): Presentations will include a discussion on research methods, fun readings and interactive trivia (with a prize!) and a hands-on activity.

Junior High/Middle School: Presentations will 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 middle grade books were nominated for the 2019/2020 Hackmatack Awards. Be Prepared was also nominated for a 2018 Yellow Cedar Award (Forest of Reading).

 


Sarah Sawler

Nonfiction

Sherry D. Ramsey


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: In-person or virtual (no preference)

Home region: Cape Breton

Travel range for in-person visits: within Cape Breton and Strait Regions, further if accommodations are arranged.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: Fall, winter, spring; Full and half days; only Wednesdays for the remainder of 2021, Tuesdays or Thursdays for early 2022

Maximum size of group/class: any size

Areas of expertise: Fiction, Non-fiction, Creativity, 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 science fiction and fantasy 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 sequels, Dark Beneath the Moon and Beyond the Sentinel Stars (Tyche Books) followed in 2015 and 2017, and a fourth book in the Nearspace series is forthcoming. 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. She’s currently adding more titles to her urban fantasy Olympia Investigations series and working on a comic fantasy novel, as well as teaching English courses as a sessional instructor at Cape Breton University.

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

Fiction; nonfiction; poetry; science fiction; fantasy

Sylvia Gunnery


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9, Grades P-6

Preferred visit type: Virtual (but can accommodate in-person if necessary)

Home region: South Shore

Travel range for in-person visits: For virtual WITS visits: throughout NSFor non-virtual WITS visits: Throughout NS. When travelling more than 90 minutes each way, it may be necessary for the school to provide overnight accommodation.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: For virtual visits: October – May; half-day and full day visits; schedule can be flexible. For non-virtual visits:  Oct & Nov, Jan – May. Full-day visits (3 sessions) only, please.

Maximum size of group/class: Negotiable, depending upon whether the visit is virtual or in-person, with larger groups more easily accommodated in person

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 flexible and informal 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. High school teachers may be interested in booking a series of writing workshops with a specific group (or groups).  Topics for all workshops may be planned with input from teachers to fit with their current curriculum goals.

About the author:

Sylvia Gunnery has published over 25 books for teens and children as well as professional resources for teachers of writing. A recipient of a Prime Minister’s Teaching Award, she has presented at conferences, libraries, and schools across Canada.  Since the spring of 2020, she has also enjoyed working virtually with adult writers and students through workshops, mentorships, and WITS visits.  Road Signs That Say West, her most recent YA novel, is published by Pajama Press.  In 2022, she will be a speaker at Reading For the Love of It in Toronto (http://www.readingfortheloveofit.com/brochure.html). Sylvia lives at Crescent Beach, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia where she’s working on a series of linked YA stories, what I know about next.


Sylvia Gunnery

Children's fiction; YA fiction; picture books

Thibault Jacquot-Paratte


Preferred grade levels: Grades 10-12, Grades 7-9

Preferred visit type: Virtual only

Home region: Nouvelle-Écosse

Travel range for in-person visits: I’ve been told that this year, the program was done via the internet.

Seasonal and/or sessional availability: I can most probably arrange to be available any date if I know long enough in advance (except for mid-October, when I will be very busy).

Maximum size of group/class: 10-15

Areas of expertise: – Poetry (over 10 years professional practice in 2 languages. Knowledge of theory and practice). – Short stories / fiction (multiple publications. – Longer prose (Non-fiction : experience in journalistic and academic writing / Fiction : planing a novel, work/organization methods, “what type of novel do you want to write?”)– Theatre/drama (what kind of theatre? What do you want to communicate? Working on characters and stage atmosphere). I am not a writer who takes commercial fiction as the standard. With me, students will also be brought to look at experimental writing and writing techniques. If discussing novels, we can discuss “plotted” and “plotless” novels. If talking about poetry, we will discuss narrative, non-narrative, versified and prose poetry, etc. If discussing theatre, we will talk about impression, expression, realism, fantasy, etc. For me, giving a workshop does not work solely on focussing the people who take it, but broadening their scope.

Presentation style/workshop ideas:

Workshop theme examples:

– Playing with language / language deconstruction and prose writing.
– Alter egos, friends, and strangers : building characters and distancing yourself from your writing.
– Not just action; writing ideas : how can literature become engaged? (constructing plots around ideas, or putting ideas into stories).
– World building : techniques on creating a credible culture.
– A poetry of action : narrative poetry, and poetic thought in event sequences.

The workshops would mostly encompass sharing and discussing, but would also feature a presentation of different aspects of the workshop themes, as well as textual examples. For example, on writing ideas, we could look at prose by C.F. Ramuz, Mongo Beti or poetry by the likes of Edith Södergran. On world building we could lean on different alphabets in the world, and how different languages and alphabets inspired authors like Tolkien or Guy G. Kay – and the importance of distancing oneself from mirroring existing cultures. For poetry in action, we could look at narrative poetry by authors such as Inger Christensen, T.S. Elliot or Blaise Cendrars, in order to see how sequencing events and action can create a poetic narration. In-class exercises would accompany these examples.

About the author:

Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1993, Thibault Jacquot-Paratte started publishing poetry in 2010, as well as writing and performing his own songs. He has, since then, published poetry, short stories, essays, and plays, in both French and English, in North America and Europe. Some of his plays have been produced for the stage, and in 2017 and 2019, he was also brought to co-direct short films in Denmark and in Canada. He has been able to travel on four continents, and perform or read before diverse audiences. He obtained a Batchelor’s from the Sorbonne (Nordic Studies) in 2015, and a Master’s (focus in Sociology) in 2017, with exchanges and scholarships to Finland (Vaasa), Norway (Tromsø), and Denmark (Askov).

As a writer he has published poetry, short stories, essays and drama (in journals, and as books), in both French and English. Some of his plays have been performed. His writing styles span multiple genres – Contemporary, Sci-fi, realism, satire, absurdism… In 2019 he was selected to be one of two official poets of the National Acadian Society during the National Acadian Congress in PEI and New Brunswick.

During presentations, he tries to give as much information as he can, while making sure participants can keep up, ask as many questions as they want, and are motivated by regular activities. Used to working with the theatre, he knows that energy, a positive attitude, and positive reinforcement are essential to keep a group interested.


Thibault Jacquot-Paratte

Poetry; fiction; short fiction; nonfiction; theatre

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