WITS grades 10-12

Marjorie Simmins

Marjorie Simmins is the author of four non-fiction titles: Coastal Lives (2014);  Year of the Horse (2016), Memoir: Conversations and Craft (2020), and Somebeachsomewhere: The Harness Racing Legend from a One-Horse Stable (2021).

Simmins began her career as a freelance journalist in Vancouver, appearing regularly in the Vancouver Sun and writing for trade magazines. She also published numerous essays and articles in magazines and newspapers across Canada, and in the United States, and has stories in Canadian and American anthologies. She has won a Gold Medal at the National Magazine Awards for “One-of-a-Kind Journalism,” and two Gold Medals at the Atlantic Journalism Awards for Best Atlantic Magazine Article, and in Arts and Entertainment, Any Medium.

In November 2020, she was awarded the prestigious Established Artist Recognition Award by Arts Nova Scotia.

Among the magazines Simmins has written for are: Canadian Living, Magazines Canada, United Church Observer, Halifax Magazine, Progress, Atlantic Business, and Saltscapes. She is a regular reviewer for The Antigonish Review and Atlantic Books Today. She has also written feature interviews for The Reporter, the community newspaper in Port Hawkesbury, NS.

Marjorie Simmins has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of British Columbia, a Certificate in Adult Education from Dalhousie University, and a Research Master of Arts in Literacy Education, at Mount Saint Vincent University. She teaches memoir writing across Canada, at venues such as at the UBC Alumni Centre, in Vancouver, BC (2016); at StoryFest, in Hudson, QC (2017); at Thinkers Lodge, Pugwash, NS (2014-2019); and the Fortress of Louisbourg, NS (2019). Recently, she has begun to teach coast to coast (still waiting for the north coast!) Zoom workshops.

In September 2020, Simmins took part in the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, as a panellist and workshop leader. The following spring of 2021, Simmins was honoured to serve as a reader for the 2021 CBC Non-Fiction Prize.


Anna Quon

Middle -aged, mixed-race and Mad, Kjipuktuk (Halifax) writer Anna Quon got a late start as a novelist and poet. And though she’s travelled as far as Russia and the Czech Republic to work on her writing, she’s still not sure she’s got the hang of it.

Happily, her novel fist novel Migration Songs found a home with Invisible Publishing and was released in the Fall of 2009. Her second novel, Low, followed in 2013; and in 2022, Invisible published her third novel Where the Silver River End, making a trilogy with her first two unrelated stories by bringing their main characters together in Bratislava, Slovakia

As well as working with traditional publishers, Anna enjoys making her own poetry books and has self-published an adult colouring book, Kindness. in 20017. She also loves to make short animated films of her poetry, including in 2020 her climate grief poem, Polar Bear, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts . Her first professionally published chapbook of poetry Body Parts was released in the Spring of 2021 by Gaspereau Press.

Before she decided to call herself a writer, Anna held a number of different jobs, including day care teacher, fundraiser/ outreach coordinator for a shelter for victims of family violence, volunteer coordinator of a disability organization, and communications assistant for a provincial not-for-profit. She currently facilitates a writers’ group and an arts-related guest speaker series for local mental health organizations. Anna hopes the jobs title of novelist, poet, filmmaker  and writing workshop facilitator will stick longer than any of them.

For samples of her writing check out her blog, https://annaquon.wordpress.com/

Find examples of her visual art at https://ekeandutterarts.ca/ and check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP_kjrslJbw&t=66s

for an example of one of her poem films.

Sherry D. Ramsey

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 the fourth book in the Nearspace series, A Veiled and Distant Sky, released in March of 2022. 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.

Darcy Rhyno

Darcy Rhyno writes novels, short stories, plays, non-fiction (travel, science, health, people profiles). His latest book is a memoir about life in post-communist Eastern Europe.

He is the author of the pre-teen fantasy novel set in 1950’s Halifax called THE UNDERWORLD MAGICIAN. He’s also the author of the YA novel MONSTERS OF SUBURBIA, which is a realism adventure story with themes of bullying, isolation, estrangement and myth. This novel is suitable for junior high readers. He has also published two collections of short stories, CONDUCTOR OF WAVES and HOLIDAYS. He’s been writing for Saltscapes magazine since 2007. He is an award-winning travel writer and a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and has published hundreds of articles with Saltscapes, Canadian Geographic Travel, BBC Travel, Atlas Obscura, The Daily Beast, the Chronicle Herald and many, many more. His play Snowbirds, a comedy set at Christmas, has been produced twice in Nova Scotia.

Conductor of Waves is a collection of 12 stories set in a fictional Nova Scotia fishing community. The Globe and Mail called it “a strikingly accomplished collection.” His first novel for children placed second in the Atlantic Writing Competition. As a columnist for Saltscapes magazine, Darcy writes the back page for each issue, prepares feature articles and writes for special publications about travel, food and other topics. He writes for other magazines and newspapers as well. One of the stories in his collection called Holidays was published in The Vagrant Revue of New Fiction, an anthology of work by the most promising writers in Atlantic Canada.

For much of his career, Darcy has worked in education and with children. A teacher and arts worker by profession, he has worked with many schools and teachers across the province, as well as with artists from all genres. For 16 years, he was an instructor in the graduate program of the Faculty of Education at Mount St. Vincent University where he taught courses in popular culture, reading, media and literature. His readings and workshops are always engaging, informative and entertaining. See his website at www.darcyrhyno.com

Josh MacDonald (he/him)

JOSH MacDONALD (he/him) is the writer of a theatrical adaptation for Robert Cormier’s classic novel I Am The Cheese. This adaptation was the winner of a Playwrights Guild of Canada Tom Hendy Prize in 2020—The Sharon Enkin Theatre for Young Audiences Award. Josh is also the writer of the stage plays Halo, Whereverville and The Mystery Play, which have been produced here at home and around North America, are published by Talonbooks, and are curriculum titles in high schools and universities. Josh is the winner of an AMD/Dell “Next Wave” Award for Best Screenplay from Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, for his horror movie The Corridor (IFC Films). He is also the writer of the feature comedy Faith, Fraud & Minimum Wage (eOne Films). Josh writes for series television, is an actor for stage and screen, and has taught playwriting and screenwriting courses for Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD).

Martine Jacquot

Martine Jacquot is a prolific writer who writes in French but can make presentations in either French or English. She has published over 30 books so far (novels, poetry, short-stories, essays and novels for young readers).

She has been invited to many literary events across Canada and abroad, namely to Lafayette’s book festival during the 2nd World Acadian Congress in 1999, to Tunisia to attend a panel of women writers in 2000, the International Poetry Festival in Trois-Rivières, the Northrop Frye International Literary Festival and to the Paris Book Fair in 2004 and 2006.

She did several reading tours: Tunisia in 2000, Russia and Cameroon in 2008, Morocco in 2010, Roumania in 2011, India in 2012.

She holds several degrees: BA from La Sorbonne, Paris, 3 MA degrees from La Sorbonne, Acadia and Dalhousie, a BJ from the University of Kings College and a PHD from Dalhousie University. She has studied and lived in France, England, Switzerland and Canada.

Past Vice President of the Association des Écrivains Acadiens, past president of the Conseil Culturel Acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse, she has been on many editorial committees, member of several juries, has received creation grants and travel grants both from the Canada Council for the arts and the NS Arts Council. Her novel Les oiseaux de nuit finissent aussi par s’endormir was short listed for the Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie award. She was thrice finalist for the Éloizes awards, once as a writer, and twice as a cultural journalist. She was shortlisted for the France-Acadie Award three times for Au Gré du Vent (2006), Le jardin d’herbes aromatiques (2006) and Le silence de la neige (2008). She won the Award Prix Européen de l’ADELF with a special mention 2007 for Au gré du vent. She has also been chosen on 2 occasions to advise beginning authors, once by the Talent Trust of NS, once by the Association des auteurs de l’Ontario. Some of her poems and short stories have been broadcast on SRC. One of her stories was staged in Ottawa at the Théâtre Trillium. She was a member of the Board of Governors of the NS Museum for 12 years and an author in residence with the ArtsInfusion program and Fecane program

Her articles and interviews have appeared in LittéRéalité, Ancrage, Arcade, Alpha Arts magazine, Eloizes, Femmes d’Action, The Fiddlehead, Liason, Studies in Canadian Literature, Vent’d’est, Waves, Ashtarowt and Al Quds, among others. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Concerto pour huit voix, La Diversité: 15 nouvelles francophones á travers le monde, Ecphore Anthology 1987, Eloizes, Les Elytres du Hanneton, Herspectives, Liaison, Lieux d’être, Littéréalité, Les Maritimes, Mensuel, 25 Offerta Speziale, Poetry Halifax-Dartmouth, The Pottersfield Portfolio, Reflets Maritimes 2, Voices and Echoes: Stories and Poems of Women’s Spirituality, Walk through Paradise, La Poésie acadienne and Pour l’Amour de toi, among others. Some of her work is being translated into English, Russian, Portugese, Italian, Basque and Arabic.

Deanna Foster

Deanna Foster currently works at Dalhousie University, where she received her BA in History and English. Her first published work, A History of Hangings in Nova Scotia (Pottersfield Press), was a local bestseller. She has also written two novels, Broken Ivy (paranormal) and Raven’s Blood (fantasy). Her poetry, articles, short stories and book reviews have been published through Canadian media outlets. She lives with her two boys in Halifax

Sylvia Gunnery

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 is her most recent YA novel.  In 2023, she will be a speaker at Reading For the Love of It in Toronto.  Sylvia lives at Crescent Beach on the South Shore of Nova Scotia where she’s working on a Ya series of linked stories, what I know about next.  https://sylviagunnery.ca

Deirdre Dwyer

Deirdre Dwyer has been writing poetry since her teacher taught her about haiku in grade six. In the meantime, she’s worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in Tokyo, a Creative Writing instructor in Halifax, a Sessional Instructor of English in Windsor and a bookseller. Deirdre holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor, and was a founding member of the Bourbon Street Poetry Society. She has worked with the Hope for Wildlife Society, a wildlife rehabilitation facility on the Eastern Shore. Deirdre was also Coordinator of the Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers’ Market. She was chair of the Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Community Association, and has been writing prose about her three years in Japan and her subsequent travels; and a writing workshop in Iceland in 2019.

When she visits schools, she can talk about the differences between Japanese culture, discuss Nova Scotian wildlife, show pictures of some of the wildlife she met at Hope for Wildlife, do writing exercises relating to either prose or poetry connected to these discussions, and read and discuss her own work with the students. She can also discuss life in Iceland, publishing books and in journals.

Lesley Choyce

Lesley teaches part-time 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. He’s worked as a rehab counsellor, a freight hauler, a corn farmer, a janitor, a journalist, a lead guitarist, a newspaper boy and a well-digger. He lives at Lawrencetown Beach overlooking the ocean. He also hosts a nationally syndicated TV talk show on Vision TV. His recent novel, Cold Clear Morning, is currently being developed as a feature length movie. In 2002, Goose Lane Editions published Choyce’s best-selling circumferential history book, The Coasts of Canada. That same year, his animal epic film, The Skunk Whisperer, was broadcast across Canada and heralded at the Maine International Film Festival. Along with the Surf Poets, he has released two poetry/music albums, Long Lost Planet and Sea Level.

To read excerpts from Lesley’s books and download free samples of his music, visit www.lesleychoyce.com.

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