Presentation area - Canadian Authors Association

Meet the Writers of the 2015 Writers In School Program
Edmonton and area
Marion Brooker - Edmonton
M. Jennie Frost - Edmonton
Joan Marie Galat – Spruce Grove
Joyce Harries – Edmonton
Alison Hughes –Edmonton
Katherine Koller - Edmonton
Rashmi Kumar – Edmonton
Roberta Laurie - Edmonton
Kenna McKinnon – Edmonton
Alison Neuman – Edmonton
Nancy Mackenzie - Edmonton
Lorna Schultz Nicholson - Edmonton
Cora Taylor - Edmonton
Northern Alberta
Sue Farrell Holler – Grande Prairie
Eileen Schuh – St. Paul
Central Alberta
Blaine Newton – Red Deer
Maxine Spence - Didsbury
Nancy Brook - Ryley
Calgary and area
Victoria Bailey - Calgary
Barboria Bjarne - Calgary
Lyndsie Bourgon - Calgary
Maureen Bush – Calgary
Jacqueline Guest – Bragg Creek
Janet Gurtler - Calgary
Mike Plested - Calgary
Faye Reineberg Holt – Calgary
Lea Storry – Calgary
Cassy Welburn - Calgary
Southern Alberta
Halli Lilburn - Lethbridge
Jane Harris-Zsovan - Lethbridge
Victoria Bailey - Calgary
Victoria Bailey’s writing experience ranges from business communications materials
(specializing in non-profits with a focus on women and families) to freelance articles for various
magazines typically with a feminist or women-focus including Herizons and the f word. She is
the author of Sharing Sadhana, a non-fiction book published by Rowman and Littlefield, and has
had stories included in anthologies. She has also written a column on the topic of single
parenting for Calgary's Child magazine for over nine years.
Victoria has run writing groups in the past. She has also provided non-fiction writing-related
presentations to high school students in the recent past.
 Working as a non-fiction writer including different types of non-fiction work e.g.
business writer (corporate and non-profit), journalist, copy writer, blogger, technical
writer, freelance magazine writer and so on and differences between working on a
freelance versus salaried full-time basis
 Starting out as a non-fiction writer/how non-fiction writers get paid
 Workshopping writing ideas/development of ideas
 Explaining fiction and non-fiction writing markets to students interested in writing
 Explaining writing education and training to students interested in writing
 Explaining the different job roles that assist non-fiction writers e.g. editors, copy editors,
proofreaders, fact checkers, etc.
 Challenges for women as writers
Presentation area: Calgary and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Junior and Senior high students
Preferred class size: Classroom, up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students
Barboria Bjarne - Calgary
Barboria Bjarne is a freelance writer and artist. When not writing or painting, she works on her
urban homestead, where she lives with her family.
Grayson and the Crumbly, Grumbly, Rumbly Cookie is her second picture book, this time written
in prose and accompanied by delightful illustrations in gouache. She also wrote and illustrated
Quanny and Danny, her first picture book in verse about a cute little puppy, raised by a goose.
She has read at Crowfoot Library’s Storytime for children, had a book event at Chapters
Dalhousie, and read at Heritage Park’s children’s story time.
Poetry and prose. Quanny and Danny lends itself to action, repeated movements, and sounds.
The story leads to discussions about first impressions, different languages, the importance of
learning and teaching by example, and even dog breeds.
Grayson and the Crumbly, Grumbly, Rumbly Cookie has a dialogue which provides for
interactive conversation and different tone of voice as well as intonation for its four characters.
The story opens a discussion about favourite foods and spending time with dad.
Presentation area: Calgary
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6
Preferred class size: Classroom, up to 30 students
Further information:
Website: or on Facebook
Lyndsie Bourgon - Calgary
Lyndsie Bourgon is a journalist and non-fiction writer. After growing up in the southern Alberta
farming community of Milk River, she moved to Halifax to study journalism and philosophy at
the University of King’s College. Her writing has appeared in publications including the
Guardian, Globe and Mail, the Walrus and Reader’s Digest. Since returning to Alberta in 2013,
Lyndsie has taught writing and editing workshops at the Writers Guild of Alberta’s summer
camp WordsWorth, which she attended as a young writer. She has also taught media literacy at
Toronto’s Frontier College.
Lyndsie has lived and worked in numerous countries and provinces, including Botswana,
Turkey, Scotland, Italy and Haida Gwaii, B.C. She counts hitching a ride with goats in the back
of a transport truck, cycling across Cuba, surviving two earthquakes, and having her passport
stolen in Milan as formative life experiences.
Stranger than Fiction. Why tell the truth? Because sometimes the truth is weirder than you
could ever imagine. In this presentation Lyndsie will talk about various forms of journalism and
what non-fiction means. Students will learn about skills like interviewing and writing for
newspapers and magazines. This presentation will talk about how to make telling true stories
more interesting using the tenants of fiction.
Media Literacy. Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, CNN, the newspaper and late-night comedy –
how do you know which news to trust? Now more than ever, young people need to be equipped
with media literacy skills to assess the information coming their way. This workshop talks about
different forms of news and takes a look at how certain stories are reported. It will examine trustworthy sources, opinion pieces, network bias and whether the news can ever really be balanced.
Presentation area: Calgary
Targeted grades: Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom, up to 30 students
Further information:
Nancy Brook - Ryley
Nancy Brook grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot, but that occupation was closed to her. Her
mother was happy, she said, “If the good Lord had intended for you to fly, he would have given
you wings.” Nancy became an x-ray technician, and then a radiotherapy technologist, but those
professions didn’t satisfy her creative yearnings. So, she became a writer, producer, and director
in television. But she still didn’t feel that she was exercising her creative muscles, so she wrote
Jessica Seeker and the Ghost Walkers, her first novel, published in 2015.
In the 1990s, she taught writing and television production at NAIT, and then through
International Media Associates in 2000, she instructed students from Nairobi, Kenya, on writing
and producing educational television programs. In 1999, through an experimental socializing
program, she gave writing instruction to inmates at the Fort Saskatchewan Penitentiary once a
week for six weeks.
Presentations are approximately one hour and workshops are one and a half hours.
Effective storytelling. This presentation gives students a general introduction on how to tell
involving and page turning stories. “Twenty Meters to the Outhouse, written by Willy Makeit,
and edited by Betty Didn’t” is the theme for this presentation.
How do you get story ideas. This presentation shares techniques for breaking the creative block.
Some writing will be involved.
Publishing in the modern world of computers. This is a talk on traditional publishing versus
self-publishing versus assisted self-publishing. The good, bad, and ugly of all three.
Making believable characters. This workshop is on how to find and create interesting
multidimensional characters from villains to heroes.
Finding your storytelling voice. This is a workshop on writing in your own voice. Students will
learn to tell stories in their natural voice and not try to write as they have seen others write. They
will learn to create their personal storytelling style.
Writing for the screen. This is an introduction on how to write for short format and long format
television programs, from news to documentaries to TV dramas.
Presentation area: Ryley and area
Targeted grades: Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Nancy Ellen Brook author on
Marion Brooker - Edmonton
Author and playwright Marion Brooker transports students to her childhood on the farm in early
days and young adults follow her 17-year-old uncle into the muddy, rat-infested trenches of
World War 1. Marion believes “if you can talk, you can write” and using humour, drama,
artifacts, power point and writing games, the students enter the wonderful world of the writer.
Through readings from her own books she shows students where she found her inspiration and
the excitement of discovering ideas in every day events.
Marion brings her wide range of experience as an educational radio writer for Grades 1 to 12,
which included dramas for opportunity classes, stories of historical and human interest as well as
stories for children. She is the author of Noreen and the Amazing No-Good Horse (fiction),
Tadeo’s Search for Circles (picture book), and Hold The Oxo: A Teenage Soldier Writes Home
Grades 1 – 3. Noreen and The Amazing No-Good Horse and Tadeo’s Search For Circles are the
springboards for Marion Brooker’s involving of the students in either driving to a one room
school in a sleigh with Noreen or travelling around the world in search of a perfect circle with
Tadeo. She follows, with artists drawings, the creation of a picture book from manuscript to
library shelf.
Grades 4 – 6. Using examples from her own writing, Marion asks, ‘Where do your ideas come
from? How do you get started? How do you grab the attention and keep the reader wanting to
know more?’ Found objects provide a starting point for students for creativity in writing short
Grades 7 – 9. With her play ‘Remembering’ and a power point, Marion reveals the decisions she
made in writing Hold The Oxo: A Teenage Soldier Writes Home. By sharing her uncle’s (a 17year-old boy) letters home from World War 1, she asks students how would they have written
the book? Canada was a young country in 1914. What effect did WW1 have on Canada?
Presentation area: Edmonton and area
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 2-6, Junior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Maureen Bush - Calgary
Maureen Bush has published five children's novels: The Nexus Ring (Coteau 2007), Crow Boy
(Coteau 2010), The Veil Weavers (Coteau 2012), Feather Brain (Orca 2008), and Cursed! (Orca
Her stories have been nominated for six Reader's Choice Awards, including the Alberta Rocky
Mountain Book Award in 2010 for Feather Brain. Feather Brain was also an Ontario Library
Association Best Bests for 2008, and an honour book for the Ontario 2009 Silver Birch Express.
The Veil Weavers was a Canadian Toy Testing Council Great Book for 2014.
Maureen has presented and read at schools, libraries, award events and bookstores. Five
Lethbridge area schools have used Feather Brain for their One School One Book programs. She
has taught for three years at the Calgary Young Writers Conference, presented at Wordfest, was
a writer-in-residence at a Calgary elementary school focusing on inspiring writing, and is
currently teaching a course on Writing for Children at the Alexandra Writers' Centre. She loves
connecting with kids and inspiring them to write and to read.
Maureen’s one hour sessions are interactive. She will talk about her stories, particularly where
the ideas came from, and then play a game with the students creating a story together. She will
read short selections, and leave time for questions.
She can also focus on a single book. For example, elementary schools in Lethbridge have used
Feather Brain for One School, One Book, in which every student has read the story. The themes
of dinosaurs and bullying become the focus of both the in-class activities and her visit.
Maureen also provides two-hour writing workshops, geared toward upper elementary and junior
and senior high students. The focus for these groups could be a writing-based session, a
discussion of writing and being a writer, or specifically on a career as a writer.
She adjusts the focus of her talk to the specific needs of the school.
Presentation area: Calgary and area
Targeted grades: Grades 2-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom, music room up to 75 students
Further information:
Sue Farrell Holler – Grande Prairie
A Grade 4 writing assignment gone awry set Sue Farrell Holler on a path in which she
practically stalks the neighbourhood postal carriers looking for letters addressed to her. The
“ruined” assignment also began her journey as a writer, in which she is most often inspired by
real people, real places and real events.
She is the author of two picture books and a middle-grade novel, all of which are set in Alberta.
Her book Lacey and the African Grandmothers (Second Story Press 2009) received an
honourable mention at the 2010 CAA Exporting Alberta Awards, and was shortlisted for the
2011 Rocky Mountain Book Awards.
As well as writing books for children, she is a freelance journalist with hundreds of articles
published in local, regional and national publications. She is also a former columnist for Sun
Media newspaper, the Daily Herald-Tribune.
Sue is an experienced speaker who has presented to thousands of Alberta school children since
her first book was published in 1994.
During her energetic presentation, Sue Farrell Holler delivers a message of perseverance and
following your heart as she discusses her early life and how she became a writer.
Kindergarten-Grade 3. Sue’s picture books evoke feelings of love and trust between mother and
child. “To the Post Office with Mama” and “To the Pool with Mama” work well with students
going on field trips. She discusses parts of the book (cover, title page, dedication) and the roles
of people involved in creating a book (author, illustrator, publisher). Sue tells stories, reads from
giant-sized books, and shows photographs of the real settings and characters.
Grades 4-8. Sue begins with hand drumming and telling the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman,
a First Nation’s legend with a message of hope and peace that is the basis of a chapter in “Lacey
and the African Grandmothers.” Presentation includes a slide show of the places and people who
inspired the novel followed by a question and answer period.
Senior High. Sue will speak to small groups of students, who have a particular interest in writing
and publishing. This informal session runs with a short introduction followed by a question and
answer period.
Presentation area: Grande Prairie and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom, music room or library for up to 75 students
Further information:
M. Jennie Frost - Edmonton
M. Jennie Frost has told stories in 218 schools, public libraries and other venues in 130 Canadian
communities. She has toured more than 10 years for the Young Alberta Book Society
Taleblazers Festival and to the Sault Ste. Marie area as a storyteller in the 2011 Canadian
Children’s Book Week. In 2013, Jennie recorded a three-CD set for the Storytellers of Canada—
Conteurs du Canada StorySave Program. SC–CC records one Canadian storytelling elder each
year in order to preserve his/her unique voice and repertoire to be part of Canada’s oral heritage.
Formerly a classroom Latin teacher, Jennie specializes in Greek and Roman myth and history,
but she also has a wide repertoire of folktales, narrative poetry, and literary stories.
Jennie has had prizewinning short stories and poetry published in literary journals and
anthologies. Because her narrative poem The Courtship of Hippodameia won honourable
mention in a Mellen Press long poem contest, it was published as a book (Mellen, Lewiston NY,
2005). Jennie has published a two-CD set Pygmalion and Other Greek Myths and has stories on
three CD sets published by TALES (The Alberta League Encouraging Storytelling).
Storytelling. Jennie Frost selects her stories’ subjects and lengths to suit the age of her audience.
She is flexible about how sessions are organized and always talks to her host about class
groupings and possible story programs. She usually tells folktales since she believes that the
world’s folktales are a heritage that will enrich and enlarge the lives of students of any age, and
she loves sharing them. She often adds narrative poetry for younger classes or a literary story for
older classes so students may have a non-analytical experience of literature.
Other Presentations. Jennie is fascinated by word history. Since Latin words are the source of
40 per cent of English vocabulary, for Grades 5–12 she offers an hour’s talk on the history of the
English language emphasizing Latin’s contribution. She also gives a two-hour workshop on
learning to write the Greek alphabet, with stories and talk about word derivation.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students for kindergarten, grades 1-3; 70-80 students
for grades 4-6; up to 100 students for Junior High and Senior High
Further information:
Joan Marie Galat – Spruce Grove
Joan Marie Galat was first published at the age of 12 as a paid weekly newspaper columnist. Today
she is the award-winning author of 11 books, with new titles pending. A prolific writer for all ages
and relentless promoter of reading, her topics include ecology, astronomy, mythology, and history.
Joan Marie shares her love of the stars in the Dot to Dot in the Sky series, which combine the
science of the night sky with the ancient myths that give constellations and planets their names.
She connects with audiences through facts and storytelling, and sometimes juggling and stilt
Also a freelance writer, Joan Marie offers writing/editing for broadcast and print. She writes
magazine articles, and has written radio/video scripts, an Internet cartoon, exhibit text, speeches,
web copy, and much more. She enjoys showing kids how to make writing fun.
Her books, published by Whitecap Books, Scholastic, and others, include: Day Trips From
Edmonton; Dot to Dot in the Sky: Stories of the Aurora (2016), Stories of the Moon;, Stories of
the Planets, Stories in the Stars; The Discovery of Longitude; Dr. Bufflehead Explores Energy;
Dr. Bufflehead Explores Dirt; Give Yourself a Pep Talk ; and, Branching Out: How Trees Are
Part of Your World.
When it comes to helping students find the joy in reading and writing, the sky’s the limit for
astronomy author and freelance writer Joan Marie Galat. In a lively presentation that blends facts,
storytelling, and writing tips, Joan Marie launches reluctant readers into books. A stilt walker and
juggler, Joan Marie keeps students’ attention by tying her skills to literacy.
Students of all ages find it hard to resist the lure of exploding stars and black holes. From myths of
gods, goddesses, and creatures in the night sky to the marvels of space, Joan Marie intrigues young
writers with her story of becoming a paid columnist at age 12. By the end of the presentation
students will head to the library for books and enjoy a fresh outlook that builds literacy skills—
writing can be fun.
Upon request, presentations for grades four and up can focus on tree ecology or nature’s reaction to
light pollution, or for older students, on writing as a career and the importance of good
communication skills in all occupations.
Recommended groupings: kindergarten to grade 3; grades 4-6; grades 7-9; grades 10-12.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students with a sound
Further information:
Book Trailers: Branching Out: (62 seconds)
The Discovery of Longitude: (65 seconds)
Jacqueline Guest – Bragg Creek
Jacqueline Guest is an international award winning author with 19 published novels. She has
presented across Canada and the United States to audiences of all ages. She has also volunteered
in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she taught eager adults how to create stories for their own
young readers to enjoy.
Jacqueline has been the creator-in-residence for CANSCAIP, writer in residence for the
Marigold Library System and the International Spanish Academy in Calgary. She is the proud
recipient of the Indspire Award for the Arts. Her novels have been nominated and/or won
numerous awards in Canada and the United States. Her curriculum-based school presentations,
which tie in with her novels, have even reluctant students reading. Jacqueline has mentored new
writers and championed literacy for many years. Her body of work spans many reading levels
including middle grade, young adult, high interest/low vocabulary, short stories, levelled reading
and magazine articles.
Jacqueline lives in a log cabin in the high foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she and her
computer are working on a new novel for young readers to enjoy.
The Comic Book War: WW2 and Cosmic Comic Book Superheroes! Gr. 6-12 Discover how
the Home Front contributed to the war effort in WW2. Learn about rationing, saving stamps, fat
drives and those telegrams no one wanted to receive, plus forgotten Canadian comic book
superheroes. Includes an actual meteorite! Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Humanities
Ghost Messages Voyage with the author, Gr. 4-12. Learn how the 1865 transatlantic cable
changed history and the terrible secret that was discovered when they tore the ship apart. Morse
code contest with prize! Includes a piece of the 1865 cable. Language Arts, Social Studies and
History and culture presentation, Gr. 3-9. Jam-packed hour on the history of the fur trade.
Direct tie-in to Grades 4, 5 and 7 Social Studies. Highly visual and interactive with over 50
artefacts. Social Studies and Language Arts
Easy Key Writing Workshops, Gr. 3-12. Students learn the essentials to increase Language Arts
marks. Any writing assignment becomes easy when you know these three easy keys! Language
Dinosaurs! Kindergarten to 2. Amazing facts on dinosaurs! Student can touch a Hadrosaur
dinosaur egg and real dino dung! Colouring handout plus extended writing project. Science and
Language Arts
Presentation area: Calgary and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Janet Gurtler - Okotoks
Janet Gurtler's young adult books have been chosen for the Junior Library Guild Selection and as
Best Books for Teens from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, including her March 2015
release, The Truth About Us.
Janet also recently wrote a middle grade chapter book series called The Mermaid Kingdom for
Capstone Press. Four books were published in the series in 2015, with three more releasing in
2016! The books are fabulously fun with great illustrations by Kate Wood.
Janet lives with her husband and teenage son in Okotoks. She is also the owner of a chubby
black Chihuahua named Bruce, who only eats human food and uses a litter box.
How to Make Imaginary Creatures Come to Life! (Grades 4-5). Do your students love stories
about mermaids (or merboys)? Janet Gurtler will help students create their very own imaginary
merperson! Kids should have notepads and pencils ready to put to work. Janet will guide them
with writing prompts and help them develop their own world and creatures. This is a great
interactive workshop the kids love! They’ll also have the chance to share their work (if they’re
comfortable). Students leave the workshop eager to finish their stories with their unique
What Makes the Characters in your Favourite Book so Intriguing? (Grades 7-9) How do
authors go about building a character from the inside out? Janet will show students ways to make
great characters come to life, using examples from books and practical writing exercises.
Prompts get participants working on character building of their own and show them how to put
examples to practice. A great workshop that involves the audience and shows them how to enrich
their own written words.
Presentation area: Calgary and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 4-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Joyce Harries – Edmonton
Joyce Harries was born in 1928 and turned 20 on her honeymoon. She and her husband Hu
Harries had six children. Their eldest died in the polio epidemic of 1953 which Joyce mentions
in her talk to the children and how polio has almost disappeared world-wide due to inoculation.
She is the author of Girdles and Other Harnesses I Have Known (Lone Pine Publishing, 2000),
Twice in a Blue Moon (Spotted Cow Press, 2007), and A Wise Old Girl’s Own Almanac (Friesen
Press, 2013). Her writing has been included in five anthologies and learned journals. She has a
novel underway. Joyce has been guest speaker at service clubs, libraries, book stores, book clubs,
senior centres, and Edmonton’s LitFest 2014 as well as a presenter in WISP for six years.
Joyce Harries explains how to get a book published and how difficult it is. She talks about the
rules for writing fact or fiction.
She reads from her books, telling of what it was like growing up so long ago in Garneau,
Edmonton. Joyce poses the question of what might the students’ grandchildren find about life
today that will seem strange. And what about the marvels they might write about that their
grandchildren will find ordinary in the future? This often prompts great flights of fancy.
One time after a presentation, a13-year-old boy came up to Joyce and said, “I liked your stories,
Mrs. Harries. When you have your 150th birthday, I’ll bring you forget-me-nots.” After she had
thanked him profusely and wiped away happy tears, Liam said, “I will, you know, ‘cause I went
on a hike last year with my parents and we came to a big patch of this flower and there weren’t
any houses around and my mother said they probably came up every year in this same spot. So I
know where it is, and I’ll bring you some.”
Presentation area: Edmonton
Targeted grades: Grades 4-8
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Jane Harris-Zsovan - Lethbridge
Jane Harris’s published books, columns, and articles distil complex research into engaging
scenes and easily understood messages. As a writing coach and workshop presenter, she is an
effective and empathetic communicator with people of varying ages and lifestyles.
Jane’s memoir, Finding Home in the Promised Land, a personal history of homelessness and
social exile in Canada, was released in October 2015, and Eugenics and the Firewall: Canada’s
Nasty Little Secret was her first book by a literary publisher (both works released by J.Gordon
Shillingford Publishing Inc.). Her first book, Stars Appearing: The Galts’ Vision of Canada
(2006) was self-published.
Jane has contributed to two Canadian anthologies: "Jessie's Generation: Canada's Firebrands of
Mercy and Justice" in Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul (That's Life!
Communications 2008) and "Wen-Dizing the West" in Taking Care of Business (HB Fenn,
In addition to private tutoring and manuscript critiques, she teaches writing workshops as an
artist partner at CASA Lethbridge. Previously, she taught continuing education courses in
writing and publishing at Lethbridge College.
Creating Story for Teens. Do you want to be a writer? This class will get students on their way.
It combines mini lessons, activities, and coaching to help them find stories they want to tell and
put them on the page. Fiction and non-fiction genres will be explored. Jane will also talk to the
students about careers in writing, how to get published, writer’s groups, and educational
Creating Story for Kids (8-12years). Kids will use their imaginations to create their own stories.
This workshop combines short lessons, games, writing time, and individual coaching to help
write stories and poems. Great imagination and sleuthing skills will help students uncover story
ideas around them. They will learn how to get ideas on paper and how to create stories that are
fun to write and fun to read to friends and family.
Memorable Characters. This fun workshop is a chance to explore what makes both positive and
negative characters tick, and how to make readers care about what happens to the character
Jane is also available for presentations about issues raised in her books including mental health,
homelessness, and Alberta history.
Presentation area: Lethbridge and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 4-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30; auditorium up to 100
Further information:
Alison Hughes - Edmonton
Alison Hughes spent her childhood eagerly anticipating trips to the library with her sisters, and
not only because her brother always hogged the TV. After probably too many years of
university, she moved to England and then Australia with her husband, where they really did see
kangaroos hopping on lawns like rabbits, and where an emu once snatched a sandwich out of her
hand. It was while raising their three children that Alison started writing.
Alison has three picture books, an early reader chapter book and four middle grade novels
published or coming out soon. She won the Writers’ Union of Canada Writing for Children
Award, was nominated for a Silver Birch, a Red Cedar, and a Hackmatack award, and has been
selected for the TD Canadian Children’s Book Tour in 2016. She presents at schools and young
author conferences, and volunteers with the Centre for Family Literacy. Humour is a strong
theme in her writing, probably because she believes laughter is more essential to survival than
eating leafy greens. She lives with her family in Edmonton where she loves cycling, hiking,
skating and thrift shopping. Her three snoring dogs are her writers’ group.
Alison Hughes’ presentations are relaxed, fun, and interactive, and she leaves the class with a
range of activity sheets and writing prompts.
A Great Idea for a Story (Kindergarten – Grade 2). Alison shares some of her odd story ideas.
Her picture book, Gerbil, Uncurled, about a gerbil who sleeps differently than the other gerbils,
is a fun lead-in to talking about respecting differences and working together. There will be a
scurry through a gerbil-tunnel and a sleepy wind-down song.
Make a List (Grades 2-3). How do ideas become stories? With a plan, of course! While the listmaking heroine of Alison’s book Beatrice More Moves In is too hyper-organized, she has a
point. Organization is vital to good writing. Alison uses games and prompts to encourage
brainstorming and grouping of ideas.
Staying Alive: Writing Survival Stories (Grades 4-6). This session, based on Alison’s novel Lost
in the Backyard, explores getting seriously lost, which involves action, description, drama and
wet socks. How could everyday things in a backpack help you survive? When night is falling and
the wolves are howling, how do you make a plan? Prepare to be stranded in the desert, the ocean,
and the snow.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area
Targeted grades: Kindergarten to Grade 6
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Katherine Koller - Edmonton
Katherine Koller writes for stage, screen and page. Her plays include the Alberta landwork
trilogy (Coal Valley: the Making of a Miner, The Seed Savers and Last Chance Leduc) about
changes in the mining, agriculture and petroleum industries and how that affects families, friends
and lovers. She has written several story ballets for Edmonton’s Citie Ballet, including Murder at
the Strand, Damsels of the Night, Ariadne’s Gate and Cave Beat. Her libretto for the chamber
opera Madonna of the Wilderness will be performed in 2017. In fall 2016 her YA crossover
novel Art Lessons will be published and her six-part documentary Youth on Earth, about how
young Edmontonians are adopting practices to change and save their world, will be broadcast on
TelusOptik TV. Katherine also teaches in the Department of English and Film Studies at the
University of Alberta, and has given talks about writing in Stony Plain, Sherwood Park,
Edmonton and Grande Prairie. She is currently working on new plays, Riverkeeper and Hope
Soup, and a short story collection, The Lost Art of Second Chances.
Art Lessons. Katherine Koller’s new novel, Art Lessons, which is the story of a girl who wants
to be a visual artist, the many unlikely teachers she meets along the way and what she learns
about art and herself, will be published in fall 2016 on both the adult and young adult lists as YA
crossover fiction. Katherine would read from the book, and discuss the process of writing a short
Degrees of Dialogue is a workshop on writing dialogue, useful for writers of all genres.
The Gifts of Genre. Because Katherine writes in many different genres, she presents about why
and how she does this.
The Quaternity. Katherine presents about the writing life in general and gives a template on how
to balance the life of a working artist.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Junior High, Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students
Further information:
Rashmi Kumar - Edmonton
Rashmi Kumar was selected for 2013 writer-in-exile program through the Edmonton Public
Library. She had book reading sessions at the Edmonton Literary Festival in 2013 and was
invited for 2014 Edmonton Literary Festival to participate as a panelist for Just Words. She was
also invited by the Mill Woods Artists Collective to read excerpts from her first and second
books. Rashmi’s first book Stilettos in the Newsroom was written in English with a style heavily
influenced by the Indian diaspora. Launched in 2010 by one of India’s top publishers, the book
remained in the country’s best sellers list for nearly a month. Her second book Hooked, Lined &
Single was released in 2014.
Kindergarten to Grade 6. Rashmi begins by showing puppets and illustrations based on magical
characters of the Indian folklore (like Shaktiman, Chacha Chaudhary, and the Marathi
Badbadgeete), connecting them with their Canadian counterparts (such as the Sasquatch or the
Ogopogo) and with the vast repertoire of “globalized” creatures – fairies, dragons, mermaids –
that inhabit the imagination of numerous cultures. She uses PowerPoint for an interactive readalong session of a comic book, followed by a question-and-answer period.
Junior and senior high. Rashmi talks about PEN Canada’s writer-in-exile program and explores
the relationship between writing and issues like immigration, tolerance, and cultural differences.
She also shares a PowerPoint presentation and reads selections from her book Stilettos in the
Newsroom (Rupa & Co) that is a racy and lively account of a bubbly 28-year-old journalist and
how she took her first step into the newsroom, got her first story, made bloopers and handled
pressures to meet deadlines.
The session would also be followed by a brief reading from her second book Hooked, Lined &
Single (Srishti) through which she shares her anecdotes about the status of a 30-something single
woman in India and her quest to find a suitable groom. A question-and-answer session follows.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Junior High, Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students
Further information:
Roberta Laurie
Roberta Laurie completed her master’s degree in environmental education and communication at
Royal Roads University; her thesis explored the framing of “ethical oil.” Her current project,
Touching This Storied Land, explores the personal narratives and public discourse surrounding
the Alberta oil sands. She has contributed to numerous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for
the Soul, and periodicals, such as On Spec, WestWord and fillingStation. She has edited a number
of novels as well as anthologies, including In Their Own Words: The Girls of Atsikana Pa
Ulendo Tell Their Stories and Christmas Chaos. Her blog,,
focuses on her writing as well as local and international environmental issues, concerns, and
initiatives. Roberta is an instructor in the bachelor of communications studies program at
MacEwan University where she teaches communication theory, grammar, rhetoric and editing.
The Story of My Life. In this one-hour workshop, students will learn the art of memoir writing.
Current examples of good memoir writing will be explored and then students will write their
own stories.
Finding Your Inner Muse. In this one-hour workshop, students will learn how much fun free
writing can be as they learn the technique of free writing and experiment with two free writing
exercises. They will leave the workshop with the tools to free write and to find their inner muse.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night. Learn how to write a scary story. “It was a dark and stormy
night ...” just doesn’t cut it. Students will learn what makes a good horror story, learn to avoid
the old clichés, and write, write, write.
Improve Your Prose. Students will learn to improve their writing through tried and true writing
techniques. Whether writing for children or young adults, fiction or non-fiction, writing will be
more exciting, concise and vibrant once the prose has been improved.
Write Tight. Whether writing reports and business letters or memoir and fiction, students will
learn to wipe out wordiness and increase clarity in their writing. Learn how to be precise and
Presentation area: Edmonton and area: willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Halli Lilburn - Lethbridge
Halli Lilburn is a life-long Albertan with many publications under her belt including genres of
science fiction, teen adventure, ghost stories, steam punk and poetry. Her books include Spirited
(Leap Books) Shifters (Imajin Books), Tesseracts 18 anthology (Edge Publishing) and works in
Cart Blanche, Poetry Quarterly, Bare Back Press, Red Fez Press and others. She also teaches art
journaling and works at the local library. She has facilitated the summer reading program and
taught classes at When Words Collide Writer’s Conference and at the Bassano School. As one
teacher said, “The freedom that she teaches with her art journaling encourages the students to try
new things. Many came up with sophisticated artworks that were beyond what they were
accomplishing in the regular art class.” Halli is a strong advocate for diversity, anti-bullying and
women’s rights.
Workshop Presentation: Poetry. Experimentation is key to writing good poetry. Halli will
explore the art form of poetry, why we write, where to find ideas, how to deal with revisions and
how to get published. Different structures of poems will be discussed, as well as favourite poets
and students will be introduced to new poets. Students will learn to shake things up and
experiment with form until it feels right. Taking a hands-on approach and sharing work will hone
writing skills. This class works best for ages 12 and up in a classroom setting. Bring a pen and a
Workshop Presentation: Character. Young writers need to be passionate about literature. By
presenting it in new and exciting ways such as art journaling, a powerful tool for selfactualization and character development can be created. Inventing a new person, whether in
yourself or in your writing, can be discovered through simple drawings, actions and dialogue.
Components such as motivation, childhood trauma and breaking points are studied by using
examples from popular YA books such as Hunger Games and Maze Runner. Halli also enjoys
experimenting with illustration and visual activities like picking movie stars to play your
characters. This class works best for ages 12 and up in a classroom setting.
Presentation area: Lethbridge and area
Targeted grades: Grades 4-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Nancy Mackenzie - Edmonton
A professional writer and book editor, Nancy Mackenzie has both literary and technical writing
credentials. As a professional writer, she provides writing and editing services to government,
Edmonton Public Schools, agricultural organizations, and self-publishing authors. The range of
work she has produced includes policy, teacher, and educational resources, and stakeholder
consultation materials. As a literary writer, Nancy has published several books for children,
several books of poetry and recorded a CD of poetry, and has published a novel.
Nancy has taught adult education courses on writing, editing, and publishing and would be
pleased to speak with high school students about the writing process, business writing, poetry,
and/or fiction.
Fiction. Place has a role to play in fiction, sometimes to the extent that it is so much more than
setting that it becomes like a character itself. In this workshop, students explore excerpts from
fiction that paint pictures of a setting and then write some sample settings. Next, students explore
excerpts that show the ways that setting influence characters and then write samples. There will
be some cross-over into poetry and the poetic with these exercises. Students will have the
opportunity to share their writing with classmates, if they choose to do so.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area
Targeted grades: Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Kenna McKinnon – Edmonton
Kenna McKinnon is the author of SpaceHive and BIGFOOT BOY: Lost on Earth, both YA/MG
sci-fi novels. A children's chapter book, Benjamin & Rumblechum, was published by
Mockingbird Lane Press in late 2014. The Insanity Machine, a memoir with co-author Austin
Mardon, PhD, CM; and DISCOVERY – A Collection of Poetry, were released by Authors for a
Cause in 2012. Short Circuit and Other Geek Stories and Red Herrings (a mystery) were
published in late 2014. Her books are available in eBook and paperback worldwide on Amazon,
Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc., and in selected bookstores and public libraries.
Kenna's interests include fitness and health, volunteering, reading, writing, and drawing. She
lives in the trendy neighbourhood of Oliver in Edmonton. Her most memorable years were spent
at the University of Alberta, where she graduated with Distinction with a degree in anthropology
(1975). She has lived successfully with schizophrenia for many years. She has three wonderful
children and three grandsons. She was raised on a farm in the Peace River district.
Two of Kenna McKinnon’s novels, MG/YA scifi-fantasy, would appeal to middle grade, more
especially boys. The theme would be tolerance of differences, adventure, and learning
(SpaceHive), as well as lightly touching on the effects of bullying in schools (Bigfoot Boy: Lost
on Earth). She would bring props such as a toy bee (SpaceHive), posters, and a Bigfoot footprint,
mask, or other prop to illustrate her talk about her novels.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30
Further information:
Twitter: @KennaMcKinnon
Facebook: KennaMcKinnonAuthor
Alison Neuman - Edmonton
Alison Neuman lives in Edmonton where she works as a freelance writer. Nearing the end of her
studies at MacEwan, she was inspired to complete the first draft of Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy
Novel. The YA novel integrates her love for gadgetry with the broad imaginative license
afforded by the secret agent genre, and features a female protagonist in a wheelchair. It was
published in 2010 by Fireside Publications.
Alison was nominated in 2011 for her human rights work in advocating for the rights of the
disabled. In 2013, Alison won the adult Glenrose Courage Award. One of her greatest
achievements is an integrative camp she started for children from all walks of life—both with
and without disabilities. Camp Mission Access uses a secret agent theme and activities as
children of all abilities complete mission activities. Since 2010, she has been a member of
iDANCE or CRISPIE Edmonton, performing regularly. She is also an emerging choreographer
and playwright. A musical version of Searching for Normal debuted at the Edmonton
International Fringe Festival in August 2013. Her Memoir Searching for Normal was published
in 2013 and her picture book Don’t Eat Family was released in 2014. Alison is currently writing
her next YA manuscript, Hindsight.
Project Imagination (Grades 1-3). Don’t Eat Family – 40 Minutes – Workshop (30 students
max). To ignite creativity. Alison will read a brief passage from her book then she will explain
the process of working with an illustrator to have the story come to life. Each student will have
an opportunity to draw a new friend for the characters Fluffy and Levi. Sharing of students’
artwork and questions will be explored.
Mission Communication (Grades 3-6). Ice Rose – A Young Adult Spy Novel – 40 Minutes –
(Workshop 30 students max). To inspire youth and engage them via the spy world. A brief
reading from Ice Rose. Participants will have one mission to write a mission communication.
Questions from students and sharing of students’ communications will be explored.
Inspiration (Grades 3-6). Searching for Normal: A Memoir – 40 Minutes – Presentation (100
students maximum). To inspire. Alison will read a brief passage from the memoir and discuss the
process of writing a book and the publishing process along with the journey of being an author
with a disability. Questions from students will be explored.
Presentation area: Edmonton
Targeted grades: Grades 1-3, Grade 4-6
Preferred class size: Classroom under 25 students; up to 100 students depending on presentation
Further information:
Blaine Newton – Red Deer
An awarding winning playwright with productions across Western Canada and an audience of
well under a million people, Blaine Newton’s monologues, short fiction and poetry have been
featured on CBC Radio and published in anthologies of Alberta writers. He is a founding
member of the sketch comedy troupe ACME Theatre Company (“Fine Theatre Since Tuesday”)
and a regular contributor to the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Westword Magazine. He also spent
two seasons as lead writer for Red Deer’s Bull Skit, writing and performing sketch comedy and
performing improvisational comedy, and is still a contributing writer. His most recent
productions include the full-length plays “Oral Fixations” (co-written with author Leslie
Greentree) with Red Deer’s Ignition Theatre and “Bravo,” to be produced by Edmonton’s
Shadow Theatre in January and February of 2016. When not bragging about himself in the third
person, he's a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, a past-president of the Writers' Guild
of Alberta, and presently serves on the board of Alberta Playwrights' Network.
Comedy writing. What makes something funny? How do you construct a joke? Where is the line
between the humorous and the serious? How do you integrate humour within the general rules of
creative writing? Does comedy have to always be the idiot cousin of the writing world?
Working with the group, and using classic examples, students will investigate the source of
funny and how to use comedy, as one of the fundamental tools of the creative process, to
heighten characterization and add vividness to a scene. Previous experience with power tools is
not a requirement.
Presentation area: Red Deer and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 4-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Mike Plested - Calgary
Michell (Mike) Plested is an author, editor, blogger, closet superhero (not to mention sock herder
and cat wrangler), podcaster and publisher living in Calgary. He is the host of several podcasts
including the writing podcast Get Published (2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014 Parsec Finalist).
His debut novel, Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero was shortlisted for the Prix Aurora Award for
Best YA Novel and its sequel, Mik Murdoch: The Power Within was launched at When Words
Collide 2014. Five Rivers Press will release the third novel in the series, Mik Murdoch: Crisis of
Conscience in late 2016.
In 2011 he told a campfire story to his Scout troop about Scouts and zombies. The story was well
received and was released in 2015 as the YA novel, Scouts of the Apocalypse: Zombie Plague.
Evil Alter Ego Publishing will release the next book in that trilogy in 2016.
His other new release in 2015 was a collaborative Steampunk work, Jack Kane & the Statue of
Mike is a regular of the Calgary Young Writers’ Conference as well as book stores around the
Workshop: Creating Believable Characters (Grades 4-12). Students will work on creating
characters that live and breathe and are believable to the reader. Characterization is critical to a
story because the characters determines the direction the story goes. The workshop will comprise
exercises for several character elements including the physical characters; motivation; beliefs;
the emotional/intellectual character; and character voice. At the end of the workshop, students
will have created both protagonists and antagonists and will have written samples of how those
characters present themselves.
Presentation area: Calgary and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 4-6, Junior High, Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students
Further information:
Faye Reineberg Holt – Calgary
A life-long, enthusiastic Albertan, Faye Reineberg Holt loves our heritage, writing, photos,
research and nature. She has authored 12 nonfiction books, a poetry chapbook, articles,
interviews, short stories and (co-authored) a travel Alberta book. To her, our geography and
people’s true stories and heroism offer possibilities for students writing fiction, poetry and
nonfiction. All her books include photographs, and she encourages students to “read” their
characters and stories for insight and writing ideas. Her presentations at schools and libraries
have inspired kindergarten children to seniors.
Her books include: Settling In: Early Homes of Western Canada; Canada’s Rocky Mountains;
Alberta: A History in Photographs; Alberta: 100 Journeys; Prairie Twins: Alberta &
Saskatchewan Photographic Memories 1905- 2005; Awed, Amused & Alarmed, Fairs, Rodeos,
Regattas in Western Canada; Sharing the Good Times: Prairie Women’s Joys & Pleasures;
Homemade Fun: Games and Pastimes of the Early Prairie; Monarchs of the Fields; Threshing:
Early Years of Harvesting; Out of the Flames: Fires & Fire Fighting on the Canadian Prairies.
Faye has been an editor; Mount Royal University writing instructor; writer-in-residence; public
school teacher; speaker for writing, education and history conferences; and Glenbow Museum
education co-ordinator.
Create enthusiasm for writing, reading, research, visual literacy and our heritage! Faye
Reineberg Holt loves a multi-disciplinary approach so that real life—past and present—can
inspire students. Always open to questions and discussion, she modifies programs to meet the
needs and grade-levels of specific students, teachers and schools. Also, she can adapt some
presentations for large groups. Other offerings are readings, workshops and/or class projects for
small and medium sized groups. A former teacher aware of student interests and curriculum,
Faye brings her experience, ideas and writing to schools through programs such as: Fun is More
than Fun (Gr. 1-3, groups under 25 only); Writing and Reading True Stories from Alberta (Gr. 37); Discovering Our Stories and Characters in Photos (Gr. 4-7); From a Child's Point Of View
(Gr. 3-7); Being a Writer: the Process and Life (Gr. 4-12); Not Just a Journal (Gr. 4-12); Fact,
Fiction & Heart (Gr. 7-12); Let’s Talk: Interviews Made Almost Easy (Gr. 7-12); Stereotypes?
Yes, No, Maybe (Gr. 7-12); Stories of Our Own Heroes & Heroines (Gr. 7-12); Whose Story Is
It? (Gr. 7-12); War & Remembrance (Gr. 7-12). Programs are also enhanced with PowerPoint
Presentation area: Calgary and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 1-6; Junior High and Senior High students
Preferred class size: Grades 1-3, Classroom under 25 students; otherwise, classroom up to 30;
auditorium 30-100 students
Further information:
Eileen Schuh – St. Paul
Eileen Schuh is the author of three novels in her ongoing gritty Young Adult BackTracker
Series: The Traz, Fatal Error and Firewalls. The Traz also comes in a school edition. In addition,
she has to her credit two adult science fiction novellas, Schrodinger’s Cat and Dispassionate
Born Eileen Fairbrother on a small farm near Tofield, she now lives with her husband in
Alberta’s northern boreal forest in the St. Paul area. In addition to writing, Eileen enjoys
speaking to youth and adults about the magic of writing and the social and personal issues
addressed in her novels.
Upon invitation, she has presented her BackTracker novels to at-risk youngsters in venues such
as the North Slave Young Offenders Facility, The SideDoor Youth Centre and the St. Paul
Alternate Education Centre. In 2013, the Northern Lights Library System sponsored a 23-stop
author tour of the school libraries and community libraries it serves.
Eileen recently retired from a life of careers that varied from nurse to journalist to editor to
business woman.
As Eileen’s BackTracker Series is geared toward young teens, and her science fiction novels for
those a bit older, her preferred audience would be junior and senior high students. However, she
has given author presentations to all ages and group sizes—from seven youth in a young
offenders’ facility, to students in a gymnasium, to a workshop for an adult writers’ group. She
presents both on writing and on the social issues in my novels.
Past presentations include:
the mystery of inspiration
her personal story of struggle and success
writing workshop: tips, resources, opportunities for youth
developing a sense of justice
making life-altering decisions
the dangers of gangs and drugs
the publishing industry
While speaking, Eileen adjusts her agenda to accommodate audience reaction, using short
briefing notes to keep on track. To enliven the presentation, she often plays one of her book
trailers and gives a short reading appropriate to the topic. Presentations include tailored
opportunities for audiences to engage in discussion and ask questions.
Through sharing her passion for her craft, she hopes to ignite positive changes in those listening.
Presentation area: St. Paul and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Junior High, Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students
Further information:
Amazon Author Page:
Lorna Schultz Nicholson – Edmonton
Lorna Schultz Nicholson has published picture books, middle grade fiction and Young Adult
fiction and non-fiction. Previously, she has been a television co-host and reporter, radio host and
reporter, theatre and murder mystery actor, fitness coordinator and rowing coach. Whew! She’s
glad to just be a writer now! Her books are about kids (and animals), and their friendships and
school and sports and family life and emotions and feelings and… well, the ups and downs of
life. We all have those ups and downs, don’t we? Lorna has presented to schools across
Canada. Her latest book, Fragile Bones, was just nominated for the Red Maple Award and her
Puckster books are Globe and Mail bestsellers. Energetic and enthusiastic, she shares her love of
reading and writing with the children. She has taught writing workshops and is a frequent
presenter at conferences.
Lorna lives in Edmonton with her hubbie, (her three children don’t live at home anymore, boo
hoo), and two dogs, a whiny bichon shih tzu, and a naughty puppy she rescued from Mexico.
Lorna Schultz Nicholson’s presentations are animated, fun and can be tailored to fit the age and
the group. Lorna’s books, although hockey-based, deal with relationship choices, bullying,
teamwork, family dynamics, resolving conflicts, understanding and expressing feelings,
commitment and perseverance. All visits end with a reading and question and answer period.
Kindergarten- Grade 2. Lorna discusses her Puckster characters (they are all Canadian animals),
their conflicts, and work with the students on story comprehension. Using her characters, she
talks about family and friend dynamics and how to resolve conflicts. She also shares from where
she gets her ideas.
Grades 3-8. Lorna talks about her characters in her middle grade fiction and their choices. She
discusses how she goes from idea to finished product and about writing a series. She loves to
encourage students to listen to their teachers about editing.
High school. Lorna talks about the writing process, including editing (teens love this), and the
development of a story. She includes how she goes from idea to finished product, from where
she gets her ideas and different research techniques. This presentation can be for fiction and nonfiction.
Presentation area: Edmonton and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30 students; auditorium up to 100 students
Further information:
Maxine Spence - Didsbury
Maxine Spence has written stories in her head since she could talk, capturing them on paper as
soon as she learned to write and especially after she received a typewriter for her eleventh
Christmas. She believes we are swimming in a soup of ideas and need only use our five senses to
tune in to those ideas and then, most important of all, wonder about them. She tried her hand at
story-telling and soon discovered that she wanted to tell her own stories, the written kind bound
in a book (like Leaf, released in 2011, and the soon-to-be-published Down in the Jungle) as well
as the spoken kind, sharing the stories behind the stories.
Her goal is to uplift, inspire and delight. To that end, she gifts every school she visits with a
poster (magically pulled from her mind and painted in vibrant watercolors by Elsie Archer,
Leaf’s illustrator). The poster depicts that very important moment when a person arrives on earth,
resplendent with the special skill/talent/gift brought to share with the world. She invites students
to wonder what their particular gift might be.
Kindergarten and Grade One: Felt Board Story (maximum 30 students). This felt-board
retelling of Leaf ends with an invitation to wonder what adventures Leaf might have once he
finally lets go of Tree Mother. The 30-minute story-telling session can be lengthened to an hour,
providing students the opportunity to colour, cut out, hole punch, thread and hang a leaf onto
Tree Mother (a branch in a bucket that travels with Maxine). If time permits, the session ends
with a reading of Down in the Jungle.
Grade Two to Six: Idea Generation (60 min. - 30 to 100+ students). A humorous, informative
presentation about where authors get ideas, where Maxine, in particular, get ideas and how she
captures them (including some of the stories-in-progress that has grown from those ideas),
ending with a reading of Leaf. Depending on the size and age of the group and where the
students’ questions take the conversation, Maxine may share her second book.
Grade Five and Six: Writing Workshop (2 hours - max. 30 students). Idea Generation expanded
to include writing exercises. Students begin to ‘lay track’ for a story of their own. Must be at
desks/tables in a classroom/library setting.
Presentation area: Didsbury and area; willing to travel over 100 km
Targeted grades: Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30, but some settings for up to 100 students
Further information:
Lea Storry - Calgary
Storry is really Lea’s last name and it’s a great one for a writer. Her first story, about a shark,
won a prestigious place on her school’s bulletin board in Grade 3.
She has two degrees: one from Acadia University and one in journalism from Ryerson
University. Being a reporter gave her the chance to write about anything and everything and she
has worked coast to coast to coast, most recently at the Calgary Herald.
Today she is a memoir writer. She collects and preserves company histories and personal
memories by interviewing people and shaping their words into stories. She is currently working
on three memoir projects for clients and regularly blogs.
She also writes non-fiction. One of her short stories is being published in The Fright Before
Christmas. The anthology is aimed at middle grades. She indie published a book in 2014 about a
raven who is learning to fly and is working on her fifth book for children.
Lea volunteers at the drop-in centre and Alpha House teaching memoir writing for the non-profit
group TMC. She teaches memoir and creative writing workshops at the Kerby Centre and a
memoir writing course at Chinook Learning Services.
Write your story. Students these days live in a wired world. They’re plugged into computers,
mobile phones and games. They’re constantly in touch with friends through a variety of social
media and always looking for the next greatest thing online. They don’t want to a miss a thing.
But they are missing something: a relationship with the past. Many of us are so focused on the
future and race to check our inboxes, we forget about those flesh and blood people in our lives
who have so much to share.
Lea Storry’s workshop teaches students how to collect their own stories as well as stories from
grandparents, parents and others. The format would be in both memoir (short stories) and legacy
letter (letters to loved ones) style.
Grades 4-12 students would be instructed in finding stories, writing and publishing. Expect
thought-provoking questions, writing exercises and exploring their own personal stories. The
size of the group would be under 30 students to foster sharing.
All they need are a pen and paper -- or a laptop/iPad, if they prefer.
The workshop gives students a voice into the future and a connection to the past.
Presentation area: Calgary and area; willing to travel more than 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30
Further information:
Cora Taylor – Edmonton
Since her first book, Julie, was published in 1985, Cora Taylor has done thousands of school
presentations in Canada, the US, and Australia. Her picture book Out on the Prairie is suitable
for Kindergarten to Grade two. She has written eight chapter books: Ghost Voyages, Ghost
Voyages II: The Mathew, Ghost Voyages III: Endeavour and Resolution and Ghost Voyages IV:
Champlain and Cartier, and Angelique: The Buffalo Hunt, Angelique 2: The Long Way Home,
Angelique 3: Autumn Alone and Angelique 4: Angel in the Snow for the Canadian Girl series,
which cover the life of a Metis girl in the late 1800s. Her other books include The Doll, Julie’s
Secret, Summer of the Mad Monk (a study of life in Alberta during the Great Depression), The
Deadly Dance, On Wings of a Dragon and On Wings of Evil (fantasy novels suitable for high
school study) and Victoria Callihoo: An Amazing Life (a biography of a Metis woman whose life
went from Buffalo Hunts to modern Alberta). She has also written The Spy Who Wasn’t There
series suitable for junior high students.
Cora Taylor’s books can be used with the Alberta school curriculum especially with the Social
Studies program.
Kindergarten-Grade 3. Cora reads her rhyming picture book Out on the Prairie with the
students and discusses the various animals and birds. She shows students how they too can write
simple verses.
Grades 4-6. Cora uses the Ghost Voyages series and explains how the series developed from a
time travel story she was commissioned to write about a Canadian stamp. She explains how the
character developed and how research is done when writing about historical material. She tells
students how to write time travel stories and include their own experiences, while explaining
how the plot is contained in the story. She explains about re-writing and how to polish and make
their writing better.
Junior high. Cora talks about time travel using her teen novel, The Deadly Dance, which is set
in Crete, partially in Minoan times. She goes more deeply into the structuring and researching of
a novel. How did the idea for this book come? Where did the characters come from? What type
of research is needed? She also explains various writing and re-writing techniques to help them
in their own writing.
Senior high. With the older students Cora uses her fantasy novel, On Wings of a Dragon, going
into the more sophisticated levels of plot, how characters grow and develop and once again
discusses the research necessary for even a fantasy novel. With this group she also talks about
beginnings and re-writing.
Targeted grades: Kindergarten to Grade 6, Junior High, Senior High
Class size: Classroom up to 30
TRAVEL: Edmonton and area; willing to travel more than 100 km
Further information:
Cassy Welburn - Calgary
Cassy Welburn is a teacher, poet and storyteller with a theatre background, who has been
performing for over 20 years. She has an M.Ed in early childhood and English language and has
taught at Calgary Young People’s Theatre and Vancouver Academy of Speech Arts, as well as
public schools. Traditional folktales from around the world, often learned from her immigrant
students, are her favourites. She also enjoys telling classics from literature such as Edgar Allen
Poe, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes or Hans Christian Andersen, adapted for the oral tradition.
She was the 2013 Storyteller on Tour for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Ontario
schools. Cassy is a frequent writer/storyteller in residence in schools, festivals, museums, and
conferences. Her work has appeared on CBC Radio and in literary journals, anthologies and on
CD’s such as TALES On The Wind, Call Your Neighbours In and her own—CASSIOPEIA:
TALES From the Night Tree. She has been doing readings from her newest book of poetry and
story, Changelings (Frontenac House) the fall of 2015. She is a member of TALES, Storytellers
of Canada and Writers’ Union.
Cassy is available as a storyteller and/or writer, presenting classic fairy tales, folktales,
mythology and literature to a variety of ages. She has taught elementary, secondary and college
levels, where she developed skills in bringing stories to life in the oral tradition, connecting
curriculum subjects such as Sky Science, World Cultures, Climate, Forests or Stories from
History. She uses song, poetry and movement to invite children to participate and enrich
language development. She also uses American Sign Language. She likes to blend poetry and
storytelling in performances such as The 1001 Nights, or share her own poetry and stories as
theatrical performances. Cassy is also available to present workshops on the art of storytelling
and its connection to the creative writing process and literacy. Her work has resulted in unique
student performances. She has been a storyteller or writer in residence for schools and
universities around Canada. Her poetry, stories and performances are available on CD’s, literary
anthologies and from her own book, Changelings, (with CD), from 2015.
Presentation area: Calgary and area; may be willing to drive more than 100 km
Targeted grades: Grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High
Preferred class size: Classroom up to 30
Further information: