Chan, Marty (Edmonton AB)

Writers Union Member. A professional liar since 1988, Marty writes books for kids and plays for adults. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Marty is a keynote speaker, television screenwriter, radio dramatist, and raconteur.

For the 2022 – 23 school year, Marty is only doing virtual presentations. He charges $200 plus HST for a 45-minute session, and has a discounted rate of $500 plus HST for three sessions. He also offers 60-minute writing workshops for $300 plus HST. Please note that you can book Marty’s multiple sessions on different days. They do not all have to be on the same day.

The son of immigrants, Marty grew up in a French-Canadian town where he was the only Chinese kid at school. Bullied and friendless, he found sanctuary in the school library where a teacher-librarian inspired this reluctant reader to fall in love with books. Using his sense of humour, Marty turned bullies into buddies and transformed his passion for literacy into a lifelong career as a published author and playwright.

A versatile presenter with a theatre and television background, Marty has mastered the art of virtual sessions. He tailors his author visits according to grade levels, creating a unique experience for each group. Students’ faces will light up when they see Marty turn a pen into a lightsaber, and they’ll howl with laughter as he instantly transforms into various emoji characters. Most important of all, the kids will be curious about the world of writing by the end of Marty’s dynamic virtual sessions.

Venues: Marty can present on Zoom, Google Meet, MS Teams, or YouTube Live. He can accommodate any number of logins/participants, as long as they fit within his suggested grade breakdown.

JK to 2: With a bit of magic and improv, Marty brings to life classic Chinese folktales. The kids will become characters in his interactive telling of the origin of the rainbow or they’ll play a guessing game about the different animals featured on the Chinese calendar. Marty will also talk about the real-life cats that inspired his picture book, True Story.

Grades 3 – 4: With a dose of humour and pop culture allusions, Marty tells the real-life childhood experiences that inspired The Mystery of the Frozen Brains. He’ll share a tip or two about writing, focussing on how the five senses can make anything real, even a pen lightsaber.

Grades 5 – 6: Keep the lights on for this thrilling talk about Marty’s scary series, Keepers of the Vault, which was inspired by his haunted elementary school. This session is sure to make a few kids jump out of their seats.

Grades 7 and up: Marty shares the creepy origin of his bestselling thriller Haunted Hospital, and he’ll talk about the importance of knowing your audience. Using his hit play, The Bone House, he gets even the most jaded student excited about the power of writing. 

Writing workshops: Want to go behind the scenes? Marty shares tips on writing thrillers, creating conflict, and using picture prompts. His 60-minute workshops are interactive and break down writing concepts to simple and easy-to-apply tips that can inspire even the most reluctant writer.

Teachers-librarians have this to say about Marty’s sessions:

You were amazing!  We’ve had rave reviews all round.  A grade 7 student who is very tough to engage has told us that he’s getting all your books. So great to see a student make a connection like that.” – Sarah Mayer, St. Isidore Online School

Thank you so much for today!! So many teachers came to tell me how great you were and how much their class enjoyed it. They all said it’s so hard to keep them engaged, especially online and that you need to teach us how to turn into aliens stuff for remote learning.  My friend said that her kids were taking out their pens during the last session to see if they’d turn into light sabers.” – Kim Kondo, Brock Public School

Presentation needs: For multi-class sessions, teachers should keep their mics muted and be prepared to relay student responses via chat. Marty is happy to do a connection test beforehand to troubleshoot any technical difficulties.

Contact Marty for a visit:

    Your Writing Workshop Cheat Sheet

    Many of our authors offer a variety of writing workshops. Here’s a recent sampling:

    RJ Anderson: Finding Your Character’s Voice: In this hands-on fiction writing workshop for Grades 4-8, students play a fun guessing game using familiar characters from books and movies, then write their own examples. Other topics available on request.

    Karen Bass: Dynamic Description: An interactive romp that encourages students to improve their storytelling. Uses photographs to spark creativity and highlight the different ways vivid description (metaphors, similes, strong verbs) can enhance a story. Karen also offers workshops on character, plot & wrenching guts.

    Shelly Becker: Writing in Rhyme: This workshop will cover the elements of rhythm and rhyme, a study of bad rhyme versus good rhyme, hands-on practice, instruction, and encouragement. Other Topics Available: Custom workshops on any aspect of writing or the path to publication and inspiration.

    Rebecca Bender: Character Creation: This workshop will launch students into picture book writing. Students will be invited to draw their own character and answer questions about this character that will lead to the construction of their story plot. Suitable for grades 1 – 8

    Kate Blair: Writing Science Fiction, Using Science Fact In this one-hour class, YA sci-fi writer Kate Blair uses recent headlines about scientific discoveries, developments and experimental theories on how the universe works to help students imagine stories set in the future, on other worlds, or in alternate realities.

    Heather Camlot: Look No Further: A simple moment or memory can kickstart the writing process. Using Clutch as an example, Heather Camlot helps students choose a moment in their own lives or family history and guides them as they turn that moment into a work of fiction. Other Topics Available.lindsey Lindsey Carmichael

    Lindsey Carmichael: Writing Down the “Feels” of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry – the stories with staying power are the ones that make us feel. Students will learn to harness the emotional resonance of language, thereby manipulating their reader’s response. Covers word choice, figures of speech, and characterization techniques. (Other Topics Available)

    Natasha Deen: Now, That’s Funny! Often, we believe our embarrassing moments should be buried, but those experiences are great fodder for funny stories. Let’s take the sting out of our blush-worthy moments, learn how to put the “ha!” in our happy endings, and strengthen our reader-connection skills. (Other topics available.)

    Philippa Dowding: Who is this character really? Character development–children complete mad libs and worksheet prompts about unusual characters, people in famous paintings and intriguing photographs. By the end of the session, children understand that there is more to describing a character than simply mentioning the colour of their eyes or hair. (Other Topics Available.)

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

    Melanie Florence: Traditional Storytelling and Folktales: A high-energy workshop. Using fun examples we’ll talk explore why writers write, where they get their ideas and maybe even brainstorm a few of our own. I’ll talk about why I write the books I write, including my grandfather’s (a residential school survivor) story and read from Stolen Words.
    Alma FullertonAlma Fullerton: Esteem building-Art/poetry workshop: Working in a school I understand how mean children can be to each other. This is an interactive workshop done with one or two classes where the students work with me to create a work of art and poetry using compliments.

    Kathy Kacer: Where do I Come From? – Finding and writing personal family stories: Nobody can tell your own story as well as you can. We will focus on choosing family members to interview and developing stories about the history and background of each student; interviewing, listening, and turning that information into courageous stories.

    Adrienne Kress: World Building: A fun and educational writing workshop on World Building (ages 8 – 18). Using free-writing, archetypes, the five senses, working independently and in groups, kids deepen their stories’ worlds. Adrienne has taught this popular workshop for Sophie’s Studio (TPL) and on tour for TD Book Week. (Other Topics Available)

    Karen Krossing: Stories Inspired by Real-Life: Explore how moments such as an early memory as a child, a conversation overheard on the bus, or your family history can spark fictional or memoir writing. Create scenes, learn creative writing techniques, and get constructive feedback on your writing. (Other topics available)Sharon McKay

    Sharon McKay: The First Page: A class-length, writing exercise for non-writers and reluctant readers in middle school. (Also appropriate for grades 8 &9.) The workshop focuses on the development of a single character with the outcome of a one-page day-in-the-life. It is a simple, empowering, exercise where everyone succeeds (and usually ends up laughing.)

    Sylvia McNicoll: Making Mistakes Count in Story: From the author of the Great Mistake Mysteries a workshop that demonstrates how to develop an error into plot with conflict and resolution. Students choose a mistake from Sylvia’s Xbox and brainstorm how to evolve and resolve it and then write the story. Many other workshops available

    Robert Priest: Song Lyric Writing Strategies: for developing new song lyrics or for writing lyrics to existing melodies. Robert talks about writing his #1 hit, Song Instead of a Kiss, and other aspects of the music business. Also: How to write a fantasy series. Poetic animation — how to write a fantasy poem.

    Jeyn Roberts: Character Perspectives: Writers create characters with different viewpoints and ideas. They come from separate cultures and upbringings. In this course, we will focus on describing things through multiple points of view. What is beautiful to one might be ugly to another. (Other topics available.)

    Richard Scarsbrook: Creative Writing Kick-Start: Eliminate “Writer’s Block”! Transform your experiences and ideas into great stories, using fun, real-time writing prompts developed by Richard Scarsbrook for use in his writing courses at Humber and George Brown Colleges. Other topics available: The Nuts and Bolts of Fiction Writing, Five “Simple” Steps to Publication

    Richard Scrimger and Ted Staunton: Story Team (based on their collaboration on the ‘7’ series): A workshop series where students write stories with partners. Highly structured, Story Team features lots of one-on-one with Ted and Richard, and their trademark humour. Can’t afford 3 visits? A one-day version is also available. (Both Ted and Richard also lead solo workshops on other topics.)

    Marsha Skrypuch: Self-Editing: You’ve written your first draft of a story, essay or article, but what’s next? Marsha demonstrates a fun and effective method for revising and polishing that can be applied to any kind of writing. Suitable for grade 4 to adult. Many more writing workshops available.

    Ted Staunton and Richard Scrimger: Story Team (based on their collaboration on the ‘7’ series): A workshop series where students write stories with partners. Highly structured, Story Team features lots of one-on-one with Ted and Richard, and their trademark humour. Can’t afford 3 visits? A one day version is also available. (Both Ted and Richard also lead solo workshops on other topics.)

    J Torres: Comic Book Biography: They say, “write what you know”, and what better way to chronicle one’s daily life than in a comic book? This workshop teaches students how to write their story as comics just like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Raina Telgemeier do. J. Torres did it and you can too!

    Kari-Lynn Winters: Creating with STEAM: 21st Century innovations interweave creativity and inquiry with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). With examples from my books, magazine articles, and children’s plays, using a creative, inquiry-based approach, I will pair STEAM innovation with literacy. Designed for elementary students, this workshop will encourage and explore various genres.

    Frieda Wishinsky: Telling Stories Your Way: All of us have stories. Many of us enjoy sharing them with family and friends. This workshop by international award winning author Frieda Wishinsky will guide students in the varied, creative and fun ways students can use their stories and unique “voice” in shaping their writing. (Other Topics Available)

    Danielle Younge-Ullman: Turning Real Life into Fiction: Governor General Award and White Pine nominee, Danielle Younge-Ullman, uses her novel, Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined, as a jumping-off point for a discussion of how to mine real life experiences and then translate them into compelling fiction. (Other subjects also available.)

    Out of province authors who visit Ontario regularly

    Don Aker: Inside Story: Writing Fictional Narratives: In this dynamic workshop, Don Aker takes students through the process he uses when writing both short stories and novels. Focusing on the most important narrative element, Don helps students craft a main character and, through organic analysis of that character’s backstory, “discover” the conflict that will compel him/her to action. Other workshop topics available

    Marty Chan: A Cheat Code for Conflict: Kids’ author and playwright Marty Chan shares his sure-fire formula for creating conflict. Using personal anecdotes and a writing game, Marty reveals how to turn boring stories into exciting ones. With his easy-to-apply “cheat code,” teachers can help even their most reluctant students write meaty middles. (Other topics available.)

    Charis Cotter: Walking into Your Story: Based on her novel, The Painting, Cotter uses imagination games and visualization to demonstrate the creative process of writing a story. Students create the details of an imaginary world, create a character and begin to develop their story’s plot. Also available: How to Write a Ghost Story.

    J.M. Kelly: Sensory Details: In this workshop J. M. Kelly (AKA Joelle Anthony) takes a hands-on approach to the five senses. Using an orange, students will learn how to incorporate sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell into their writing to give it flavour and depth. (Other workshops available.)

    David A. Poulsen: Making the Lie Believable: Useful, easy-to-understand strategies students can use in creating their own stories. David helps young writers create real, believable stories that include all the elements of good story writing while focusing on character and setting. David loves that the students often “head off in directions I hadn’t even considered.”

    Gail Sidonie Sobat: Find a Voice: Discover the way your character talks and thinks in print and in drama exercises. Focus on point of view as narrator, or even more fun: a cheeky, unreliable narrator. Try your luck at speaking/writing in dialect. In exploring your character’s/narrator’s voice, you may just find your own!