West Lewis, Amanda (Perth, ON)

Member of The Writer’s Union of Canada; Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI); Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators & Performers (Canscaip); Access Copyright; MASC Artist/Instructor

AMANDA WEST LEWIS is a writer, theatre creator, calligrapher and experienced teaching artist who is passionately interested in exploring the world from the perspective of young people. Her most recent book These Are Not the Words, is a semi-autobiographical novel that uses prose, poetry, jazz and Shakespeare to confront addiction and mental health issues in the lower East side of Manhattan, 1963. Previous books include award nominated September 17 (about the City of Benares disaster, 1940) and The Pact (based on the true-life story of a young boy in Nazi Germany). Amanda has published eight books for young readers and was the Founder and Artistic Director of the Ottawa Children’s Theatre. She weaves her backgrounds in theatre and calligraphy to teach and present to students of all ages.

Author Readings/Presentations

“Dealing with War: Youth in Times of Conflict” (Grades 5 – 12/sec V).

In this presentation, we will look at real-life events and people that inspired the novels September 17, The Pact, and Focus. Click. Wind. We’ll explore the stories of young people in England, Germany, the United States and Canada who had to face the challenges of World War 2 and the Vietnam War. Our themes will focus on propaganda, indoctrination, racism, survival and choice.

Readings from September 17: A Novel, The Pact, and Focus. Click. Wind. will be followed by a Q & A.

Equipment And Other Requirements: A projector compatible with a computer for a memory stick.

“Jazz and The Tempest” (Grades 5 – 12/sec V)

This presentation will show how different writing genres can be used to explore difficult topics. Working with the novel These Are Not the Words –– a semi-autobiographical novel in poetry and prose –– we’ll look at how the writing used sound and rhythm as a setting for themes of addiction and mental health. We’ll also discuss the role of memory, fact, and fiction in shaping an autobiographical novel.

Readings from These Are Not the Words will be followed by a Q & A.

Equipment And Other Requirements: A projector compatible a computer for a memory stick.

Maximum 300 students

One session: 50 minutes (incl. Q & A) $425 + HST
Two-50 minute sessions $600 + HST
Three-50 minute sessions $700 + HST

WORKSHOPS:  Maximum 30 students

WRITING FROM MEMORY: A poetry writing workshop (Grades 1 – 12/sec V)

Memories are made of small moments. Working with memory moments, we can discover new ideas to form a base for creating stories.

In this hands-on, collaborative workshop, we’ll start with the writing prompt: “What is your earliest memory?” Together, we’ll create a series of group poems that are both specific and personal. We’ll also look at examples of how this same memory prompt inspired the verse novel “These Are Not the Words.”

The workshop explores ways that our memories and dreams can spark ideas and springboard us into larger writing projects.

One Hour Session $300 + HST 

One 2-hour session or Two 1-hour sessions $525 + HST

Two 2-hour sessions $650 + HST 

WHO’S IN THE PICTURE? (Grades 5 – 12/sec V)

A picture can tell you a lot about a person. But it’s the writer who discovers who that person is and how they fit into a story. This workshop will use photographs and pictures to get participants creating characters and inventing unique and vibrant stories. You’ll dig deeper with some role-play and dialogue writing. But beware – characters often take on lives of their own and drag you off on unexpected adventures!

One Hour Session $300 + HST 

One 2-hour session or Two 1-hour sessions $525 + HST  

Two 2-hour sessions $650 + HST 

WHAT’S BEYOND? : Where Writing and Theatre Intersect (Grades 5 – 12/sec V)

We can learn a lot about a character by what they don’t say. Conveying the space between words –– the pauses in life –– is an essential skill for any writer. Drawing on improvisation and drama games, this writing workshop will explore character motivation, points of view and dialogue as we discover the hidden meaning beyond the words.

One Hour Session $300 + HST 

One 2-hour session or Two 1-hour sessions $525 + HST

Two 2-hour sessions $650 + HST 

ILLUMINATED LETTERS: Where Writing and Art Intersect (Grades 5 – 12/sec V)

The workshop starts by writing simple poems based on participants’ names. Students are then shown how to draw Versal letters in the style of 15th Century Books of Hours. These illuminated letters will be used to create a uniquely decorated poem. The workshop helps to develop a love and passion for letters, combining writing skills with artwork.   

Workshop Equipment: Students require paper and pencil. Amanda will bring markers, coloured pencils, additional paper and handouts.

One 2-hour session $450 + HST  

Two 2-hour sessions $650 + HST 

Contact Amanda to book a visit:

    Matas, Carol (Winnipeg, MB,)

    Carol Matas, Winnipeg, MB, member, Writers’ Union of Canada, English. Grades K- 12.

    One hour in person $350 plus GST, $600.00 plus GST for 2 sessions, plus travel. One hour virtual visit, $200.00 plus GST.

    Carol is the internationally best selling author of over 45 books for young people, which have received over 100 awards and honours and been translated into 16 languages.  

    Photo: Chantal Picton Holowka.

    Carol Matas will have a new Holocaust novel, A Struggle For Hope, out this fall with Scholastic Canada. It tells the story of Ruth, a Holocaust survivor who has made the dangerous trip to Palestine after the war. She and other survivors tell their stories as a way of making sense of the world and Ruth discovers how powerful stories can be – for good and for ill. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    Carol has written historical, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary novels. She is about to have her first picture book published. She has written early readers, middle grade novels and young adult novels and a YA crossover book. She often gets emails from young people  telling her that they didn’t like to read until they discovered her books, and she is thrilled to cultivate new readers. Many of  Carol’s  presentations are about her Holocaust novels. In these sessions she delves into the roots of antisemitism and racism which informed Hitler’s worldview. She loves to talk about “big questions” using books like Cloning Miranda, when she encourages discussions about what it means to be a human being.

    Who’s Looking for science based presentations.

    There is no size limit as long as a microphone is provided for in person visits, even in small venues – although the perfect venue is a library.

    Carol does virtual visits all over North America, most recently Atlanta, Georgia to present “The War Within,” a Civil War novel.

    Writers’ Union; Canscaip; SCBWI. Also presents to adults.

    Carol’s books have garnered over 100 awards and honours, including 2 nominations for the Governor General’s Award; the Silver Birch Award; a New York Times Notable book; a Sydney Taylor Award; a National Jewish Book Award finalist; an ALA Best Book of the Year for YA; a Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Young People; CCBC Best Book for Kids and Teens; New York Public Library, book for the Teen Age; and the Geoffrey Bilson Award. They have also been translated into 16 languages and many have been best sellers. Daniel’s Story has sold over 1 million copies in the United States and Canada. 

    Contact Carol to book a visit

      Sher, Emil (Toronto, ON)

      Emil Sher - author photo

      Writers’ Union Member. Emil’s rates are (add HST) $350 for one session, $500 for two in the same half-day, $700 for three and $900 for four (max. 4 per day, min 2 per half-day if outside GTA). A limited number of subsidies are available for Unpacking the Holocaust: A Playwright’s Journey.

      Emil’s author visits have taken him across Ontario and to Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon, and he has been warmly received by teachers and students alike.

      “Emil takes the students on an emotional, real and engaging journey through captivating visuals and heartfelt storytelling. Amazing!” (Clayton Park Junior High, Halifax)

      “Mr Sher – I think you should write a book about yourself. I think you should do more good work of teaching ‘cause it was amazing! Don’t change anything!” (Grey Mountain Primary School, Whitehorse)

      Emil writes for children of all ages, from babies to teens. His debut young adult novel, Young Man with Camera, was a Governor General’s Award finalist and described as “one of the few books for this generation that will stick with them into adulthood.” He has written acclaimed board books and picture books, and his adaptation of Hana’s Suitcase, the beloved book by Karen Levine, was heralded as “an exceptional means to teach young children about the Holocaust.”

      Young Man with Camera: Behind the Scenes (Grade 5 and up)
      Emil takes students behind the scenes of a novel punctuated with striking photographs. Students are given a glimpse of the writing process — how much of writing is rewriting — and then explore the book’s themes. In small groups they look at a photograph and are asked to make up a story about what might have happened beyond the frame, to consider a fundamental question about how we interpret the world: for all that we see, what goes unseen and unsai

      Unpacking the Holocaust: A Playwright’s Journey (Grade 5 and up)
      What are the challenges, the choices, the considerations when the Holocaust is to be both honoured and dramatized on stage? How can sets, costumes, masks, slides and silence give voice to an unspeakable tragedy? Emil uses projections and video footage from past productions of Hana’s Suitcase to explore the choices he made in taking a book and retelling it on stage.

      Away We Go: Storytelling with Sticky Notes (Grade 1 – 3) This picture book about a young child’s fears about going to sleepover camp for the first time is told entirely through sticky notes. Emil inflates a balloon and shares his board books and picture books to illustrate the basics of storytelling. This leads to a hands-on workshop where students use illustrator Qin Leng’s rough sketches to write and illustrate their own version of Away.

      Emil’s presentations are approximately one hour. He has other presentations he can share upon request and is happy to create workshops for writers’ craft classes and to modify his talks to meet the curriculum needs of teachers.

      Equipment requirements: a screen and projector he can connect to his MacBook, and a table for materials.

      Contact Emil for a visit:

        Singh, Rina (Toronto, ON)

        Rina Singh

        SCBWI and CANSCAIP Member. Kirkus & Publisher’s Weekly Starred Reviews 2018. Picture Books. Diverse Books. Non-Fiction.  Writing Workshops. Grade 3 and up. Rina’s rate is $300 for the first session, and an additional $150 for the second session. No travel costs within Toronto. She does not charge HST.

        Virtual visits are preferred. $250.

        Rina Singh is an award-winning Children’s Author and Spoken Word coach. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Concordia University, Montreal, and a teaching degree from McGill University. She has written many critically acclaimed books for children. As a writer, she is drawn to real life stories about social justice and the environment.

        Grandmother School, (Orca Books) which won the BC & Yukon Prize for literature affirms the life-changing power of education. A Garden of Grenades, (Greystone Books) told in free verse, reimagines our troubled world through the lens of love and compassion. 111 Trees, (Kids Can Press) which won the Social Justice literature award and was nominated for the Yellow Cedar award celebrates the unfailing greatness of human spirit and inspires us to become eco-feminists.

        Her books have been translated in many languages and have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist.

        Rina has done readings and workshops in schools, libraries, and literary festivals across Canada, including TD Children’s Book Week in 2012 and 2018. In 2014, she also presented at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and Reading for the Love of it in Toronto (2015). She is an Ontario Certified Teacher and has taught visual arts, drama, and creative writing in Toronto for 25 years. She is also a tdsbCREATES mentor artist for Spoken Word.

        BOOK TALK: Where do Stories Come From?
        In this 1-hour visual presentation, Rina looks back over her own life and career, and using examples of the books she has written, she asks the audience to think about where stories and ideas come from. She shows how a book comes together, from first idea to first draft and through the re-writing process. The last twenty minutes of the presentation are interactive. This presentation will appeal even to the most reluctant readers.

        Writing Workshops (75 minutes)

        Option #1
        In this fast-paced workshop, participants will explore how they can use their own experiences and curiosity and create compelling stories and poems using lyrical language. The workshop will end with student readings.
        Grade 3-6 Preferred group size 30 students (for optimal interaction with students)

        Rina also has a book on Diwali and rich cultural presentation.

        Equipment Required

        Rina is comfortable presenting in a classroom, library, or auditorium. She requires a glass of water, a table to display books, a screen, laptop and LCD projector for Power Point. She requests that a librarian, teacher, or other school representative be present throughout the presentation.

        Contact Rina to book a visit:

          Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk (Brantford ON)

          Writers Union Member. Fiction & NF, 2X Silver Birch winner, 2x Red Cedar Winner, Yellow Cedar Winner. Multi awards. All ages. $400 plus HST for 1 session, $650 for 2, $900 for 3 and $1100 for 4, + travel (.68 cents per kilometer, round-trip for SW ON).

          Virtual Visits: $300 plus HST, for one session, 20-60 minutes, $200 for each additional session on the same day.

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          Camlot, Heather (Toronto, ON)

          Writers’ Union Member. Fiction and nonfiction writer.

          Heather’s rates are $300 for one session, $550 for two, $800 for three. For virtual presentations: $300 for one session, $500 for two. HST applies to all sessions. No travel costs within Toronto or if I am in your city (I travel to Montreal several times a year). Able to present in English and French.

          Heather is an award-winning children’s author, journalist, editor and translator. Her two middle-grade novels, CLUTCH and THE OTHER SIDE, received Skipping Stones Honor Awards and nominations for Forest of Reading, among other honors. CLUTCH was also named a 2017 Best Book from Kirkus Reviews.

          Heather is also an accomplished nonfiction writer. SECRET SCHOOLS and THE PRISONER AND THE WRITER were named Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections and What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? True Stories of Imagination and Determination received a Skipping Stones Honor Award. Her next nonfiction book, Becoming Bionic and Other Ways Science is Making Us Super,

          In her presentations, Heather aims to entertain and educate, leaving the audience interested in writing fiction and nonfiction as well as looking into their own history for inspiration.

          PRESENTATIONS (60 minutes, grades 3+)

          Heather engages students with a fun and interactive presentation, customized to audience and interest.

          • Generally speaking: Heather shares the inspiration and the challenges of writing works that delve into history and social justice. She also discusses the basic elements of writing fiction and/or nonfiction, how to give stories life through research and why bringing the past to the present is so important. Q&A session and reading are included.
          • What does it mean to be a superhero?: This STEM/STEAM-related presentation draws on BECOMING BIONIC. We’ll delve get into how science is turning us into superbeings – powering up our bodies with what we may not have been born with and what we may never have thought we’d need. We’ll discuss what those powers look like in the real world, based on the sections of Becoming Bionic. We’ll create our own superhero identities and answer the ultimate question: Cape or no cape.
          • Stand up and speak out: This social-justice-related presentation, based on THE PRISONER AND THE WRITER, begins with a quote from Captain Alfred Dreyfus: “My only crime is to have been born a Jew.” How would students fill in the last word of Captain Dreyfus’s quote to reflect their lives or world around them? We’ll discuss the meaning of social justice, play a game of news fact vs news fiction, and discuss ways to stand up and speak out.

          Maximum presentation size: 100 for virtual presentations; 60 for in-person reading/Q&A. Teacher and/or librarian must be present.

          WORKSHOPS (60 minutes, grades 3+)

          • Look no further: A simple moment can kickstart the writing process. Students choose a moment in their own lives or family history and turn into a work of fiction or nonfiction. Based on CLUTCH and THE OTHER SIDE.
          • What’s news?: Bias in the media is not difficult to spot. This session will delve into media literacy and how to determine if what you’re reading is fact…or fiction. I’ll test students’ knowledge of news fact vs news fiction through a fun game and we’ll create a reference guide to better judge whether what they are reading, seeing, hearing is objective, biased or completely fake. Based on THE PRISONER AND THE WRITER.
          • A single object: A single object can inspire an entire world. Students will begin with an “item of interest” and learn how to add different layers — setting, storyline, character, big reveal — to build a short story. Based on THE OTHER SIDE.
          • Just the facts: How do you write a nonfiction book that makes tough subjects compelling and easy to understand all the while ensuring it stick to the truth? Based on her nonfiction books.
          • Get activ-ist!: “What cause would you defend…and how would you defend it?” We’ll discuss various forms of activism and what is important to students right now. We’ll come up with methods to get messages across and students will put ideas into action by creating a poster for their cause. Based on THE PRISONER AND THE WRITER and I CAN’T DO WHAT?
          • Customized topic: Heather is happy to tailor workshops to your needs and audience, including educators and the general public. Topics can include social injustice, advocacy, World War II, the Holocaust, antisemitism, soccer, baseball, media literacy, arts and entertainment, etc.

          Maximum workshop size: 30 (flexible).
          Equipment required: Flip chart and markers, screen and projector, microphone and podium (for large rooms), paper and pencils (for workshops). Teacher and/or librarian must be present.

          Heather offers the services of professional editing, copyediting, proofreading and
          translating. She also provides manuscript evaluations – fiction and nonfiction.

          Contact Heather to book a visit:

            Aihoshi, Susan (Toronto, ON)

            Writers’ Union of Canada member. Author of Torn Apart: The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi, about the uprooting and incarceration of Japanese Canadians in WWII. Writer-in-residence at Vancouver’s Historic Joy Kogawa House (Fall 2017).  150-km distance from Toronto. $175.00 per session (no HST). Travel costs by public transit apply outside Toronto.
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