McCann, James (Richmond, BC)

Writers Union Member. CWILL BC Member. Fiction, Nominated for a Cybils award, CCBC Best Books. Grades 4-12 and adults. $250 for one session, $450 for two, $675 for three, $900 for a full day (four sessions). Plus a travel fee of $0.50/km if outside Toronto. Virtual visit fees range from $100 – $200.

Things you might find interesting about James McCann: he has written book reviews for the Canadian Children’s Book News, has taught countless workshops for schools, school divisions, libraries, and teachers’ associations, and from 2006 – 2009 he was the president of CWILL BC.Things you’re more likely to find interesting: Most of his time is spent writing, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or practising the ukulele. He owns a 3D printer and uses it to build sets of cities to inspire stories.

James McCann is friendly and immediately likeable. He has no difficulty collaborating with educators and other authors, he clearly enjoys meeting new people, and he interacts exceptionally well with youth. Above all, his writing workshops are engaging, thoughtfully organized, and hands-on. His presentations are energetic, professional, well-prepared, and tremendously engaging. He is able to convey his passion for reading and writing. He clearly motivates people in all aspects of literacy and, essentially, makes literacy ‘cool’.

Map Making Your Imagination

  • Grades 4-8
  • 60 minutes with a 30 minute author introduction.

This workshop takes students through the story creation process by starting with a map setting and seeing what ideas emerge. This is how I began writing, back when I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons and running my own campaigns.

Your students will learn what it’s like to become an author through my personal story as a reluctant reader to author. Discuss characters and their relationship to the world in which they live. How best to start a story, and what they can do to keep that story going.

At the end of this workshop your students will have a project started they can continue throughout the school year.

Writing Your Story Dungeons and Dragons-style

  • Grades 8-12
  • 60 minutes with a 30 minute author introduction.

Whether your students write contemporary tales or fantasy epics, the popular game of Dungeons and Dragons can make you a better writer. See how modern writers have been influenced through creating characters, maps, and collaborative storytelling to work through tough plot points!

At the end of this workshop, your students will have the tools to say goodbye to writer’s block forever and get their novel written and polished. And yes, they will want to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons!

Contact James to book a visit:

    van Staalduinen, Brent (Hamilton, ON)

    van Staalduinen

    Located in Hamilton, Ontario, Brent is a novelist and award-winning story writer, and a former army medic, radio DJ, tree planter, and high school English teacher. A member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, he’s excited about writing workshops and readings in English for grades 7-12, as well as adults and book clubs.

    Virtual rates:

    • Single session of up to 60 mins: $150.

    In-person rates:

    • Single session, up to 60mins: $250.
    • Two sessions, $500. Full day (max four sessions), $900.
    • No mileage required if distance is less than 25km from downtown Hamilton (L8P 1A1). For SW and Eastern Ontario, mileage will be calculated at the CRA rate of $0.59/km, return. For spots beyond, a travel fee will be determined based on most economical transport and accommodation needs.

    Brent is a dynamic public speaker and highly experienced educator, and easily accommodates for the different needs of his audiences. He offers two types of visits: workshops and/or readings and Q&As. For all sessions, subject matter will be tailored to the needs of the hosting organization and local curriculum requirements (experience with Ontario/IB/MYP/Pennsylvania curricula).

    A sampling of topics Brent has covered (not exhaustive — have an idea or theme you’d like to explore? Just ask!):

    • Novel writing
    • The elements of short fiction
    • Creative nonfiction
    • Memoir
    • Travel writing
    • Teaching creative writing
    • Character
    • Story structure
    • Conflict and tension
    • Submitting work to literary journals and magazines
    • Editing and proofreading
    • Setting up a writing workshop
    • Publishing with small presses
    • Contests and “making a mark”
    • Finding and landing the right literary agent
    • Self-publication and the digital marketplace
    • Social media and self-promotion

    …and more!

    For virtual visits, Brent prefers Zoom. For in-person visits, Brent requires a computer, projector, and screen. If the room is larger than a standard classroom, he’ll need a microphone, preferably wearable.

    van Staalduinen is pronounced: van-Stal-die-nen.

    Contact Brent to book a visit:

      Lordon, Claire (Vancouver, BC)

      Claire Lordon

      Claire Lordon is an author, illustrator and Writers Union Member based in Vancouver, BC. Her presentations are in English. She presents to K-5.

      Her school visit rates are $150 for a half hour virtual presentation (for grades K-1), $200 for a 50 minute virtual presentation $250 for one 50 minute in person presentation $450 for two 50 minute in person visits $675 for three 50 minute presentations.

      GST is extra. Travel fees are extra except for the greater Vancouver area.

      Claire is the author-illustrator of one book, and the illustrator of five more. She is an experienced school speaker who loves presenting to schools. Her presentations and workshops are upbeat and fun and can be catered to your group’s needs.

      Here is a typical talk:
      Presentations include a reading, a discussion about being an author-illustrator, process sketches, how she comes up with ideas, and a fun interactive drawing game. There is also a Q&A.

      In addition to schools, she also gives presentations to libraries, conferences, organizations and more.

      Additional Presentations and Workshops:

      •How a Picture Book is Made
      Good for grades K-5

      •How Claire Became an Author-Illustrator
      Good for grades 3-5

      •Class-Created Picture Book Story
      Good for Grades 1-4

      •Professional Workshop: Create a Submission-Ready Book Dummy.

      For adults. Note this workshop is either two one-hour sessions or one 90-minute session. Priced at $500 plus GST (if applicable).

      Maximum size for presentations: 35

      Equipment needed: Drawing easel and markers, a projector and screen for some presentations.

      CONTACT CLAIRE TO BOOK A VISIT:

        Jain, Mahak (Toronto, Ontario)

        Mahak Jain

        Member of The Writers’ Union of Canada. Presents in English to all ages, including adults, and presentations can be customized to audience. Award-winning author, editor, and educator of fiction and poetry for young people (especially picture books) and adult.

        Rates: $150+HST for 30-min presentations (minimum two); $300+HST for each 60-min presentation. Maximum of three presentations in a day, regardless of length. Virtual visits are $100+HST for 30 minutes (minimum two) and $200+HST for 60 minutes.  

        Travel: No travel costs for locations accessible via public transit in Toronto. Actual transit costs for schools accessible by public transit in the GTA plus; for locations inaccessible by transit, additional arrangements may be required (e.g., pick-up and drop-off).

        Maya_cover-1 Mahak Jain

        Mahak’s debut picture book won the South Asia Book Award and was named a CBC Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and was a starred selection with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. She has also published fiction and poetry for adults and has been longlisted for the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. As well as being an author, she has acquired and edited children’s and adult fiction for publication. She is a professor of creative writing at Sheridan College, and she has also led interactive creative writing workshops for young people at public schools and through the Toronto Public Library.

        Because of her array of experience, Mahak’s presentations are highly customizable to the interests and curricular needs of educators and librarians.

        For grades 5 and below, she can lead interactive presentations tied to one of her picture books, including a reading, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the writing process, and an activity that engages students creatively. Maximum group size: 30

        For example, a presentation on Maya about India, animals and trees, and the power of storytelling: a reading, an overview of the connection between the animals and tree featured in the book and India and how storytelling and the imagination can be used as a form of connection. Includes interactive discussion with students about the notable animals and trees in their lives and a visual arts and/or writing activity, adjusted to format, size of audience, and grade level.

        For grades 6 and up as well as for staff, she can lead creative writing workshops with prompts and feedback, introduce audiences to careers in the publishing industry (children’s or adult), present on how to write for different age groups, facilitate a discussion and activity on the creative process, or provide time management and productivity tips for creatives. No maximum group size, but workshops are suited to groups of 20 or fewer.

        All venues, library preferred. Equipment: A screen and projector for PowerPoint; microphone for larger groups or if required for acoustics. Colouring pencils or crayons and writing surfaces for students will be required for some presentations.

        Contact Mahak to book a visit…

          Payne, Mary Jennifer (Toronto, ON)

          Mary Jennifer’s rate is $300 plus HST per session, plus travel from Toronto. For multiple visits within the same day (maximum of 4), each session is $250 plus HST. Virtual visits via Zoom are $200 plus HST. Each session is 60 minutes long. Author readings with a Q&A and/or writing workshops are available for booking.

          Jennifer Payne is an internationally published writer who’s widely known for her YA fiction, including her contributions to the award-winning Boldprint and Timelines series and her Daughters of Light trilogy. Her novels often centre around the themes of gentrification, poverty, climate change, prejudice, marginalization, resilience, etc. and feature strong, female protagonists. Mary Jennifer’s YA hi-lo novel, Enough, was praised by CM magazine as a book that, “In trying to address issues of poverty, race, and gender, the author creates a thought-provoking tale that would be useful for opening up reflection and/or discussion around inclusivity and social struggle.”

          Mary Jennifer Payne is an internationally published writer who’s widely known for her YA fiction, including her contributions to the award-winning Boldprint and Timelines series and her Daughters of Light trilogy. Her novels often centre around the themes of gentrification, poverty, climate change, prejudice, marginalization, resilience, etc. and feature strong, female protagonists. Mary Jennifer’s YA hi-lo novel, Enough, was praised by CM magazine as a book that, “In trying to address issues of poverty, race, and gender, the author creates a thought-provoking tale that would be useful for opening up reflection and/or discussion around inclusivity and social struggle.”

          Sample Writing Workshops (These can be tailored to relate more directly to my
          novel and the characters/themes therein):

          There Are Two Sides to Every Story…. You’ve heard the phrase, “There’s always two sides to a story,” right? In this workshop, I’ll unlock your imagination and allow you to give voice to those characters that didn’t get their fair shake at the spotlight in their original narrative. From Voldemort to Cinderella’s stepsisters to Anansi the Spider, the sky’s the limit in terms of who you can bring to life. Step into your character’s shoes and tell the story from his/her point of view. The workshop leads into discussions around marginalization and the inclusiveness (or lack thereof) within different narratives. This workshop will incorporate fun improvisation to get us warmed­ up. Suitable for ages 10 and up.

          Believe in Me! How to Create Realistic Characters in Your Stories. Your protagonist and antagonist, as well as your entire cast of characters, need to come alive on the page in an authentic way. Like everyone, each of your characters is a mix of complex emotions and characteristics. And they have a backstory that motivates them to behave in particular ways in different situations. This workshop will help participants really develop their characters. From deciding your protagonist’s favourite food to his/her greatest fear, you’ll end this session with a character that is “fleshed ­out” and real enough to step off the page. This workshop will incorporate drama exercises such as hot-­seating as the character being developed to help get the creative juices flowing. Suitable for ages 10 and up.

          Create, Collaborate, Celebrate! Many modern workplaces are collaborative. In this fun and fast-­paced workshop, participants will collaborate in groups of two to ­three to develop a story from a current news headline. Each story will be shared and celebrated at the end of the session. After briefly plotting some of the elements of your story, you and your partner will take turns writing sentences (or paragraphs, if you’re really daring!) to bring your narrative to life. During our sharing of work at the end of the workshop, there will be an opportunity to discuss what worked, what frustrated us, and what sparks of discovery were made along the way. Suitable for children aged 10 and up.

          Book editing and coaching for writers is available as well.

          Contact Mary Jennifer to book a visit…

            Dickson, Alessia (Vaughan/Toronto, ON)

            Alessia Dickson, author, authors' booking serviceDEAL: $225 for 1 session
            $400 for 2 sessions
            $550 for the whole day
            $80 for writing workshops
            $80 for virtual visits

            Award-winning young author of The Crystal Chronicles series. $250 + HST per session. Small group writing workshops available at $100 + HST.
            Books: $ 20 (HST included)
            Travel expenses may apply for long distances.

            Alessia Dickson is the award-winning young author of The Crystal Chronicles series. Since publishing The Crystal Chronicles at age sixteen, she has been interviewed for CBC television, appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, and has given presentations to more than 20000 students across 70 schools in Ontario. She has worked alongside other authors such as Eric Walters and has a passion for inspiring young students. Due to her age, students really connect with Alessia and always leave her presentations inspired to achieve their own dreams.

            Alessia started writing The Crystal Chronicles, in fifth grade. She wrote the bulk of the book in grades 6, 7, and 8 and later published it in high school. As a result, many students can relate to her journey and young age. However, Alessia realizes, a lot of students are not creative writers which is talked about during her presentations. She highlights the importance for students to follow their passions, no matter if it’s writing, art, sports, dance, or something else. She especially focuses on how passion and persistence can get you anywhere, and how age is truly
            just a number. Students always leave her presentations excited to read and write, as well as motivated to pursue their own interests in their own lives.

            The Crystal Chronicles – The Crystal Chronicles follows the story of sixteen-year-old Alyssa Brooks who discovers she possesses magical powers and belongs to a supernatural race called Elementals, who can control earth, air, fire, and water. The Crystal Chronicles is often compared to international sensations such as Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson.

            The Crystal Chronicles and The Lost Temple – As the second installment in the series, The Lost Temple follows Alyssa and her friends as they journey into the Amazon searching for the first of four crystals.

            Presentations to grades 4-12.

            First 30 mins – personal introduction, explanation of the writing process including plotting, character development, editing, obstacles, and publication. Also includes writing advice and tips as well as a full synopsis about the book.
            Last 30 mins – a question and answer period for the audience and a fifteen-minute period at the very end for book sales. Purchased books includes a bookmark and a personalized signed copy to the student’s name.

            Small Group Writing Workshop

            Grades – 4-8
            Group size – max 35 students
            First 20 mins- introduction, how to build plots, characters and dialogue Last 40 mins – student writing period where she circulates the classroom and answers individual questions and offers personalized feedback. There is a voluntary sharing period at the end where students can read some of the work to the class. She can also integrate specific classroom material into the workshop. For example, many classes will be reading a certain novel or focusing on poetry or story writing.

            Virtual Visits: $100 (HST included) per session

            Preferred setting: Classroom, library or gymnasium
            Equipment: laptop, projector screen, microphone
            Grades – 4-12
            Group size – max 500

            Contact Alessia to book a visit:

            Continue reading “Dickson, Alessia (Vaughan/Toronto, ON)”

            Grant, Joyce (Toronto, ON)

            Joyce Grant

            Writers’ Union of Canada member; journalism, fiction, picture books. Rainforest of Reading Award winner, Top 10 Best Books (Ontario Library Association) and Best Books (Canadian Children’s Book Centre). All ages.

            $350 for an engaging, high-energy customized one-hour presentation (in-person or online), $250 for a Q&A session only.

            Joyce is a subject-matter expert on “fake news” and journalism. She is a freelance journalist and owner of internationally award-winning TeachingKidsNews.com.

            BOOKS:

            * Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts, 2022, illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte. Illustrated non-fiction. Themes: Fake news, critical thinking, journalism.
            * Gabby picture books: Gabby, Gabby: Wonder Girl, Gabby: Drama Queen. Themes: text to concrete things, friendship, creativity, phonics
            * Middle-grade baseball novels for reluctant readers: Tagged Out and Sliding Home. Themes: bullying, diversity, teamwork, empathy

            Joyce delivers high-energy, interactive, engaging presentations and workshops for all ages. She has written picture books with a literacy angle, and middle-grade baseball novels that deliver baseball action with underlying social themes (immigration, bullying, diversity, teamwork).

            Joyce is also co-founder of TeachingKidsNews.com: free, kid-friendly news plus curriculum connections. She is a freelance journalist and her popular “How to Avoid Fake News” presentations can be tailored for students or teachers.

            “We were honoured to have Joyce Grant as a keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Our audience of about 200 people (was) captivated by her content … students were incredibly engaged and just ate up what she had to tell us.”
            —Laura Alopaeus-Gomes, Literacy Lead K-6, Algoma District School Board, 2018

            NOVELS:
            SLIDING HOME
            This middle-grade baseball novel focuses on Miguel, who is holding down part-time jobs so he can bring his father to Canada from El Salvador. Set in Toronto's Christie Pits baseball field.
            (Sequel to Tagged Out.) Themes: immigration, teamwork, diversity, empathy, baseball.

            TAGGED OUT
            Fast-paced middle-grade baseball novel for reluctant readers. Includes a strong secondary character who is gay. Themes: diversity, tolerance, empathy, teamwork, baseball.
            A teaching guide is available free.

            PICTURE BOOKS:
            GABBY 
            When Gabby drops her magic book, all its letters fall out. Whatever she spells with those letters
            comes to life! Includes two pages of literacy activities. (Illustrator: Jan Dolby)
            A teaching guide is available free.

            Also in the series:
            GABBY: WONDER GIRL (Includes question words.)
            GABBY: DRAMA QUEEN (Includes words with consonant blends.)

            PRESENTATIONS—GENERAL INFO:
            Joyce customizes her high-energy, interactive presentations to suit your students and support their learning. She can speak to most ages, but asks that they’re grouped (ie, K-1, 2-3, 4-6, 5+).

            Groups can be small (one to two classes) or larger, depending on how hands-on you want the presentation to be. Presentations for younger students are 40 minutes; for older students, 45 minutes to an hour. All presentations include Q&A.

            HOW TO AVOID FAKE NEWS
            Gr. 4-7
            Identify and avoid fake news—and find the good stuff online. Includes how to think more critically.
            “Practical and engaging. The students are still talking about it, and the teachers have been using your ideas in their classrooms!”

            WORD SCRAMBLE
            K-3
            Super energetic, interactive presentations using scrambled letters. Includes a behind-the- scenes look at how picture books are made.
            “Interactive and fun!”

            CHARACTER, SETTING, PROBLEM, MAGIC!
            Gr. 2-3
            Together, we build an exciting story and then we act it out.
            “The kids loved it—we went back to the classroom and built more stories!”

            WRITING WORKSHOPS
            Gr. 4-9
            Journalism (writing headlines, interviewing, the 5 Ws) and picture book workshops. 
            “Real-world, hands-on learning.”

            GETTING KIDS READING
            Parents
            Parent/literacy night coming up? My popular, practical session for parents will help you get your kid reading.

            HOW TO TEACH KIDS TO AVOID FAKE NEWS
            Teachers
            Practical, popular presentations for teachers and teacher-candidates.

            KEYNOTES AND SKYPE VISITS
            Students or Adults
            Memorable keynotes for conferences and meetings (price to be discussed), and Skype visits
            ($250/45 mins). 

            EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:
            I use PowerPoint, so I’ll need a projector and screen. Oh! And a bottle of water, please. My voice projects well (a-hem!), but if you think your space requires a microphone, I’ll need you to supply that—preferably hand-held.
            I’m fine with small groups (one or two classes) or larger auditoriums. The bigger the group, the less hands-on the session, so workshops are best with a smaller group. I have great presentations for nearly every age group. Here are the preferred grade groupings: K to 1, grades 2 to 3, grades 4 to 6, grades 5 and up. I also present to teachers and teacher-candidates and to parents (ie, literacy night).

            To book Joyce, please send us an email using the form below:

              • Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts, 2022, illustrated by Kathleen Marcotte. Illustrated non-fiction. Themes: Fake news, critical thinking, journalism.
              • Gabby picture books: Gabby, Gabby: Wonder Girl, Gabby: Drama Queen. Themes: text to concrete things, friendship, creativity, phonics
              • Middle-grade baseball novels for reluctant readers: Tagged Out and Sliding Home. Themes: bullying, diversity, teamwork, empathy

              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 (50 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.

              Continue reading “Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk (Brantford ON)”

              Camlot, Heather (Toronto, ON)

              Writers’ Union Member. Fiction and nonfiction writer. Heather’s rates are $250 for one session, $450 for two, $650 for three, $800 for four/full day (may be shared with a neighbouring school). $150 for a virtual visit. HST applies. No travel costs within Toronto. Able to present in English and French.

              Heather is an award-winning children’s author, journalist, editor and translator. Her debut novel, Clutch, received a 2018 Skipping Stones Honor Award and a starred selection in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Spring 2018 Best Books for Kids and Teens. Clutch was also named a 2017 Best Book from Kirkus Reviews.

              In 2020, she released two new books: the middle-grade nonfiction What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? (available in French as Et si les soldats se battaient avec des oreillers ?) and the middle-grade novel The Other Side.

              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.

              Continue reading “Camlot, Heather (Toronto, ON)”

              Younge-Ullman, Danielle (Toronto, ON)

              Writers Union Member. White Pine Award Winner and two-time nominee, also nominated for Governor General’s award, Amy Mathers Teen Book award, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz award, among others—a total of 18 nominations and Best-of lists. YA Author of HE MUST LIKE YOU, EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED, and LOLA CARLYE’S 12 STEP ROMANCE.

              Danielle’s virtual visit fee is $200 per 50-60 minute session. In person visits are $300 for 1 hour presentation; $550 for 2, $800 for 3, plus travel for locations outside Toronto.

              Danielle is a confident and dynamic presenter who loves talking about books with people of all ages. She attained a BA from McGill, worked for years as an actor before turning to writing, and has had a wild variety of jobs—everything from acting, to dubbing English voices for Japanese TV, to temping, to teaching Pilates, to freelance writing. Danielle lives Toronto with her husband and two daughters.

              Presentations: Because of her background in theatre, Danielle is very comfortable in front of an audience and loves engaging with readers. Though she writes teen fiction, she can also adjust her presentations for groups as young as grade 5 and 6. Presentations can be geared toward each group, and can be done with more of a workshop emphasis if required. All presentations include time for questions!

              Age range: grades 5 and up, but ideally grades 7-12. Danielle also loves presenting to and working with adult groups, and meeting with book clubs.

              Topics:

              Pantsters, Plotters & Making Soup: A discussion of the essential elements of fiction, and explanations of some of the different techniques used by writers to craft story and write fiction.

              Turning Real Life Into Fiction: The process of using your own stories as inspiration for fiction is deeper, more layered, and much more detailed than it looks. In this session, Danielle will take you through the process of distilling the essence of your experiences, and using the most compelling themes and elements to create a work of fiction, using He Must Like You and Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined as examples.

              How to Pursue a Career as a Novelist: A presentation that explains the process of becoming a professional writer, from beginning writing through searching for an agent, to going through the process of being published. This presentation is great for students who are interested in the arts, and in the process of making decisions about their futures.

              How to Revise the Crap Out of Your Manuscript: Danielle is an in-depth and joyfully ruthless reviser. In this session she will go through the steps she takes to revise her manuscripts in a way that can also be applied to shorter works. Subjects will include character consistency, POV, tone, tightening and/or expanding, layering in new characters and plot lines, analyzing structure, and general troubleshooting of things that aren’t working. 

              Equipment: podium or desk, microphone for groups larger than 40. Maximum group size: 40-60 for optimum interaction, but Danielle is also comfortable in front of larger groups. 25 or fewer for workshops.

              Contact Danielle Younge-Ullman: