Update: I won’t be doing any in-person school or library visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. But you can listen to my creative writing podcast, Cabin Tales: Spooky Stories for Young Writers, and it’s almost as good. With original stories, creative writing excerpts and exercises, and interviews with some of Canada’s finest authors for children and young adults, It’s like having an author visit every week — only it’s absolutely free, and I bring talented friends with me. Subscribe to the podcast from iTunes, Spotify, or your favourite streaming platform.
Contact me about virtual presentations in 2021. Check out the following information on my usual presentations and workshops.
Whether you want a “Meet the Author” visit in your library, several days of presentations to all the classrooms in your school, or a series of hands-on workshops for your writing group, I can do that. Contact me to ask about availability.
I’ve given presentations and writing workshops at schools and libraries across Canada, and at conferences and events including The Word on the Street, the SCBWI Canada East Regional Conference, MASC Young Authors’ and Illustrators’ Festival, the Blue Met Children’s Festival, TD Children’s Book Week, the Hackmatack Author Tour, Gaspesie Bookfest, and the Vancouver Island Children’s Book Festival.
Want a presentation for your English class studying one of my books? Or a week’s worth of presentations to introduce all the students in your school to creative writing as a profession? I can do either, with a variety of new and tested talks for all ages.
All of my presentations require a projector and screen, a SmartBoard, or an HD monitor, as I use a PowerPoint slide show to animate my talks. An audience of 20-60 students is ideal (1-3 classes). I prefer a library or classroom to a gym — but I’ll set up anywhere so long as you’re nice to me.
My author visits can be tailored to your time slot, from 45 minutes to 75 minutes, or extended with the addition of a writing activity and follow-up workshop.
Check out a list of my Author Visit Presentations.
I offer writing workshops for grades 4 and up on a variety of subjects from character and plot development to revision and peer review.
Workshops run from 1-2 hours, depending on your schedule, with groups of 30 students or fewer.
Tabletops are essential. Students can come empty-handed or bring computers. I’ll supply pens, papers, and handouts.
Every workshop includes at least one mini-lesson on the theme, and I illustrate my points wth a PowerPoint slide show. A SmartBoard, HD monitor, or projector and screen are required.
Check out a list of my Writing Workshops.
If you have a keen group of students, I offer a series of workshops to lead young writers through the entire process of writing a short story. This can be done in 3-5 visits per class. Ideally, the series includes 2-3 drafting workshops — on character and setting; plotting and scene construction; and mood-building and sentence construction — plus 1-2 revision workshops, with one-on-one feedback from me and peer review from classmates, and a final day of presentations about being a professional writer.
A workshop series works best if
(a) there is some time between workshops, from two days to two weeks, to allow the students to develop their ideas and compose their drafts (but we can squish it into a week if you’re willing); and
(b) students are writing the story as part of their class work, with a deadline to hand it in and receive credit for it. (Writing a story is hard work, and some students may tire unless the work is credited by the teacher.)
That said, for teachers with a creative writing or short story unit to build on, a series of writing workshops can be extremely rewarding. Teachers have told me it’s the highlight of the year.
I’ve twice been a presenting author at MASC’s Young Authors and Illustrators Festival, an annual three-day Ottawa event that provides writing workshops to hundreds of keen students in the region.
At left, the presenting authors and illustrators from the 2015 MASC Conference: Kate Inglis, Matt James, Genevieve Despres, Catherine Austen (me), Tim Wynne-Jones, Rina Singh, Sydney Smith, and Monique Polak. (I forgot to take a group photo at the 2019 MYAI Festival, where I presented with Cary Fagan, Karen Krossing, David A. Robertson, Britt Wilson, and Soyeon Kim.)
Contact me to request a visit.