In her younger years, Gwen was a geologist, prospector, musician and geotourism guide. She also jumped freight trains and took flying lessons. In the 1980s she became a professional writer and editor … and hasn’t looked back since.
Gwen believes passionately in the power of words for young people. She initiated and manages the YouthWrites program hosted on the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB) website. As WFNB’s executive director, Gwen worked closely with 250+ writers and gained knowledge that helps her to answer the most common question from students and adults: “How can I publish my stories?”
Gwen has written school curriculum material, websites, history books, political speeches, government reports and scientific papers for clients across Canada. She promises never to read any of those works in the classroom. Instead, she offers student workshops about the writing life, where ideas come from, how to make your characters come alive and the sacred but scary power of words.
When not editing stories by others, Gwen writes magazine articles, narrative non-fiction and fiction. She lives in a cabin with a piano, tons of books and a rock collection that attracts local children.
Email or call (506) 366-3079.
Gesner’s Dream: Trials and Triumphs of Early Mining in New Brunswick; For Love of Stone; Once Upon a Mine: The Story of Mining in Pre-Confederation Newfoundland; two other books, school curriculum material, and countless magazine/newspaper articles/reports.
What I Offer
How Stories Began (Grades 1–4)
This beautiful children’s story is adapted from a First Nations legend about how stories began. Gwen tells the story, then encourages students to share what stories mean to them. During the discussion, she gently encourages youngsters to see the importance of listening to – and recording – the stories of elders in their family and community. Highly popular with the little ones.
Writing Down the Stones (Grades 3–6)
Every stone holds a story. Stones help students to uncover their own stories buried deep inside their hearts. This hands-on workshop uses rocks as the trigger for stories about parents, school, anger, fear, fancy and joy. Students can bring their own stones or borrow ones that Gwen carries to class.
Fire-Start Your Story (Grades 4–9)
Writing a story is like making a fire. The kindling = a feeling or an image. The logs = memories and ideas. The match = the spark that brings it all together. When you ask students to write a story, their first reaction is, “where do I start?” The answer: begin where you are – with a feeling or an image from daily life – and grow the story using clustering techniques and imagination. Gwen explains the system, gives an example, then turns students loose. The results are astounding.
The Power of Words (Grades 4–9)
Gwen uses a lively series of student skits, interactive exercises and stories to explore the wonderful but scary power of words. This session touches on bullying, taking back your own power and being fully aware of how your words can help or harm others. It also shows how strong, juicy words will transform so-so writing into prose with pizzazz.
The Writing Life (Grades 7–12)
Young people love to ask authors, “what is it like being a writer?” Gwen draws on 30 years as a writing professional to give students the straight goods about how to succeed in the business of writing. She talks about fiction and non-fiction and leaves lots of time for Q&A. This session can be adapted to suit students who want to write magazine and newspaper articles, novels, poetry and more.