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Biography

A former elementary and junior-high teacher, Karen is the author of eight middle-grade and young adult novels. Her books feature relatable kids and teens working through contemporary problems and are often set in Edmonton, where Karen has lived for many years.

Karen is also an experienced touring artist who offers numerous high-energy presentations in English and in French each year. She enjoys sharing stories about the inspiration for her books, and about the joys and challenges of being an author. She also highlights the transformative power of books, reading and writing, and encourages students to imagine, create, and share stories based on their personal interests and experiences.

When she is not writing in her studio, Karen is often running in the river valley or training Bowie, her rambunctious pup.

Please check back in late August for Karen’s touring plans and availability.

Presentations

A former teacher and dynamic presenter, Karen brings her characteristic enthusiasm and a unique perspective to all classroom sessions.

She believes in offering ‘value-added’ presentations which not only entertain, but which also address curriculum outcomes in the areas of:

  • Language Arts;
  • Social Studies;
  • Ethics;
  • French as a Second Language;
  • Health and Life Skills.

Karen encourages students to recognize the importance of stories and to turn events, memories, and observations from their own lives into compelling stories to share with their friends, family, teachers, and classmates.

Pricing: (maximum 3 classroom logins per session)

One 30- to 40-minute session (division one) – $150 plus GST
Two same day 30- to 40-minute sessions (division one) – $250 plus GST

One 50- to 60-minute session (divisions two, three or four) – $200 plus GST

Two same day 50- to 60-minute sessions (divisions two, three or four) – $350 plus GST

One 20-minute reading/Q & A session (divisions two, three or four; English only) – $75 plus GST

Virtual sessions (offered via Zoom or Google Meet):

“Finding Your Inner Superhero” (Kdgn – gr 3; 30-40 minutes; offered in English)

Karen draws students into story-building by tapping into their personal experiences at home, at school, and in their communities. This session includes a reading from her original story, Sadie Maeve: Farmyard Hero. With a shift into her superhero alter-ego, Karen recounts the dramatic real-life story that inspired it, while also demonstrating the three main parts of a story. Karen further inspires students to create their own superheroes capable of solving whatever changes they want to see in the world.

“Picking On Your Protagonist” (Gr 4-6; 50-60 minutes; offered in English or in French/English)

Karen demonstrates how to create a well-rounded main character, or protagonist, who has a problem. Using examples from her middle-grade novels, she demonstrates how to turn real-life events into compelling stories where characters overcome their challenges. This session concludes with a question and answer period.

“Show Me Some Emotion” (Gr 7-9; 50-60 minutes; offered in English or in French/English)

This presentation opens with a discussion about how integrating sympathetic characters and powerful emotions into their stories will hold readers spellbound until the exciting conclusion. Using excerpts from her young adult novels, Karen illustrates writing techniques which heighten story intensity while various emotions clash. The session concludes with a question and answer period.

“High School Writing…. and Beyond!” (Gr 10-12; 50-60 minutes; offered in English)

Students sometimes overlook writing as a career because they are not aware of the various writing forms open to them. Karen discusses a range of writing opportunities, and offers candid insights into the joys and challenges of being a professional writer. Students will better appreciate how improving their writing can enhance their lives—even if they never plan to pick up a pen again after English 30. (Spoiler alert: they will pick up a pen!) The session concludes with a question and answer period.

karen sf display

Bibliography

Pickpocket (2021: Orca Book Publishers; ages 12+)

  • Trouble follows Jean-Luc all the way to southern France where he meets a young pickpocket facing dire circumstances.

Volleyball Vibe (2020: Lorimer Sports Story; ages 9-13)

  • When Ria steps away from her cell phone and tries out for the volleyball team, she soon learns being part of a team fosters greater confidence and growth.

Taking the Lead (2019: Lorimer Sports Story; ages 9-13)

  • CCBC “Best Books for Kids & Teens;” starred review
  • Jonas, a track star who runs only to win, learns the true meaning of sportsmanship when he trains a vision- and mobility-impaired teen for a 5k race.

Unity Club (2018: Orca Book Publishers; ages 10-14)

  • When a new group home for at-risk youth opens in her neighbourhood, Brett tries to convince everyone in the Unity Club to give the teens a fair chance.

Push Back (2018: James Lorimer & Company Ltd.; ages 13+)

  • Resource Links “The Year’s Best for Fiction Grades 7-12
  • To get criminal charges dropped and to avoid a life on the streets, Zaine participates in a restorative-justice program. His efforts are challenged by gang members wanting to recruit him.

Saving Grad (2017: James Lorimer & Company Ltd.; ages 13+)

  • Resource Links “The Year’s Best for Fiction Grades 7-12”
  • After fleeing across the country, Vienna is rebuilding her life when her abusive stepfather comes for her at her grad party.

Vanish (2013: Orca Book Publishers; ages 10-14)

  • Resources Links “Best Books”
  • Simone enjoys mentoring younger students but when Lily, her “Kinderbuddy,” goes missing, Simone becomes a key witness in a parental abduction investigation.

Dog Walker (2006: Orca Book Publishers; ages 10-14)

  • CCBC “Best Books for Kids & Teens”
  • When Turk discovers girls can’t resist dogs, he becomes a dog walker. But his business falls apart when Carly discovers its real purpose.

Reviews

“The students/staff were mesmerized with the presentations. Karen Spafford-Fitz’s presentation resulted in all of her books being checked from the library that day! How terrific to see the “spark” of creativity and literacy simultaneously ignite! That is just no App for that!”

Host librarian, Elmworth, Alberta (spring 2019)

“A few [student] quotes and answers when asked ‘What do you remember about the visit that will help you as a writer?’ Be confident. Make the characters suffer during the story. Put them in lots of trouble. Revise your work, a lot.”

Host teacher, Grande Prairie, Alberta (spring 2019)

“It was great how the author did her presentation in French and English!”

Host teacher, Grande Prairie, Alberta (spring 2019)

“In my entire career, I could not have offered the students what the visiting author did in a single session.”

Host librarian, Cold Lake, Alberta (spring 2017)

Review of Push Back: “Some of the settings, such as school and home, will be familiar to most readers, and Spafford-Fitz takes them to more unfamiliar settings, like the streets (the places Zaine finds shelter) and the police station, with ease. Push Back is an engaging read that will offer opportunities for discussion of the justice system. Recommended.”

CM Magazine , UManitoba, fall 2018

Saving Grad is a quick read, with a very fast paced plot. The French language is used in many conversations between Vienna and her grandmother, a feature which readers may find interesting. Recommended.

CM Magazine , UManitoba, fall 2017

“Karen Spafford-Fitz has woven a realistic narrative in Saving Grad, with credible characters with whom teen readers can associate. There is no denying the topics are difficult and Spafford-Fitz does not sugar-coat them, but rather tells it as it is in the most natural way possible. Saving Grad is an excellent novel for classroom discussion.” Rating: Excellent

Resource Links Journal (December 2017)

Review of Vanish: “Spafford-Fitz weaves the subplots together effortlessly to create a rich reading experience.”

-VOYA (June 1, 2013)