Author Workshops

Author in Residence At MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale

A fantastic six week placement at MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale. English Co-ordinator, Anne Lovett, engaged me, having chosen Collision as the novel for study for all of Year 10, Term 1 2016.

There was a formal introduction at the Whole School Assembly, so that the students and teachers realised that Mrs Berzins was also a writer, PJ Byer!! The kids are very friendly, and several even asked me to sign their copy of Collision.

After I spoke to all of the form in the theatrette about my writer journey and took questions, which included why did I write under a different name (explained it was my maiden name, I loved having solidarity with my sisters with the name, and the Germanic link to a key character in Collision, Gustav Becker.)

Over the next weeks, I workshopped Creative Writing with the six classes, working in with the teachers on specific needs of their class. It was really interesting seeing what stage the kids were in their writing, and we particularly focused on Character and Setting. On the other lesson, I did relief teaching, so I got to know the campus and students at MCC quite well in every sort of lesson, as well as English – Maths, Music, Art, Health Theory, TAS, Japanese.

I loved this experience, and hope we can repeat it another time.


Alstonville High, Tuesday November 17, 201

Year 7 students had lots of great questions about writing and being a writer after our Five Senses creative writing workshop. A big thanks to their teacher and also to school librarian, Sam Palsmeier.



St Paul’s College, West Kempsey Friday November 13, 2015

Three stimulating sessions were held here, with great support from school librarian Peter Garty ~ a session with Year 12 Extension 2 English students about their writing projects, creative writing with Year 9 and a fabulous drama workshop with Year 10 Drama. Thank you to the teachers who were so enthusiastic as well.



Kempsey High, Wednesday November 11, 2015

A big thank you to school librarian Linda Sneddon who liaised with me as we organised a two hour HSC Discovery session with Year 12 students, shaped around using Collision as a related text. It was also lovely to speak to the teachers and keen writing students after our session. Below is an article in the Macleay Valley paper, the Argus.



Author Creative Writing Workshop

I Visit Terrigal High School for Book Week!

On Friday August 28, 2015, Terrigal High School librarian, Ms Lyndall Gale, and Head Teacher English, Ms Carla Vieusseux, invite me to present an hour workshop on creative writing as part of Book Week. Ms Gale has purchased a copy of Collision by PJ Byer for the library! Look at all those great testimonials…


Peita’s presentation to our Year 9 cohort was engaging.  In organising the event, I found PJ to be organised and professional. She was flexible in ensuring she met the needs of our students and the current curriculum. Thank you PJ

Lyndall Gale, Librarian, Terrigal High School

As a published author PJ’s presentation brought credibility to her introduction to Creative Writing. She provided an interesting insight into the stimulus for her own novel which the students found fascinating. Her activities on Creative Writing engaged the students and elicited many positive responses from the students. My class of Year 9 boys gained much from her engaging presentation. Their feedback on the worth of the presentation was very positive. As a retired teacher, Peita understands young minds and pitched her delivery accordingly. Thanks PJ. 

Ron Falzon, Senior English teacher, Terrigal High School

Peita’s workshop with Year Nine was highly engaging. Her insight into the development of her own novel was significant and exciting. The creative writing workshop component of the session encouraged students to think outside the box. Her kind, gentle approach encouraged students to take risks and enjoy the creative writing process.

Amanda Cooke, English teacher, Terrigal High School

Content of this workshop: Please note that I can adapt my presentations to align with your school’s curriculum

Terrigal High School is keen to improve writing results and hopes a visit by a real live author, and a local Central Coast one, may inspire the students….and of course I do!

I deliver a power point presentation to the top Year 9 boy class and girl class, with a brief introduction about how I was inspired to write Collision (that’s for another blog) and then an intensive look at a couple of key strategies to help write more imaginatively   .

How to Improve My Writing Extract 6.jpg.001How to Improve My Writing Extract.pdf.001

If I say so myself, it has some pretty snazzy transitions as well as animations. Yes, I’m so IT savvy (well, getting there…) It  includes a pulsing lightbulb, as in that inspirational moment which strikes a writer, and results in an avalanche of words onto the page. Yes, I know…cheap and superficial effects, but it engages the kids and we’re off to a good start.

lightbulb 3.jpg.002

There actually is some good content, including a special emphasis on eliminating needless words (like ridiculously and repeatedly using those dastardly ‘ly’ words ~ adverbs) and using all five senses in writing. The students respond very positively, and many read out their ideas and descriptions related to the sensory images.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s