Karin is a full-time freelance writer, editor and illustrator. She writes for local and national magazines and newspapers, and a variety of non-profits, businesses and government agencies. Her photographs often accompany her work, and her illustrations appear in books, presentations and private collections.
While she has a longtime focus on disability issues, she is a sought-after and versatile writer and handles each job with respect, professionalism and a sense of humour. She can find the thread of a good story in subjects ranging from kitchen design, a seniors’ ski team, bariatric weight loss surgery, to energy efficient housing, outdoor home theatres, Saskatoon’s water quality, business profiles, and volunteer accomplishments.
One favourite interview had her digging into the childhood memories of a Hollywood actor who called her “a joy to talk to and an artist” at interviewing. But it is often what she draws from less celebrated people that she finds most interesting. Another favourite was with Ukrainian babas, one 90 and the other 96, sisters who still garden in their Saskatoon back yards. She approaches every assignment knowing there’s a worthwhile story to be told, and she understands the importance of the good communications loop in every project.
She is the current editor of and writer for Saskatoon HOME magazine, and also contributes pieces to Prairies North magazine.
Her writing has appeared as invited book chapters and in anthologies in Canada and the U.S. A non-fiction contribution appears in In The Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters (Nimbus Publishing). She has written eight books with a focus on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and edited several others. One best seller was translated into German, Italian, and Korean. She was pleased when not long ago actor Benjamin Bratt performed a story from one of her books as a dramatic reading at the Santa Monica Playhouse. Flourish: People with Disabilities Living Life with Passion, was launched in 2012, to critical acclaim.
Her debut novel, Small Reckonings, was published by Burton House Books in the spring 2020. It sold out of the first two printings by the fall, and a revised edition was released in March 2021. Read a great review by Shelley Leedahl here.
The manuscript won the John V. Hicks Award for Fiction in 2019, and the novel won the Saskatoon Book Award category in the Saskatchewan Book Awards for 2021. Later that year, the book was recognized as one of three in the Glengarry Book Award Jury Short List, Recognition of Literary Excellence.
In 2021, the sequel manuscript to Small Reckonings was completed. Inheriting Violet won the John V. Hicks Award for Fiction, 2022. The first prize was presented at the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild annual conference in September.
At the SWG awards ceremony with one of the two judges of the 2022 Hicks Award for Fiction, novelist and playwright Kagiso Lesego Molope (the other was fiction writer Kevin Hardcastle) and second prize winner Kate O’Gorman and MC Lisa Bird-Wilson. Third place winner was Byrna Barclay.
In 2013, Karin was honoured to receive a Saskatoon YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Arts and Culture category. Karin is a member of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. She lives with her husband, Richard, a professor emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan, and son Jim, who had a 25-year volunteer stint with the Saskatoon YMCA, and – courtesy Street Cat Rescue – elderly Ed and Gracie, who still can’t believe their good luck. Rick and Karin also have a daughter, Erin, son-in-law Michael and 16-year-old grandboy Alexander, and a son Ben, daughter-in-law Julia, granddaughters Pearl, 4, and Dahlia, 2.
Click here for current CV.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“I have given hundreds of interviews over the years. Lucky boy to be in that position. Karin was amazing. She did her homework. She fired questions that meant something. She wrote it down correctly and with zest… and she was a joy to talk to. She’s an artist who’s giving an interview; it doesn’t get any better than that.” – Kim Coates, actor, Los Angeles
“It’s always a pleasure to work with Karin. In addition to her articulate and effective writing ability, Karin has a wonderful personality that has allowed her to become one of the most sought-after writers I know. She is dedicated and responsive, truly committed to her craft. – Erin Legg, Associate Editor, Fine Lifestyles/Fine Homes Saskatoon
“Flourish is bold and cocky and picturesque and very much up front. I am moving from vignette to vignette slowly and trying to stop and reflect on each person before taking on the next one. As usual your writing is so clear and active and so very much the Karin I always knew and loved in the past. And Jim! You do so very much to help that sweet guy be his sparkling best. I wonder what Jim would be like if he never had his wonderful cast of family and friends.” – Robert Perske, author and advocate, Connecticut
“I had the pleasure of working with Karin Melberg Schwier while serving as the associate editor of Fine Lifestyles Magazine, and its sister publication, Fine Homes, in 2012. There was nothing I could throw at her that wouldn’t come back an expertly crafted and engaging read – whether it be a celebrity profile, a complex feature of a safety training company, or an advertorial on the riveting world of kitchen counter tops. On more than one occasion I would ask Karin to shoulder heavy workloads that would overwhelm any of my other other freelancers. She came through every time. She was my top writer, not only for her talent but also for her level of commitment and professionalism. Her copy comes back on time, on word count, clean and fact checked. I can’t stress enough what a pleasure she is to work with: a real pro but also a charming, enjoyable human being.” – Quinn Bender, award-winning freelance writer, photographer and video journalist, Vancouver, BC.
“I have worked with Karin on numerous occasions and found her excellent to work with. She has a wonderful ability to take an informal conversation and turn it into a quality article that delivers the desired message. I was impressed with the outcomes each and every time.” – Laura Small, former CEO, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan
“My work focuses on helping health care professionals as well as emergency planners and managers insure their plans and serves include people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. As a speaker and trainer I do a lot of presentations, workshops and courses. My audiences include diverse groups from government, agencies, non-profit service providers, businesses, universities and colleges. Karin has been a great partner in helping me translate and convert ideas for humorous ways to express key learning points into fun, whimsical, and memorable illustrations that helps to reinforce key messages.” – June Isaacson Kailes, Disability Policy Consultant, Associate Director, Harris Family Center for Disability & Health Policy
“The success of my marketing presentation is thanks to this amazing and talented woman. With a deadline looming, I contacted Karin with a project that was no more than an idea at the time. Literally within hours, Karin brought my ideas to life with her fabulous illustrations. It was exactly what I had imagined and the presentation was a huge success. The series of illustrations added a lighthearted touch that everyone enjoyed. I would not hesitate to contact her again.” – Terry Bernier, Independent Distributor, Dietary Supplements, Calgary
Hi Karin, this is a bit of a long shot, but I am with an organization called the Friends of the Forestry Farm House, and we found a photo cut out from a newspaper from 1980 that credited you. The article was about the reunion of Les Kerr and his wife with a man they had hosted during world war 2 as a child evacuee. Do you happen to have the full article? We would love a copy of it for our archives.
Karen was always an inspiring writer, I remember a story that she wrote in our class in Atlin…about a duck. I’d love to connect again, Karen. Keep up the great work. V.
I think I remember you! Let me know. Don’t remember the duck, though!