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Visits and Workshops

I love visiting schools and libraries. I can do readings from either of my books or conduct writing workshops. Or I can talk about being a writer.

I’ve done a fair amount of this sort of thing, mostly for middle-school and high school kids. I’ve also been a substitute teacher and a workshop leader in my local school. You’ll find some sample programs below, but I can tailor my offerings to your needs. I’ve done workshops on character development, plot-mapping, world-building, point of view, dialogue, showing vs. telling and many other fictional techniques, as well as small-town journalism.

To discuss logistics and fees, contact me at .

Sample Programs:

Presentation: The Writing Life

There are a bazillion ways to make a living by writing. In my case, I started out writing and editing college publications and copy-editing at a daily newspaper, then moved on to write corporate newsletters. Then I moved to Maine and wrote and edited weekly newspapers. Now I write novels for kids.

I’ve developed a power-point presentation with samples of the various jobs I’ve had over the years. The presentation takes roughly 45 minutes with questions. I talk about what’s good and bad about being a writer, how you need to train your brain to be one, how I got started, and why I kept changing from one kind of writing to another.

The last part of the presentation—which can be offered separately—follows my first book from initial idea through publication. This includes a speech on revision and how much fun it is. (I revised THE UNNAMEABLES five times.)

Requirements: Power-point projector and screen. I can bring my laptop, but usually the logistics work out better if I use yours.

Workshop: The Character Chase

The best stories start with a character who has a problem. But where do you get the idea for that character? As a group, we ask (and answer!) twenty questions that help a character emerge from our brains, then see what kind of a plot develops from that character’s hopes, dreams, and troubles.

Introduction: Quick overview of typical ways a plot develops (from setting, situation, adapting a fairy tale, etc.). Examples of how a plot emerges from a main character in my books and others, such as the Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson books (or whatever the group’s been reading).

  1. Twenty questions
    Group will ask twenty questions about a character (What does he like to do/hate to do? Does she have a tattoo?) Then we answer the questions, and talk about the person who emerges from the answers. This tends to get delightfully rambunctious.
  2. The Character Clothesline
    We draw a “clothesline” of our character’s life, and decide what important life events to hang from it. We shoot for ten events. We identify the event that we think would make the best story, and talk about where we could go with the story.
  3. (If time) Feet and Hands
    We’ll choose the most important day on the clothesline, and make up ten things our character would have done with his/her feet on that day, then (if time) with his/her hands.

Requirements: Lots of blackboard/whiteboard space.