The Story of My Stories
Middle Grade to Adult Audiences
This is a 45-50 minute talk in which I speak about how I became a writer, how I get my ideas, and a bit about how I develop my characters. I talk about revision, and I answer questions. During this presentation I show slides of the real-life people and places that have inspired my books. I let students see the copy-edited manuscripts and galleys; the stages from manuscript to published book. I also have a display of photos and touchable items related to my books set up in the room. This talk works well for schools: I can do this presentation up to four times in a day. Audience size ranges from 15 or less to 150 or sometimes more, though the smaller the audience, the more effective the presentation.
Talks For Schools and General Audiences
Using the Story of My Stories to talk about writing skills
Middle School Audiences
This presentation is similar to the first one but focuses more on writing skills. I meet a larger group (up to about 150 students) for a shorter version of the above talk. With this many students it is impossible to answer many questions, and this talk, which lasts about 30 minutes, is short enough that even a larger group doesn't get too restless. Then I meet with those same students in smaller groups of up to about 40 children and talk in more detail about developing character, 'showing' the story using scenes, revision. During this small group sections the students can ask questions.
One Day Writing Workshop
Middle Grade to Adult Audiences
This is a 3 to 4 hour workshop (includes a break for lunch or snacks) for a small group--usually between 15 and 30 participants. I've worked with both middle school and high school writers, and adults. Using my own writing as examples, I focus on character development, plot, setting, revision, etc. I show slides and use other visual aids. The class and I do writing exercises together and I leave time for participants to begin a story. At the end, I ask for volunteers to read their work to the class.
The Story of Westward to Oregon
Pre-school to Third Grade Audiences
In this 30 minute presentation I talk about WESTWARD TO OREGON. I explain how I got the idea for the book and show slides of the real-life things that inspired the story and the pictures.
Is There a Lighthouse In Your Future?
Middle Grade-Adult Audiences
In this hour presentation I use my books, the real life heroines I've discovered in my research and my own life as a writer to discuss the importance of taking risks and following your dreams. This makes an effective keynote speech for a conference.
I frequently speak at Writers' conferences. Some of the above presentations (most often "Is there a lighthouse in your future") work well for keynote address. Other popular topics include: researching historical fiction; writing historical fiction; revision; writing for magazines; and the ten rules for staying sane in today's chaotic publishing world. I can work with you to develop a talk on a new topic. I often do individual manuscript critique when I speak at writers' conferences.
Talks For Writers
Multi-Day Writing Workshops
I teach multi-day writing workshops for various schools and colleges. For this I can either work with your curriculum or use my own, which includes 1.5 hour workshops on plot, character, setting, revision, selling your work, etc. This workshop can include individual manuscript critique.