Author Talks

Here I’m reading a chapter of The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter to the students at Spruce Mountain Elementary. credit: Amy Ryder

I am curtailing my author visits in light of the coronavirus crisis. If you’d like to book me for a virtual appearance, please contact me with the talk or small group session you’re interested in and the date/s you’d like to request. Thank you—and please wear a mask, even outside: It shows you’re looking out for others.


“Diane tailored her presentation to the interests and age levels of our students. She easily held the students’ attention by the content she had to share and the way she delivered it. Highly recommended! …Upon returning to the library after the presentation, a group of 8th grade boys gathered around the whiteboard and wrote their own story following the format Diane presented. Teachers have reported other students doing the same in their classrooms and outside of school. Every comment I have had from students, teachers, and admin about the presentation was positive, and the books are flying off the shelves.”—Amy Ryder, Spruce Mountain Elementary and Middle School

“Diane’s enthusiasm for both writing and all things Scottish really shone through and engaged the children. I absolutely loved how Diane broke down the idea of writing and editing a story into bite-size pieces.”—Amy Graham, Cascade Brook Elementary School

“We really enjoyed the presentation and writing sessions. Diane was very inspiring and really encouraged the kids to be creative but gave them a framework that can keep a writer from meandering off track or the plot stagnating.”—Robin Strauss, Mount Desert Elementary/Northeast Harbor Library

“As they went off to continue their stories, one student said, ‘Best. Day. Ever.'” —Sandi Brann, Phippsburg Elementary (after a 45-minute Skype visit that included my “Make a Premise” exercise)

During this virtual school visit with Phippsburg Elementary School in Phippsburg, ME, students created a truly incredible premise that they continued after we hung up. credit: Sandi Brann


Skype visit pic

On this Skype visit with Middlebury Elementary School in Middlebury, CT, I’m talking about research (and what moats were really like). credit: Stephanie Robinson

Author Talk: Building the Writing Journey

Becoming an author involves a journey much like ones that a fictional character would take. Like their characters, a writer needs courage, perseverance, and inspiration to make it to the goal. In this talk, I’ll describe my own writing journey: where my ideas come from, how and where I do my research, and the all-important and frequently inspiring process of revision. This presentation includes Make a Premise, an activity in which I lead students to build a story premise of their own—and then revise it to see in real time how a story can evolve.

Timing: 45 – 60 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade; classroom, grade, or assembly

Small Group Writing Session: Intensive on Building Characters

In this highly interactive workshop, I lead students through the process of creating characters. We’ll talk about how to build characters (including where to find them), what kinds of roles a character could play, and how to show a character’s personality (I’ll read aloud a passage from one of my works to illustrate this). I’ll also lead students in creating a whole story as a group from a single character.  Students will have the chance to build a character on their own and write approximately a few paragraphs to a page of fiction. Every student receives a signed bookmark.

Timing: 45 – 60 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade, classroom or small group (ideally, no more than 25 students)

Small Group Writing Session: Intensive on Plotting

Every writing student knows that you need a character, a goal, and something that stands in the way. But why does a plot matter? Introducing: the stakes, which can be challenging to create; even published authors struggle with the process of teasing out the stakes from the conflict. In this highly interactive workshop, we’ll talk about the basic structure of a story—character, goal, conflict, and stakes—for one of my works. Then students will create their own premises, complete with stakes—and experience a taste of revision when I ask them to adjust character, goal, conflict, or stakes. Every student receives a signed bookmark.

Timing: 45 – 60 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade, classroom or small group (ideally, no more than 25 students)

Skype Visits

During my virtual visits, students will see the nook where I write (and often meet Flora, my feline writing assistant). In this presentation, I’ll share three things that helped me become a writer (and help my writing to this day), as well as a real-life writing tip that I’m using for a work-in-progress. I’ll also read an excerpt from one of my books aloud (with Scottish accents), and answer student questions.

And if you’re reading one of my books aloud to your class, I’ll read the next chapter as my excerpt—or let your class pick the chapter I read!

Timing: 40-45 minutes

(I also offer a 15-20-minute visit with a brief introduction, reading, and Q&A at no charge.)

Audience: third to eighth grade, classroom, small group, or small assembly

Library Talks

My primary library talk is all about castles! Mighty fortresses of stone, that is, with murder holes, a portcullis, plenty of arrow loops…and more. In this talk, I share where my love of all thing tough and stone began (my childhood roaming the cliffs of Mount Desert Island), and then launch into castle defense. I share pictures and encourage the audience to imagine themselves both as castle defenders, but also invaders. This talk is full of fun facts about moats, stuff that gets caught in armor, and what to think about as you design your own castle. And then we create our own, using paper models that I provide of a traditional Norman tower. This presentation includes a read-aloud and book signing. (1 hour, including the craft activity)

If you’d like something else for your library, let me know! I’ve also done library-based writing workshops and a meet-the-author book group.

Each library talk includes a signing. (Let me know if you have a relationship with your local bookstore.)

Book Signings

Book signings are part of each in-person visit, or, in cases where time is limited, I’m happy to sign books in advance. Contact your local bookstore (many offer school discounts) or Penguin Young Readers (which also offers school discounts). Use this Penguin Young Readers Book Sales Form for Penguin Young Readers sales.



With the coronavirus crisis, I am not appearing in-person anywhere at present. If you’d like to book me for a virtual appearance, please contact me with the kind of talk you’d prefer, and what specific date/s or general month you’d like to request.


For Schools or Libraries (virtual visits):

A 40- to 45-minute presentation: $150

A 15- to 20-minute read-aloud and Q&A: Free

For Schools (in-person visits):

  • Three author talk presentations and/or small group writing sessions
  • Breakfast or lunch with students selected by teachers or your school librarian
  • A book signing

Within 25 miles of Freeport, Maine: $750/day

Beyond 25 miles of Freeport in Maine: $1,000/day plus travel (including accommodations, if necessary)

Outside of Maine: $1,500/day plus travel (including airfare and accommodations, if necessary)

For Community Libraries (in-person visits):

  • One 45- to 60-minute author presentation (either remarks, a reading, and Q&A; a interactive craft presentation; a book group; or a special writing workshop)
  • A book signing

Maine libraries within 25 miles of Freeport: $200

Maine libraries beyond 25 miles of Freeport: $250 plus travel (including accommodations, if necessary)

Outside of Maine: This varies widely depending on location, how far you are from Maine, and if I might be in the area for something else. Contact me for this one!


Do you need help planning an author visit? Penguin Young Readers has an excellent checklist, “How to Plan an Author Appearance,”that might be of use.

To arrange an author talk, please contact me with the talk or small group session you’re interested in and the date/s you’d like to request. Thanks!