Author Talks

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

I’ve adapted all of my author presentations to be virtual visits for the 2020/2021 school year. If you’d like to book me for a virtual visit, 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!


“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)

“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

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

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

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.

(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2 through 8.2, adapted for different grades)

Timing: 45 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.

(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3 through 8.3, adapted for different grades)

Timing: 45 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.

(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2 through 8.2, adapted for different grades)

Timing: 45 minutes

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

Free Virtual Visits

During my free virtual visits, I’ll share a few of the tools I’ve always used 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 (hint: this will involve revision). 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: 20 minutes

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

Library Talks

My library talk is all about castles! Mighty fortresses of stone, that is, with murder holes, portcullises, 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. This presentation includes a read-aloud.

Book Signings

Book signings have always been part of each in-person visit. With virtual visits, I’m happy to send personalized bookplates to a bookseller local to you or work out a plan with a bookseller local to me to personalize books and then have them ship to you. Let’s chat if you’d like to explore this option!



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


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!