Author Talks

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. We’ll start the conversation there!

“Thank you so much for being a part of the 6th grade Career & Aspirations Day at Memorial. We appreciate all the time and energy you dedicated to preparing, and presenting. You did an amazing job. By far, our favorite presentation of the day! We are all very excited for your upcoming book. We look forward to having you back at school again. We truly appreciated hearing about your journey in being an author.”

—A lovely hand-written thank-you note from my very first author talk (before my book was in print) in South Portland, Maine!

Author Talk 1: Brick by Brick (and Don’t Forget the Portcullis): 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 Create a Premise, an activity in which I lead students to build a medieval story premise of their own—and then revise it to see in real time how a story can evolve. Every student receives a signed bookmark.

Timing: 45 – 60 minutes

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

Author Talk 2: Of Merlons and Moats: Creating a Fictional Setting

Setting plays a crucial role in every work of fiction. A choice of time period, country, and world serves not just as the backdrop but offers distinct choices of character and plot to the writer. In this talk, I’ll start with a brief reading from my book to illustrate this, then work with students to explore how to create a setting using the fictional world I know best—a medieval one—and build a setting with your students through audience participation. This talk includes: historical facts to consider when creating a medieval world (such as castles from different eras, geographically accurate flora and fauna, and life in a medieval village) and how to use them. Every student receives a signed bookmark.

Timing: 45 – 60 minutes

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

Author Talk 3: Gentle Villains and Frightened Heroes: Creating Unusual Characters

A character from any traditionally villainous group can be a hero, as this talk will show. I’ll describe protagonists, antagonists, and how the definition depends on who’s telling the story. I’ll start with a brief reading from my book to show how I handled this, and then explore with students some kinds of roles medieval that people held and what flexibility a writer has with them. I’ll also build two characters (a villain and a hero) with audience participation. This talk delves into such topics as: a woman’s place in a medieval society (and what women could do about it), what medieval lords and peasants dealt with, and who medieval witches and bandits really were. Every student receives a signed bookmark.

Timing: 45 – 60 minutes

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

Small Group Writing Session: Intensive on Building Characters

In this session, I lead students through the process of creating characters. I’ll work on where to find potential characters, how to identify tropes and challenge stereotypes, what kinds of characters a story might have (protagonist, antagonist, sidekick), and how to create a character while creating a story. In this highly interactive workshop, students will build a premise, determine narrative perspective and character voices, 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 The Mad Wolf’s Daughter. 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 Skype presentations, I’ll hold a conversation with a class or book club about how I became a writer and how The Mad Wolf’s Daughter evolved, as well as answer student questions about the novel, writing, and the writer’s life. These are limited to individual groups, and I ask that your class or school library purchase a copy of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter so that students attending these visits will have the chance to read it before I present.

Timing: 30 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade, classroom or small group

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 or Penguin Young Readers (which offers school discounts) for sales. Use this Penguin Young Readers Book Sales Form for Penguin Young Readers sales.

Rates

For Schools:

  • 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 50 miles of Freeport, Maine: $500/day

Beyond 50 miles of Freeport in Maine: $750/day plus travel (including accommodations, if necessary)

Outside of Maine: $1,250/day plus travel (including airfare and accommodations, if necessary)

For Community Libraries:

  • One 60-minute author presentation (based on “Author Talk 1: The Writing Journey”)
  • A book signing

Maine libraries: $100

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

School Skype Visits:

Free

Scholarships:

I love what public schools do for their communities and I want to support schools whenever I can. I’m also a big fan of Maine community libraries. I offer limited scholarships for schools and libraries in Maine (and occasionally out of state), depending on my schedule. Please contact me if you’d like me to speak and can’t fit me into your budget. I’ll see what I can do.

Questions?

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!