Author Talks

Presenting to a wonderful crowd at Spruce Mountain Elementary. Photo: Amy Ryder

I’m booking visits for schools and libraries for 2024/2025. If you’re eager to have a visit from me, please contact me and let me know which presentations you’d like. Thank you!

Author Talk: Building the Writing Journey

Photo: Heather Shadish

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 to my debut, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, and share how it’s continued: 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 a read-aloud, as well as 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: 60 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade; classroom, grade, or assembly; or library student group

All About the Monster: A Monster-Building Writing Workshop

These are the Umbrae, the monsters of Secret of the Shadow Beasts (art by Vivienne To).

Monsters are among the most popular villains in fiction, yet what if the monster was the hero? In this guided writing workshop, I lead students in monster-building from that perspective. We’ll create our monster, think about some essentials, and then build it as the protagonist of its own story—with its own motivations and challenges. I’ll start this presentation with a brief reading from my newest book, Secret of the Shadow Beasts, to share some of the monsters I’ve worked on most recently—and describe how I might have written this novel if they were the ones in charge! This presentation includes a brief Q&A.

Timing: 60 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade; classroom, grade, assembly, or full school; or other student group (such as at a library)

Make a Premise, Build Your Story: A Guided Writing Workshop

Students came up with incredible ideas during my this virtual writing workshop with St. Clare’s Primary School, Hong Kong. I love seeing student creativity in action. Photo: Ms. Sandy

In this highly interactive presentation, I’ll guide students through the process of creating a story premise—and then work with them to build it even more, using elements of fiction: perspective, character arcs, setting and sense of place, and action scenes. I’ll start with examples from my books to illustrate the concepts, and then this presentation will explore students’ ideas and celebrate their creativity—by introducing topics from the ELA classroom as experiential learning. This presentation includes a brief Q&A.

Timing: 60 minutes

Audience: third to eighth grade; classroom, grade, assembly, or full school; or other student group

Author Talk: Brutal Blocks of Stone and More: Building *Your* Castle

So, are you creating a castle? Writing, drawing, or building (in Minecraft, Lego, paper) are all are great ways to delve into medieval defense. This talk will introduce you to some of the ingenious (and nasty) details of these mighty fortresses of stone—and the murder holes, portcullises, and arrow loops that make them what they are. In this presentation, I share different parts of castle defense with real-life examples so that you can picture your own castle—from the perspective of a defender or invader. This talk includes fun (and disgusting) facts about moats and stuff that could get caught in medieval armor. This presentation includes a read-aloud. (For ages 7 to 13)

Free Virtual Visits

In this presentation, I read a chapter of one of my books aloud and answer student questions.

As always, if you’re reading one of my books to your class, I’ll read the next chapter or let your class pick its favorite.

Timing: 20 minutes

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



Schools or Libraries (virtual visits):

A 60-minute presentation: $500

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

For Schools or Libraries (in-person visits):

I love doing school and library visits, but with my day job schedule, it can be challenging to fit in-person visits into my schedule. I can, however, usually find time to do a few local visits within 20 miles of Freeport, Maine:

  • 1 presentation/writing workshop: $500
  • Three presentations/writing workshops: $1,500

I rarely do out-of-town visits, but sometimes have an open window those those. Please contact me if you’d like one, and I can share my price (which differs from local visits).

 A note:

I support equity and inclusivity in the world of books and beyond. I am not available for any book events that discriminate against marginalized or underrepresented people, either on the page or off.


“Your virtual visit was a big success! Thanks very much for allowing enough room for students to engage and interact with you, and taking them on a literary journey. The virtual author visit is the first of its kind that we tried out at our school. We usually schedule in-person visits but what we witnessed on that day was way beyond our expectations as well. This clearly was a valuable learning opportunity for our senior graders.” Ms. Sandy, St. Clare’s Primary School, Hong Kong (Interactive Virtual Writing Workshop)

“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 (Author’s Journey)

“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 (Author’s Journey)

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 Print: A Bookstore to have personalized signed books shipped to you. Let’s chat if you’d like to explore this option!


Do you need help funding a visit? If you’re a school in Maine, the Maine Literacy Fund can help.

If you’re looking for advice on planning an author visit, Penguin Young Readers has an excellent checklist: How to Plan an Author Appearance

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!