Author Talks

Here I’m reading a chapter of The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter to the students at Spruce Mountain Elementary (grades 3 to 5). credit: Amy Ryder

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!

Testimonials:

“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

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 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.

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 Skype presentations, I talk a little bit about what it takes to be a writer (and encourage kids who struggle to write), then read an excerpt aloud (yes, with Scottish accents) and answer questions.

I love to let students choose the excerpt. This makes the presentation especially meaningful for students who are part-way into the book as a class (in that case, I read the next chapter) or have finished the book. (If the class hasn’t read it, that’s fine; then I’ll just choose an excerpt myself.)

Skype sessions are limited to individual groups, and I ask that your class or school library get a copy of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter and/or The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter so that students at these visits will have the chance to read one of my works.

Timing: 30 minutes

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

Library Talks

I offer four kinds of library talks:

For a general audience: a traditional author talk with a reading and Q&A. This is the best one for an audience that includes an equal number of adults and kids. (45 minutes)

For a largely student audience of mixed ages: a castle talk, slideshow, and craft activity. In this presentation, I read an excerpt from one of my books, explore details of Scottish castles defensive structures, and then lead students in creating their own paper castle from a blueprint I provide. (45 minutes – 1 hour)

For an exclusively student audience (approximately 4th through 8th grade): a meet-the-author book group. Students read one of my works in advance, and we discuss it in detail. I’ll share what motivated me to write various scenes and ask my own questions, but the student questions will lead the discussion. I’ll also read aloud a chapter of the group’s choice. This works well if you have a tween book club; I can visit during the last session. (45 minutes – 1 hour)

For an exclusively student audience who likes to write (approximately 4th through 8th grade): a writer’s workshop. In this presentation, I read a brief excerpt aloud, offer a prompt that connects with that reading, and invite young writers to sketch out a paragraph to a page of their own work. I then invite anyone who wishes to read their own work aloud. (45 minutes – 1 hour)

Each library talk includes book sales. Let me know if you have a local bookstore with whom you generally work.

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.

Rates

Availability:

I’m currently scheduling for the 2019/2020 school year: school presentations (in-person or Skype) and library visits (in-person). If you’d like me to present at your school or library, please contact me with the kind of talk you’d prefer, and what specific date/s or general month you’d like to request.

2019/2020 SCHOOL YEAR RATES:

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 Schools (Skype visits):

Free

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!

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!