I am always happy to visit with readers of all ages. Over the years I’ve given several presentations at schools (elementary, middle school, and high school), libraries, stores, book festivals, and conferences.
To schedule a visit or to get more information about programs, fees, etc., please contact me. If your event or school district needs multiple authors, you can make your budget go further by booking both me and my husband, Chris Barton (Shark vs. Train) — ask me for details!
I currently offer several presentations, including:
An Open Book
In this program I use anecdotes, photos and other visual material to discuss the inspiration behind my books, and explain my process of coming up with novel ideas, writing, editing, and revision.
The Many Secret Identities of Writers
Those who write use skills other than simply writing. In fact, the steps involved in creating stories correlate to all kinds of talents and professions. Find out how writers are part spy, part movie director, part explorer, part professional athlete, part sculptor, and other secret “identities” — and how the act of writing is much more dynamic that it appears.
Missions and Motives
In this age of skimming headlines and getting news from 140-character tweets, students need to understand the importance of analyzing written material and questioning what is read. It’s not enough to know what happened, one needs to also understand why it happened. This interactive presentation looks at stories — from classics like The Wizard of Oz to more contemporary stories — that on a superficial level, seem to be about one thing, but are actually about much more. Students will see how reading more deeply and asking questions will make them better readers and thinkers.
Want to Write? Four Steps to Shaping & Selling Stories (for aspiring authors of all ages)
What should someone do in order to become a writer? Only four simple things! During this talk, I relate my own path to publication, including all the stops and stumbles along the way. I emphasize how each step, even if I didn’t realize it at the time, helped prepare me for my career. I also describe my writing process, explain how I fit writing into a busy routine, and debunk several myths people have about published authors.
Who’s Telling Your Story? (a brief workshop for young school audiences)
Using my novels as a starting point, I discuss the importance of point-of-view in storytelling. I review the differences between first, second, and third-person POV and explain how I decide which to use in a story. At the end I do a brief exercise that demonstrates how a different POV can significantly alter a piece of writing.
How Not to Write a How-To (a brief workshop for young school audiences)
Using the novel How Not to Be Popular as a starting point, I help students create their own silly how-to pieces on such topics as “How to Make Your Teacher Retire,” “How to Drive Your Brother/Sister Crazy,” or “How Not to Behave at a Fancy Party,” etc. (Other mini workshop topics are available on “crafting effective beginnings” or “setting tone and finding voice.”)
A Pen Name by Any Other Name… (for writing conferences and retreats)
Throughout my writing career I have penned 18 books under different pseudonyms. In this presentation I discuss my experiences, describe how they shaped me as a novelist, and explain the risks and rewards of work-for-hire writing.