Author Presentations & Writing Workshops:
Want your students (or adult writer’s group) to learn writing tips and tricks from a published writer? Contact me about a presentation!
Most popular with elementary school students:
Create and Describe a Superpet:
What kind of superpower would a chicken choose? Kelly will discuss how she went from researching and observing chickens to creating the super-powered chickens in her Unusual Chickens series. Students will answer questions to create a superpowered pet to use in their own stories, then describe it using their five senses. Works well for large assemblies as well as small workshops. Participatory; great for young people with great imaginations who might not see themselves as readers and writers yet.
How can you do research for the stories you make up? Kelly will discuss the different kinds of research she did for Sauerkraut and the Unusual Chickens series, including her own observations and hands-on learning, such as building a computer, making sauerkraut, and talking to chicken experts. Then, she’ll take examples from students’ stories and discuss how to make imaginary things — like ghosts and dragons — feel real to readers by researching related concepts. Works well for large assemblies as well as small workshops. Participatory; great for young people with wide-ranging interests who might not see themselves as readers and writers yet.
Most popular with teen writing groups:
Writing Tips & Tricks:
How do writers write an entire draft of a novel — and what can they do to make it better? Kelly will discuss some of the tips and tricks real writers use. Students will participate in exercises such as making boring sentences better and thwarting protagonist’s goals. Kelly will also answer real-life questions about what it’s like to be a writer. Works well for large assemblies as well as small workshops. Participatory.
Other possible presentation topics:
Math & Science of Chickens & Other Pets (best for ages 11-13):
A 25-pound bag of food will feed five chickens for how many days? Why do chickens eat grit? What are feathers made of? How many chickens will fit on a five-foot-long roost at night? Get ready for some real-world pet math and science!
Writing Workshop: Letter You Can’t Mail (best for ages 11-adult):
Do you ever wish you could share something with someone you miss? What would you tell someone you never met, or who doesn’t even exist? How would you describe yourself in a letter to an imaginary employer, to get your dream job? Write a letter that no one can deliver.
So You Want To Write a Novel (best for ages 11-adult):
You have an idea — but can you really write a whole novel? What will it take to write that many words? What happens when you don’t feel like writing any more, or you lose your way? How to strategize a huge project like this, ways to keep yourself motivated, tips to keep moving forward even when you feel lost or stuck. (Can modify for other large writing projects.)
You Wrote Something – Now What? (best for ages 11-adult):
You wrote your first draft – now how do you make it better? When should you get feedback? How do you decide what to change? Editing tips to try on your own work, plus what to ask so your critiquers can help you improve your work. Participants will work through editing examples and design a few critique questions, then head home to put them to use in their own writing.
Writing as a Career (best for ages 11-adult):
What’s it like to work as a writer? How do you write a novel? How do you sell a book? How do you get paid? (Happy to talk detailed real-world math & even taxes here!) What kind of education/training is helpful? What do writers do (besides write)? What do agents do? What do editors do? What can I do right now, as a young person? How do writers meet other writers? What’s a critique group? What kinds of writers are there, anyway? (poet, journalist, novelist, etc) What about librarians, booksellers, and others who work with books, but don’t write them?
Other ideas? Particular topic suggestions? Feel free to ask!
Looking for an author for an inspirational keynote, or a panel about writing for young people, connecting with bookstores and libraries, or another topic? I love speaking to groups, and sharing real talk about my experiences!
I support equity and inclusivity in the world of books and beyond. I’m not available for any book events that discriminate against marginalized or underrepresented people, either on the page or off.
Along with many other writers who write for young people, I’ve pledged to only participate in conferences and conventions that have a clear harassment policy that’s publicized to attendees: one that makes it clear what behavior is unacceptable, and who to go to for help if an attendee feels harassed. Not sure if your event’s policy meets this criteria, or looking for help developing one? Please contact me, and I’ll try to put you in touch with someone who can help.
I’ve also pledged to serve only on panels that include voices of color. If you’ve just realized the panel you’re planning only includes white voices, and you’d like to change that, please contact me — I’d be happy to help connect you with wonderful authors of color to ask!