I enjoy speaking about my love of reading and writing at schools or conferences for teachers, librarians and/or writers. Please contact me for details, references, and fees. Workshops I’ve given in the past include:

Tell Me the Details My grandmother’s cast-off petticoats, shoes, and a wonderful cape filled a trunk in the room I shared with my sister when we were girls. The dress-ups made it easy to pretend we were other people. I’ve grown up to be a writer, and rarely dress up, but just as the sounds of an opening lid and rustling fabric once wakened my imagination, I still depend on sounds, sight, touch, and scents to bring me closer to strangers. Imagining myself in other people’s shoes, hats, corsets, or saris helps me to understand others, and the sensory details I select help my readers to know that person, too.

When I write picture books, I’m challenged to show the essence of someone’s life in a story that can be read in five or ten minutes. In this workshop, I show how to find and use images to bring vitality to writing; how to develop topics using fictional devices such as dialogue, story arcs, and metaphors; and how to make an “inspiration box” by collecting things that evoke sights, sounds, feelings, smells, and tastes.

Finding the Story in History and the World Around Us I show how to research past and current events to find human dramas at the core. I explore how non-fiction reading can lead to ideas and how empathy can help us to explore and develop those ideas. Fact and fiction may blur together, and I explain how investigation, interpretation, and imagination can overlap in a writer’s work.

Waking the Dead: Writing about Women’s History I focus on the research methods I’ve used for my picture books and novels, discussing how I’ve found clues to past secrets in archives that include old journals and letters. I stress ways to ask question about what you read and show the need to read between the lines, finding clues in what’s not said as well as what’s said. I explain why I focus on women’s still-underexplored lives.