Need something beyond my books? Get in touch with me, and I’ll work with you directly. I do a lot of speaking and school visits. Below are some of my presentation themes. At far bottom are tips on creating a successful author event.
Your students have all read one of my novels or short stories, and I come to your school. It’s the students’ chance to ask me anything: what they didn’t like or understand about the writing, “where my ideas came from,” etc. Along the way I make the point that writing is a process, not a miracle. I also try to intersect with what what teachers have been working on in class. My goal? Empower kids to keep reading, plus leave them feeling more confident about writing.
“Oral History Project”
New and totally cool!. My novel Memory Boy is used widely in schools. One of its main threads is an oral history project wherein a sixteen year old boy has to work with a very crabby old man (they become pals). Schools have begun using Memory Boy as the bridge to real-world oral history projects linking students to elder communities. It’s a big project, but I can help you with the process. The results are—well, look for yourself.
“From Fiction to Film (And More)”
I focus on how a novel or short story is adapted to film or another art form. I share my experiences working with Hollywood producers on a CBS television movie, and also my recent successful indie film Sweet Land. I also show clips from the 2016 operatic production of my novel, Memory Boy, then compare with scenes in the book. Fun stuff!
“Pathway to Publication”
I cover the general process of writing and publishing a novel. This includes a step-by-step look at the stages a novel goes through: plot idea, research, rough draft chapters, submitting to an agent, revision (revision, revision!), book contracts, copy editing, book arts (cover and book design), reviews, book launch, etc. Along the way, we look at the techniques of really good fiction—the can’t-stop-reading kind of prose you need in order to be competitive in the publishing world.
“One Book, One Community”
This is a great program whereby a community chooses a single book, gets everybody to read it, then brings in the author. I’ve done several of these; they take a lot of planning and organizing, but they always turn out well. It’s a great way to bring your community together.
Your school chooses one of my novels. I arrange for a book discount directly from my publisher, and then everyone at your school (including administrators and custodians!) reads the book. Then we gear up for a meet-the-author, ask-him-anything day at your school. One of my goals has been to keep young men reading. Note my stock car, the No. 16 Midwest Modified “Bookmobile,” which goes with a trilogy of three racing novels.
“Commencement Speeches and Special Occasions”
I’ve made keynote speeches at book award ceremonies, dedicated new libraries, and recently gave the commencement address at the University of Minnesota at Morris. I don’t give canned talks or read from ‘prepared remarks’.
Arranging an Author Visit
Contact me through this website, or Facebook or Twitter. Let me know your school or organization’s needs. Whatever it is, I’ve probably done it. Early on we should talk about my author fee. Make me an offer, or I can, if you like. I’m happy to list what honoraria I’ve been paid recently; you can see whether you’re in the ballpark. If you’re short on funds, considering pairing with another organization. Once we agree on a fee, we’re good to go.
6-12 months in advance: groundwork
Time to start coordinating with other teachers or media specialists, and setting the schedule. Your goal is the get your money’s worth from my visit. In terms of workload, I like no more than three contact hours in a school setting per day, though on occasion I have done more. A typical arrangement is an afternoon in a school, then a public library event in the evening. Or, 3-4 sessions in a school day, along with lunch with teachers, meet with the student writers’ club, etc. All schools and communities are different. I’m flexible.
3 months in advance: logistics
Stay in close touch with me about the details of the trip. Would you like me to prep the students or readers ahead of time via email or Skype? Where are the event’s books coming from–a local bookseller or direct from the publisher? I can help with the latter. Will there be book sales after the event? Who will handle that? I seldom bring books to sell because your local indie bookstore needs all the help we can give it. I’m also happy to sign books and chat so long as someone handles the book sales.
1 month in advance
Intersect with your local media. Your hometown newspaper, radio, or television affiliate will be happy to publicize the event, but you have to contact them. Remember: your goal is to get the most value from my visit, which includes publicity for your school, library, or organization.
2 weeks in advance
Send me a specific itinerary with dates, names, phone numbers, directions to the school (imagine you’re a travel agent). Also, be sure to test your tech equipment and make sure someone is on hand to run it for the day of the event. Do you have decent audio speakers? Those are often overlooked.
Relax! Enjoy your hard work in making this event happen. I’m on duty, I like what I’m doing, and I’m good at it. My goal is to meet as many people (students, administrators, community members) as possible, to confirm to them that your school or library is a happening place– full of good ideas like this one.
Blurbs from Educators
“Thanks so much for keynoting our 2016 ARSL Conference in Fargo. You were a big hit with the attendees–the surveys were so positive about your humor and your stories.” Vicki Bartz. ARSL (National Association of Rural and Small Libraries).
“We thoroughly enjoyed your school visit. Afterward, I had kids who normally don’t care about reading come to the library and take a book home to read.” D. Musland. Principal, LaMoure School. LaMoure, North Dakota.