Schools and Events

My goal as a speaker and workshop leader is to help students see that storytelling is their native language, and writing fiction is just a creative and imaginative extension of the sharing of our lives and experiences that we do every day. I like to demonstrate this by showing how my novels have grown from my real life experiences – the places I’ve been, things I’ve done, family matters, friendships,  and feelings. Then I use exercises I’ve developed to help students unlock their own imaginations and create meaningful fiction.

Here’s a list of some of the programs I’ve presented. If you’d like to know more about fees and availability for schools and conferences, or if you’d like to talk about developing a program that meets your specific needs, feel free to contact me.

Video to come.

Fiction Writing

Multi-media program and exercises that can be condensed into a single class period or expanded to a half-day or multi-week workshop, and adapted for grade level.

  • Ideas: Going to the Bottomless Well
  • Building Character: Theirs and Yours
  • Setting: Beyond Window Dressing
  • Plot: For Those Who Wish Life Made Sense

Nature Writing

A multi-media presentation that touches on the use of nature as character in The Blind Faith Hotel, along with information on writing fiction, getting published, and the importance of being heard. The writing workshop can be coupled with a program on the history and ecology of prairies presented by Jo Ellen Siddens, a restoration ecologist who has worked with conservation organizations and public land agencies in the Chicago region for the past 25 years.

Sampling of Appearances and Engagements

School Visits and Writing Workshops

  • Chicago Public Schools Writing and Literacy Program
  • Ragdale Foundation Core Teaching Artist for Middle School and High School
  • Off Campus Writers Workshop
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – Illinois
  • Companions Prison Ministry Journaling Program

Conferences and Events

  • Union League Club of Chicago
  • Illinois State Library
  • Midwest Music Educators

Awards and honors

  • Society of Children Books Writers and Illustrators Judy Blume Grant for Contemporary Fiction
  • Illinois Arts Council award recipient
  • Mary France Shura Award, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators