Author Presentations/School Visits

School Visits, Creative Writing Camps, Workshops, Conferences

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Download my two-page School visit flyer.

Click here for everything you want to know about school visits—how to raise the money, how to prepare, and why authors can’t donate their time.

I love talking to students and other writers about my books and the writing process.  For more information about presentations, contact me or my booking agent, Carmen Oliver at The Booking Biz.

I would be happy to tailor a presentation and fee schedule to fit your organization’s needs.

A Few Testimonials:

“Donna Janell Bowman, author of the beautiful, informative book “Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness,” visited Benbrook Elementary for Reading Rock Stars. She was fabulous! The students were fascinated with her book, her Kindness Pledge, and her program from beginning to end! We highly recommend spending a morning with this interesting author!” — Librarian Susan Scheinthal, Benbrook Elementary, TX

“Donna’s presentation to our creative writing summer campers was both personal and professional. She told her story about how and why writing became a meaningful pursuit for her. She helped students understand her process for coming up with ideas, conducting research, drafting and revising, working with an illustrator, and staying motivated. Donna provided inspiration and insight young people can use as they continue to try new things in their writing. She also included a writing activity for our campers, and our group responded enthusiastically—they were very excited to share their work with her, as well. Donna’s positive energy and genuine interest in writing kept students engaged. Her talk was versatile and inclusive—campers from third-grade to twelfth-grade enjoyed learning from and talking with Donna.” – Cecily Sailer, Program Manager, Austin Public Library Friends Foundation

“Donna did a wonderful job speaking with the kids, never losing the positive message about her book. Her presentation was both entertaining and informative. Besides writing, she has a real talent for connecting with kids!” — Amy German, Youth Services Librarian, Round Rock Public Library

**Skype Visits Available.  I offer a free 15-minute Skype visit if your class would like to chat about one of my books. Contact me for more information. If you would like a full author visit via Skype, contact me for rates.

Sample School Programs

(All programs can be customized for specific audiences)


From Inspiration to Publication:

Bringing STEP RIGHT UP: HOW DOC AND JIM KEY TAUGHT THE WORLD ABOUT KINDNESS to life. It took nine years for this award-winning picture book biography to be realized. Learn about the spark of inspiration, the long and winding research journey, and the write, rewrite, revise, rinse, repeat process. At the heart of this story is the power of kindness, as evidenced by the estimated two million people who signed the original Jim Key Pledge between 1898-1907. At the conclusion of this presentation, I encourage each child to pledge kindness to all living beings—including each other. Download the pledge in color or black and white.

COMING FEBRUARY 2018: ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS (Peachtree Publishers). It is impossible to write about an entire life with any detail and gusto. How do you choose a specific focus, angle, anecdote to write about—especially when your subject is the most written-about biography subject in history? This forthcoming picture book biography shines a light on Lincoln’s human flaws—especially his bad choice that landed him on the dueling ground. As Abraham Lincoln himself learned, everyone makes mistakes,  but how we respond to our mistakes defines our character. Presentations about this book will include the related history and a discussion about character and integrity.

Research: From Inspiration to Fact-Finding Missions:

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Research begins with an idea and a spark of inspiration. Bringing that idea to life requires a wide and creative search for facts and details—a search that goes far beyond the internet and requires careful organization. In this presentation, I will share my own question-answer-question research process and offer ideas to inspire students to think outside the box during their own fact-finding missions.

Writing is Funtastic!

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FullSizeRender 3The Writing Life

The questions authors are most often asked by kids are: Where do authors get their ideas? How do they know where to begin and end their story? How long does it take to write a book? What is it like to be an author? I will answer these questions and more about what life as a writer is really like.

Writing Workshops

Student workshops can be customized for your particular group. In workshop settings, I will provide visual prompts to spark interactive student writings, expanding on the concepts of beginning, middle, ending, and details. If you prefer, we can focus on building scenes around autobiographical anecdotes. Additionally, I will address what every writer faces—writer’s block, the blank page, and crummy first drafts that can only evolve through revision.

FullSizeRender 7From Idea to Story

How do you come up with an idea, and how do you sculpt that idea into a story? Kids often struggle with the concept of story, which involves a character who struggles against obstacles in pursuit of a goal. I will discuss how, by accessing the writer’s toolbox, story and characters can come to life for the writer and the reader.


Texas Library Association (TLA) conference 2016

For Grown-up Writers

Tailored to the needs of your conference, workshop, or class, my presentation might include information about: the business side of writing for children, the pre-publication apprenticeship period, trade vs. educational/work-for-hire markets, writing across cultures, working with editors, finding an agent, and the nitty-gritty of queries, synopsis, cover letters, etc.

Nonfiction-specific for Writers 

Topics might include research, revision, finding the story within the facts, identifying the theme, and determining which form is most suitable for a particular subject — picture book, short story, article, middle grade, or young adult. See my Books page for a list of my current and forthcoming nonfiction books.

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Duel Benefits of Creative Picture Book Biographies and the Often Blurry Nonfiction Line (This topic works especially well as a workshop or class)
The current trend toward more creative approaches to picture book biographies is great news for today’s drama-focused young readers and educators alike. A biography with a tightly focused angle, presented through unique storytelling, literary devices, and story structures, can turn an informational subject into story time fare and a conversation about literary variety. Authors balance the role of historian and storyteller by using fiction techniques to stitch carefully-chosen facts into narrative form—while not making anything up—usually. Drawing on my critical thesis research and my own experiences along the publishing journey, I will present a handful of the creative techniques that successfully offer this dual opportunity; how those approaches and any embellishments can blur the nonfiction line; and how publishers, awards committees, and the Library of Congress feel about pushing the boundaries.