Author Presentations/School Visits

School Visits, Creative Writing Camps, Workshops, Conferences

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Download my two-page school visit flyer here.

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, email me at donna@donnajanellbowman.com.

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

A Few Testimonials:

“The best writers’ workshop we’ve had in years! Step Right Up is such a perfect fit for schools wanting literary nonfiction mentor texts brought to life. Its kindness theme offered our children a nice position paper prompt opportunity, and her thorough research exemplifies the importance of good supporting details. Donna Janell Bowman is flexible and professional, and she truly inspired our young writers. She brought her research notes, the cover art for her next book, her beautiful 5′ canvas sign, and slides that chronicled the steps involved for writing Step Right Up. She customized her writers’ workshop presentation to suit our fourth-grade curriculum and writing targets. My teachers asked if she could return next year!”  —Mariah Smith, Forest Creek Elementary

“To say that Donna Bowman, author of Step Right Up,  had a successful author visit at Alcuin School would be a gross understatement.  Every presentation, every class visit, every meeting with parents, administrators and staff was a conversation about the importance of kindness.  That message is such a universal one that our entire community continues to discuss it weeks after her visit. The students created banners of “kindness” words and displayed their signed Pledges of Kindness in the library.  Some students wrote letters or drew pictures for Ms. Bowman. The magic seems stronger when the students have opportunities to be involved, so we found that it was helpful for everyone to have read or listened to the story of Jim Key.  The message of kindness is something our world needs to hear; and thus, we hope other schools bring Ms. Bowman for a visit and begin spreading the message one school at a time.”  Mary Ann Campbell, Alcuin Montessori School—Dallas, TX

“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 or combined for specific audiences)

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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. In addition to the expanded content, learn about the spark of inspiration, the long and winding research journey, and the write, rewrite, revise, rinse, repeat process. When feasible, research materials and artificacts will be shared. At the conclusion of this presentation, students will be encouraged to take the Step Right Up Kindness Pledge. Download the pledge in color or black and white.

COMING Spring, 2018: ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S DUELING WORDS (Peachtree Publishers). This forthcoming picture book biography shines a light on Lincoln’s great big mistake that landed him on the dueling ground. As Abraham Lincoln learned, everyone makes mistakes, but how we respond to our mistakes defines our character. Presentations about this book will include the related writing and research process, as well as a discussion about character and integrity. When feasible, research materials and artifacts will be shared.

The Writer’s Life
This presentation description is purposely blank because every school’s population and needs are different. This is the ultimate customized author visit. You tell me what type of content would help your students and teachers, and I’ll create it for you. It might be a combination of other presentations listed here, or something entirely new.

Research: From Inspiration to Fact-Finding Missions:

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Research begins with an idea—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 discuss the importance of finding a focus, plus I’ll share the question-answer-question process and the differences between primary and secondary sources. Students are encouraged to arrive at this presentation with a topic in mind for their own writing. When possible, I will bring artifacts and one of my mega-binders of research to illustrate the range of my own research.

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From Idea to Story—Workshop

Student workshops can be customized for particular groups. Whether you’re looking to prime fourth-graders for persuasive writing, expand on the concept of beginning-middle-end, or fleshing out moments into scenes, an interactive workshop can motivate kids and reinforce classroom teachings. This workshop can focus on nonfiction or fiction.

For Grown-up Writers

Tailored to the needs of your conference, workshop, or class, my presentation may 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 may 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 an adult 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.