Programs and School Visits: Sample Presentation Topics

I can create and customize presentations to fit a teacher’s curriculum or an organization’s needs. All programs except for educator workshops can be adapted for audiences ranging from fifth-graders to adults. Multi-author programs can be arranged.

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Click here for testimonials about M.P. Barker’s presentations.

Types of Events:

Writing workshops:
Length: 1 or 2-hour presentation
Description: Interactive workshops for writers of all ages and skill levels who want to improve their writing, research, and revision skills and learn how to get published. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.

Sample presentations:

  • The Rocky Road to Publication (one-hour presentation) – Learn how to get published, from researching editors and agents to writing a good query letter and dealing with rejection.
  • Researching Primary Sources for Historical Fiction (one–hour presentation that can be expanded to a two-hour workshop) – How can you use primary sources to bring realism to your historical fiction? Get tips on finding and evaluating the resources that make your historical novel come alive. In the two-hour version, you’ll have a chance to work with primary documents and discover what they can add to your own writing.
  • Character Building Exercises (one-hour workshop) – Having trouble creating believable characters? This workshop shows you how to craft well-rounded story people.
  • Self-Editing and Revision (one-hour presentation that can be expanded to a two-hour workshop) – In this how-to workshop,  take your manuscript from rough draft to polished prose.  Get valuable tips for mapping your story with charts and timelines, identifying and highlighting themes, and tightening up your manuscript. In the two-hour version, you’ll have the chance to practice what you’ve learned and receive input on your manuscript.

General Author Visit
Length: 45-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A
Description: Short presentation with general comments about the book(s), writing process, and other information that answers questions most commonly asked at my events; a reading from the book(s); a question and answer period; a book sale and signing period.
Sample presentations:

  • Meet the Author – Learn the inside story on my books. Where did I get my ideas for settings, plot, and characters?
  • Book Group Discussions – Sometimes in the reading of a novel, a person wonders what the author was thinking. Was it difficult to write certain scenes or to create an unlovable character? Why was a situation resolved in that particular way? I’ll meet with book group members who’ve read my book(s) and answer their questions.

Themed Author Visit
Length: 45-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A
Description: Similar to a general visit, but structured to address a specific audience (such as tween/teen readers, adult readers, writers, historians, teachers, etc.) or theme (such as a conference, program, series, or celebration currently underway or planned by the hosting organization. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.

Sample presentations:

  • A Child’s Life in 19th Century New England: What was it like to grow up in 19th-century New England? What sorts of chores did children have and what did they do for fun? How were their lives different from kids’ lives today?
  • The Author’s Life: What is it like to be a writer? How do you get a book published? What is it like working with editors and agents?
  • Fact into Fiction: How do historical novelists find all that information? And how do they turn it into interesting stories? Learn about the challenges involved in turning historical fact into historical fiction.
  • Life as an Indentured Servant: How did children get indentured? How long would a child have to serve? What were living conditions like for indentured servants in the 1830s?
  • Running Away to Join the Circus: Learn the backstage story of what circuses were like in the 1830s and how they grew into their present form. Find out about life beneath the Big Top before it became the Big Top we know today.
  • From Circus Tents to Shanty Towns: Find out how a novelist turns fact into historical fiction as I share the research behind my historical novel, Mending Horses. The topics delved into while writing the book ranged from circuses to Irish shanty towns to the arrival of the railroad in Western Massachusetts.

Dual-Author Presentation or Group-Author Presentation
Length: 45 to 90-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A
Description: A general or themed presentation by me and another author or with a group of authors. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.

Sample presentations:

  • Dual-ing Authors – One event, two authors. Our presentations and our writing genres may be totally unrelated, or the program may bring together similarities between our work. Past presentation topics have included: trends in young-adult literature; research techniques; how to find an agent and publisher; and the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • Author Panels and Author Events – I participate in a variety of author panels and multiple-author events at conferences, book fairs, and other events created by or for libraries, schools, and other organizations. The authors’ presentations or the panel discussions may be related by genre, work process, theme, etc.

Educators’ Professional Development Workshops:
Length: 1-hour presentation
Description: A presentation focused on strategies to enhance reading, writing, and history curricula. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.

Sample presentation:

  • Using Primary Historical Resources to Enhance Reading and Writing Curricula: Artifacts, images, and primary documents can bring an additional dimension to readings in history and historical fiction and help make history come alive. Participants will learn how to find those resources and to use them to enrich reading and writing curricula while connecting students with the past.

Conference Speaker
Length: Customized to conference needs
Description: I’m available to speak or present workshops at conferences and will tailor presentations to themes and audiences.

Other Things to Know about Events:

  • All books I bring to sell at my author visits are offered at a cost slightly below retail value and includes sales tax.*
  • Book sales are handled by me or my assistant; no one from your organization is burdened by this task.*
  • I can also arrange sales through a local bookseller, if you prefer.
  • I offer to send a press release announcing the event to local newspapers and will provide it to you for use in newsletters, Web sites, or elsewhere.
  • I can provide you with an easily duplicated poster to promote the event.

*Not applicable to book store events.

You can use the form below to contact the author about creating a special presentation for your group:

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