Power Point Presentations:
The Journey Of A Book: Where do ideas come from? How do I weave my childhood into my books? How do I do research? This uses Hard Hit and Maia of Thebes, a historical book about a courageous Egyptian girl in 1463 B.C. (grades 4-6, up)
Writing from the Dark Places: How do life's difficult experiences get transformed into books? This uses Learning to Swim (a memoir about early sexual abuse) and Hard Hit. (for older grades)
A Journey of the Heart: This traces the trajectory of a book--how do I start? What bogs me down? What is the role of the editor? It includes a historical picture book on Sojourner Truth, Hard Hit (narrative poetry about a boy confronting his father's death) and The Father of Lies (an unpublished historical novel about the Salem Witch Trials)
Writing History from 4 Feet Up: What is it like to experience historical events as a child--a hidden person in many cultures? What is it like to be a girl in 1462, Ancient Egypt? How did children see the journey west? (Grasshopper Summer, Red Flower Goes West and others.) What would it be like to be a Native American girl rounded up by U.S soldiers in 1864? (This is also a talk which can be used for adults as well)
Mining the Author's Psyche: How does my childhood influence my use of language and imagery? How did my mom being an artist affect my development as a writer? How do my historical picture books come from my own psyche and my family's past? (This includes primary source material from my great-grandmother's journal as she witnessed a slave auction in 1859)
Creative Transformation--How I Become My Characters: What is the imaginative process whereby I enter another's skin, psyche, and past? Dreaming, listening intently to others, mining my past, using the world of the senses, and investing in massive quantities of cafe latte all play a role in getting into another's skin. (This covers The Father of Lies, Katie's Trunk, Learning to Swim, and Hard Hit (writing from a boy's point of view).
Standing in the Dark Places: Explores how our own experiences of pain and suffering can make for authentic writing for adolescents. This uses Hard Hit and Learning to Swim. Our own authentic responses can make bridges to adolescents' struggles in a new and healing way.
Emotional Truth vs. Historical Truth, or, Putting the Story Back in History: All historical books draw on two sources--our own emotional and family history and how it is married to actual historical events (primary sources, research, and interviews). This talk will examine those two threads, and how reading history widens and educates the hearts of children.
Telling the Story in a Different Way: When disaster strikes--be it the mental illness of a child, the alcoholism of a spouse or parents, or some other disease--how we tell the story has an enormous impact on how we survive these events. This speech deals with the mental illness of a close family member and how we, as a family, dealt with it, grew, and came to a new and more hopeful stance. (Given at "WomenSpeak 2007", in San Antonio)