Talks and Workshops
I have always loved talking to people, and helping people ...and having fun - and I'd love to meet you in person, no matter where you live.
I can give talks, presentations and workshops to groups of any age, anywhere - from Kindergartens to Retirement Villages: children, parents, teachers, writers, book-lovers …and every group size from a hall full of people to only 4 or 5 students. (In a past life I was a teacher!)And I'm always delighted to work in 'Residencies'.
I'm still a Registered Queensland Teacher and Blue Card holder.
For in-service sessions for teachers, and talks to adults, popular topics include:
Writing and Illustrating Picture Books
Pathways to becoming Published
Visual Literacy and The History of Books
One of my calligraphed artist's books was commissioned and used as part of World Expo'88's gift to the Queen
New Ideas of Creativity with Paper
Calligraphy and Illumination
Of course, I can offer similar presentations to all other groups - along with plenty of other 'writerly' or 'craft' alternatives.
If there are particular things that you think your group will be interested to hear about, I will make sure they are covered. It's usually best to allow a generous amount of time per topic, rather than ask me to try to cram everything I know into half an hour. Some things are not possible.
For general groups - children or adults - who want to know about the writing process, I usually cover:"Where do you get ideas from?"
"What does a writer do all day?"
(These two topics alone could take ½hour - especially if people are asking questions.)
Young children often like me to read one of my stories, and for older children, I can read an excerpt.
My talks and workshops are different from those of most other authors…
Whatever age group I'm talking to, my aim is to promote enjoyment from books, reading and writing. One way I do this is by talking about 'Books Through the Ages'.
If you have not done so already, please watch my
Attendees can handle original documents from 4000BC, pages of 13th century books, scrolls, old 18th century children's books …and much much more - all the things the videos show, plus I keep adding to the collection.
We look at book structures and 'Artist's Books', and how sometimes the construction of a book can act as a stimulus for the words. Perhaps I should show you:
By folding up the bottom of a sheet of paper a little way, then folding the whole thing zig-zag fashion from side to side, small pockets are created.
What kinds of things can you put in pockets? Pictures? Small books? Letters? Treasures? Rusty nails?
Constructing an 'artist's book' like this has given some reluctant senior students new enthusiasm for completing assignments, and yes, I have seen a book made this way filled with rusty items in some pockets and notes about iron, steel and corrosion in others.
Here are a couple of other ideas.
A circular book might be ideal for a 'Legend of the Devil's Marbles', for example.
I can help people make their own books. This can take up anywhere from 10 minutes to a whole day.
Writing and making books is one thing that people can do to help them win competitions. (You'll find some other ideas at
'How To Win Competitions'
. Now that's another idea for a topic I can cover.)
I can talk about, and show people, how my books have been created and published. One of them is written and illustrated on A2 sized sheets of paper.
When talking to older students and adults, it is interesting to discuss how changing technology is affecting the publishing industry - particularly 'print on demand'.
Popular recent sessions in schools have been:
Writing and Illustrating Picture Books
The History of Books
and workshops on
I am contracted to produce a new book on Greetings Cards and Scrapbbooking for a UK Paublisher. It will come out in 2012)
...but I can offer sessions on plenty of other topics!
Some groups want me to talk only about the actual process of writing, for example:
Good ways to start a story
'Show, don't tell'
Writing picturebook texts…
(Just this last one, writing picturebook texts, could take an hour or venb a full day with practical work included.)
I can try to provide some ideas to stimulate the imagination and get people writing and editing effectively. One involves writing 'family history'.
For those aiming to have a book of their own published, suggestions can be made for the preparation of a 'proposal' for the book, how to submit a book to publishers ...and other practicalities.
Whatever topics you would like to be covered, please, always allow heaps and heaps of time for me to answer questions.
Another alternative is for me to provide tuition in some illustration or lettering techniques - serious artwork or for fun:
Pictures in Celtic styles
Using gold leaf
My new 192 page book 'Practical Calligraphy'
was published in August 2010
Modern letters and decoration
Painting bugs, birds and beasts in miniature...
Other ideas for calligraphy topics can be seen in the tuition page of my new calligraphy website:
I am happy for all talks and workshops to be recorded provided you don't sell copies and that you can send me one.
I prefer to negotiate these figures, depending on how long you would really like me to speak, and, for schools, if you would also like me to speak to parents and teachers - perhaps after school.
Fees for Public Library and adult group presentations are also negotiable depending on talk duration and travel distance from my home in Stafford Heights, North Brisbane, Australia.
If necessary, I can be accommodated in a hotel, motel or private residence when far from Brisbane.
For book creation and illustration workshops, materials will be charged for. This is usually around $5 per student - or I can provide a list of requirements. I have a certain amount of equipment that I can loan.
To check my availability, or to book a visit, please contact me directly from this site, or through my super efficient 'Speakers Agent', Helen Bain, of 'Speakers Ink'.
Tel: 07 3397 6506
Helen (at) speakers-ink.com.au
I will be very happy to autograph all copies of any book.
When talking to children up to the age of about 8, I would appreciate it if schools offer my book picture book, 'Once a Creepy Crocodile' for sale to students by sending an order form to parents prior to my visit. Pre-selling books to students enhances the value they see in the talks that I give. When they have an autographed copy it can also help build or enhance the enjoyment they find in books and reading for years to come.
I can help with suggestions for order-forms, fliers and procedures. It is best to place an order about 6 weeks before the talk.
I can also provide contact details so that schools can order direct from the publisher, as an alternative to ordering from myself. Pre-payment may be required. Either way, this allows schools to make a profit from sales.
It would be nice if parents and children were made aware of this site.
I will provide a free copy to schools booking a visit so that teachers can read it in class - hopefully about 2 months before my arrival. Extra copies can be purchased if required. This helps the 'buzz' of the visit when the children will 'meet the author'.
For adult groups, I would appreciate being able to offer books for sale - but this is not absolutely essential.
For those groups that charge people to attend my talks and workshops, I can provide material that can be used in publicising the event. If the media can be interested in providing coverage, I will happily be interviewed if required.
In schools, it is probably best to have children of no more than 3 grades present at one time at a talk.
It is often helpful if children already have some ideas for questions to ask.
Though I am a Registered Teacher in Queensland, I expect teachers to organise the children and remain with their classes.
If more than one session is planned, a 15 minute interval between them will be necessary to rearrange the props and material that I bring. Please allow at least ¾ hour for lunch and reorganisation.
Providing flight or other travel arrangements allow it, I will always stay until all books have been signed. I can sign and mail adhesive labels for any books that I am not able to sign on the day.
If you've not yet read this article, you may find it interesting to read now. It's titled
'Writing For Boys'
- but it's really about developing everyone's love of books and reading, and the
are a movie version of the same thing.