School Visits and Workshops

With ten years in classrooms, first as a K-8 science teacher and recently as a creative writing teacher with Seattle's Writers in the Schools program, I know how to get students inspired and keep them engaged. My talks and workshops are always entertaining, and can be easily adapted to suit groups from grades 3-12. Below is a sampling of my current talks and workshops, as well as a couple testimonials, and I am happy to tailor a visit to suit your needs. Please CONTACT ME for more info!


NEW: School Visits for LAST DAY ON MARS
My newest novel, LAST DAY ON MARS is a thoughtful science fiction adventure that is loaded with real science. This 40-60 minute talk, perfect for grades 3-6, focuses on three stories. First, I share my personal journey from an elementary school student writing fan fiction and comics, to published author, focusing on what I learned along the way about the perseverance, self-worth, and courage it takes to succeed, no matter what you dream of doing. Second, we let our imaginations run wild in the gritty, adventurous world of LAST DAY ON MARS, where we are leaving our solar system, and at the very last moment, two young teens discover the keys to saving humanity while struggling to survive on the dangerous red planet. Third, we learn about the mind-blowing REAL SCIENCE of Mars and of space travel, including exciting and sometimes freaky facts. What will it really be like for humans to go to Mars, to live in space? With smaller groups, we can even do a science experiment or two. The talk ends with plenty of time (though never enough!) for all the questions students are sure to have!


Other Talks

The Inside Story: Has your class read another one of my books? I'll tailor my talk to focus specifically on any title, diving deeper in where the story came from, how I put it together, and the themes that I hope are meaningful for my readers.

Following Your Inspiration: using my personal journey, as well as examples from other authors, athletes, and public figures, we talk about how our own lives can become a source of strength for following our dreams and becoming who we want to be. 

The Three Keys: For this talk, I focus on the genre of your choice: science fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, creative nonfiction, and discuss the three keys to creating successful, unique stories. 


Writing Workshops

I have taught hundreds of writing workshops in Seattle and across the country, working with middle school, high school, and elementary. These lessons have worked with both highly motivated and reluctant writers. In 2013, I was selected to present my lessons at the NCTE national conference. Below is a selection of topics I've covered. I work hard to design workshops that engage all students, even those who don't see themselves as writers, and can guarantee that with very few exceptions, kids will write! If you don't see a topic you'd like, just let me know, I probably have something. Fees for writing workshops are based on travel costs and number of hours requested. (I have done multi-day residencies at schools or in districts). I am aware of how budgets vary, so please contact me and we'll make it work. 

  • Character Development: What makes an excellent, nuanced character, and how do we create a captivating story around them?
  • Plotting vs. Inspiration: How much should you plan out your story in advance? Is there a benefit to making it up as you go? Is there a way to get the best of both worlds, and what are the key strategies of each approach?
  • Crafting a Setting: Not enough, too much? What is the perfect amount of setting to creative an immersive story experience, and how do we go about conceiving it and crafting it?
  • Finding Your Voice: How do we put ourselves into our stories, from the characters to the settings to the themes, in order to create more singular, unique work, and transcend the cliche?
  • Creative Nonfiction: Are real stories interesting? How can we write nonfiction with style and flair, so that readers are as hooked as they are when reading fiction?
  • Just Get Started: Why is it so hard to find an interesting beginning, or sometimes, to just get started at all? What strategies can we use to start our stories that engage both us and the reader?
  • Points for Style: How do we elevate our writing to create unforgettable voices? 
  • World-building: From fantasy to realistic fiction, sci-fi to a zombie wasteland, what are the best strategies for planning your world?
  • The Art is in the Revision: What are the best ways to think about, (and to stay sane during) revision? What strategies can we use to take our first (and second, and even third) drafts to the next level? 

Testimonials
"Kevin was amazing! His presentation style was very personal and he really drew kids in. He had them laughing and involved from the first moment he started speaking and kept them captive until the very end." -Melanie, Middle School Teacher in IL

"Kevin's presentation was hugely entertaining: funny, insightful, sad, thought-provoking, and energetic. In person, as in his novels, he is a gifted storyteller. He speaks to and from an adolescent perspective." -Kendra, Middle School Librarian in WA 

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