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Author Visits

I very much enjoy visiting schools and other venues.  In 2015 alone, I have spoken at 17 schools, 2 conferences, 2 award ceremonies, and 2 other events.

When I speak at a school gathering my presentation generally focuses on tales of my own youth as a vehicle for discussing what writing means to me (and can mean to students), for highlighting important aspects of the writing process, and for generally exhorting students to do what they love and to do it to the best of their abilities. The photograph of me in the sixth grade with cat-eye glasses usually draws some good laughs, especially from the teachers! The story of the civil war “diary” I wrote in eighth grade and sprinkled with water to look like tears resonates with the girls. The boys are more interested in my Drew Brees and the Saints comments! I especially enjoy the question and answer session at the end of an assembly.

I also include a discussion on Hurricane Katrina, especially when the students are focusing on Buddy. Students are curious and sympathetic. I am happy to share my own experiences and to answer the students’ questions on the subject.

In the individual classroom I like to answer questions or to hold a more casual discussion of the writing process. Having been a teacher myself, I am very comfortable in the classroom setting and find that students often have insightful questions that open interesting areas of discussion. In a writing class, I do not judge any student’s writing or comment on it. Students are not really prepared to hear “professional” advice, so it is usually better to stick to generalities.

Because of the target age group for my books, I do not speak to students younger than third grade.

What has worked very well in the past is for schools to join forces to organize a visit.  I can visit one school in the morning and one in the afternoon.  I can visit up to six schools in three days time this way.  I charge an honorarium plus all associated travel expenses.

While I prefer meeting students in person, I can also Skype.  I also charge a fee for the Skype visit.

I count myself lucky that I have been able to able to meet an astonishing array of talented teachers and interested students in my travels. If you are interested in a visit, please contact me at my email address here to inquire about dates and fees (or, if you have trouble emailing directly, use the website’s contact form here).

M.H. Herlong