Programs for Students
elisebooksigningI’d be happy to visit your school and speak to students about my books or about the writing and publishing process. The following 50-minute presentations can be tailored appropriately for students in grades K-12. The Shakespeare’s Secret presentation (for Grades 4-8) and Masterpiece presentation (for Grades 3-7) are most meaningful if students have read the books in advance.

“One School, One Book: Masterpiece
For Grades K – 6.  This presentation is specifically designed for a school-wide read of Masterpiece. For the older grades, the presentation will cover the journey from the initial idea to the finished novel, with a discussion of mystery writing, the appeal of fantasy worlds, the process of researching the book, and the particular challenges I encountered in writing it.  For the younger grades, the presentation will focus on picture books and story structure, the early chapter book series The Masterpiece Adventures (based on the novel but intended for younger readers), and the inspiration for Masterpiece. Please email me for a list of activities to accompany school-wide reads of Masterpiece and The Masterpiece Adventures series.

“From Idea to Book”
For Grades K -3.  Using one or two of my picture books as examples, with publishing props like f&g’s, this presentation will give an overview of the road from initial burst of inspiration to published book (and all the potholes in between!). Topics include: where ideas come from, the fundamentals of story structure, and the process of revising text and illustrations to create the final book.

“Clues, Culprits, and Cliffhangers:  How I Write Mysteries”
For Grades 3-8.  This presentation on mystery writing will discuss the elements of a good mystery, how to build suspense, and how to handle different writing challenges.  It will focus on The Superstition Mountain Trilogy, MasterpieceShakespeare’s Secret, and The Wolf Keepers.

“The Art of a Mystery: Masterpiece
For Grades 3 – 7.  This presentation explores the elements of a good mystery and the process of writing and researching Masterpiece, with its combination of different themes (friendship, art, miniature worlds).

“Into the Wild:  The Wolf Keepers
For Grades 4 – 8.  This is a presentation about my newest mystery, The Wolf Keepers, with a focus on the inspiration for the story and the research and writing process. Topics include: the naturalist John Muir and the real-life mystery of his lost cabin in Yosemite; the role of zoos in protecting animals and the ethical dilemmas of their mission; and more broadly, the human relationship to wilderness.  

“History and Mystery: The Shakespeare Authorship Question”
For Grades 3 – 8.  This presentation is intended as a companion to
Shakespeare’s Secret. It will focus on the controversy over Shakespeare’s true identity and the research and writing of Shakespeare’s Secret. Who was the real Shakespeare? Does it matter? Why is an author who wrote 500 years ago still so relevant today?

“Mountain of Mystery: The Superstition Mountain Trilogy
For Grades 3 – 8.  This presentation explores the creation of the Superstition Mountain trilogy, from the first inspiration and conception of the series, through the research, writing, and revision of Missing on Superstition Mountain, Treasure on Superstition Mountain, and Revenge of Superstition Mountain.

“Book Club: Mysteries”
For Grades 3-8.  This short presentation on mystery writing can be tailored to the reading interests of the book club, and will focus on the Superstition Mountain Trilogy, Masterpiece,  Shakespeare’s Secret, or The Wolf Keepers.

“Building Suspense: A Writing Workshop”
For Grades 3 – 8.  This is an active writing workshop designed for smaller groups of students, preferably no more than a class or two at a time, with an introduction to the step-by-step process of building suspense in narrative writing.

Programs for Adults
I love talking about writing (to anyone who will listen!). These 50-minute presentations are suitable for adults.

“Think Scene”
An in-depth look at scenes as the building blocks of story.  Scenes either advance plot or reveal character; this presentation looks at ways to do both effectively, by writing tight, powerful, revealing scenes that pack an emotional punch and lend momentum to the story. 

“A Good Mystery”
What are the crucial elements of a good mystery? This presentation will discuss the role of characters, plot, tension, and resolution in the reader’s enthusiasm for a mystery.

“Writing Suspense”
This presentation will focus on the writer’s toolbox for creating suspense, with a particular focus on revision tactics that increase suspense or heighten a suspenseful atmosphere or mood.

“Vision and Revision”
A discussion of the revision process and the changes that refine and initial idea into a finished work of fiction. This presentation examines the creative aspect of revision—re-thinking character and plot—as well as the mechanics of fixing common writing problems.

“Breaking In, Standing Out”
A brief history of my own adventures as a “slush-pile baby,” and the most useful advice I can offer for anyone trying to break into children’s publishing.

Panel Discussions and Multi-Author Events
I really enjoy participating in programs with other authors. I think the variety of experiences and perspectives can be particularly engaging for the audience–whether children or adults–and can spark wonderful discussions. Please think of me if you’re planning an author panel on a topic related to my work, or a panel on children’s book writing in general.


FEES are available on request and are based on a maximum of two or three sessions per day. To inquire about a school visit or author program, you can email me directly at:

or contact my booking agent, Allyson Hickey:

Allyson can also handle book orders for my author visits for a small fee.

BOOK ORDERS: for ease and convenience, I recommend ordering books through your local bookstore or through my booking agent, Allyson Hickey ( Both options will give you a discount on bulk orders and handle any problems that may arise with the order.

Thanks for your interest in an author program!