Invite M. P. Barker to meet with your group to share information about writing and history. You can enjoy a presentation customized to fit your organization’s needs, from small reading groups to large conference or classroom audiences. Talks range from casual “Meet the Author” events to more formal presentations, and can be illustrated with historical images. Multi-author programs can also be arranged.
Sample topics include:
- The Rocky Road to Publication
- Researching Primary Sources for Historical Fiction
- How to Build Believable Characters for Your Stories
- Self-Editing and Revision Workshop
- A Child’s Life in 19th Century New England
- Life as an Indentured Servant
- Running Away to Join the Circus
Detailed descriptions of typical events
Length: 1 or 2-hour presentation
Description: Interactive workshops for writers of all skill levels who want to improve their writing, research, and revision skills and learn how to get published. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.
- The Rocky Road to Publication (one-hour presentation) – Learn how to get published, from researching editors and agents to writing a good query letter and dealing with rejection.
- Researching Primary Sources for Historical Fiction (one–hour presentation that can be expanded to a two-hour workshop) – How can you use primary sources to bring realism to your historical fiction? Get tips on finding and evaluating the resources that make your historical novel come alive. In the two-hour version, you’ll have a chance to work with primary documents and discover what they can add to your own writing.
- How to Build Believable Characters for Your Stories (one-hour workshop) – Having trouble creating believable characters? This workshop shows you how to craft well-rounded story people.
- Self-Editing and Revision (one-hour presentation that can be expanded to a two-hour workshop) – In this how-to workshop, take your manuscript from rough draft to polished prose. Get valuable tips for mapping your story with charts and timelines, identifying and highlighting themes, and tightening up your manuscript. In the two-hour version, you’ll have the chance to practice what you’ve learned and receive input on your manuscript.
Length: 45-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A
Description: Short presentation with general comments about the book(s), writing process, and other information that answers frequently asked questions; a reading from the book(s); a question and answer period; a book sale and signing period.
- Meet the Author – Learn the inside story on M. P. Barker’s books. Where did she get her ideas for settings, plot, and characters?
- Book Group Discussions – Sometimes in the reading of a novel, a person wonders what the author was thinking. Was it difficult to write certain scenes or to create an unlovable character? Why was a situation resolved in that particular way? M. P. Barker will meet with book group members who’ve read her books and will answer their questions.
Length: 45-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A
Description: Similar to a general visit, but structured to address a specific audience (such as adult readers, writers, historians, teachers, teen readers, etc.) or theme (such as a conference, program, series, or celebration currently underway or planned by the hosting organization). Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.
- A Child’s Life in 19th Century New England: What was it like to grow up in 19th-century New England? What sorts of chores did children have and what did they do for fun? How were their lives different from kids’ lives today?
- The Author’s Life: What is it like to be a writer? How do you get a book published? What is it like working with editors and agents?
- Fact into Fiction: How do historical novelists find all that information? And how do they turn it into interesting stories? Learn about the challenges involved in turning historical fact into historical fiction.
- Life as an Indentured Servant: How did children get indentured? How long would a child have to serve? What were living conditions like for indentured servants in the 1830s?
- Running Away to Join the Circus: Learn the backstage story of what circuses were like in the 1830s and how they grew into their present form. Find out about life beneath the Big Top when it wasn’t so big.
- From Circus Tents to Shanty Towns: Find out how a novelist turns fact into historical fiction as M. P. Barker shares the research behind her historical novel, Mending Horses. The topics delved into while writing the book ranged from circuses to Irish shanty towns to the arrival of the railroad in Western Massachusetts.
Length: 45 to 90-minute presentation with 15-minute Q&A
Description: A general or themed presentation by M. P. Barker and another author or with a group of authors. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.
- Dual-ing Authors – One event, two authors. Their presentations and their writing genres may be totally unrelated, or the program may bring together similarities between their work. Past presentation topics have included: research techniques; how to find an agent and publisher; and the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
- Author Panels and Author Events – M. P. Barker participates in a variety of author panels and multiple-author events at conferences, book fairs, and other events created by or for libraries, schools, and other organizations. The authors’ presentations or the panel discussions may be related by genre, work process, theme, etc.
Length: 1-hour presentation
Description: A presentation focused on strategies to enhance reading, writing, and history curricula. Includes a reading, a Q&A, and a sale and signing.
- Using Primary Historical Resources to Enhance Reading and Writing Curricula: Artifacts, images, and primary documents can bring an additional dimension to readings in history and historical fiction and help make history come alive. Participants will learn how to find those resources and to use them to enrich reading and writing curricula while connecting students with the past.
Length: Customized to conference needs
Description: M. P. Barker is available to speak or present workshops at conferences and will tailor presentations to themes and audiences.
There is no fee for an informal virtual author chat if your group purchases books. For an in-person visit, expenses are requested for travel more than 50 miles from Springfield, MA.
Clubs, organizations, and special events:
Zoom or other remote sessions: $150 per hour (discounts available for multiple sessions and/or organizations that purchase books or allow book sales)
In-person sessions: $200 per hour plus travel expenses (discounts available for multiple sessions and/or organizations that purchase books or allow book sales)
Zoom or other remote sessions: $150 per hour (discounts available for multiple sessions and/or for schools that purchase books or allow book sales)
In-person sessions: $200 per hour plus travel expenses (discounts available for multiple sessions and/or for schools that purchase books or allow book sales)
Book Sales and Publicity for Events:
- All books sold at author visits are offered at a discount and prices include sales tax.*
- Book sales are handled by the author or her assistant; no one from your organization is burdened by this task.*
- Sales can be arranged through a local bookseller, if you prefer.
- At your request, the author can write a press release announcing the event to local media and will provide it to you for use in newsletters, websites, or elsewhere.
- At your request, the author can provide you with an easily duplicated poster to promote the event.
*Not applicable to bookstore events.
Comments from Educators
“Thank you so much, Michele, for presenting to my class once more. Your visits continue to be the highlight of the semester for my students. As you know, the college freshmen who place into my developmental reading classes are often discouraged and frustrated readers. Many admit that yours is the first book they’ve ever read cover to cover, and they credit your anticipated visit to our class as their motivation. . . you never disappoint. You are professional yet approachable, and your amicable, unassuming manner puts them immediately at ease. You bring not only the book to life for them, but the history as well.” – Paula Bernal, Developmental Reading & Writing Instructor, Springfield Technical Community College
“Michele’s presentation to first year college students was quite revealing and surprised some of the students who had no idea how difficult writing could be. Her knowledge of and skill in historical research contributed to the creation of a highly interesting book so germane to today’s problems of conflict and resolution. [A Difficult Boy] is a great book to teach critical thinking skills!” – S.M. Santucci, Adjunct Professor, Holyoke Community College, Cambridge College
“Michele Barker was good enough to come down to teach my high school advanced fiction class, and the session was just wonderful! She provided materials that showed them in a very real way what revision is really about. . . . not only was it engaging but incredibly helpful. The students had a wonderful time with the writing exercise that Michele designed specifically to illustrate the material she was covering. This was one of the most productive and successful visits ever.” –Barbara Greenbaum, Arts at the Capitol Theater Magnet High School, Willimantic, CT
“Having M.P. Barker visit your classroom is a perfect way to show students how content reading can benefit the reading of fiction. She described how she researched for her two novels by showing various examples of certain texts from that time. Also shared were her writing strategies and even a calendar of events for the story which helped her to stay on track. These real-life examples of editing and revising truly spoke to my students about the importance of those steps in their writing.” –Mary Munsell, East Granby (CT) Middle School
Comments from Students
initials used to protect student privacy
“…[T]he fact that a 700 page manuscript became a 300ish page novel floors me. I know cutting extra stuff out is a big part of editing/revision, but I can’t believe all that information can be dumped with enough to still make a coherent and compelling novel. I was also surprised at how many rejections you can get before you get one acceptance- and how far you still have to go before publication. I really liked learning about her method of organization . . . I also greatly admire how much research was put into those books. That’s a step I tend to forget, but it really makes all the difference. “ –H.S.
“One thing I learned from Michele being here, is that there are a lot of different things that can be done to keep organized. I liked her method with the calendar, where she had pieces of paper with the scene attached to the days they were happening, like a timeline . . . One thing I will try and use in my writing as I move through this revision phase is to rewrite my pieces at least three times. Also to write down questions I have as I’m writing about possible new ideas and characters, because it could help me later in the process if I get stuck.” –H.F.
“I was surprised by how relatable her revision and editing process story was. I found a lot of my habits in her presentation. It was kind of like an, ‘Oh, I’m not the only one,’ type of thing. I was also really surprised on how much she was able to cut down. 700 pages to 300 is an insane difference. . . . I loved how she organized almost her entire book into sections that would really help me not be intimidated by editing a book that long. All of her organization techniques were fascinating. The way she cut her book into a timeline, her evaluation sheets, even her rejection letters were organized. I could tell that all of that organization really helped her, and maybe if I ever get stuck on revision I’ll organize everything too . . . She really improved on her writing when she took a second glance and rewrote what she was trying to say/get across. I think that would be a good strategy if I ever get stuck on something, or I am not liking how something is coming out. It’s a good ‘refresh’ button.” –J.D.
“I couldn’t believe how much she had to cut down on her book- from 700 pages to-what-350? Good grief! Also, I was surprised how she actually started writing the book. Bribed with dinners! Ha! Oh! Here’s one more- I was taken off guard to learn that one of her methods for revising her work was tables. The scene, the purpose of the scene, how to make it better, etc. How clever is that? I learned a lot of things, but the one that sticks with me the most is ‘show, don’t tell.’” –S.G.
“One thing that surprised me was her ability to shrink her work, I know personally within the 2-4 pages I write I get attached to unnecessary sentences so I can only imagine how many she had to get rid of if she started out with 700 pages and end with 300 . . . One thing I learned was that strategy and organization in writing is more important than I thought. Like the charts she used to keep track of where her characters were was neat and definitely something I might try while writing longer pieces.” –H.A.
“I learned that changing the point of view of a piece can really alter it (i.e. what I did with my drafts) and that there is no such thing as revising too many times. I also learned that cutting down pieces of a draft does not mean that a scene was bad, it just means that it wasn’t as important as the others…I’m probably going to use the calendar timeline that she brought in. I have a lot of issues with orienting my stories in time, especially if I’m doing time skips and things, and it looked like (and from what she said, was) a very helpful tool.” –N.J.
“[One] thing that surprised me: How organized she was. That board she had with the timeline of her story was very thorough, it was almost a story in itself. . . . I thought it was astounding how much detail that Michele went into in planning how her story would go. But even with all that paper, she kept it all in one place and organized.” —E.S.