School Visits

If you’re an educator bringing me in to speak at your school, you can expect well-prepared sessions consisting of age-appropriate material, with time at the end of each for questions and answers from the students.

Schools can choose any combination of the following sessions:

How The Creeps Books Get Made
Chris will go through each stage of the production process for the horror-mystery series, starting with the idea for a book and moving through to its eventual publication.  Designing monsters, planting red herrings, and trying to figure out how to make the stories both scary and funny are some of the points that will be covered in this spooky behind-the-scenes look at the new book series.
Best for: K-8th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

How The Crogan Adventures Books Get Made 
Chris will go over each stage of the production process, starting with figuring out an idea for a book and covering everything from research through building reference models to coloring the final art and promoting the book once it’s out.  How The Crogan Adventures Books Get Made is an enthusiastic and fun glimpse into the making of a project with so many disparate elements.
Requirements: Digital Projector, Screen, and Easel
Best for: K-12th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

Being a “Real” Author 
Chris has been making pictures and stories since he was a very little boy.  In Being a “Real” Author, Chris goes through his art and writing development from when he was in elementary school through today in an often funny, sometimes embarrassing artistic biography.  And you’ll learn that you don’t have to be in bookstores to be a “real” author… you’re an author as soon as you make a story that someone else can read!  Some of the students are "real" authors already, and may not even know it!
Requirements: Digital Projector, Screen, and Easel
Best for: K-6th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

Down and Dirty History: Pirates
Were pirates vicious killers or a precursor to modern democracy?  What did scurvy do to you?  Did pirates really have peg legs?  Were there lady pirates?  Prepare for a funny, gross, and sometimes shocking look at life among the outlaws of the high seas, and what we can learn from them (quite a lot, actually!).
Requirements: Digital Projector and Screen
Best for: 9-12th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

Down and Dirty History: The American Revolution
What was it like to be a teenager during the American Revolution?  Which side would you have fought for if you were black?  Would your girlfriend’s parents REALLY have encouraged you to share a bed while you were dating?  You may have learned a lot about the War for Independence, but you’ll still be surprised by what day-to-day life was like for young people in the 13 colonies!
Requirements: Digital Projector and Screen
Best for: 9-12th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

How to Draw the Crogan Characters
Chris will guide you through the steps he takes to draw one of the Crogan characters (teacher’s choice!).
Requirements: Easel
Best for: K-3rd Grade
Group size: Classroom

Stealing Stories
Did you know that the story in A Bug's Life is the same as a Japanese movie called The Seven Samurai? And that many of the elements of the Harry Potter books are identical to an older movie about Sherlock Holmes when he was a teenager?  Even most of Shakespeare's plots are "borrowed" from previously existing stories!  Nearly all fiction swipes from that which came before it.  Chris will talk about how to use the stories that you love as a springboard to write your own, how close is too close, and what the law has to say about it.

Requirements: Digital Projector and Screen
Best for: 7-12th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

Story Structure
Movies, books, comics, games, and TV shows:  what do the good ones have in common?  They understand story structure.  Now you can, too.  Chris will walk you through the basic steps necessary to make a compelling story.  Given that this session is part presentation/part workshop, a smaller group size (30 students or less) and a little bit more time (1-2 hours) are encouraged.
Requirements: Easel or Dry Erase Marker Board or Smart Board
Best for: 7-12th Grade
Group size: Classroom

Sherlock Holmes and the Big Fan
A lot of the writing and storytelling decisions that Chris makes are a direct result of his having loved Sherlock Holmes as a kid (he still loves Sherlock Holmes, by the way).  In this session, Chris talks about how just about every author secretly takes his or her unbridled love for a character, story, franchise, or fictional universe, and uses that to create the new stories that find their way onto bookshelves every year.  
Best for: K-12th Grade
Group Size: Auditorium or Classroom

Making a Living in the Narrative Arts
Novelists, Cartoonists, Playwrights, Animators, TV Writers, Game Writers, and Screenwriters all share a passion for storytelling.  But these industries can feel very insular to an outsider, and a young person with a desire to tell stories for a living might not know where to start.  In this candid presentation for older students, Chris goes over the details of how to prepare oneself for these types of jobs, what to study, what to practice, and how to avoid the many pitfalls that one finds along the way.
Best for: 9-12th grade
Group Size: Auditorium or Classroom

Question and Answer Session
“Where do you get your ideas?”  “How long does it take you to draw a book?”  “How much money do you make?”  “How many times have you almost been eaten by alligators?”  Students often have questions, sometimes about the content of the books and sometimes about being a cartoonist.  Though time can be made at the end of any presentation for Q&A, sometimes a dedicated session can allow all of the students with questions the opportunity to ask them.  (Also, the answer to that last question is "three.")
Requirements: Digital Projector, Screen, and Easel
Best for: K-12th Grade
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

How to Get Kids Excited About History
A presentation for teachers and parents
Sometimes it's difficult to get kids and students excited about history.  As a kid who loved history but rarely history class, and as an adult who makes his living writing historical fiction meant to be read by folks of all ages, Chris has spent a lot of time figuring out what elements of history never fail to engage youngsters, and how to use those elements to get them interested in the "important" stuff.
Requirements: Digital Projector and Screen
Best for: Parents, teachers, administrators
Group size: Auditorium or Classroom

No Limits on the Number of Sessions!
I will happily do as many presentations as you can pack into a school day.  The length of each presentation is malleable to accommodate class schedules.  If you’re selling books, please make sure to have time for signing!  Generally, I’ll do a quick sketch in each book.

I do ask that I be given a chance to eat at some point during the day, and, if you’d like, I’m happy to eat with a group of students!  If there’s an art club, a writing club, a newspaper club, or a handful of kids especially enthusiastic about comics, a pizza party in a classroom can be a valuable opportunity for a more informal back-and-forth.

Want To Make the Most of the Visit?
Let the students know that I’m coming!  Also, be sure that parents know I’m coming, too.  When the students know the books, their excitement for the visit multiplies.  In addition to making the books available to the students, some teachers use them in the classroom.  If you want to use Crogan’s Loyalty as part of your English or Social Studies curriculum, it has a teaching guide that you can use (and there is also a helpful set of lesson plans for middle and high school Language Arts and English classes by Dr. Katie Monnin of the University of North Florida).  I’ll be preparing teaching guides for the other Crogan Adventures in the future.
Work with your students to help them prepare questions.  I’m not shy, and am happy to answer just about anything that the kids throw at me, but helping them prepare can lead to more nuanced questions that can lead to a more educational and insightful visit with a window into what it’s like working in the arts, writing, and doing research.

Availability
My publishing schedule does not permit me a great deal of time away from my desk, so I have to limit the number of visits that I do each year.  The more notice that I have about an event or a desired visit date, the more likely it is that I'll be able to work it into my calendar.

Cost
$850 per day plus travel and hotel (I need to stay the night before to ensure morning availability; flight cancellations are too common to risk trying to fly out early, but am happy to ship out as soon as you're done with me)
$300 per day for local visits (within 65 miles of Madisonville, KY).

If your school budget doesn’t allow for this expense, you might want to consider…
…teaming up with another school. If your schools are close enough, I can spend half the day at one and half at another, and you can split the cost down the middle.
…teaming up with multiple schools in your area.  If you bring me in for five consecutive days, then I will cover my own travel expenses within the continental United States.  The group of five (or more) schools will therefore only be responsible for the honorarium of $850 per day and lodging.
…selling books as a fundraiser.  While I encourage building a relationship with a local bookstore when allowing students to pre-order books, a school can order those books themselves at a discount from the book distributor with which they do business (ask your school librarian!) and sell them at cover price, using the profit to help cover the visit.

Pre-order books?
That’s right!  The most successful school visits tend to be the ones where the students are already familiar with the author’s work.  It gets them excited and gives them lots of questions to ask.  The best ways to go about this are to read a book in class, or to allow the students to pre-order the books in anticipation of an author’s visit.
One way to do this is to team up with a local bookstore who will make the books available to the students.  This helps bolster your local economy and keeps the bookstores that you and your students depend on solvent.
The other is to order the books direct from your school's book distributor at a discount.  You can either pass on that discount to the students or you can sell the books at cover price and use the difference to help cover the costs of the visit.

Colleges
Generally speaking, I'll do a general introduction to my process and work for a larger audience talk/signing, and then work with professors ahead of time to craft a suitable and less formalized series of  classroom or workshop talks geared towards the immediate needs of the students.  As the emphasis of my work is on storytelling, I tend to prioritize content over execution in group discussions, as the rules for the former are more universally applicable.   Costs are the same as above.

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