Jacqueline Houtman

Science Writer and Children's Author

Author Visits

I have speaking experience in elementary schools and international scientific conferences. I have taught in lecture halls and in highly interactive programs in college dorms. I am available for school and library visits and other speaking engagements, either in person, or “virtually” from my Madison, Wisconsin home.

I will work with groups to develop the appropriate program, incorporating science literacy, autism awareness, the writing and publishing process, or the life of Bayard Rustin.

A sampling of recent presentations

Printable flyer

Sciency Fiction: Not Just the Facts

Sciency Fiction includes accurate, non-speculative, current science as an integral part of the story. It can be a bridge to fictional narrative for those students who read primarily non-fiction and a bridge to science for those who prefer novels. I share some examples of sciency fiction and talk about how authors include science in their fiction. I can also share ways to use sciency fiction in the classroom.(Here is a list of sciency fiction titles.)

Target Audience: Upper elementary to middle school students, teachers, librarians, science lovers

For a downloadable pamphlet about Sciency Fiction, click here.

Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist

Bayard Rustin was a gay African-American Quaker whose work for peace, nonviolence, human rights and civil rights was significant, but largely unrecognized. I introduce students to the man, his influence on Martin Luther King, Jr., and a life spent fighting injustice.

Target Audience: Upper Elementary to Adult

How to Write, Revise, Revise, Revise, and Publish a Book

I share some of my techniques for brainstorming and organizing ideas, editing, copyediting, page proofs, and so on. I show how cover art is developed with five versions of the cover of The Reinvention of Edison Thomas. I also read a passage from an early draft and the final version of that same passage to show how it had changed.

Target Audience: Upper Elementary to Middle School

Not in So Many Words: Make Your Manuscript Lean and Mean 

Concise writing, where every word counts, is important in any genre, and especially in writing for children. In this session, we’ll look at ways to tighten up a bloated manuscript, starting with the big picture (is this chapter really necessary?) and working down to the word level (using one strong word instead of two or three weaker words). We will work together on exercises to practice trimming the literary fat. 

Target Audience: Writers from Upper Elementary to Adult

Nonfiction: Finding the story in the facts

No matter what the genre, effective writing uses story to tell the truth. In nonfiction, the facts that are presented may be true, but in the absence of story, they are merely data. The truth of a story is conveyed through selective use of facts arranged in a cause-and-effect way to pull the reader along. We will work together on an exercise to choose facts and arrange them in a way that conveys the truth of our story.

Target Audience: Writers from Upper Elementary to Adult

Also:

Free 20-30 minute Q&A Skype visits for groups that have read one of my books

Contact Me for more information