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To me, playing with words is the same as playing with toys in a sandbox - there are endless possibilities for creative fun, as long as a few basic rules are followed.  The first step is to let imagination run wild!  The second is to learn the tricks that every good writer knows, strategies which allow a student's work to soar.  I stress structure, dialogue and the ability to create characters so alive they breathe from the page.  Story starters are used to spur new writing techniques, while the student's actual work is edited in class to show how alternate word choices can give maximum creative impact. Writing workshops are often a little longer than general assemblies or presentations. While the latter are about an hour long, the former are about an hour and a half.


Nothing fires me up more than the process of writing, a passion I  try to impart to students whenever I have the privilege to speak to them.  My general assembly begins with a four-point presentation: how I started on my path to become a writer; where I get my ideas; how I research in the national parks; and tips to help students to become better writers themselves! I stress journaling, revision, the art of research, and using life experience as a source for material.  Then comes the slide show, which includes location shots of  these national parks:  Yellowstone, Hawaii, Mesa Verde, Everglades, Glacier, Zion, the Virgin Islands and more.  I finish with a question and answer period - this is where the kids realize that I'm just like they are, only I write books.  I watch as it dawns on them that if I can do it, they can do it, too!


Since the forensic books are tied into a lot of science curriculums today, I talk about the research I've done in forensic labratories and the amazing facts I've learned along the way. I've never thought of myself as scientifically-minded exactly but scientific knowledge is more fascinating and excitng the more you learn, and I love seeing students' interest grow and expand.




Grades 3-10, plus adults.



Three programs a day, plus autographing books. If more than 100 books are to be autographed, I suggest that you send me bookplates or labels a few weeks before the conference so that I can autograph and send them back to you and you can put them into the books. 


Ms. Ferguson's honorarium is due by the end of the last day of the author appearance.  Generally speaking, her honorarium ranges from $1,500 to $2,000 a day, plus expenses: usually $2,000 if there is a flight involved, $1,500 if there's a long drive involved. Also, for very local visits close to home, she'll charge $750 a day plus expensese. But to discuss in details, please contact Balkin Buddies by phone or email.

For further information, especially about the expenses (travel, hotel, and meals), click the "Arrange An Appearance" button and see "General Information on the Cost of an Author Appearance" as well as the 'Honorariums' section near the bottom of "How to Plan an Author Appearance."