What Is An Author Visit?

“Marsha Diane Arnold’s visit was a “Big Vivid” that teachers, students and community members still remember and talk about today.”

“Jackie Baumgartner of Phillipsburg, Kansas refers to a ‘Big Vivid’ as cross-curricular learning moments, experiences that involve staff, students, and community so kids will have ‘Big Vivid’ memories of learning that they can carry with them forever.”

Author visits can be “Big Vivids” to author, student, teacher, and community. They can inspire children, making them want to write better and read more. A successful author visit will leave your school and your children richer from the experience.

My author visits have been called informative, inspirational, and entertaining. I always tailor my presentations to meet your students’ needs.

You may book me or request info about in-person school visits and other events by contacting Carole E. Weitzel at or 512-914-2596, or by contacting me directly. For virtual visits, contact me directly.

In Kansas, students do the Conga, following Prancing, Dancing Lily and pals.

In Alabama, we celebrate The Pumpkin Runner with my author presentations, games, and a mile run!


Watch Marsha present and be interviewed by a student

School Presentations

My presentations last 30 minutes (for K and Pre-K) up to an hour for older students. Usually, I give four presentations during a one-day visit, plus autographing. One of the presentations is often a K or Pre-K session or a Funshop.

I am happy to create presentations to meet your school’s desires and needs. A school in Texas recently requested that I Share and Compare The Pumpkin Runner, published in 1998, with my recent Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña, published in 2018, as they are both inspired by real people, real events, and real places.


What’s a Funshop? Some people call these writing workshops, but we have so much fun, I call them Funshops. My goal is to get students excited about writing, to spark their imagination, to get them to write without worry. First, I use various activities, images, and brainstorming to get everyone involved together. Then, the Funshop attendees get to develop their ideas on their own.


I weave storytelling, information, and slides into an entertaining and inspirational presentation. My vision is to show students the fun of reading and writing and to inspire them to follow their own unique visions and dreams.

Presentations are modified in content and detail, according to the group’s age. They usually include a bit of ALL of the subjects below. I expand and contract and change the information to fit the age and needs of each group.

Scribbles and Scraps: We peek inside my idea file, where a jumble of scribbles and scraps live. I share how I capture ideas and encourage students to begin an idea file of their own.

How a Story Grows: I show the process of creating a book by demonstrating how the story and illustrations evolve from a scribble on a scrap of paper to a manuscript to galleys and finally into a beautifully illustrated book. I talk about first drafts, rewriting, and revising. I also share my illustrators’ early sketches. Students enjoy pointing out how illustrations change from the early sketch to the final illustration.

Ideas are All Around Us: I weave stories about where my ideas come from with fun information about my family life. Learning the “story behind the story” is a popular part of my presentation. Through the slideshow, students see that ideas are all around them and that they can use these ideas to build stories. My goal is to show students that authors are people just like them.

Readings and Skits from my Books: I always read all (for the younger) or part of one or more of my books. Where appropriate, the students interact with me, chiming in with books like May I Come In? or doing a short skit.

Rejections and Perseverance: Perspectives on rejection and perseverance are shared, including readings from some of my own heart-wrenching rejection letters. Students are always very sympathetic! But, more importantly, they see how important it is to “keep trying.”

Questions and Answers: There’s always time for Questions and Answers and my favorite time, Autographing!

Family Evening Presentations

These are to bring the family together for a reading/writing Fun Night. It includes family storytelling, a slideshow, and yes…writing. They love it!

Young Author’s Festivals, Reading Association and Library Conferences

I enjoy speaking at conferences to educators, parents, and others who love children’s books. I have been a speaker for SCBWI, the California Reading Association, the California School Library Association, the International Reading Association, and on the faculty of the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop.

Some of my talks have been:

  • Achieving the Honorable in Children’s Literature
  • Stories with Heart: Nourishing the Spirit
  • A Literary Yellow Brick Road: To Oz and Home Again
  • Tornadoes, Writing, and Other Scary Things

Virtual Visits

You can bring me to your school virtually! I do a very limited number of free 15 minute virtual visits per year, so please book early. I ask that the school or teacher buy one or more of my books for the school or classroom. A 45 minute presentation with screen sharing is usually $300, but always negotiable.

I’ve been using Zoom for my virtual visits. It’s easy and works great. If you haven’t used it, I’ll share how when you contact me.

It’s an exciting reading incentive and a nice memory to purchase a book written by a visiting author to take home, even if that visiting author is visiting through cyberspace. A bookstore close to your school can assist with advance book orders. Marsha is happy to autograph book plates especially to each student, which they can put inside their books.