Hands-on workshops suitable for conferences, festivals, and professional development. Also available as webinars.

For Writers:

The Secrets of Show, Don’t Tell: It’s the feedback every writer dreads: your manuscript has too much telling, and not enough showing. But what can you do about it? Compton Crook Award Finalist and author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults Kathy MacMillan breaks down what it really means to “show, don’t tell” in relation to every aspect of your writing from character development to plot, and in every stage from manuscript to pitch. She’ll share a dozen “Showing Secrets” – actionable revision steps that you can use right away to breathe new life into your writing. May be presented as a 2.5 hour overview or as a series.

Cultivating Craft: Spring into to your writing with this series designed to focus on the details of craft. Each lesson will give you specific, actionable steps you can take to improve your writing right away – and offer activities and prompts to practice your new skill, complete with presenter Q&A time. Lesson topics (each available as a standalone workshop):

  • Big Picture Story Framing
  • Dazzling Dialogue
  • Meaningful Action
  • Compelling Details
  • Emboldening Each Line
  • Taking the Reader Along

Storybuilding: No matter what your genre, a rich palette of details brings the world of your story to life.  Compton Crook Award Finalist and author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults Kathy MacMillan shows how to focus on the specifics you need at each stage of the writing process to build your characters’ world without ever losing sight of the story at its heart.

Choices and Consequences: Compton Crook Award Finalist and author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults Kathy MacMillan shows how to analyze your story through the lens of choices and consequences to create coherent plots, compelling characters, and satisfying endings. 

Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction Revision Workshop: Let’s tackle that revision! Bring your completed middle grade or young adult novel manuscript as we work through real-time revision activities that address the big picture, plot and character beats, and line by line strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript.

Picture Book Revision Workshop: Let’s dig in together and polish your picture book! Bring your completed picture book manuscript to work on as we complete real-time revision that addresses the big picture, plot and character beats, and line by line strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript.

Taking off the Training Wheels: Neil Gaiman says fanfiction can act as a training ground for writing original fiction. Is he right? Kathy MacMillan, Compton Crook Award Finalist and author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults Kathy MacMillan, discusses how writing fanfic in the Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Babylon 5 fandoms prepared her for creating fictional worlds of her own.

So You Want to Publish a Book: You’ve got the idea, you’ve got the drive, and you’ve got the willingness to work to get your book in print. But where do you start? Kathy MacMillan, Compton Crook Award finalist and author of 18 traditionally published fiction and nonfiction books for children, breaks down the bewildering world of publishing, from writing and revision to submission and publication and the realities of life after publication. Bring your questions on everything from writing craft to agents to royalties.

Formatting Your Manuscript for Submission: Fonts and headers and page breaks, oh my! Join Compton Crook Award Finalist and author of fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults Kathy MacMillan for a visual guide to all the nitty-gritty details of how to format your manuscript for submission using Microsoft Word. We’ll go over best practices for submissions, as well as how-tos for creating headers and footers, inserting page numbers, setting font and line spacing, and more.

Professional Communication for Authors: From query letters to follow up emails, from fielding requests from bloggers to raising concerns with an agent, the life of an author or illustrator is filled with communication – and your ability to express yourself clearly and professionally has a huge impact on your career. In this session, we’ll cover best practices for communicating professionally in a digital world, including writing effective query and cover letters, following up on submissions, dealing with emotionally charged topics, communicating with publishing professionals, bloggers, fans, and peers, and how to stand up for yourself in writing without being a jerk.

For Parents:

Sign with Your Child: Research shows that signing with all children stimulates language development, eases communication, supports early literacy, and defuses frustration for parents and children alike. Kathy MacMillan, author of Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together, introduces the whys and hows of signing with children ages birth to six and shares hands-on activities you can use throughout the day.

For Educators and Librarians:

Create a Calmer Classroom with American Sign Language: No matter what age you work with, using basic American Sign Language with your students can enhance student understanding, address different learning styles, and create calm. You’ll leave this session armed with a toolbox of signs to start using right away.

Hands-on Storytimes: This presentation will cover the benefits of using basic American Sign Language with all children, and offer a variety of simple techniques for making your programs more fun, educational, and participative through the use of signs with audiences of all ages. Participants will leave armed with a vocabulary of very basic signs to start using right away.

Hands Up!: American Sign Language for Library Staff: Learn how to improve your service to deaf patrons in this interactive series. We’ll cover basic information about American Sign Language and Deaf Culture, as well as specific vocabulary for the library setting. Each session will build on those before it to reinforce your knowledge and expand your ability to communicate with members of the Deaf community, and you’ll get plenty of interactive signing practice! (Beginner and Intermediate levels available; each level consists of six 1-hour sessions)

Little Hands Signing in the Classroom: Studies show that using American Sign Language with hearing children can improve vocabulary, reading comprehension, defuse behavior issues, support a variety of learning styles, and increase overall interest in learning! Learn the fascinating reasons behind this phenomenon as well as strategies for incorporating into your classroom. The best part is, you don’t have to be fluent in the language for your students to reap the benefits!

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Storytime: An interactive theme-based “annotated storytime” that teaches basic American Sign Language vocabulary and demonstrates how to use the signs in storytime activities. Choose from 10 different vocabulary themes: Feelings Signs, First Signs, Colors Signs, Family Signs, Animal Signs, Winter Signs, Spring Signs, Summer Signs, Autumn Signs, Celebration Signs.

Multicultural Storytime Magic: Learn how to seamlessly weave engaging rhymes, stories, songs, and activities representing the diverse experiences of people around the world into your storytimes and lessons, no matter what the theme! In this high-energy workshop, you’ll get lots of practical ideas you can apply in your classroom right away!

Sign, Baby, Sign!: Babies can sign long before they can speak, and research shows that using American Sign Language with both hearing and deaf babies imparts language benefits that can last a lifetime. Learn the benefits of using signs with babies and toddlers, as well as ways to incorporate signs into your program and educate parents. Participants will leave with a basic vocabulary of signs to use right away. 

Storytime Stuff: It’s a storytime showdown full of fresh ideas, practical tricks, and easy flannelboards, fingerplays, sign language rhymes, and other activities. Learn how to keep your audience’s attention, transition smoothly between activities, and keep kids and parents coming back for more. Can be presented as a getting-started guide for beginners or a more advanced session for veteran presenters.

Welcoming Deaf Patrons to Your Library: In this interactive overview, you’ll learn communication tips for interacting with deaf patrons, information about American Sign Language and Deaf Culture, and even some basic ASL vocabulary to introduce yourself and help patrons navigate the library. (Available as 1 hour, 90 minute, 2 hour, 3 hour, or 4 hour workshop.)

For Anyone:

Working with a Sign Language Interpreter: Communicating through a third party can be stressful for everyone involved – but it doesn’t have to be that way! Through demonstrations and hands-on activities, participants in this workshop will develop an understanding of the interpreter’s role, and will learn how to effectively communicate through an interpreter. Whether your experience with interpreters is in business settings, social settings, or nonexistent, this workshop is for you.

In-Person Workshop Pricing (MD/DE/VA area):

  • 1 hour workshop: $400 plus travel expenses
  • 90-minute workshop: $500 plus travel expenses
  • 2 hour workshop: $600 plus travel expenses
  • 3 hour workshop: $700 plus travel expenses
  • 4 hour workshop: $800 plus travel expenses
  • Full day workshop (5-8 hours): $1000 plus travel expenses

A flat per-program rate that includes travel expenses may be negotiated for multiple bookings.

For workshops outside the MD/DC/VA area: Please contact me to arrange a workshop that best meets your needs and budget.

Private Webinar Pricing:

  • 1 hour webinar: $400
  • 90 minute webinar: $500
  • 2 hour webinar: $600
  • 3 hour webinar: $700

All prices include 3 months of recording access. Unless otherwise agreed, sessions will be conducted online via Zoom.


  • Cancellations: Workshops cancelled with less than 72 hours (3 days) notice for any reason will be billed in full including any applicable travel expenses. For programs requiring air travel, programs cancelled with less than 2 weeks (10 working days) notice for any reason will be billed in full including any applicable travel expenses.
  • Acts of God: Payment for cancellation of workshops due to natural disasters or severely inclement weather conditions may be waived on the condition that the workshop is rescheduled within 3 weeks.
  • Mileage: Round-trip mileage will be charged according to the current IRS business mileage rate.
  • Early Arrival: Presenter will arrive at least 30 minutes prior to workshop start time.
  • Physical Setup: Due to the visual and interactive nature of these workshops, every effort should be made to ensure that program space provides adequate lighting and clear sightlines.
  • Photos and Recording: Event organizers and attendees may take as many still photos as they like during the presentations. No videorecording is permitted without express permission of the presenter.
  • Interpreters: The presenter can present in either spoken English or American Sign Language. If an interpreter is needed, it is the responsibility of the agency booking the workshop to provide one.
  • Book Sales: I request that schools and libraries offer sales of my book(s) in conjunction with visits. If desired, I can arrange for book sales through Deaf Camps, Inc. (with all proceeds benefiting this nonprofit organization). I will be available to sign books after the session or at another agreed-upon time during the visit.
  • Collection Fees: Attorney’s fees and court costs will be added to the balance due if necessary to collect.

Proceeding with contractual agreement implies acceptance of terms.

To book a workshop:

  • Check my availability calendar and identify your preferred dates and times.
  • Fill out the contact form here.  Include your contact information, organization name and address, expected number of workshop participants, and choices of dates/times.
  • I will check dates/times and reply to you with a confirmation.
  • Please read Cancellation policy carefully. A cancellation fee will apply as described above.