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“Ann Marie taught one of my favorite writing workshops. Her enthusiasm and encouragement bolstered the students and helped us create better work. Our work grew deeper each class. In addition to structuring the workshop in a simple but thought-out format, she spent time editing and offering keen insights. I’d take another course from her in a heartbeat.”   ~ Carrie Brown-Wolf

workshops + presentations

General Assembly Presentations


Dive Write In!

Ann Marie will share ways to find ideas, what to do with them, and how they become books. She’ll involve students in a lightning round brainstorming game to generate ideas for their own stories. Kids will also experience hands-on fun with props and participate in reenactments from scenes in some of her books.


Author Insider

Have you ever wanted to know more about the life of an author? Ann Marie will take you inside her laundry room office and give you the scoop on the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY she writes. Kids will participate in a brainstorming session to spark their own ideas and future stories.


Counting on STEM

Ann Marie will tell how she combined story writing with math concepts to create two different series. Kids will help generate lists of STEM subjects, characters, settings, and problems and then play Mix-and-Match-a-Story.


workshops + sessions for kids

Fishbowl Writing (60 mins., in-person only)

Fishing for ideas can be fun! Ann Marie will use an actual fishbowl full of words to create a community or classroom story. Watch how the fishbowl technique ignites a passion for storytelling and inspires kids to write more. (grades 1-4)


Shake a Story (30 or 60 mins., in-person or virtual)

Random objects tell the best tales. Watch the ideas literally spill out before your eyes. Kids will use miscellaneous objects to brainstorm and create an instant story. Great for speedy oral stories or for more polished written and/or typed stories. (grades 1-5)


Books for Breakfast (30 mins., virtual only)

Meet in the morning with Ann Marie while she reads you books for breakfast. Can be small groups or whole class. Q&A to follow.

(grades K-5)


Storytime (30 or 60 mins., in-person or virtual)

Ann Marie will read some of her books and talk about how they came to life. Q&A to follow.  (grades K-5)


Creating Characters (30 or 60 mins. in-person or virtual)

Explore the art of character building, from humans to animals to inanimate objects. Learn how to build profiles and expand character worlds. (grades K-5)


Dive Write In! – How Kids Become Writers (60-90 mins.)

In this workshop, participants will acquire writing location inspirations, options for expressions, and brainstorming 101. They will utilize list-making and field trips of the imagination to create unlimited topics for immediate and future use. Bright Beginnings, Mighty Middles, and Electric Endings are some of the techniques that will become lifelong tools. Participants will learn methods for polishing their projects and fueling the courage to share them. (grades 3-5)


Becoming a Book (30 or 60 mins., in-person or virtual)

How do words become books to reach readers? Hear about the process of writing, revising, and publishing a book. Get a sneak peek at rough drafts before they became books and talk about how to get started telling your own story Learn how rejection leads to reflection, recovery, and the realization that success is still possible. (grades 1-5)


Mixing Math into Stories (60 mins., in-person or virtual)

Do you have a favorite math skill that you’d like to turn into a story? Brainstorm characters and plots and learn how to merge them with multiple math concepts. List making will help you find your focus and conjure up possibilities for future stories. Explore the art of book dummies and sticky note strategies to organize your ideas into a finished story. (grades 3-5)


Stress-free Poetry (30-60 mins., in-person only)

If the idea of writing a poem seems impossible then this workshop is for you. All poems do not need to rhyme and any subject can become a poem. Brainstorm your strongest ideas and learn how to conjure images, analogies, and your best-not-boring words. Similes, metaphors, and purposeful repetition will be some of the approaches to creating a community poem worth sharing. (grades K-5)




“I'm better at so many things I was afraid of because of Ms. Stephens’s patience and positivity. I was so nervous and shy about writing and sharing my ideas and what stories could come of them. She helped me see that I could accomplish more and do more if I just slow down and put my mind to it.”   ~ Zahra, age 7


"Ms. Stephens made writing fun. She helped me develop new ideas for stories."  ~ Jack, Age 11

“Ms. Stephens helped me understand writing and poetry. The skills I learned at such a young age helped me get into a program for gifted English.”  ~ Simone, Age 12


“My love of reading came from Ms. Stephens.”  ~ Jibriel, age 10


workshops and presentations for elementary educators

Bravery, Books, and Bouncing Back - What it Takes to Teach (60 mins. in-person or virtual)

Ann Marie Stephens will discuss the importance of courage, humor, and initiative through self-expression and grass roots ideas. She will provide insight on how the books we read and the attitude we keep can empower the students we teach—and ourselves. Having your own classroom is an opportunity to change the world. (grades K-5)


Cookies and Books (60 mins., in-person only)

Explore 10-12 of the newest picture books (not all her own) while munching on cookies! Ann Marie will share applicable classroom ideas for each book and give away one book to a lucky participant. Cookies and napkins included! (grades K-3)


Dive Write In: Strengthening Student Literacy (60-90 mins. in-person or virtual)

In this presentation, long time teacher and children’s book author, Ann Marie Stephens, discusses how developing confident readers and writers can pave the way to lifelong success. Through her experiences facilitating writing workshops with kids, she’ll share ideas for strengthening student literacy and creating bonds within a school that lead to undeniable and unforgettable changes for everyone. (grades 1-5)


Journal Writing Across the Curriculum (3 hours, in-person only)

Keeping journals can seem impossible amidst an academic school day full of nonnegotiable requirements and testing. But having a space for reflection, voice, and choice is essential to creating engaged and informed students. Find out how you can keep journals in your classroom and still meet your curriculum demands. Learn ways to incorporate all subjects and sneak in a few off-topic ideas to encourage maximum creativity and freedom. Kids want to be heard and teachers want success for their students and themselves. Journals can satisfy all these needs to foster a positive, enriching classroom environment. (grades 1-5)




“AnnMarie Stephens, a passionate, gifted, and dedicated teacher conducted workshops, in-services, and book clubs at our school. Her students thrived under her care and when she began offering classes, I was quick to sign up. What an amazing amount of pertinent, helpful, and ready-to-use strategies she provided. I gained much from her “classroom library and set up” class. Not only did it provide students with choices, but it greatly increased their reading fluency, understanding, interest, and knowledge on a variety of genres. Test scores improved, excited students couldn’t wait until it was their day to “shop” in the class library, and sharing books with friends was priceless to watch. I credit all this success to AnnMarie. Leaving her workshops with great motivation and excitement to implement these ready to use activities, strategies and teacher proven ideas was exhilarating!”   ~ Pamela Cove, retired educator


“I've been lucky enough to see Ann Marie Stephens in action in a classroom. I can say with certainty that her little writers are engaged, enthusiastic, and have a strong understanding of the writing process. Ann Marie has the ability to make writing accessible for students so that it feels like part of all contents rather than a separate subject.”  ~ Susan Murphy, educator

workshops + presentations for adults

Ideas! How to Pick, Polish, and Pitch Them (60 mins.)

Are you short on ideas or having trouble deciding which of your existing ones are worth pursuing? Learn how to collect, prioritize, and laser focus on your most promising manuscripts. Then use the 7 Picture Book Polishers to shine up your stories and pitch them with pizazz!

Writing a Picture Book Series (90 mins.)

Have you created an irresistible character, a unique setting, or a concept worth expanding? In this workshop we’ll develop your existing ideas and brainstorm new ones, to help plan a book series. Mentor texts will demonstrate how the core of one book can branch off into many more. Consistency profiles, object additions, and character relocation, are some of the techniques we’ll explore. You’ll learn how list making and layering can lead you down the path of endless potential. Whether you’ve already accepted the rewards of series writing or have only thought about it, this workshop is for you!


Turning Nuggets into Gems - The Evolution of an Idea (3 hours)

From the first line to the last word, learn techniques for plotting out your picture book. We will discuss tips on how to leave room for an illustrator and find ways to choose the most irresistible words. Editing our stories can be difficult and at times, it seems impossible! Look at quick and painless methods to “Delete and Retreat” without ruining your masterpiece. We will combat Mundane Middles and Everyday Endings to equip you with what you need to polish off your picture book. 


Writing on the Go (60 mins.)

It can be difficult to justify writing time. Our families need us, our other jobs consume us, or we are just too tired. Whether you are hoping for your first book contract or waiting to hear back about your eighth, discover strategies for making the most of your time. Unique approaches and take away tools will help you be able to set real intentions and walk away with a plan. We’ll acknowledge the  “mindless minutes” and how we can use them to carve out productive, motivating, guilt-free writing time.


From Laundry Room to Library - A Writer’s Life (60 mins.)

Author Ann Marie Stephens shares her journey from kid-writer to published author, and what inspired her along the way. She reveals glimpses into her creative process, the books she loves, and a microscopic laundry room-writing studio. Ann Marie incorporates stories from her past, and anecdotes from her previous job as a teacher, proving she’s in the writing world for the long haul. Educators and librarians are valuable in both her writing and teaching life, and she won’t let you forget it!


STEM Picture Book Writing (90 mins.)

Have you ever wanted to write a picture book with a STEM focus but can’t figure out where to start? This workshop will help you narrow your focus, choose your age group, and set off in the direction that is best for your subject. We will touch on topics such as, fact checking, research, and back matter. Whether it’s straight up nonfiction, talking animals, or kids interacting with core concepts, you’ll brainstorm several possibilities for an amazing STEM story.




“Ann Marie offered the perfect introduction to picture book writing. Before I began her course, I thought I knew how to write a picture book. But Ann Marie showed me—in the most encouraging and thoughtful way—what picture book writing actually looked like. Not only did she provide a safe space for me to test my creativity, but her expertise also helped improve my writing. I left every class feeling supported and eager to write more. I would recommend Ann Marie’s courses to anyone.”  ~ Brittany Richman, author and blogger


“Ann Marie taught one of my favorite writing workshops. Her enthusiasm and encouragement bolstered the students and helped us create better work. Our work grew deeper each class. In addition to structuring the workshop in a simple but thought-out format, she spent time editing and offering keen insights. I’d take another course from her in a heartbeat.”   ~ Carrie Brown-Wolf


“Ann Marie is honest, insightful, and encouraging. Uniquely, she is also a community builder. When I signed up for her class, I assumed I’d get a solid picture book writing foundation. I did, but I also got a community. She nurtured that into reality. She also has extraordinary insight into what kids like and need (and what publishers, parents and teachers will buy) from her decades of teaching and picture book writing experience. Her class was worth my time and money 20x over.”  ~ Shawnee Barton


“When my local school librarians' association met for our annual dinner, we were delighted with a visit by Ann Marie. She spoke enthusiastically and knowledgeably about our favorite shared subjects--young readers and children's literature. My group was delighted with her tales of the role of creativity in her life as a teacher and author. We loved hearing her read her latest book and details about her next book for publication. It's clear that in life and in her books, Ann Marie blends problem-solving and serious learning with humor and ways to reach out to new friends. We are lucky that we now count her as one of ours. I highly recommend that anyone that loves children's books find a way to get to know Ann Marie Stephens.”  ~ Linda Mitchell, Prince William School Librarians Association

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