School Visits and Workshops

School Visits: Virtual Edition

School visits are done through Zoom. Costs are the same because effort is the same (except for travel); that being said, we can work with you if you’re on a limited budget.

As an improv performer and former middle school teacher, Margaret is a dynamic and charismatic presenter who engages student emotions and intellect.

Margaret has a variety of options for school visits. Whether you want students to be inspired by her personal journey, become better humans through improv, or engage in some science experiments, Margaret has something for you.

Custom options are also a possibility, as well as fee waivers or reductions.

Each time estimate does not include time for getting books signed. Allow an average of 20 minutes for book signing, depending on pre-orders.

Presentations & Lessons

These are suitable for small groups or auditorium-sized large groups. Requires projector & associated equipment.

1. Author Journey

An in-depth 30 minute discussion of what it takes to be an author, my journey, my setbacks, where I get my ideas. With Powerpoint and props. Followed by a 15 minute Q&A

Grades 4 & Up

45 minutes: 30 minute presentation + 15 minute Q&A

2. Looking for Japanese Monsters in the West

This begins with a short author journey discussion, then goes into why Margaret wrote the books, and a slideshow and discussion of the monsters in the book and where we find them in Western culture (i.e. video games, movies, books).

45 minutes: 30 minute presentation + 15 minute Q&A

Any age


3. Science of Baking

This begins with a short author journey discussion and why Margaret wrote SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES, then goes into the lesson.

  • Baking clip
  • Lesson about chemistry and science in baking

60 minutes: 45 minute presentation/experiment + 15 minute Q&A

Grades 4 and up

Five Things About Ava Andrews

4. Heart Science

This begins with a short author journey discussion and why Margaret wrote the book, then goes into the lesson.

  • Today show clip about noncompaction cardiomyopathy
  • Powerpoint with deeper explanation (for middle school and up)
  • Heart rate experiment

4th & Up

5. Anxiety

This begins with a short author journey discussion and why Margaret wrote the book, then goes into the lesson.

  • What happens in your body when you have anxiety?
  • Experiment with short term memory and anxiety (suitable for large groups, needs teacher assistance for moving small groups of volunteer students around)

Grades 4 & Up


Workshops are for smaller groups. Add on a workshop, or choose this option as a standalone.

Option A: Writing Workshop

The Three Cs: Character, Conflict, and Change.

In this workshop, Margaret goes over the basic elements of story. Then the group brainstorms a list of possible characters taken from books, movies, or video games; a location; the conflict; and how the characters change.

Margaret then demonstrates how to write a story by leading a group write. We then go over what they learned so they can write their own story!

  • Good for all ages, from first grade to adult
  • Can be scaled for any audience size
  • Students become invested in the story
  • More engaging and intuitive than using a story rubric to learn the form

Kindergarten & Up

40-60 minutes (or more if you want supervised writing time)


An improv lesson, best for groups up to 15, but can be used for groups up to 40-50

*Larger groups may require the use of a second teacher, necessitating a slightly higher fee


  • “Yes, And” Agreement and adding something
  • Valuing others’ opinions
  • Listening skills
  • Introverts learn how to speak up more; extroverts learn how to yield space
  • Supporting others and receiving “gifts”
  • The power of play

60 minutes

Grades 4 & Up


Current Pricing, as of 2020:

Presentations/Lessons (Options 1-5)

Within San Diego county:

$500 for up to 2 sessions

Add on writing or improv workshop for small group: $100 per workshop

Outside San Diego County:

$1500 for up to 2 sessions, plus travel

3 to 4 sessions: $2500 plus travel

Add on a writing or improv small group session: $200 per workshop

Workshop Only (Options A or B)

Within San Diego County:

$200 per workshop

Outside San Diego County:

$500 plus travel, per workshop

WRAD photo

33 thoughts on “School Visits and Workshops

  1. Dear ma’am,
    I am in mourning, now, cuz I just completed one of the best novels that I have read in my fifty years. I want to place it under glass, and display it to the universe. I do not comment on a novel often. You need to continue to write and you will be a novelist that will stand out for all time. I viewed your novel on my Barnes and Noble app, via I-phone, and was just intrigued with the cover. I bought it, at full price and could not put it down. I sent pieces of it to my Italian mother, via text. I am a huge fan if memoirs of a geisha, but this was different. Go out and celebrate! Take your family, and eat, drink, and be happy! Too bad, that this book is hidden, I had to go to three places to find it. Thank-you, and thanks to your mother, god rest het soul, for writing the book of this decade.

  2. My family and I went to Japan for the first time this past summer – and we loved it – the places/history, the culture, the people, the food. So, I read several books about Japan upon our return.

    I was pleasantly surprised to learn about your book and I will be looking for it. Then – I was even prouder to learn that you also went to Scripps!!! I can’t wait to read your book, especially when it deals with the kind of complicated relationship as yours does. Will you be coming out to the Tea on 10/17 at 3 pm – for the book exchange to celebrate our founder’s birthday?

    Anyway – congratulations on your achievement and I look forward to reading your book!

    Take care,
    Margie Tupper, Scripps ’86

  3. This was a wonderful book, have already recommended it to family and friends. Keep me posted about your next book. Can no wait. Laur

  4. Your book was chosen for our book club to review in January because it looked good (love the cover). I just finished it and I have to say – I loved it! Thank you for writing a clean, happy, interesting book! I’m excited to recommend it.

    P.S. Being a Mormon myself, I was wondering why you chose this religion for Charlie?

  5. Just stayed up until 1:30 am to finish your book (well worth being overtired with the kids in the am!). It was a great story, and I hope to read more from you, in the future. πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Margaret,

    I too am a Margaret. There aren’t that many of us πŸ˜‰

    As a “konketsu” mixed-race, half Japanese, half Greek daughter of an American GI Marine and Japanese mom … finding this book that I can truly identify with has been a joy! Although my mom is four years younger than the character Shoko, my mom’s stories mirror hers in so many ways. The character of Sue or Suiko lives her youth, in many respects, as I did mine.

    I too have a brother and his name is Michael (Mike) … I don’t know about you … but I never understood why my parents named their kids Margaret and Michael, when mom has such difficulty pronouncing “L” and “R”. LOL!

    I have highlighted so many sections of your book, it might as well have been printed on yellow paper. My mom was also “strafed” by the American planes during the war. She lived on sweet potatoes. Ohhhhh soooo many stories of her life came flooding back to me by reading your book.

    Thank you for sharing your story and at the same time, you have helped share my story.

  7. Hi Margaret,

    I just finished your book, which I bought coming back from my honeymoon in Taiwan. My husband is from there and I am Italian. We both lived in US (I moved two years ago from Rome). I loved your book and although I am not Japanese and I am living in US in 2011 I feel a feeling of familiarity with the struggles of your characters. I also wonder which kind of mother I will be when I have children. Adapting to a new country is liberating, hard and many other things. Your book communicates all these mixed feelings very well.


  8. I too am a half-Japanese, all-American woman, and as such I’ve never had the experience before of reading about characters so much like myself so thank you so much for your honest and acute portrayal of what it’s like. It’s absolutely uncanny how many details you included about the relationship between Shoko-san and Sue I could relate to on an almost first-hand basis. I thought it was only me who owned this unique experience, but always wondered if other half-Japanese girls went through the same. Maybe we should start a support group! Anyway, aside from thanking you for such an enjoyable and relateable work, the main reason I came to your website was to see if your book had been translated into Japanese. If it has, I would love to buy a copy for my mother. You’ve somehow said things that I couldn’t, and I know she’d understand it better if she could read it in her mother tongue. Thanks again! Monica Thomas

    1. Thanks! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one!
      It is not in Japanese currently, unfortunately. Keep checking back! I’ll post it on the front page or something if it ever sells to Japan.

  9. Thanks again for sharing your book, and for the quick reply! I hope your publisher will consider the potential for selling a Japanese or bi-lingual version of your book here in the States as well as abroad. There are many Japanese post-war brides like my mom whose stories are very similar to Shoko’s. My mom learned just enough English to pass the citizenship test and that’s as far as she got with it, which is how it’s been with many of her friends who came her from Japan. Maybe I’ll get her the audio CD and see how that goes! All the best to you, it’s great to see you’re enjoying such success for such an endearing work! Monica Thomas

  10. Just finished your book – How to Be an American Housewife. I read it in two days! I love the mother daughter relationship. I am going to buy my 15 YO daughter a copy so she can read it also, and we can discuss it. (We read books together). I LOVE the characters. Please tell me you are going to have a part two??? I want to see how Shoko feels when she returns to Japan. I would also like for Mike go to Japan to find his (birth) father’s family. Also, what did Mike mean when he said told Shoko “it explained alot” when he learned that Charlie was not his birth father??? How did you come up with the Mormon angle?

  11. I loved the dynamics of the characters in this book. The non-fictional element just enhanced this story even more! I am so glad I recommended this book for my bookclub because it deals with relationships, hardship, culture, and the power of a family’s love. I cannot wait to discuss this book!

  12. First, I loved the book. However, I was surprised at Sue’s response when
    Shoko visited her at work. Was Sue embarrassed for her co-workers to meet
    her mother? I spoke to a friend whose mother is a foreigner about this. She
    said that she had a lot of guilt because she intentionally kept her mother away from her friends. Was that something you tried to infer?

  13. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in two days! I was born in Tokyo, Japan and came to US with my parents when I was 3. I feel we have alot in common! Most Asian and Caucasian think I look half caucasian which is interesting. My parents are from Kumamoto City, Japan. Maybe our relatives know each other! Wouldn’t that be neat! I have not met anyone in the midwest from Kumamoto. My grandfather, Kihara, was a doctor and his son who is a doctor owns Kihara Hospital.
    Thank you for writing this book. My mother died six yrs, ago, and this story helps me understand my parents even more. I wept when your parents couldn’t help you with your Science Fair Project. I went through similar experiences. How great to know I am not alone!! You are a gifted writer and please write more!!!

  14. I just finished your book this evening. I haven’t had a book that I couldn’t put down in a long time! I started last night, finished it tonight. I am now sad because I have nothing else to read…. My heart belongs to San Diego. Where exactly did you place Shoko and Charlies house? I thought she mentioned the town but it didn’t sound familiar. My mom grew up in Casa De Oro (Spring Valley) And my granparents still live on an acre there. They have a huge Jacaranda tree, that I have loved since my childhood. I grew up in Vista

      1. Your novel reminded me soooo much of my mom and me! My mom’s side of the falimy, the Otani falimy, are Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors. My dad was a Marine Corp musician in Iwakuni and my mom was the head waitress on base during the ’50s. That’s where they met. She worked her day job on base and then worked nights at a gift shop, selling souveniers to GIs to pay for my youngest uncle’s university expenses. We lived off base in the Japanese community until ’71 when we moved here to the US. I didn’t learn to speak English until we moved here. I’ve never spoken English to my mother, who passed on in ’07.She and her younger sister had breast cancer within a couple of years of each other around ’90. We attributed the illnesses to after-effects of the atomic bomb since there was no history of cancer in the falimy other than the oldest sister who died a few years after the bombing. She had been back to Japan twice and was hoping to go back one more time before she died. We brought Japan to her hospice room by flying my youngest uncle and his wife to visit for a few days. The last couple of weeks of her life were just lovely, her room full of Japanese knick-knacks, Japanese music playing on the stereo and hours of lively conversations in Japanese. We were able to get my mom on the phone with the last sister still alive, whom she had not spoken to in almost 20 years. How beautiful it was to see my mom, initially so resistant to take the phone from my hand, break down with tears of joy when her sister spoke to her.I’ve always thought she was unlike other Japanese women from her generation. She was such a spitfire, so unlike the stereotipical Japanese housewife. What a shock it was to read so much of her in your book! I mean, cripes! At first, I couldn’t get started. I’d pick up the book, radomly choose a page to skim, get triggered, then put the book down because I was too freaked out to read it. I read Part Two first. Then I was able to read Part One without getting triggered. How wonderful that you were able to record your mother’s stories. My mom, Hisako, told many stories to my brother and me while we were growing up and continued to tell them until her last days. I hope to write a play based on her stories someday, how the bomb blew her forward into her life adventures.Are you connected to any group for Half Japanese people? There must be so many of us down there in Southern CA. I’m in the Eastern Oregon desert, where there are more cattle than people. I’m the only non-white person I’ll see for days at a time if I don’t go to the local Mexican restaurant. I have a couple of friends I met on line who are haafu. I’ll be mailing them copies of your book this week. I’m sure they’ll be able to relate like I did. Well, for me, it did more than allow me to relate. Your novel was theraputic, Margaret.I’m so very grateful for your book and your work. Domo arigato gozaimashita. Good luck with your second novel. Gambatte ne!Jackie Sario

  15. Dear Margaret,

    Your book was recommended by a lady in my Book Club. It was a wonderful book to read. I especially loved the details about Japanese culture. The chapter where Shoko and Taro were reunited made me cry. Since I have two sisters and a brother I can’t inagine not seeing them for many years. It made my heart hurt. Thank you for the forgiveness shown in the novel. P;ease keep writing. I am looking forward to your next novel which I understand will be released this summer.

    –Claudia in Austin, Texas

  16. Hi Margaret,

    Just finished your book and fell completely in love with it! I have limited connection in terms of similarity of experience, but you’ve written the story so well, it transcends mirrored experience.

    I wanted to tell you one aspect though, that I loved, because it rang true for me. My mother immigrated from Latvia and Germany to Canada as a young teen. She too lived through WWII and bears the scars. And the similarity I see between her and Shoko makes me think it’s less an ethic trait, than a life taught trait. That’s in the “tokidoki” attitude. It must be that having lived through hard events such as people did then, gives them a certain suck-it-up-buttercup, no one promised anyone a rose garden condition of mind! I’ve never met anyone as content and stoic in the face of life’s curveballs, as my mother. She’s a great example of looking forward, appreciating the good in one’s history, but not spending a moment of regret for the might-have-beens. I loved this side of Shoko’s character, and I think it must make life a bit easier to navigate!

    Looking forward to your next novel this year!!


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