- 2011, Speed Date an Author, Panel Participant, MileHiCon, Denver, Colorado
- 2011, Public Reading, Participant, MileHiCon, Denver, Colorado
- 2011, I Didn’t Mean to Borrow, Panel Participant, MileHiCon, Denver, Colorado
- 2012, Public Reading, Participant, MileHiCon, Denver, Colorado
- 2012, Prequels, Sequels, and Reboots, Oh, My!, Panel Participant, MileHiCon, Denver, Colorado
- 2014, Surviving Zombies Workshop at the Anythink Library in Denver, Colorado
- 2014, Surviving Zombies Workshop at the Platte County Public Library, Wyoming
- 2014, Surviving Zombies Workshop at the Host Springs County Library, Wyoming
- 2015, Surviving Zombies Workshop at the Riverton High School, Wyoming
- 2015, Heroes and Villains Workshop at the Big Horn County Library, Wyoming
- 2015, Women and Slasher Films presentation at Casper College, Wyoming
- 2015, Villains Workshop and Undead Obsessed presentation at the Green River Valley Museum, Wyoming
- 2015, Women and Slasher Films presentation, Long Beach Indie Film Festival, Long Beach California
- 2015, Surviving Zombies Workshop, MileHiCon, Denver, Colorado
- 2015, Women and Slasher Films presentation, Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 2016, Women and Slasher Films presentation, Oceanic Popular Culture Association, Honolulu, HI
- 2016, Women and Slasher Films presentation, Fort Caspar Museum, Casper, Wyoming
Surviving Zombies Workshop
Surviving Zombies is geared toward a teen audience, but anyone who wants to participate is more than welcome. Participants will be given a list of 20 items. They will get 5-10 minutes to rank them in order of importance. This can be done either individually or in a group, depending on how many people there are. When they are finished, they will be asked to defend and explain their list.
After the lists have been made, I will show the participants clips from various films and TV shows about decisions the characters in a zombie apocalypse make about survival and discuss the pros and cons of each. We will also look at the correct order for the items on the list and discuss why that order is important.
While the possibility of a zombie apocalypse occurring is slim to none, other disasters are possible, including natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) and acts of aggression (bombings, war). To survive these ordeals, it is important to have a plan to obtain the necessary elements of survival. This workshop will help the participants think critically about what needs to be done in a fun and entertaining fashion. The lists they draft to survive zombies could also help them in other situations.
With their popularity and accessibility, zombies become a great vehicle to talk about issues that occur in the real world and ways to ensure survival.
Undead Obsessed: My Journey to Discover Meaning in Zombies
My obsession with zombie films started when I was in junior high, the first time I ever saw Night of the Living Dead. This obsession has grown through time, and my goal was to find out exactly how zombies are a metaphor for our fears of science. Using film, literature, and interviews with experts, Undead Obsessed examines how zombies portray real-world fears such as epidemics, mind control, what may or may not exist in space, the repercussions of playing God, and the science behind the fears.
My presentation highlights this research and how zombies are more than just rotting corpses hellbent on destroying humanity. I will engage the audience by asking what it is about zombies they find so intriguing and if they had ever thought about what type of meaning zombies could possibly have. While these films are often incredibly gory, the representative clips I show from these films will limit the amount of blood and guts that is shown, making this presentation suitable for teens as well as adults.
Women and Slasher Films
Slasher films were targeted toward a teenage audience by having the stars of the films be teens. They are loaded full of violence and gory deaths, but this presentation will not focus solely on that aspect. My goal is to have teens and adults look at these films as social commentaries and see beyond the blood and gore to examine the roles of women in the film and how they redefine gender stereotypes.
I use clips from movies to show examples of the types of criticism scholars have used to show that slasher films are anti-women. I will also use clips from the films to disprove these theories by showing how these techniques are turned back on themselves. I will emphasize the importance of the Final Girl in slasher films. I will ask the audience if they believe the slasher film genre has been successful in showing the woman as a hero or not.
As a watcher of horror films and a writer of zombie novels, the perception of women in horror is very important to me. I believe that there are valuable lessons that can be learned from movies and books, and slasher films are the genre that started it all. I would like to share my passion for horror and explain how the genre expresses the fears of society or shows what is wrong with society and hopefully change some perspectives along the way. I would also like other women out there who enjoy horror to know that they aren’t abnormal or alone.
Heroes and Villains - middle grade workshops
Heroes generally aren’t born, they’re made.
Using examples from film and literature, the Heroes and Villains Literacy Workshops looks at the traits of various villains and discusses how they impact the heroes and other characters in the story. It also examines how the quest is important in the growth of the hero and allows him or her to become a better person.
Students create their own villain and discuss what makes them “good” or “bad” and what type of effect they would have on other characters in the story. They also create a journey of their own and explain what the hero will find along the way and what they will be expected to learn to become a better person.
I write children’s books under the pen name J.D. Pooker. I have written two picture books—There’s a Monster in Mommy’s Tummy and Mr. Chocolate the Magic Js—and two middle grade books—The Ifs and The Ifs Return.