New Year, New Us! Plus, Win a Skype Visit from an Author or Books!

Welcome to OAV’s newly designed website! With our fresh look, we thought we’d take a moment to highlight our lineup of talented published children’s and young adult authors. We’re also celebrating with a spectacular giveaway! You could win a 30-minute Skype visit with children’s author Lisa L. Owens or a set of books from Secrets of a Lab Rat author, Trudi Trueit. First, meet our exceptional authors and discover why a Skype or Google Hangout visit with one of them could open up a world of reading and writing for your students, book club, or critique group, then stick around to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

Lisa L. Owens: I’ve been working as an editor and writer for the children’s market since 1993. As the author of 85+ titles for ages PreK–YA, I’ve created books in a variety of formats—everything from picture books to upper-level chapter books. Some of my most popular titles include The Code of the Drum, a Civil War story; the graphic novelization of Black Beauty; the YA biography Benjamin Franklin; and Frenemies: Dealing with Friend Drama, an advice book for girls. Knowing that my work lands in kids’ hands is a wonderful feeling on its own, but nothing else quite compares to the special reward I get from personally interacting with young readers and writers. They always teach me something. With virtual visits, I especially like that I can easily tailor a talk to fit an audience’s specific needs (for example, I’ve presented on journal writing, biography research, the editing process, retelling Greek myths, writing as a career, the elements of story, and so on) — and the virtual venue often makes it easier for schools, classrooms, and other groups to fit an author event into their schedules and budgets.” 

Suzanne Williams: “An elementary school librarian for over twenty years, I’m the author of more than fifty fiction books for children including the picture book Library Lil (Dial, illustrated by Steven Kellogg), several other picture books, chapter books, and middle grade series. My most recent series, co-authored with Joan Holub, delve into the worlds of Greek mythology (Goddess Girls and  Heroes in Training, both with Aladdin) and fairy tales (Grimmtastic Girls, Scholastic). I’ve done hundreds of live visits and dozens of online visits with schools and classrooms across the country. Typically, virtual visits include the inside scoop on how particular books and series came to be, shared writing tips, and Q & A. I’m quite comfortable speaking with groups of children and can tailor what I do and speak about to meet your needs. Just ask!” 

Joan Holub: “I’ve written and/or illustrated about 150 books for children, including board books (Mini Myths series: Be Patient, Pandora!, Play Nice, Hercules!); picture books (Little Red Writing, Zero the Hero,Mighty Dads – a New York Times bestseller); early readers (Shampoodle); chapter books (Heroes in Training series with the mega-amazing Suzanne Williams); and tween/middle grade series (Goddess Girls, Grimmtastic Girls, both with Suzanne). But wait, there’s more! During a visit, I share the dummy and storyboard process I use to create picture books like Little Red Writing. And I’ll discuss the nuts, bolts, fun, and frenzy of co-writing the mythology-based Goddess Girls and Heroes in Trainingseries.” 

Janet Lee Carey: “When I was a child, I read my favorite books high up in the branches of my reading tree. By age eight, I knew I wanted to be a writer. The trouble was I wasn’t the least bit good at writing. So how did I become an award-winning author of novels for children and young adults? I had encouraging teachers who believed in me, savvy librarians who kept giving me more books, and I had a passionate belief in the power of stories that kept me working year after year. We talk about the power of stories on my school visits and Skype visits. How important it is for each of us to tell our own stories, and share them with others. It takes practice to learn how to write, but it’s worth it. Our stories bring us together, expand our world, and sometimes they give us one of the greatest gifts of all — a feeling of courage and a belief that each one of us, no matter who we are, matters. A Skype visit offers something special you can’t get on a school visit. It’s a bit of a magic window effect. The students get a peek into my private writing world, look at my stacks of revision pages (yes writers get marked-up pages just like you do in school!). And meet the dragon who keeps me company as I work. Whenever I meet and talk with students, I leave inspired. Their questions, concerns, and interests give me ideas for new stories. I look forward to talking with you and your students on a virtual visit soon.” 

Deb Lund: My mission for author visits is to inspire motivation for writing. As a teacher, when parents told me a child was a reluctant writer, I knew I could change that. In the bio of an NBC news reporter, it says he knew in 5th grade that he wanted to be a writer, and a newspaper columnist from that same class of mine wrote an article saying I was her hero because the whole class knew they were writers. After one author visit, a sixth-grader wrote, ‘That inner critic kept saying that’s no good, scrap that. But I heard your presentation and I told that critic no, and moved on! I will always keep writing now that you have shown me ways to improve.’ My master’s project was on teaching writing, and my performing and creativity coaching have helped me take my writing motivation mission to a new level. Please join my mission!” 

Dia Calhoun: “My list of books and award follows, but they aren’t important. What’s important is my passion for writing. In all my writing workshops and conversations with kids and adults, whether live or via Skype, I want to be a catalyst for creativity and imagination . . .” Okay, here is the list: The author of eight novels for kids and teens, Dia Calhoun was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature for her young adult novel ARIA OF THE SEA. Her books FIREGOLD, and WHITE MIDNIGHT are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. ReviewingCalhoun’s most recent book, AFTER THE RIVER THE SUN, School Library Journal wrote—“Lovers of gaming and Arthurian legends will thoroughly enjoy this one.” Calhoun is a co-founder of readergirlz which received the Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. Calhoun was a guest instructor at Seattle University. In addition to school visits, she offers private coaching in creative writing to kids and adults. Learn more at 

Trudi Trueit: “As a former TV news reporter and weather forecaster, I’ve been chatting with students about writing and journalism for more than 20 years. I’ve done Skype and Google Hangouts visits with book clubs, writing groups, public libraries, bookstores, and Girl Scout Troops across the country. I’m also happy to share writing tips and professional advice for aspiring novelists or critique groups. I’ve written almost100 fiction and nonfiction books for young readers (I’m working on number 99, right now!) My specialty is middle grade and tween books, such as Stealing Popular (Aladdin) and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series (Aladdin). What I love about virtual visits is that once you get connected, the technology fades into the background. It’s as if I am right there with the students—teaching, guiding and encouraging them! They, in turn, get to see where I work, how I plot books, and, if they are lucky, meet a cat or two.”

If you’re considering inviting an author in to talk to your group, why not try a virtual visit? We’ll walk you through the complete process. Click over to the Author Profile page for complete author biographies, details, and fees. Once you’ve made your selection, contact the author through the email address or website provided under their profile, and your author will take it from there!  

Now, for the OAV Giveaway!  
The contest runs from February 2, 2015, through midnight (PST) February 17, 2015. Two winners will be randomly selected. First place is a 30-minute Skype visit from author Lisa L. Owens. Second place is a Secrets of a Lab Rat series (3 books) from author Trudi Trueit. Winners will be contacted via email by OAV. The first name and last initial of winners will be posted here following the giveaway. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. U.S. residents only, please. Good luck, everyone, and thanks for entering!

The contest is complete. Our giveaway winners are: 

First place: Fonda R. 

Second place: Tammy H. 

Congratulations to our winners and many thanks to everyone who entered. Be sure to check back for new giveaways from our member authors in the coming months!