Around the Web with OAV Authors: June 2015

Our author members pop up online so often that we decided to start doing regular links roundups so readers of this blog can learn more about us. To that end, each month I’ll do a bit of OAV-specific surfing to pick out a few tidbits to share.

Some gems I found this time:

Clare Hodgson Meeker blogged about a Grade 3 writing workshop she taught as a Seattle Arts & Lectures Writer-in-Residence at Whittier Elementary School.

Clare poses with third-grade students who’ve completed her writing workshop.

Have you seen Trudi Trueit’s super-fun FAQs on her author site? Take a peek!

This month, Janet Lee Carey’s Library Lions Roar blog features a teacher librarian doing fantastic work at Hopewell Elementary School in Bettendorf, Iowa. made a list of the “Best Nonfiction Kids’ Books of 2015 So Far,” and Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson is on it!

Did you know that you can print your own stickers to accompany the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams? Yes, you can!

Check out Dia Calhoun’s recent blog about creating a special place that serves as a personal invitation to mystery.

This Is Teen has put together a handy book club guide for The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough.

In case you missed the link on our Facebook page, here you can see details about the Skype visit Patrick Jennings did with a classroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Skyping from Washington State, Patrick visits with students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Here’s a peek at what our members have been up to lately …

Dori Hillestad Butler‘s Haunted Library recently made the ILA Children’s Choice list. The list is a joint endeavor by the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC) and is the result of voting by 12,500 school children from all over the U.S. Haunted Library is also part of Barnes & Noble’s 2015 Summer Reading Program. Children can earn a free book by reading any eight books, recording them in their reading journal and then bringing the completed journal to their local B&N store. Haunted Library is one of the 15 books that first- and second-graders can choose.

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 Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams Goddess Girls Books 1–8 starter collection is now available at Costco! Be sure to pick them up in bulk. Also, a bound collection of Heroes in Training Books 1–4 is soon to be available through Amazon, B&N, & Costco!

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Look for an essay by Lisa L. Owens in Dr. Bernie S. Siegel’s forthcoming Love, Animals & Miracles.

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Dana Sullivan gave a graphic novel workshop at Third Place Books Lake Forest Park on June 15. After a quick demo, he turned them loose with these instructions: 1) Introduce the hero, 2) Introduce the villain, 3) Conflict ensues, 4) Surprise twist ending! In less than an hour they all came through brilliantly with crazy and unexpected stories. Below right is one from his friend, Annie. O … 

Dana also just received the text for the sixth book in the Digger & Daisy series written by Judy Young  This new title is Digger and Daisy Plant a Garden and he’ll have a few months to complete the final art.


In July, Dana will be speaking at the ILA Conference in St. Louis about writing and illustrating his books, focusing on Kay Kay‘s Alphabet Safari, which also made the ILA Children’s Choice List. He can’t wait to meet Shaq and tell him about the real-life inspiration for Kay Kay. (Hint: he’s a real artists in the Kenyan village where the Star of Hope school and orphanage supplies love and education to more than 120 kids). Come to their fundraiser dance July 11, 2015, if you’re in Seattle!)


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Laurie Thompson has had a very busy spring. Her Be a Changemaker won a Parents’ Choice Recommended Award, along with the Society of Children’s and Bookwriter’s (SCBWI) Crystal Kite Award, an honor bestowed on her by her peers in the children’s literature writing community! Laurie’s children’s book, Emmanuel’s Dream was selected for the First Book Stories for All campaign. Laurie also just had a launch party for My Dog Is the Best, which is now available at your favorite online or retail bookseller. 


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Trudi Trueit recently signed a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin MIX division for a new middle grade book. American Kestrel (working title) tells the story of an American teen who travels to Canada to help save her grandmother’s ski lodge from foreclosure. To do it, she’ll have to battle of pair of evil twins, save a rock star dangling from a ski lift, and overcome her own worst fear! Publication is scheduled for Spring, 2017. This will be her third title for MIX, following Stealing Popular (2012) and The Sister Solution (releasing this Sept. 29th). 

If you live in the Seattle area, you’re invited to the book launch party for The Sister Solution on Friday, Oct. 16th at 7:00 pm at the University of Washington Bookstore in Mill Creek. Bring your sister (or a best friend that’s like a sister!).
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David Patneaude, Author of the Month: Get Out!

When I’m out on the road doing “real” school visits (as opposed to “really cool” Skype visits), I of course spend some of the time talking about myself because I’m such an interesting character. Early on in my presentation I’ll mention what kind of stuff I write, just in case the kids’ teachers and librarian haven’t been completely successful in pounding it into their students’ heads, and I’ll ask them what fiction is. Their responses often make me smile. “Made up.” “Fake.” “Imaginary.” “Phony.” “Not real.”

The kids are right, of course, and I tell them that, and I talk about the differences between fiction and nonfiction and how some fiction is so fantastic that it probably couldn’t happen in real life but that other fiction is so close to real life that you might think it actually happened. Or is happening. I’ve had readers write to me and ask me whatever became of certain characters in stories I’ve written. They want to know what those characters are doing now.

Just because a story is “not real” doesn’t mean it can’t seem real. When I speak to kids about my stories, I sometimes introduce them to a big word: verisimilitude. They’re always very impressed. I can tell because their eyes begin to glaze over. So I hurry on, explaining that verisimilitude doesn’t mean real life. It means like real life, and that’s what I aim to accomplish in my writing. To make the story feel like real life.

Because setting is such a significant part of many stories (sometimes almost like another character), it can play a big role in determining the apparent authenticity of the tale being told. How well an author describes a setting can make the difference between a reader just hum-drumming through a piece of fakery, and completely suspending disbelief and getting totally immersed in a story that feels real. 

So when I’m describing a place and want to be sure I can transport my reader there, I try to avoid fakery, or fuzzy detail, or lack of detail, or laziness. When possible, I like to get out early in the process of writing the book and visit the story’s location. I take photos. I take notes. I make adjustments to what I’d already imagined. Not only does this keep me aligned with reality, it also allows me to sharpen everything, to pick up on small but maybe important and memorable details that I wouldn’t have been aware of if I’d stayed home and relied on online searches and imagination.

The wish to write authentically has taken me to an abandoned silver mine in the Cascade Mountains for THE LAST MAN’S REWARD, to a juvenile mental health facility for FRAMED IN FIRE, to a small town in Snohomish County for HAUNTING AT HOME PLATE, to northern Idaho for COLDER THAN ICE, to the former site of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in Newell, California for THIN WOOD WALLS, to the back roads of Whidbey Island for DEADLY DRIVE, to the mountain trails above Port Orford, Oregon, for A PIECE OF THE SKY, and to the roads and waters and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula for EPITAPH ROAD. My “research” for SOMEONE WAS WATCHING was done at an early age. When I was an impressionable kid my family lived on the shore of a Minnesota river much like the one in the story. On the other side of the river was Wisconsin, where a lot of the tale takes place. From there it moves to the gulf side of Florida, where I’ve also spent time. Images of these settings were tucked firmly in my brain; the others I worked for.

If I’d taken the easy way out and stayed home, these stories probably still would’ve found a publisher. But they wouldn’t have been the same. Getting out to the actual locations not only gave me facts and images and impressions, it also gave me inspiration. It sparked my imagination. When I was doing my THIN WOOD WALLS research, the woman in the general store that was once, fifty years ago, the administration building at the Tule Lake site, directed me to a nearby fairgrounds, where two of the original barracks buildings—plywood and tarpaper shacks, really—had been moved with the intent of restoring them someday. I took photos, I took notes, but mostly I imagined what it must have been like to live and sweat and freeze and eat dust in those tiny four-to-a-building “apartments” for four years. Uprooted. Lonely. Shamed. Two suitcases of belongings. A thousand miles from home.

That’s why I get out.