Around the Web with OAV Authors: December 2015

It’s time again to round up random cyberspace sightings of some of our Online Author Visits members:

Deb Lund blogged some insightful advice for any writer trying to add obstacles for characters and remove them from his or her writing life.

A selection from Deb Lund’s Fiction Magic: Card Tips & Tricks for Writers

Here’s a terrific article on how David Patneaude became a writer.

Dia Calhoun welcomed Winter Solstice on her blog.

Patrick Jennings has a Wikipedia page!

The Olive and Max magazine series by Clare Hodgson Meeker was recently released in an ebook format. Read all about it at Clare’s website.

Writing for the SCBWI Team Blog, Martha Brockenbrough filed a great preconference interview with fellow children’s author Kate Messner.

Click through for a peek at some fun images from Trudi Trueit’s launch party for her latest novel.

Trudi Trueit reads from The Sister Solution during its launch.

This is an exciting find: Just this week, Laurie Ann Thompson’s Be a Changemaker won a 2015 Gelett Burgess Award! All the winning books must “stimulate the child’s imagination, as well as inspire them creatively.” Congratulations, Laurie!

Did you know that Lisa L. Owens is also a long-time editor? Here’s an interview she did with Copyediting about why she specializes in children’s publishing.

Check out this video from the Seattle Mandolin Orchestra’s holiday concert. Can you spot Dori Hillestad Butler playing with the group?

That’s a wrap for this month’s OAV author-stalking fun. We’ll be back with more tidbits in the new year!


Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Here’s a peek at what our members have been up to this month:

Erik Brooks recently upped the ante on his Online Author Visits expertise by screen sharing both a slide show from his recent arctic explorations and a Photoshop window so that he could draw polar bears and other critters as a part of the presentation. And it was awesome! Erik is also finishing final art for Later, Gator! (Sterling, 2016) and is still sending polar bear post cards to the president via The Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project! 42 down and only 273 to go! Read more about it in post #1 at: and you will find a template as well if students and teachers would like to participate!

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Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams had new releases in their Goddess Girls and Heroes in Training series this month.

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Dana Sullivan just reviewed the final proof of Digger and Daisy Plant a Garden, the sixth in the D&D series by Judy Young. Everything looks great and he can’t wait for Sleeping Bear Press to release it March 1, 2016. More info at

This delightful review of Digger and Daisy Star in a Play just came in from 6-year-old Raif: Digger and Daisy are two dogs who are brother and sister. They are going to be in a play at school. The problem is that Differ wants to have a talking part, but he is just a tree. Daisy is going to be a princess, but she only has two words to say. Digger says the other people’s words everywhere — in the bathtub, at the playground, on the bus, and everywhere she goes. Daisy keeps telling him that he is a tree, and trees do not talk! Digger tells Daisy to say her words over and over so she will not forget, but she doesn’t because she only has two words. But the night of the play, she forgets them! Can Digger help her out? I like this book because it’s fun and silly. Why does anyone have to be a tree? They could just cut the tree out of cardboard and stand it up! But it’s a good thing that Digger was in the tree because he saved the play. This book is easy to read and I could read it by myself. I like the pictures because they are colorful and funny. See more about Digger and Daisy Star in a Play at

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Laurie Ann Thompson was thrilled to learn that Emmanuel’s Dream will be performed on stage in Maine by the Portland Stage as part of their Play Me a Story Theater program for kids. It was also selected by the Chicago Public Library as one of the Best Informational Books for Younger Readers of 2015! After a flurry of amazing school visits covering grades K-12, book signings, interactive workshops, a Google Hangout, and in-person public appearances this past month, Laurie is looking forward to staying home for a change and working on the first book in her upcoming series, Two Truths and a Lie (co-authored with Ammi-Joan Paquette). Laurie’s dog, Prim, says it’s about time, but she wishes she didn’t have to share Laurie’s lap with the laptop.

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Joan Ho-Ho-Holub, Author of the Month (and giveaway)

Santa’s here standing outside our castle drawbridge! He says he brought gifts. Let him in? What?

The three little knights in The Knights Before Christmasthink it might be smarter to guard their castle against this would-be invader instead. Not to be thwarted, the jolly red-and-white Santa and his reindeers (or are they dragons?) catapult gifts over the castle walls. Long siege short, this back-and-forth battle of wits and determination ends with both knights and Santa believing they’ve triumphed. A satisfying ending for both sides.

The idea for my new Christmas picture book, illustrated by Scott Magoon, sprang from my confusion over something that didn’t make sense to me as a kid: My parents locked our doors. They set the alarm. They protected our home from interlopers 364 days a year. Yet on Christmas Eve, we all went to bed hoping that Santa would “invade” our house while we slept.


This was a hard concept for me as a thinking kid. On one hand, I could hardly wait for Santa to deliver his bounty. (What kid doesn’t want presents?) On the other hand, was it really a good idea to let this mysterious, magical guy into our house in the middle of the night?

Now that I’m grown-up, I’m glad my kid-self questioned this whole “Santa situation” because it’s one of those niggling childhood confusions that motivated me to write. November was Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), and I posted on Tara Lazar’s blog about three ways I get book ideas. Here’s a fourth way: I think up schemes to deal with things in the world that confused me when I was a kid. If I can use a comedic eye to re-work those confusing moments into situations that make me laugh, I have the kernel of a story.

I figure kids nowadays have the same questions and about things in their world — including some aspects of Christmas. I hope they’ll take comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their confusion — that there are three little knights out there in a castle somewhere, who questioned that whole Santa situation, and were catapulted into action to make sense out of it all!

As you and your kids welcome friends and family into your heart and castle this holiday season, I hope you all find time to laugh together. Happy holidays, everyone!


I’m giving away one autographed copy of The Knights Before Christmas. Comment to enter for a chance to win. One winner chosen December 7.
Buy links:


Joan Holub is the author of a stack of children’s books for children that is as tall as she is, including the acclaimed picture books Little Red Writing, The Knights Before Christmas, and Mighty Dads, a New York Timesbestseller. Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams co-author three series: Goddess Girls(ages 8-12, Greek mythology with a middle school twist), Grimmtastic Girls (for ages 8-12, fairy tale adventure with a middle school twist), and Heroes in Training(ages 6-11, Greek mythology adventure chapter books). Joan’s 2016 books include the board book, This Little President, and the chapter book, What Was Woodstock?