Around the Web with OAV Authors: September 2017

Note: Please enjoy this rerun of last year’s Back to School post.

You already know that you can find our team’s individual profiles right here on the OAV site. You can also find links to their websites in the right-hand sidebar of every page. We try to make it easy for schools, libraries, and other groups to get to know us so you can select the right publishing pro(s) for your important virtual events.

So, for this Back to School edition of “Around the Web,” we thought we’d make it even easier to connect with our authors and author-illustrators by rounding up direct links to each OAVer’s primary public social media pages. Think: Facebook author pages, Twitter profiles, and writing blogs. You’re on your own for Instagram, Google+ Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, YouTube, and others — but do let your fingers do the typing in those platforms’ search fields. You will get OAV-member results!

Ready? Let’s go!

Row 1, L to R: Patrick Jennings, Janet Lee Carey, Joan Holub, Dia Calhoun. Row 2: Dori Hillestad Butler, Lisa L. Owens, Trudi Trueit, Suzanne Williams, Deb Lund. Row 3: Erik Brooks, Clare Hodgson Meeker, Laurie Ann Thompson, Dana Sullivan, David Patneaude. (Missing: Dori Jones Yang.)


Dori Jones Yang (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Dori Jones Yang

Suzanne Williams (author): Goddess Girls series Facebook page

Trudi Trueit (author): Facebook page, Twitter

Laurie Ann Thompson (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Dana Sullivan (author-illustrator): Twitter, blog

David Patneaude (author): Twitter, blog

Lisa L. Owens (author): Twitter, blog

Clare Hodgson Meeker (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Deb Lund (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blogs

Patrick Jennings (author): Twitter, blog

Joan Holub (author-illustrator): Facebook page, Goddess Girls series Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Janet Lee Carey (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog 1, blog 2

Dia Calhoun (author): Twitter, blog

Dori Hillestad Butler (author): Twitter, blog

Erik Brooks (author-illustrator): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

Martha Brockenbrough (author): Facebook page, Twitter, blog

That covers the whole crew!

And, while you’re out and about taking a peek at our wonderful team’s various profiles, don’t forget to connect with OAV’s official Facebook page. We’d love to see — and hear from you — there!





Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Martha Brockenbrough has two new books coming out in September: ALEXANDER HAMILTON: REVOLUTIONARY, which School Library Journal gave a starred review, and LOVE, SANTA, a picture book about the deeper magic of the holiday.


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Need a new back-to-school picture book for 2017? TOOL SCHOOL sends Hammer, Screwdriver, Pliers, Saw and Tape Measure on the tool bus to Ms. Drill’s class, where cooperation is the key to building friendships and a surprise project! New from Joan Holub, James Dean and Scholastic, creators of the New York Times bestseller, MIGHY DADS!

1 Tool School Joan Holub James Dean Scholastic image

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fairy_tale_largeSuzanne Williams’s chapter book, A FAIRY TALE GONE WRONG, a personalized book that accompanies the fabulous American Girl-like dolls at Starpath Dolls, has just been published.

Story summary: After making the exact same birthday wish, you and your best friend accidentally find yourselves inside the Cinderella fairy tale! Now it is your job to keep the story on track so Cinderella will wind up with her prince and you can return home safely to your family. A visit by the Fairy Godmother, a trip to the Royal Ball, and a ride on a magic swan await you on your adventure.

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Dori Hillestad Butler‘s  THE UNDERGROUND GHOSTS just launched on August 15. She wrote about the significance of that here. This book, set in Seattle, completes her Haunted Library series. If you’re in the Seattle area, come to her book launch party at Secret Garden Bookshop (2214 NW Market St. in Ballard) at 2:00pm Sunday, August 20. Everyone is invited!

KING & KAYLA AND THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS MOUSE, book 3 in her King & Kayla mystery series for beginning chapter book readers, launches on September 1.


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Dana Sullivan has gotten approval on all sketches for his book, MY RED VELVET CAPE, which means he now has to create FINAL ART! Dana reports that this always freaks him out, so he’s doing a lot of deep breathing. His media is Sharpie Ultra Fine Point and watercolor and his plan is to ink a bunch of illustrations and then color them in batches. We’ll check in with him later to see how he’s doing. Publication is scheduled for spring of 2018, so he’d better start painting faster than a speeding bullet!




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Forbidden Temptation coverDori Jones Yang is delighted to announce the publication of her new middle grade novel, The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball, on August 15th. A novel for readers aged 10 to 14, it tells the story of two fictional Chinese boys who were sent to the United States by their government in 1875. It is based on a real historical event and deals with cross-cultural adaptation and how Americans respond to foreigners in our midst. Dori is currently planning school events in the Seattle area for the fall and a book tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York Oct. 14 – 31.


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Lisa L. Owens wrote two biographies in Lerner’s brand-new-for-fall Primary Source Explorers series: A Journey with Hernán Cortés and A Journey with Sieur de La Salle. The hardcover and publisher e-book editions launched August 1, and special Kindle versions of each title will become available August 22 through Written for ages 8–11, these books encourage young readers to consider point of view and context while learning about each explorer’s life (and life’s work) through the lens of primary source materials such as letters, journals, maps, and other period-specific artifacts. To learn more and read a recent Q&A with Lisa, visit her author page at the Lerner site.

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twotruthsandalie-hc-convertedLaurie Ann Thompson is thrilled to announce the release of Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! (co-authored with Ammi-Joan Paquette). It’s a Junior Library Guild selection and received a starred review from Booklist.

Laurie has also been doing a lot of speaking lately. She appeared in person as a member of the faculty of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, at the Seattle Central Library to present a Seattle Writes workshop, to a class of students visiting from Japan, and to a summer class of young reluctant readers in Everett, as well as via Google Hangouts to a group of teachers in WI!

Around the Web with OAV Authors: July 2017

Our latest roundup of OAVer cyber sightings is best described as a virtual Cool Covers Show-and-Tell, featuring images from our talented members’ publication histories that make you want to dive into all the books!

This striking cover is from Trudi Trueit’s extensive nonfiction list.



Here’s the adorable cover of a chapter book from author-illustrator Patrick Jennings.



How about this beauty covering a novel by Dori Jones Yang. (It’s brand-spanking NEW, by the way — the book comes out next month.)

Forbidden Temptation cover


This covers the German edition of Martha Brockenbrough’s The Game of Love and Death.

German GOLAD


The cover of this picture book by Deb Lund is a monstrous delight.



Lisa L. Owens counts this piece of cover art from her retold-classics series as a fave.

sherlock copy


Video alert! Watch author-illustrator Erik Brooks preview his picture book Polar Opposites. (Naturally, he starts with the cover!)


Here’s the spooky-cute cover of a picture book by OAV’s founder, Suzanne Williams.



An evocative entry from a reprint edition of a David Patneaude novel.



What an engaging image on Clare Hodgson Meeker’s retelling of a classic Buddhist folktale.

A Tale of Two Rice Birds


This stunner is from one of Dia Calhoun’s novels.



Dana Sullivan created a darling illustration for the cover of Digger and Daisy Go to the Zoo, shown here on the book’s French edition.



Audio alert! A YouTube reading of Janet Lee Carey’s Wenny Has Wings features a sweetly spare cover image. (Note: To listen to the reading, you’ll need to head on over to YouTube, an option you’ll see and be able to click on in the lower right when you view the file embedded below.)


The photo on this Dori Hillestad Butler novel really sets the scene for the story to come.



This early reader by Joan Holub sports a fun depiction of the Woodstock setting.



And, finally, here’s another perfect representation of the story within, this time on a sweet picture book by Laurie Ann Thompson.

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!


That covers all of us here at Online Author Visits!

Reminder: The back-to-school season is right around the corner — so be sure to check out our Author Profiles page to learn more about hosting an illustrious OAVer for a future Skype visit in your classroom.










Around the Web with OAV Authors: May 2017

How about another themed edition of our “Around the Web” feature, this time with a Throwback Thursday flavor. Our Online Author Visits members are always busy creating new works, but their earlier ones are just as fun to discover (or rediscover, as the case may be). The following roundup offers a clickable gem from each OAVer’s storied past!

Erik Brooks wrote and illustrated The Practically Perfect Pajamas, an adorable picture book about being true to yourself. It came out in 2000, and one teacher reviewer noted that it’s a perfect read-aloud for Pajama Day at school!PerfectPajamas

Kirkus called Dia Calhoun’s 1999 YA novel Firegold (her first!), “A heartfelt, emotionally trenchant coming-of-age adventure with a lightly mystical bent.”

Speaking of first novels, Patrick Jennings published Faith and the Electric Dogs in 1996, and Publishers Weekly said he took “a soaring flight into magic realism in this captivating tale narrated with brio by a Mexican street dog.”

For the October 2011 issue of Odyssey magazine, Laurie Thompson wrote the super-fun science article “Wanted for Breaking the Law (of Viscosity).” (It’s about non-Newtonian fluids. Activity included!)

Visit Dori Jones Yang’s website to learn the story of her collaboration with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on their popular 1997 business book, Pour Your Heart Into It.

Did you know that Martha Brockenbrough wrote a humorous book chronicling her pregnancy (and more) in 2002? It’s called It Could Happen to You: Diary of a Pregnancy and Beyond.

Here’s where you can find Suzanne Williams’s first-ever book, Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name. It launched in 1996, and according to School Library Journal, “It’s a fun, crazy book that works extremely well.”

Clare Hodgson Meeker’s lovely picture book Who Wakes Rooster? was a 1997 Bank Street College Book of the Year selection.

Talon, published in 2007, was the first novel in Janet Lee Carey’s Wilde Island Chronicles series.

Dori Hillestad Butler is known for her mystery series. Check out her 2003 nonfiction title Whodunit: How the Police Solve Crimes for a glimpse at a real-world process that informs her work.

In 1995, Booklist said, “Readers too young for Stephen King will find satisfaction” in David Patneaude’s eerie book Dark Starry Morning: Stories of This World and Beyond.

Former weather forecaster Trudi Trueit wrote Storm Chasers — one of her many, MANY informational titles — back in 2002.

Deb Lund published the sweet Tell Me My Story, Mama in 2004. Visit her author site for help tracking down a copy for a young one you know who’s about to become a sibling for the first time.

This looks like lots of fun: a 2004 picture book by Joan Holub called Geogra-Fleas! Riddles All Over the Map.

Click over to Lisa L. Owens’s website, then scroll down to see Booklist’s turn-of-the-21st-century comments on American Justice: Seven Famous Trials of the 20th Century.

And here you’ll find info on 2013’s BOB Books: Rhyming Words boxed set featuring Dana Sullivan’s always fetching illustration work.

That covers our whole crew. If you’d like to learn more about our members and consider booking one of us for a virtual or in-person visit, be sure to check out our Author Profiles page.

Happy #TBT, everyone — hope to see you again soon!




Around the Web with OAV Authors: March 2017

This edition of “Around the Web” is focused on online sightings of our member authors doing one of the things they love best: talking with young readers about books and writing.

Check out this Rogues Gallery of OAVers in action! And if you’re interested in booking one of us for your next virtual or in-person event, head on over to our Author Profiles page to learn more and see which author might be a good fit for your group.

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team


Martha Brockenbrough’s novel, THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH, won a Washington State Book Award. She also spoke at the Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, and completed the manuscript for a biography of Alexander Hamilton that will be out in 2017.

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Dori Hillestad Butler has several cover reveals to share. First, HAUNTED LIBRARY #9: THE GHOSTS AT THE MOVIE THEATER (Grosset & Dunlap, Spring 2017) and HAUNTED LIBRARY #10: THE UNDERGROUND GHOSTS (Grosset & Dunlap, Summer 2017), which is a “Super Special” (that means it’s half again as long as previous books) and will conclude the series.

Dori also has a new easy reader series launching with Peachtree Publishers in 2017. The King & Kayla books are a prequel to her popular BUDDY FILES series.

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Chickens hatch holiday hilarity! Janet Lee Carey’s new picture book, THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: STARRING THE CHICKENS (Caney Creek Books, October 2016) Illustrated by Molly Blaisdell  is out just in time for the holidays. Grand gifts given on each day of Christmas will delight all chicken lovers. Gentle warmth and humor will wrap families and friends in the joy of Christmas. Contact Janet to schedule a singalong Skype!

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Clare Hodgson Meeker teamed up with bestselling crime author Elizabeth George to teach a sold-out, one day writing class at Hugo House earlier this month called Building a Mystery. Beginning with the question, What is a mystery?, Clare used a just-published picture book called Bonesville to illustrate the elements of a traditional mystery and talk about how to use these element in outlining your story:
1) A secret, strange problem or crime that has to be explained or solved;
2)  A tight, fast-paced plot from beginning to end with lots of problems, twists and turns;
3) Suspense is key: lots of conflict involving characters readers care about to make them want to find out what happens next;
4) Clues to help solve the mystery and red herrings to throw them off course;
5) Setting that triggers the story idea and sets the mood for the mystery ( note to self: a great focus for writers to gather details when on an exotic vacation);
6) Characters who already have full lives before the mystery and live on after it is solved; and
7) A theme or nugget of human wisdom that is illuminated by the story. An example from Bonesville: If you know what you fear, you’ll fear it less.
a page from Bonesville written by Jean-Luc Fromental and published by AbramsKids
Elizabeth George focused on character and setting in the afternoon. She begins to envision each of her Inspector Lynley mystery novels by creating a place for the novel and characters who fit in to that place. She then imagines scenes where characters will be placed in conflict and begins to outline a story from there. She gave a wonderful writing exercise to illustrate how Character is Story:
1) She gave the class 4 characters –  a man 25 years old; a woman 86 years old; a boy 7 years old; and a girl 16 years old 0- and asked us to name each character.
2) Does anything about these names suggest the first inklings of a story?
3) Can you make a connection between the characters?
4) Think about characters lives before the crime or “primary event” as she called it.
5) Once their lives start touching on each other, you are already creating story. And as the characters are created, they will tell you what the story will be.
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Dana Sullivan was just informed that his VERY FIRST royalty check from Sleeping Bear Press is on the way! It’s for illustrating DIGGER AND DAISY GO ON A PICNIC, which published in 2014. Fellow Online Author Trudi Trueit is kindly showing Dana the ropes by letting him know the tradition of using your first royalty check to take all your author pals for dinner. He says maybe this one will be a picnic.
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twotruthsandalie-hc-convertedLaurie Ann Thompson is thrilled to be able to announce her next book, TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE!, which was co-authored with Ammi-Joan Paquette and will release onJune 27, 2017, from Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins! Mia Wenjen over at the awesome book blog Pragmatic Mom hosted a cover reveal and some sneak peeks at this fun middle-grade nonfiction/fiction hybrid, which will be the first in a series. “Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true, and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which is which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!

wsba_logo_2014Also, she was honored to have EMMANUEL’S DREAM be celebrated as a Washington State Book Award finalist for the 2016 Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award in the Picture Book category! The book awards are given based on the strength of the publications’ literary merit, their lasting importance, and their overall quality to an author who was born in Washington state or is a current resident and has maintained residence there for at least three years.
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Trudi Trueit has put on her crafty hat with the release of two new nonfiction titles for early readers: BIRTHDAY CRAFTS & MOTHER’S DAY CRAFTS (The Child’s World). These titles are great for educators and parents looking for easy, fun, and affordable project ideas for children, ages 6 and up. Each book offers a brief history of the holiday, followed by a series of crafts with complete instructions and materials list. P.S.Trudi worked in a craft store in high school and can make pretty much anything out of Popsicle sticks!


Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Good News from the Online Author Visits Team!

Skype school visits have been a terrific way for author/illustrator Erik Brooks to expand the participation in his Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project. After some terrific in-person conversations in Boston at ILA, Erik just did his first PPBPC Skype visit of the new school year with a fantastic group of second graders in Maryville, TN. You can read about it on the classroom blogspot here. With much thanks to teachers Alyson and Courtney for the awesome write up!

Erik also has a new cover reveal for his fist board book project, If I Were a Whale by Shelley Gill (Little Bigfoot, Feb. 2017) and a newly published paperback version of last fall’s The Runaway Tortilla (by Eric Kimmel) that published on Sept. 1st.

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For those attending the upcoming Write on the Sound Writers’ Conference in Edmonds, WA, Lisa L. Owens would love to see you at her session “Exploring Your Voice As a Children’s Writer.” The content is appropriate for writers at all levels, whether you’re already actively publishing or just starting to think about writing for the children’s market. It’s scheduled for Sunday, October 2, at 1:45 p.m.
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my-dog-japaneseLaurie Ann Thompson was thrilled to receive her author copies of the Japanese version of My Dog Is the Best! She’s also looking forward to reading the English version at the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library storytime on October 1st from 11am to noon.


In addition, she’s excited to be joining the incredible team of authors at iNK (Inter­est­ing Non­fic­tion for Kids), which “pro­motes the use of non­fic­tion in classrooms through pro­grams that help teach­ers use real books to teach to cur­ricu­lum stan­dards in ways that excite and inspire students.” Stay tuned for more!
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Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub are going to be writing a new series together! THUNDER GIRLS (tentative title) will be their fourth co-written series. This time they’ll be delving into the world of Norse mythology and writing about tween-age gods and godesses at Asgard Academy, which is located in the top one of nine worlds under the sheltering branches of the World-Tree, Yggdrasil. Books 1 and 2 (of an initial four) will pub Spring 2018. Suzanne is especially excited about this new series as she visits Norway often. Her daughter (and now a granddaughter too!) live in Oslo.

The Norse god, Odin, rides on his eight-legged horse, Sleipner, in this painted wooden frieze, one of many depicting Norse myths on the side of Oslo’s town hall.
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And if you’re attending the Washington Library Association’s conference on October 15 at Highline College in Des Moines, WA, come hear OAV members Erik Brooks, Dori Hillestad Butler, Martha Brockenbrough, Janet Lee Carey, Clare Hodgson Meeker and Dana Sullivan talk about their new books at two “Behind the Books” sessions. Deb Lund will be moderating the elementary session and Laurie Ann Thompson will be moderating the middle and high school session.