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.











Trudi Trueit, Author of the Month: For All the Champions

My mom was my champion. She believed in me long before I believed in myself. For a chubby, near-sighted, shy kid, her faith became my heartbeat. My mom gave me the precious gems of wisdom every child should possess: find your passion, follow your gut, never away give your power, persevere through hard times, pick yourself up when the world kicks you down. Plus, she was my best friend. I could tell her my secrets and know they would be safe.

Three years ago, when my mom died, my spirit turned gray. I tried telling myself all the things we say when a loved one dies: she wouldn’t want me to wallow, take comfort in the memories, grieve at my own pace. Still, I had trouble tapping into my creative core. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, but I couldn’t figure out what to say. I was a jumble of emotions. Which ones should I pick? And how should I express them? Was there a right way? A way that would help me heal? One day, while looking at a picture of Mom and me I kept on my desk, I thought, ‘I feel like you took a piece of me when you left.’ And the answer came back, ‘Maybe so, but I also left a piece of myself behind.’

Me. I was, of course, that piece.

I knew I needed to write. Anything. Everything. Just write. So I did. I let my feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, and loss pour out onto the page, even if the things that came out made no sense, especially if they made no sense. I wrote short poems or jotted down memories of us; sometimes, the best I could do was scribble a sentence or two about how I was feeling that day. It took time but ever-so-slowly, the color came back into my soul. I am a firm believer that writing is cathartic. If you are willing to be honest and write about the messiness, it can save you.

Some of my work during that difficult time later became the seeds for a middle grade novel. I found myself writing a story about a 12-year-old girl named Kestrel (my mom loved birds) whose family travels to Canada after the death of her grandfather to help her grandmother save the family business. For many children, like Kestrel, the loss of a granddaresdontsssparent will be the first time they come face to face with death. Kestrel wants to be there for Grandma Lark (another bird) but isn’t sure how. Is there a right way? A way to help her grandmother heal? Or will she only make things worse? (Sound familiar?) The two begin a journey to find the answers together and, in the process, forge a powerful and lasting bond. MY TOP SECRET DARES AND DONT’S will be released next month from Aladdin MIX.

A few years before my mother passed, she told me she had her first inkling I would be a professional writer when I was seven years old. This surprised me, because we’d had many conversations about my career over the years. “You never said anything to me about it,” I said. “No,” she said. “It was your path to choose, your path to walk.” True enough. She had always supported me, but never steered me. She’d taught me to make my own choices then stepped back and let me do just that – another one of her gems.

Each day, as I sit down to write, I think how blessed I was to have a champion like her. We all need them in our lives. If I can be that for even one young writer than I will have fulfilled my artistic purpose. I think Mom would agree.

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

The giveaway of an Advanced Reviewer Copy (ARC) of MY TOP SECRET DARES & DON’Ts is now over!  Congrats to our winner: LYNN A.

truditrueit2016Trudi Trueit is an award-winning author of more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children. She enjoys giving online presentations and leading writing workshops for elementary through middle school students. Click HERE to find out how you can bring her into your classroom via Skype or Google Hangouts. To read more about Trudi and her books, visit her website at












Around the Web with OAV Authors: January 2017

Happy 2017, readers! It’s time for our first “Around the Web” post of the new year. We hope you enjoy this roundup of a few random OAV-member sightings online. You just never know WHAT cool tidbits you might find stored up there in the cyberspace attic.

Dori Jones Yang poses by the poster announcing her November 2016 author talk in Beijing
Dori Jones Yang poses by the poster announcing her November 2016 author talk in Beijing

Anyone wishing to keep up with Dori Jones Yang’s latest happenings can easily do so by subscribing to the “What’s New” RSS feed on her author site.

“The Calm Before the Storm,” a recent guest post by Deb Lund, offers inspiration for writers participating in this month’s Storystorm idea-generation event. Her advice also applies to just about any creative endeavor you may be pursuing, so don’t miss it!

Animal and story lovers will enjoy Patrick Jennings’s “Beasts,” a fun roundup of “Likely, though not necessarily confirmed, facts about the animal kingdom as relayed by a children’s fiction writer, a.k.a., a professional teller of stories to kids.”

Here, Dori Hillestad Butler reminisces about the special teacher who started her on the path to becoming the writer she is today. Her touching post will hit home with both adults and kids.

Budding author Dori Hillestad Butler in Grade 6
Budding author Dori Hillestad Butler in Grade 6

That’s it for this month’s collection efforts. To learn more about all of our wonderful author members — and to consider booking one of us to give a Skype or in-person talk for your classroom, library, or other event — be sure to check out the updated Online Author Visits Author Profiles page, where you’ll find each member’s bio, presentation terms, and contact information.

Dori Hillestad Butler, Author of the Month: Deadlines…and a giveaway!

Hi! I’m Dori. I’m one of the newer members of the Online Author Visits team. I’m also relatively new to the Seattle area, though I don’t know how much longer I can play the newbie card. When I do the math, I realize I’ve been here 21 months now.

It wasn’t easy to leave Iowa. I had a life there. A community. But I was fortunate enough to meet many of the other Online Author Visits members in real life soon after I moved here. If you’ve checked out the author bios on this site and thought to yourself, “Wow, those authors all look so nice. And talented. And smart.” Yes! They are all of those things! I am so happy to be part of this group, both online and in real life.

I’d heard about the “Seattle Freeze.” That’s the idea that people in Seattle are standoffish, cold, distant…and that it’s difficult to make friends here. I was not to be deterred. I gave myself a sort of “deadline.” I gave myself five years to build my community. That may sound like a long time, but the friendships I had in Iowa had been built over 5, 10, in some cases even 20 years. I couldn’t expect to walk into a new community and instantly be part of it in the same way I was part of the children’s writers community in Iowa. So I resolved that for five years I would not even entertain the idea that there could be such a thing as a “Seattle freeze.” Instead I would take action to build my community. I would invite people to coffee or to lunch. I would join groups. I would get involved.

Guess what? I think I’ve met my deadline. I’m part of a community here. Part of many communities. And it happened faster than I expected it to.

Giving myself a “deadline” to find a community helped! I was confident I would have what I wanted within five years, just like when I have a book deadline I am confident that I will complete a book by such and such date.

I know some writers like to write a book on a deadline. Others prefer to just write, to take as long as a book needs and not think about a deadline. I’m definitely a writer who needs a deadline (real or self imposed). Here are four reasons why:

1) Deadlines help me structure my time and my thinking. They give me a goal and remind me that while things may not happen as quickly as I want them to, I still have some control over my own destiny.

2) I’m a perfectionist. I can revise forever and ever and ever and ever. And ever. But I’m NEVER going to make a book perfect. A deadline tells me when to stop writing, when to stop revising. I won’t ever miss a deadline without a very good reason. So when the deadline comes, I turn the book in.

3) Having a deadline gives me confidence. Someone believes in me, my work, and my ability to get things done enough that they’re willing to give me a contract before I’ve ever actually written the book. Nothing gives me more confidence than someone else’s confidence in me.

4) Sometimes unexpected things happen in my story as a result of seeing a cover sketch for the book I’m currently writing. That happened to me just a couple weeks ago when I saw the cover for Haunted Library Book 9: The Ghost at the Movie Theater (Grosset & Dunlap, 2017). Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to share that cover just yet. But I can share this one:

The Ghost in the Tree House is Book 7 in my Haunted Library series and it’ll be available on March 29!

If you’re a writer, do you like to have a deadline?

If you’re a teacher or librarian, I’d love to talk about deadlines and the writing process with your students, either in person or via Skype.

And if you’re “just” a reader of this blog, here’s an opportunity for you to win a copy of my most recently published Haunted Library book: The Ghost at the Fire Station. Leave a comment on this blog to enter. I’ll draw a winner on Friday, March 11.

Thank you Online Author Visits friends for inviting me to be part of this group!

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!

Around the Web with OAV Authors: July 2015

It’s time for our monthly roundup of a few fun links related to Online Author Visits members. You just never know what you’ll dig up during a quick surfing session . . .

Back in May, the New York Times reviewed the board book Make a Wish, Midas! by Joan Holub. (They loved it!)

Martha Brockenbrough was a guest on the July 9, 2015, episode of Book Lust with Nancy Pearl. Be sure to watch the video of her wonderful interview.

Enjoy this haunting trailer for David Patneaude’s YA novel, Epitaph Road.

Laurie Ann Thompson stopped by the Library Lions Roar blog this month to chat about some of her recent school visits and discuss the importance of libraries and librarians.

Laurie Skypes with a group of Wisconsin students.

Last week, Trudi Trueit discussed meeting life’s challenges in a guest post for Dia Calhoun’s 7:30 BELLS blog series.

And, this excerpt from Janet Lee Carey’s book In the Time of Dragon Moon will send you straight to your favorite library or bookstore to read more and/or snag a copy for your favorite young YA fantasy lover.

OAV’s Half ‘n Half Contest Winners!

Congratulations to Lee Ann Simon and Mrs. S. Wills, winners of our Half ‘n Half Contest. On behalf of their schools or classrooms they have won a half-priced visit with an author from this site, the entire fee to be donated to the Online Author Visits 2011-2012 charity, Camfed. Enjoy!