Monday, December 27, 2010

Virtual Author Visits

I want to give a shout out to Library Media Specialist Sara Chauncey and author Mona Kerby, founders of Skype an Author Network.  This is a terrific place for schools to connect with children's book authors who enjoy doing virtual visits via Skype. Thanks to my page with Skype an Author, I've had many fun visits with classrooms across the U.S. without having to leave home!  My latest visit, just before Christmas, was with a super second grade class in Wyckoff, N. J. They had great questions to ask and were very attentive. I could see them as well as they could see me, and I got a "mini-tour" of their classroom at the end of our visit. Afterward, teacher Daria Crater sent the email below:

Suzanne,
I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for that wonderful Skype session.  It was all the talk at lunch for the kids.  They really enjoyed speaking with you and listening to what you had to say.  We are in the process of writing you thank you letters, so please be on the lookout for them later next week.  I received the labels today for the books
[I sent autographed labels to children who had bought copies of my books] and can't wait to give them out this afternoon.  Thank you again and hopefully we can schedule this event again next year.  Have a happy holiday and joyous New Year!

Though I enjoy doing "regular" school visits too, virtual visits are a great option for both schools and authors when a face-to-face visit isn't possible.  Skype visits are easy to set up, affordable, and a perfect choice for single classrooms or book groups. Try it, you'll like it!

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Goddess Girls Good News


On Wednesday I visited Mockingbird Books and spoke with a delightful kids' book group about Goddess Girls and my other books. It is always fun to speak to fans, and one of the girls in the group had read all four of the GG books currently out. I was pleased to be able to tell her that Books 5 & 6 will be out in April and August, and Joan and I are now at work on Books 7 & 8!

Photo: Martha Brockenbrough's daughter Lucy begs for Goddess Girls. It's so fun to know that readers are enjoying the books!

The Artemis the Brave giveaway continues this week at A girl, books and other things Please check out Alex's site. Leave a comment, with answers to a couple of questions, and you may win some great swag!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Goddess Girls #4: Artemis the Brave celebration with oodles of giveaways on our blog tour!

Here's an update of the blog tour to celebrate Artemis the Brave, the newest release in the Goddess Girls series for ages 8-12. Co-author Joan Holub & I are giving away fabulous Artemis the Brave Swag Bags this month and in January!


* Artemis's puppy! An 8 1/2 inch plush dog named Amby--short for ambrosia, food of the gods! (Yomiko)
* Nail polishes
(Sally)
* Bangle bracelets (mudd)
* Goddess Girls bookmark
* Autographed copy of Artemis the Brave


Giveaways are hosted by these very kind, cool blogs. Please visit them during the specified dates to enter:

Each of these blogs is giving away a set of the Artemis the Brave goodies pictured above:
in the hammock
- December 5-15
MundieKids - December 7-14
A Girl, Books and Other Things
- December 14-January 1
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer - January 21 (interview & giveaway)

For book-only giveaways:
The Children's Book Review - December 1-31
Tales of Whimsy - January
A Girl, Books and Other Things - January 17 (interview & giveaway)
Poisoned Rationality - January 19 (guest post & giveaway)
Lost for Words - January 25 (guest post & giveaway)
Ashley's Bookshelf - January 27 (interview & giveaway)

Many thanks to these blog goddesses for spreading the word about Goddess Girls!
Cynsations (Cynthia Leitich Smith)
, inthehammock, TeenBookScene, Dragonfly77 (D. Fowler), Little Willow, readergirlz, readertotz, MundieKids
More buzz coming soon at: A Girl, Books and Other Things, Poisoned Rationality, Lost for Words, Ashley's Bookshelf, I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

“…a clever take on Greek deities…” ~ Booklist

“…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…” ~ School Library Journal

Series scoop:
Join the class at Mount Olympus Academy with
Goddess Girls, a new series that puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths!

Aladdin paperbacks, ages 8 ~ 12.
Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!
Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.
Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.
NEW! Artemis the Brave She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave. (Dec. 2010)
Athena the Wise Zeus says Heracles has to do twelve tasks or he'll get kicked out of MOA! Although she's not sure it's wise, Athena agrees to help out. (April 5, 2011)
Aphrodite the Diva Isis claims she's the goddess of love? Ha! But to keep the title all to herself, Aphrodite has to find the perfect match for Pygmalion, the most annoying boy ever. (July/August 2011)

Be sure to 'follow' because we have amazing giveaways coming for Goddess Girls #5 Athena the Wise; and #6 Aphrodite the Diva. We look forward to seeing you!

~ Joan and Suzanne

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Time For Artemis the Brave Puppy and Swag Giveaway!

To celebrate Artemis the Brave, the newest release in the Goddess Girls series for ages 8-12, co-authors Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams are giving away fabulous Artemis the Brave Swag Bags in December and January!


* Artemis's puppy! An 8 1/2 inch plush dog named Amby--short for ambrosia, food of the gods! (Yomiko)
* Nail polishes
(Sally)
* Bangle bracelets (mudd)
* Goddess Girls bookmark
* Autographed copy of Artemis the Brave


Giveaways are hosted by these very kind, cool blogs. Please visit them during the specified dates to enter:

Each of these blogs is giving away a set of the Artemis the Brave goodies pictured above. To enter:
in the hammock
- December 5-15
MundieKids - December 7-14
thebookmuncher
- January 7-21

For book-only giveaways:
The Children's Book Review - December 1-31
Tales of Whimsy - January

Many thanks to these blog goddesses for helping us to spread the news about Artemis the Brave!

Cynsations (Cynthia Leitich Smith)
, Dragonfly77 (D. Fowler), Little Willow, readergirlz, readertotz

Series scoop:
Join the class at Mount Olympus Academy with
Goddess Girls, a new series that puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths!

Aladdin paperbacks, ages 8 ~ 12.
Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!
Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.
Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.
NEW! Artemis the Brave (Dec. 7, 2010) She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave.
Athena the Wise (April 5, 2011)
Aphrodite the Diva (Summer 2011)

Be sure to 'follow' because we have an amazing giveaway coming for Goddess Girls #5, Athena the Wise. We look forward to seeing you!

~ Joan and Suzanne

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Little Rock Rocks





Had a great time in Little Rock at the Arkansas Reading Association Fall Conference on Friday. Met lots of nice teachers and librarians, signed probably a hundred books, and even got to do a little sightseeing at the Clinton presidential library and the Old Statehouse museum. The hotel I stayed at had a beautiful view of the Arkansas River, and I walked along a piece of the 15 (18?) mile trail that stretches along its banks. I love speaking at state conferences!

Pictures: Top: Grits with seafood gumbo. Yum! Middle: View of the Arkansas River from my hotel window. Bottom: Me with Alisa Tippen, Literacy Instructional Facilitator at Oakbrooke Elementary in Sherwood, AR. She introduced me at my first speaking session.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Artemis the Brave puppy and swag giveaway coming in December!

To celebrate Artemis the Brave, the newest release in the Goddess Girls series for ages 8-12, co-authors Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams are giving away fabulous Artemis the Brave Swag Bags in December and January!


* Artemis's puppy!
8 1/2 inch plush dog named Amby--short for ambrosia, food of the gods! (Yomiko)

* Nail polishes
(Sally)
* Bangle bracelets (mudd)
* Goddess Girls bookmark
* Autographed copy of Artemis the Brave


Stay tuned for easy entry details to come on December 1st. Giveaways will be hosted in Dec/Jan at the fabulous blogs listed below:
in the hammock
The Children's Book Review

Book-only Giveaways:
Tales of Whimsy

Many thanks to these blog goddesses for helping us to spread the news about Artemis the Brave!

Cynsations (Cynthia Leitich Smith)

Series scoop:
Join the class at Mount Olympus Academy with
Goddess Girls, a new series that puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths!

Aladdin paperbacks, ages 8 ~ 12.
Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!

Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.

Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.

NEW! Artemis the Brave (Dec. 7, 2010) She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave.

Athena the Wise (April 5, 2011)

Aphrodite the Diva (Summer 2011)

We look forward to seeing you!

~ Joan and Suzanne

Friday, November 5, 2010

Emails From My Two Favorite Goddess Girls Fans

Fan letters are so much fun! Lately, I've been exchanging emails with two sisters who are fans of Joan Holub's and my Goddess Girls series and who adore Greek mythology. To protect their identity, I've left their names off their emails. Here are excerpts from our recent correspondence:

Letter #1:

Hi!
My sister is a big fan of your Goddess Girl series! She is in love with the series and cannot wait for Artemis the Brave to come out! Artemis is her favorite goddess of the fifteen (or twelve depending on the myth) Greek Olympian gods. My sister does have a few questions about the series. Here are three:
1. How many total classes are there available at Mount Olympus Academy?
2. What is Artemis's favorite food to eat in the cafeteria?
3. Who's your favorite Goddess Girl?

Reply to Letter #1:

Joan and I are so glad you like our Goddess Girls series! We are busily writing Books 5 & 6 now: ATHENA THE WISE and APHRODITE THE ??? (We don't quite have the title nailed down on that one yet!) You asked some tough questions, but on further thought, Joan and I have decided there are 21 classes at MOA. Artemis's favorite food is nectaroni and cheese. My favorite GG is Athena.

ARTEMIS THE BRAVE is out in December. Hope you enjoy it!

Best,

Suzanne

P.S. We think it was very sweet of you to help your sister write to us!

Letter #2:
Thank you so much for e-mailing us back !!!!!At my house, we play Mount Olympus Academy sometimes. One of my favorite foods is macaroni and cheese, just like Artemis! When I play MOA my classes are Craft-ology,Beast-ology,and Hero-ology.We didn't know who taught Craft-ology so we made up a teacher,Ms.Sphinx , like the monster from the myth Opedious.By the way,Ms.Hydra is one cranky lady or,should I say monster.I totally love your books and please write back to me some more.
Sincerely,
[The younger sister]
Dear Ms.Suzanne,
Thank you for emailing back! It was very nice of you! [My sister's] face lit up like a marshmallow that's been over the fire too long when I showed her the email! In my English class, I am reading Greek Mythology, so it's really cool to read the ways you recreate them in your stories. Thank you again for emailing back.
Sincerely,
[The older sister]

Reply to Letter #2:

I shared your letters with my co-author, Joan Holub, and our editor. We all loved what you both wrote. Joan and I didn't give a name to the Craft-ology teacher in Book #3. We think Ms. Sphinx would be the perfect name for her, but we may want to use that teacher name in an Egyptian god and goddess school since our goddessgirls will be vacationing in Egypt and meeting some goddesses there in Book #6.

Best, Suzanne

P.S. I attached a sneak preview of the cover design for GG #5. That's Heracles on the cover with Athena. You might know his Roman name better: Hercules.

Letter #3
Dear Ms. Suzanne,
Thank you for emailing back again! It was really nice of you. I think it's neat how the GoddessGirls will be vacationing in Egypt and meeting some Goddesses there for book six. My sister just recently got Persephone the Phony from Barnes and Noble and she squealed when she saw it. I read some of it with her and I thought it was good. I like how we got to meet Demeter in it. My sister has been making a powerpoint on Mount Olympus Academy, about the students and courses, so she got to add to that after she read the book. I took the quiz on your website, and it said that I was most like Athena, which is cool, since she's my favorite Goddess Girl. Lately, my life seems to be filled with Greek mythology. My sister is a greek mythology fanatic, I've been reading greek mythology in my English class, and my school's theatre class performed a play based on various greek myths.
sincerely,
[The older sister]

Reply to Letter #3:

Joan and I are thrilled to hear that the two of you are enjoying "Persephone the Phony." A powerpoint on MOA students and classes? That is SO cool! Is it just for fun, or for a school project? It's wonderful that you both love Greek mythology so much. Since working on the GG series I've learned more about Greek mythology than I ever thought possible. And when I visit museums now, I make a beeline for the Greco-Roman exhibits!

Best,

Suzanne

P.S. When Joan and I take our GG quiz we both come out most like Athena too!

Letter #4:
Dear Ms. Suzanne,
A while ago, my sister and I went to an Ancient Greece exhibit at the Art Museum. My mom and I didn't tell my sister about the exhibit, so when she saw all the restored statues and pottery, she gasped and kept running up to all these different ones. It was really neat. There were various vases, jars, jugs, bowls, plates in the pottery section. There was even this huge jar that was used to squish grapes to make wine! I even got to look at some drachmas. They were very neat, and they were pretty impressive for coins thousands of years ago. (I don't know how advanced the coins were, but they looked very impressive to me). There were also various statues and marble boxes. A few of them were cremation jars and such. When I first looked at one of the labels, which said chamber pot, I thought it was the Ancient Greek alternative to plumbing, not where the ashes of cremated bodies were stored, until my Mom explained it to me. Whoops. There were some busts of members of various Ancient Greek families. A few statues were of the gods and greek mythology, like Eros and Psyche. My favorite statue was this marble one of Athena in full body armor. What was really neat about that one was there wasn't a lot of the statue that was restored, just like the nose and some little areas, even though it was pretty tallish. Then we went to the gift shop, where my sister purchased a few different replicas of Ancient Roman coins, which she now obsesses over. For Halloween, she even dressed up as Artemis.
Sincerely, [The older sister]
Hi!
I made my powerpoint for fun and I made a bust of Athena,except her eyeball is falling out.Oops.When I finish my powerpoint I will e-mail you the thingie.
Bye, [The younger sister]

Reply to Letter #4:

Ha-ha about the "chamber pot." It's a natural enough mistake, though. How cool that you saw a statue of Athena in full body armor. Joan and I have a scene in Book #5 where Athena dresses in her armor before she goes to help Heracles with one of his "Twelve Labors." I'd love to see the powerpoint "thingie," and I'd also love to see a pic of your sister in her Artemis Halloween costume if you have one and it's okay for you to send it.

Joan and I are hard at work on Book #6 now. It was due November 1st, but our editor gave us till the 15th to finish it because we're a wee bit behind schedule.

Best,

Suzanne

Monday, October 25, 2010

Social Connectedness vs. Solitude


I just finished reading The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century by husband and wife Professors of Psychiatry, Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz. According to a study they cite, 25% of us now live alone. That's up from 7% in the 1940's and represents the largest number of people living alone in the U.S. ever. Even those of us who don't live alone spend less time with family, friends, and neighbors than in the past. The resulting loneliness, say the authors is "the inevitable by-product of our frenetic contemporary lifestyles." (Though we don't call it loneliness because of the "loser" stigma attached to the word. Instead we talk about "feeling depressed.")

Connections with others--face-to-face connections--not just the technological variety, have been proven to be essential to our mental and physical health, yet we often wall ourselves off, treating "busyness as a virtue" and stepping back from one another. As a friend of the authors commented: "Being neighborly used to mean visiting people. Now being nice to your neighbors means not bothering them."

I value my solitude when I'm writing (though I do know writers who like to work in public places, like cafes), but spending time with family, friends, and neighbors is something I'd do more of...if I wasn't afraid of bothering them. Hmm....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Playing Hooky"


Do you ever get so caught up in your daily routines that you neglect to take time off to do something just for fun? I do. "Playing hooky" is something I need to do more often, rather than less. A half-day a week would be ideal, but even a half-day every other week would be an improvement. Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a while: my husband and I drove up to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Picasso exhibit from the Musee National Picasso in Paris. Afterward we had lunch in the International District at Home Style Hong Kong Cafe. When we returned home, I took a relaxing half-hour nap. Then, feeling refreshed, I worked until dinner. True, I didn't get as much writing done as I normally might, but oh, it was worth it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Groups Offer Benefits: Join in!


Decades ago, when I was in school, I played clarinet. Because I missed playing a musical instrument, a few years ago I took up soprano recorder. I'm not a great player, but I'm okay. Practicing solo is fine, but I've been longing to play with a group for some time. Finally, last weekend, I took the plunge. With instrument and music stand in hand, I drove to the meeting place of a local recorder society and joined in on a rehearsal.

It was hard walking into an established group where I didn't know a single soul. I needn't have worried, however. The members were very welcoming and kind. One woman went out of her way to talk to me and introduce herself before the rehearsal. She'd only just started with the group herself. We traded names and phone numbers when we discovered we both lived in the same town and are planning to carpool together to future rehearsals.

I fumbled my way through the three pieces we were given, missing notes, forgetting repeats, and miscounting, but no one seemed to care. I think they were too busy concentrating on their own parts to worry about me. I loved being part of a group again and I know I'll benefit from the added sightreading practice and hearing others play.

Writers can benefit from groups, too. If you've been writing solo for some time, try joining a group and meeting other writers. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is THE group for children's writers, and you don't have to be published to join. Take a look at their site. There are local regional chapters in almost every state in the U.S. Find out where the chapter nearest you meets. Then pluck up your courage and attend a meeting. I know you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One More Chance to Win Some Aphrodite the Beauty Swag!


The last stop on the Aphrodite the Beauty Blog Tour begins today! Take a look at this great site for tween reviews:


October 5 GreenBeanTeenQueen (Tween Tuesday)
(Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway & reviews by a tween librarian)

Please see the blog for entry details.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Charitable Giving Dilemma

Sifting through my mail on Saturday, I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed and even a little ganged up on. Here's what was in my box:

  • An urgent contribution form from Planned Parenthood
  • A request for money from my county library system foundation
  • A letter from the art museum wanting me to pay more to upgrade my membership
  • An invitation from a group I volunteer with asking for $50 to attend a fund-raising dinner
  • An invitation to renew my membership at a gym I haven't belonged to in a year because I joined a gym closer to home
  • A letter urging me to become a member of the Sierra Club by paying a membership fee
  • An urgent contribution form from the Democratic Party
Seven requests for money all in one day! Seven good causes clamoring for my attention and dollars!

It was with some feelings of angst that I threw out all but one. (Well, actually, I had no feelings of guilt or anxiety about tossing the gym membership renewal. If the company that ran the gym hadn't closed the facility near me, I wouldn't have joined a different gym in the first place. Besides, gym membership, though certainly beneficial to me, isn't exactly a charitable cause.)

I feel sorry for all the good causes out there. I'm sure they're stretched thin for dollars in these bad economic times. Unfortunately, so are many of us! I hate being constantly bombarded with requests for money, and I have to wonder if some of these organizations couldn't realize some savings by sending out less frequent mailings--say only once or twice a year instead of every few weeks?

To save my sanity, I've decided to follow advice I read somewhere about concentrating charitable giving on just a few causes. I've picked the causes that are most personal and local, and/or are related to my interest in literacy. (Though I also contribute to the American Red Cross when there's a large natural disaster.) Using my criteria, the one request I kept to consider this time?: The dinner for the local group I volunteer with.

How do you make decisions about charitable giving?

Monday, September 20, 2010

How Happy Are You?



I just finished reading Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. (Subtitle: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World.) Weiner is an NPR correspondent who has traveled extensively. His book is interesting, informative, entertaining, and funny. I recommend it highly. Did you know that Bhutan measures Gross National Happiness? According to the World Database of Happiness, the U.S. only ranks #23 out of all the countries of the world. High scorers are more apt to be cold, rather than warm, countries. At the top? Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Costa Rica, and Iceland!

Creativity is a factor in happiness. So is trust of your fellow human beings, reasonable (dare I say low) expectations, acceptance of failure, strong ties with family and friends, and enough money to meet basic needs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding Time to Write: It Does Get Easier, I Promise!

Though I've been writing full-time for ten years now, and could conceivably work whichever days I please, I still count Mondays as the beginning of my work week. It's a habit I'm used to and see no reason to break. Still, I seldom start work before eleven or noon since most weekday mornings I do yoga or step class at the gym. Despite the late start, I usually write 4 - 5 hours each day. If you are reading this and thinking "Boy, she's got it made. I only WISH I had that kind of time to exercise and write," you'd be right. But here's the thing: I didn't always have it so easy.

When I first started to write--more than twenty years ago--I worked full-time as an elementary school librarian and was a mom with a newborn and a toddler. I considered it a good writing week when I could scrape together 1 or 2 hours a few times a week during nap times, after the kids were in bed, or on weekends. I envied those writers who didn't have to work at outside jobs, and whose time seemed more their own.

Having lived through those exhausting, yet exhilarating years, I have something I want to say to those of you currently trying to find time to write while grappling with the demands of family and outside jobs: You, too, will live through this and come out the other side.

I say this in hindsight, of course. Because, just like you, I was often frazzled during those early years of writing, working another job, and being a mommy. But I'm here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel! For now, it's enough to give to your writing the few hours you can spare. Even just a few hours of writing per week will add up to a book if you keep at it day after day, week after week, month after month. And though you'll undoubtedly suffer through numerous rejections of your work--I know I did (and still do)--if you persevere, your writing will improve, and someday you WILL get published. In the meantime, do whatever writing you can each day and week, enjoy your children, try not to get too discouraged by the inevitable rejection slips, and be grateful for all the small wonders and joys we experience every day, but sometimes forget to take note of.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Most Important Tasks (MITs)

I love a good self-help book, so several weeks ago I read a book my son recommended called The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. (The author has a website, too.) I picked up a few useful tips for being more efficient and effective with my time and was reminded of things I know are good practices (like only checking email a couple of times a day), but that I sometimes fall out of the habit of doing.

My favorite tip: The setting of daily MITs (Most Important Tasks). The author recommends limiting these to three per day, and linking them to your work and also to new habits you want to create. (But he suggests you only work on changing one habit at a time.) This is a great practice. I usually only include one MIT that takes several hours to complete (my daily writing goal). The other two MITs are tasks I can complete in 10 - 20 minutes.

What practices do you find useful for keeping yourself on track with your writing or other goals?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good News Comes in Threes


Goddess Girls 1: Athena the Brain and Goddess Girls 2: Persephone the Phony are now in their 3rd printing. Hurrah!

Thanks to all who have participated so far in Joan's and my Aphrodite the Beauty Blog Tour to celebrate the new release of the third book of the series. There are still three more opportunities to win a swag bag:

August 24 ~ 28 Tween Book Reviews
(Dear Aphrodite the Beauty Advice Column and Swag Bag giveaway)

September 3 ~ 9 Cynsations
(Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway)

October 5 GreenBeanTeenQueen (Tween Tuesday)
(Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway & reviews by a tween librarian)

Please see the blogs for entry details.

We look forward to seeing you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aphrodite the Beauty (Goddess Girls #3) Blog Tour!


Calling All Goddess Girls!


Aphrodite the Beauty (Goddess Girls #3) releases Tuesday, August 3! To celebrate, co-author Joan Holub and I are giving away fabulous Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bags on our blog tour throughout August and September:


* 24-color eye shadow from Claire's
* 7 lip glosses with faux rhinestones
* Multi-color bracelet
* Goddess Girls bookmark
* Autographed copy of Aphrodite the Beauty


We hope you’ll drop by to help us celebrate, join in the conversation, and meet some awesome bloggers.


Scoop on the books: Join the class at Mount Olympus Academy with Goddess Girls, a new series that puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths!
Aladdin paperbacks, ages 8 ~ 12.

Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!

Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.

NEW! Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.

Artemis the Brave (Dec., 2010) She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave.

Aphrodite the Beauty (Goddess Girls #3) Blog Tour Schedule:

August 3 ~ 6 Children's Book Review

Interview and 3-book giveaway (giveaway open until August 20)

August 4 ~ 8 Martha Brockenbrough

Interview and Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway


August 9 ~ 16 Writer on the Side

Interview and Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway


August 24 ~ 28 Tween Book Reviews

Dear Aphrodite the Beauty Advice Column and Swag Bag giveaway


September 3 ~ 9 Cynsations

(Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway


October 5 GreenBeanTeenQueen (Tween Tuesday)
Aphrodite the Beauty Swag Bag giveaway & reviews by a tween librarian


Please see the blogs for entry details.

We look forward to seeing you!


Joan and Suzanne

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thumbs up for Boston; More Goddess Girls News


I must say I was mightily impressed with Boston when I visited there last week. I know that the subway system, the "T", has had its problems, but for getting into and around the city, it's fantastic. The city also has great restaurants, green spaces and parks, and lots of water. I've heard that the winters can be brutal, and the summers scorchingly hot, but my traveling partner and I lucked out. The temps were in the mid-seventies most of the time we were there, with very low humidity. People in Boston were also uniformly kind and helpful. Hooray for Boston!

While I was visiting, I got an email from Joan's and my editor at Aladdin, the lovely Emily Lawrence. She was letting us know that Scholastic Book Club is buying sub-rights to the first two books of the Goddess Girls series. Hooray! So sometime this fall Athena the Brain and Persephone the Phony will be making an appearance in those flyers sent home from schools. Now to get back to work on Books 5 and 6!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Upside of Insomnia


I occasionally suffer from the awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night variety of insomnia. I'm not one of those people who just gets out of bed and reads or works when it strikes. Instead, sad to say, I lie in bed waiting for sleep to return, which it usually does--in two or three hours. It's boring to just lie there doing nothing, however, so I've discovered I can make good use of that time by simply thinking about story ideas. If/when I do come up with an interesting idea, the trick is to remember it in the morning. So I keep a small notebook and a pen on my bedside table--just in case. Of course, sometimes those ideas that seemed so fascinating and plausible in the middle of the night, look much less so in full daylight. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soon to Be Boston Bound


I'm speaking to teachers and grad students at a summer Author Institute at Worcester State College on June 28th. Since Worcester's only about forty miles from Boston, and I'll be flying in and out of Boston's Logan airport, I thought it would be fun to tack a few extra days onto the end of my trip and do some sightseeing. My friend and writing critique group member, Sylvie Hossack, has been wanting to visit Boston for a while, so we're going to meet up after I speak, and take in the sights together. If you're reading this post and have recommendations for things to see and do and/or places to eat, please leave a comment with your suggestions!

Of course, this trip was planned before I knew that Joan Holub and I would be asked to write two more Goddess Girls books. Fortunately, the outlines for both books are off to our editor as of yesterday. Now to get cracking on the first draft of GG#5!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Goddess Girls to Come!

Just as I was contemplating what I should work on next, my agent, the wonderful Liza Pulitzer Voges, called with an offer from Aladdin for two more Goddess Girls books. Yippee! Books 3 and 4 aren't even out yet (#3: Aphrodite the Beauty pubs Aug. 3 and #4: Artemis the Brave pubs Dec. 6), but my co-author Joan Holub and I are now busily putting together ideas for Books 5 and 6. Book 5 will star Athena again, and Book 6 will be Aphrodite's to tell. And that's all I'm going to reveal for now.

BTW, I just got a new computer, a tiny little ASUS Eee netbook. I'm typing this entry on it so I can get used to the smaller screen and keyboard. It'll be great to take to conferences and on school visits--easy to travel with. When I'm working at home, I'll hook it up to a larger keyboard and monitor. Luckily, my computer expert husband is able to set everything up for me and transfer my stuff from my older computer. I don't know what I'd do without him!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making the Transition from Vacation Mode to Writing Mode



It's always hard for me to get back into my writing routine after a vacation. Pleading jet-lag (if there's been a time zone change) is really only a good excuse for the first few days after the return home. Then what? I did go over the first pass galleys for Goddess Girls #4 the day after my return, but only because I had a deadline to meet. (The book pubs in December.)

At least I'm sitting at my desk today. And I'm thinking of composing a new writing "to do" list. That's a start. What do you do to get yourself going again after a vacation?

Photos: Top: Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo. The Norwegians have got to be crazy! Second: My daughter Emily and I enjoy fried herring with mustard and onion on toast from a outdoor stand in Stockholm. Yummy! Third: Martina in her bunad--traditional women's costume worn on special occasions like Constitution Day, May 17th. Bottom: Big fish market in food hall in Stockholm.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Home Again After a Wonderful Trip

Yikes. I haven't blogged in several weeks! Just got back yesterday from a lovely two-week trip to Norway and Sweden. (My daughter lives in Oslo.) Perhaps I'll write a bit about the trip and post a couple of photos later--after my husband downloads them from his camera.

Today I played catch-up with email and snail mail, and spent several hours going over the first pass galleys for the fourth book in Joan's and my Goddess Girls series: Artemis the Brave. I also spent an hour with a delightful third grade girl I mentor through my local Communities in Schools program.

That's all for now. I'm too jet-lagged to write more...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Hurrah for Evergreen Elementary Writers and Readers!

Yesterday, thanks to funding from a great group of parent boosters, I spoke at assemblies with students at Evergreen Elementary in Sedro-Woolley, WA. My favorite part of the day was having lunch with the seventeen winners of a school-wide writing contest. Before lunch I got to see some of the stories they'd written, and we talked about where their ideas had come from, and how their reading influenced their writing. Conversation continued over pizza, salad, and cake. The kids were all delightful. Three of the winners were sisters. Not surprisingly, they told me that they spent far more time reading books than watching TV. I was reminded of something Avi said when I heard him speak in Seattle many years ago:

"If you’re not a reader you can forget about becoming a writer. If reading is not in place first, the writing will not come. The most effective training for writing is reading. If kids read more they would write better." --Avi

Isn't that the truth?

Monday, April 26, 2010

BotH for Kids and Teens Chats with Suzanne Williams about the Goddess Girls

I think I look kind of goofy, but I did have a good time answering Misa Ramirez's questions for Books on the House for Kids and Teens. (Click on the link to find out more about the services she offers authors, and to check out her other author interviews.)




Sunday, April 25, 2010

Computer Senility


For several weeks weird stuff's been going on with my computer--images not loading, odd shadows when I click on links, error messages showing up a lot, etc. My husband, a computer expert, (I recommend that every household have one!) diagnosed "computer senility. " Took him a day and a half this weekend to put a new hard drive in and reinstall all my programs. Now everything's loading faster and working better. Yay!

As I get older I often feel sluggish and can't remember stuff. Wouldn't it be great if people could have their memories refurbished and reinstalled? I'd like to sign up for the procedure!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Looking for Sound and Trustworthy Financial Advice?

The financial scandals of late have soured many of us on financial advisors, banks, and investing in general. That's unfortunate because saving and investing are important if you ever hope to pay for your children's college education, become a fulltime writer, or eventually retire. For sound and trustworthy advice, check out my son's blog: Words of Ward. There you will find a wealth (pun intended) of information on all kinds of topics related to money management.

Allow me to brag a little. My son is a guy who practices what he preaches. He has always been a saver and prudent investor, as well as a generous giver to several charities. In ten short years he's managed to build a retirement nest egg that would be the envy of many people twice his age.

As I remember, he was savvy about money even at an early age. For example, I recall one occasion--he must have been about ten years old--when he wanted me to pay for something he wanted, probably a set of legos or a Masters of the Universe action figure:

Me: Why should I pay for that?

Ward: Because then I can save my money. It's called smart shopping, Mom!

Seriously though, my son has been responsible for his own smart shopping for a very long time. He can help you to become a "smart shopper" too.

Ward's birthday is tomorrow: April 15th. Doesn't that seem like a fitting birthday for someone with a special interest in money management?

Have you filed your taxes yet?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Goddess Girls Blog Tour Continues!


Join Joan Holub and me in celebrating the release of our new series. Just three more tour days remain!:

April 6: Cynsations (Guest blog and book giveaway; Learn how we came to write the series, challenges we faced and how we solved them.)

April 7: Little Willow (Interview and book giveaway; We reveal more about our collaboration and inspirations, and our favorite books of all time.)

April 8: Zoe’s Book Reviews (Q&A and book giveaway with both of us authors, our editor, book designer, cover artist, and Zoe herself!)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

An Interview with Goddess Girls Editor, Book Designer, and Cover Artist

It takes more than authors to create a book. It also takes illustrators and cover artists, and a whole host of people at a publishing company. Joan Holub and I interviewed three of the wonderful people who contributed their time and talents to Goddess Girls: Editor: Emily Lawrence, Book Designer: Karen Paprocki, and Cover Artist: Glen Hanson.

Joan & Suzanne: Emily, what made you want to acquire the Goddess Girls series? Was it a gut feeling or something about the market or something else?

Emily: I’ll admit it – I’m a nerd. I took 7 (extremely useful) years of Latin! The idea of a fun, modernized setting -- but still mythically correct -- series about the Greek pantheon really appealed to me. And, my imprint, Aladdin, focuses on kid-friendly, commercial fiction for young readers so Goddess Girls was the perfect fit in a both a business and personal sense. It doesn’t hurt that the Percy Jackson movie released in the same season as the Goddess Girls, and interest in classical mythology is on the rise… We’ll just call that a hunch since I signed the series over a year ago.

J&S: What do you give a cover artist to help her or him illustrate a book? A synopsis of the book; the manuscript; a description of a scene you’d like to see depicted?

Emily: Glen Hanson, our amazing cover artist, was given an early draft of the manuscript to work from. Turns out that Glen is a HUGE myth fan as well (kismet, anyone?) and we didn’t need to direct him at all. He is also super talented and creative, so he came up with the elements you see on the coves – you’ll notice that Athena even has owl earrings! And, there was a long conversation about what were the correct columns to use on the MOA to be historically accurate. I find the best artists bring a lot of themselves and their ideas to a project, therefore enriching it for the better.

J&S: Karin, we think Glen is the perfect cover artist for Goddess Girls. You designed the look of the series and picked Glen as the illustrator. How did you find and choose him?

Karin: I stumbled upon his website one day and I was really impressed with the witty, sassy personality that came through the perfectly-executed characters. I bookmarked his site and came back to it when I received the first Goddess Girls manuscript. He seemed a perfect fit to create an appealing, slick, age-appropriate cover, and Emily and I were excited to see what he could do. Once I called him to discuss the project, I was pleased to find out that he was a huge mythology buff, as well as a genius with color. And he is truly a breath of fresh air to work with.

J&S: Glen, we were truly delighted with the cover illustrations for Goddess Girls. Your style fits the series to a “T”. You added so many fun details that are true to the actual myths, so we wonder if you have a personal interest in mythology or if you are just really good at researching these things?

Glen: Thank you. I’m so complimented that you both feel I did your book justice with my illustrations. Creating the covers was a complete joy because I’ve been obsessed with Greek Mythology since my early teens.

J&S: Can you briefly describe how you work from inspiration to sketch to final art? For instance, do you sketch on a digital pad or on paper?

Glen: I start by doing a rough pencil sketch on paper working out the basic design. I then refine the elements locking in the details, scan it in and send it to the art director and authors. Once they have approved the pencil rough, I trace it off onto good paper in pencil and hand ink the linework. That is scanned in and the image is colored in layers in photoshop.

J&S: Interesting! Thanks, Glen. Karin, is there anything else you can share with us about the process of designing this book?

Karin: Well, I have to say I really enjoyed reading through the manuscripts. I find the stories fun, light and full of appealing characters. The concept of the series is fresh and I have high hopes that girls everywhere with relate to the Goddess Girls (and appreciate their hunky crushes). I especially enjoy working on series’ for tween girls, and I was geared up to find some cute art/graphics, girl-centric fonts, and work with Glen’s gorgeous palette for this series. I think all the elements work very nicely together to marry the adorable cover image with the fun modern-meets-myth story.

J&S: How about you Emily? Anything else you’d like to tell us about your involvement in this series?

Emily: It was a new challenge for me to work with two authors (I’m sure Joan and Suzanne will talk more about this process at some point). While one author wrote one book, taking turns in the series, we needed to make sure their individual writing styles were consistent across the series, and that all the books related to each other. When editing, I kept an eye to make sure things were consistent in style, plot, and characterization/storytelling. Luckily, both Joan and Suzanne have a casual, conversational, and fun tone that shines through all four books. It helped that, while 1000s of miles apart, they worked closely together, reviewing and editing amongst themselves before it got to me – the open lines of communication between the 3 of us helped make this series shine in the end.

J&S: We appreciated how you kept us all on the same page :-). Glen, we have two more questions for you. First, we wondered what your studio is like.

Glen: My studio is set up with a large drafting table, lamp, drawing utensils, scanner, and a large computer monitor hooked up to my trusty laptop!

J&S: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience working on this series?

Glen: The Goddess Girls covers kind of dropped out of “Mount Olympus” for me because I have always loved Greek Mythology and have numerous books on the subject. Since I also work in animation quite a bit, my dream would be to be involved in a cartoon version of the series. I’m sending my prayers to Athena on that one!

J&S: From your lips to Zeus’s ears. I can absolutely see your illustrations in a tween graphic novel format, Glen. Our hopes go to Mount Olympus along with yours. Thank you again for your fabulous covers!

Monday postGoddess Girls giveaway at readertotz! We're giving away one copy of Athena the Brain (#1) and one of Persephone the Phony (#2) at readertotz.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goddess Girls Blog Tour


It’s time for the Goddess Girls Blog Tour!


Co-author Joan Holub and I are celebrating the release of the first two books in our Goddess Girls series with five fab days of interviews, guest blogs, and book giveaways, April 4 – April 8. We hope you’ll drop by to help us celebrate, join the fun, meet some of our favorite bloggers, and maybe win a book along the way!



About the books:

Join the class at Mount Olympus Academy with Goddess Girls, a new series that puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths!


by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (Aladdin paperbacks) Ages 8 - 12


Athena the Brain (April 6, 2010) ISBN: 978-1416982715

Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa!

Persephone the Phony (April 6, 2010) ISBN: 978-1416982722

Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld.

Aphrodite the Beauty (August 3, 2010) ISBN: 978-1416982739

Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love.

Artemis the Brave (December 7, 2010) ISBN: 978-1416982746

She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave.


Five-Day Goddess Girls Tour Line-up:


April 4: Bookmuncher (Interview and book giveaway)

April 5: Readertotz, Suzanne’s Place, Joan Holub Author of Books for Children (Expanded interview with the Goddess Girl team at Aladdin: editor Emily Lawrence, book designer Karin Paprocki, and cover artist Glen Hanson. Have you ever wondered why an editor decides to acquire a series? Here’s one editor’s take.)

April 6: Cynsations (Guest blog and book giveaway; Learn how we came to write the series, challenges we faced and how we solved them.)

April 7: Little Willow (Interview and book giveaway. We reveal more about our collaboration and inspirations, and our favorite books of all time.)

April 8: Zoe’s Book Reviews (Book giveaway and Q&A with both of us authors, our editor, book designer, cover artist, and Zoe herself!)


We look forward to seeing you!


--Suzanne and Joan