BIKE ON, BEAR (S&S) is coming to a bookstore near you!

I’m eager to share the cover for this little guy. BEAR is set to come out next year, and he’s “gearing” up for his big debut! Watch this spot for details!

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Wooby and Peep is coming to a bookstore near you!

WP Web ImageI am very excited to announce that my latest book WOOBY AND PEEP (ages 4-8) will be coming to a bookstore near you!

Kirkus Reviews says, “… it is surprisingly affectionate, both in the text and through Peterson’s artwork, with its washed pinks and soft blues and simple, expressive line. It is also worthy that Wooby can see past his stick-in-the-mud existence and Peep’s bumbling to find something of real value. Friendship is where you find it, and as this book demonstrates, sometimes it’s under the most unlikely of rocks.”


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Hyatt Regency Chicago Charity Reading Event (July 13 3-5pm)

I am pleased to announce I will be speaking for the Hyatt Regency Chicago for a charity reading event on Friday, July 13, 2012 from 3p.m.-5p.m. at Hyatt Regency Chicago. The presentation is designed for children ages 9+, and we’ll be acting out a scene from “Paris Pan Takes the Dare.”  The event is free to the public and guests are encouraged to bring a new or gently used book to donate to Open Books. Proceeds from the sale of these books will be used for Open Book literacy programs within the Chicagoland area and beyond.

Children will enjoy healthy snacks as they watch the story unfold before their eyes. I will take a hands-on approach, using one of my Reader’s Theater style presentations where the kids will act out a scene from the book. The presentations are designed to inform, engage and inspire.

Complimentary valet parking is available for the event from 3p.m.-5p.m. I will be available for autographs after the presentation. For groups of 10 or more, please contact Patricia Kanke, Marketing Manager at 312-239-4556 for more information.

About Hyatt Regency Chicago
Hyatt Regency Chicago, the largest hotel in the Midwest and Hyatt property in the world, features 2,019 guest rooms, 228,000 square feet of meeting and event space, and six restaurants and lounges. The hotel is located at 151 East Wacker Drive in the heart of downtown. Hyatt Regency Chicago borders the Magnificent Mile and is only blocks away from Chicago’s premier theatre, cultural, shopping and dining districts. For reservations, visit or call (800) 233-1234.

About Open Books
Open Books is an award winning non-profit social venture that operates an extraordinary bookstore, provides community programs, and mobilizes passionate volunteers to promote literacy in Chicago and beyond.

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Asian Festival of Children’s Content (May 26-29)

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be a guest speaker at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore, one of the world’s largest forums specifically devoted to children’s content and literature for parents and educators.  I’ll be speaking about some of my favorite topics in children’s literature, such as diversity in contemporary children’s and teen books today and how to harness the imagination to write realistic fiction. Finally, I’ll be teaching a master class on writing for children and teens for the Asian Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference associated with the festival. If you are interested in attending the conference or learning more about it, please visit






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International SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles (Aug 3 – 6)

Please join me in celebrating one of the best conferences held in the United States strictly devoted to children’s book writing and illustration. I’ll be on faculty to critique manuscripts for aspiring writers, and I look forward to seeing you there. For more information about the conference, please visit  To learn more about manuscript consultations by moi, visit


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Thank you, Mountain Pine Elementary

Dear Mountain Pine Elementary,

Thank you so much for a wonderful Skype visit.  I’m so excited to share photos that Ms. Gilbreth passed on to me.  I had no idea my head was *that* big!  Ha!  Enjoy them and I hope every one of you got an autographed bookplate from me. I also want to thank Ms. Gilbreth and all of your teachers for working so hard to make the visit  meaningful and fun for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thanks to everyone  for reading PARIS PAN and sharing your thoughts with me in your wonderful letters. I smiled the whole time I was reading them. So fun to hear your unique voices in your letters.  You all had so many great questions; in fact, you inspired me to create a Frequently Asked Questions page on my web site!  There, you’ll find many answers to the questions you posed.

Also, for those writers who wrote to tell me that they think they might be a children’s book author one day, you go!  I love what I do, but remember, don’t quite your day job UNTIL you become the next Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling!

It was such a pleasure to*meet* you all over Skype!

Keep reading, keep writing and REVISING!


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Dear Readers,

You ask so many insightful questions and I hope you’ll find many answers to your questions here! If not, try to contact me and I’ll do my best to post an answer to your question here.  Enjoy!

Top Questions asked by Readers Like You

About the Author

Q: How do you pronounce your last name? – Chance

A: Usually I just say “Loo” in the United States to keep things simple.   If I say it in Mandarin Chinese,  it sounds more like lee-ew.  But not quite.

Q: How did reading affect your life? – Ja’on

A: I was a big reader from a teeny-tiny age, before kindergarten, all the way through junior high.  Reading fiction books (and nonfiction, too) let me explore worlds and meet characters, I never would have experienced in real life. It was exciting, fun, and sometimes practical if I wanted to read about something specific, like how to cook!  Books were often adventures and almost always presented something new to me. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!

As a mom, I’m seeing the same thing happen with my daughter. She loves to read and she gets to have her own little adventures now through books.  If it weren’t for books, I would have never written one on my own. Bonus: Now I’ll get to see my daughter read something *I* wrote.  That’s sooo cool.

Q: Who is your favorite author – Jordan and Kaitlyn

A: It’s hard to pick a favorite because there are so many great authors out there. I would say some of my favorites Beverly Cleary, E.B. White, Betty Ren Wright and Dean Koontz.

Q: What is your favorite book? – Elijah

A: My favorite book is Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.  That books makes me tear up just thinking about it. I loved animal stories featuring underdogs. Louis, the swan, was an all-time underdog.  These are characters everyone else thinks may not amount to much, but these characters go against all odds and succeed. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell was another favorite of mine. That poor horse!

You might notice that both of these awesome books are mentioned in my own book Paris Pan Takes the Dare.

Q: What is the title of your next book? Are you making a new one? – Jesse

A: I’m always thinking of stories and usually have several manuscripts in progress. The next book that will be out from me is WOOBY AND PEEP (Sterling).  It’s a picture book for the younger set, and it’s a story about friendship. I think having great friends is such a gift. Where would we be without them?  And Wooby and Peep are a pair who just wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t have each other.

Q: Do you read to kids? – Miles

A: I sure do. My daughter and I love to read together. Sometimes, if we don’t have a book in our hands – like, if we’re on a drive somewhere – we just make the stories up.  What makes reading exciting are the stories, and telling stories is the real reason I love to write books!

I also read to kids when I’m at book events, but I don’t just read them. I prefer to act them out. That’s always more fun for everyone!

Q: What inspired you to write? – Pamla

A: I used to have a business job that didn’t require a lot of creativity. It was very logical and practical. Eventually, it was time to do something else, and I noticed all of these people were eading this book called HARRY POTTER.  I wondered what the big deal was. I read the first book, and I thought to myself,  Holy Cow! This is great and soo fun!  Someone does this for a job. How cool is that? I then decided to pursue something completely creative. I love to tell stories – both real and made up – and I also happen to love kids. Writing children’s books felt like the perfect fit!  Now, I couldn’t think of a better job for me.

Q: I really like animals, do you? -Emily

A: I loooooovvvvee animals. There are so many amazing creatures on our planet. And we have no idea what they’re thinking in those brains of theirs.   We can guess all day long, but we’ll never know for sure.  So it’s no wonder that when I write stories, I often have an animal in them.  Writing about animals gives me an opportunity to guess at what they might be thinking and feeling, and doing that is fun! Have you ever tried to impersonate the voice of your pet dog or cat?  Hilarious, right? I find it wildly entertaining to write about characters who happen to be animals. Go, a dog, is one of my favorite characters in my book Paris Pan.

Q: How old were you when you began to write children’s books? How long have you been an author? -Cassie

I started writing for publication in 2003. I was almost 28 years old.  I have friends who sold their first books before they even reached college.  Some were published in high school. I believe it’s never too early or late to write children’s books. Stories are timeless. It doesn’t matter when you write them or how old you are when you do.

Q: What kind of sports do you like? – Matthew

A: I’m not a big sports-person. This is probably because I wasn’t great at playing sports when I was a kid.  It was traumatizing; I was so uncoordinated!  You’ll see my fear of sports come out in the book PARIS PAN. Paris has to play basketball and she is sooo NOT excited about it. As an adult, I’ll definitely go to a game though. My picks would be basketball, hockey, or baseball!

Q: Where did you write your first book? – Andrea

A: I was in Chicago when I wrote my first book for publication.  I had a room that I used as an office. It had a desk and a computer, and that was about it.  What’s great about writing is you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to do the job, unlike, um … heart surgeons?

Q: Is it fun being an author? – Corbin

A: Absolutely!!! I LOOOOOVE my job.  Mainly because I get to invent fun stories and think about characters who kids and teens will love reading about.  Kids and teens are my favorite group of people on this Earth. You all always have so many interesting things to say and, in general, just want to have fun! I think, as adults, we forget that about ourselves too easily. So my job makes me remember to have fun! And when I visit schools, I get to hang out with my readers, and that is way more exciting than going to a boring meeting with a bunch of grownups.

Q: Do you like pie? – Jordan

A: Yes, I do, and now I’m hungry for pie.  Key Lime Pie. Apple Pie. Mmmmm…

About Paris Pan Takes the Dare

Q: Will there be a series? – Adam, Anayka

A: That depends. I’m working on other projects now but Paris is one of my favorite characters and I would love to see her and her sister Verona in another book one day. So don’t mark your calendars yet but keep visualizing and maybe one day, it will happen!

Q: What inspired you to to write Paris Pan? -Savannah, Ke’Aira, Ellison, Stephanie

A: When I wrote the book, I had no idea I was going to write PARIS PAN. I just sat in front of my computer and thought, Self, write a book. A whole novel. What came out of me was PARIS PAN.  Sometimes authors don’t have to think of the idea in advance. For me, in most cases, I just sit there and start typing what looks good when it pops into my brain. Nearly all of my stories began this way. Paris Pan quickly became inspired by my own life when I realized that her character seemed to look and talk a lot like me. :)

Q: Is Paris Pan you? – Emily

A: Paris Pan is a lot like me when I was a kid, except I am way less nerdy, somewhat funnier, and definitely prettier. Ha. I’m kidding. I was probably a bit more outspoken than her, even geekier, but equally clumsy.  She’s a fictional character for sure because she does things I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do when I was her age.  It was great to give her an opportunity at the end to stand up for other people and herself.  I don’t think I had the guts to do that myself when I was her age.

Q: Was the story based upon your life? Ja’on,  Destiny, Joshua

A. There are many elements to the story that are based upon my childhood. Like Paris, I moved a lot. I also had a dog and a brother and a sister. My mom was a computer programmer and my dad built houses for a living.  So most of the family dynamics is based upon the actual dynamics I had with my family as a kid. As for the school stuff and Paris, I remember what it’s like to want to fit and all of that. Sometimes, all that pressure to be liked by your buddies, makes you do things you don’t want to do. And even if you’re not openly mean to other people, you might ignore situations that are clearly not cool.  A lot of what I write draws from real feelings and experiences I have had myself as a kid.

Q: Were you really forced to play basketball? – Destiny, Mayson

A: When I moved to this tiny town as a kid, everyone had to play or there wouldn’t be enough players for a team. It counted as PE.  So it didn’t really matter if you liked it or not. :)

Q: Why did Tom stutter? Did you know someone who did? – Cotton

A: Yes, I did. I’ve known several people who had or have speech impediments. When I was in elementary school, the kids who stuttered sometimes got made fun of.  Other kids had ideas that stuttering was related to brain-damage or low IQ.  That in fact is, not true.  For Tom’s character, he stuttered because he’s a real character to me.  I wanted to create someone who felt real and was clearly not what other kids might think he was.  We do that all the time to other people; we make assumptions about them before we even know them and that’s really unfair. Paris makes this mistake when she’s scared in the woods and I wanted Paris to recognize how unfair it was of her to be mean to someone who was only trying to be helpful.  That’s real life stuff that we deal with all the time as kids and adults. To make a fiction book feel real, I include things that are real. That you, as readers, will relate to in your own lives.

Q: Did you really move a lot? Did you really live in the places Paris did? Ja’on, Taylor, Corbin

A. I moved quite a bit, but not to the places that Paris mentions.  I moved several times in Oklahoma. After junior high, I moved again to Texas.  It was hard to lose friends and start over each time.  So I knew what it was like for Paris to move around so much, except she had it a bit worse than me.

Q: Did you have a dog named Go? Vincent, Britney

Yes, my mother called our dog Gou all the time. (It’s actually spelled Gou if you use the Pinyin system that they use in China to spell it.)  However, when I was Paris’s age, I had no idea bout the Pinyin system so I always thought it was G-o. Anyway, Gou means dog in Mandarin Chinese.  So it was always, Go this and Go that. Let Go out, feed Go, give Go a bath.  Our Go had an English name, too. Her name was Cookie.  And Go, the dog in the book, acted a lot like Cookie did.  Whenever I wrote about Gou, I thought of Cookie and what she would have done in the situation.

Q: Will you make a book with Verona as the main character? MaeLee

A: More than likely. I LOVE her character because she’s so fun and clueless at the same time.  She’s also got a lot of heart but it’s hard to see it in PARIS PAN because that book was more about Paris, than Verona.  I could do a lot with Verona’s character so I’m hoping the idea for her book will come to me soon.

Q: Where did you get the name Beth Conlon? – Jake

A: I wanted Beth to have a calm, somewhat common-sounding name.  Her character blends into the background for most of the book, so I wanted her name to do that, too. When deciding names of characters, I often think about the feeling I want people to feel when they read that name. Paris Pan is a quirky name.  Mayo is even quirkier.  And I wanted Mayo’s name to really stand out because she’s one of the brashest characters in the book. Also, she’s not completely likeable and for a lot of kids, Mayo, conjures up the condiment, which many kids think is a little funky.

Q: Why did the doll not come to life? -Savannah

A: I wanted readers to determine for themselves if this was a ghost story or not. If I made the doll actually move, then it would automatically be a real ghost story. Some readers believe that there are no ghosts involved in Paris Pan.  Others feel strongly that there are ghosts in this book. I think it’s cool that you can make the book whatever you think it should be.  I myself believe there may have been a ghost but maybe there wasn’t… Hmmm….

Q: Why did Robin never talk? – Cotton

There was a girl I knew in school who didn’t talk. I always thought she was a bit of a mystery and when I wrote about Robin’s character, I thought of the girl I knew in real life often.  When I wrote the book, I looked up the topic – kids who don’t talk in school – and I learned about selective mutism, an actual condition that makes it difficult for some children to talk in social situations like school.

Q: Why was Mayo so mean?

A: Mayo was actually written to be less mean in the earlier drafts. My editor felt she wasn’t mean enough so I made Mayo do meaner things. The reading experience is subjective though. Two people can read the same book and have completely opposite opinions.  Someone’s mean may be someone else’s grumpy or not mean enough.  To me, Mayo needed to be mean to some extent. Maybe not the cruelest of cruel but mean enough that readers root for Paris more and wonder how she was going to get out of it. Many books have antagonists. These are the bad guys. Mayo was “the bad guy” in the book. If I had made her nice, then the reading might have been less entertaining.  Things wouldn’t have been so hard for Paris and she might have even been able to talk Mayo out of the Dare, and that would have ended the book right there!


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How to Hold a Virtual Author Visit Handout

Just a quick update for those who attended my HotSpot presentation at Encyclo-media this year:

Here’s a link to the handout, Virtual Skype Author Visits. In case, you weren’t able to attend, feel free to use it, too! There are handy tips and important links to read more about where to find authors and how to conduct your own virtual visit!

You can also read more about my first virtual author visit conducted from Chicago, IL for an avid audience in Littleton, Colorado.

Thanks for attending and happy Virtual-Visiting!


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Monday, 6/28/10, ALA 2010 Washington, D.C. Presentation and Signing

Cynthea Liu, along with fellow authors Jennifer R. Hubbard, Lindsey Leavitt, and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich will be presenting Low Budget Ways to Connect Readers with Authors using Web 2.0 Tools at ALA 2010 in Washington, D.C. on Monday, June 28th at 10:30AM – 12PM in room 102A.

Cynthea Liu and Jennifer R. Hubbard will also be signing at the Penguin Books for Young Readers booth from 12:30 PM – 1PM.

See you there!

UPDATE: Link to handouts from the ALA 2010 Presentation on Connecting Readers with Literature Online using Web 2.0 Tools

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Thank you, Oak Prairie School!

Dear Oak Prairie,

Wowzers. What a day! What a welcome you all had for me. I was just as excited to finally meet you, too!  7th and 8th graders: who knew you all were so competitive? I thought someone was going to get hurt by the time we got to the sudden-death question. And the 6th graders: you did a bang-up job with the acting. My favorite part was when “Mayo” lost her pom-pom. Too funny.

Also several of you had the courage to come up to me and tell me you were writers, too. Do you know how happy that makes me?  Part of being a writer is admitting you are one. Own it!  You’re a writer as soon as you put the words on a page, and just by doing that, you’ve already beat out so much of your competition. Keep writing, keep revising! Use *your* voice–not anyone else’s–to write your stories. I can’t wait to see you on the Today Show. ;)

I also want to thank Mrs. Jankowski for putting together such a wonderful visit.  Also to Mrs. Smithwick, Mr. Jacobson, and Mrs. Hayes and the rest of the faculty-wow! Thank you, thank you to the entire Oak Prairie team for making the day extra-special for everyone.

And now for the finale: pictures from the event! (Thanks, Mr. Jacobson, for the great shots!) Enjoy them.

Keep reading, keep writing and REVISING!



P.S. How come no one told me that Tim had been eliminated on American Idol the night before?!  Oh, bah! I thought Results night was that evening for some reason. Whoops. I guess my only hope now is Lee. :)

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