Monday, April 23, 2012

Words From the Wise #10 -- Anastasia Suen

Since the beginning of January, I have been taking Anastasia Suen's Intensive Picture Book Workshops.  These 2 classes have been, by far, the most comprehensive writing classes that I have ever taken.  Anastasia not only is honest in her evaluation of her students' work, but she is the best cheerleader around.  She is wonderful at assisting the author in discovering his or her style, and in honing their craft.  Thank you so much Anastasia for agreeing to write this guest post for today.  

Please enjoy the wise words below from Anastasia Suen.

A Little Bit of Everything
by Anastasia Suen

I am often asked what kinds of books I write. I used to say that I wrote everything except YA, but in the past year I have written 4 YA nonfiction books! Well, they asked me, so I said yes. 

That's what happens when you write for the educational market. An editor will email you and ask you to write a book in a certain topic. The topics sounded so interesting that I said yes, and now I've written four books. 

A Girl's Guide to Volleyball

Because I was an elementary school teacher, I usually write for younger readers. Every day in the classroom I would teach a little bit of, well, everything. To become a teacher my college major was "liberal studies" -- the "take one of everything" major. I liked learning about a lot of different things.

Can You Eat a Rainbow?

Now I do that with my books. I just finished a book about online privacy and the law -- and that was an eye opener! I have gone back to my old habit of cleaning my cache every week. I also delete my internet history weekly. (All of this stuff on the web is free because they are tracking your every move! Yes, the big print giveth -- it's free, it's free! -- and the small print -- those agreements you have to sign in order to use any free online services -- they give your privacy away. You really do get what you pay for.)

Read and Write Sports: Readers Theatre and Writing Activities for Grades 3-8

It wasn't what I expected, but now I have written nonfiction for every age -- from toddlers to teens and beyond. I enjoy doing the research and sharing it in a book. I also like writing stories. Fiction is about the human heart and there is always something new to explore. What would this character do -- and why? It intrigues me. 

All-Star Cheerleaders (Book #1) Tick Tock, Taylor

I write poetry, too. This year I am writing a poem a day in a poetry journal. Now during National Poetry Month I am inviting writers to create an original STEM haiku, a short haiku about a STEM topic. (STEM is science, technology, engineering and math.) We're collecting them on the STEM Friday blog. (  

Road Work Ahead

Why do I write a little bit of everything?
Why not? It's all so very interesting! 

Anastasia's Bio
Author: Books have always been a part of my life. My mother started reading to me when I was a baby and we went to the library every week. I wrote my first picture book when I was eleven and I've been writing ever since. I wrote hundreds of manuscripts and collected rejection letters for years...and then it happened. On my fortieth birthday, the phone rang. After writing for twenty-nine years, I sold my first book! Today I've sold 138 books for children and adults: board books, picture books, easy readers, and chapter books. I've also written articles, poems, and stories for textbooks, magazines, and the web.

Consultant: In 1995 I began working as a children's literature consultant for Sadlier-Oxford. Later I joined the Rosen Publishing Group Reading Advisory Board and became a "Classroom Connections" reviewer for Book Links. I have also consulted for Brown Books Publishing GroupLee & Low BooksNational Geographic School Publishing and Scholastic. Today I write about children's books in my monthly Hot Topics column for Booklist's Quick Tips for Schools & Libraries and Monday through Friday on my booktalk blogs.

Teacher: I started teaching elementary school in 1977. I taught kindergarten ESL, first, fifth and sixth grades. I was teaching my young students to write, so I wrote for them and they wrote for me. After my children's books were published I went back to the classroom as a visiting author. I taught teacher inservice for Staff Development for Educators, co-taught children's literature at theUniversity of North Texas, and taught writing at Southern Methodist University. Today I teach writing workshops online for adults who write for children. I have written with students of all ages in classrooms and workshops all over the globe.


  1. Excellent post. I am reading one of Anastasia's books right now and already know it's a keeper/reference that will never leave me!

  2. Wow! Anastasia Suen at your blog - how awesome! A little bit of everything indeed! Thanks, Sandi.

    1. You are very welcome. I love her classes and feel like I have grown so much as a writer from them.

  3. It's really cool that Ms. Suen writes about all kinds of things. Her classes sound great!

    1. Her classes are pretty amazing! I think it is great that she writes about all kinds of things too! I would like to expand my writing like she does.

  4. I took Anastasia's classes in Sept/Oct and learned so much! This is neat that you interviewed her. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This was very interesting. I've certainly heard of Anastasia -- it's good to learn more about her, as well as to hear a success story from someone who writes a little of everything!

  6. My pleasure. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Anastasia's writing. Of course, I'd heard about her and her writing workshop...her name pops up everywhere with rave reviews. It's great that you are learning so much, Sandi. Happy writing!

  8. Her class is on my to do list! Thank you for sharing. :-D