Meet a GROGer: Suzy Leopold! by Tina Cho
ALL ABOUT SUZY LEOPOLD
Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writer life.
In 2012, my husband Perry and I began a new chapter of our lives. Perry grew up in Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, Illinois and I was raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While living in Texas, we made plans for our dream to return to the Midwest, the land that we love. Our life on the Illinois prairie is filled with many adventures as we set up our homestead and garden in Staunton, Illinois. Perry and along with his cousins, from Mic Construction built our modern farm house.
Springfield, the capital of Illinois, is fifty miles North of our home. Another fifty mile drive in a southwesterly direction and we are in St. Louis, Missouri. Crossing over the Mighty Mississippi River that designates the states’ borders is always impressive to me.
My husband and I are parents to five boys, three daughters in law, and seven grandchildren, Johannah , Joshua , and Jaxon , Henry  & Charlotte ; Lily  & Lane .
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? How long have you been writing?
I have memories of my Mom, my sister Jill and I visiting a Minneapolis Public Library on numerous occasions and checking out a tall stack of books that included The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Curious George by H. A. Rey, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, Farmer Small by Lois Lenski and many more classic titles. Mom said I always asked her to read favorite titles over and over, again and again. I truly feel she instilled the love of reading in my heart.
As a student in high school, I recall a semester of a required English class that included creative writing. The foundation of what good writing looks like began in college. And perhaps because of my love for reading, I always knew that I would study elementary education and become a teacher. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education I earned a Master of Education in Reading-Elementary, a Bilingual certification and a Reading Recovery certification.
Reading and writing go hand and hand and are paired up for a reason. The development of English includes listening, speaking, reading and writing. One cannot learn how to write without having knowledge of reading nor can one learn to read without knowing written letters and their sounds and meaning.
As an educator to hundreds of students, over my thirty-five year career, Itaught many students how to read and write. All of my students were encouraged to keep a journal. This past summer, I provided reading and writing summer school lessons to three students. Their parents felt it was important for them to be engaged during the summer so that they would be ready for the 14~15 school year. Modeling for students in the classroom provided me with many opportunities to write and share stories. I still have many of those early stories, that I wrote, including some written in Spanish.
So, I have delved into the written word, throughout the years, however, in reality have become more serious about the craft of writing for children, since I first participated in PiBoIdMo by Tara Lazar in November 2013.
Do you have any publishing credits?
Currently, as a Write Team member, I scribe columns for the Carlinville~Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat Newspaper. Many of my articles are educational in nature and provide information for parents and their school aged children to equal student success. Reading is Magical, Avoiding the Summer Slide, Make this the Best School Year Ever, Celebrate Our Earth and many more titles are examples of articles I authored.
Do you have an agent?
No, I do not have an agent. However, I do know that it is important to find the right match for a writer when seeking an agent to represent my work. Since an agent is someone who I want to support my writing career, I feel it is important that the ideal agent should be knowledgable and supportive, as we work together sharing the love of literacy.
What inspires you to write?
Inspiration is all around me. My head is always spinning with ideas, and I feel it is important to listen to others and observe happenings around me. I am inspired by so many topics: *shadow type memories* of being a kid, the beauty of our prairie flower and vegetable gardens, riding my bike on the country roads, reading picture books to my children and students, classroom experiences of listening to my students learn and grow, and spending time and making memories with our seven, sweet, unique grandkids.
What has helped you in this writing journey?
- Reading a large collection of children’s picture books that I own.
- Checking out tall stacks of picture books from the public library.
- Reading books about the craft of writing that I own.
- Checking out many resources from the public library.
- Referring to resource books on my book shelf: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Rhyming dictionary, 100 Words Almost Everyone Mixes Up or Mangles, and many more.
- Participating in writing challenges and webinars on the Internet.
- Participating in several critique groups, online and face to face.
- Networking with writerly friends.
What’s one thing that the writing community doesn’t know about you?
Mmm . . . I really need to give this question some thought. Just one thing? I suppose I could say I took piano lessons as a kid and wish I would sit and play more often and work beyond being a beginner! Kinda typical of most kids who took musical instrument lessons, I guess.
Nah, how about my sister and I are on a picture post card? That’s kinda unique; isn’t it! My parents owned The Sun Deck Motel, in Texas, and guess who is seated on the diving board beside the swimming pool? Yours truly!
Oh, I know, what I can share . . . I participated in an event that I created, Bicycling for Books. On my birthday, in March of 2011, I rode my bike 55 miles to solicit donations of books. I set up a “wish list” of suggested book titles that my students like and my family and friends made donations of books that were purchased and mailed to my school address. More than one hundred books were distributed to my students! I am thankful that my administrators allowed me to take a personal day, from the classroom to ride with Perry, my coach. I completed the ride with the following stats: Weather: Overcast, partly sunny; 54°to 68°; 20 + mph winds; Miles: Fifty-five.one; Time: Four hours one minute. I was so excited to share the love of literacy and to encourage physical activity with my students. All of the kids were happy to select two, new books.
What writerly wisdom can you offer to other writers?
Believe in your voice and the story that is in your heart. Write about what you know. Write about what you love. Most importantly, enjoy the journey of writing. Do not be in a hurry. Be in the moment. Learn and grow every day. Read, write and create every day.
What are your hobbies?
- Painting with watercolors and acrylics.
- Sewing for the grands.
Where can readers find out more about you?
Word Press: Through the Prairie Garden Gate https://sleopoldblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com: SuzyK5
GROG Blog: http://groggorg.blogspot.com/p/meet-grog-authors.html
Thanks so much, Suzy! It was wonderful getting to know you more and seeing such lovely pictures!