Author Suzanne Lilly’s blog

Suzanne Lilly2013_THThanks for stopping by my blog, Suzanne Lilly blogging as the TeacherWriter.  I’m a teacher, an author, and an avid reader. I mostly blog about books I’ve read or teaching and writing, but occasionally something else sneaks onto the screen.

On social media, you’ll find me as Suzanne Lilly. So if you’re looking for the TeacherWriter, on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, here are the places I spend the most time:

Oh, and the person blogging as Suzanne Lilly on a blogspot? Yeah, that’s not me. I’m just letting you know.

Sign up for my occasional newsletter to win prizes and find out about my new releases before anyone else. One subscriber is chosen to win a $25 gift card each time the newsletter comes out.

You can also drop me a line through my contact page. I’d love to hear from you!


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Under the Trees Cover Reveal

The first time I read this manuscript, I fell in love with it, and I knew a publisher somewhere would, too. Yesterday, the stunning cover for Under the Trees, by Ashley Maker was revealed at her Facebook party. It’s making an encore appearance here today, and I’m sure at many other sites around the web.

Under the Trees cover image

Isn’t it gorgeous? If you think the cover is fantastic, wait until you read the book.

Here’s an excerpt:

Desperate to prevent an abusive arranged marriage, Princess Araya flees to a neighboring kingdom, only to land at the mercy of the impulsive Crown Prince Thoredmund, who provides refuge in a secluded forest and teaches her survival skills. Her surprise at the unexpected hold the price has on her heart mirrors his shock at falling for the one girl he can’t have.

As the young couple’s feelings for each other grow, the fragile alliance between the two kingdoms threatens to break apart. With a vengeful duke and an enraged king fast on their trail, Thor and Araya must decide how much they’re willing to risk for love.

Even if staying together means starting a war.


Here’s one more piece of terrific news. You can preorder Under the Trees, published by Cliffhanger Press, from Amazon right now. While you wait for the September 15th release date, you may want to learn more about the multi-talented Ashley Maker. She has a Facebook page here.

Performance Task Writing . . . What It Means For Kids


Performance Task Writing versus Fiction Writing: is creativity lost ? This post from teacherwriter Jamie Ayres, author of 18 Things and 18 Truths will get you thinking.

Originally posted on Jamie Ayres:

This past week as summer vacation ended, I had to switch my mind from writing mode to teaching mode. Although I do teach writing to middle school students, it’s a lot different than the type of writing I do for my books, 18 Things and 18 Truths. I realized that many of you probably have children and may not know the new College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing that our nation adopted, so I thought I’d list them here. Of course, the devil is in the details and what these standards mean exactly differs for each grade level, but it’s still good to familiarize yourself.

Text Types and Purposes:

1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection…

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The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova #bookreview

Swan_ThievesI gave this book away before I read it.

It was a mistake. Giving it away, I mean.

It happened innocently enough. I was summer cleaning my house, and I thought I wouldn’t have time to read it, so I passed it on to a local Friends of the Library store. The next day, I went to lunch with a group of friends. Here’s how the conversation went.

“Suzanne, I’m reading the most spectacular book I’ve read all year,” says Friend One.

“Oh, really? What’s the title?” I ask.

The Swan Thieves.”

Friend Two gasps. “What a coincidence! I’m reading the very same book. I can’t put it down.”

They both look at me. “Have you heard of it?”

“I just gave it away,” I tell them. “It’s a novel about a painting and the book is gold with a picture of a swan and a woman on the cover, right?”

“That’s the one,” Friend Two agrees.

“You need to get that book back,” Friend One tells me. “You don’t want to miss it.”

After lunch, I slogged over to the bookstore, which was closed, so I couldn’t get it back before leaving on a trip the following day. However, while I was on vacation, I stopped in at a used bookstore, (one of my favorite things to do) and found another copy.

My friends were right. The Swan Thieves is story not easily described, and even harder to forget.

The author tells two stories in this novel. One is about a modern day doctor, trying to solve the mystery of why one of his patients is so obsessed with a particular painting, to the point of trying to destroy it. The doctor’s curiosity takes him on travels to other cities and countries, searching for the history behind the painting. The author artfully takes us back to the past, to a small circle of artist friends, and the story behind the painting.

Through the well-written flashbacks and the modern day interactions, the story develops one brush stroke at a time. As I read, I felt as if I were right on the page with the characters, they were so realistic and intriguing. Elizabeth Kostova has created a cross-genre novel that is engrossing and delightful.

I’m donating this new copy of The Swan Thieves to the bookstore as well, so someone else can enjoy this remarkable story. At least this time, I’ve read it.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden #bookreview

I am a shallow person.

I choose books by their cover.

There. I’ve put it out there for the world to know. If a cover doesn’t attract me, I don’t even bother to read the blurb.

Against_the_Tide_coverThe cover of Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden immediately caught my attention. When I read the blurb, I downloaded the book and started reading it right away. I finished the same day. Other reviews have mentioned the author’s stunning way with words and I completely agree.

Against the Tide is a well-researched, captivating historical novel written by a skilled writer. It takes place during the early years of the United States. The main character, Lydia Pallas, is orphaned at an early age, but her intelligence and talent with foreign languages earns her a job as a translator at the naval shipyards. It is there she meets Alexander Banebridge, Bane for short, who pays her well to translate seemingly mundane inventory lists from incoming ships.

As the story progresses, Lydia begins to realize she is involved in something bigger and darker than mere inventory records. She and Bane work together to solve a mystery of deceit and illegal activities leading them both into great danger.

The romance is not the central theme in the book, but it’s there nonetheless, and I found myself wanting to see the two of them get together. Bane is the quintessential tortured hero, and I wanted him to find happiness, even if he didn’t want it for himself. Just so you know, this is also a Christian inspirational book, and in the second half of the book, there are some references to scriptures.

This is the second novel in a series, and now I want to go back and read the first book, which is the story of Bane. In Against the Tide, the author alludes to his past. The character of Alexander Banebridge is so strong, how could I not go back to learn more about him?

I highly recommend this novel, and not just for the cover.

Did You Know? Suzanne Lilly Newsletter

A new issue of my newsletter will be coming out on August 1, and you won’t want to miss it.

Did you know…

Every time I send out a Suzanne Lilly newsletter one lucky subscriber wins a $25 gift card? That lucky person could be you! It could be, if you subscribe to my author newsletter. *wink*

Did you know…

My newsletter gives special subscriber-only discounts? You could be one of those elite people who can proudly wave a coupon made especially for them. But only if you get that code from my newsletter.

Did you know…

Subscribers get sneak peaks of excerpts that are not released to the public? It’s like being let in on a secret. I think you’ll want to read the excerpt I’m including in the next edition.

If you want to be let in on August’s secret discount code and excerpt, and be entered to win a gift card, waste no time and sign up for my newsletter now. It’s coming out on August 1st. If you wait to enroll in my mailing list, you’ll miss out on this month’s opportunity. I only send out newsletters when I have a new book release or some other momentous occasion, so who knows when you’ll have your next chance to be a winner?

Only subscribers can be winners. Subscribe to my newsletter here, and get the August 1 issue.

Here is what you’ll get:

  • An entry into the $25 gift card drawing. The card can be from Amazon or any other online retailer you choose where I can get the card for you.
  • Special subscriber-0nly discount.
  • Special excerpts no one else will see.
  • Plus, occasionally I run a bonus contest, giving you another chance to win.

So go ahead. Throw your hat in the ring, you big winner, you.

Subscribe today.




Best Books of Summer: The Gardener gets a five star review

It’s summertime, and that means reading time for teachers! I’ve been reading non-stop, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting reviews of the best books of the summer.

The Gardener cover

From the first page of The Gardener, author Catherine McGreevy captures the authentic setting, speech, and class structure of pre-industrial England. Tom West is a laborer on a large estate, and this is the story of his rise against the impossible to become a wealthy landowner in his own right.

This historical novel has romantic elements, but it’s uniquely told from the point of view of the hero. Tom is instantly endearing, and I found myself wanting every good thing for him from the opening chapter with the scene of a runaway carriage, to the ending of the book where he creates a symbol of his new life.

Catherine McGreevy layered details, plot, and subplot to create a tantalizing transatlantic tale. I loved how she created plot twists I didn’t see coming, events that made me sit up and pay attention. She didn’t do it just once or twice. She did it through the entire book. Just when I thought things were looking up for Tom West, wham! Something else would happen.

In the end, Tom comes full circle, back to his roots, creating a satisfying conclusion to this well told story.

McGreevy weaves together historical facts from both sides of the pond, creating a contrasting chronicle with the skill of a masterful storyteller. I wish that Tom’s story could go on and continue in a second book.

My recommendation to anyone who enjoys historical fiction is to read The Gardener.

It’s available exclusively on Amazon, and you may see it with this cover:

Gardener cover 1

About the author:

Catherine McGreevy is the author of The Jewelry Case, a romantic suspense novel, and The Gardener, a historical novel set in post-Revolutionary War America, with two more historicals coming out soon. A former journalist, she lives in Northern California with her husband, a political reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Cathy’s formative years growing up overseas as the daughter of a diplomat influence themes that surface in her writing, including the pursuit of the American Dream.

Read more on Catherine McGreevey’s website.