Friday, November 14, 2014

Meet a GROGer: Suzy Leopold! by Tina Cho


Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writer life. 

Perry & Suzy
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.

Our Farm House
on the Prairie
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 [16], Joshua [11], and Jaxon [7], Henry [7] & Charlotte [4]; Lily [5] & Lane [4].
Seven Silly, Sweet Grands!
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? How long have you been writing?
The Twelve Days of Christmas in Minnesota
By Constance Van Hoven
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
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.
Read More Books and
Fewer Texts 
As an educator to hundreds of students, over my thirty-five year career, I taught 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.
Avoiding the Summer Slide
Make a Personal or 
Family Resolution & 
Fulfill the Promise
Recognize, Respect &
Pay Tribute this
Memorial Day
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.
My Writing Desk
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.

Whats one thing that the writing community doesnt 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!
The Sund Deck Motel
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:; 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.
Bicycling for 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 acrylics and watercolors
  • For the Grandkids

  • Sewing

  • Gardening

Garden on the Prairie
Organic Goodness
A Bountiful Harvest

Cycling along the Mississippi River
My Marin Portofina

  •   Bicycling

  •    Baking
Do ya want a cookie or two?

May I serve you?

Where can readers find out more about you?

Word Press: Through the Prairie Garden Gate
Twitter: SuzyK5
GROG Blog:

Thanks so much, Suzy! It was wonderful getting to know you more and seeing such lovely pictures!


  1. Great interview, ladies! And can I just say, you're amazing, Suzy! I don't know how you find the time to do all the creative things you do.

    1. Rebecca: You are too kind. I admire you and am thankful you are my *writerly friend* across the pond. Hugs. ~Suzy

  2. Great stuff, Suzy! -perhaps we'll your art and stories together someday?

  3. Mike: Oh, my! Thank you for your thoughts of encourging me to become an author/illustrator. That idea is such a dream. You are appreciated for always sharing writerly advice with me and reminding me that only proper nouns are capitalized! ~Suzy

  4. I love this so, so much! GREAT QUESTIONS and terrific format. I can't wait to meet all the Groggers this way! Thank you Tina. Thank you Suzy! I'm so grateful to be a part of this group of writers. So many talents. So fantastically wonderful to know more about you!

    1. It was such a delight to interview Tina. I look forward to introducing her to our readers soon. I too, am grateful and thankful to be a GROGer. I look forward to meeting everyone in person. Someday. Hopefully, soon!

  5. Wonderful interview! Thank you, Tina and Suzy! I wonder if readers know that many of us have never met each other, especially with us being scattered around the world. So great to learn more about you, Suzy.

    1. It is so amazing how all of us GROGers have come together from around the world, Patty. I am pleased that many of the GROGers have connected in person. I look forward to hugging on you and all of the great GROGers, as I have not met anyone in person. Sure hope it is soon. For now, sending a virtual hug your way.

  6. Suzy and Tina, you make quite a pair. The pictures were great, as were the captions. You do so much of rot hers, Suzy - I love the biking for books. And, so many talents, too! I am impressed with all that creative energy, friend. Cheers to YOUR writing career.

    1. Tina and I enjoyed getting to know one another with the interviews that we exchanged. I look forward to introducing you and our readers to Terrific Tina this month. The Biking for Books event was so meaningful to me. I wasn't trying to set a record of time. Perry just continued to remind me to just pedal for the books for the kids. Salud!

  7. Thank you Tina. Suzy what fun to get to know you better especially since we have been in critique groups and on the Grog together! Your paintings are lovely. Your grand kids must love the baking and sewing you do for them! Your Bicycling for Books is a fabulous idea!

    1. Aren't we so blessed to love on our grands, Janie? I believe you have more sweeties than Perry & I. Being a grandparent is the best! Your compliments warm my heart and I thank you. ~Suzy

  8. Just LUV this post Tina! Appreciations to you & Suzy for this delightful information.
    I am tickled to know not only about the Biking for Books success, but Suzy's modeling career! We had dear friends of our family who ran a motel & I've always thought it might make a cool element/plot device for a middle grade novel. What interesting people/stories you must have heard at the dinner table Suzy? Your garden's delights are known personally to me & this reminds me to treat myself to your enjoyable Prairie Garden Girl blog more often. Finally, what a multi-talented person you are, sewing & painting. You have so many creative outlines. It will be the right time when it happens, but I can't wait to see the picture books that arise from your creativity.

    1. Oh, my, Jan! You make me blush! You have to know when the photographer suggested the diving board pose, I felt shy and awkward. I never thought much about the many interesting stories during the time that Dad & Mom owned The Sun Deck Motel. The big move from Minnesota to Texas was not what I wanted to do at 17 years old. I should give it some thought. Perry & I always enjoy sharing garden goodies with family and friends and I am happy that I shared garden goodness with you. Reading, writing and creating every day is what I try to do. Hugs.

  9. Thanks, Suzy, for letting me interview you. And I love how you arranged the photos! How did you do that?

  10. No, Tina; I need to say thank you. I am honored and delighted to be interviewed by you. You are appreciated. ~Suzy

    1. P. S. Inserting the many pictures was not too difficult. Click on the picture and you will find three positional choices. Some were set to the left, others to the right and many were inserted in the center.

  11. It is always fun to get to know a fellow creative :D Love what you did with Bike for Books! Your paintings are gorgeous! Oh do tell, is that a glass of white wine I spy on your writing desk!? :D Gal after my own heart!

  12. Hi Lori: The Bicycling for Books event was such a highlight. Such joy it was to share so many new books with my students. Thank you for the compliment about my paintings. Ahh, must I tell? Well, of course! Grab your stemware. I raise my goblet to you. Skål! Cheers! ~Suzy