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Past Appearances

I love to share some of my reading experiences. Here are some highlights!

I got to speak at the Travis Heights Arts Trail, Saturday November 4, 2017

In November 2017, I had the wonderful opportunity to read at the Travis Heights Arts Trail Author Showcase.

Reading at the beautiful Fairview Inn in Austin, run by the delightful Vivian and Jimi Ballard. My son, John, and his German exchange “sister Engelina are on the left!

John got to perform the role of “Frazier” from my mother’s diaries, Home Front Girl. Usually my husband embodies that character. But John did a fine job and seem to capture Frazier’s profound depth and mystery 😉

I taught 3rd-5th graders all about the Middle Ages in February 2016.  It’s an annual Young Writers Workshop. It was wonderful as always. I write about it in my blog.

I was thrilled to be returning to Chicago to talk about Home Front Girl.  The event took place in Chicago since Joan grew up there.  I spoke at Schaumberg District Public Library in a series called Chicagoland:  Read All About It.  I spoke in May 2015. You can read about that trip here.


I was invited to give a talk about Joan and her diary Home Front Girl at the Schaumburg Township District Library in Illinois, part of the greater Chicago area.  My mom grew up in Chicago, so I was thrilled to be able to share her story with natives of the area.

Beautiful poster--though my name is "Morrison," not "Johnson"!!!

Beautiful poster–though my name is “Morrison,” not “Johnson”!!!

My dear friend, Phil, took the photos at this event.

My dear friend, Phil, took the photos at this event.  Here I am being introduced by the librarian who invited me, Jane Rozek.

Giving my talk in Schaumburg.

Giving my talk in Schaumburg.  An eerie light is cast.

I was so pleased that my own book group with dear friends chose Home Front Girl as its inaugural book!  Thank you, ladies!  Hugs!

Reading a section of my mom's diaries.

Reading a section of my mom’s diaries.

In the cozy home of our dear friend, Beth Hudson.

Hi to the camera!

Hi to the camera!

I conducted a workshop called From Family Documents to Published Book at the Stories from the Heart VII –Story Circle Network’s Seventh National Women’s Memoir Conference.conflogo1s  I also coached writing.

If you would like to join this wonderful organization and attend its biennial conference, please look here.

Susie teaching a workshop at the Story Circle conference

Susie teaching a workshop at the Story Circle conference. Thanks to Sallie Moffat for taking photos.



I love working with students of all ages on topics ranging from the medieval to World War II and Joan’s diary.  While I teach college students, I’ve done workshops with teens and elementary kids as well.  In February 2014, I participated  in the Young Writers’ Workshop at Travis Heights Elementary School .  My workshop was called “Take a step back in time….But beware!  Watch where you step!  Ogres, dragons, and evil knights await!”  Here is a description–and some photos of the kids writing and illustrating their own medieval stories.


Did you know the authors of the Narnia series and The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings were professors of medieval literature at Oxford University in England?  Did you know Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series is based on the magician Merlin from the tales of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere?  In fact, some of the most beloved children’s and young adult literature written in the past 100 years is set in the Middle Ages or has medieval themes.  Some of the greatest literature ever written takes place in a time in the past.  How do you include historical details?  Why is that so important?  After a brief introduction to the many tales taking place in the Middle Ages or containing medieval subjects, participants in the workshop will write their own stories festooned with castle, armor, swords, towers, dragons, and magic. Make the Middle Ages come alive!


The Morristown, NJ Daily Record covered my talk on Thursday October 10 at The Morristown and Morris Township Public Library, Morristown, New Jersey–which was sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters and its President, Judy Martorelli.  Lorraine Ash did a beautiful job in her article.  I was especially excited because this is my hometown library where I have spent many, many days.  Joan lived in Morristown for over 50 years!  Here is the original announcement about this event.

The Morristown and Morris Township Public Library

Here are some photos from the talk.

SmilingSue bilde MHSgrouptakenby RachelWeinberger4 SusiereadinginfrontofHitlerclipping

At the reading and signing in Morristown, NJ.

At the reading and signing in Morristown, NJ.  Featured folks in these photos include Tony Boyadjis, below, fellow Morristown High School Thespian as Frazier with me; above I am seen with my high school pals Ken Goldman, Lauren Roscher Boyadjis, Tony Boyadjis, Bill Schlosser, Beth Carroll and me.  I am also greeting Rachel Weinberger in one photo.

TonyBoyadjisandSusiereadingJoanand Frazier OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In October 2013, I visited a wonderful book club in Morristown, New Jersey.  The event was organized by my dear elementary, junior and high school pal, Beth Carroll. There was great food and wonderful conversation!  We discussed Joan’s book and I felt like everyone there was a “kindred spirit.”

With Kathryn Sullivan Clarke, Lidia Wilimberg Minnella, Anne Marie DeVos, Maryann Weissensee Ford, Alison Dudiak, Susan S. Morrison and Carol Jacobsen Pruett.

Kathryn Sullivan Clarke, Lidia Wilimberg Minnella, Anne Marie DeVos, Maryann Weissensee Ford, Alison Dudiak, Beth Carroll, Susan S. Morrison and Carol Jacobsen Pruett.

I returned to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Thursday, June 13 at noon for a signing!

With John in front of the National World War II Museum, New Orleans. Photo by Jim Kilfoyle.

With John in front of the National World War II Museum, New Orleans. Photo by Jim Kilfoyle.

Here’s my mom’s book, Home Front Girl, front and center on the bookstore bookshelf!


National World War II Museum event coming up!

National World War II Museum!

Barnes & Noble Arbortetum, May 25, 2013.  I met lots of nice people and heard amazing stories about WWII!

“After Harry Potter:  A Reading and Workshop on Publishing Children’s and YA [Young Adult] Literature,” Swarthmore College, April 5, 2013.  It consisted of readings, Q & A, student input, and signings.  Here is an article about it from the Swarthmore Bulletin.  Josh Green, Hawaii State Senator, read from The Idea Man, I read from Home Front Girl, and prolific and award-winning Donna Jo NapoliProfessor of Linguistics at Swarthmore, read from The Wager.

Book Display at Swarthmore Event

Book Display at Swarthmore Event

Donna Jo and Josh at the reading (Susan taking photo)

Donna Jo and Josh at the reading (Susan taking photo)

You can read more about this event here.

I did a signing at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on Saturday, March 30, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. You can read all about it here.

National World War II Museum Exhibit

National World War II Museum Exhibit

Preparing for the day.

Preparing for the day at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools on Monday March 11, 2012



Here we are as Frazier and Joan.

Here we are as Frazier and Joan.

February 12, 2013

Wednesday · 12:00-1:00 pm · Location: ASBN 353 at Texas State University – San Marcos

Home Front Girl:  Global War before the Internet”

Brown Bag Lecture Sponsored by the Center for International Studies

February 7, 2013: “Bubbling with Personality”

Books & Beyond, RLTV.  This link shows you a two minute video clip from that interview.


February 2, 2013

AAUW Kerrville, TX


Chris Bradley in the AAUWsome News, Kerrville, Texas Branch AAUW Newsletter writes:  “This is a touching, important book.”

November 28, 2012:  BookPeople, Austin, TX

This event was so super! Very festive, with about 70 people gathered.  We held a raffle and some lucky folks won a diary (to start keeping their own journal) and a CD burned by my own daughter, Sarah Kilfoyle, with music that Joan mentions in the Home Front Girl.

Other excitement:  it was filmed by the RLTV cable station.  They are a cable station focused on people over 50 years old.  I’ll let you know once the filming is available for viewing. It makes sense that the Retirement Living cable station would be drawn to this book.  Numerous people during the signing wanted copies for aging or elderly family members.  As one review suggests, the book would be useful for inter-generational discussion and dialogue.

Book Display at BookPeople

Also, the most wonderful thing of all–the son of one of my mother’s many boyfriends in the book came to the reading!  He and his family –and the widow of my mom’s boyfriend — are thrilled to have this little chapter of their dad’s and husband’s life available.  Bill Knisely is the handsome beau in the book. He is so smart, it makes my mom realize she should be hanging out with more people like him.

As she writes on Sunday December 14, 1941, one week after the bombing at Pearl Harbor, “Somehow you never realize the brilliant people who go to the U—the ones who spend years in a Chem. Lab. and get Phi Kapp keys[1] and finally discover something wonderful, who never go to the Coffee Shop, really exist and have girls and friends and go to plays and drink, etc. Maybe you wonder who they do it with. Now I know . . .”  She and Bill go to a theatrical performance of the novel Native Son “We were in the midst of a red-light district in the play and I didn’t understand and had to come out in a loud clear voice, “Where is he?” and then Bill had to explain. Oh me.”

Here are some photos of the reading at BookPeople, taken by our dear friend and photo maven, Peter Brancaccio. Thanks, Pete!

[1] Phi Beta Kappa keys—the symbol of the honor society.

November 18, 2012:  BookWoman, Austin Texas

Reading to a crowd of kindred spirits at BookWoman

Signing a book for my colleague, Nancy Grayson, at BookWoman. Note the snazzy red cast on my left foot!

September 13-16, 2012:  Ethics and Children’s Literature: A Symposium at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana

My dear friend and brilliant scholar, Claudia Nelson, at Texas A & M University, alerted me to this conference where she was to be one fo the plenary speakers.  I submitted an abstract, entitled “Home Front Girl: The Ethics of Ellipses and Supporting World War II.”  It was accepted.  But as I crafted my talk as the Symposium neared, I changed it to “Home Front Girl: The Ethics of the Editor, the Protagonist, and the Reader.”

The beautiful Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University. A gorgeous building, Gold LEED Certified, that was conducive to reflected thought and discussion.

This fabulous Symposium had a diverse number of participants:  philosophers, children’s literature scholars, and children’s and YA book writers.  The talks were uniformly terrific, but even better was talking with all the participants, who were so generous with support and suggestions.  The highlights included Claudia’s typically lucid, illuminating, and witty talk on “golden deeds” literature the mid-nineteenth century until the years following the First World War.  Also Thomas E. Wartenberg from Mt. Holyoke College where he teaches a fascinating course on teaching philosophy through children’s literature.  His students even go into the public schools to guide pupils to philosophical learning via texts as various as The Giving Tree and Green Eggs and Ham.  Click here to see Tom’s website.  And be sure to check out here the amazing and charming videos of children’s philosophical discussions. Award-winning author Susan Campbell Bartoletti gave a riveting opening address.  Her contention, “Hope comes from truth,” was a recurring theme the entire weekend.

In my talk, I addressed both the ethical concerns of editing and those my mother faced as a girl facing the coming war. A student at the University of Chicago, Joan was influenced by the attitudes of Robert Maynard Hutchins, U of C president, who had a vexed relationship with the American First Committee. My mother tells about hearing his speech, “The Proposition is Peace,” against the U.S. joining the war. While she ultimately came to support our involvement, Joan’s early resistance to the U.S. entering the war, grounded in a suspicion of the easy hatred of the “enemy,” may be seen as problematic for young people who may have heard of the “greatest generation.”

One of the participants kindly told me that while I spoke the hairs on the back of her neck were trembling.  And that my mother’s work seemed as incisive and reflective as the diary by Anne Frank and the 1933 memoir, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, which has become a classic.

I had suggested in my talk that my mother was an “ordinary girl” during the Depression and the war years.  Yet one children’s literature scholar said during the Q & A, “Your mother was no ordinary girl. She was extraordinary.”  That was gratifying!

April 14, 2012:  The Story Circle Network sixth National Women’s Memoir Conference, held in Austin TX.

One of the logos for Story Circle Network

As their website states, the Story Circle Network “is dedicated to helping women share the stories of their lives and to raising public awareness of the importance of women’s personal histories. We carry out our mission through publications, a website, classes, workshops, writing and reading circles, and woman-focused programs. Our activities empower women to tell their stories, discover their identities through their stories, and choose to be the authors of their own lives.”  I met many wonderful women at this conference.

At the Open Mike night, each speaker could present for 5 minutes.  I told the audience how I found, transcribed and found a publisher for the diaries my mother had written.  Then I read about 5 entries from Joan’s diary.  Someone afterwards told me I should submit the book for awards.  I was thrilled it was received so well.

One response »

  1. Oh, dear—- There must be better words than exciting, magnificent, heart-warming, intelligent, brilliant, …….. well, there are quite a few, but none quite describe this wonderful book by such a young girl with extraordinary awareness of the world around her!!!! So superior, I just cannot find a descriptive good enough…… except thank heavens for Susan Morrison’s producing this “HOME FRONT GIRL”!!!!
    Beverly Smith
    Cottonwood AZ


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