WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I connected with our Will Write for Cookies guest early this year and fell in love with her beautiful art and wonderful stories. (Plus, she’s an awesome person!) When she said she’d be happy to stop in to chat, I was thrilled!
Welcome, Patricia! We are so happy to have you here.
ME: What was your favorite book when you were a child?
My favorite book was THREE LITTLE HORSES. This is a wonderful story written and illustrated by Piet Worm. The little horses liked playing games that they dreamed up wearing their colorful thinking caps. An artist, wearing a tree suit, befriended them and took them to town. He disguised them in elaborate princess costumes and masks.
You might think this a strange story, but it made perfect sense to my six-year old brain and heart. My mother was a textile artist. She spun and dyed her own wool. She wove the yarn into sweaters and dresses. She also created beautiful wedding dresses. Her clients, the brides-to-be, would stand in the middle of our living room to try on their new gowns. Imagine the twirling, the billowing, the excited laughter and chatter.
So of course little horses could go to town wearing princess masks and wearing princess gowns. Better yet, an artist, like my mother, provided them. I still have the book, and will occasionally pull it down and page through it just for the joy of it.
ME: Where do you like to write and illustrate – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
I mostly write in my studio. First drafts are usually with pencil on paper. I write later versions on my computer. I often take these to my writer’s group, where I get constructive feedback. While it’s still fresh, I’ll often start improving the manuscript on the subway on the way home from Brooklyn.
I’ll almost exclusively do my illustrating in my studio, although I’ll take walks along the Hudson River to work out content, design, layout and color paletteconcerns. After sketching a dummy of my story, I’ll start painting with watercolors. I’ll scan each page spread, and then combine images in Photoshop. I also incorporate elements of collage and photography. With LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL I created ocean waves and Lou Seal with encaustic wax. If you’d like to see more of this process, look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evADOs7z068
Here I am at my drawing table.
Here are some of the art supplies I work with.
And if you’d like to see even more of my art studio and my illustration approach, look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St9cCm4T1V0
This You Tube video shows me at work on my current project, SCOOP the ICE CREAM TRUCK, (Sky Pony Press, Spring 2018).
ME: Why do you create picture books for children?
One of my greatest joys is creating art for children’s picture books—art that shows the rich emotions of feisty, assertive little girls. I illustrate independent creatures who demand to solve their own problems and expect to enjoy the rewards of doing so.
I’m especially interested in girls who run up playground slides, win watermelon-spitting contests, and dress in colorful layers. I love little girls whose voices are dainty-delicate but when they shout, trees bend back.
When visiting parks and playgrounds I discover the unique characteristics of a child by noticing how a baby’s legs hang like noodles from a carrier, how a toddler in a diaper walks like a goose, and a child can bend in positions that are a yogini’s dream.
My greatest challenge is to have a consistent character while keeping up with her ever-changing moods. Hair and clothes help keep the character looking like the same child, but over 32 pages keeping her 5 years old and not 4 or 6—or her look irritated, but not angry—is on me.
I want the world to be a place of true opportunity for girls. In my work I want to show that crying is a badge of courage, because she gave her all. Her hair and clothes are expressions of freedom, because they’re her own flag. And failure is a necessity, because she’ll never move forward without it.
Little girls intuitively know these things. I want to create books that support them from the get-go.
Here I am at Book Expo America this May sketching Lizzie wearing everything she needs for her day at the beach on her beach tool belt!
Now about those cookies, I’ve asked my wonderful husband, Francis McCall, chief cook, bottle washer, editor, my biggest supporter—and baker—to supply the recipe for the best cookies I’ve ever had, cookies I defy anyone to manage to only eat one and not go back for more!
Grandmother Gera’s Almond Crescent Cookies
1/2 pound butter
1/2 pound fine ground almonds
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
Cream the butter and sugar. Add almonds. Add 1 cup of the flour. Add vanilla. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over this mixture and mix by hand. Place a handful of dough on a floured board. Roll out a log of this mixture 1 inch in diameter. Cut off 1/2-inch slices. Roll small crescents from the slices with the heels of hands. Place the crescents on a buttered cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Slightly cool and remove. Place in container and dust with powdered sugar while still warm. Yield approximately 10 dozen cookies.
LIZZIE and LOU SEAL book
LOU SEAL necklace
HURRAY! I can’t thank you enough, Patricia, for sharing all of these insights with us. And for your generous giveaways! And for the yummy cookie recipe…Almond Crescent Cookies are one of my favorites! Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever met a cookie I didn’t like…but these are melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness!
Dear friends, if you’d like to connect with Patricia or find out more about her many wonderful books:
LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, Sky Pony Press (why not hop over and write a review?)
SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK, Sky Pony Press (Spring 2018)
Facebook – PatriciaKeelerBooks
Instagram – @patriciakeeler
Twitter – @patriciakeelerbooks
WOW…what a post! Patricia has been exceedingly generous in sharing so much of her process…we even have the YouTube videos to learn from. You definitely don’t want to leave without commenting because I know everyone would love to win the book and necklace. And don’t forget, leave a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, and you’ll be entered in THAT giveaway for a copy of the book AND the earrings.
And guess what??? The goodness just doesn’t stop because we need to announce the winners of author/illustrator Denise Fleming’s giveaway!
A copy of Beetle Bop goes to….LESLIE GOODMAN
And a copy of 5 Little Ducks goes to…MANJU HOWARD
Please contact me so I can connect you and Denise.
Phew! I think I need to grab a big glass of iced tea and a plateful of those Almond Crescent Cookies! Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends.
Hold onto your beach hats, dear friends! Wednesday was the first day of summer and today we’ve got the perfect book to celebrate that.
Plus, today’s post is extra-special because author/illustrator Patricia Keeler is giving away a signed copy of LIZZIE and LOU SEAL
a pair of Lizzie’s favorite flip-flop earrings!
Make sure you leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway!
LIZZIE and LOU SEAL
Written and illustrated by Patricia Keeler
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (2017)
Ages: 3 – 6
Independence, friendship, problem solving
What will Lizzie do when Lou Seal loses his puff?
Lizzie loves her flip-flops. They go shuffle shuffle across the rug, smack smack on the floor tiles, and thwap thwap down the stairs. Lizzie also loves her blow-up toy, Lou Seal. Lizzie and Lou Seal are off to the beach, but beach fun turns to beach disaster when Lizzie loses her flip-flops and Lou Seal starts losing air! It’s a sink or swim scenario. What will Lizzie do?
This is a beautiful book with mixed media art and a lovely retro feel, for fans of Ladybug Girl at the Beach. Children will relate to Lizzie’s independence and creative problem solving and fall in love with Lou Seal themselves. Filled with lots of fun words and sounds, this is a perfect read aloud book for parents and children alike.
Why I like this book:
- Charming, retro surroundings frame Lizzie’s seaside life.
- The text marries perfectly with the illustrations and much of the story is briliiantly told in the illustrations…kids will enjoy discovering the leak in Lou Seal way before Lizzie notices it.
- This story engages all the senses, while reeling out a picture book that is the perfect beach read as well as a great anytime read-aloud.
- A great launch pad for a discussion about water safety.
FAUX SNOW GLOBE: On The Beach or In The Ocean?
We are so lucky. Author/illustrator Patricia Keeler has created a super fun craft for the kids!
You will need: Firm yellow heavy paper, firm blue paper, Krazy Glue, 2 clear lids from 32 oz Stonyfield Yogurt, sand, glitter & LIZZIE and LOU SEAL icon sheet below.
- Print out the LIZZIE and LOU SEAL sheet. Cut out Lou Seal and icons.
- Choose which items would most likely be found on land. Choose which items would be found in the ocean.
- Draw a circle around the yogurt lid on the yellow and blue sheets.
- In the center of the yellow circle, place sand, beach items and Lou Seal. In the circle on the blue paper, place blue glitter, ocean items and Lou Seal.
- Put Krazy Glue along the circle line. Stick the lid down and let it dry.
- SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE and enjoy!
Dear friends…have a safe and wonderful weekend, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway…
make sure you leave a review for LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL on Amazon and…
…please come back tomorrow–Patricia Keeler is stopping by for our Will Write for Cookies Q&A!
WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I’m often praising the mentors in our kid lit community. They share their expertise graciously. And our Will Write for Cookies guest is one who has led the way. I was already a fan of her award-winning books when I met Denise at a writing retreat two years ago. Her workshop on paper making was filled with passion. And during our one-on-one, she pointed out important problems in the picture book manuscript I was working on at the time.
Denise, I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
My favorite book when I was a child was The Giant Golden Book of Cat Stories. It was full of stories and poems about cats. For my fourth birthday, my grandparents gave me a Siamese kitten. From then on I was drawn to anything written about cats.
I also read every issue of National Geographic magazine. The photographs and articles about places and animals, so different from my everyday experience, fascinated me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
Actually, I can’t think of anything I wish I had known when I first started writing. All the info out there now on the internet, the classes and workshops would have intimidated me when I started. I just burrowed in and started reading as many books as I could and made notes of what I liked, what appealed to me.
Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
I write most everywhere – in bed, in the tub, outside, wherever I feel comfortable at the time.
I worked on my first book in a tent in Canada with a doe keeping an eye on me.
I write on yellow legal pads with soft lead pencils.
When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?
I am not a morning person. I am an owl. Most productive work starts after 3 in the afternoon.
I do not write or make book art every day. Some days I garden, work in clay, make art dolls , read, or sketch out ideas.
Why do you write for children?
Children are open to adventure. They jump into new ideas. They enjoy animals and nature. They find butterflies and bugs interesting. They paint with abandon and laugh easily. Children are a great audience. They are my people.
ME: Denise, if you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.
Read as much poetry as you can. Not just poetry for children, but adult poetry too.
Listen for the rhythm of the language.
Think like a child.
ME: BINGO!!!! THINK. LIKE. A. CHILD.
Denise, this is a mantra I think all of us need to embrace! Thank you so very much for stopping by to chat with us and sharing your insights.
Dear readers, if you’d like to find out more about Denise and her fabulous books:
And check out her newest book, coming in Spring 2018:
And guess what? We are not done yet! I know you are all waiting for a sweet treat.
Now, about that recipe, cooking is not really a part of my life anymore.
I do suggest you take a good-sized spoon, dip it in in the peanut butter, then into the jar of Nutella. Top this spoonful of deliciousness with a honey roasted pecan half. Yum.
May be served in spoon.
HA! I LOVE THAT! NO MUSS! NO FUSS! JUST PURE YUM!
And wait…this post has ONE MORE dollop of awesomeness thanks to our lovely guest. Denise wants to do ANOTHER GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of 5 Little Ducks and you might be the lucky winner of a copy of Beetle Bop. AND, if you leave a comment on THIS post, you might be the lucky winner of a copy of 5 LITTLE DUCKS.
I told you this kid lit mentor was one of the best! Truly, Denise, your generosity is much appreciated.
and Denise’s other fab books.
Thank you all for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend and I wish a most Happy Father’s Day to all those who fill the role of a dad.