Josh Funk – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Josh Funk Selfie

JOSH FUNK

When I left Colorado Springs almost three years ago, I knew I would miss my writing buddies. But I also knew that the Boston area would be less than an hour from my new front door…and believe you me, there is a vibrant kid lit community there. After all, that’s where our Will Write for Cookies guest of honor hangs out!

Here is the skinny on Josh…in Josh’s own words:    

Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.

Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts.

Josh Funk writes silly stories and somehow tricks people to publish them as books with pictures – such as the Award-Winning LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling), as well as the forthcoming picture books PIRASAURS! (Scholastic 8.30.16), DEAR DRAGON (Viking/Penguin 9.6.16), and more.

Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.

Now…wasn’t that fun? And we haven’t even started the interview yet! Hold on to your seats, dear friends…this is going to be an exciting ride!

 

 

Welcome, Josh! I’m so thrilled you were able to stop by. I know how busy you are with book events and signings for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, preparations for book launches for your other two books coming out later this year, plus organizing for the NESCBWI conference which is coming up at the end of the month. I know you’ve got so much to share with us, so let’s get to it.

ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 

JOSH:

I’m not sure I paid too much attention to particular authors or illustrators, but I certainly had my favorite books. I loved Corduroy by Don Freeman, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, The Amazing Bone and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (although I definitely attribute the latter to causing me a bit of claustrophobia – being trapped as a rock … yikes!). I certainly enjoyed Dr. Seuss – I remember taking a lot of Dr. Seuss ‘records’ out of the library (not sure they were called ‘audio-books’ yet).

Lady Pancake Cover

 

ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

JOSH:

It’s important to learn and absorb as much as you can. Writing for children is an art form, but it’s also a business. Those are two disparate disciplines and both were relatively foreign to me.

Also, the first manuscript I wrote was terrible. The second was a little less terrible. Every story I wrote was better than the last and I probably held on too long to those first few, revising and revising when the truth was that they were probably never going to get published. I do think that going through the process of getting those first stories critiqued and revising them was a worthwhile exercise, though.

I was very fortunate that my wife found a local kid lit class/critique group very soon after I wrote my first (terrible) manuscript. Getting feedback and direction from the start was invaluable.

 

 

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

JOSH:

Laptop – on my lap, in bed. Writing isn’t my day job, so I do most of it from home. My wife is a teacher, so she gets the office.

 

ME: 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?

JOSH:

Definitely as the muse strikes. And often that’s in the middle of the night (I woke up and texted myself the “word” Pirasaurs! at 2:53 am on February 27th of 2013). Sometimes I go weeks without writing, and then I’ll write a full first draft over a weekend (like last weekend).  It totally varies.

 Pirasaurs_frontcover_hires2

 

ME: Why do you write for children?

JOSH:

The short answer: to entertain

The real answer: “books for children” aren’t only books for children. In the case of picture books (at least the ones I write), they are meant to be read by an adult to a child. So they’re also for adults (librarians, teachers, parents, etc). So, yes, I write for children, but I also write for the adult who is expected to read a child’s favorite book over and over and over and over and over again.

Also, I can’t draw (or paint, or sculpt, or any of those visually artsy things). But sometimes I get (what I think are) fun ideas that I’d love to see illustrated (like food racing around a refrigerator or a boy who is pen pals with a dragon). And since I can’t do it, the only way to make that happen is to trick a publisher to find an illustrator to do it. So far, I’ve gotten away with it and no one is the wiser to my selfishly nefarious motivations… heh, heh…

So to rephrase the question: why do I write for children and the adults who read to them? I write to entertain both the child and the parent. And myself.

 DearDragon_cover

 

 

ME: Josh, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

JOSH:

I certainly have loads of other thoughts and advice for aspiring writers, and I’ve written most of it down on the Resources for Writers section of my website:

 

Oh my gosh! This is amazing, Josh! You’ve given us all an entire course on writing picture books for children. WOW! I know that wasn’t part of the deal…but I also know that everyone is applauding…and thankful they stopped by here today.

If you’d like to connect with Josh or find out more about his books:

Website: www.joshfunkbooks.com

Twitter @joshfunkbooks.

I did a review of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast for Perfect Picture Book Friday here.

And I know you will want to try out this yummy treat recipe…anyone who can write a book about Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast must know all about sweets…just think maple syrup, honey, and jam.

Take it away, Josh!

 

DESPICABLY HEALTHY BROWNIES/CUPCAKES

Ingredients

1 Box Brownie Mix

1/2 cup unsweetened wheat germ

1 tsp ground flax seeds

1/4 cup canola or sunflower oil

3/4 cup PURPLE PUREE (see below for recipe)

(OPTIONAL) 2 large eggs OR 1/2 cup applesauce OR energy egg replacer

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with inserts (should make about 12). Or coat a baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients together until well blended (use a mixer on low speed or stir vigorously for about 2 minutes). Follow mix package directions for baking times.

 

PURPLE PUREE (makes two and a half cups)

  1. Put two 10-oz packages of frozen (or fresh) spinach in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 6 to 7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Puree spinach, 1½ cups blueberries (can be frozen), ½ teaspoon lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth for 1 minute (in chopper, food processor, blender…). If necessary, add 1 tablespoon of water to make puree smoother.
  3. You can store the extra in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, or freeze ½-cup portions in plastic bags or containers.

 

(This may have originated and been tweaked from Parenting.com: http://www.parenting.com/article/better-for-you-brownies.)

Thank you all for stopping by. Next week I’m off to Chicago for the Wild Midwest SCBWI conference so it is possible I might not be able to post again until I return. I will be back for Perfect Picture Book Friday on May 6th and we will announce three winners in the National Library Week giveaway.

To recap:

In honor of National Library Week, I’m donating THREE copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. Wouldn’t it be awesome to present a copy of this valuable parent/teacher resource to your children’s librarian? Just subscribe to my mailing list. Three names will be chosen by Random.org at the end of April. Already subscribed? No worries…your name is already entered.

Many libraries are very limited in what new materials they can buy for their collections because of reduced revenues. Help your library receive a resource that will be used by parents and teachers. Just click on this link and subscribe to my mailing list.

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

PPBF: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Is it Friday already? Oh my goodness…how time flies! Spring has finally sprung in New England…birds are singing, grass is greening, and daffodil shoots are poking out of sweet-smelling earth.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is pretty sweet also…what else would you expect from breakfast treats like pancakes and French toast that are begging to have maple syrup poured, powdered sugar sprinkled, and jam spread on them. Ooooh…now I’m hungry. And I think you will be, too, after you finish this book.

My choice is special for another reason. Tomorrow, on Will Write for Cookies, you will get to meet the author, the incredibly talented Josh Funk. It’s a powerhouse interview, jam-packed (there’s that jam again) with valuable info for all of you. And, when you finish reading this post, please hop over to Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review and related resources for parents, teachers and children.

Lady Pancake Cover

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast

Written by Josh Funk

Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (2015)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes: Friendship, teamwork

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

A thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest “food fight” ever! Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there’s ONLY ONE DROP of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast . . . even without a drop of coffee! Read the rest of this entry

Tracey M. Cox Will Write for Cookies

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

TraceyMCox

TRACEY M. COX

As I’ve mentioned many times, the connections I’ve made in this amazing kid lit community are as important to me as the actual writing. I interact with people all over the world and have even gotten to meet some of them. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting today’s special Will Write for Cookies guest of honor, but I feel I know her well through our shared Facebook groups.

Tracey M. Cox has been writing professionally since 2000. She is the author of nine picture books and has a few more under contract. Her first illustrated book, Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum In a Dish, will be release in 2016. Tracey is involved in SCBWI, the South Georgia Writers Guild, the Books Love & Taters Book Festival, and is a KidLit TV team member. I did a review of one of Tracey’s book here.

 

Welcome, Tracey! It is a pleasure having you here. We’ll get right down to the interview because I know you’ve got some great ideas to share.

ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 

TRACEY:

My favorite author growing up was my papa. No, he doesn’t have any books per say, but he would take stories and make them his own. Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Three Pigs were all heard in the house, but with a special twist. My papa was a magnificent storyteller and shared his story-magic with me. Two of his original stories, with a special twist, can now be read. They are my own stories, Ribbert’s Way Home and Liddil Gets Her Light. I’m so thankful he got to see them both in print before he passed away.

 

ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

TRACEY:

Something I wish I knew back then that I know now is that it takes time to learn your craft and it takes time to find your own voice. It’s more than writing sentences, more than having correct grammar, and more than having a beginning, middle, and end. It’s finding your own lane. Staying true to that inner you. Never giving up and always believing in that initial spark that sends you down a writing/illustrating path.

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

TRACEY:

First drafts are always on paper. Yep, I’m old school. I love the feel of putting the words out before me, to feel the flow of the words. Once I’ve gone through a few (or several) revisions, I move over to my laptop. I’m usually at the end of my dining room table, a/k/a Tracey’s Office, but will occasionally be found on the couch or outside, enjoying the country air. Sometimes it will depend where I can get some work done without my fur-babies in the way. *laughing*

Ginger

ME: 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?

TRACEY:

I don’t have a set schedule. I know many authors tell you to do this, but I don’t. It doesn’t work for me. I tried to do this, but would stare at a blank page and doodle. I write when and wherever I can. Part of this may be my sons’ fault. I started writing when I had a 7-year old, 5-year old, and a 3-month old. I learned to write in snippets… at baseball practice, during the lull time of wrestling tournaments, or whenever I could find a minute or two to jot something down. 

 

 

ME: Why do you write for children?

TRACEY:

Honestly? Because I have never grown up, and I don’t want to either. Children have a way of looking at the world and seeing the wonder of it all. Feelings are deep and true. Everyone can be on the same level. Things can be simpler, yet more complicated. I hope to write stories for them that matter, that will make a difference, that will inspire them to continue to see the world and everyone in it as one.

 

 9bookbanner

 

ME: Tracey, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

TRACEY:

Two pieces of advice
1) Don’t be afraid to go after the small publishing houses. I have three publishing houses I’ve been published with: Guardian Angel Publishing, Xist Publishing, & 4RV Publishing. All of them have treated me with respect and I have been very pleased with the end results of all my books. While they might not have the pull of the bigger houses, they sure do show some mighty love!

2) Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn! Marketing is key for the longevity of your career. It doesn’t matter if you are published with a big or small house. Marketing is falling on the shoulders of the authors and illustrators now. Have a website, blog if you like, be active on social media, network, and make friends with people in the industry. After all, kidlit-ers are some of the bestest people in the world!

 

Great advice, Tracey…and I know everyone wants to thank you so much for the inside look at your writing process.

If you’d like to connect with Tracey or find out more about her books:

Website: www.traceymcox.com

Blog: www.traceymcox.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/traceymcox

Any of you who know Tracey, know that she is a really sweet young lady…and how lucky can we get…she is sharing a really sweet treat recipe with us today!

Tracey says, “My favorite cookie recipe is for Peanut Butter w/ M&Ms Cookie.”

 

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • M&M Minis

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl mix sugar, peanut butter, and eggs until smooth. This will take a while.
  3. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet.
  4. Press to flatten
  5. Place a few M&M minis on each cookie and press into batter
  6. Place in oven and cook 10-12 minutes. Depends on oven and how done you like them.
  7. Take out of oven and place on cooling rack.
  8. ENJOY!

 

We sure will, Tracey…thank you again!

Well, dear readers, all of the prizes from the #50Precious Words Contest have been sent off. The challenge was a thrill for me…and from the many comments, I can tell it was enjoyed by all. Now that I don’t have wonderful entries to read, I’m back to writing my own stories. Right now I am working on two nonfiction picture book biographies. Later this month I’ll be traveling to Chicago to visit family as well as attend the Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference in Naperville, Illinois. I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of you there.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend…if you are traveling, please be safe.

Dan Szczesny

Travel Writer / Journalist / Author

Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's Author

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