Will Write for Cookies: Callie Metler Smith PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies








I’ve haven’t met our Will Write for Cookies guest in person yet. But I’ve shared the stage with her on picture book writing webinars and I’ve chatted with her in many Facebook forums…and I know that one day, our paths will cross and we will get to hug each other. And that will make me very happy because Callie Metler-Smith is one of the kindest, sweetest, and friendliest publishers I know. She’s the editor for Clear Fork/Spork and is responsible for a bunch of awesome books that have launched within the past year: LOLA CAN’T LEAP by Ellen Leventhal; THE MASTERPIECE by Shelley Kinder; SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH by Melissa Stoller; and so many more.

Callie Metler-Smith is the owner of Clear Fork Media Group in Stamford, Texas. She has owned the Stamford American since 2009 and Clear Fork Publishing since 2014. When not working on her corner of the Stamford Square, she is spending time with her husband, Philip and two sons, Logan and Ben.


ME: A great big welcome to you, Callie! Thank you so much for stopping by. I know everyone is anxious to hear more about you and your writerly/editorial journey.

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

CALLIE: My all-time favorite book when I was growing up was There’s a Monster at the end of this book. I remember sitting with my mom asking her to read it to me over and over again. I loved to read from the time I knew how and was passionate about the Sweet Valley High books, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I don’t remember really loving picture books until my oldest son, Logan, was born and reading with him became a key interaction between us. His favorites were the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, Click, Clack, Moo, and Skippy Jon Jones.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing and editing?

CALLIE: One of the biggest things I wish I had learned earlier was how important having a very specific mission statement of the story can really help shape the story. If your story can’t be summed up in one sentence, usually this can be an indication of too much going on with a story or that it isn’t focused enough.

In my personal writing, I also think I’ve developed an appreciation for not forcing a story when it isn’t working but instead letting it sit and develop for a while in my head before reproaching it. I think I could have saved myself many hours staring at a blank page.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen, and paper?

CALLIE: It is funny that you asked this because I use to have a very defined writing ritual when I was writing five or six news stories a week in addition to my weekly editor’s column. It consisted of spinach and artichoke dip, the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Dr. Pepper. I was also very strict about it being a No Kid Zone.


As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve noticed that for me it isn’t as much about the ritual as it is just setting clear and defined times to be creative and realize that I needed to be intentional about writing. I’m still big on it being a no interruption zone, but I’m much more laid back about the when and where. I also write in a combination of formats, but since I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year being the mom taxi to two teenage boys, I’ve fallen in love with writing on my iPhone in google drive.


ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

CALLIE: The when often depends on what I’m working on. I still tend to write news stories first thing in the morning when my mind is the clearest and focused because it is normally very technical and requires a lot of details, notes, and sometimes tape-recorded interviews. My other writing is mainly done on the weekends, usually on Sunday afternoons.


ME: Why do you write for children and/or why did you decide to become a children’s book editor/publisher?

CALLIE: Words have been one of the great love affairs of my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t pouring over a book and enjoying how the author had weaved together their story. My first career path was in the newspaper world where I really dealt with a high volume of both writing and editing. This gave way to my bookstore, which expanded my love for books and gave me a lot more knowledge of how the publishing world worked. I knew about four years before I published the first book that I was heading in that direction, but it wasn’t until I published my first Children’s book that I really fell in love the industry. The pay off from knowing that you have had a hand in putting a beautiful story into the world has a value for me that is priceless. I also really love working with authors and illustrators.



ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.

CALLIE: My biggest piece of advice for aspiring writers is to ALWAYS continue to believe in yourself. When getting feedback, take it all in and implement what rings true for you and your writing. When getting a rejection, always remember that that rejection is putting you closer to the yes and finding the person that will believe in your writing as much as you do.

Oh my goodness…Callie…this has been amazing! It’s especially helpful for us as writers to hear insights from someone who is an editor AND a writer! And I need to share with everyone in case they don’t know it…Callie is especially passionate about giving new authors and illustrators a chance…when she reads a story or sees samples from an illustrator that she loves, she does everything she can to move forward with the project. That is quite spectacular, if you ask me!

santa and son

And now, my friends, we have even more Will Write for Cookies awesomeness…Callie is providing a VERY special cookie recipe!

CALLIE: I would recommend Monster Cookies which are Logan’s favorite!


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup candy-coated milk chocolate pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a very large bowl, beat the eggs.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients in order, mixing well.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

CALLIE: Logan’s favorite part is the m&m pieces so usually, I add extra or change it up with Reece’s Pieces. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

Me, too, Callie! I just may have to make a cup of tea and scrounge around for some cookie-like treat to go with it.

Meanwhile, dear friends, please don’t forget to leave a comment because Callie is giving away not one, but two copies of HOW TO BABYSIT A LOGAN. There will be a copy given away to one person who comments on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and another copy for today’s Will Write for Cookies. Thank you so much, Callie!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. If you find yourself with a bit of free time and want to delve into the story of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, there is a discussion going on at the Missing Voices Facebook Group…and Tuesday, May 28 at 8pm Eastern time, I’ll be hanging out in a live FB chat, answering questions. I hope you’ll stop by over the next week and a half and then get your questions ready for the 28th.



Perfect Picture Book Friday: How to Babysit a Logan PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends.

We have a double-decker weekend here – a book giveaway with today’s post and another book giveaway tomorrow thanks to our Will Write for Cookies guest, author/editor/publisher Callie Metler-Smith.



Written by Callie Metler-Smith

Illustrated by Cindy Vattahil

Published by Clear Fork/Spork (2019)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Autism, pet therapy, cats

Synopsis: From Amazon

Thunderbolt the Cat takes his position of babysitting Logan, his human, very seriously. Logan has autism so it is Thunderbolt’s job to protect and provide support for Logan throughout his day. In this heartfelt true story, view the world of living with someone with autism through the eyes of their beloved Cat.

Why I love this book:

  • I love the way the cat states in a matter-of-fact way that Logan like spaghetti and meatballs without sauce, that he needs comfy clothes with particular collars, and that because he prefers to sleep in a small space, they sleep in a tent. These needs are no big deal to the cat, and so they are no big deal to any child reading the story.
  • The illustrations are very vibrant and simple…we see everything from the cat’s vantage point and so we are able to get close into the picture from the cat’s POV.
  • The best way to help kids embrace inclusivity and encourage understanding is to provide stories about people with different needs.


cat-crafts-kids-will-lovePhoto courtesy: http://www.playideas.com/25-curiously-cute-cat-crafts-for-kids/

How about TWENTY-FIVE cat crafts? Check out this website for details on each one: http://www.playideas.com/25-curiously-cute-cat-crafts-for-kids/

Did you know that some libraries allow patrons to request particular books be purchased for that libraries collection? Why not check with your library…some even let you do it online. And, when you find a book you love, why not review it on Amazon or Goodreads? Those reviews really help the author by encouraging others to buy books that entertained, educated, or inspired you.

For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities for kids, please hop over to Susanna Leonard HIll’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Thank you so much for stopping by to visit. Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of HOW TO BABYSIT A LOGAN. And definitely don’t forget to be back tomorrow for a wonderful Q&A with editor Callie Metler-Smith!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

#50PreciousWordsforKids: THE STORIES


Logo by Vicky Fang

Drum roll please!!! Strike up the band!!! It’s time to post some wonderful stories written by children!!!

When I do school visits and story hour events, there’s one thing I notice. The kids love telling their OWN stories. And that’s what #50PreciousWordsforKids is all about!

These young kids have definitely discovered the storyteller that lives in them.


Perfect Picture Book Friday: SUMO JOE Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends! I had a fabulous time at the NESCBWI conference in Springfield, Massachusetts last weekend. The keynotes were amazing…Jane Yolen, Patricia MacLachlan and Lynda Mullaly Hunt. My presentations went really well…I think folks walked away feeling they had gotten something of value. And getting to hug lots of kidlit friends was so much fun!

Today’s book  is so much fun also and it’s from one of my fellow #Newin19 teammates, Mia Wenjen who hosts the fabulous Pragmatic Mom blog.

But, before we get to the review, we owe someone a book. Two weeks ago, Jodi McKay offered a copy of her newest picture book, PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE, and the winner is: Continue reading

#50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge is OPEN!!


Logo by Vicky Fang

When I do school visits and story hour events, there’s one thing I notice. The kids LOVE listening to me read. But even more, they love telling their OWN stories. And that’s what #50PreciousWordsforKids is all about!

We want to encourage young kids to discover the storyteller that lives in them. Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends!  I’m still in Chicago, but I wanted to make sure I shared this lovely new book by Jodi McKay. Think THE DOT meets THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT. It’s a story that will encourage kids to draw for pleasure, do their best, and have fun…and it launches in just a few days. And author McKay is donating a copy of the book as a GIVEAWAY…YAY! Please make sure you leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win.


Written by Jodi McKay

Illustrated by Juliana Motzko

Published by Albert Whitman (2019)

Ages: 3-5

Themes: Do your best; art; believe in yourself

Synopsis: From Amazon:

Pencil is trying to draw the perfect picture for his dad. So, he asks his friends Brush, Pastel, Marker, Crayon, and Chalk what makes their art perfect. But they each have a different answer. How will Pencil be able to create his own perfect picture?

Why I love this book:

  • Wonderful text that will encourage discussion about tackling projects we are unsure of
  • Creative illustrations that help us connect with the main character, even though it is a pencil
  • I love that the author used art supplies as the characters to show how kids feel


Deocrated Pencils

Decorative-Pencils-Family-Craft-thediydreamer.com_Photo courtesy: https://thediydreamer.com/crafts/decorative-pencils-family-craft/

How about making the perfect pencil? For detailed instructions: https://thediydreamer.com/crafts/decorative-pencils-family-craft/

And remember, the greatest gift we can give an author is to buy their book, review their book, tell a friend about their book, and ask our local library to add the book to their colloection.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE. We’d love to hear how you felt about your art when you were a kid.

For more wonderful picture book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Please stay tuned for the #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge: April 29-May 6…if you know any teachers or parents who might want their children to participate, please pass along the information.

EARTH DAY 2019 and a few words about #50PreciousWordsforKids

Happy EARTH DAY 2019. I can hardly believe that next year will mark the 50th Anniversary. Where were you on that day in 1970? I think Stuart and I were collecting litter at one of our favorite fly-fishing spots on the Shepaug River in Washington, Connecticut.


It was a place like that which inspired me to write FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: An Animal Counting Book. And I was fortunate to have the amazing talent of Mirka Hokkanen to bring the story to life with her modern woodcuts. For more thoughts about how we can protect endangered animals, please hop over to Ronna Mandel’s blog, Goodreads with Ronna, and say hello – I’m chatting about Earth Day and the environment and why I wrote FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN in the hopes that it would encourage children to cherish their world and its wildlife.

We are all storytellers. One of the things that fills me with wonder and joy is when I interact with kids at schools, libraries, and bookstore events. They love listening to the story I read. But even more than that, they want to tell me THEIR stories.

And that is what #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge is all about.


We want to encourage young kids to discover the storyteller that lives in them.

And we also want them to understand the value of each word. Continue reading