Jane Yolen – Will Write for Cookies






JANEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple


Anyone who is active in the kid lit community is familiar with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor. In fact, anyone who loves picture books has probably read several of the over 300 books she has written. Not only is she extremely talented and prolific, she is also one of the most generous and supportive mentors you will ever meet. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Jane agreed to share some of her thoughts here.

Thank you so much, Jane. You always have so much going on in your life, both personally and professionally, so we won’t waste any time. I know everyone is anxious to find out more about you.

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


  1. Andrew Lang, whom I thought wrote the Color Fairy Books, all twelve of them, only I have recently (as in the last couple of years) come to understand that his wife did all the work. But as he was the well-known folklorist and jack of many genres–this was Edwardian times in England–the publisher used his name.2. Louisa May Alcott–everything she wrote but especially Little Women and Under the Lilacs.3. James Thurber, a toss up between Thirteen Clocks and The White Deer. (And if you make me make a choice, I will have to slit you from your guggle to your zatch.) It didn’t hurt that he was a friend of my dad’s.4. Also I adored my parents’ copy of the illustrated Rubiyat of Omar Kayyham, probably more for the pictures than the poetry, to be honest.5. As many Wizard of Oz books as I could get my hands on.6. And every single dog and horse book every written for kids!!!



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

JANE: That editors may like my work but it was a mistake to become best friends with them since in the end, they work for a publisher and have to side with where their pay check comes from. When I saw the second (I think it is) Godfather movie and the good fellas are taking one of the Don’s men out to shoot him, in the car one turns to him and says, “I like you, but this is just business.” I think of that when an editor gets overruled on buying one of my books or keeping it in print.



ME: Where do you like to write: inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

JANE: On my lap top wherever I am sitting at the time. Mostly either in bed first thing in the morning (5 a.m.-ish) or in the tv room since I can no longer (bad back) sit at a desk.
ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write when the muse speaks?

JANE: I work every day, usually about 4-6 hours. Though when things are going well, I may work for ten straight. But not all of that is fingers on the keys. A lot is thinking time, smelling the roses time, watching the birds, watching a tv show or movie. Or day dreaming.

ME: Why do you write for children?

1. Why not?

2. Inside I am still a child. Outside I am an old woman. This split personality works well for me.

3. Children are the greatest audience, and the most honest. They don’t like a story, they start playing with a toy, throw the book across the room, walk away from the storyteller, fall asleep withouot apology. They like a book, it’s “Another chapter. . . please.”



ME: Please feel free to share any tips that will help aspiring writers/illustrators.

My mantra is “Butt in the chair, heart on the page.” Also, “Stop talking about the book/story/poem/factual piece/lyrics/memoir you’re going to write when you find the time. There is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is. . .to sit down and do it. Everything else is a fantasy.” 


This has been fantastic, Jane! I love your down-to-earth, commonsense approach to writing. I especially appreciate your realistic take on time-management – yes, ‘there is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is…to sit down and do it’…that is the truth, Jane!


And now Jane is sharing with us a VERY special recipe – it appears in How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies.

RECIPEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

It looks like the bottom of the recipe photo got cut off – I believe the last lines are: Bake for 9-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove pan and cool a few minutes before taking the cookies off. Store in air-tight container.

Please join me in thanking Jane for taking the spotlight today! We are so fortunate to have generous mentors like her, who share their expertise and experience with us.


To learn more about Jane and her incredible books, please visit her website: http://janeyolen.com/

39 thoughts on “Jane Yolen – Will Write for Cookies

  1. Oh, I was so busy sharing this … I forgot to “write” a comment. Thank you Jane. I really love this tip: My mantra is “Butt in the chair, heart on the page.” Also, “Stop talking about the book/story/poem/factual piece/lyrics/memoir you’re going to write when you find the time. There is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is. . .to sit down and do it. Everything else is a fantasy.” … Thanks Vivian for this fun series.


    • You are awesome, Stacy! Always sharing resources for everyone – and pinpointing special stuff for me. It’s Sunday – a perfect time to express my gratitude to you for your faithful help and support. 🙂 I’m glad you liked the interview with Jane – and are enjoying the series. 🙂


  2. Lovely interview, Vivian and Jane! Why write for children? I love answer #2! I haven’t seen this dinosaur cookie book yet. I’ll have to read it. I own some of the others in this series.


    • I hope you get a copy of the book, Tina – what fun it is. 🙂 I’m working my way down the comments – it’s Sunday and I am finally getting a moment to respond. I want to express my thanks and gratitude for your continued encouragement and awesome critiques. I feel very fortunate to have connected with you and pb writers. 🙂


    • Isn’t Jane amazing? She knows that whatever we are doing, we can segue it into a picture book. 🙂 Thanks so much, Genevieve, for always stopping by to read my blog and comment – I am truly grateful.


  3. Vivian, a wonderful interview. I’m reading it early morning, and Jane, your thoughts are like a writer’s “devotional” which I wish I had a whole bookfull of to start my writing days. Thanks for your encouragement and inspiration.


  4. What, no Time Fairy? Well, no wonder I haven’t been getting the work done. Great job, Vivian! And thank you for this interview. “But in chair, heart on the page.” Indeed. INDEED!


  5. Thanks, Vivian and Jane. Unlike you, Jane, I ran from any book (or movie or TV show) with dogs or horses, my favorite animals when I was a kid. I couldn’t bear to see them hurt or die. Must come from seeing horses fall in all those westerns my brothers would watch, or seeing Lassie fall in the well one time too many.

    Funniest line in this interview: “Store in an airtight container.” Any cookies baked in this house never make it to a container.


    • You have a kind heart, Carol. 🙂 As a kid, I, too, was very sensitive and cried through most of the books I read. 🙂

      I agree about the cookies in the container – they don’t last long in our house either! Thanks for stopping by…I’m so glad you enjoyed Jane’s words of wisdom!


    • Thanks so much, Rebecca! I know many teachers and parents tell the kids to stop ‘daydreaming’…but as Jane points out, we need to do that more. 🙂 I’m so happy you stopped by to read the interview…and really appreciate the great comment.


  6. One of my all-time favorite writing books is Jane’s TAKE JOY: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO LOVING THE CRAFT. I have bought more copies of this wonderful book to give as gifts to writing friends, and we all agree it’s a rare jewell in the writing world.


  7. Thanks so much, Jane and Vivian, for this marvelous interview. I’m so grateful to learn that Jane considers “working” to include thinking time, smelling the roses time, watching the birds, watching a tv show or movie, and day dreaming. Not just time with “fingers on the keys.” It’s true that some of the most inspired moments happen when the butt isn’t in the chair. I lose sight of that too often. And sometimes don’t get out of the chair enough. Thanks for the reminder that stories need to percolate in all kinds of ways!


    • You’ve got that right, Sarah! I, too, spend much too much time with butt in chair – my husband thinks my fingers are actually an extension of the computer keys. 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!


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