WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I’m always talking about the wonderful kid lit community I belong to – filled with incredibly talented and dedicated people. And every day I meet more of them. Recently, I discovered a blog which is a super resource for parents and teachers – Frog on a Blog – and I connected with its creator. When I found out the she had a DEBUT PICTURE BOOK coming out this fall, I knew I’d be inviting her to step into the Will Write for Cookies spotlight. And when my May guest, Katie Davis, needed to exchange her May interview for October, I was thrilled that Lauri was ready, willing and able to step in and fill the spot.
Lauri grew up in the village of Canastota, NY with four older siblings and a twin sister. She tried various careers (she was a horse groom for two years and a floral designer for ten years) before becoming a Library Assistant. She is also working hard to grow her career as a picture book author. Her debut book The Peddler’s Bed is set to be released on September 1, 2015 by Ripple Grove Press. The illustrator is Bong Redila. She also has a digital picture book coming out soon with MeeGenius called The Dinosaur Tag Survival Guide. Lauri is a member of SCBWI, ALA, CBI Club House, and the Picture Me Published critique group, and she’s an avid blogger. She lives in DeWitt, NY with her husband and Lhasa-mix dog Java.
I’m so happy to have her here to share her thoughts with us.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Hmm…I don’t know that I have favorite authors or illustrators from childhood, but there are a few books that stick in my memory. I loved Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library with the four tiny books. Last year, I visited the gorgeous Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts and they happened to have the set for sale in the gift shop, so I purchased one, since my original set is long gone. It’s like having an old friend back again.
Another book that I loved as a child is The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown. In fact, I loved the pictures so much that I almost cut them out of the book! Luckily, I thought better of it and stopped myself after inflicting just one tiny snip on one of the pages. I wish I still had that copy.
I do, however, still have my absolute favorite book from childhood, Jolly Old Santa Claus. It was published in 1969 by Ideals Publishing Co. Interestingly, there’s no author listed, but the editor was Maryjane Hooper Tonn and the illustrations, which enchanted me then and still enchant me today, were done by George Hinke. It’s just a little slip of a book, and it’s worn, but it’s beautiful and I’ll cherish it forever.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
This is a tough one. I’m constantly learning something new about the world of children’s book publishing even now. But I do wish I had known that agents are more likely to represent your work if you are both an author and an illustrator, as opposed to just an author of picture books. That’s not to say that I would have been successful as an illustrator, but about ten years ago, when I first began writing with the intent to be published, I had an interest in art and took a basic art class. I even did quite well. Back then, though, I never gave a thought to finding an agent or to what agents were looking for in a client. Ultimately, I left drawing behind to pursue other endeavors.
Now, I’m just too busy working as a Library Assistant and trying to grow my writing career to take up art again, and as all good artists will tell you, art is something you must practice every day (for years) in order to become proficient, just like writing. That being said, there are a few agents out there who do represent picture book authors, and I’m hoping to find one in the near future.
ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?
I write primarily at my desk in my little office. But I’m hoping that someday my husband and I will have a house with a front porch. I would enjoy sitting on a front porch with my notebook and pen or my laptop, writing, taking in the fresh air, and listening to the sounds of the neighborhood. (With my dog at my side, of course.)
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?
Since I’m still working full-time as a Library Assistant at my local public library, my writing is done mostly in the evenings. I have a little more flexibility on the weekends, but still most often sit down to write in the evenings after everything else I need to get done that day is done. I’m usually working on something writing related (revising, critiquing, blogging, researching, submitting, etc.) between 7 pm and 9 pm. Upon occasion, and it seems to happen when I’m getting ready for work in the morning, and I’m usually tired and possibly in a rush, the muse will hit me with a story idea and then I must stop everything and get it down on paper before I lose it, even if it means I’ll be a few minutes late for work.
ME: Why do you write for children?
Honestly, the reason I decided to write picture books is because I love everything about them, including the delightful stories, the beautiful artwork, the smell of the paper, the feel of the cover and the pages, and the fond memories they elicit from childhood. My love for picture books, combined with my love for writing, fueled my desire to write my own picture book stories. And if my books can spark something in a child, whether it is an interest in reading, in writing, or in picture books as an art form, or if my stories simply make a child smile, I would be thrilled beyond measure.
ME: Please feel free to share any tips that will help aspiring authors.
To aspiring authors, I would say, don’t give up. If you love to write, if writing’s in your blood, if you can’t imagine not writing, and your dream is to be published, then don’t give up. After eight years, I was finally offered my first contract. You’re probably thinking, whoa, that was a very long time. Yes, and believe me when I say that those eight years, of waiting and hoping and collecting rejections, were also very discouraging. I considered giving up many times. I questioned my writing ability and even my worthiness to be published. But I didn’t quit because I love writing picture books and my dream was to be published. And now I am so glad I didn’t give up.
Also, I highly recommend joining a critique group. I would be lost without the help of mine. My stories have improved astronomically thanks to the thoughtful suggestions of my three group mates, Sarah, Jess, and Brooks. Don’t worry if the first one you join doesn’t feel right, you can always politely drop out and search for another.
And lastly, be sure to read lots and lots of books in the genre in which you’re writing, especially new ones. I bring home dozens of new picture books from the library every month. It’s important to read lots of them, not just to see what publishers are publishing these days, but also to really get a feel for the format.
Thank you so very much, Lauri! I know everyone joins me in a well-deserved round of applause. You shared so much about your writing life. The fact that you’ve been plugging away for eight years will give many of us hope as we see that success does come to those who wait. Your debut picture book that I reviewed yesterday https://viviankirkfield.com/2015/05/15/perfect-picture-book-friday-the-peddlers-bed/ is proof of that! We all look forward to seeing many more of your books on bookstore shelves.
If you’d like to connect with Lauri or find out more about her books:
Whoo-hoo! Even though I’m always sorry when the interview is over, there is a sense of joy and anticipation because I know what comes at the end.
That’s right – the yummy treat recipe! Here’s one of Lauri’s favorites:
CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER NO-BAKE COOKIES
This is a very simple and delicious recipe I remember my mom making when I was growing up. We used to call them refrigerator cookies because we stored them in the fridge for several days (if there were any left).
There are various versions of this recipe online, but this is the one my mom made:
Have Ready In Large Bowl: 2 cups quick oats and 1 teaspoon vanilla
Have In Cup: ½ cup peanut butter
Have On Table: waxed paper, 2 spoons (teaspoons for dropping cookies onto waxed paper)
Bring To Boil: 2 cups sugar, 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, dash of salt
Boil 1 ½ minutes, stirring occasionally
Remove From Heat
Stir In Peanut Butter
Pour Over Oats In Bowl
Drop Quickly By Spoonfuls Onto Waxed Paper (they set very quickly, ingredients won’t stick together once set)
Store For Up To Two Weeks In Fridge
Makes About 1 ½ to 2 Dozen Cookies
YAY! Thank you so much, Lauri…I used to make a no-bake peanut butter ball…but adding chocolate ramps it up to a whole other level…I’m going to make this with my grandson this weekend!
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
Last month I invited readers to sign up for my newsletter. I apologize for not getting out the spring issue (too much on my plate), but I do want to make good on my promise to donate five copies of Show Me How to the libraries of people who signed up.
Congratulations to: Penny K, Jackie (Bee Bee the clown), Tabby, Sandy (Sound of Wings) and Robin N. I’ll be emailing you this weekend to ask for your addresses so I can mail you each a copy of Show Me How to present to your local library. I know some libraries are funny about donated books – some love them (especially these days with reduced library budgets), but some have strict rules. If your local library doesn’t accept donated books, please pass it along to a family shelter, literacy organization or preschool in your area.
Now I have a BIG favor to ask of the winners. Please look the book over before you donate it – I would very much appreciate a review on Amazon. In fact, if any of the winners have a use for the book themselves, please let me know and I will send you two copies, one for the library and one to keep.
I’m working hard to get the word out about Show Me How – it is such a valuable book for parents, teachers and anyone involved in the care and and education of young children – lots of reviews on Amazon translates to more people seeing the book and buying it and using it. So I’m issuing an open invitation to ALL of my newsletter subscribers (in the US…sorry, international postage is so very expensive and I just can’t handle that – if you are outside the US and are willing to pay the postage, I will be happy to send you a copy) who don’t already own a copy. If you will write a review on Amazon and give the book a shout out in your social media channels, I will be happy to send you a copy. Just leave a comment on this post or email me: viviankirkfield@ gmail.com. And if you aren’t a subscriber yet, a quick click will fix that: http://eepurl.com/8pglH and leave a comment that you subscribed and would like a copy to review. I’m going to keep this offer open till the end of the month, so don’t delay.
And in the words of Porky Pig – that’s all folks! Have a lovely weekend! I hope to get out and plant flowers and veggies with my grandson and get some manuscripts ready for the WOW retreat critiques…what are your plans?