Diana Murray: Will Write for Cookies PLUS GIVEAWAY

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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DIANA MURRAY

You guys are always hearing me rave about this amazing kid lit community. But I hope you are not getting tired of listening, because that’s how I connected with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest.

This past November, I participated in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo, and for those of you who wait with anxious anticipation for her annual challenge, you know she offers a zillion prizes for those who comment on each post and complete the pledge. Well, I won a prize package from Diana Murray…awesome swag from her forthcoming picture books…and I was blown away with the quality of her stories and the number of new books she has coming down the pike. And when I asked if she’d do us the honor of an interview, SHE SAID YES!!!! And guess what???

Because I so fell in love with her picture books, I decided to offer a copy of City Shapes which is JUST LAUNCHING NEXT WEEK!!! So after you enjoy reading the interview, please leave a comment telling us which is your FAVORITE city. One lucky person will win a BRAND NEW copy of Diana’s new book! I reviewed the book on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post, so you can check it out here.

In case you don’t know anything about Diana, I grabbed part of her bio from her website.

Diana Murray writes poetry and books for children. Her award-winning poems have appeared in magazines including Spider, Ladybug, Highlights, and High Five. Diana recently moved from the Bronx to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. She is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House literary agency.

So, without further ado, welcome Diana!!!

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

 DIANA:

I wasn’t a big reader as a child. I don’t remember reading any picture books at all. When I was a bit older, my favorite books included ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and THE GOOD EARTH, by Pearl S. Buck. Those books transported me to another time and place and the characters stayed with me long after I’d finished reading. I was also a huge fan (and still am) of Gary Larson cartoons. It wasn’t until my first daughter was born that I became obsessed with picture books. We read maybe ten books a day.

city shapes cover

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

DIANA:

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.
I wish I knew that my first manuscript wouldn’t sell. I spent about a year or two revising it every which way before finally realizing that I needed to move on. I think it’s common for new writers to get attached to a project. But it’s likely that the first thing you ever write isn’t going to be your best work. You can always set it aside and come back to it later.

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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?

DIANA:

I love to write outside on the patio when the weather is nice.

outdoor paradise

 Or even when it’s not so nice. I love the sound of rain. I prefer my laptop to pen and paper because I’m a very fast typer.

I also have an indoor writing space in the basement. It’s still a work in progress and I haven’t finished hanging all the art.

workspace

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?

DIANA:

I don’t have a set schedule. I write whenever I can. Sometimes I even write in my head while waiting in line at the grocery store.

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ME: Why do you write for children?

DIANA:

I studied child psychology in college and have always been interested in child development. Also, I discovered that reading picture books with my daughters was the most magical experience. Reading together creates a lovely moment of closeness. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being part of that experience or helping kids to become readers. Finally, kids have the most amazing imaginations. We tend to lose some of that when we get older, so I feel lucky that I still get to be part of that world.

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ME: Diana, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.

DIANA:

My biggest advice to aspiring writers is to find some good critique partners or a critique group. When you critique other people’s work on a regular basis, you start to internalize that voice and you become better at revising your own work. Also, try not to be sensitive about criticism. Let it marinate for a while before you decide whether you agree or not.

WOW! Thank you so much, Diana. I know everyone is going to get so much out of this interview.

 To find out more about Diana’s awesome books or get in touch with her, she’s got an awesome website:

http://www.dianamurray.com

And now, for everyone who has patiently waited for the sweet treat recipe at the end, your wait is not in vain. Diana has outdone herself and provided something easy-peasy enough for kids to help with! That’s always a winning idea in my book!

 

EASY SUGAR COOKIES (My 10-year old makes these herself)

 cookies

  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. of softened butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Whip together butter and sugar.
  • Stir in the flour.
  • Form the cookies into balls and place on baking sheet. Flatten them into a disc shape if you’re topping with sprinkles before baking.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden.
  • After baking, you can mix some powdered sugar and a little milk with a drop of food coloring to make colored icing.
  • Decorate with sprinkles if you like.

Thank you so much for stopping by, everyone! Don’t forget to leave a comment telling us your favorite city. And have a wonderful weekend. To all the dads, grandads, and father-figures, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

PPBF: City Shapes PLUS GIVEAWAY

Perfect Picture Book Friday…I almost missed it. And then I realized that tomorrow is Saturday…the third Saturday of the month… the Will Write for Cookies Saturday which this weekend will feature the incredible Diana Murray.

I was lucky enough to win some swag from Diana…one of the items was an advance copy of her newly launching picture book, City Shapes.  I fell in love with it!!! So I chose it for today’s review. PLUS, if you leave a comment telling us your FAVORITE city, you’ll be entered in the random drawing for a brand new copy of this brand new book!

city shapes cover

City Shapes

Written by Diana Murray

Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2016)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes: City life, shapes, curiosity

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

From shimmering skyscrapers to fluttering kites to twinkling stars high in the sky, everyday scenes become extraordinary as a young girl walks through her neighborhood noticing exciting new shapes at every turn. Far more than a simple concept book, City Shapes is an explosion of life. Diana Murray’s richly crafted yet playful verse encourages readers to discover shapes in the most surprising places, and Bryan Collier’s dynamic collages add even more layers to each scene in this ode to city living.

Why I like this book:

  • Wonderful rhyming text encourages young children to join in with the reading.
  • I’m a New York City girl, born and bred…so this book is close to my heart.
  • The illustrations are magnificent…can I say that again? MAGNIFICENT!
  • Great read-aloud.
  • Parents and teachers can use this story as a springboard for a discussion on shapes or city life.

 

Related Activies:

Take a walk with your child whether you live in the city or in the country. Observe. Discuss. Then go back home and draw pictures of what you saw. You can help your child make his or her own book by stapling the pages together. Ask your child to describe what was seen and write that on each page.

 

Have a wonderful weekend! Please don’t forget to come back tomorrow for our wonderful interview with Diana Murray. And leave a comment telling us which city is your favorite one…you might be the lucky winner of a copy of Diana’s brand new book!

PPBF: Ballots for Belva PLUS THE WINNER!

Life has gotten very busy. The WOW (Week of Writing) Retreat is only one month away. I’m so excited to see dear friends again, like Kristen Fulton, the fearless leader and founder of WOW, and connect with critique partners and other kid lit friends, many whom I’ve never met in person. I’ll also be able to hug my incredible agent, Essie White…she is one of the faculty mentors. I’ve been working feverishly on getting my manuscripts polished. Since many of them are nonfiction picture books, my library has been inundated with requests from me for mentor texts. So it was almost impossible to pick just one story for Perfect Picture Book Friday. I finally decided on one that was written back in 2008 by one of the shining lights in this kid lit community, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. With the Presidential election just around the corner, I thought it was a perfect choice.

Oh…and when you finish with the picture book review, don’t forget to keep scrolling down…because today we announce the WINNER of a brand new copy of The Hole Story of the Doughnut.

ballots for belva

Ballots for Belva

Written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Illustrated by Courtney A. Martin

Publisher: Abrams (2008)

Ages: 5-9

Themes: Determination, courage, women’s rights, Presidential election

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

“In 1884, when men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections, Belva Lockwood took a bold but legal step: She ran for president! Though her campaign was difficult, Belva never wavered in her commitment to equality, earning the respect of many fellow citizens. A little-known but richly deserving American historical figure, Belva is an inspiration for modern-day readers.” Continue reading