WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
When I was new to this kid lit community, several names appeared frequently in blog post comments and writing challenges. These people seemed to have a confidence…a sense of knowing what they were doing. They were helpful, generous, and they made me feel so welcome. Sylvia Liu was one of those special people.
Sylvia Liu is an environmental attorney turned author and illustrator. Her debut picture book as an author, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books 2016) was the 2013 Lee & Low New Voices Award winner. She is inspired by her family, oceans, cephalopods, aliens, penguins, and more. Visit her website at http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com. She is the co-founder of the kid lit resource website, www.Kidlit411.com.
So, dear readers, now you know a little bit about Sylvia…and, by the end of this interview, hopefully you will know more.
Sylvia…I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Sylvia’s brand-new book, Mornings with Grandpa, which I reviewed yesterday for Perfect Picture Book Friday. To be entered into the giveaway, please leave a comment at the end and share something you loved doing with a grandparent or something you enjoy doing with your grandchildren.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Even though English wasn’t my first language (Chinese was), my mom took my sister and me to the library all the time to check out books. I don’t remember specific picture books I loved (other than the Dr. Seuss), but I fell deeply in love with stories like CHARLOTTE’S WEB (E.B. White), A WRINKLE IN TIME (Madeleine L’Engle), WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (Wilson Rawls), and THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER (E.L. Konigsberg). I stumbled across Andre Norton’s science fiction stories and that turned me onto a whole world of sci-fi and fantasy (Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Frank Herbert).
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
I wish I had found a critique group sooner, though if I had, I wouldn’t have found my wonderful current group. I spent a lot of time writing and revising with little outside feedback, which resulted in a slow start and lots of wheel spinning.
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?
I usually write at my computer in my study, but I keep a sketchbook in my purse. I jot notes, random musings, and first drafts in the sketchbook. I sometimes write in my Notes app on my phone while waiting at one of my girls’ sports practices.
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?
Usually, I spend at least a morning or an afternoon each day on creative pursuits, whether writing or illustrating. Sometimes I will go days without writing because I’m focused on illustrating, while other days, it’s the reverse.
E: Why do you write for children?
To spread the love – to help other children discover the love of reading that I enjoyed as a child.
ME: Sylvia, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that writers might want to hear.
My advice to writers has been said by many, but I’ll reiterate: read, read, and read some more. Write from your heart. Learn the craft. Connect with other writers. Never give up!
Wow…thank you so very much, Sylvia. Each one of your tips for writers would make an excellent poster to hang up for inspiration!
And here’s something else that will give many of you some inspiration for those left-over bananas that no one will eat…Sylvia’s recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
This is quick and easy recipe that takes 30-35 minutes to make from start to finish.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 or 1½ bananas, the riper the better
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (substitute ½ cup of chopped walnuts if you prefer)
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven 400 degrees
- In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together: egg (lightly beaten with fork), bananas (mashed), milk, and oil.
- In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir together until just moistened. Do not overmix.
- Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
- Grease a muffin pan or use cupcake cups in a muffin pan. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Yum! I will definitely be making these!
To connect with Sylvia or to find out more about her book or her art (yes…Sylvia is an illustrator as well as an author:
Please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Sylvia’s new picture book. Just tell us something special you remember doing with a grandparent or something you love to do with your grandchildren. And if you are able to share the post on social media, more people will be inspired by Sylvia and get a chance to win a book.
I hope you all have a beautiful weekend…I’m off to Gardner, MA for an SCBWI ENCORE writing workshop program with Mona Pease and Beth Gallagher.