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.
Sylvia, thank you for those intimate author stories that inspire us all to get connected with like-minded writers be it through critique groups, social media, conferences, etc. I have eight grandchildren and my favorite thing to do with them is create lifelong memories. That may take the form of baking, art, play and reading. I want to share the magic of the printed word and a lifelong love ❤️ for 📚.
Sylvia and Vivian, thanks for the interview. I got a chance to read this at Vivian’s, just yesterday. It’s a “perfect picture book”. And, did anyone else notice that it won the Lee & Low New Voices Award!!! Congratulations, Sylvia!!!
I enjoyed reading this blog post! As a kid, I loved going sightseeing in downtown Boston with my grandparents.
Boston is one of my favorite cities, Abigail…we live less than an hour away, although we don’t get there very often. So glad you have them memories…and thrilled you stopped by my blog post.
My maternal grandparents had a farm. Grandpa grew wheat and Grandma boiled the whole grains early in the morning and poured a bit of honey and milk over it for breakfast. The sweetness and chewy texture stayed with me. I boil my own whole grains now on cold winter days.
Grandparents are indeed special. I love Sylvia’s book and the sharing of cultures.
Thank you so very much, Cassie…what a lovely comment…I enjoyed hearing how you continue the tradition of boiled whole grains. My husband loves the Scottish steel cut oats…and when you drizzle them with maple syrup…oh la la…so satisfying. 😉 😉 So happy you stopped by!
Thanks, Vivian. I love this story and the relationship between generations teaching each other something new. Although they don’t realize it, my granddaughters are masters at teaching me new things everyday, especially how to use the remote controls!!!! 🙂
Isn’t it amazing how the young kids can work just about anything electronic? So glad you enjoyed the interview, Juiiana…and glad you have grandkids to help you out. 😉
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Thanks for the great interview, Vivian & congrats, Sylvia!!
I was very close to my Nonna, my paternal grandmother. She moved in with us after her husband died and lived with us until she died at 93. I have often thought of writing a PB about the times spent w/ her, and her stories. And yum for the muffins 🙂
Oh YES…definitely write that story, Maria…I need to pen some of the memories I have my grandmother…we lived with her from the time I was 10…and I baked with her every Saturday morning. I feel blessed to have had her in my life…and although it might have been difficult for my parents to share a house with her, it was heaven for me and my sister. 😉
This sounds like such a heart warming book. I can’t wait to read it. Wonderful interview, and the muffins look yummy too! Thanks.
Glad you enjoyed the interview, Linda. It is a beautiful story…and yes, the muffins ARE yummy!
Hi Ms. Liu! Can’t wait to read A Morning with Grandpa and try those muffins!
Thanks for stopping by, Erik! And I hope you get to read the book and eat some of the muffins. 😉
Nice interview! I look forward to both the muffins and the book! When we moved to Israel when i was 7 i lived with my grandma for a few months. When i went out to play, she always had a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice (from oranges off her tree) waiting!