Jessica Lawson: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway



Plate of Cookies






One of the nicest things that happened to me this summer was connecting with our Will Write for Cookies author. Jessica commented on my July review of Sophie’s Squash Goes to School sharing the story that a dead squirrel was the most unique item she had ever brought to school. I just LOVE how friendships are formed in this kid lit community.

Jessica is the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, a book that Publishers Weekly called “a delightfully clever debut” in a starred review, and Nooks & Crannies, a Junior Library Guild Selection and recipient of three starred reviews. Her latest middle grade novel, Waiting for Augusta, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection. She enjoys living in Pennsylvania, where she and her family spend weekend hours exploring backroads and discovering old stone houses and barns to drool over. She likes pizza. A lot.


I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Jessica’s middle grade novel, Nooks and Crannies (click here to read my Perfect Picture Book Friday review). Please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end.

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


My favorite picture books were by Steven Kellogg, Bill Peet, and Chris Van Allsburg. During my middle grade years, I loved Roald Dahl and LM Montgomery and stories with a nature or survival bent like A Girl of the Limberlost and My Side of the Mountain. I adored my copies of The Cricket in Times Square (George Seldon) and Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White), both of which were illustrated by Garth Nix. I had two older sisters and also read whatever they were reading, which was a lot of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books.

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


I wish I’d known about the online writing community earlier! There are so many fabulous blogs focused on children’s books (eh-hem, like this one!) that offer advice and insight about reading and writing. I also think the urge to have publication be your immediate goal is one that’s common among writers starting out. I wish I’d put a backseat to that goal early on. It was really when I stopped thinking/stressing about getting an agent/book deal and started caring very deeply about learning to write a good story that I began making significant progress.

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 generally write at the kitchen table or on the couch, but would love to have a simple writing nook of my own at some point.


I LOVE being outside, but find that I really can’t focus on writing in an outdoor environment, mostly because it makes me want to go for a walk .

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?


As a mom to young ones (and older ones- my oldest graduates from college this December, and my 2nd oldest just started college), I need to have a flexible writing style. I take notes on post-its or in notebooks or on the back of receipts whenever I get inspiration, then use my laptop girl for actual drafting writing.


I’m a morning person by nature and my best drafting time is early morning. My creative side is often useless after about 3:00 p.m., so the afternoons are best for more logistical tasks. I can’t stay up late for the life of me, so that’s out as an option.

ME: Why do you write for children?


I fell in love with reading during my middle grade years (8 to 12) and found that my heart never really left that age range in terms of my taste in books. I write for that audience for the same reasons that I still love reading it—to follow journeys, to find out what inspires me, to maintain a sense of hope for what lies ahead, and to figure out what kind of person I’d like to be.


ME: Jessica, 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.


Aspiring writers, don’t give up! Keep at it, get yourself some solid critique partners, and read, read, read  I wrote and submitted 8 middle grade manuscripts over several years, amassing a huge number of rejections (including ones for picture books and articles, etc.) before getting an agent and a book deal.  Writing is still very much a journey for me—I still get rejections and still struggle and still want to learn how to tell stories. If it’s your passion, stick with it. It’s worth it.


To parents, educators, librarians, & writers: You are raising and teaching and guiding and inspiring the future. I am grateful for you.

Jessica…I totally agree with you…critique partners are our allies…and rejection is just a part of the process that gets one step closer to successful publication.

Thank you so very much for participating in Will Write for Cookies…this was so much fun!

 And for all of you who want to find out more about Jessica and her awesome book or get in touch with her:





 And just in time for holiday baking, Jessica and her daughters are sharing a fabulous cookie recipe with us.


Gingerbread Sandwich Holiday Cookie Recipe

We call them Gingys

The recipe is adapted from The Taste of Home)


3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla frosting and colored sprinkles of your choice


In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. *If the dough seems a bit dry, add milk or heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until moistened.

 Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or until easy to handle.

 On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness (FYI, I prefer slightly thicker than that). *If you let the dough come closer to room temperature, it will be easier to handle. Cut in small circles (I use inverted juice glasses). Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle half with colored sugar sprinkles of your choice (my hubby likes them plain).

Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Spread plain gingerbread circles with frosting and top with sprinkled circles. Enjoy!


 WOW…this is just in time. My three-year old granddaughter will be here for Christmas and yesterday on the phone, she asked if we could make gingerbread cookies. Thanks a million, Jessica!

And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Jessica’s book. What was the scariest place you ever went to when you were a kid?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…please don’t forget to visit Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest post…there are so many great original stories to read.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on December 10, 2016, in Giveaway, Holiday Dessert Recipe, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. For the life of me, I can’t think of a scary childhood place. Maybe the new school I went to the first day of 7th grade. Ugh! Vivian, thanks for introducing me to Jessica. Someone who love Dahl & Montgomery must be a younger sister of mine! 😉 And, as you said, these cookies are perfect to make with my granddaughter. I look forward to reading Jessica’s books and wish her all the best in her career.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually so glad you don’t have many scary things from your childhood, Jane…and truthfully, junior high was scary for me as well. 😉
      So happy you enjoyed the interview…and hope you get to read some of Jessica’s wonderful books.


  2. I recently read Jessica’s book, “Waiting for Augusta,” and I absolutely loved it! I grew up in Augusta, and the scariest place I ever went as a kid was the aquaduct, where there were a couple of dark tunnels. There was graffiti on the walls and Satanic symbols. It was rumored that rituals went on there. That might not have been true, but it was spooky!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love all of Jessica’s books! They are all very different, yet all feature her unique and familiar storytelling voice. Childhood adventure is a common theme…which brings me to my scariest childhood location. There was an alley a few houses down from ours that connected our street to the street behind ours. It was dark, creepy, and endlessly long and I would always run through it hoping not to come across any smoking high school kids. A leisurely walk it was not, but it was always an adventure cutting through that alley.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow…you described that as if it happened yesterday, Mimi…it definitely made an impression on you. I will have to try to get Jessica’s other books…and you are right…a great writer has a way of putting their imprint on the books that they write. 😉


  4. books, author interview, AND cookies! what’s not to love! Thanks for the inspiration, Jessica. Will keep on collecting rejections…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved hearing Jessica’s story. It’s so fun to learn about the journey of author’s and the perseverance it takes to get books in the hands of children. Looking forward to reading her new book and trying her recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The scariest place I went to as a child was the yard behind my grandmother’s house. We had to walk through a wooded area to get to the large cages where the neighbors kept their dogs. (I thought that was creepy – why have dogs and keep them in cages?) My grandmother always fed them dinner scraps, and I would accompany her.
    I had a reoccurring dream (that I STILL remember) where a witch would chase us through those woods. I didn’t let that stop me from visiting the dogs with my Grandma, even though I was scared every time we went through those woods!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Christina Dwivedi

    First of all, love the covers for each of Jessica’s books. I’ve seen them before and want them on my bookshelf. Middle grade is the best.

    The scariest place I went to as a kid…hmm…it’s similar to some of the other answers! It was part of a walk from one friend’s house to another friend’s house. We had watched Unsolved Mysteries about an alien, the typical green face kind with big eyes. Big mistake. Then we had to walk back to our other friend’s house, past a dark piece of land. It wasn’t very far at all. But in our minds, it was the scariest, biggest area we ever had to pass by. We ran every time, after watching the show. 😀

    Thanks for cookie recipe too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christine…thank you for stopping by and special thanks for relating your scary story. My scariest walk was actually just down the hallway to the bedroom I shared with my sister in the house where I grew up. It was only scary after my sister and I had watched Alfred Hitchcock Presents…we’d hold hands as we walked down the hallway. I’d beg her to let me share her bed, even though we shared a room and each had our own twin bed.


  8. I love the covers of Jessica’s books and look forward to reading them. What a spectacular debut! And excellent advice on focusing on the craft rather than publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I enjoyed the interview, Vivian. I agree with her advice of never giving up. And at the moment I can’t remember a scary place from my childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for introducing us to Jessica, Vivian. I appreciate her encouraging comment to keep on writing, that writing is a journey. It’s always great to hear about other good books to read; and her gingerbread cookies sound and look delicious. I’m sure your granddaughter will love them!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great interview Jessica! This cookie recipe looks delicious! The girls and I will have to make some! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful interview, Vivian & Jessica. Such great advice to focus on craft and persevere on the journey of writing.

    As for scary places, I can still remember my grandfather’s heart attack on the basement stairs when I was 4 (although I’m not sure cupid was visible to everyone else there) & I avoided the basement after that. I also was scared of my bedroom closet, the one with a monster in it (I still can’t sleep with open closet doors). We also lived down the street from a cemetery & it was a popular spot to play. And my family wonders about all of my “irrational” fears!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great interview, Vivian. Jessica, thank you for sharing some details about your writing habits. Your encouragement is much appreciated! Looking forward to reading your books!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I enjoyed this interview with Jessica. I love hearing specifics about writers’ individual creative processes and habits. It somehow makes them seem more real — and makes achieving publication seem more doable 🙂
    In answer to the question, the scariest place I went to as a child was probably the doctor’s office. It sounds lame, but they utterly terrified me, and continued to terrify me well in to adulthood!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are not the only one to be scared by a doctor’s office. 😉 I’m actually not too fond of the dentist either. 😉
      And yes, it’s so helpful to hear about other journeys on this writing path…if we keep at it…it will happen!!! Thanks so much for stopping by…I hope you’ll come again. 🙂


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