Andrea J. Loney Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies






I met our Will Write for Cookies guest in Picture the Books 2017, a group of authors and illustrators who have debut picture books coming out this year. And Andrea has not one, but TWO picture books debuting in 2017.

Andrea J Loney’s picture book BUNNYBEAR, (Albert Whitman & Company, January 31, 2017) is about a bear who believes in his heart that he is really a bunny. Her upcoming debut picture book, TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE! (Lee & Low, May 2017), is a New Voices Award-winning picture book biography of the legendary black photographer of the Harlem Renaissance, and a third book is coming in 2019. A community college instructor with an MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University, Andrea is also a proud volunteer for Reading to Kids and the We Need Diverse Books campaign. She lives in sunny Los Angeles, California with her devoted family, embarrassingly spoiled pets, and towering stacks of picture books.

And guess what? Andrea is sharing some more great news:

pw-announcement-of-third-bookWOW! Congratulations, Andrea…that is fantastic! You are on fire!

Before we begin our Q&A, I want to remind everyone that if you leave a comment on this post, you will be entered into the giveaway for a brand new copy of BUNNYBEAR…I’ve seen it (and reviewed it here for Perfect Picture Book Friday). You definitely want to have this book on your shelf.


So, without further ado, let’s welcome Andrea!

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


As a child, I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on – The Snowy Day, A Whistle for Willie, Corduroy, Where the Wild Things Are, all kinds of poetry, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Prince, The Lord of the Rings, The Encyclopedia Britannica; authors Virginia Hamilton, Rosa Guy, Ray Bradbury, Judy Blume, E B White; and all the comic strips I could find. I loved these stories because they allowed me to travel through time and space to other worlds and cultures.

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


I first tried writing children’s books fifteen years ago, and gave up in despair after about a year and a half. I wish I’d known back then how invaluable an active membership to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) could be – the critique groups, monthly free events, paid local events, national conferences, and even the Bulletin newsletter made a huge difference in my growth as a children’s author.

I also wish I’d known that part of the secret to publication, at least for me, was to write, rewrite, and revise as many polished manuscripts as possible, so that when opportunity knocked, I was ready for it. It’s not that all of those manuscripts were even publishable, it’s that the process of writing (and sharing) dozens of stories improved my craft draft by draft. 


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?


While my work desk is in a lovely, fairy light-festooned, cobalt blue room called The Imaginarium, I write pretty much everywhere. My little pink computer (named Seraphine) fits in my purse, so I tend to wander all over the house as I write. When I write standing up, I put the laptop on the kitchen counter next to the fishbowl – along with the cats, my betta fish loves being part of the creative process.


Outside of the house, I write in our backyard with friendly bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies fluttering around – sometimes it makes me feel like a Disney princess. I live 25 minutes away from the famous Santa Monica Beach in California, so sometimes I write by the ocean. But honestly I can work pretty much anywhere – in my car, a café, a hotel lobby, the faculty lounge at my college, anywhere.


For the past decade or so I have been fairly obsessed with Pilot pens, specifically the G2 gel ink pen. I stash them everywhere. And I always carry a notebook of some sort. And journals –I love blank journals with gorgeous covers. Like many writers, I have half a library of pretty blank books, still untouched.


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?


My favorite time to write is between the hours of 11pm and 3am, but that’s not always feasible for the days I teach 7 am classes. I mean, I’ve done it anyway, but sure I don’t recommend it! So sometimes I get up at 5 am and write until it’s time to go to work. I like writing when the world is dark and quiet so I can color it with my own imagination. But when I have time between classes or days between classes, I generally use that time to write.

While I cherish the romantic concept of the muse and do my best to entice her (mine likes flowers, green tea, and fairy lights), deadlines motivate me more than anything. Sometimes the muse graces me with her presence and it’s like magic, but I show up to work on my stories whether she is there or not. My deadlines come from my agent, editors, competitions, online challenges, and contests. Also, belonging to a few critique groups means that I am constantly generating new material to share with others. I may not write every single day and some days I only write for fifteen minutes or so. But I rarely go more than two days without writing, revising, or brainstorming something.

ME: Why do you write for children?


Over the years, I’ve been a poet, a playwright, a screenwriter, and a television writer, yet becoming a children’s book author was always my dream. Why? It was through picture books that I fell in love with words, reading, and the whole world around me.

Also, when I was in the second grade, my family moved from a big city with many folks of all ethnicities to a small town with few people of color. I had a hard time fitting in. So, I escaped my fear and sadness by reading. Books were always there for me. Books delighted me. Books saved me. By the third grade, I vowed that when I became an adult, I would never forget how it felt to be a little kid and that I would write the kind of stories that I’d wished were available when I was a child – stories that embrace and celebrate the humanity of all children.


ME: Andrea, 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.


For aspiring writers:

At my first SCBWI national summer conference in Los Angeles, I heard SCBWI president Linn Oliver refer to the people in the room as published writers and pre-published writers. That moment was a turning point for me. Once I saw myself as “pre-published,” the “getting published” part felt inevitable.

I also took action to back up that feeling – I joined critique groups, attended SCBWI events, joined Facebook groups like Sylvia Liu’s KidLit 411 and Kristin Fulton’s WOW NonFicPic, and online challenges like Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge and Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (formerly known as PiBoIdMo).

The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that the kid lit world can be exceptionally kind and generous. Immersing myself in this community has made all the difference for my career. So join in the fun, because there is a child out there waiting to read a story that only you can tell.

Hurray, Andrea…joining in the fun is the best way to learn and grow. It encourages us to write and revise and submit…and that’s the way we will get our story to the child who is waiting for it. I totally agree with you. Thank you so very much for participating in Will Write for Cookies…this was so much fun!

To connect with Andrea and find out more about her awesome books:


She is also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @andreajloney.

And now something REALLY special…Andrea has shared a unique treat. When I asked her for a cookie recipe, this is what she said:


I don’t bake cookies, mostly because I’m so good at eating them – often too many of them – and then staggering around the house moaning, “Why, oh, why did I eat all the cookies?”

But if I want a quick, easy, tummy-friendly treat, sometimes I whip up a gluten-free mug cake. There’s only six ingredients and it takes ninety seconds to make in a microwave. Best of all, all I have to clean afterwards is a fork, a spoon, and a mug.




 Prep time:  2 mins

Total time:  2 mins

Serves: 1


1 Large Egg

1 Tbsp. Almond Flour

1 Tbsp. Coconut Flour

2 Tbsp. Chocolate Chips

2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1 Tsp. Vanilla


Crack the egg into the mug and whip with a fork.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the mug and mix well.

Microwave on High for 1½ minutes.

If the cake is still too squishy, microwave again in 30 second increments until firm.



 And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Andrea’s BUNNYBEAR. If you could be any animal in the world, which would you be?

THIS JUST IN…Susanna Leonard Hill has announced her famous VALENTINY CONTEST:

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Next week, we’ll be reviewing another 2017 debut picture book, BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, and the author, Annie Silvestro, will be our Will Write for Cookies guest. Such richness…this is going to be a stupendous year for picture books. The journey is all the more fun for having you along.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: BunnyBear

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Have I got a treat for you!

One of the FIRST picture books of 2017!



Written by Andrea J. Loney

Illustrated by Carmen Saldaña

Publisher: Albert Whitman (January 2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3


Acceptance, friendship


From Amazon:

Although Bunnybear was born a bear, he feels more like a bunny. He prefers bouncing in the thicket to tramping in the forest, and, in his heart, he’s fluffy and tiny, like a rabbit, instead of burly and loud, like a bear. The other bears don’t understand him, and neither do the bunnies. Will Bunnybear ever find a friend who likes him just the way he is?

Opening Lines:

“There was once a bear who was more than a bear.”

Why I like this book:

  • I love books that help kids accept who they are…and Bunnybear does exactly that.
  • The gentle humor will be enjoyed by young listeners and appreciated by adult readers.
  • The illustrations marry perfectly with the well-written text.
  • My favorite line? ‘When I see you, I feel more like me.’



fuzzypaperplatebear-mainpicPhoto courtesy

I’m a big fan of paper plate crafts…quick and easy for parent and child…and so much fun. Why not let your child be creative…maybe his bear will have bunny ears. For a very simple bear plate, you will need 1 paper plate, construction paper, scissors, glue, and markers or crayon.

  1. Cut ears, nose, and eyes from construction paper.
  2. Color the plate with crayons or markers.
  3. Glue the features onto the face.
  4. Display your child’s work proudly. You can also use it for role playing.

More instructions here for a fuzzy bear:

JUST OUT: Trailer for BunnyBear:

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers and writers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

And please stop by here tomorrow for our Will Write for Cookies Q&A with debut picture book author, Andrea J. Loney. And yes…there will be a GIVEAWAY of a copy of Bunnybear! Just leave a comment on tomorrow’s post—what animal would you want to be?

Oh my goodness…I had already posted this and am editing to include the winner of the copy of Loir Degman’s NORBERT’S BIG DREAM. And the winner is


David, I’ll reach out to get your address so I can mail you the book!

Thank you for visiting today—I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Will Write for Cookies: Lori Degman PLUS Giveaway









Many of you know that I’m a lover of rhyme and a fan of rhyming picture books. So when Lori Degman agreed to participate in Will Write for Cookies, I was thrilled.

Lori Degman writes in rhyme, most of the time – but not always.  She is the award winning author of  1 Zany Zoo, illustrated by Colin Jack (Simon & Schuster, 2010 – Winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest, Illinois Reads featured title, and South Carolina Picture Book Award Nominee); Cock-a-Doodle Oops!, illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books, 2014 – International Literacy Association Honor Book); Norbert’s Big Dream, illustrated by Marco Bucci (Sleeping Bear Press, 2016); and the forthcoming Just Read (Sterling, 2018). Lori lives near Chicago – home of the World Champion Cubs! (She says she is sorry about the plug, but it’s been such a LONG wait!) 

Before we begin with the Q&A, I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of Lori’s newest picture book, Norbert’s Big Dream, so please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end. How about telling us what your biggest dream was when you were a kid.


Lori, I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

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


My favorite picture book authors & illustrators were Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, PD Eastman, William Steig, Shel Silverstein & Else Holmelund Minarik. 

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


I first started writing before the Internet existed (I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty old) so I’d never heard of SCBWI and I had no idea there was a whole kid-lit community out there.  I think, if I’d known about SCBWI, it wouldn’t have taken so long to get published – or maybe it would have, but I’d have had more fun along the way!


ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?


I always write on my laptop – I type faster than I write and I don’t usually have trouble reading it later.  I flip-flopped my living and dining rooms and now my dining room table is by the front window, so I can look outside while I write.  I’ve become a bit of a Gladys Kravitz (the <40’s can look her up), but that’s part of the fun!

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?


I do my best writing in the morning – unless I’m totally inspired, then I can write anytime!  I still teach full-time (this is my last year!), so I do most of my original writing in the summer and on breaks and I mostly revise during the school year.  Sadly, I go for long stretches when I can’t get any writing done – but that’s going to change in June. 

ME: Why do you write for children?


The main reason I write for kids is to make them laugh and instill a love of books!  When my sons were young, I read to them all the time and they loved the funny books best.  I really wanted to write books I could read to them that would make them laugh! (unfortunately, they were in their 20s by the time my first book was published).  I love knowing there are kids reading my books and hopefully enjoying them! 


ME: Lori, 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.


My advice to aspiring writers is to join SCBWI, get into a critique group with writers whose opinions you value, write – write – write, and don’t give up!

My advice for parents and teachers is to let kids focus more on story-telling and less on the mechanics for their first drafts.  There’s always time to go back and clean things up!

Lori, thank you so very much…it’s been an honor to have you here!

And for all of you who want to find out more Lori and her wonderful books or get in touch with her:

Website –

Blog –

Facebook –

Twitter –

Okay friends…you know what they say…it’s not over until the cookie recipe is shared!


I’m not a good baker – I think it’s because I’m not precise enough, so the desserts I make are usually no-bake or things that don’t rely on precision.  The closest thing to a cookie that I make is called a Cheese Blintz Roll-up.  I make them every year for Thanksgiving and they’re gone in minutes!  I don’t have any pictures of them and I didn’t want to make a whole batch because I’d eat them all, so I found a picture that looks just like them on the website 


Here’s the recipe:


1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1 egg yolk

¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp lemon juice

1 large loaf of white bread

1-2 sticks of butter

¾ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Heat the oven to 350. Cut the crust off the bread and flatten the slices using a rolling pin.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, egg yolks, white sugar and lemon juice.
  3. Spread the mixture over each slice of bread and roll up the bread to enclose the filling.
  4. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  5. Melt the butter and brush it on all sides of each roll and then roll them in the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.
  6. Place the rolls on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least three hours. Cut logs into thirds after frozen and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

OH MY GOSH! I’d make these immediately, but I am missing several of the ingredients…white bread, butter, cream cheese…not my usual fare…HOWEVER…I think I need to give this one a try…it sounds somewhat decadent, rich, and…perfect for a long night of revision.

And while I’m enjoying one of these treats with a cup of tea, I’ll be reading your comments and then will choose the winner of a copy of Norbert’s Big Dream. Don’t forget to share what YOUR biggest dream was when you were a kid.

Dear friends, thank you for spending your time with Lori and me…next week I’ll have another wonderful guest as I turn the spotlight on one of the debut picture book authors of 2017: Andrea Loney. Don’t miss it!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Norbert’s Big Dream

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday!


Walking into the library or a bookstore is like opening a treasure chest filled with precious jewels. But it can also be overwhelming.

If you are a parent, which books should you pick to read with your children? If you are a teacher, which books are best for your preschool, kindergarten, or early elementary grade classes? And if you are a kidlit writer, which books will help hone your skills?

I hope the books I feature here this year will help you choose.

Today’s picture book is Lori Degman’s newest one…and guess what? Tomorrow she will be our Will Write for Cookies guest! And there will be a GIVEAWAY of a BRAND NEW COPY OF THIS BOOK!



Written by Lori Degman

Illustrated by Marco Bucci

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (2016)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3


Follow your dream, teamwork


From Amazon:

Norbert is a pig with a dream. It doesn’t matter if the other farm animals snicker behind his back, Norbert has always dreamed of swimming the English Channel. He’s been preparing and training and finally he’s ready for the big swim! But where exactly is the English Channel?! Will Norbert have to give up on his dreams or will his friends come to the rescue after all? A sweet, funny story about dreaming big.

 Opening Lines:

“Most pigs are satisfied just rolling in the mud, or slurping slop, or snoozing in the shade. But not Norbert.”

Why I like this book:

  • The author has a fabulous way with words…the story moves forward at a wonderful pace because she knows just the right ones to use.
  • The illustrations are incredible…Norbert’s expressions clearly show the reader how he is feeling.
  • I love that Norbert follows his dream, no matter what…most of all, I love that his friends rally behind him and enable him to make his dream come true.


  • Pull out a map with your children and find the English Channel…check out articles about the different ways people have crossed it:
  • Talk with your children about making dreams come true. What are their dreams? What steps can they take to realize those dreams? Maybe you can mention some of the dreams or goals you had as a child…did you reach them? How? I think it is so important for children to see that there are steps one has to take to get where we want to go, whether it is to play ball at a local playground or walk on the moon.


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers and writers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’ve been participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm and have a notebook filled with new story ideas already. And if you love entering writing contests, keep your eyes out for Susanna’s Valentiny Contest…she’ll be announcing it soon.

Please don’t miss tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies Q&A with Lori Degman and the GIVEAWAY of a copy of Norbert’s Big Dream…right here!.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: If You Were the Moon

It’s the first Perfect Picture Book Friday of 2017! And guess what?

Every book I review this year will be a brand-new book published in 2017!

There are so many beautiful picture books launching this year…and I am excited to be featuring so many of them. PLUS, on almost every Saturday, we are going to turn the spotlight on an author in our Will Write for Cookies series. PLUS, for many of these posts, we’ll be hosting a GIVEAWAY!

Most of you know I am a fan of nonfiction picture books…but I’m more familiar with the ones that tell a story about a historical figure or an event. Today’s story is a bit different—it incorporates science facts in a beautifully illustrated picture book story.



Written by Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by Jaime Kim

Publisher: Milbrook (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3


The moon


From Amazon:

If you were the moon, what would you do? You’d spin like a twilight ballerina and play dodgeball with space rocks! Find out more in this lyrical list poem accompanied by stunning illustrations.

Opening Lines:

“If you were the moon, what would you do?”

Why I like this book:

  • Lyrical language
  • Beautifully illustrated
  • A fun introduction for young kids to facts about the moon
  • Glossary and further reading suggestions at the back of the book


pin-moon-activities-for-kidsPhoto courtesy:

Check out this link for fabulous moon related activities for kids…did you know that July 20th is Moon Day?

The book is available for preorder on Amazon.

Laura Purdie Salas has a fabulous website chock full of resources for parents, teachers, and kids

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Today is the final day of Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas challenge. It was a fabulous way to look back at last year’s accomplishments and start planning how I can build on them to create a successful 2017.

Doing that, I thought about how much I love reading manuscripts and doing critiques and so I decided to offer critique services through my website...I hope if any of you have stories that need a fresh pair of eyes, you’ll think of me.

And if you are looking for inspiration and encouragement for your writing career, hurry over to Tara Lazar’s STORYSTORM for fabulous blog posts by industry leaders.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.