WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
TA-DA!!! I’m so happy to roll out the red carpet for today’s Will Write for Cookies author. Chana is part of the debut picture book author/illustrator group, Picture the Books 2017.
But although DADDY DEPOT is a debut picture book for her, it is NOT the first book she has written. Chana Stiefel is the author of more than 20 non-fiction books for kids about stinky castles, exploding volcanoes, and other wild stuff. Chana is currently writing a book about creepy critters for National Geographic Kids (Fall 2018). WAKAWAKALOCH, Chana’s semi-autobiographical picture book about a cave girl who wants to change her unpronounceable name, will be coming out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2019. More great news coming soon! Visit Chana at http://www.chanastiefel.com and her blog for authors kidlittakeaways.com, which she writes with her critique partner, Donna Cangelosi.
Welcome, Chana! We’re so glad you stopped by today!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Robert McCloskey, BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL
P.D. Eastman, ARE YOU MY MOTHER? & GO DOG, GO! (Can you spot my wink to this book in DADDY DEPOT?)
Virginia Lee Burton, MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL
Patricia Lee Gauch, CHRISTINA KATERINA & THE BOX (I still have my original copy with my name spelled backwards)
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
The warmth and support of the kid-lit community is extraordinary! When I went to my first NJSCBWI conference in 2013, I was terrified that it would be very cutthroat, with everyone vying for the attention of agents and editors. I was worried that published authors would be pushing out the newbies. But it was the opposite. Everyone was warm, welcoming, and supportive. During a Round Table, I met Donna Cangelosi, who became my critique partner, co-blogger, and soul sister. I also met dozens of other authors who have become dear friends. And I met my awesome agent at a four-minute pitch! All that in two days! Since then, I’ve joined many online kid-lit groups, like Storystorm, 12 x 12, ReFoReMo, KidLit411, Picture The Books (go 2017s!), and many more. Day or night, whatever you need—writing advice, critiques, comp titles, shoulders to cry on, comic relief, and political support—these people are there for you! And I think everyone will agree that one of the most supportive authors out there is right here…. Thank you, dear Vivian, for all you do to lift up and encourage everyone around you.
ME: Oh, my goodness, Chana…you are totally sweet to say that…I LOVE what I am doing…so I am glad if it helps others follow their dreams.
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 have a home office with a window overlooking my street. I spend a lot of time watching the squirrels chase each other up and down my maple trees and into my neighbor’s trash cans. When my office gets too cluttered I migrate to other parts of my house—the dining room, kitchen, and den. I also like my local library when I really need to buckle down. I mostly write on my laptop (which I’ve learned from bad experiences to back up constantly) and I have several notebooks where I jot down new ideas, notes, and things I’ve learned from books, webinars, blogs, and so on. My phone is also filled with my picture book ideas because I know that if I don’t write something down right away, it’s gone!
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?
Lately I’ve been writing at every moment I can. Recently I went back to work part-time at an all-girls high school after many years of working from home. I love my new job, but finding writing time is a challenge. I’ve been writing at night, on my days off, weekends, … every spare minute.
ME: Why do you write for children?
The books that my mother read me as a child filled me with wonder. They took me to far-away places and introduced me to characters that made my imagination soar. I would love to give other children that gift of wonder and inspire them to think, feel, love, and share. And of course, laugh!
ME: Any specific thoughts for writers.
Last summer, my husband and I went on a glorious trip to Hawaii. On Maui, we drove the stunning 64-mile Road to Hana. The motto of that famous drive is: “The journey is the destination.” You could drive the entire twisty road in one shot or you can slow down, relax, pull over, jump into waterfalls, dip your feet into black sand, hike through a bamboo forest, and watch the waves crash onto hardened lava. Yes, we all want to get to “Hana” and hold our very own book in our hands. But publishing is a journey. It’s best to breathe deeply and see every treacherous turn in the road as an adventure. My journey to publication for DADDY DEPOT took EIGHT LONG YEARS! There were highs and lows along the way and I’m sure there will be more to come. So, remember Chana’s Hana advice: Take in the view. Enjoy the ride. Aloha!
ME: Oh me, oh my dear Chana! EIGHT LONG YEARS! And I love that you state there are HIGHS and LOWS and that we need to ENJOY THE RIDE. I thank you so much for sharing that. I just read a post by Kim Chaffee on Writer’s Rumpus that addresses the rollercoaster analogy.
To find out more about Chana and her books:
Visit Chana at www.chanastiefel.com
and her blog for authors kidlittakeaways.com, which she writes with her critique partner, Donna Cangelosi.
Thank you so much for visiting with us, Chana. You shared a lot of wonderful insights…and I know you have a really special treat and a cool story about that treat to share, as well.
The dad in DADDY DEPOT makes banana pancakes, but serves them with an old joke: “What’s invisible and smells like bananas? A monkey burp!” Ewww. My own dad makes greasy pancakes without a recipe. He used to take whatever was left-over from dinner, mix it with eggs and call it pancakes! (Definitely a return-him-to-Daddy-Depot offense, except that my sister loved those “pancakes.”) My husband, on the other hand, makes delicious pancakes. He wears an apron made by our daughter that says, “Uncle Larry’s Pancake House,” a spin on a breakfast joint called “Uncle Bill’s Pancake House” in our favorite family vacation spot, Cape May, NJ. Here’s a yummy pancake recipe for Father’s Day (or any day) based on Kids in the Kitchen by Susie Fishbein.
1-3/4 cups flour
3-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 cups milk or soy milk
2 large eggs
Optional mix ins: 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or blueberries
Oil spray or butter or margarine
Maple syrup or favorite topping
- Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Add milk and eggs.
- Mix with a wooden spoon until mostly smooth. Leave some lumps. Add chocolate chips or blueberries (optional).
- Grease the pan and heat over a low flame.
- Using a measuring cup, pour batter in small globs into the pan.
- When one side is golden on edges and bubbly in the middle, flip! Remove when both sides are brown and crispy.
- EAT (with maple syrup or your favorite topping).
- Grease pan as needed for other batches.
Makes 9-12 pancakes. Enjoy while reading DADDY DEPOT and telling bad jokes.
YUM! Chana, I am definitely going to try these when my grandson comes over. And thank you so much for offering a giveaway of a copy of DADDY DEPOT. I’ll remind everyone to leave a comment to be entered into that giveaway.
I hope all have a wonderful weekend…and a big Happy Mother’s Day to anyone who has filled the role of a mother!