WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
What impresses me most about this kid-lit community is the generosity of its members—especially those who have achieved success and graciously share their knowledge. I met our Will Write for Cookies guest back in 2014. I’d heard she was taking the world of nonfiction picture books by storm. And 2014 was the year I had earmarked to take classes. So, I dipped my toes into the nonfiction pool and participated in her WOW Nonficpic Week Challenge – and fell in love…with her spirit, her wealth of expertise, and writing nonfiction pbs. I registered for her June Nonfiction Archaeology class. In July, I wrote Sweet Dreams, Sarah. And received LOTS of feedback and help from Kristen and our critique group. And LOTS of agent interest (and signed with my agent) because of it. Yup, that girl knows what she is talking about.
Nonfiction picture book author Kristen Fulton is happiest wearing her favorite set of pearls and carrying a notebook into any museum or history center where she could spend hours researching. Wafting through old books or around dusty artifacts, Kristen believes that is where she will find her next story hiding. As a lifelong student, Kristen is always on an adventure to learn something new, from a foreign language to veterinary science, her love for education has given her the discipline to do the research and bring pure nonfiction stories to children with the ability to entertain.
Dear readers…this Q&A is going to knock your socks off! Please leave a comment at the end to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of LONG MAY SHE WAVE which has just launched and has already been selected as a Fall 2017 Junior Library Guild selection.
Let’s give her a big Picture Books Help Kids Soar welcome!
Kristen, thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Believe it or not, I don’t remember any picture books from my childhood. The first book I remember my parents reading to me was The Boxcar Children. My dad had this bizarre talent, he could draw anything on an Etch a sketch. I remember him reading and then stopping to sketch out the image, such as the dog or loaf of bread. We moved up to Anne of Green Gables with etch a sketch images of carrots, slates, and lakes of shining waters.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
Patience 🙂 ok, just kidding, I still don’t know that. Critiquing stories makes you a stronger writer. Not just manuscripts from your friends. But critique published books as well. Why do they work? What would you change in the story? And, would that book be published today?
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?
First, I am a hard copy girl. So, I begin my stories on good-ole-paper. Actually, I have a notebook, inside are five sections (see Fab 5 from old Grogblog post). Each section has a compass (available on my website), this is my outline for my picture book. In the section there is a folder, and a small stack of blank paper. Each section is a story idea that I am currently researching, drafting, or polishing. I always have five ideas going.
As far as where, we’ll that is a bit harder. We are currently having a small detached office built. Wall to wall bookshelves, giant window with bench seat, fireplace (electric since I live in Florida and we only need the ambiance), and of course my desk. The builder expects to be finished by the end of June, yesterday they put on the roof with red shingles :-). We are lovingly referring to it as the Duchess Suite. Thank you to picture book author Lisa Rose for bestowing that name. But on most days my neighbors find me sitting outside under our pergola writing. I wear bright red Beats headphones while writing, it’s the universal sign to my neighbors not to interrupt. It is awesome, they all know it and are supportive.
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?
I am a workday girl. I am up every morning by six, shower, dress, and apply make-up. Then I go to work. I am at my desk by nine and work until five. Yes, I will stop to put dinner in the crock pot or walk my dogs but other than that, writing is my business. If I don’t know what to write then I am researching topics or analyzing other picture books. I work Monday – Friday and take every other Friday off. I matched my schedule to my husband’s. If my children were still young and at home then I would adapt to their schedule. This is a perk of being your own boss. But, being your own boss can be difficult if you don’t set a schedule.
ME: Why do you write for children?
I am kid. No joke, really, I have never grown up, ask anyone that knows me. I am the first person to laugh when you say, “butt or fart.” Honestly though, I am a history junkie. As a child, my favorite books were our set of Encyclopedias. I would start at book 1 and just get lost in worlds, times, and adventures. When I decided to be a writer, my first thought was to bring history to children. This is why I will always write continue to Nonfiction.
ME: Also, 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. 🙂
I believe that we should read everything and everything should be written down. What is happening today in our world if written about will be primary resources for the next generation of children’s authors. Encourage children to journal about their daily successes and failures. You never know when they might go back and use the lesson from a failure to find success that change’s our world.
ME: Kristen…THANK YOU SO MUCH! What you’ve shared here is going to light a fire under many other writers to check out nonfiction!
To learn more about Kristen and her books (YES…she has several more in the pipeline, due out in 2018, 2019, 2020, and beyond!)
WOW Nonficpic FB page: www.facebook.com/groups/TheFineLineNF
And now for one of the sweetest parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe! And this is Kristen’s absolute FAVORITE cake!
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut flakes (optional for everyone but Kristen)
Vegetable cooking spray and parchment paper
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups chopped bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice
Cream Cheese Frosting
HOW TO MAKE IT:
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. When the pecans are done, I remove them and then immediately spread out my coconut flakes and toast them, they only take about 3 minutes- just until they are golden brown.
Coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in bananas, pineapple, and 1 cup of pecans (save 1/4 for top as garnish). (Batter will be very thick, more like banana bread batter than cake batter.) Spoon batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes). Peel off and discard parchment paper.
Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with one-fourth of frosting. Repeat procedure once. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.
Sprinkle toasted coconut and remaining chopped pecans on top.
ME: And then… call up your kid lit friends and invite them for coffee. Hahahaha…that is my idea!!!
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of Kristen’s debut picture book, LONG MAY SHE WAVE. I just received my copy and this is a story that really brings history alive for young readers. All of the schools will soon be using it! And if a teacher wins it, Kristen has offered to send bookmarks for the entire class, as well.
Speaking of classes and teachers, I promised seven mini-Skype author visits would be awarded – one per grade – for the #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge.
Thank you so very much to every parent, teacher, and child who participated. And thanks, also, to my dear writer friends who are donating their time. I’ll be back with another challenge for kids later in the summer, so please stay tuned!
Kindergarten: Jennifer Broedel will be Skyping with Pia, Olivia, and Gianni’s class @ Thalberg Elementary School, Southington, Connecticut
1st Grade: Deborah Weed will be Skyping with Aviana’s class @ Little Harbor School, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
2nd Grade: Keila Dawson will be Skyping with Nathan’s class @ Richardson Elementary School, North St. Paul, Minnesota
3rd Grade: Maria Gianferria will be Skyping with Susan Hasson’s class @ Holy Cross School, Portland, Maine
4th Grade: Ellen Levanthal will be Skyping with Piper, Conner, and Kabuin’s class @ Hillside Academy for Excellence, Garland, Texas
5th Grade: Nancy Churnin will be Skyping with Vidyut, Arshad, Krishiv, and Ivannah’s class @ NPS International School in Singapore
6th Grade: TINA CHO will Skype with Ryan’s class @ Growing Minds Christian Academy, Fayetteville, GA
Homeschool family: Paula Mowery will be Skyping with Poppy (6-yrs old) and Tilly (8-yrs old in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada.
Have a beautiful weekend, dear friends. The weather here in New England tells me it’s just about time to plant my vegetables and herbs. How about you?