Maria Gianferrari: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Critique Giveaway


Plate of Cookies






I’m so excited to introduce everyone to our Will Write for Cookies guest today, although many of you may already know Maria. And I’m jumping for joy because she has a book signing event in Keene, New Hampshire on August 20th…that’s only an hour away from me and some of my local critique buddies and I are going to take a picture book field trip and attend! Woo-hoo!

I grabbed a bit of info from Maria’s website:

 I write both fiction and nonfiction picture books, usually while my faithful companion, Becca, snores at my feet. I love nature and animals, especially dogs!

Most of my nonfiction picture books are about creatures in the natural world. I’m also fascinated by the subject of urban ecology, and the different ways in which wild animals have adapted to life and co-existence with humans.

Most of my fiction picture books contain dogs as main characters, and some cats too! I am most intrigued by the human-animal bond, so this is a topic that I like to explore in my fiction.

Welcome, Maria…I’m so excited to welcome you!

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


I had two favorite picture books that I read and read and re-read again: Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse by Jean & Nancy Soule, with illustrations by Barbara Remington, and Miss Twiggley’s Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox.

scuttle book cover

inside page of scuttle

Both stories are rollicking, rhyming read alouds. I love the whimsical illustrations for Scuttle, the wayward mouse who finds a home. And I still wish I could live in a tree, like Miss Twiggley, with a dog and some bears. That is my introvert dream come true. I still have my childhood copies!


twiggle book cover

inside cover of twiggle

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


I’m not sure—I knew it was going to be hard, since there is so much rejection involved, but I didn’t know the extent of the joy it would bring, especially upon seeing life breathed into my words by the talented illustrators with whom I’ve been matched. That was and is beyond my wildest dreams!

coyote moon

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


Most of the time I write in my home office on my laptop while my dog, Becca snores on her nearby dog bed. I have a keyboard and a large monitor so it’s easy to see what I’m working on. I also like to write drafts by hand, especially when I get stuck, and I can do that pretty much anywhere. 


ME: When do you write? Set schedule? When the muse strikes?


Every day starts with walking Becca, rain or shine, cold or heat (though I much prefer cooler temperatures). Then I usually write late morning, followed by a nap, and more writing and/or reading in the afternoon. I try to write every day, Monday through Friday, and take the weekends off to do things with my family.

ME: Why do you write for children?


I love their wonder and curiosity and ability to be present in the moment, something I continually strive for in life and in my writing. I write because kids are our hope, and our future. I also write for my inner child—the child who I was, and still am.

penny and jelly

ME: Maria, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?


I don’t have any new advice—it’s the same basic advice that everyone gives: read, read, read, and write, write, write! Don’t give up—it’s a marathon, not a sprint, full of ups and downs. And find a good critique group for support during the downs as well as the ups. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my wonderful critique partners: Andrea Wang, Lois Sepahban, Lisa Robinson, Sheri Dillard and Abby Calkins Aguirre!

Thanks for letting me stop by, Vivian!!

WOW…it is me who is thanking you, Maria! And so is everyone else! I love that you shared those favorite books from your childhood…I think we had similar tastes! I also wanted to thank you for your generous giveaways this weekend…heads up, dear friends…leave a comment on yesterdays Perfect Picture Book Friday post and you are entered into the giveaway for a copy of HELLO GOODBYE DOG.

hello goodbye dog cover

And then leave a comment on today’s blog and get an entry into the giveaway for a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE from Maria!

For more information about Maria and her books:

And the fun doesn’t stop here, folks! Maria is sharing something yummy!

brownie photo


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 11×14” baking pan


  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), melted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chocolate covered heath toffee pieces


  1. Melt butter in microwave-safe glass bowl.
  2. Mix in brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Add in dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and heath pieces
  5. Pour into baking pan
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes



Before we say goodbye, I wanted to let you know that Maria will be heading out on a whirlwind BOOK BLOG TOUR in less than two weeks. There will be PRIZES EVERY DAY on the tour, so you don’t want to miss a single stop!




*Monday, July 24th:                                  Pragmatic Mom + THREE book giveaway!

*Two for Tuesday, July 25th:              Librarian’s Quest

Reading for Research

*Wednesday, July 26th:                         Homemade City

*Thursday, July 27th:                               Kid Lit Frenzy

*Friday, July 28th:                                      Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

*Monday, July 31st:                                   Picture Books Help Kids Soar

*Tuesday, August 1st:                              Bildebok

*Wednesday, August 2nd:                      The Loud Library Lady

*Thursday, August 3rd:                           DEBtastic Reads!

*Friday, August 4th:                                  Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love

*Monday, August 7th:                               Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

EXTRA: August 25th:                                Kidlit411—Interview with Patrice Barton


Thank you all for stopping by to visit. I know we all appreciate the beautiful books Maria and our other authors write. And we can help our favorite authors by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I hope you will do that for the books you love!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on July 15, 2017, in Cookie recipe, GIVEAWAYS, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. Thank you Marie- I need to hear over and over that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Enjoyed reading about your process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      It’s definitely a marathon–pace yourself, and be kind to yourself. Celebrate every success, like the good rejections! You will get there if you don’t give up!! Good luck!!


  2. Lovely post thank you ladies. I didn’t realise that Coyote Moon was a picture book. It looks amazing and I immediately went and read the write ups and loved the text reviewed. Must check out if your books are coming down here in our libraries. All the best for your blog tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      Thank you so much, Diane! I hope you’ll like Coyote Moon. It’s quite different than Hello Goodbye Dog, but still celebrates canines 🙂


  3. HI Vivian and Maria, I love your book and this new one looks like it has such heart. Would love to win! Cheers on mother great book birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Keene, New Hampshire? I am an an Antioch New Engand Grad school alum (’95) . Such a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for the great post. Always helpful to get a glimpse into someone’s process. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Hello Goodbye Dog! Thanks for the post (and the recipe). Such good reminders.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just back from walking my own two pups & chuckled when I read that you start every day with a walk, rain or shine. Cheers to our canine muses!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David McMullin

    I love your books Maria. I’m glad to see they keep coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sherri Jones Rivers

    Your book looks amazing. Look at the eyes on the cover. I, too, love the animal human bond, as well as the animal to animal bond. Fascinating. And those brownies….need I say more?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for a great post, and irresistible recipe! And cheers for the new book. We love Coyote Moon and have been fascinated with the coyotes coming into our edge-of-city neighborhood. I have a special soft spot for dogs and their wild cousins, and enjoy books about connection with nature. Looking forward to your upcoming titles!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      Thanks for saying so, Lisa :)!! I’m glad that you liked it. Where do you live? Enjoy the butterscotch brownies!


  10. Wonderful post about the struggles and rewards of writing – and your new book looks and sounds delightful! Butterscotch brownies are my faves so I will have to try out that recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. danielle hammelef

    Thanks for taking the time to share with us. I am grateful that you what to give back and mentor those (like me) that are still huffing and puffing our way along the writing race course. Mine is full of steep hills and blind corners. Good luck with your upcoming tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      I definitely think the kidlit community is most generous–take Vivian for example!! She is such a great mentor and role model and the best cheerleader for her fellow authors!! I am lucky to be her friend :). Thank you for the good wishes & good luck to you too!


  12. Thank you, Maria and Vivian, for your inspiration! Writing is truly being in a Marathon but this is how we help our selves to improve! I love dogs and I can’t wait to get your book here in Greece!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      Greece! How wonderful! I’d love to visit there some day. Thank you, Agatha :). The illustrator of my book, Officer Katz & Houndini is Greek. His name is Danny Chatzikonstantinou–even more of a mouthful than Gianferrari ;).

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Yum, I haven’t had butterscotch flavored anything in a while, I”ll have to try this out!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love Maria’s books 🙂 can’t wait for Highway Hawks to come out! Thanks for sharing a great post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      So nice to “see” you here, Jennifer!!! 🙂 It’s now called Hawk Rising, and it’s coming out on May 1st!! I just found the release date out. Thank you!! Are you close enough to NYC to come to my book launch there? It’s on 7/22 at Books of Wonder 🙂


      • Hi Maria! I wish I could attend!! I have family visiting from Arizona, so it doesn’t look likely, but I will try. Would love to finally meet you in person. Have a fabulous day!! Let me know when you’ll be in NJ/NY area again 🙂


  15. Thanks for sharing! I am a huge fan of Coyote Moon. It’s one of my mentor texts and it’s listed on many of my cover letters as a comparable title. I look forward to reading Hello Goodbye Dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for sharing this, and for providing a critique to an aspiring writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Beth Gallagher

    May I just say thanks for such a great interview, Vivian. Thanks, Maria, for terrific inspiration and fabulous books but also for the divine brownie recipe! 😀 Oh, I’ll be baking AND writing tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Vivian, you already know that I am big fan of Maria’s. She and I have a lot in common–love of nature, manuscripts with animals, German husbands. And I hope that one day my manuscripts will be as good as hers. Her stories inspire me and serve as mentor texts. I can’t wait to read “Hello, Goodbye Dog”.

    This was a great interview and I learned more about Maria. I think it was really cool that she shared her favorite childhood books. I don’t know either of them but they look like ones I would have loved as a child (well, and even now…I love trees and that mouse looks adorable.)

    The books signing trip sounds great, Vivian. Bummer I can’t do that with you. But I will definitely take part in Maria’s blog tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wonderful post. And the recipe for brownies was a delightful add-on! Thank you so much investing the time and energy into helping other writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This was an interesting interview. Great job, Vivian and Maria! I wish you all the best on your blog tour, Maria.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. How neat you get to MEET Maria! Those bars look delicious. Oh, that’s what I forgot to bring back from the U.S., butterscotch chips. Congrats on your new book, Maria!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Fantastico! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you for reminding us how children are able to be present in the moment and is what we should all try to do. You spoke to my inner child!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you for an informative post!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I’m first in line at my library for Hello Goodbye Dog. Can’t wait to check it out, and follow your blog tour. Best wishes for your tour and book, and thanks for the encouraging words here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      You made my day, Angela–thank you!! I just saw that you live in MD–whereabouts? I’m doing some local events here in Ashburn & Reston, VA in August, and then the Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax in October if you’d like to come. If you’re interested in further details, please feel free to contact me through my webside: :).

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Never give up and find some great critique partners! Excellent advice. My favorites growing up were Where the Wild Things Are and Pyewacket.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Coyote Moon is such a gorgeous book – pictures and words. I can’t wait to see Maria’s other books. And totally agree with her comment about finding a good critique group!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      I’m so glad that you liked Coyote Moon, Carrie :)! Thanks for the very kind words. I love Bagram’s art too–it’s amazing! And my crit partners are the best!!


  28. Shanah Salter

    Thanks for sharing and for offering a critique, so generous! Not to mention those brownies…

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Laurie Warchol

    It is a marathon isn’t it? But meeting such great people at all the water stops along the route. Thanks for the great advice, Maria!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Gregory E Bray

    Great interview. Thanks Maria and Vivian.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Thanks Maria and Vivian for a great inspirational post. Hoping to read, read, read and take advantage of my critique group this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. mariagianferrari

    You’re the best, Vivian!! Thank you so much for having me visit :)! Can’t wait to meet you <3!


  33. sunwalker2013

    Inspiring comments – was bordering on giving it up and just continue the read, read, read half of it. And the tour – WOW, what an exciting August you’ve given us!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      Hang in there, sunwalker!! And if you don’t yet have a critique group, find one. They’ll help you when you’re struggling, and cheer your successes, big and small. They’re like the water givers for the marathon runners ;). Good luck!!


      • sunwalker2013

        Thanks for that encouragement. My first couple of critiques were pretty nasty, so it discouraged me. I don’t give that kind myself, so I was rather shocked. I’ll keep looking!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh dear…it makes me so sad when critiques aren’t done in a kind and compassionate way…we all want our stories to be the strongest and bewt they can be…but no one should ever be nasty. I aree with Maria…I hope you are not discouraged and will keep on writing…if this is your passion, you MUST do it! Here’s to better critiques. )f it was your own critique group, perhaps you guys need to set some parameters. I think there are many websites that have critique group rules. And if it was a professional critique…I guess I’d recommend you don’t go back to that person. 😉


  34. Sue Heavenrich

    Thanks for the brownies, Vivian. And Maria, thanks for your candid replies. I love the photo of dog-kisses! This looks like a wonderful book.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thanks for the interview, Vivian and Maria. Great interview. Love Coyote Moon. Can’t wait to read Hello Goodbye Dog. Browines look yummy. And, Maria, you’re going to love our charming friend, Vivian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mariagianferrari

      I already love her, Mona, and we haven’t even met! She’s special!!

      And thanks for the kind words about Coyote Moon too :)!


  36. Hello Goodbye Dog looks like a book I need for my preschool classroom. I’m excited to get my hands on that one! Thanks so much for sharing your insights as an author.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Happy Book Birthday: Hello Goodbye Dog PLUS Giveaway | Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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