Melissa Stoller: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INSPIRATION, INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

head shot

MELISSA STOLLER

What a joy it is to connect with those in the kidlit community! I’d seen Melissa’s name as a participant in many of the challenges. I’d read her comments on blog posts. And when I discovered she had a new chapter book series launching, I knew I’d want to invite her to be my guest.

Melissa Stoller is the author of the debut chapter book THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND (Clear Fork Publishing, July 2017); the debut picture book OLIVE’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Clear Fork, March, 2018); and THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: THE LIBERTY BELL TRAIN RIDE (Clear Fork, April 2018).  She is also the co-author of THE PARENT-CHILD BOOK CLUB: CONNECTING WITH YOUR KIDS THROUGH READING (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and an Assistant for Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. Melissa writes parenting articles, and has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing or reading, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, travelling, and adding treasures to her collections.

ME: I’m so thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Melissa!

MELISSA: First, I’m so honored to be chatting with you on your Will Write for Cookies Blog, Vivian! I’m a huge fan! You are the sweetest cheerleader for the KidLit World and I love your #50 Precious Words Writing Challenge. Also, I have benefited from your excellent critiques. I hope to meet you in person one day soon!

ME: I really appreciate your kind words, Melissa…and I’m sure we will meet…maybe at a conference one day soon!

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

MELISSA: I had so many favorite authors and books when I was a child! I loved the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (I still love a good mystery). I also enjoyed The All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor (I still enjoy inter-generational family stories) and Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hillary Knight (Eloise is the classic precocious imp! My children and I loved the Eloise Tea at The Plaza in New York City). And of course anything and everything by Judy Blume! All these stories and more informed my own writing style.

cover 1

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

MELISSA: I wish I knew that writing is a game of “hurry up and wait.” Whenever I write a new draft, I’m so excited to revise and finish it and send it out. But usually it needs many more rounds of revision and polishing before it’s ready to venture into the world. When I first decided to try writing picture books (in 1997 when my oldest daughter was one-year-old), I thought the process would be much quicker. I received so many rejections back then. I put creative writing for children on hold to focus on writing parenting articles and publishing a resource book for parents about organizing and conducting a family book club. I did keep writing, even if in different genres (and I kept my SCBWI membership active all those years!). Several years ago, I decided to get back to writing for children – and I’m so glad I did. If I could go back to my younger self, I would say, “Don’t worry. Stick with it. Your time will come. And ps – one day . . . you will be featured on Vivian Kirkfield’s blog!”

Also, I wish I knew there was so much marketing involved in this writing life. I was an international government major with a French minor, and I went straight to law school. Looking back, I should have taken some marketing courses!

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

MELISSA:I can write anywhere! My favorite spot is in front of my laptop, at the large counter/workspace that separates my kitchen from my living room in my New York City apartment. I have three daughters (the oldest will be a senior in college, the middle is starting college mid-August, and the youngest is 12) and I’m happiest writing while they do their homework at a nearby table.

  And I’m also very adept at writing on the go . . . using my IPhone or IPAD to write at volleyball games, swim meets, or during play practice. In the summer, I write on my phone while sitting under an umbrella at the beach!

cyclone

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

MELISSA: I write at absolutely any time! The bulk of my work gets done while my girls are at school. That work can be brainstorming, writing, revising, or just thinking random thoughts that hopefully make their way into my stories. Long walks in the city during the year or on the beach during the summer usually produce my strongest ideas. And sometimes, my best revising and problem-solving comes during the times I’m working on something else. I always carry a pad to capture my thoughts because if I don’t write something down, it will be lost forever!

ME: Why do you write for children?

MELISSA: I write for children for many reasons. First, I loved reading as a child and I’m delighted to contribute my ideas as an author. My parents told stories and read to me, and I spent many happy hours in libraries and bookstores finding just the right book. I also wrote (and illustrated!) my own stories. As an adult, I still love stories: books, plays, and musical theatre are my favorite forms of entertainment. When I wrote my family book club resource guide, my underlying philosophy was that parents and children should connect through books. In our very fast-paced world, it’s so easy for kids to get distracted by TV, video games, and their phones. But books have the power to captivate imaginations in very different ways, and as a parent I tried to take advantage of that by organizing many family book clubs with my children and other families. Our book club discussions form the backdrop for some very happy memories.

               On another level, I write because I have ideas to share that I hope will resonate with young readers. I can’t wait to start doing school and library visits and book signings so I can meet children and perhaps inspire them with my words to become life-long readers and writers. And I hope they will enjoy traveling with me on many adventures through my stories!

Nahans

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. 🙂

 

MELISSA: My thoughts for aspiring writers – keep honing your craft! Join SCBWI. Take online classes through groups including The Children’s Book Academy, attend SCBWI and other conferences if possible, and participate in KidLit writing contests. Join communities like the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, ReFoReMo, STORYSTORM, KIDLIT411, the Chapter Book Challenge, and The Debut Picture Book Study Group, to name but a few. There are many free or low-cost opportunities and scholarships available. The motivation to keep writing and the friendships I have formed in the writing community are invaluable. The KidLit family is incredibly supportive – writers cheer on writers and help lift each other up!

As far as my own projects, I still can’t believe that my debut chapter book, THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION – BOOK ONE: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND is out in the world! The words “children’s book author” apply to me! It’s such an amazing feeling to hold the book in my hands and to hear from other people that they are reading and loving the story! Book two, THE LIBERTY BELL TRAIN RIDE, will steam down the tracks in April, 2018! And my debut picture book, OLIVE’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH, will debut in March, 2018. My books are all published by the very talented Callie Metler-Smith at Clear Fork Publishing/Spork. And I’m so lucky that Callie is also illustrating my chapter book series.

I think parents, grandparents, educators, and librarians will enjoy the book’s Family Book Club Guide (I had to include a Guide!). It includes questions for discussion, a recipe for apple crisp (a treat enjoyed in the book), an easy snow globe craft project, family connection projects, and research links about snow globes, Coney Island, and trolleys.

And finally, my buzzword for aspiring writers is “perseverance.”  Keep going! I look forward to reading your stories one day soon!

-WOW! Thanks so much, Melissa. I really appreciate you stopping by and sharing your journey.  I 100% agree that PERSEVERANCE is the key in this whole process!

MELISSA: Thank you so much for chatting with me on your blog, Vivian!

To connect with Melissa and her books:

Find Melissa online at www.MelissaStoller.com, MelissaBergerStoller (Facebook),  @MelissaStoller (Twitter), and Melissa_Stoller (Instagram).

And now we get to the sweet treat that you’ve all been waiting for! Take it away, Melissa!

Recipe — Easy Apple Crisp

In the book, Emma and Simon enjoy Nana’s Apple Crisp:

Ingredients:

4 apples (we usually mix McIntosh and Granny Smith apples)

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour (regular or gluten-free)

Cinnamon

Directions:

1) Peel, core, and cut the applies into small slices

2) Layer the apple slices on the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch baking dish

3)  Melt the butter stick

4)  In a bowl, mix the sugar and flour with the melted butter

5) Pour the mixture over the apple slices

6)  Add cinnamon on top to taste

7)  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes until the apples are soft and the topping is crisp

Enjoy!

YUM…Apple crisp is one of my husband’s favorite desserts…I will definitely try Nana’s recipe!

 

Thank you so much, dear readers, for stopping by and spending a little of your precious time with us here. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Don’t forget to leave a comment on the Perfect Picture Book Friday review of THE SNOWGLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND in order to be entered in the giveaway.

And one more thing.  We talk about where inspiration for our stories comes from. Here is a photo of the original Jessie and Jack, Melissa’s grandparents who met on a trolley to Coney Island, just like the Jack and Jessie in her book.

Jessie and Jack

 

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2018), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, cooking, playing Monopoly with my 8-year old grandson and fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on August 12, 2017, in Chapter Books, Dessert recipe, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. So very happy for you, Melissa! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My head is swimming with all kinds of information! Thank you so much for sharing, Melissa:). I am especially interested in the family book club:). Great idea:). I also agree with your thoughts on Vivian!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations, Melissa. Snow globes are enchanting and the Coney Island cover is certainly enticing. I bet that everyone who sees this will have a curiosity to open the book and “turn the page”! I know that I want to!

    Like

    • Hi Mona – thanks for your comment. I’m so glad to hear that you like the cover. Callie worked really hard on it and I think it is just perfect! I really hope everyone in book stores will feel the same as you do!

      Like

  4. Kathy Shanahan

    Congratulations Melissa! Waiting eagerly for my copy of Return to Coney Island to arrive. You shared so much great advice. Apple Crisp is always a sweet Fall treat in my family. Thanks for the recipe 🍎 The photos were a bonus!

    Like

  5. Thank you, Vivian, for this informative and interesting interview with Melissa. 🙂 Congratulations, Melissa, on your grand entry into the children’s author world. I am looking forward to reading your books, and I appreciate the information and advice you shared.
    I also will have to try the included recipe since apple crisp is one of my favourite desserts, especially with gluten free flour – although then I will enjoy it a little too much.
    I wish you continued success. 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Lynn! I am glad you stopped by and enjoyed the interview! I’m happy you will try the gluten-free version. My middle daughter has celiac and the majority of my family is GF. And yes I hear you about enjoying it a little too much! I look forward to reading more of your blog!

      Like

  6. What a wonderful interview and recipe!j Thanks so much, Melissa & Vivian! Much continued success to you both, and thanks for the heads-up for Melissa’s up-coming titles. I’m looking forward to reading them!

    Like

  7. Thanks for the interview and for sharing your advice and your writing process. Keeping paper and pen handy is always an excellent idea because ideas fly away too quickly. The recipe is coming at a perfect time too–it’s almost apple season!

    Like

  8. This is a delightful interview. I could especially relate to your reasons for writing for children! I come from a family of storytellers and readers as well. Can’t wait to read all your books!

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Laura! Yes . . . I feel like I have been hearing and reading stories my whole life and I am thrilled to be following in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents who loved reading and writing. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You are so right, Melissa – Vivian is a sweet cheerleader for KidLit! Congratulations to you, Melissa, another kind and generous KidLit cheerleader, on your CB debut. I couldn’t be happier for you!

    Like

  10. I LOVE the photos of your grandparents. So wonderful. Congratulations Melissa and as always, thank you Vivian for another great interview.

    Like

    • Thanks Elizabeth – thank you! I love that photo collage. My mother has it on her dresser – and she has for years – and I always loved staring at my grandparents and their clothes and expressions. It is priceless to me!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Melissa and Vivian– you are the kindest kidlit authors I’ve meet online! I hope your book does really well Melissa!

    Like

    • Suzie – how lovely! Thank you! Happy to be in the same category at Vivian…that’s for sure! I really love our generous and friendly KidLit community. It is such a joy and makes me feel that I am not alone on this writing journey.

      Like

  12. I love the combination of magic, snow globes, and Coney Island. Congrats Melissa on a terrific book. Great pictures of now and then. I echo everyone else – great interview Vivian.

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Maria!! It was a really fun interview with Vivian! I loved visiting Coney Island recently and plan to go back this fall. And I have to get more pictures of my grandparents from my mom! Thanks for your kind words!

      Like

  13. Excellent interview, Vivian! I absolutely love Melissa’s writing, and Return to Coney Island was such a fun read.

    Like

  14. David McMullin

    I envy anyone who can write while on the go. I’m far to distracted by everything around me to make that work. Congratulations on your new books,and I look forward to finding them.

    Like

  15. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us, Melissa. . . and congrats!

    Like

  16. I’m so happy for you, Melissa! And great advice! 🙂

    Like

  17. What a lovely interview, Melissa! Congratulations on all your success!! I’m looking forward to reading your books. Thanks for all the wonderful advice too.

    Like

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