Patricia Toht: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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PATRICIA TOHT

Today’s guest is yet another of the wonderful writers I met when I first dipped my toes into kidlitland. So when I heard that her second picture book was about to launch, I knew that I wanted to have her stop by to chat with us.

I grabbed part of the text from Patty’s website to give you a peek into who she is…what an inspiration to all of us who wonder…is this writerly path the right road for me…and will I ever get published:

When I was in third grade, I had my first brush with “writing fame” when I wrote a patriotic poem that won a contest. The prize was free summer writing camp.

Was that what propelled me to becoming a writer? Nope! Sports camp was much more fun. Archery! Trampolines! Dodgeball on scooters!

I didn’t think seriously about writing until I was an adult. When I was 28, I decided that I wanted to open a children’s bookstore. With the support of my family, I did just that. And, BOOM! I was completely and forever in love with children’s books.

When the store closed, I turned my attention from selling books to writing them.

And aren’t we all glad that she did!!!!

Welcome, Patty! Thank you so much for visiting Picture Books Help Kids Soar. I’ve got some questions for you, so let’s get started.

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

PATTY: I learned to read quite young and loved rhyming books, especially Dr. Seuss. I was also one of those kids who peppered my parents with non-stop questions, so they purchased a series of books called TELL ME WHY, and I devoured them.

Tell Me Why (1)

When I started reading novels, I fell in love with specific books more than particular authors. My favorites included THE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIONS by Dodie Smith, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl, and A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L’Engle.

101 Dalmatians

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

PATTY: About ten years ago, I went through a spell of being frustrated with and discouraged by the “black hole” – that policy of publishers and agents not responding unless they’re interested in your work. It felt to me like turning my kids out into the world and not knowing what happened to them. I tried to quit writing, but my brain wouldn’t turn it off. I then made an important decision just write for writing’s sake. I focused on exploring the depths of my craft, learning how to make my work better. In the process I discovered that a well-written piece was more important to me than a sale. Surprisingly enough, that’s when the sales started to happen!

All Aboard the London Bus_CVR

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

PATTY: At the idea stage, I’m all pen and paper (or napkins, sales receipts, paper bags…). But after that, I’m a laptop girl. I once had little writing nook under the stairs, which I loved, mostly because I could throw the doors open to a gorgeous yard. But in our current townhouse, my family complains that I make the entire house my office! I’ll write in a chair, on the couch, at the kitchen table, even in bed. And everywhere I go, a pile of books follows.

My Favorite Spot to Write

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

PATTY: With a busy day job in a middle school LRC, it’s a constant battle for me to write more consistently. When I’m hot on an idea, I’m pretty frenzied, working whenever and wherever I can. I’m a night owl, so my sweet spot tends to be after 8pm.

The View from MFSTW

ME: Why do you write for children?

PATTY: I’ve had many jobs in my adult life. Looking back, I’ve discovered that nearly all of them focus on the intersection of children and books – I’ve worked in schools and libraries, and for a business that facilitated author and illustrator visits for schools. I also owned a children’s bookstore for seven years, which was magical. I feel like all of those paths have converged on the sweet spot of writing for children.

LRC Crew

I love this quote from Zoltán Kodály, a Hungarian composer: “Let us take our children seriously! Everything else follows from this – only the best is good enough for a child.” I believe he was referring to music education, but I feel the same applies for writing, and I am happy to try my best to provide great reading material for children.

ME: WOW…Patty…I love all of your insights! Thank you so much for sharing. I know that many of the things you said will resonate for all the writers out there.

To learn more about Patty, please visit her fabulous website: http://www.patriciatoht.com

And in addition to everything else she does, Patty is also a contributing writer to the GROG blog: https://groggorg.blogspot.com

With the holidays coming, it’s always nice to have a new treat recipe…here is a NO-BAKE one that is perfect to make with the kiddos.

No-Bake-Christmas-Tree-Cookies-www.thereciperebel.com-2-768x1152Photo courtesy: https://www.thereciperebel.com/bake-christmas-tree-cookies/

For ingredient list and instructions: https://www.thereciperebel.com/bake-christmas-tree-cookies/

And more awesome goodness…here’s one of Patty’s favorite holiday recipes:

Hooty Creek Cranberry Cookies

(from Mo at the Container Store)

 

2 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Combine dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Mix in flour mixture and oats, then stir in cranberries, chips and nuts.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

 

Thank you so much, dear friends, for spending your precious time here. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of Patty’s wonderful book.

Pick a Pine Tree Cover

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a copy of PICK A PINE TREE to read during the holidays?

Have a safe and happy weekend.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: PICK A PINE TREE Plus Giveaway

Here we are again! It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I hope everyone had a Thanksgiving where good food, friends, and family took center stage. I have so much to be thankful for…starting with all of you, dear readers. And also all of these wonderful picture books of 2017 and their talented authors and illustrators!

Our book review today is perfect for the season…but first, we have some winners to announce. A lot of winners thanks to our generous authors!

A copy of MOTOR GOOSE: RHYMES THAT GO! by Rebecca Colby. And the winner is…

MIDGE BALLOU SMITH

A copy of CAPTAIN BLING’S CHRISTMAS PLUNDER by Rebecca Colby. And the winner is…

VICKY HAMMOND

A copy of FINN FINDS A FRIEND by Jenna Grodzicki . And the winner is…

LYNN ROGALSKI

A copy of ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES, TOO! by Katy Duffield . And the winner is…

JULIE ROWEN-ZOCH!

A copy of NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER: A FAKE NEWS STORY by Darcy Pattison. And the winner is….

JEANINE POTTER

Oh my gosh…is it the season of giving gifts or what?

And here is my gift to you today…a review of Patricia Toht’s fabulous new picture book!

Pick a Pine Tree Cover

PICK A PINE TREE

Written by Patricia Toht

Illustrated by Jarvis

Published by Candlewick Press (2017)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Christmas, decorating a tree, family time

Synopsis:

From Amazon: A festive read-aloud brimming with all the joy and excitement of Christmastime — beginning, of course, with picking out a tree!

 magic of the Christmas season stems from the traditions that families and friends take part in every year: hanging up stockings; putting lights in the windows; and, one of the most important of all, picking out and taking home the Christmas tree. With style and warmth, debut author Patricia Toht and Jarvis, the author-illustrator of Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth, evoke all the rituals of decorating the tree — digging out boxes jam-packed with ornaments and tree trimmings, stringing tinsel, and, at long last, turning on those twinkling lights. Joyously drawn and rhythmically written, this celebration of family, friends, and the holiday season is as merry as the tradition it depicts.

Why I like this book:

  • Wonderful rhyming text that parents will enjoy reading and kids will enjoy listening to over and over again.
  • Great illustrations…I especially love the double-spread fully decorated Christmas tree that you turn the book on it’s side to see.
  • A perfect addition to any home bookshelf – it’s nice to have a new holiday book to add to your collection!

RELATED ACTIVITIES

CHRISTMAS TREE CRAFTS

 

Christmas-crafts-for-kidsPhoto courtesy: https://handsonaswegrow.com/easy-christmas-crafts-kids/

Here are a bunch of awesome crafts for the season. You will find details on each one here: https://handsonaswegrow.com/easy-christmas-crafts-kids/

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of PICK A PINE TREE. If you’ve already read this wonderful book, why not hop over to Amazon to leave a review. And definitely be here tomorrow when author Patricia Toht stops by to chat about her writing journey.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darcy Pattison: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

DarcyBeach500x500-300

DARCY PATTISON

When I first entered the blogging world, Darcy Pattison was already a mover and a shaker. I quickly followed her website and learned a ton!

Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, and founder of Mims House (mimshouse.com) publisher, Darcy Pattison has been published in nine languages. Her books, published with Harcourt, Philomel/Penguin, Harpercollins, Arbordale, and Mims House have received recognition for excellence with starred reviews in Kirkus, BCCB and PW. Three nonfiction nature books have been honored as National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade books. The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt) received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, and has been published in a Houghton Mifflin textbook.  She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature.

Darcy-SchoolVisit

Wow…so, dear readers, you can see why I wanted to have Darcy stop by to chat with us.

Welcome, Darcy! 

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

DARCY: My family always had a story time at night. We lived in a remote mountain town in New Mexico. With seven kids and tight budgets, my mother wrote to the state library and asked them to mail her books, listing out the ages of her kids. We grew up with the best of children’s literature. I particularly remember Winnie the Pooh. But there was one Babar book that totally fascinated me. During the midst of a war, the elephants disguise themselves by painting huge eyes on their rumps, letting the tail serve as a nose. I remember being scared of that image, but slowly coming to understand that it was a disguise, and then finally admiring the elephants for pulling such a trick.

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

DARCY: How much fun the writing and publishing process can be.

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

DARCY:My husband and I own a three-story Victorian house in a historic district, and we use it as an office. The bottom two floors are his real estate appraisal offices. But the attic is mine. I go to work—arriving at the office about 9 pm and leaving about 4pm. That means, I write every day. There’s no waiting for the muse to strike for me.

ME: Why do you write for children?

Katherine Paterson once commented that books for adults are like a full orchestra playing beautifully. But when she writes, she only hears a flute solo. In other words, we write and are surprised by what comes out! I wish that I had more control, but writing is tied to your personality on a deep level. I can direct the writing some, but if you want me to follow my passions, then children’s literature is what comes out.

DarcySigningBooks

ME: Any advice to aspiring writers?

DARCY: Write. When I first started writing, I told myself that I should write 15 minutes a day. I carried around a special ink pen to remind me to do that. The visual and tactile cue of an ink pen was necessary to help me carve out those 15 minutes. Of course, that time grew until I’m writing most of a day. But don’t discount the importance of those first steps. The habit of writing begins with a simple commitment to write 15 minutes a day.

ME: And how about some words for parents, educators and librarians?

DARCY: I’m very excited about THE NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER: A Fake New Story, which is the true story of a fake news story. I think the most important thing you can do for kids is discuss such stories with them. Our American democracy is built on the idea that an educated citizen is crucial to the success of our form of government. This book can be read just for fun! It’s a sea monster story! However, if you choose to take it further, enjoy the quick wit and deep understanding of your kids!

ME: WOW! This has been awesome, Darcy! I love the idea of helping kids recognize fake news! I’ll bet a great school exercise would be to ask the kids to write a fake news story. I’ll bet there would be some doozies in the bunch! Thank you so much for stopping by…but before you leave, I know you’ve got a super cookie recipe for all of us.
Darcy’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter cookies

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

Mix all ingredients. Roll into 1″ balls. Optional: Roll balls in sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet and use a fork to criss-cross the balls and smash them flat. Cook at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.

Yup…that is definitely simple enough! Great for the kiddos to help with!

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Darcy has generously provided a copy of NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER as a giveaway. Please leave a comment and don’t forget that reviews are like gold to authors.

And thank you so much for stopping by to visit with me today, dear friends. I hope everyone has a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Nantucket Sea Monster – A Fake News Story

WOW…have I got an awesome 100% relevant story for you today.

AND THAT’S A FACT!!!!

NantucketSeaMonster500x500-72

NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER: A Fake News Story

Written by Darcy Pattison

Illustrated by Peter Willis

Published by Mims House (2017)

Ages: 5-9

Themes: Fake news, journalism, freedom of press

Opening Lines:

Synopsis:

From Amazon: A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION
Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper?

Early in August 1937, a news flash came: a sea monster had been spotted lurking off the shore of Nantucket Island. Historically, the Massachusetts island had served as port for whaling ships. Eyewitnesses swore this wasn’t a whale, but some new, fearsome creature. As eyewitness account piled up, newspaper stories of the sea monster spread quickly. Across the nation, people shivered in fear.

Then, footprints were found on a Nantucket beach. 
Photographs were sent to prominent biologists for their opinion. Discussion swirled about raising a hunting party.

On August 18, news spread across the island: the sea monster had been captured. Islanders ran to the beach and couldn’t believe their eyes.

This nonfiction picture book is a perfect tool to discuss non-political fake news stories.
Back matter discusses the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Quotes from Thomas Jefferson make it clear that fake news has always been one of the costs of a free press. A Timeline lists actual events in the order they occurred. A vocabulary list defines relevant words.

Why I like this book:

  • Fabulous gem of a story
  • So relevant in the world today
  • Great launch pad to discuss journalism, news, and whether we can believe everything we read
  • Super illustrations

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Make a family or class newspaper

familynewspapers

Photo courtesy: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org

What fun to put together a family newspaper. Each member of the family can write a story. or put together a column. Or teachers can make a class newspaper. For detailed instructions: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2010/04/make-a-family-newspaper-to-talk-about-family-news/

I hope you all get to read this new book…tomorrow, author Darcy Pattison will be stopping by for Will Write for Cookies to chat about what motivates her to write for kids.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER.

There won’t be a Perfect Picture Book Friday post on Susanna Hill’s website, but there WILL be an announcement of the WINNERS of the Halloweensie Contest…there were more than 200 enries…that is awesome! I hope you’ll hop over and check it out.

Katy Duffield: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

KD Candid Photo

KATY DUFFIELD

 

I’m having so much fun this year, featuring as many of the 2017 picture books as I can and shining a well-deserved spotlight on the authors and illustrators. I was thrilled to connect with Katy who is the award winning author of more than twenty-five children’s books including the picture books Farmer McPeepers and His Missing Milk Cows, illustrated by Steve Gray (Rising Moon Children’s Books), Loud Lula, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Two Lions, 2015), and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Candlewick Press, 2017).

She has also written many nonfiction books for older readers, both fiction and nonfiction for many children’s magazines, and for several educational publishers. To connect with Katy and find out more about her writing, please visit her at www.katyduffield and follow her on Twitter at @KatyDuffield.

ME: Welcome, Katy! Thanks so much for powering down to earth to chat with us and share a bit of your writing journey. 

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

KATY: I don’t know that I had any favorite authors or illustrators when I was a child, but I DEFINITELY had plenty of favorite books. When I was in elementary school, the librarian would open the school library one day a week in the summer so students could check out books—and that was right down my alley! I checked and re-checked picture books like KATY NO-POCKETS, THE SEVEN CHINESE BROTHERS, MILLIONS OF CATS, and THE FUNNY LITTLE WOMAN. Aren’t librarians the greatest?

Loud Lula Final Cover

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

KATY: Oh so many things!

  1. That there are many different kinds of writing successes.
  2. That getting published can take a REALLY long time.
  3. That getting that first book published doesn’t mean you have it made. 🙂
  4. That it truly IS all about the journey.
  5. That letting a manuscript “rest” is one of the best things you can do.
  6. That studying (and typing out) picture books is a great way to learn how to write them.
  7. That kid lit folks are the kindest, most giving people ever.
  8. That you should follow your dreams—even if it looks like you’ll never reach them.
  9. That first drafts will always be hard.
  10. That revision is always where the magic happens.

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

KATY: Two of my favorite places to write are out on our back porch when the sea breeze is blowing  and in the living room in my favorite chair. But when I’m doing some serious nonfiction research/writing, you can find me camped out in our guest bedroom/office with my research books spread all over the desk and spilling over onto the floor.

View From My Back Porch

 This is the view from our back porch. Looks like I need to refill the bird feeder!

I write almost  exclusively on my laptop, and when I’m writing nonfiction, I pair my laptop with an external monitor—it’s nonfiction writing/researching heaven (thanks to my professor son for that tip)!

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

KATY: My “best” writing comes mid-morning to mid-afternoon, I think. I like to do my devotional reading and have a quiet time first thing in the morning (after taking the dog out!), and then I usually walk or ride my bike. Only then is my mind right to get to work. I also write sometimes in the evenings—especially if I’m obsessing over revisions—and I’ve been known to get up in the middle of the night and write if something clicks at a late hour.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KATY: It sounds simplistic, but I love kids. I love hearing kids laugh. I love seeing the world through kids’ eyes. I have a three-year-old granddaughter and it’s so much fun to hear her unique take on things. Kids amaze me. It is such an honor for me to be able to write something that kids read.

And I ADORE picture books—and the people who create them. I’d much rather read a stack of picture books than the latest best-selling adult novel. I make the 45-minute (one-way) trek to the public library on a regular basis and come home with stacks of picture books.

Picture books are jam-packed with wisdom and insight and goodness—in these succinct, tight little packages. It’s astounding when you think about it!

ME: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! These are wonderful insights, Katy! But I know you aren’t finished giving us sweet things to think about.

KATY: My Mom called these “Hello Dollies,” but in keeping with a Little Alien theme, we’ll call them “Mars Bars.”)

Mars Bars image

This is serious, gooey goodness!

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle coconut onto crust, then sprinkle on the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over all.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes. Check frequently and do not overbake.

Cool and cut into small squares.

Definitely Alien Awesomeness!

Thanks, everyone, for spending your precious time with us here. Leave a comment to be entered into the book giveaway. And don’t forget that leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other book review sites is a great gift to your favorite authors!

Alien Cover Medium jpeg copy

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES,TOO Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday!

At many How-To-Write-A-Picture-Book presentations, I’ve heard mentors say, “Pick a character kids want to read about and ask yourself the question…what if?” And today’s book is a perfect example of a writer who did that and got it right.

Alien Cover Medium jpeg copy

ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES, TOO! 

Written by Katy Duffield

Illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Published by Candlewick (2017)

Ages: 3-7

Synopsis: 

From Amazon: Ahhh-flying-saucer-shooting-star-CHOO! Laughter is the best medicine when you’re a little alien feeling under the weather.

Little Alien is sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two scratchy throats, five ears that hurt, and three runny noses. Splatch! Sputter! Spurt! Luckily Mama and Daddy Alien have an arsenal of lunar decongestants and meteor showers on hand to make him feel a little better (not to mention a Milky Way milkshake to help the medicine go down). Even so, the family’s alien pooch, Mars Rover, can’t stand to see his little buddy feeling out of sorts. Can a loyal pup’s funny tricks finally coax a smile?

Opening lines:

“Little Alien was sick. And sick is extra-terrestrial bad when you have two throats, five ears, and three noses.”

Why I like this book:

  • Great text…the author uses all the time-honored outer space sayings that kids will know and love.
  • Awesome illustrations.
  • Full of humor and heart.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Alien-crafts-and-activities-for-kids

Photo courtesy: http://frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com/alien-crafts-and-activities/

Please check FrogsandSnailsandPuppyDogTail for detailed instructions on whichever crafts you choose.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Don’t forget to leave a comment for an entry into the giveaway of a copy of ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES, TOO!

And come back tomorrow when author Katy Duffield rockets over to chat about her writing journey.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends!

 

 

Happy Book Birthday: FINN FINDS A FRIEND Plus Giveaway

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO FINN FINDS A FRIEND, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

cover

Hip hip hooray! There’s a new kid on the block and I’m so excited to welcome him. Finn is a fun-loving lemon shark who comes to life in this brand-new picture book written by the talented Jenna Grodzicki, illustrated by the gifted Alexis St. John and published by the wonderful Callie Smith at Clear Fork/Spork.

A few words about the book from Amazon

Finn is not your typical lemon shark. He likes to frolic and have fun in the water. But his brothers’ and sisters’ idea of fun is lying completely still on the ocean floor – BORING! While out searching for new friends, Finn encounters a sea turtle who hides in a rock cave. Clearly, he must want to play hide and seek. Then he comes across some humans who scream, “SHARK!!!” when he approaches. Obviously, they must be excited to see him. Will Finn ever find a friend who can see beyond his sharky appearance?

I love the message in this book…kids will definitely relate to Finn and how he scares off potential playmates with his appearance. If you want to find out if Finn is successful in finding a friend, grab a copy at your local indie bookstore or on Amazon. And thanks to author Jenna’s giveaway, leave a comment here and you might win a copy!

Another great thing to do is to leave reviews on Amazon and other book review sites for the books you love. I just left one for FINN FINDS A FRIEND!

I hope you all have a wonderful week…thank you so much for spending your precious time with us here.