Kerri Kokias: Will Write for Cookies Plus Critique Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




Kerri Kokias Headshot



I met today’s guest in Picture the Books 2017. Debut picture book authors together, we really had no clue as to how the process of publication worked. As Robert Burns said in To a Mouse: The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” Which in plain English means, sometimes your plans don’t work out exactly as you thought they would. There can be all kinds of hold-ups in the publishing industry…that’s just how it is. So here it is 2018, and Kerri and I are part of Epic Eighteens, the group formed to give support and encouragement to debut picture book authors and illustrators with books coming out this year.

Now it looks like there is a chance Sweet Dreams, Sarah may be pushed back even further to 2019, but I’m thrilled to welcome Kerri and congratulate her on her exceedingly beautiful 2018 picture book debut!!! 

Kerri’s writing features unique structures, playful language, humor, tension, tenderness, simple text, and complicated characters. She has a good vision for how text and art can work together to tell a complete story. Kerri credits most of her story ideas to her “fly on the wall” personality. This means she’s both a keen observer of social interactions and a nosey eavesdropper.  Kerri lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, two children, and three dogs.

book covers for sisters

Hello, Kerri! Thanks so much for stopping by! We enjoyed finding out about SNOW SISTERS yesterday on Perfect Picture Book Friday and everyone is excited to hear a little bit more about you.

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

KERRI: In my youngest reading memories I was a big fan of anything written by Shel Silverstein, James Marshall, Arnold Lobel, Judith Viorst, and William Steig. As I got a little older I liked books by Beverly Clearly, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and Ann Martin. I still treasure these author’s books and expect that I’ll never outgrow them.

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

KERRI: Hmm, I started to say that I wish I knew how long it was going to take me to get published, but then I realized that it was probably a good thing that I didn’t.  (12 years!) I guess I would reframe that a little and say that I wish I knew that a career as an author doesn’t really come easy for anyone, even if it may look like it from the outside. I’ve been fortunate to make a lot of author friends through the years and everyone’s path to publication is different, but every one includes a lot of hard work, determination, grit, a little luck and some disappointment along the way.  And as best as I call tell, this doesn’t change post publication either.


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

KERRI: I can tell you the most unusual place I have even written- at the swimming pool while swimming laps. There was one particular manuscript I was working on that I kept getting ideas for while I was swimming. So I kept a waterproof notebook at the end of the pool and would jot down notes between laps. But more ordinarily, I have a nice space with my picture book collection set up in my basement but I usually prefer to just sit on my living room couch or at my kitchen table and write on my laptop. Occasionally, if I’m having a hard time staying focused I’ll go to the library or a coffee shop to work. One thing that I’ve noticed is that I often come up with my best ideas when I’m driving or falling asleep. So a surprising amount of my writing originates as notes taken on my phone or whatever scrap of paper happens to be nearby. I have learned the hard way that these pieces of inspiration are lost if I don’t record them immediately, so I know to pull the car over when I need to jot something down and that it’s worth it to turn on that bedside lamp at record my idea even if it’s tempting to just roll-pver and fall asleep.

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

KERRI: I’m not very structured with my writing time (gasp!) and have never had much luck with the old butt in the chair technique. I’m more prone to just go about my day and write as the muse strikes. However, projects are ALWAYS stewing in my brain, even if I don’t have anything on paper to show for it. I take notes throughout the day and typically when enough of them build up I feel motivated to sit down and pull them together.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KERRI: Kids are my favorite kind of people!

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. 

KERRI:  I often hear beginning aspiring authors say that they can write better stories than what’s already out there. My advice here is that people’s tastes vary, and there is an audience for just about anything. So don’t compare your writing to books that are outside of your taste; compare it to the books that you most admire.  Take your time striving to get your work the best that it can be.

ME: What awesome advice, Kerri. TAKE YOUR TIME STRIVING TO GET YOUR WORK THE BEST THAT IT CAN BE!!! That’s a great mantra for all of us!

I know we are want to thank Kerri for her insights, her generous picture book manuscript critique giveaway, and for spending this precious time with us. But we’re not done yet!

I guess Kerri is part seer…she must have known that here on the East Coast, we have been hit by a blizzard and record cold temperatures and we are in need of some warm beverages. So pull out some of those previous cookie recipes and bake up a hatch and then…

KERRI: How about some hot cocoa to go with all of those cookies?

Homemade Hot Cocoa

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Cup milk

Dash of salt

Multiply by desired number of servings. Heat until warm. Snuggle up and enjoy!

YUM! And while you are sipping your hot chocolate, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of A PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE from the lovely and talented Kerri Kokias! And after you do that, choose one or more of the following to help your favorite author:

1. One of the best ways is to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book review sites. 

2. Ask your local library to order the book…many libraries honor patron requests and some even have online request forms.

3. Buy a copy of the book.

4. And most importantly…TALK ABOUT THE BOOK…to friends, family, and anyone who will listen!

Amazingly, it is almost time to start talking about the #50PreciousWords writing challenge. The challenge opens March 2 – it celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss – last year we had 253 incredibly wonderful entries and 40 prizes! I’ve already got two kidlit powerhouses to help me. So, if you have a prize you’d like to donate (book, critique, original art, or anything a writer would love to have), please contact me at or via FB or Twitter PM. This challenge brought out amazing talent…the 1st place winner in 2016 already has a contract for that story and a sequel to it! Many people who participated said it was the FIRST time they had ever submitted anything. That is a huge accomplishment for them right there! And the camaraderie and positivity that wove through the thread of over 2000 comments was a testament to what a beautiful kidlit world we are creating! The informational post will go up in mid February, but I just wanted to get the ball rolling.


About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on January 6, 2018, in #50 Precious Words Contest, Recipe, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 91 Comments.

  1. I didn’t know there were waterproof notebooks. Fun interview, you two. I’ll have to try the cocoa recipe. Thanks, Vivian and Kerri!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great interview! I tend to forget that I am not the lone struggler! Thanks for sharing how long the process was for you. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on SNOW SISTERS debut, Kerri. It sounds wonderful. You have some cool ways to capture idea blooms.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice to see a story featuring sisters. Can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you both for the lovely interview. I am going to heed your advice and record those moment of inspiration while half asleep!! So true that they are lost by the morning! Congratulations on your new book….so exciting, and I bet worth the wait!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it amazing how those great ideas often come in the wee hours of the morning…and it’s a fact that if you don’t write it down, when you fully wake, it’s almost impossible to remember. So glad you enjoyed the interview!!


    • Make sure to take just enough time to jot down enough information so you’ll know what you were thinking the next morning. I should keep a jar of some of the notes I find where I have NO idea what the heck I was referring to.


  6. Thanks, Vivian, for inviting Kerri over. This feels like more of a friendly chat than interview. I love that children writers are always willing to sit with a cup of cocoa and cookie to share their journey. And, they even bring gifts! (thanks again)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SNOW SISTERS looks really beautiful! Thanks for the great interview – can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the structure you created w/SNOW SISTERS. I have several WIPS w/2 characters so I isn’t wait to get the one and study it. All the best! A debut only happens once. Congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks, Kerri, for sharing your insights, and congrats on SNOW SISTERS. I look forward to buying it for my granddaughters. Vivian, thanks for inviting Kerri into your space, and I look forward to the 50 Precious Words!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing your journey! I’ve already requested Snow Sisters from my library & will leave a review when amazon delivers it! My goal this year is pay it forward by helping authors get noticed. Can’t wait to see what else you come up with on your swims!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lori Mozdzierz

    Look forward to reading SNOW SISTERS!

    Enjoyed BIG SISTER LITTLE SISTER says the little sister of three siblings 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Becky Scharnhorst

    I really enjoyed this interview, Kerri and Vivian! I look forward to reading your book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Congratulations, Kerri! Your book looks and sounds lovely. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing your insights! Congratulations!
    (I’m extremely interested in getting a waterproof notebook now!)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks Kerri and Vivian for the great interview! I always feel encouraged to read about the long road that successful children’s authors traveled before publication — hope I can do it, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks Vivian and Kerri for the wonderfully warming interview on such a cold day! Congratulations on SNOW SISTERS.


  16. I’ve written while waiting for my kids during their swimming lessons, but never while swimming myself. I’ll have to give that a try!


  17. David McMullin

    Thanks, Kerri and Vivian. Great interview. I’ve done pool note taking also, but I didn’t have a waterproof notebook. The results were a bit messy, but worth it.


  18. I’m still smiling about the “fly on the wall” personality. It’s so true that as writers, we need to be “polite” evesdroppers to find those little nuggets stories are born from. This was a lovely interview. Thank you, Vivian and Kerri.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I love your advice to compare our writing to books we most admire rather than those that are not our taste. Thanks for that reminder!


    • Thanks, Carla. I have really found this useful in my own writing and it’s something I’m regularly needing to remind myself of.


  20. Great advice and I LOVE homemade cocoa–we didn’t get the storm but Minnesota has been super cold! Thank you Kerri for the great advice and Vivian for the post. Stay warm!


    • Thanks! In my opinion, the secret to hot chocolate is to increase the cocoa so it’s proportionate with the amount of sugar.


  21. I can so relate Kerri to your description of your writing habits. I write more as the whim hits. I try BIC – but I’m not too successful. Such a lovely interview! Congrats on your new book.


  22. Kerri, I look forward to reading your book about sisters. I have one sister, no brothers, and she and I are not very much alike – yet good friends.
    Great interview, Kerri and Vivian.


  23. Sue Heavenrich

    Great interview. I haven’t written at a swimming pool yet – but lots of ideas come while driving! I keep a small notepad and pencil nearby and jot things down when I hit traffic lights, stop signs, or road construction.


  24. Vivian, fingers crossed that SWEET DREAMS, SARAH will still have a book birthday in 2018!!

    Compare your writing with the books you admire…I love it! Kerri, thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice about writing. Can’t wait to read SNOW SISTERS!


  25. Great share, thank you Kerri!


  26. Thanks for the wonderful writing insights and advice, Kerri! And for sharing your process…so comforting to know I’m not the only one who has trouble with the “butt in chair technique.” *Though, I keep striving to get better at it!* Looking forward to trying your hot cocoa recipe and reading your adorable sounding book, SNOW SISTERS! *I love, love snow!* 🙂


  27. Heather Erquiaga

    Thanks for the insights, Kerri! I have Snow Sisters on hold at the library. I can’t wait until it comes in. 🙂


  28. Great interview! Thanks! It seems that every writer does have a different path to publication, as well as different writing habits and processes. Good to know! And reassuring! 🙂


  29. I really enjoy these interviews, Vivian, and it was so nice to get to know Kerri better through this one today. And what a lovely book! I’ll be excited to search it out this week at the bookstore.


  30. What an enjoyable interview. I can relate to having to write those snippets of ideas down immediately or they’re gone. I was excited to learn about the waterproof notebook because I always get ideas in the shower. Thanks for a wonderful interview!


  31. I love that you suggest giving yourself the time you need. Thanks for doing this interview, Vivian and Kerri. And for the recipe.
    I also loved seeing Sister Day on your image of sister books. We’ve got a two-or-three-degrees-of-separation thing going on there, because my debut is illustrated by Sister Day’s illustrator, Sonia Sanchez!


  32. Thank you, Kerri and congratulations on your debut, SNOW SISTERS. Love that you write while swimming. Waterproof notebook? Genius!


  33. Wow Kerrie! It’s like we are writer twins! Ha! I would love to be entered in the giveaway and will recommend you to my local library in Newbury, England (and my old local library in Glenwood, Minnesota!)


  34. Great interview! I am going to try that hot chocolate recipe. Thanks!


  35. PS I’ve been thinking about your journey all day since reading this interview. My thoughts invariably end with an image of those M&M cookies–so thank you on two counts! 🙂


  36. Jill Giesbrecht

    Interesting interview! Thanks so much for sharing!


  37. Thanks, Kerri, for sharing about yourself. Your unstructured writing schedule sounds a lot like mine. I’d like to be more structured, but this is what works for me for now. I just checked at my library, and your book is on order. Can’t wait to read it. I love the cover, and I also just did a sneak peek at several pages on Amazon. It looks adorable, and I’m a little partial to red heads (I have 3). Congratulations on your book, and I’m excited to be entered into your critique giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

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