Jen Betton: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Jen-photo

JEN BETTON

 

I’ve always been a person who sees the silver lining in the storm cloud. My Sweet Dreams, Sarah may have been pushed from 2017 to 2018 and now to 2019, but I’m overjoyed to have connected with the debut picture book authors and illustrators of each of those years. Talented Jen Betton is one of the Epic Eighteens and I’m thrilled to know her and welcome her to Will Write for Cookies.

Jen Betton loves to draw and make up stories with her pictures. In Kindergarten she got into trouble for drawing presents on a picture of Santa, and she s been illustrating ever since. Her picture books include her debut as an author-illustrator, HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, published with Putnam, and TWILIGHT CHANT, written by Holly Thompson, published with Clarion.

She has a BA in English, and a BFA and MFA in Illustration. She lives in Dallas with her husband and two children. You can see more of her work at www.jenbetton.com.

hedgehog needs a hug cover
ME: Jen, I’m so happy you stopped by today. I know everyone is excited to find out more about you.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 

JEN: Favorite authors were C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Madeline L’Engle; illustrators were Pauline Baynes (you can tell I love the Narnia Chronicles), Trina Schart Hyman, and N.C. Wyeth. I still love all these people and their work.

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

JEN: How helpful it can be to pay attention to different book structures. Certain ideas fit better into different structures, and being aware of them makes it possible to play with the plot.

Also, when a certain bit of critique resonates with you, or even more when it doesn’t, think about the heart of your story. What is the underlying theme, the core of your story, and how does this suggested change align with that heart? This helps me a lot when figuring out what changes to make.

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

JEN: I usually write on my computer, but I’ll also print out a copy of what I’m working on and make edits on the print out. That way I can work on little thumbnail drawings while I’m editing the text.

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

JEN: Definitely not morning! Midday is my sweet spot (because it’s nap time and the kids are asleep!), but really any time of day (other than morning) when I get the time and an idea.

ME: Why do you write for children?

JEN: In part because those are the kind of stories that I love the most, and the kinds of stories I want to write. C.S. Lewis said he told stories for children because that was the best medium for the stories he had to tell, and Neil Gaiman and Maurice Sendak have made similar comments.  

I also write children’s books because I’m an illustrator, and picture books allow me to tell stories visually, which I love to do. I tend to think of the story as separate from the medium in which it is told – it exists on its own and then takes form in either words or pictures, or both. The picture book is this wonderful alchemy where you share the story between two different languages – the verbal and the visual.

 And finally I write picture books because I enjoy sharing them with kids!

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ME: EXACTLY! I totally agree, Jen! Thank you so very much for sharing all of this. And I know you have a fabulous cookie recipe to share as well.

JEN: I do, I do! This one is perfect for kids, but for a more “grown up” cookie, you can soak the dried cranberries or cherries in bourbon for one hour ahead of time. 
Recipe: 
……………..
Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup (aka 2 sticks) of butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups oatmeal (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts 
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries*
Heat oven to 350 F
Beat together butter and sugars until creamy
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mix well
stir in oats and raisins, mix well
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
WOW…Oatmeal raisin cookies are one of my favorites!!! This Q&A has been lots of fun…and I can’t wait to try the recipe. Big thanks to Jen for stopping by and to all of you for spending your precious time here. Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG.
Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friends. I am still in Chicago, but will be flying home early Monday morning. It was great to be visiting with famiy and I was fortunate to connect with librarian Betsy Bird. I’d met her at an SCBWI conference, listened to her on one of the 12×12 webinars recently, and yesterday I enjoyed chatting with her at the Evanston Public Library where she is the Collection Development Manager in addition to being a blogger for School Library Journal.

18 thoughts on “Jen Betton: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

  1. Great interview! I love learning about authors’ processes. And, thank you for the cookie recipe too! Just when I decide I must give up sugar, I’m pulled back in! 😂

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  2. I really enjoyed this interview! It’s always fascinating to learn everyone’s process. Now to soak some cranberries in bourbon… 🙂

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  3. Love these interviews, Vivian, both the insights into the creative process and the chance to meet debut PB authors and author/illustrators. Great tip, Jen, to step back to find the heart of the story & take or reject critique points based on how they align with that heart.

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  4. Jen’s illustrations are adorable. I can’t wait to see this book.
    (and the cookie recipe sounds great. Oatmeal is my favorite.)

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  5. Will Write for Cookies always delivers! 2018 is shaping up to be as stacked with fantastic PB debut authors as 2017 was, and with you at the helm of 2019 Vivian, I’m sure the trend will continue! Thanks Jen, for sharing a bit of insight and your adorable illustrations I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! (Ps- three cheers for moms who write during naptime!!)

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  6. Thank you, both. I love your comments, Jen, on finding the heart of the story while considering each change. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what advice to follow, and this will help.

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  7. Wow Jen what an inspiration I loved the part about the best medium for the story you have to tell…best wishes to you…Olivia Rehfield

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