Christy Mihaly: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Picture Book Critique Giveaway


Plate of Cookies







I usually reduce the size of the headshot for my Will Write for Cookies guests…but I just couldn’t take away one inch of this glorious scene. It looks so much like a photo I have of my grandson and me at a lake in New Hampshire which figures because Christy is right next door in Vermont. 

Christy Mihaly lives and writes in Vermont, overlooking the hayfield that inspired her picture book, Hey, Hey, Hay! She has published a half-dozen books in the educational market, on topics from California’s redwood forest to cosplay to elephants and moose. She writes for children’s magazines about science, nature, and history. Her poetry has appeared in publications including Imperfect: Poems about Mistakes, an Anthology for Middle Schoolers; Highlights; and the SCBWI Bulletin. Christy also co-wrote a nonfiction book for YA readers, Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought, to be published October 1 by Lerner/TFCB. Christy loves walking in the woods and playing the cello (though not simultaneously). She is represented by Erzsi Deak, of Hen&ink Literary Studio.

You can connect with Christy on any of these platforms:

Blogging at GROG

Instagram: @christymihaly

Twitter: @CMwriter4kids

Facebook Author page

But right now, we are going to connect with Christy right here. 

Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Christy! We are so happy to have you hear!

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

CHRISTY: As a kid, I read all the time, but for the most part I didn’t think much about the people writing the books. I loved classics like The Borrowers and The Secret Garden. I also read and re-read Harriet the Spy and A Wrinkle in Time. And I guess the exception to my ignorance about authors was Beverly Cleary – if I saw her name on a book, I picked it up!

kid with book

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

CHRISTY: I wish I had appreciated the importance of meeting others who are doing this work. In the beginning, I didn’t understand that you’re not fully a children’s writer until you engage with the community of writers and illustrators. Even more than publishing my first magazine pieces, what made me feel like a real writer was meeting with others who were also writing for kids—and joining a critique group!

WOW July 2015

Conferences and writing retreats are a great place to connect with others in your field. This is from the 2015 WOW retreat in Helen, Georgia. I see a bunch of familiar faces there. (Vivian left early that morning with Ann Magee and a couple of others because they had an early plane to catch out of Atlanta so they missed the photo).

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

CHRISTY: Everywhere! I write on scraps of paper in the car, on my phone in the middle of the night, and in a notebook I keep in my purse. I write in my head when those words come in the middle of a walk in the woods. Still, most of my writing is on my trusty laptop, which I move around a lot – kitchen, porch, desk, seeking different views of trees and fields … As a writer, I am peripatetic.

Note from Vivian: I had to look that word up…peripatetic: traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.

beautiful rows

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

CHRISTY: I’m lucky right now to be writing for a living. So – I write all the time. I spend more time writing, in fact, than some people around me might prefer … [What, we’re out of dog food again?]

dog bale

Sometimes I sit down first thing in the morning and write a poem. Other times, I’m facing a book deadline and writing all day and at 4:00 I realize I forgot lunch. I do some of my best work after dinner and into the wee hours, but that can’t happen too often or I get sleep-deprived and cranky.

ME: Why do you write for children?

CHRISTY: Because I keep having new ideas that I want to write about and I love doing it! And because I believe that our best hope for the future is raising a generation of people who love to read. My wish is that by giving kids books that are engaging and fun, we can spark their love of learning, and also foster the critical thinking skills that this generation is going to need.


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

CHRISTY: Vivian, you didn’t ask me about the many rejections I’ve received. I do love sharing about my published pieces – but the manuscripts that don’t find (or haven’t yet found) a home are equally important. Each one that gets a “pass” from an editor can help in my writing journey, because I learn from it: What works and what doesn’t work? What grabs an editor’s attention and what leaves her cold? How might I better address a subject I really want to tackle? How can I make this story sparkle? Or … which editor might like this story better? Rejections are never easy, but they’re inevitable, and they feel less awful if I remember that each one is a step forward.

Thanks, again, Vivian, for all you do to support children’s books and writers and illustrators. This has been fun.

ME: Christy, I love that you talked about rejections…and your attitude towards them is spot on! And it’s my honor and pleasure to feature authors and illustrators and to review all of their wonderful books! And hosting the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge is something I am truly passionate about…providing a safe and encouraging platform for fellow writers.

I know you aren’t finished here, Christy…there’s a VERY special recipe you’ve got in store for us!

CHRISTY: Yes…for a summer change of pace, how about a little switchel?

Switchel—or ginger water—is the traditional haymaker’s drink. In one of her books, Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to Ma’s zesty ginger-water, declaring that after a blazing hot summer day working in the fields, nothing could quench the thirst quite so well. Or, as my narrator reports with delight in Hey, Hey, Hay!,

“Mom calls out, ‘Let’s take a break … for switchel and a piece of cake!’”

There are many regional variations, and you can make your own adjustments to taste. This simplified recipe (included in the back of HAY) is based on the Vermont version of the drink. And yes, they’re bottling this stuff now – but why not make your own?

quart-jar-switchelPhoto courtesy: The Vermont Switchel  Company

Make Your Own Switchel

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

4 cups water (plain or sparkling)

Combine the ingredients in a large jar with a lid, and shake. Pour the mixture over ice cubes to serve right away, or chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Stir well before pouring it into your glass. Makes about a quart.


You can add mint leaves, lemon, or cucumber – why not experiment? Try some switchel with ginger cookies!

Thank you so much, Christy! This has been so much fun. And I want to remind everyone that Christy has generously offered to do a picture book manuscript critique…so make sure you leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe and be happy!

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 August 25, 2018, in Giveaway, Recipe, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. I’m writing down the recipe to try, Christy & Vivian. Nice interview. I’d love to win a critique from Chris.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tina — You always get the top of the comments because you have that Time Zone advantage! Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the switchel.


  2. Terrific interview, Vivian. Christy is such an interesting person it’s no wonder she writes interesting, clever books plus magazine articles and poetry. Congratulations, Christy, on your newest publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Debra Daugherty

    Congrats on your book! I enjoyed your interview and hearing about your writing process. And I may even try out your recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great interview! Christy, much continued success to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing with us Christy. Spending time with other writers and attending conferences is the best way for me to stay connected and motivated too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right? I’ve been thinking about this a lot — my instinct is to want to stay inside my walls and write but you gotta get out there. Thanks for your comment, Nadine!


  6. Cathy Stenquist

    I’m am peripatetic too! Happy to know there is a name for this! It is good to switch things up to give you a fresh view. And thank you for the reminder that each rejection is just a step forward. Need a sign near my desk with that gem!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Cathy! I actually love that word — peripatetic — and I was bummed recently when an editor asked me to substitute a more familiar word (in a YA manuscript). Anyway, I’m glad you liked the post.


  7. Thanks Vivian and Christy! I enfiyed reading the interview. I especially appreciated the part about rejections. And the photos are beautiful. We just drove across HN and VT after dropping our daughter off at college in Manchester. It was a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I also like thinking rejections are steps forward because it means I made major strides this month. 🙂 It was nice to read, Christy, that you, too, often start your day with a poem and sometimes get so involved in your writing that you forget about lunch. Thank you both for this enjoyable interview.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Leslie — We have a lot in common! I suspect other writers have similar habits … thanks for your comments on the interview, and happy writing!


  9. Your energy is amazing and contagious, Christy. Can’t wait to read your book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurie, Thanks so much. I have to push myself to get out there sometimes … but right now I’m having such fun reading everyone’s comments — it’s a great conversation among writers here at Vivian’s blog. And I hope you enjoy Hey, Hey, HAY!


  10. Awesome interview–so insightful and that recipe looks like a perfect summer/fall drink. What an odd, intriguing combination of ingredients. Uhhh yum! Thanks also for touching on the topic of rejections. It is encouraging for those whose works are currently sitting in the rejection pile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lindsay, that combination of the sour vinegar with the sweet seems to really quench the thirst better than all-sweet. Try it, I bet you’ll find it refreshing! And yes, I have now officially lost count of the number of my rejections, which of course outnumbers by far the number of acceptances. The good news is that the longer I do it, the more I can take it in stride. Good luck to you on your writing journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, a book for every reader !

    Liked by 1 person

  12. mariagianferrari

    Congrats, Christy! Excited to read it! Switchel sounds refreshing–will try to make some! 🙂 Thanks, Vivian!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Maria. We shared switchel with kids at my reading this weekend, and they liked it! It’s a great thirst-quencher on a hot day.


  13. Thanks Christy. I love that you put a positive spin on rejections. I agree that the writing community is priceless. Such support and comraderie. Happy book launch. Am writing and revising myself. Hope to find myself in your shoes one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Switchel sounds interesting but I think I’d be scared to try it . ( i’m not a big vinegar fan .). When you spend so much time writing each day , As you said in your interview , What do you write about ? Wish I had that many ideas coming in so fast !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah, It’s funny but I always have more ideas than I have time to write. The trick is figuring out which ones are the best ideas. Also, I often am working on assignments, also, which work well to focus the mind!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I have NEVER heard of Switchel. How interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and lots of other folk! It’s a traditional drink, primarily in New England, but right now there are companies in Vermont, New Jersey and New York, I believe, making it. There are lots of variations and I think it goes by different names in other parts of the country.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Emmie R Werner

    I love your encouraging words!!!!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks Vivian and Christy – loved your interview!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What an enthusiastic interview. Enjoyed hearing from Christy about her acceptances and rejections. They do make us stronger and more determined. Never, never heard of Switchel . Will have to try it. Lovely interview ladies. And congratulations, Christy. Your book reminds me of my time on my great uncle’s farm and my brother’s farm. So peaceful and beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Patricia. I hope you’ll enjoy switchel — I’ve been sharing it at book readings and people of all ages seem to enjoy it, at least in small doses … Appreciate your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Carmela McCain Simmons

    Christy, Thanks for sharing the positive aspects of rejection. This is a real paradigm switch for me. I love ginger and cannot wait to try your recipe for switchel. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carmela, Yes, rejections are part of the journey — good luck with yours! And I hope you like the switchel! Thanks for your comment.


  20. Colleen O Murphy

    Thank you for bringing us into a small corner or hay bale of your world. I enjoyed reading about where and when you write because it sounds a lot like what I do -a journal in my car, another in my backpack, another by my bed, a scrap of paper in my pocket, my phone on a walk, or my in my head on a bike ride so I continually repeat the lines in my head until I stop – which sometimes can be annoying if it is a long ride!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Colleen, This made me giggle — I do that repeating-to-myself thing too. I’m sad today because I woke up with a poem and failed to write it down and I’m afraid that now it’s lost … ah well, I am waiting for the next one to hit now! Thanks for commenting.


  21. Elizabeth Tracy

    Dear Vivian and Christy, I am constantly amazed by the way members of the kid lit community are constantly giving back. I feel inspired and encouraged to stay on track. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. kelliejanebyrnes

    Great interview Vivian, and congrats Christy on your new book – it sounds great, and I look forward to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. A wonderful interview! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I thought about Laura Ingalls Wilder as soon as she said switchel! I’ve always wondered about that. This book sounds awesome! Congratulations and can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Vermont is one of my favorite states. I’m jealous. ☺️ What an inspirational place to write! Looking forward to reading your latest book, Christy. . . and trying your recipe for

    Liked by 1 person

  26. David McMullin

    Wonderful interview, and I am so interested in seeing this book.


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