WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
‘HOLT’ on to your hats, my friends. One of my dearest critique partners, Hannah Holt, is in the house.
Hannah is a children’s author with an engineering degree. Her books, The Diamond & The Boy (2018, Balzer & Bray) and A Father’s Love (2019, Philomel) weave together her love of language and science. She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat named Zephyr. She and her family enjoy reading, hiking, and eating chocolate chip cookies.
ME: What a thrill to have you here, Hannah. And it has nothing to do with those chocolate chip cookies. I’ve read your stories since 2012…and watched your stories get better and better as you grew in your craft…actually, your manuscripts were really good from the very start…in 2016, you won the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award for picture books. But I know right now everyone wants to find out a little bit more about you.
Who were your favorite authors and/or illustrators when you were a child?
HANNAH: As a child, my favorite illustrator was Maurice Sendak. His characters were as beautiful as angles, but those angels seemed to wink at me. It made it easy to connect with them.
My favorite author was Judith Viorst. I was a quiet child, who felt things strongly and her work spoke straight to me. I still remember sitting in kindergarten while the librarian read us Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I remember feeling relieved that someone else felt the same way I did sometimes. Then I realized that meant other people felt things. Sitting in the library that day, I experienced a new type of feeling—empathy.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
HANNAH: I had a lot of doubts in the beginning. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be good enough. Somewhere along the line, I changed my thinking from “if” to “when” and just settled in for however long and wherever the ride took me.
I’d say, don’t waste your energy wondering whether or not you will make it. Instead, pour yourself into creating the best work you can. The rest will follow…eventually!
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
HANNAH: I mostly write in my home office but once a week or so I take my laptop over to a friend’s house for a writing date. A lot of these are at Evelyn Shoop’s house. She’s a killer content developer and copy editor, who used to work full time for Sesame Street. She doesn’t write children’s books, but we both live the writing life. Sometimes it’s nice to work separately but together.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
HANNAH: I write mostly while my kids are at school and late at night when they are in bed. However, when I’m on deadline, it’s every moment I can steal. Summers are the hardest time for me to write. Last summer I flew my mom in town, so I could finish a big project on time. I worked long days for a week straight, but I finished the project.
ME: Why do you write for children?
HANNAH: I’m a kid at heart. I’m constantly asking, Why, How, and What? Writing for children, is an outlet for me to explore my curiosity and connect with readers.
ME: Thank you so much for all of this insignt, Hannah. I especially love your answer to #2:
“I’d say, don’t waste your energy wondering whether or not you will make it. Instead, pour yourself into creating the best work you can. The rest will follow…eventually!”
YES! That is so true…I believe that success will come to everyone who keeps writing, keeps revising, hones their craft, and NEVER gives up. And I also believe that chocolate chip cookies helps…so luckily, Hannah is providing us with one of her favorite recipes.
Hannah: Like any kid at heart, I love cookies! My husband’s favorite type of cookie is chocolate chip. For his birthday, I make him a giant chocolate chip cookie-cake!
Every cookie cake, should be served warm, needs a giant scoop of ice cream on top, and several forks for sharing!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 ¼ sticks softened unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 cups flour
- 10 oz chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside for later.
Cream together the butter and sugars.
Step 2: Mix in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
Step 3: Add the vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda one at a time. Mix well. Scraping the sides and mixing again. (I can’t be bothered messing two bowls while baking, and have never had trouble getting cookies to rise. However, if you want the “proper” way to do it, you are welcome to combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add them that way.)
Step 4: Gradually add the flour until just combined.
Step 5: Mix in the chocolate chips.
Step 6: Pat the cookie dough into the prepared cake pan.
Cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the sides look golden and the middle is no longer raw/shiny.
Step 7: Serve warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Our family of six eats it off one plate with several forks, but you may dish into individual portions to avoid the elbow-pushing rush to get the most. 🙂
Step 8: Nap. You’ll need one after eating this rich dessert.
THAT LOOKS AMAZING! Thank you so much Hannah. And thank you for sharing so much of your journey in this Q&A and thank you also for the generous giveaway of a picture book critique!
Dear readers, please leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway of a picture book critique from Hannah Holt…I know from personal experience that her critiques are fabulous! She’s been a critique ninja for the 12×12 forum and she totally knows her stuff! And, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve added a copy of the book as an additional giveaway. We will have two winners, one for the critique and one for the book!
And here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar, we’ve got exciting weeks ahead…lots of Perfect Picture Book Fridays and Will Write for Cookies with old friends and new ones. Safe travels if you plan to go anywhere…I’ll be home on Saturday, glued to my computer screen for the Picture Book Summit conference. And Sunday, my local indie bookstore has a book signing with a couple of local writers. Next year it will be my turn times three, so I’d better take notes.
I’m wishing you all a wonderful weekend.