WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Even though the first manuscript I sold has taken a long time to become a book, I’m a great believer in seeing the silver lining in every cloud. And this particular cloud had an incredibly valuable silver lining – I got to join the debut picture book groups of 2017 and 2018. And it was in the Epic Eighteen group that I met today’s lovely guest.
Viviane Elbee always keeps her eyes open for giraffes on the ski slopes because she’s sure she’ll spot one someday. When not looking for giraffes, Viviane has all kinds of adventures with her family, both at home in the Carolinas and abroad. TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI is Viviane’s first picture book. Visit her online at http://www.VivianeElbee.com.
I’ve had my eye on Viviane’s career for years…after all, we ALMOST share the same name…and it’s kind of fun to see your name in print, even when it’s not you! And when I heard the title of her debut picture book and read it, I knew I wanted to feature it on my blog and invite her to stop by to chat with us.
ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Viviane! Thank you for stopping by to chat and for donating a copy of your wonderful new picture book as a giveaway!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
VIVIANE: I have a fond memory of the librarian reading THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats to us during story time, and feeling the magic of finding your town blanketed in snow.
In elementary school I remember buying Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary books at school book fairs (SUPERFUDGE, TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING & RAMONA). I would read and re-read them and was always looking for more books by them at the library. I also loved Ann Martin’s BABY-SITTERS CLUB books, and classics like CHARLOTTE’S WEB.
In middle school I started reading the CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR series by Jean M. Auel. (These are YA books and I still love them.)
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
VIVIANE: I wish I had known the importance of being a prolific writer. Quality matters, but since you never know what will sell, quantity matters too. When I decided to start writing picture books, I spent the first three years working on one picture book manuscript. I strive to be more prolific now, and am so grateful for the encouragement & support I get from Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 community. To push myself to be more prolific, I aim to write 12 new rough drafts a year. However, I only polish a handful a year because revisions and edits still take me a long time. Hopefully one day I will be faster at this.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
VIVIANE I love to write in a notebook with a pen – especially pretty pens with fun ink colors like turquoise and purple. I write both outdoors and indoors, but my favorite writing moments are when I meet up with a writing buddy at the nearby Barnes & Noble. We drink coffee, help each other find words & sentences, and feel inspired, surrounded by wonderful books. We meet once a month. I also make handwritten dummy books using sticky notes on the different pages because it’s easy to swap out pages if I decide to change something. Afterwards I transfer what I’ve written into the computer.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
VIVIANE: I write well in the morning and during the day. After dinner my brain usually feels too frazzled to write, but it’s a great time to read. Once in a while a great story idea emerges in the middle of the night when I’m dreaming. I will try to shake myself awake and scribble the thought down in my bedside notebook. Sometimes this works. Other times my middle-of-the-night notes don’t make any sense!
ME: Why do you write for children?
VIVIANE: Children are so wonderfully curious, imaginative, inspirational and fun-loving. I love it when I’m reading books to the kids and they giggle the whole way through, or when their eyes light up during a certain scene. When we’re reading non-fiction books, they’ll ask great questions like “Why was this happening?” Kids also make the funniest and most random comments about books. Just recently I was reading a sweet picture book to a group of kids, and at the end of the book, one of the kids said, “I like it! But it is not a guns and glory book.” I laughed so hard. I have never read a guns and glory picture book for kids 8 and under. I wonder what funny comments kids will make about my debut book, TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI. Hopefully, they’ll smile and giggle!
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.
VIVIANE: If TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI motivates your children to ski, and you want a ski instructor to teach them, I recommend researching the ski lessons at ski resorts in advance. Some resorts have “ski schools” for kids and include ski rentals, lift tickets, snacks/lunches & lessons in their prices. For some ski schools, it’s best to book in advance.
For aspiring writers: joining professional organizations like SCBWI and 12×12 was one of the most helpful things I did for my career. I’d recommend joining professional writing organizations specialized in your genre.
ME: Viviane…WOW…thank you so very much. I love your insights and tips…and I loved learning more about you…I, too, am a CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR fan. I read every book in that series…and then I fell in love with Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series. And, having seen your cookies recipe, I think I now have a third love! Can you tell us about this recipe?
VIVIANE: I love cookies, but I also try to teach the kids about healthy eating. When I read about how oatmeal and oat-bran can help lower bad cholesterol, I searched for a “healthy” oat-bran cookie recipe. The first time I made these Oat-Bran Raisin cookies, the kids and I thought they were so delicious we started recommending them to others. I also baked some to give to an uncle. He was convinced that oat-bran was only for horses and he was scared to try a cookie. However, after tasting them, he ended up going back for a second and third cookie – and the next day, they were all gone.
If your kids don’t like raisins, you can try chocolate chips and/or nuts.
Oat-bran raisin cookies
These cookies are crunchy and since we like them crispy, we tend to bake them a few minutes longer than what the recipe calls for.
Ingredients (Makes about 18 cookies):
- 1 cup oat-bran
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (you can use gluten-free all-purpose flour, or regular flour)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup raisins
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix the oat bran, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
- Beat in the egg and oil until the mixture forms a sticky dough.
- Add the raisins and mix well.
- Use a tablespoon to measure one “cookie” of dough and plop it on a non-stick baking tray, leaving space between cookies because the dough will expand a bit.
- Bake for approx. 16 minutes until the edges turn golden. (If you like crispy cookies, bake it a few extra minutes.) Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool for 10-15 minutes before moving to prevent them from crumbling.
- Store at room temperature in a sealed container when not eating.
YUM! Definitely a recipe to try out!
I know we are all clapping for Viviane’s Q&A. I think she made a really great observation that it’s important to be prolific…and challenges like 12×12 really work. I think I was very lucky because as soon as I made the decision to write picture books, Julie Hedlund was forming the first 12×12 challenge. I joined and have been aspiring to write 12 picture book drafts every year since then.
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI, please leave a comment.
If you live where the foliage bursts into glory during the fall, please make sure you get out this weekend because the leaves are dropping quickly and all too soon, the trees will be wearing snowy crowns.
Stay safe, dear friends. And happy reading and writing!
Lovely interview! I do enjoy reading about writing journeys (and seeing new recipes). Congratulations!!! I love the idea of seeing a giraffe skiing!
I have about 200 Babysitter Club books (still) and I loved Clan of the Cave Bear! Would love a copy of Teach Your Giraffe to Ski!
Best of luck on the book selling slopes, Viviane, and the reminder to keep developing new projects.