SHERRY HOWARD: Will Write for Cookies PLUS PB Critique Giveaway


Plate of Cookies






I met today’s guest in and around the online kid lit community several years ago. We belonged to many of the same Facebook groups and participated in many of the same writing challenges. She was thoughtful and helpful and knew what she was talking about. And now I’m thrilled she is here today!

Sherry Howard lives with her children and silly dogs in Middletown, Kentucky, a stone’s throw from the beautiful horse farms Kentucky is always bragging about. During her career in education, she served as a middle school principal in one of the largest metro school districts in the US; she and cat-herders share many common skills. Sherry loves to read, write, cook, and sit in the sand watching the waves when she can. She credits her ability to write a complete sentence in English to her training in classical Latin. Now her picture books and chapter books are arriving through Clear Fork Publishing. She also writes for the educational market.

ME: Welcome, Sherry! Thank you for stopping by to chat with us. I know you have a lot to share!

SHERRY: Thanks for having me, Vivian! It’s so fun to go down memory lane to try to answer these!

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

SHERRY: My childhood was so long ago that I’m not sure I remember my favorite books! Every Saturday, or so it seems, Mom or Dad piled seven (guessing it was never really all of us) kids into the car and went to the library. We were allowed five books each, and had to keep them stacked up on the high piano so they weren’t lost in the house.

I don’t remember owning a lot of picture books when we were children. But, I remember loving them, and still search collectible book stores trying to find copies of the few I remember. I remember a book I loved: Snip, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes. And the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books were all favorites. These series are older than I am, so I’m guessing our library wasn’t well-stocked. I have no idea why I was obsessed with these triplets books—maybe because my siblings and I were so close in age, and I felt like a triplet for a while. I wonder why these stick in my memory, but they do. I never felt deprived by not having a lot of books to own when I was little because both Mom and Dad were storytellers and entertainers. Besides, I had six siblings! There was never a dull moment.

The newspaper was also golden in my home! On Sunday mornings, before church, nine people piled into the bed and shared stories and comics from the paper.

I don’t think any of us in my family stayed with picture books long. We all read super early, and moved on to longer things, often entertaining ourselves with old sets of encyclopedias. I read novels that were way too adult for me at super early ages, but no one ever censored my reading. I always considered Little Women my one true story, but that, of course was after picture books!

When I was a kid, you’d find me curled up with a book sometimes, but there was always too much activity to read for long.

book cover

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

SHERRY: I wish I’d kept better records from the start—I understand now that it’s fun to remember the origin of a story idea once its published. I wish I’d understood how hard the picture book is to do well—I still don’t know all there is to know there. Just when I think I’m pretty solid, I learn something new!

I wish I’d known more about what a supportive, welcoming community the kidlit world is.

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

SHERRY: Because I’m disabled, I do a lot of writing lying down. I use my iPad and special pens that write when you’re lying down. I’ve said more than once that the iPad changed my writing life. I can’t sit at a computer for long periods, but the iPad goes anywhere—I always have two of them charged and rotating.

I love to be on my big front porch. I’ve decided next summer to make a “bed” out there for writing. I’ve saved a picture of what I want it to look like.

I have a wonderful desk, but use it for storing works-in-progress. I’m more likely to sit in an open area, like the kitchen table. I enjoy being in the middle of chaos when I work. I think it’s that big family thing—not fond of quiet. The exception to all of this is novel revision. That takes a completely intense mindset for me, and I’ll schedule that around quiet in the house.

inner spread

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

SHERRY: All of the above. I do a lot of writing in the middle of the night. I don’t sleep through the night, so I’ll write instead of tossing and turning. I have the luxury of not having too much rigidity in schedule, and that helps. I find it easy to chat with friends all around the world because I sleep so little. As I think about my answers I sound pretty eccentric, but I’m really not!

ME: Why do you write for children?

SHERRY: I LOVE children! It’s that simple. I had to retire as a school principal really young after an injury that sidelined me. I have to stay connected to children. Writing for them is a wonderful way to do that. I know how much reading meant in my life, that thirst for seeing other families, other cities, other worlds. Remember, I read encyclopedias for fun!

sherry presentation

I’m also thrilled to be working on a work-for-hire project that’s really special to me: high interest/low reading level. When I started teaching middle school, there were NO BOOKS of interest for my kids, especially the boys! They thirsted to read something they’d enjoy, but there wasn’t much out there. So, it’s such a privilege to be able to work on that project!

I’d write even if nothing of mine ever got published. Everything I write pushes from inside my heart to get out for one reason or another—something I’ve learned about life that I can share through a story. My family has roots in the Appalachian mountains, where storytellers abound. I think I have a storyteller gene!

ME: That’s fabulous, Sherry! And do you have any words of wisdom for other writers?

SHERRY: Here’s my advice, and it’s to everybody in the writing community. Reach down—give a hand up! Don’t be so focused on your own goals that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Find a writer or illustrator who could learn from you. Adopt them. Do whatever you can to support their upward movement. Do it even if you don’t have time. Don’t ever be too busy to be kind, and offer help. I’ve had some fabulous mentors along the way, and they mean the world to me! I hope to always pay it forward. In this breath, I have to mention Mira Reisberg as my vision of that helping hand. Mira, my own fabulous art director and editor at Clear Fork Publishing as well as the founding instructor at Children’s Book Academy, does so much of this. Behind the scenes of her classes, she is always at work helping others rise!

ME: Oh my goodness! That is such wonderful advice, Sherry. And I agree about how helpful Mira is…I took one of her classes and have enjoyed seeing many of her webinar presentations…and I’m so excited that I’m going to get to meet her in person at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference in Sydney next February.

I know we are all applauding for Sherry’s stellar insights. She says she loves to connect with other readers and writers, so here is her social media contact info:

Sherry Howard | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Meet Kuda and Rock and Roll Woods here.

 And our sweet guest is not leaving without sharing a sweet treat with us! Take it away, Sherry!

SHERRY: This is one of the easiest recipes ever, but is a family favorite. It’s best served warm with whipped cream or ice cream. I’ve made it for my family for more years than I want to count.


Here’s the news on the pie crust—with this particular pie, a frozen pie crust works well. Since it’s like a giant chocolate chip cookie, the crust is more of a vessel, than a culinary delight. So, use your favorite crust recipe, or purchase a nice quality frozen shell. Mix the listed ingredients together, pour into a frozen shell, and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour.

recipe photo

Derby Pie

Ingredients to mix together:

1 cup sugar

½ cup flour

Stir together, and add to flour/sugar mixture:

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ lb margarine (I use butter) melted and cooled

Stir in these last ingredients:

6unces semi-sweet chocolate pieces

1 cup nuts (I use pecans because I like that taste.)

1teaspoon vanilla or whiskey (This is bourbon country.)

WHOA NELLIE! THIS is the recipe I’ve been waiting for to make for the holidays…I’m a sucker for pecan pie…so I will definitely use pecans for the nuts.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a picture book critique from the fabulous Sherry!

It’s November, my friends…the year will be gone before we know it and we’ll be in 2019…how did that happen? Wishing you all a safe and happy weekend.


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 November 3, 2018, in Cookie recipe, GIVEAWAYS, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 63 Comments.

  1. This is a really fascinating interview Sherry. I love the image of nine of you piled into bed to read the newspaper!

    Thank you for the picture book critique giveaway 🙂


  2. Great advice to “pay it forward” even before becoming a published author or illustrator. We can all learn from each other! To your continued success!


  3. Sherry, I love the idea of paying it forward. I love seeing the well used recipe, too. We have a few in our house as well.


  4. Oh my gosh, what a heartfelt post, Vivian…. “Everything I write pushes from inside my heart to get out” or “Reach down-give a hand up.”…find someone, adopt them.
    Sherry’s words are inspiring. Many thanks to both of you. I’m feeling the warmth this morning!


  5. Wonderful post. Loved the image of all the children piled in the bed and later the image of writing with iPads while lying down. The human drive to create always finds a way. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Reach down and lend a hand! Wonderful Advice everyone writer or not, could follow!! ❤️🙏🏽 Another lovely interview Vivian!


  7. Sherry, thanks for sharing your story. You are an inspiration! Vivian, thanks for featuring Sherry here so we could all meet her. Much continued success to both of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sherry – congratulations on your book! And thanks for the great advice. There are always others to help!


  9. Yummy interview, advice, recipe (you had me at chocolate and nuts)…and new book! Congrats, Sherry!


  10. What a terrific post, Sherry and Vivian! I loved reading about Sherry’s childhood and I can definitely envision the nine members of her family squeezing around to read the comics. We are so lucky that you did inherit that storytelling gene, Sherry! Can’t wait to try your pie recipe. And your debut picture book ROCKS!


  11. I love this line: “Everything I write pushes from inside my heart…”
    Nice interview…and thank you for having a book giveaway!


  12. Great interview! Thank you Sherry and Vivian. I love the idea of a porch writing bed and the reminder to always look for others to encourage. Congratulations!


  13. Oh my gish-a cookie in a pie crust? My 2 favorite desserts!! I’ll definitely be trying that!
    Thanks for your advice. I love the idea of finding and helping an author! And I also love Mira!! Looking forward to Rock and Roll!


  14. Oh I’m so inspired! Thanks for sharing and congrats! I love this community.


  15. The image of the original written recipe speaks volumes. Also love ‘the storyteller gene.’


  16. I love the advice about “hand up” and be a mentor to help someone else. There is always something to learn on this journey. Thanks for the critique opportunity and sharing your journey Sherry.


  17. I’m really hungry for that derby pie now! Congrats on the book!


  18. So inspired by this interview!


  19. What a great interview! Thank you to both of you for continuing to make the kidlit community supportive and inspiring by offering the critique giveaway opportunities. You are part of what makes this community amazing!


  20. Krista Harrington

    Terrific advice! Sherry, I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you:)

    P.S. Pecans AND chocolate chips…the perfect combination!


  21. Great advice, Sherry.

    Congrats on your book. I looks adorable.

    Also, I enjoyed hearing about your childhood. (Oh, and thanks for the recipe!)


  22. Sherry is a perfect example of why children’s writers write for kids – to inspire them to read.Thanks Vivian and Sherry!


  23. Thanks for this wonderful interview with so much wisdom. Could there be any better inspiration for writing picture books than a love of children? Beautiful!


  24. Vivian thanks for introducing me to Sherry through your blog! Sherry, congratulations on your debut PB!


  25. Your book looks delightful, Sherry, and you are inspiring.


  26. Wonderful interview! I’m from a big family, too so I get the whole “too quiet” thing. Best wishes on your PB release. It looks like a wonderful book!


  27. Great interview! I loved this part:
    “Don’t ever be too busy to be kind and offer help.”


  28. Such a beautiful and inspiring interview. And Rock and Roll Woods sounds and looks adorable. Thank you for such a moving post, ladies.


  29. Hi, I am one of 9 kiddies and I can completely understand your laughing about writing within a noisy area. Thank you for a fun to read interview and I will now go and mentor a young neighbor who just self-published her first book at age 12. Thanks again! 🙂


    • Thanks, Karen! Yes, the quiet disturbs me! That’s wonderful with your neighbor! Go, her! My granddaughter, who is ten, inspired this book, and goes to all of my events with me. Sometimes kids want her autograph too! Love seeing kids this young learn about being an author.


  30. Sharon J wilson

    Thank you for your time, your insight, and your cookies!


  31. I enjoyed the interview. Thanks for the advice. I think we should all help each other any way we can. I had a son who read encyclopedias for fun. He always surprised us with his stored up knowledge and this was before he even started school!


  32. This was such a great interview. I too come from a big family (seven kids), and remember how important that Sunday paper was! Congratulations on your success. You give such kind advice to fellow writers.


  33. Great interview! Thanks for sharing and the helpful advice, Sherry. If everyone was kind the world would be so much more wonderful.


  34. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing with us – the advice, the stories, and the cookies! 🙂


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