Maryann Coccoa-Leffler: Will Write For Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies







As most of you know, one of the things I love best about this kidlit community is the connections we make. And what could be better than to have a multipublished author/illustrator who wants to critique with you and who lives in the same town? Unfortunately, Maryann moved last year and now lives a couple of hours away, but our critique relationship and friendship are still strong.

I’m thrilled to welcome her to Will Write for Cookies…she’s got over 60 books published…and has never had an agent! I know we are all going to enjoy chatting with her.

ME: Welcome, Maryann! It’s a pleasure to have you here. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

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

Maryann: I grew up in the 1960’s. I remember reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak over and over. I was captivated by the illustrations. I also loved the humor and rhythm Green Eggs and Ham (Dr Seuss). Later, I was very into the Encyclopedia Brown series. But of course, seeing a girl solve mysteries in the Nancy Drew books, won me over. I still like to read mysteries!

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

Maryann: In order to succeed in publishing, I discovered early on that you have to have patience, perseverance and thick skin.

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


TEXT: I’ll write anywhere. When an idea pops into my head, I jot it down, whether on napkin or in my “idea journal”. I usually begin my stories with a pen and paper, and then re-type it onto the computer.

-DUMMY: Usually I dummy up the book in a storyboard format working in my studio at my drawing board. Recently, I have been using the Ipad Procreate App to dummy up my books. I then send the PDF dummy via email to my editors for consideration.

FINAL ART: My artwork is created traditionally, so I need to be at my desk in my studio…while listening to music or a podcast.

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

Maryann: I keep regular hours in my studio…Usually a 9-5 kind of day. Of course, when your studio is in your home, as mine is, I have the flexibility to work anytime…(Or not work anytime!)

ME: Why do you write for children?

Maryann: Big Question. I feel I have something to say. It is also a way to combine my love of stories with my love of art.

Most of my books are fun, have some humor and tend to leave the reader thinking. There are usually multiple messages or themes, which can be expanded on by the teacher, parent or librarian.  In Growing Season, the themes are friendship, being a late bloomer, classroom diversity and working together. It also interweaves the science aspect of growing flowers as well as explaining the life cycles of plants.

Bottom line- I am hoping, in my small way, I am making a difference in children’s lives.

ME: Maryann…thank you so so so much! And yes, you hit the nail on the head…that is the key to why we are writing…we want to make a difference in children’s lives! Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Maryann: A bit of advice:

To make it in this industry you have to have an entrepreneurial spirit…You do it all…write, illustrate (if you are a trained artist), promote, keep up with social media, set up school visits and bookstore signings…and of course, continue to come up with good ideas and keep selling them! Not an easy task.

I also find it is important to get out into the real world…recharge, talk to people, get involved in the community, read the newspaper, go to an exhibit, etc.

Our outside life is where the ideas hide. Find them.

Hurray! I know we are all applauding for you, Maryann…and I know you are not quite finished. You’ve still got something yummy to share!

Maryann: Growing Season’s Pot-of-Dirt Cupcakes: (+ Activity)


  1. Make your favorite chocolate cupcakes. (Use cupcake papers).
  2. Chop off the top of the cupcake and mix with crushed Oreo cookies. Mix with just enough chocolate frosting to hold it together. (You are making Dirt!)
  3. Pile a bit of “Dirt” frosting on your cupcake (Pot).
  4. Click on the links below and print out the activity sheets. Have kids make “Plant Markers” and stick them in your Cupcake Pot-of-dirt. Have kids draw flowers, tape to popsicle sticks and “plant”.

planting&markers2 (1)


To connect with Maryann or to find out more about her many wonderful books:

To find out more about GROWING SEASON:


And please remember, my friends…the best way we can thank authors for the wonderful books we love is to buy their books, review their books, ask the local library to purchse the books, and tell friends about the books.

And don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of Growing Season!

Thank you so much for stopping by and spending time with us. I’m in Bologna now, with only two days left on this amazing round-the-world journey. Tomorrow I go to Florence to spend the day with Renee LaTulippe, founder of the Lyrical Language Lab course. I can hardly wait!!!Will Write

27 thoughts on “Maryann Coccoa-Leffler: Will Write For Cookies PLUS Giveaway

  1. I’m clapping for Maryann and her new book GROWING SEASON. Finding the best story words that explore “growing up” is to be congratulated. I look forward to giving myself the gift of her book. Most inspiring and heartening is her wisdom about the publishing world. I’m grateful for her candor, especially coming from such a successful author. Best of continued success and fulfillment…


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