WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I’ve haven’t met our Will Write for Cookies guest in person yet. But I’ve shared the stage with her on picture book writing webinars and I’ve chatted with her in many Facebook forums…and I know that one day, our paths will cross and we will get to hug each other. And that will make me very happy because Callie Metler-Smith is one of the kindest, sweetest, and friendliest publishers I know. She’s the editor for Clear Fork/Spork and is responsible for a bunch of awesome books that have launched within the past year: LOLA CAN’T LEAP by Ellen Leventhal; THE MASTERPIECE by Shelley Kinder; SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH by Melissa Stoller; and so many more.
Callie Metler-Smith is the owner of Clear Fork Media Group in Stamford, Texas. She has owned the Stamford American since 2009 and Clear Fork Publishing since 2014. When not working on her corner of the Stamford Square, she is spending time with her husband, Philip and two sons, Logan and Ben.
ME: A great big welcome to you, Callie! Thank you so much for stopping by. I know everyone is anxious to hear more about you and your writerly/editorial journey.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
CALLIE: My all-time favorite book when I was growing up was There’s a Monster at the end of this book. I remember sitting with my mom asking her to read it to me over and over again. I loved to read from the time I knew how and was passionate about the Sweet Valley High books, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I don’t remember really loving picture books until my oldest son, Logan, was born and reading with him became a key interaction between us. His favorites were the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, Click, Clack, Moo, and Skippy Jon Jones.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing and editing?
CALLIE: One of the biggest things I wish I had learned earlier was how important having a very specific mission statement of the story can really help shape the story. If your story can’t be summed up in one sentence, usually this can be an indication of too much going on with a story or that it isn’t focused enough.
In my personal writing, I also think I’ve developed an appreciation for not forcing a story when it isn’t working but instead letting it sit and develop for a while in my head before reproaching it. I think I could have saved myself many hours staring at a blank page.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen, and paper?
CALLIE: It is funny that you asked this because I use to have a very defined writing ritual when I was writing five or six news stories a week in addition to my weekly editor’s column. It consisted of spinach and artichoke dip, the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Dr. Pepper. I was also very strict about it being a No Kid Zone.
As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve noticed that for me it isn’t as much about the ritual as it is just setting clear and defined times to be creative and realize that I needed to be intentional about writing. I’m still big on it being a no interruption zone, but I’m much more laid back about the when and where. I also write in a combination of formats, but since I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year being the mom taxi to two teenage boys, I’ve fallen in love with writing on my iPhone in google drive.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
CALLIE: The when often depends on what I’m working on. I still tend to write news stories first thing in the morning when my mind is the clearest and focused because it is normally very technical and requires a lot of details, notes, and sometimes tape-recorded interviews. My other writing is mainly done on the weekends, usually on Sunday afternoons.
ME: Why do you write for children and/or why did you decide to become a children’s book editor/publisher?
CALLIE: Words have been one of the great love affairs of my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t pouring over a book and enjoying how the author had weaved together their story. My first career path was in the newspaper world where I really dealt with a high volume of both writing and editing. This gave way to my bookstore, which expanded my love for books and gave me a lot more knowledge of how the publishing world worked. I knew about four years before I published the first book that I was heading in that direction, but it wasn’t until I published my first Children’s book that I really fell in love the industry. The pay off from knowing that you have had a hand in putting a beautiful story into the world has a value for me that is priceless. I also really love working with authors and illustrators.
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
CALLIE: My biggest piece of advice for aspiring writers is to ALWAYS continue to believe in yourself. When getting feedback, take it all in and implement what rings true for you and your writing. When getting a rejection, always remember that that rejection is putting you closer to the yes and finding the person that will believe in your writing as much as you do.
Oh my goodness…Callie…this has been amazing! It’s especially helpful for us as writers to hear insights from someone who is an editor AND a writer! And I need to share with everyone in case they don’t know it…Callie is especially passionate about giving new authors and illustrators a chance…when she reads a story or sees samples from an illustrator that she loves, she does everything she can to move forward with the project. That is quite spectacular, if you ask me!
And now, my friends, we have even more Will Write for Cookies awesomeness…Callie is providing a VERY special cookie recipe!
CALLIE: I would recommend Monster Cookies which are Logan’s favorite!
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
- 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup candy-coated milk chocolate pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a very large bowl, beat the eggs.
- Add the remaining ingredients in order, mixing well.
- Use an ice cream scoop to put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
CALLIE: Logan’s favorite part is the m&m pieces so usually, I add extra or change it up with Reece’s Pieces. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
Me, too, Callie! I just may have to make a cup of tea and scrounge around for some cookie-like treat to go with it.
Meanwhile, dear friends, please don’t forget to leave a comment because Callie is giving away not one, but two copies of HOW TO BABYSIT A LOGAN. There will be a copy given away to one person who comments on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and another copy for today’s Will Write for Cookies. Thank you so much, Callie!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. If you find yourself with a bit of free time and want to delve into the story of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, there is a discussion going on at the Missing Voices Facebook Group…and Tuesday, May 28 at 8pm Eastern time, I’ll be hanging out in a live FB chat, answering questions. I hope you’ll stop by over the next week and a half and then get your questions ready for the 28th.