SHANNON STOCKER: Will Write for Cookies Plus CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

photo Shannon

TODAY’S GUEST

SHANNON STOCKER

Why do I love this kidlit community so much? Because of people like today’s guest, Shannon Stocker, that’s why!

Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who loves all letters equally. She lives with her husband, Greg, and her children, Cassidy and Tye, in Louisville, KY, where she molds the alphabet into picture books and songs all day. LISTEN, Shannon’s picture book biography about deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, is next in line (Dial/Random House), and several of her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors.  Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, and an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate. She’s also a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/. She can also be found tweeting positive quotes, mantras, and adorable animal pics @iwriteforkidz, or on Instagram (also @iwriteforkidz). Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.

Dear friends, are you exhausted yet? I hope not, because Shannon is here now, ready to answer our questions. But first let me remind everyone that Shannon is offering a picture book manuscript critique as a GIVEAWAY…one lucky person is going to win this, so please make sure you leave a comment to be entered.

ME: Hi Shannon…welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! I am so very thrilled to have you as a guest today. Let’s get to the questions – I know everyone is waiting to hear your answers.

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

SHANNON: This is always a tough question for me…I came from a broken family and don’t remember books being a part of my early childhood. The first book that really grabbed me and wouldn’t let go was Judy Blume’s ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET. My daughter just finished it; I want to read it again! After that book, I devoured everything that I could by Judy Blume. I was late to discover picture books—I was probably in college or medical school when I fell in love with Dr. Seuss. He breaks so many “rules” and has a writing and illustrating style that is all his own. I’ve always been one to march to my own beat so I’m very inspired by him.

cover

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

SHANNON: Oh, to know early on the importance of critique partners! In my opinion, CPs are the most crucial part of this rejection-laden journey. Critique partners not only help you improve your craft, but perhaps more importantly, they are there to lift you up when your confidence falters…which, I think, happens weekly for most of us. The sloth-like pace of the publishing world will test even the most patient of writers. But it can be hard to find “your people.” You don’t just want people who give good constructive feedback – you want people who give feedback that resonates with you. You also want to be part of a group where you feel like everyone has similar expectations. My best CPs know that there are some months where I’ll need feedback several times a week and other months where I won’t need anything at all (but I’m always willing to give back). We all cycle through busy/quiet periods. This willingness to be there for one another has been invaluable to me. If someone feels like they’re giving a lot more than they’re getting, bitterness enters the equation (and that’s never a good thing). I wish I’d known that this kind of flexibility, this give-and-take, was out there earlier in my career. My first agent experience was not a good one; she told me I didn’t need my CPs anymore and directed me to quit my groups. She didn’t want me getting “bad feedback.” When she and I parted ways, I stopped writing for quite some time. I don’t think I would’ve ever recovered from that experience if I’d cut ties with all my CPs. I credit them 100% with helping me get my head back in the game.

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

SHANNON: So funny that you ask this question—I just created a few slides for one of my school presentations about the creative person’s workspace. I typically write at my desk, but I can focus anyplace I have my laptop. Watching the kids at the pool, on my deck, at my kitchen table where I can see the birds…anyplace, really. I like silence when I’m drafting a new story or writing a new chapter in my memoir, but I prefer music in the background when I’m editing, catching up on emails, working on marketing, that kind of thing. I’m a singer/songwriter, so the type of music varies depending on my mood and my subject (and how much I need to concentrate). My next book is about Evelyn Glennie, a fabulous percussionist who happens to be deaf. When working on her book, I often had her music playing in the background. I just completed a draft about a pianist and often played his music when working on his story. If I’m tired, I’ll play 80’s, 90’s, Broadway, or a Pandora station associated with one of my favorite artists (Meghan Trainor, Ingrid Michaelson, Miranda Lambert, Colbie Caillat, Bruno Mars, OneRepublic, Aretha Franklin, Sheryl Crow, The Judds, Trisha Yearwood, and Jewel all being at the top of the list). But the best part of writing at home is that we have a billion animals, so one of them is usually beside me or in my lap. We have a miniature Aussie named Copper who curls up in a bed beside my chair, a Maine Coon named Simba who periodically paws at me for attention, a Senegal parrot named Prozac (Zac) who sings to me on a stand by my desk, and an orange tabby kitten named Nugget with one heck of a motor. The kids know that if I’m working, they can almost always find Nugget purring away in my lap.

Shannon Stocker cover and cat workspace

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

SHANNON: HA! I’m a mother, so I write when I can. Mornings bring my freshest, cleanest thinking, so I try to draft first thing. That said, I can get caught up in emails and social media if I’m not careful. I’ve really had to force myself to stay away from Google during typical work hours. Yahoo and NPR are NOT my friends. Although I have had ideas come to me as I was falling asleep several times, I believe the muse rarely just “strikes” – typically, she strikes when my butt is in the chair. I will always stop to jot down random ideas when they come to me, but more often than not my best work comes when I sit down to actually work. I’m finding it difficult to balance out everything that comes with a launch right now…marketing, social media, blog posts, revising for my next book, school visits, contacting libraries, Goodreads reviews, prepping new submissions, my own blog (InHERview), and my memoir all have to find a way into my schedule. New picture book drafts have definitely taken a back seat this summer. I’m not looking forward to the early mornings once school begins, but I am. It’ll be nice to have my schedule back.

ME: Why do you write for children?

SHANNON: Wow. That feels like a loaded question. I think the bigger question for me is, what took me so long to START writing for children? Like songwriting, writing for children has always been in my blood. It’s always been something I felt like I needed to do. It was more than just a “want.” I always said that music was like oxygen for me—both the performing aspect and the writing aspect. Writing for children feels the same. As this journey has progressed, it’s become clear to me that although I’ve always wanted my children to have a piece of me that they can share with their children, my desire to write FOR children is deeper than that.

 

In 2007, I was given two years to live. I have a disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system (which is different from an autoimmune disorder). When in flare, things like my ability to perceive pain normally, or my ability to regulate temperature, are broken. During the two years when I was at my sickest, my body was covered in ulcers and I needed a wheelchair to get around. When we went places, strangers rarely made eye contact with me or said hello. I felt so isolated…so “less than.” My heart breaks when I think of all the children in this world who feel that way. I currently have a daughter who suffers from gastroparesis (paralysis of the gut), and she feels the exact same way. She’s been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count this past year, and she feels like no one understands what she’s going through. And for her, it’s particularly tough because her disability is invisible to most of the world. They don’t see her struggle with daily nausea, vomiting, fevers. There are so many books in this world, but so few represent children who feel/are different from the masses. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to see themselves in a book, no matter their brand of diversity. It’s more than something I want to do at this point. It feels like something I need to do. Because of my own medical history and now because of my daughter’s illness, I’ve gained empathy and perspective. I want to give these kids a voice. More importantly, I want them to know that they’re not alone.

ME: Oh my gosh…Shannon…that is a story that will touch everyone’s heart! Do you have anything you’d like to add for teachers and librarians?

SHANNON: Quick note to educators and librarians: I’m excited about doing school visits so I can speak with kids a little about my story, overcoming obstacles, and the importance of revision during the writing process. My elementary school presentations also incorporate music (singing/guitar). Please visit my website (www.shannonstocker.com) for booking information!

My first picture book , CAN U SAVE THE DAY, is a fun, rhyming alphabet story in which the consonants bully the vowels who, one-by-one, leave the farm (and the dialogue in the book), until a looming disaster must be solved by U.

ME: This has been awesome, Shannon! You’ve shared so much, straight from your heart and soul…we all thank you so very much. But I know you are not done yet. You’ve got something yummy for us, right?

SHANNON: Due to gastroparesis, my daughter is on a strict diet called a low-FODMAP diet. She is unable to eat short-chain carbohydrates, which includes dairy, gluten, many kinds of sugars, certain vegetables, most soy, dried fruits…it’s restrictive, to say the least. These oatmeal chocolate chip energy bites are a big hit in the house—even with our non-FODMAP eaters!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP ENERGY BITES

Shannon Stocker cookies

(recipe courtesy of Rachel Paul’s Foods)

Serves 12 (yields about 20-24 bites, depending on size)

Prep time: 20 minutes (10 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to roll balls)

Chill time: 30 min or longer

Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats, gluten-free
    • Can also use ½ cup oats and ½ cup cooked quinoa for a variation
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (unsweetened)
    • Can also use raw coconut
    • I prefer the flavor of toasted coconut so I toast the flakes at 300 F for about 5 minutes in the oven, stirring once
      • I toast all my baking ingredients in batches and keep toasted pecans, coconut and walnuts in my freezer to have on hand (I much prefer the deeper flavor this gives my cookies/cakes/etc or for sprinkling in low-FODMAP oatmeal and yogurt)
    • You may be able to buy pre-toasted coconut near you
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use all-natural, no other added ingredients)
    • Can use salted, or unsalted based on your preference
  • 1/2 cup flax seed meal
    • You can buy this or grind your own using flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free if available); miniature or regular size
    • Can substitute dried cranberries, raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds or combine more than one together
      • ½ cup is about 65 g of dried cranberries/raisins
        • This is about 5 low-FODMAP servings for raisins (one serving is 13 g)
        • This is about 4 low-FODMAP servings for cranberries (one serving is 15 g)
      • 1/3 cup maple syrup
      • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt (if not added to your peanut butter
      • Optional add ins:
        • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, hemp seeds or whole flax seeds
        • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
      • Directions
        • Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed
        • Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour
          • It will be sticky, chilling makes it easier to handle
        • Once chilled, roll into balls of about 1 inch diameter (a small cookie-scoop works well)
          • You can add additional maple syrup or peanut butter if needed
        • Store in sealed contained in refrigerator for about 2 weeks or freeze for longer

 

This is such an important recipe, folks…there are more and more kids who have sensitivities, large and small, to many ingredients that are found in most treat recipes…here is a SAFE one for many of those problems.

I know we are all joining in to thank Shannon for stopping by today…and also for the GENEROUS MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY!  Please leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win. If you also left a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post, you will have two chances.

And remember, dear friends, there are several ways to support and encourage our favorite authors who write these wonderful books:

  1. Buy their books
  2. Review their books
  3. Tell friends about their books
  4. Ask local libraries to purchase their books for their collection

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. I’ll be off to Colorado on Monday…and will be at the Second Star to the Right Bookstore at 1545 S. Pearl Street in Denver on Friday, August 23 for their storytime from 10:30am to 11:15am. If you are in the neightborhood, please stop in to say hello. There will be a story reading of Four Otters Toboggan, a craft activity and coloring pages for the kiddos, and lots of great kidlit conversations for the adults.

 

 

 

 

47 thoughts on “SHANNON STOCKER: Will Write for Cookies Plus CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

  1. Thank you both, Shannon and Vivian. Shannon, whew, you are remarkable and inspirational. I have no idea how you do all that you do, but I am glad you do! Looking forward to reading your books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shannon, your daughter should start eating veggies and fruit. Only. Give her body a break.
    Do a smoothie with fruit and lots of veggie juices. Start with celery juice in AM. After a few weeks she and you will be must happier! Hope this helps. Thinking positively, will help cure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Quite an amazing journey! Thank you for all the nuggets of wisdom. Great interview.
      My daughter has been getting sick (vomiting) every 3-4 weeks, and we are currently investigating the cause. I hadn’t heard of gastroparesis. Sounds like a rough road.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a great interview Shannon. Your advice about the importance of critique partners is so important for writers to take to heart. You don’t know how much you need them until you have them! Your daughter’s “invisible disability” really resonated with me. My youngest son suffers from both bipolar disorder and Asperger’s. It took years to diagnose and find the right medications. He is doing great now as an adult, but for years it was tough having a kid that “looked normal” until he was out of control. To the outside world, he looked like a brat and I looked like a terrible mother. It’s a difficult journey for kids that are different on the inside. Good luck to your daughter, she’s lucky to have such a supportive mom! And thanks again for the inspiring interview. This book looks like such fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story touched my heart, Shannon. All the best to you and your daughter. So happy to hear your thoughts about CPs. I feel the same way! I’m currently in two groups and they help so much not only with craft but with those down times to keep me going.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Shanon, I share some of your backstory w/ a “soagent,” so I’m very happy for you and U CAN SAVE THE DAY. What a cool alphabet book concept! Cheering you and your dear daughter on! YOU and my pal Vivian are both an inspiration to me. I agree about CPS, I’ve finally found my “peeps.” We share the same passion, all have different skill sets other each other, and are trusted friends. hope I win that critique!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow. Wow. Wow. This is a beautiful interview. Thank you for all this wisdom, Shannon. Also, your school visits sounds inspiring, important, and fun (music!). I’m going to suggest you to my daughter’s school as a great author to come visit. I’ll get your book first, of course! And then show it to our librarian. This is all so awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing your story, Shannon. Great interview. I’m a Girl Scout troop leader and have a little girl in the troop with many food allergies. We were going to do a food type badge and this would be a perfect recipe for us to use!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This interview mirrors almost exactly one of the discussions we’ve been having in one of my critique groups— the importance of children being seen and the different types of diversity. We all have our own world views that reflect children’s experiences. When we tap into that for our writing we help children feel seen.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you, Shannon, for such an inspiring interview. Your story hit me right in the heart. And your advice, especially the importance of CP’s, is spot on. All my best to you and your family. Thank you, Vivian, for sharing Shannon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, what a story! So glad you are doing better and you have been through it so you can help your daughter. And other children! Loved reading this interview. Thanks so much. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Every time I read one of your author interviews, Vivian, I am reminded of why I love this kidlit community. Shannon, thank you for sharing your personal and professional journey. Your inspiring story is a reminder that behind the many life-is-great Facebook posts and rosy Instagram photos, many of us are dealing with family, personal and health issues. I wish you and your daughter good health & much happiness. I look forward to reading your debut & upcoming picture book biographies.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Both of you are inspiring! You make me want to continue writing, continue getting better at it, and most of all enjoying the process. Shannon, I think you have or will be getting one of my manuscripts. You are the guest star pitcher for Sandra Sutter’s Pitch it to Me Contest, and my Safety Power story is up to bat. I’m excited to have your eyes on my work. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Rinda…that is exactly what we want to hear…that people want to continue writing…and, as you say, enjoy the process. Because we need to find joy in what we are doing…as Jane Yolen says. And BTW…I mailed out A Wonderful Day by Michael Samulak to you this afternoon…I hope you enjoy the book!

      Like

  13. Wow, Vivian and Shannon! What an awesome interview. So loaded with information and inspiration. Thanks for sharing – and making me feel like a slacker. Shannon – how DO you do it all! Congratulations on your upcoming release!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No slacker, Tiffany…we are each on our our journey…heading in the same direction…but each of us has different roadblocks and hazards along the way…and responsibilities and obligations that must be met. I honestly don’t know how any of you do it…keep writing when you have families/jobs/health issues or a combination of those. You are exactly where you need to be, my friend…just don’t give up and you will get where you want to go.

      Like

  14. Viv, thanks for interviewing this incredibly motivating soul. I’m humbled byShannon’s strength and fortitude and look forward to reading all of her books!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Shannon, it’s been so nice to learn about you! I wish you luck on your writing journey, and in your health challenges as well. Your book sounds like a truly original take on an ABC book, and I can’t wait to check it out. Thanks for introducing me to Shannon, Vivian!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lovely interview, ladies. 🤗🤗
    I’m always happy to read an exchange between two of my friends! CAN U SAVE THE DAY? is amazing which is no surprise but as Vivian said in this comment thread, I don’t know how you do it with everything else happening in your life. Congratulations, my dear Shannon on this wonderful book and the ones coming soon. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Vivian, thank you so much for this wonderful interview. Shannon, thank you for sharing your story, I never would have guessed such a bubbly person had gone through so much. I’m so proud that you’ve made such a positive life and become such an inspiration with all you’ve been through! Keep it up can’t wait to read all your books!

    Like

  18. Pingback: Bookstore Magic | A Picture, A Song, A Literary Quote

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