Plate of Cookies







Hurray for new connections! Joining debut picture book groups has expanded my already rich network of authors and illustrators. And that’s how I came to become acquainted with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest.

Debbie Gonzales is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, a podcaster (The Debcast), and past SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. Deb currently devotes her time to writing middle grade novels, crafting teacher guides and various other freelance projects. She’s the author of six transitional readers for New Zealand publisher, Giltedge, and the non-fiction picture book Girls with Guts: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). Deb serves as a member of the Michigan Reading Association board and earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Learn more about Deb and her many projects by accessing her websites at and

ME: Welcome, Deb! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us. We’ve got a lot to cover, so I’ll get right to the questions.

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

DEB: Sad to say, I can’t recall the names of any beloved childhood authors or illustrators. Believe it or not, I wasn’t an avid reader as a child. While I cherished being in school and enjoyed spelling tests, memorizing math facts and vocabulary words, I wasn’t an independent reader. I wasn’t anti-reading, by any means. It’s just that, in my house, reading wasn’t activity that was practiced or supported. I did, however, fall in LOVE with children’s literature when my first child was born. My son and I thoroughly enjoyed going to the library together. We’d often would fantasize how wonderful it would be if we were to be locked in the library overnight, free to read whatever we wanted to for as long as we wanted to. Sounds like terrific fun, doesn’t it?


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

DEB: That marketing was going to be a critical component to the ultimate success of my books, that I would have to consciously put myself out “there” (Wherever “there” might be). That building a publicity platform is as important as crafting a clever query letter. There are lots of ways to establish visibility that don’t feel icky and that are actually fun to do!


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

DEB: It depends on what part of the process that I’m in. First, I brainstorm with paper and pencil (You can bet that there’s lots of erasing going on during this phase.). Then I write – more like a brain dump – on a laptop with the internet turned off. In this phase, I am not worried about spelling or sentence structure. I just work to get my thoughts on the page. Lastly, I polish the piece at my desk. I bop around each of these phases as need be.


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

DEB: Because I have a vibrant freelance business, I must schedule time to get my creative work in. Quite honestly, there are times when a client’s work takes precedence over the needs of my characters (They are very understanding about this, though.). I find that blocking out an entire day to work on creative rather than squeezing minutes in throughout the day works best for me. My ultimate goal is to reserve two full days a week for creative. Let’s keep this plan a secret, okay? We don’t want to disappoint my clients, do we?

ME: Why do you write for children?

DEB: You know, maybe I write for the young Debbie that wasn’t a reader. Perhaps, I’d like to give her opportunity and permission to lose herself in a book, one that I’ve crafted just for her. I’d love to have a nice chat with her about important things such as character development or ways that comprehending a story helps one to better understand their life. I think that’s it. I write for Little Debbie and she seems to like what I say.


This is Missy! Obviously, she is Deb’s first eyes on every manuscript!

 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. 


DEB: I’d like to expound on the notion that “there are lots of ways to establish visibility that don’t feel icky and that are actually fun to do”.  For a year and a half before GIRLS WITH GUTS was published, I immersed myself in all things marketing. I read scads of books written by relationship marketing gurus – Micheal Hyatt, Tim Grahl, Derek Sivers, and Jeff Walker to name just a few. While doing so, the thought stuck me that others might like to know about things I’ve learned. As a result, I produced two online courses that were very well-received. And, much to my delight, these efforts paid off! Not only have I established a program based on the principles the gurus presented, the prelaunch sales numbers for my book were phenomenal! It worked!

Currently, I’m developing a program in which I coach authors how to gain clarity, focus, and the skills required to enhance visibility in the kidlit marketplace. The premise for this program is founded on building thoughtful personal and online relationships. To achieve this, we explore options that align with one’s digital skill set and circles of influence. Then, we discover avenues of opportunity to develop a publicity platform that feels authentic and sincere.  The process is remarkably painless. It’s true!

As a giveaway, I’d like to offer an hour-long strategy session during which we will explore options that are just right for you. Enter the drawing and let’s have some visibility platform building fun.

ME: YAY…that is fabulous!!! What a special giveaway! And dear friends, wait till you see the special Vanilla Wafer Hamburger Cookie recipe Deb is sharing with us. You heard me right! Vanilla Wafer HAMBURGER Cookie…the kids are going to love asking for this one!

DEB:  You’re not going to believe how easy it is. My daughter actually won the blue ribbon at an annual back-off for her elementary school with this recipe.

Vanilla Wafer Hamburger Cookies
  • A box of Vanilla Wafers
  • A bag  of small-sized York peppermint paddies
  • a bag of coconut
  • green food coloring
  • yellow food coloring
  • water
  • sesame seeds
  • a microwave plate or platter
  • two small bowls
  • two spoons
  • a microwave oven
  • Place a generous amount (1/3 of a cup)  of coconut in a bowl. Sprinkle a few drops of green food coloring on the coconut. Mix well. You have just made the lettuce for your Vanilla Wafer Hamburger cookies.Place a generous amount (1/2 of a cup) of coconut in a bowl. Sprinkle a few drops of yellow food coloring on the coconut. Mix well. You have just made the shredded cheese for your Vanilla Wafer Hamburger cookies.
  • To build your hamburgers, place on Vanilla Wafer. top side down, on your plate. Next, place a York peppermint paddy on the the cookie. Sprinkle bits of “lettuce” and “cheese” on the paddy. Cover the “hamburger” with another Vanilla Wafer. Dab small drops of water on the upper portion of the Vanilla Wafer on the top and sprinkle a few sesame seeds on the water.
  • Nuke in the microwave over for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • There you have it! An award-winning and very delicious Vanilla Wafer Hamburger cookie!

WOW…thank you so much, Deb…for your insights in the Q&A, for the very special giveaway, and of course, for the Vanilla Wafer Hamburger Cookie recipe!

And dear readers, please don’t forget to check out Deb’s wonderful new picture book: GIRLS WITH GUTS: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records.

Remember that the greatest gift we can give our favorite authors is:

  • to buy their books
  • to review their books
  • to tell friends about their books
  • to ask our local library to purchase the book for their collection

And please leave a comment to be entered into the special giveaway…and share, share, share the post for extra chances in the giveaway hat.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful weekend. I’ll be going to have family pictures taken with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson at a chateau in New Hampshire…a chateau in New Hampshire? Below is the family photo we took last year at an apple orchard. when you see this year’s, I guarantee that Jeremy is going to be the same height as I am!


19 thoughts on “DEBBIE GONZALES: Will Write for Cookies Plus SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

  1. Debbie, I so appreciate that you talk about not being an independent reader and how you and your son discovered the love of it together. I was off and on myself, loved reading when j was very young, then only wanted TV then rediscovered reading, then lost it again and rediscovered it again at different times for different reasons. I think it’s important to note why these things happen, they’re a part of our journey and help us write for our audience 😍

    Vivian, thanks for always sharing such wonderful people wotb beautiful bokksz can’t wait to check this one out and I’d adore this marketing prize, i LOVE LOVE LOVE marketing; in fact, I did lots of it as a kid and have brainstormed so much for my bookz I asked my editor ifbi can just sit down with their marketing Dept, hopefully it’ll be possible 😍

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Deb, congratulations on your new book for girls! I, too, was not aware of the names of illustrators or authors as a young person. I would love to learn some of your marketing strategies.
    Vivian, what a darling family picture!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I, too, have only a handful of books that I can recall from my childhood, as my parents were not big readers, and there were few books in our house. And I think that, for a farm family, there were always other priorities that didn’t include going to the library. So I had to play catch-up on the “classics” after my son was born. I love the idea of relationship marketing, and think it makes a huge amount of sense. I can’t even imagine having to face marketing in any other way, especially since I’m an introvert. Thanks for introducing us to Debbie, Vivian!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Congratulations on Girls with Guts, Debbie! There was so much in this great interview that rang true to me from reading not being practiced and supported at home to finding ways to increase visibility of your books without feeling icky! Love that! Thank you both for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So many good points, Deb. The discussion about reading as a kid brought me back. My one cherished bool, “The Little Engine That Could” – inspired my sense of perseverance. This past Friday night, my grandkids had a sleepover at Grams’ house and the little engine delivered once again. A few brittle pages had come unbound. After our reading, we had great fun, taping them back into the book. The kids loved the fact that their momma read this book when she was little.


  6. Thank you for sharing some very valuable points, Deb. Ironically, my career began in marketing and segued into writing for kids (& now teaching them!). Yet as I wait to see the first illustrations for my debut pb, my marketing brain is stymied! I feel frozen in my tracks on how to market myself. After reading your post, I’m planning on hitting the books hard & researching all things book-marketing. Thanks for the spur! (And PS–that cookie recipe will definitely keep me going and going! :> )

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Deb, I enjoyed your post. I’m looking forward to reading your book, Girls with Guts. As a grandmother with 4 granddaughters and 4 grandsons. I think this would be a great book to share with them. I also appreciated your comments about establishing visibility without feeling icky! This is something that I definitely need help establishing.


  8. Looking forward to you book, Deb. Congratulations! The whole marketing, platform piece is a bit intimidating, especially the part of not being pushy or fake (I mean how to find ways to not be pushy or fake…). Real interactions are so much better. Thanks for contributing to our writing community. 🙂


  9. Thanks for this interview. I love that she’s writing for Debbie the reluctant reader. That touched my heart. To tackle marketing in such a way is amazing. I am NOT there, yet you inspired me to THINK about it.


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