WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
LAURIE SMOLLETT KUTSCERA
Will Write for Cookies is one of my favorite blog series…I hope it’s one of yours, too! I love it because I get to connect with some of the best kidlit authors and illustrators. I’m able to peek inside their journey to publication. And best of all, I can share it with all of you!
Today’s guest is someone I meet in kidlit challenges and contests…on social media…actually, author/illustrator Laurie Smollett Kutscera is everywhere! And everywhere I meet her she is kind and generous and lots of fun. She’s offering a copy of her newest MG novel as a giveaway, so don’t forget to leave a comment at the end. And now, I can’t wait for us to find out more about her!
WELCOME, Laurie! It’s so lovely to have you here. Thank you for stopping by.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Laurie: Thanks so much for having me, Vivian! It’s a pleasure to be here with you. When I was young, getting lost in books was a way to escape a complicated family situation. One would think I would have gravitated to more upbeat books like The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Suess, but I was drawn to Hans Christian Anderson. His stories resonated with me most, many touching on real situations and challenges growing up in a not always friendly world. I still cry when I think of the Little Match Girl and why no one saved her.many touching on real situations and challenges growing up in a not always friendly world. I still cry when I think of the Little Match Girl and why no one saved her.
As for illustrators, Nancy Ekholm Burkert was my absolute favorite. She did the most gorgeous illustrations for Snow White, for which she won a Caldecott. Her attention to detail was remarkable- especially enjoyable through a child’s eyes. I loved getting lost in her delicate pottery, tableware and costumes. The environments she created were so vivid, you could step right in and join one of the dwarfs for a cup of tea! Her books have always inspired me – many of which still sit on my living room shelf today.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
Laurie: Gosh, I hate to look back on all the floundering I did before I discovered the online writing community. I wish I had known there were such marvelous support groups available, and that essential information and guidance on crafting stories was right at my fingertips!
Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, Kidlit 411, Children’s Book Academy, 50 Precious Words Contest. I eventually found you all, but ooohhh so much time was lost on a “hamster wheel.”
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper.
Laurie: I might jot things down in a notebook, but I much prefer my laptop. Early on, writing papers for school was a huge challenge for me. I couldn’t stand working around the scribbles and crossed out sentences. It was like maneuvering through a traffic jam! It may sound silly, but once I began writing in Word, I was amazed at how I was able to get my thoughts down almost as quickly as they came to me. Also, the ability to play with sentence structure is so much more efficient in Word.
I need quiet when I write. Usually my studio is the best place to work, or, if my husband isn’t home, marching around in his “honey-do work boots) – I’ll take over the living room for a few hours.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
Laurie: My muse has a sense of humor, (don’t they all?) She manages to strike at the most inconvenient moments. When I’m falling asleep, driving my car, in the shower or elbow deep making pie crust! Why is that??? I try to keep a pad of paper with me- often jumping out of bed to jot ideas down as they come. If I don’t, by the morning, they’re lost.
I don’t have a schedule–when an idea strikes I’ll sit down and work through as many details as I can. Then I’ll plan the time to write. I’m usually best between 10 am and 2 pm (like the hands on a wheel, lol.) That’s when I seem to be most focused to write. It’s funny, I can work on an illustration until 3 in the morning! I guess it’s a different part of the brain.
ME:Why do you write for children?
Laurie: I love connecting with kids and tapping in to their imaginations – creating other worlds that a child can relate to and get lost in. One where they are left with another perspective to think about, or where I can make them laugh at their own “secret” behaviors, like picking their nose. Yes, I did! I wrote a story about boogers!
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
Laurie: Advice for aspiring writers-
Keep working on your craft. Don’t let those negative thoughts floating in your head consume you. Talk to them if you must, then put them in a box and lock it. Tell them you’ll address them later, but right now, you’re busy writing!
Find a critique group that will help you fine tune your work. I am blessed have found a wonderful group where we all learn from each other.
ME: How about anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear?
Laurie: We all need a little magic right now. MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON, takes middle grade readers on an adventure with Alex Finn, and at the same time delves into an array of card manipulations and tricks he and his father shared. I’m planning to host a magic contest, where teachers and educators can reach out to parents, who can post videos of their kids performing their best magic trick. (Date and Details to come.) I’m also available for virtual school visits where I can share with students how I personally approached writing and illustrating the book.
Also, speaking of critique groups, I recently collaborated with one of my amazing critique partners, Kate Allen Fox on a Covid-19 picture e-book. Even Heroes Feel Sad: Fighting Coronavirus Together which provides information for children, while also acknowledging the feelings they may have during this pandemic. Kate worked for the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for eight years–so great attention was paid to ensuring its scientific accuracy, while also creating an enjoyable and comforting read for kids ages 6—9. Little back story here, I had one week to illustrate and design the entire project! Kate and I are thrilled to share this labor of love with everyone. A free downloadable e-book along with a read-aloud on YouTube can be found at: https://www.lskillustration.com/even-heroes-feel-sad-fighting-coronavirus-together/
ME: And now something sweet from Laurie’s kitchen:
WOW! What a jam-packed post…plus we are all able to download that free ebook and read-aloud: EVEN HEROES FEEL SAD: FIGHTING CORONAVIRUS TOGETHER. And I loved what you said about needed a little magic right now. I’ve been rewatching the Harry Potter movies in the evening with my big bowl of popcorn. But now that your book arrived from my local indie, I can’t wait to get lost in The Misadventures of a Magician’s Son!
For more info about Laurie and her fabulous mddle grade book that just launched:
And don’t forget to leave a comment at the end to be entered in the giveaway to win a copy of MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON. If you share on social media, you earn more tickets for the giveaway hat…so please share the post.
Thank you all for stopping by…I hope everyone is staying safe and well. All is good here There are so many free webinars and other online offerings for writers, illustrators, teachers, parents, and kids. What a joy to see this awesome kidlit goodness…and it’s a thrill to be part of such a generous community.
Next week I have a Zoom author visit with the 4th graders who attend the local elementary school…they will be missing the previously scheduled May in person author visit…and won’t get to see it when we reschedule for next school year because this is a K-4th grade facility and they are going on to another school. I decided to offer a free Zoom just for them…I’m excited to chat about the path to publication and read Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe.
More good news which many of you probably already saw…my next picture book bio was just announced on PW.
Don’t forget to download the free ebook and read-aloud: EVEN HEROES FEEL SAD: FIGHTING CORONAVIRUS TOGETHER from Laurie and Kate: https://www.lskillustration.com/even-heroes-feel-sad-fighting-coronavirus-together/