WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
The kidlit community abounds with awesome creatives…and I feel so blessed to connect with them, whether we meet at a conference, in the chat box of a webinar, or as I turn the pages of one of their books. The latter is how I met today’s guest. I reviewed her brand-new picture book, LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED, for Perfect Picture Book Friday….and I just knew you’d all love to get to know her better.
Carolyn Leiloglou (lay-LAW-glue) lives with her husband and four kids in San Antonio, Texas, home to the Alamo and the world’s largest pair of cowboy boots. Carolyn was a finalist for the 2018 Katherine Patterson Prize, and her poems and stories have been published in magazines around the world including Ladybug, Clubhouse Jr., Highlights, and The School Magazine. She is the author of the NOAH GREEN JUNIOR ZOOKEEPER series (Clear Fork) and LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED (Pelican 2020). Carolyn is represented by Bibi Lewis of the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency.
ME: Howdy, Carolyn! It’s lovely to have you here today. Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve got a bunch of questions and I know everyone is excited to hear your answers, so let’s get started.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Carolyn: I don’t remember many of the picture books we read when I was a child besides Goodnight Moon and The Giving Tree, but later in elementary school, I loved The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and the Redwall series by Brian Jaques.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
Carolyn: I wish I had known that investing time wasn’t a waste. I spent many years doubting if the small amount of time I spent on writing was wasted time. There was no guarantee, after all, that I’d ever be published. It wasn’t until I realized I was only wasting time if I didn’t spend the time needed to improve my craft. It didn’t happen all at once, but I never would have gotten here without making that investment of time.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
Carolyn: Definitely on my laptop! I can’t even read my own handwriting. The where I write shifts more often. I do have a desk that I sometimes write at, but when the weather is nice, I set up a folding table in my garage where I can watch my kids play in our cul-de-sac while writing.
I homeschool my four kids, so I’ve had to be mindful of setting up time to write that happens consistently. My best time, pre-coronavirus, was Tuesday afternoons. My kids would go to a drop-off homeschool PE group, and I’d head to MacDonald’s where I’d put on noise cancelling headphones and write for three hours. Recently, I’ve been trying to squeeze in my writing in the afternoons while my kids play or work on independent projects or in the early evenings. It’s not a perfect system, but you work with what you have!
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
Carolyn: I’m not a morning person, and the first half of our day is always dedicated to homeschool. Afternoons are usually my best bet, depending on the day. Also, my husband tends to have paperwork in the evenings, so there’s often time between when the kids go to bed and he’s done with his tasks that I can use for writing.
ME: Why do you write for children?
Carolyn: I actually can’t imagine wanting to write for adults. It’s never appealed to me. But I’ve wanted to be a children’s author as long as I can remember.
I think it’s because the books I read as a child were so formative for me. I always thought I’d be writing middle-grade novels (that’s still one of my goals), but when my kids were younger, I just fell in love with picture books.
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.
Carolyn: I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Aspiring writers, be persistent and find a critique group.
Parents and educators, keep reading to your kids. You are doing a fantastic job!
Librarians, thank you! And I hope you love Library’s Most Wanted!
ME: Thank you so much, Carolyn! What inspiring words…and I know that librarians…and parents and educators and kids…are going to love LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED! And that’s not the only thing that will be most wanted…I’ve had a peek at your recipe…oh my gosh…I need to make that RIGHT NOW! Take it away, Carolyn!
Carolyn: Now for the treat!
Growing up, my neighbors used to make toffee for us every Christmas. I spent a long time searching for a recipe that was just as delicious, though it’s not quite the same. I got this from a friend and have tinkered with it until it worked for me. Now my friends and relatives expect it every year, and I’m in trouble if I don’t make it! Enjoy!
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 heaping cup chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350. Line one medium non-stick cookie sheet with saltine crackers. (It needs to be the kind of pan with sides. Some people call these jelly-roll pans, I believe, but they are cookie sheets to me).
Heat butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. Once mixture starts to bubble, set a timer for 6 minutes. You must stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan to keep it from burning. After six minutes, pour mixture evenly over crackers and spread quickly and gently so that it covers the entire tray.
Bake in oven for 6 minutes or until entire mixture is bubbly.
Remove from oven, and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. After about a minute, the chocolate will be ready to spread across toffee.
Top with sliced almonds.
When tray is cool, place in freezer to set chocolate.
Break into pieces and enjoy!
*Since every stove and oven are a little different, you may go though a couple of batches before you get a good feel for it. If you heat it too long on the stove, toffee will not spread evenly over crackers or get fully bubbly in oven. If not heated thoroughly enough, toffee will not be crunchy at room temperature. Good luck!
ME: Okay….just to share with all of you…when I was a kid…my dad was a candy lover. He worked in Manhattan and we lived in Brooklyn. Every day he took the subway and was often lured by the vendors who sold nuts and candy right outside the station. I can remember the little wax paper bags with 1/4 pound of chocolate covered raisins, 1/4 pound of nonpariels, and of course, my favorite, English toffee. And now, thanks to Carolyn, I’ve got a great recipe to make my own.
Seriously though, I know we are all grateful to Carolyn for sharing her writer insights AND her yummy recipe.
To find out more about Carolyn and her books:
And please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED.
Maybe you can share in the comments how you felt when you got your first library card…or which book you most frequently borrowed from the library when you were a kid.
Please stay safe and well, dear friends!