WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Can we have a show of hands for people who enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie over the past almost 50 years? I would have watched it no matter who the actors and actresses were…but ever since Bonanza, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Michael Landon – and as Charles Ingalls, he was at his best. Many of the episodes were written and directed by him…and as the seasons unfolded, I often wished he had been my dad. So, when I heard that author Annette Whipple had a new book coming out entitled: THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION…I knew I’d want to ask her to stop by to talk with us about it.
Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder in young readers while exciting them about science and history. She’s the author of eight fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls (Reycraft Books), and The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press). Annette is a fact-loving, chocolate chip cookie-baking children’s nonfiction author from Pennsylvania. Get to know her and learn about her presentations at AnnetteWhipple.com or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Annette. Thanks so much for visiting and for agreeing to do a Q&A with us. Why don’t we get started because I know you have a lot to share.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
ANNETTE: As a young child, we didn’t have a lot of books at home (or a library in town) so I don’t have many memories of being read to at home, but I know we had The Monster at the End of This Book. It cracked me up! In school, Mrs. Schoonover introduced me to Anne of Green Gables and Old Yeller. By 4th grade or so I began reading Ann M. Martin’s the Baby-sitters Club series and even owned some of them. I appreciated Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine’s creepy mysteries a bit later. I wasn’t a strong reader, but I loved my school’s library. It was there that I first met Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child, I wondered if she exaggerated The Long Winter. It wasn’t until I was an adult researching for my own book that I learned the answer. (And readers of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion will know the answer, too!)
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
ANNETTE: I’m pretty sure this question wasn’t supposed to make me laugh, but it did. And you know what? That’s appropriate because I think one of the most important things to remember when writing for children is to make it fun—especially nonfiction if it’s an appropriate topic! It took me a while to figure this out, but now I try to add more humor to my writing.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
ANNETTE: I need quiet to write, and I prefer to write inside. Though I don’t have an office, I do have a desk. I use a laptop connected to a larger monitor for most of my writing. When I really need to focus—such as on just the first lines of a book or revisions—I prefer to use pen and paper. (Pentel’s EnerGel Needle Tip pens are my favorite. And they’re refillable!)
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
ANNETTE: Um…is it fair to say when my family doesn’t need me? It really depends on the time of year. If my children are in school (and at school), I don’t get started until mid-morning. But during the summer my mornings tend to start early. If I’m well rested, I might be at my desk by 5:30. Other days I might get up close to 7 and exercise, eat, and shower before starting. It just depends on the day. Exercise may cut into my writing time, but if I’m going to sit at my desk for hours each day, I need to get my muscles moving.
ME: Why do you write for children?
ANNETTE: I love to inspire and encourage children through my words. Facts are fun, and I want kids to celebrate their curiosity. I love that my words can teach kids though a bit differently now than when I was a classroom teacher.
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
ANNETTE: Aspiring writers must be persistent. Take the time to study the publishing world. Consider yourself a life-long learner of the craft of writing. Learn how to use mentor texts and spend a lot of time reading recently-published books in your genre. And find a critique partner (or two) or a critique group for writers in your genre. You will learn so much as you study their manuscripts, and they’ll help you improve your own.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide was inspired by another book. I had the idea for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion in 2014 when I was reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my own children and going through a companion guide which they loved! I knew I could write a book like Roar! A Christian Family’s Guide to Narnia. I didn’t even know what a mentor text was, but I studied the book and used it as a model. The next summer I attended my first writing conference (though I’d already taken online classes and been published in magazines). Though this was my first book idea, it will be my 7th book published. Writing takes a lot of persistence and patience! BUT if you have a dream, keep at it.
I know The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion is a better book because of my wait. The publisher and I waited two years from their offer to the contract (because of rights and permissions). During that time I spent lots more time reading children’s books and learned the wonder of sidebars. My sample manuscript didn’t include sidebars, but the final version of ‘The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion is full of them along with lots of history, thoughtful questions, pioneer terms, and 75 activities for fans of the Little House books.
ME: And I absolutely LOVE the sidebars, Annette…and so will parents and teachers…and kids! But we’re not done yet because I know you have a double-header sweet treat for us. Take it away, Annette!
Annette: I love chocolate chip cookies! It took me years and years to find a recipe that I LOVED that didn’t require a special ingredient. But when my friend made me her cookies, I asked for the recipe…and it actually worked for me! The key is to add more flour for some extra fluff and goodness. Here’s my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can I share a second favorite cookie-related recipe, too? Chocolate chip cookie pie is my favorite pie to make. It’s quick and delicious. Other than the pie crust, it only takes a few minutes to get it in the oven. (Sometimes I cheat and make my pat-in-the-pan pie crust so it’s still in the oven in a matter of minutes.) And here’s the chocolate chip cookie pie recipe!
ME and every single one of my readers: Can you share a second favorite cookie-related recipe? You bet! And I love the idea of a chocolate chip cookie PIE! Last week, Carrie Finison shared a doughnut cookie recipe to celebrate her new book, DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS…and now you are sharing a chocolate chip cookie PIE recipe to celebrate the launch of your new book, THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION
I know everyone joins me in thanking Annette for sharing some of her writing journey and insights with us. And please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of her wonderful new book, THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION…why not tell us your favorite TV series when you were growing up.
I’m wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend. My days are a whirlwind of sorting/purging/packing…my house is sold and the closing is August 31. And one of the perks of all of this is that I am finding scraps of paper and old PiBoIdMo (Storystorm) notebooks filled with story ideas.