WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
ALAYNE KAY CHRISTIAN
What a treat! Our guest today is one of my long-time critique buddies. And when I was in Chicago last year, we had a meet and greet and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast together. I’m so glad I did all that traveling last year…because this year we are all pretty much home-bound. I look forward to catching up with Alayne again in the future. But for now, we all have the pleasure of chatting with her…and all of you also have the chance to enter the giveaway of a copy of her newest picture book, AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN.
Alayne Kay Christian is the acquisitions editor and creative director for Blue Whale Press, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing. She’s an award-winning children’s book author and the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course Art of Arc. She also offers Writing for Children Webinars. Her published works include the award-winning Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy chapter book series and the award-winning picture book Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa, and picture book An Old Man and His Penguin: How Dindim Made João Pereira de Souza an Honorary Penguin. Her next picture book The Weed That Woke Christmas: The Mostly True Story of the Toledo Christmas Weed will also be released in early fall 2020. Her fourth picture book, Faith Beneath the Bridge will be brought into the world by Clear Fork Publishing in 2021. Born in the Rockies, raised in Chicago, and now a true-blue Texan, Alayne’s writing shares her creative spirit and the kinship to nature and humanity that reside within her heart. You can learn more about Alayne by going to alaynekaychristianauthor.com.
ME: Welcome, Alayne! We are so very happy to have you here. I wanted something a bit different from you. I know that everyone is curious about how life goes for someone who is both an author and an editor. Dear friends…I give you: ALAYNE! She is opening her heart for us!
CONFESSION OF AN X-LIFE COACH
ALAYNE: Vivian asked me if I would like to share how I juggle being an editor and an author. Thank you for inviting me to Will Write for Cookies, Vivian. I am so excited about An Old Man and His Penguin. It’s been a long journey and a labor of love to bring this sweet story to the world in a picture book. For those who might be interested, here is a link to a post on Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating blog where illustrator Milanka Reardon and I share our book journey. https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/07/23/book-giveaway-an-old-man-and-his-penguin-how-dindim-made-joao-pereira-de-souza-an-honorary-penguin/
As for juggling, I have to say it is not easy. But part of that is because, probably like most of you, I am juggling so much more than writing and editing. With Blue Whale Press, I now wear the hats of acquisitions editor, creative director, layout and design, and some marketing. But then, I am an author, a kid lit writing teacher, and critique writer. On top of that, there is my personal life and well-being. And you all know how much juggling personal life and well-being alone encompasses.
I wish I could say that I’ve learned a perfect way to juggle that is the best for me personally, but I haven’t. However, I do know that I can’t always do it all, and as hard as it is, I sometimes have to say, “no” to myself and others. Way back in 2013, I wrote a blog post titled The Social-Network Monster That Ate an Author and Let Your Yeah Mean Yeah and Your No Mean No. I know, that’s a long title 😉 Here’s the link in case you are interested in my words of wisdom. https://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/the-social-network-monster-that-ate-an-author-and-let-your-yeah-mean-yeah-and-your-no-mean-no/
I’m currently recovering from surgery, which has given me some time to reflect. Recently, during a particularly stressful time, I recalled a question from my life-coaching days. “How can I have this be easy?” I know the wording is strange, but I like that it puts the responsibility on me. It takes me out of control-monster mode, and it pulls me out of any sense of victim-hood. It reminds me that I can be my own worst enemy when I forget that I have choices in what I think and what I believe. Attitude and perception are all in the mind, and I can choose how I view life and situations. One tool that I used to use to help clients assess their life is called a wheel of life. I haven’t done my own wheel of life assessment since I started working with Blue Whale Press. It is a great way to bring one’s life into balance. I think I’ll do an assessment in preparation for my return to work once I’ve fully recovered. If you would like to use the tool too, here is the link to a blog post I wrote titled A Fulfilling Life is One of Balance. https://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/a-fulfilling-life-is-one-of-balance/
So, here’s my confession—even with all my life coaching knowledge and tools, when it comes to balance, I’ve dropped some of my juggling balls. When thinking about dropping balls, I remembered how sometimes it is so easy to get wrapped up in “doing” that you forget how to “be.” I also realized that my surgery has been a blessing because it has forced me to stop and breathe for many weeks. In the process, I have remembered that balance is the only way to remain whole physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is my belief that if any one of those areas of well-being is suffering, then something in your life will suffer as well.
I still haven’t found my personal formula for juggling all the things I listed at the beginning of this post. For now, I am reevaluating my priorities and having some self-talk (conversations) with my perfectionist and control monster. Both of them are always certain to interfere with a smooth and successful juggling act. And with that, I’ve had a little light-bulb moment. . . .
In the process of writing this confession, I realized maybe I actually do a pretty good job of juggling. I believe some of the key factors that helped me juggle it all for the last several years are awareness, self-honesty, and realism.
Be aware when you’re out of balance. A clue that you’re out of balance is when any area of your life is suffering. If you feel drained more often than inspired and energized, you may be out of balance or you may be saying, “yes” when you need to say “no.”
Know what is realistic for you and the life you want to live.
Be honest with yourself when areas of your life feel unsatisfied and/or when you’re not being realistic about your desires, decisions, and choices.
I want to be superwoman, but the truth is I am not. That is awareness, honesty, and realism.
So, I’m not a “perfect” juggler, but that’s okay because I believe I’m a better juggler when not restricted by an unrealistic desire to be perfect and in control of it “all.” No matter how many struggles to juggle, the rewards are worth it. There is nothing like knowing that Blue Whale Press helps authors’ and illustrators’ dreams come true. And seeing their books come alive and become the magic they were meant to be, never stops being a thrill. And then there are my own books. They all come from my heart. And each one means the world to me. To hold them in my hand, admire the beautiful covers and visual stories that the illustrators have created, and to share them with others leaves me with magnificent feelings and memories that I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
ME: Oh Alayne…what a heartfelt post! Thank you so much. I don’t know how many others you have helped with these words…but I can tell you sincerely that you have definitely helped me! And I can see by the fabulous praise your newest picture book is getting, that you are helping others with your stories, as well! I’m going to share some of the reviews as well as a short synopsis, so that everyone can run right out to order a copy of AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN.
“A moving, affectionate, and joyful tale, all the more so for being true.” – Kirkus Reviews
“An Old Man and His Penguin holds a number of important messages about human/animal relationships, love, oil slicks and their impact on sea life, and loneliness. . . . its underlying focus on letting go and reaping rewards from non-possessiveness offers an outstanding lesson about love for the very young.” — D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Off the coast of Brazil, João rescues a lifeless, oil-covered penguin (Dindim) and nurses him back to health. Dindim adopts João as an honorary penguin, and the steadfast friends do everything together. They swim together, fish together, and stroll the beach together. But there are real penguins somewhere across the sea. So one day, Dindim leaves João. The villagers tell João the penguin will never come back. João cannot say if he will or will not. Are the villagers right? Will Dindim ever patter into his old friend’s loving arms again?
“Adults looking for an inviting animal story with an important message will welcome this appealingly different seaside tale.” — D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“The underlying lesson about compassion and good stewardship is subtle but effective; an author’s note explains the real-life circumstances. Reardon, who also illustrated the penguin-themed Noodles’ & Albie’s Birthday Surprise (2016), deftly captures the story’s charm and expressiveness. .” – Kirkus Reviews
ME: Wow! Alayne…this is fabulous! And I know that we aren’t done yet with the sweetness of this post because you have a special treat for us. The floor is yours, my friend.
ALAYNE: As we know from Vivian’s wonderful posts, everything is better with cookies. I wanted to share a penguin cookie recipe in honor of An Old Man and His Penguin, but because I have limited computer time during my surgery recovery, I stopped searching. I will share that there are some fun recipes out there for kids, so it’s worth looking for them if you have time. Instead of penguin cookies, I went to my recipes and pulled out the first easy cookie recipe I could find. My apologies to anyone with nut allergies in the family.
EASY THUMBPRINT COOKIES
1 20 oz package sugar cookie dough or a batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe
1 egg light beaten
1½ cups finally chopped walnuts
¼ cup any flavor jelly, jam, or preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
If making your favorite sugar cookie recipe, chill dough for 10 minutes
Place egg in a shallow bowl and the nuts in another
Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls
Roll each ball in egg and then in nuts until well coated (you may have to press nuts in a bit)
Place balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets
With your thumb, make a deep indentation on each cookie
With the packaged cookie dough, you may want to chill the indented cookie balls for 5 minutes before baking
Bake for about 12 minutes or until golden brown
Let cool on baking sheet (if the indentation closes during baking, repress it while the cookies are warm)
Once cooled, fill each indentation with a small spoonful of jelly
Thank you so much, Alayne! This has been so much fun. Please take care of yourself – speedy recovery to you!
And what can I say, dear friends? Order a copy of the book. Make a batch of these yummy cookies. Enjoy them while you read AN OLD MAN AND HIS PENGUIN. Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below…maybe you share which animal you would love to save. And write a review on Amazon.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Please stay safe and well.