WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Photo courtesy: Carter Hasegawa
I’ve met today’s Will Write for Cookies guest in person several times – at the NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA, at the NCTE convention in Baltimore, MD, and most recently, at the Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua, NH. It’s always so much fun…because, as you can tell from the books Josh writes, he’s a guy with a GREAT sense of humor! And this is the second time Josh has been here – the first time was about five years ago.
Josh Funk is a software engineer and the author of books like the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, Albie Newton, and more. For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @joshfunkbooks.
ME: Woo-hoo! Howdy, Josh! So happy you were able to stop by on your busy book blog tour. Thank you so much for making time for us…and for the generous giveaway of a copy of BOOK #1 in the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series. One lucky winner is going to be VERY HAPPY! I know you have a lot going on, and places to get to, so we will commence with the Q&A.
What is it like writing a picture book series?
JOSH: Hey, Vivian! Thanks so much for having me back again! It’s so interesting to look at these questions almost five years later to see how differently I’d answer them.
I didn’t originally intend for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast to become a series. But as soon as I saw Brendan Kearney’s first round of sketches of the world inside the refrigerator, I knew I needed to explore more.
In order to keep things fresh (see what I did there), I’ve tried to change up the genre with each successive one. The first book was a race. The Case of the Stinky Stench was a mystery. Mission Defrostable was an action/adventure spy thriller (more inspired by Indiana Jones than Mission Impossible, despite the title).
And book #4 in the series, Short & Sweet, which releases in a week is a sci-fi/comedy (think Honey, I Shrunk the Kids). In this one, to counter the fact that they’re going stale, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast visit Professor Biscotti and her ‘de-spoiling ray’, which inadvertently shrinks them into toddlers causing them to run amuck throughout the fridge once again.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
JOSH: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing and publicity.
I think I heard this in workshops and conferences, but it didn’t really sink in until I had sold my first book. However, you don’t have to wait until you sell a book to start networking.
One of the things I’ve tried very hard to do is connect with independent bookstores. Living in New Englander, I’m very fortunate that we have so many local indie bookshops. Because it takes so long to publish a picture book (usually about two years – or more – from the time you get an offer), I visited a lot of indies while I was waiting for my first book. I went to author events and got to know booksellers. And when it came time to mention that I had a book coming out, it was a great help to have friends at indie bookstores cheering me on.
And I keep supporting my indies. For the release of Short & Sweet, I’ve set up a preorder campaign with over 75 independent bookshops across the country. For every preorder from one of the stores listed at joshfunkbooks.com/indiebound, you’ll get a signed bookplate and exclusive collector’s cards.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
JOSH: First, I take issue with the question because it implies that I’m no longer a child, which would be patently false. Depending on the day, I act either 5, 8 or 12 years old. But in all cases, I consider myself a permanent child.
If you’re asking what books I liked during, say, my years as an elementary school student, that I can answer.
I found Morris the Moose by B. Wiseman hilarious. I loved the Cam Jansen mysteries by David A. Adler. I devoured The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. And I was so excited about The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin I vividly remember calling my friend Rafi to see if he’d reached the part I was at so we could discuss the evolving mystery (this was before texting).
I vividly remember at least twice (with Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White in kindergarten and Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back by Shel Silverstein in third grade) that the teachers’ read-alouds were moving too slowly so I forced my parents to buy those books so I could read them (or have them read to me) faster.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
JOSH: I love to write in my public library (although I haven’t been lately), sometimes in a study room, sometimes in the middle of the children’s room with headphones on. That’s really my favorite place to write.
ME When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
JOSH: I’m a whenever the muse strikes type of writer. But I often get ideas in the middle of the night and end up writing on my phone in bed at 4am. If you don’t write those middle of the night brainstorms down, you WILL (or at least I will) forget them. I might remember I had an idea, but I won’t remember what it was. And that’s a terrible feeling.
(note that sometimes the middle of the night brainstorms are terrible and don’t even make sense, but sometimes they’re words like pirasaurs that eventually turn into books)
ME: Why do you write for children?
JOSH: Because I like to write. And I like to entertain people. And as I previously stated, I am a child. And children’s books are the best books. They’re the only ones I read. Because, really, what kind of person reads books for adults?
(Adults, maybe? I honestly don’t even know.)
I don’t read – or write – anything that has kissing in it. Eww.
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. 🙂
JOSH I have a whole ‘Guide to Writing Picture Books’ on the Resources for Writers section of my website. It’s pretty much everything I learned in my first five plus years or writing. Bon appétit!
YIPPEE! I was hoping you would mention the resources you have on your blog, Josh…it’s a must follow for every kidlit writer! Thank you so much for sharing your insights – and I know that many will be thrilled with the details you provided explaining how you kept the series fresh and…may I say…SWEET!
And speaking of SWEET, I think you’ve provided us with a VERY SWEET recipe!
JOSH: I wanted to recommend a biscotti in honor of Professor Biscotti (from Short & Sweet) but the truth is we’ve never made biscotti and can’t vouch for any (although VegNews does have a recipe for vegan biscotti). So instead, here’s a recipe we’ve tried for …
SOFT & PILLOWY VEGAN SNICKERDOODLES (originally from Loving It Vegan)
- 1/2 cup (112g) Vegan Butter
- 2/3 cup (132g) White Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Cream of Tartar
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 and 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Soy Milk (or other non-dairy milk) * Note: If you use a brand of vegan margarine that is very hard i.e. not a spread, then it’s possible that you’ll need to use a bit more non dairy milk, just use as little as possible.
- 3 Tbsp White Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- Add the butter and sugar to an electric mixer and cream them together. Add in the vanilla and apple cider vinegar and mix in.
- Add in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix in by hand (don’t use the electric mixer for this part) until it forms a crumbly dough.
- Then add in the soy milk so that it forms into a proper cookie dough (as pictured).
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Roll the cookie dough into balls and then roll the balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture and place them onto a parchment lined baking tray. You can sprinkle more of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the balls before they go in the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy!
Enjoy? We will definitely enjoy these! Thank you so much, Josh! This has been so much fun.
And readers, here’s the Book Blog Tour listing – Josh is spreading smiles everywhere!
Please don’t forget that the best gift we can give our favorite authors is to buy their books, review their books, tell friends about their books, and ask our libraries to purchase their books for the shelves. Why not pick at least one of those for SHORT AND SWEET? And then remember to leave a comment and share on social media to earn extra tickets in the giveaway hat for a chance to win a copy of LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST, the book that started this whole series!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Please stay safe and be well. I’m staying busy with last minute packing for my move!