WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
I’m always impressed by children’s authors who have busy lives – who work, have families, and still carve out time to be writing. Today’s Will Write for Cookies guest recently got to celebrate Mother’s Day TIMES FIVE (she has five children). And guess what? She has a book launching June 1st!
Katie Frawley studied English at the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) and earned a Master’s degree in British and American literature from Florida Atlantic University. Before having children, she had the distinct honor of teaching English to rowdy teenagers. When not banging away on the keyboard, Katie can be found testing new recipes with her miniature sous chefs, shooing iguanas away from her garden, or reading picture books to a captive audience on the couch. Katie lives in South Florida with her husband and five children.
ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Katie! I’m so glad you stopped by today. I know everyone is excited to find out more about you, so let’s get started.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
KATIE: My mom read us a lot of Shel Silverstein. We all thought his poem BOA CONSTRICTOR from Where the Sidewalk Ends was hilarious. I mean, it’s a poem about a guy narrating the process of his own consumption by a giant snake. How awesome is that? And The Giving Tree was a family favorite. I read that book to my kids now, and it makes me cry every time. (My kids find my maudlin tears wildly amusing, by the way.)
Another book that stands out in my memory is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I remember feeling so drawn in by that book as a child. Then, when I was teaching The Hobbit in high school, I would always begin that unit by reading Where the Wild Things Are to my students. They would sit, rapt with wonder as if they were five years old again. Children’s literature is truly spellbinding.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
KATIE : I made a very common new-writer mistake when I was a new writer. I queried too early.
After I wrote my first (terrible) picture book manuscript, I said to myself, “Okay, great! Now who do I see about getting this published?” It all seemed so easy! Here’s how the steps went in my head:
- Send manuscript to agent.
- Agent recognizes my nascent yet dazzling genius.
- Agent sends manuscript to editor.
- Editor helps smooth out the rough edges.
- BOOM! I’m published!
I didn’t realize I was a looooong way off from having a submission-ready draft. When I did realize this (after about 3 months of querying), I promised myself I would take off at least one year from querying. I would spend this year studying lots of picture books, taking classes, finding critique partners, writing LOTS of manuscripts, and working really hard to improve my craft. After that year of work (and in consultation with my fabulous critique partners), I got back into the query trenches and eventually signed with my agent!
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
KATIE: I work at my kitchen counter. Sometimes, I’ll sally forth into the backyard if the weather is particularly lovely, but mostly I’m camped out at my counter, sitting criss-cross applesauce on my stool, banging away on my laptop. I also have a notebook on me at all times. My husband gets me a new notebook every year for Christmas, and this is the idea notebook I carry around the following year.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
KATIE: I have 5 kids aged 8 and under, so I grab writing time when I can. If the kids are in school and the baby is napping, that’s prime writing time for me. Ideas and brainstorming can happen for me at any time of the day or night, but if I’m actually drafting or revising, it seems the morning hours are the most fertile for my noggin.
ME: Why do you write for children?
KATIE: I started writing for children because I was reading a lot of picture books to my kids, and my brain began generating ideas in that form. I continue writing for children because I’ve fallen in love with it. There is something so magical about writing a manuscript, lovingly crafting every sentence, every phrase, every syllable…and then sending it off to a stranger (the illustrator) who will breathe life into my words in ways I could never imagine. It’s a collaboration I didn’t fully understand when I first started writing, but I’ve come to respect and value this dynamic so much.
ME: Thank you so much, Katie. Kid lit is magical…and it’s amazing to be part of this business that creates beautiful books for children! And I know you have something else VERY beautiful – a recipe for Brown Butter Blondies.
KATIE: This is, hands down, the yummiest batter of any baked good I’ve ever made. If you can keep yourself from eating all the batter, the blondies are insanely delicious. The only slightly tricky part about this recipe is browning the butter. If you haven’t browned butter before, find a quick tutorial video online. It can quickly go from browned to burned, so be careful!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Brown the butter: In a small pan set over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until it turns brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Swirl the butter in the pan frequently to prevent burning. Pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl and let it cool slightly.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine.
- Add both sugars to the brown butter, and mix on medium speed with a hand mixer until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat for another 2 minutes, until the mixture has lightened in color. Add the vanilla, and beat for 30 seconds.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture, in thirds. Don’t over mix!
- Stir in the chopped walnuts by hand.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares. Enjoy!
Oh WOW! Guess what I’m making this weekend? And Katie’s not done yet! She has a cool activity for kids, adults, or whoever wants to play. It’s a Hidden Pictures game…here’s a list of what you are looking for and you will find all of the items if you scroll up to the image of her workspace.
Can you find the:
Complete works of William Shakespeare?
5 different sunblocks?
Tabitha and Fritz?
Lots of fun, Katie…thank you so much! And thank you, everyone, for stopping by.
Dear friends, if you’d like to find out more about Katie and her books: https://katiefrawley.wordpress.com/
If you’d like to purchase her book and support independent bookstores: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781542008549
And if you’d like a chance to win a 20-minute Zoom Chat with the lovely Katie, make sure you leave a comment below and share this post on you social media channels for extra tickets in the giveaway hat.
I hope you all have a beautiful weekend – it’s a glorious one here in New Hampshire.