Plate of Cookies




This is the first Will Write for Cookies post of the year – so of course you knew it was going to be very special, right? We’ve had double-your-pleasure, double-your-fun interviews with two authors or an author and an illustrator. But today, you are getting a TRIPLE TREAT…in more ways than one.

A few months ago, I connected with six fabulous debut authors from the KIDLIT CARAVAN group. (Why not follow them on Twitter and get notified about all of their book launches and events: https://twitter.com/kidlitcaravan) I’m thrilled that three of them stopped by today to chat…and later this summer, we’ll have three more! Aren’t you glad you are here now? Please make sure you spread the word and share this post (and buy these authors’ new books, and review them, and tell your local libraries to purchase copies for their shelves!) Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment and let us know which prize you’d prefer if you are one of the lucky winners!

ME: WELCOME PAULA, HARSHITA, AND CARRIE! Thank you so much for dropping in to chat. I know that many of my readers are also aspiring authors and illustrators – and always ready to hear about a successful path to publication. And now, thanks to all of you, they are going to hear about THREE! I know you are also going to share why you joined a debut author group. And also, a HUGE thank you for the generous prizes you are offering! Oh, and the yummy recipes! Let’s start with Paula.

PAULA: My debut picture book, Big Dreams, Small Fish, will be published in March 2022, by Levine Querido. Here’s a little bit about the story:

In the new country, Shirley and her family have big dreams. Shirley dreams are about improving the family store. She knows she can make it prettier! More modern! More profitable! She can even figure out how to sell Mama’s gefilte fish.  Her parents tell her they didn’t come to this country for her to work, but that doesn’t stop Shirley. She has a plan to change the flavor of the neighborhood!

And here’s a little bit about my path to publication:

I’ve been an editorial illustrator for years, and writing children’s stories was my “hobby.” About 6 years ago I decided to learn more about writing for children. I took classes and webinars, joined SCBWI and Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge.  During that time, my mother passed away and I regretted that I’d never asked her about her childhood, much of which was spent in her family’s grocery store. When an opportunity to apply for a weeklong workshop at PJLibrary Publishing came up, I realized that I had the chance to create the story of little Shirley, who worked in her family’s tiny store in an immigrant neighborhood in upstate NY.

Just a month after “workshopping” my story in June of 2019, I met Christy Ewers from the CAT Agency at an SCBWI conference. She liked my work and we stayed in touch throughout the year.  In the meantime, I did some illustration work, including Honey on the Page (NYU Press), an anthology of translated Yiddish stories written for children.  When I’d completed the dummy of Big Dreams, I sent it to Christy.  I fully expected to have to send it to 50 other agents, but Surprise! She loved it, and offered to send it to Arthur Levine at Levine Querido.  I waited for his polite No, but Surprise! He loved it.  When I sent yet another story to Christy she offered me full representation and, of course, I agreed.   I couldn’t wish for a better Agent or a better first Editor!


I love the camaraderie of being with other first-time authors.  We learn so much from each other. I didn’t realize how much of being an author is promoting your own work, and it’s wonderful to do it with a group of people who each bring their own ideas and skillsets to everything we do.  

GIVEAWAY FROM PAULA COHEN: One half-hour Picture Book critique by email, phone or Zoom (winner’s preference!) or an ASK THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR zoom call.

To learn more about author/illustrator Paula and her book:
Book Title: Big Dreams, Small Fish
Pub date: March 1, 2022
Publisher: Levine Querido
Instagram: Instagram.com/paulacohenillustration/
Twitter: @paulacohenart
Website: https://paulacohenillustration.com/

ME: WOW! Thank you so much, Paula, for sharing all of this – the book looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to add it to my shelves! And now I’m going to turn the space over to Harshita.

HARSHITA: My debut picture book, The Leaping Laddoo, releases in March 2022 with Albert Whitman. A cultural take on the classic Gingerbread Man tale, in this retelling an Indian dessert, Laddoo, runs from it’s maker starting a frolicking chase on streets of India.  The story is sprinkled with Hindi words, a tongue twister and a laddoo recipe at the end.

And here’s a little bit about my path to publication:

            My writing journey has been that of self-discovery. Though I grew up with a pen and journal along my side, I rediscovered my passion for writing after my kids were born. I surrounded my children with stories, some of which I created and before I knew it, my writing steered towards the world of kidlit.

            I deep dove into improving my craft and building connections in this community which was new to me. Affiliations with professional organizations like SCBWI,12×12 picture book, Storyteller Academy, The Writing Barn and Highlights helped me in this endeavor. I joined critique groups, attended conferences and participated in contests.

            For my submission process, I maintained a spreadsheet which was full of rejections in red, and the waits in yellow. Then a green-glimmer-of-hope came through #DVPit Twitter pitch party. That’s where I met my agent, Beth Marshea of Ladderbird Agency. Together now we have two books coming out—my debut THE LEAPING LADDOO with Albert Whitman comes out March 2022, and COOLER THAN LEMONADE with Sourcebooks in March 2023.

This is the start of a long journey as I continue to write stories drawing inspiration from my growing-up memories in India and the colorful world around me. And my goal is to spread the joy of reading by creating stories that engage and entertain young minds.


There’s a lot going on when your debut is coming out and it can become overwhelming. Being part of a debut group where I’m surrounded by creators who offer support, advice, promote and elevate each other has been a game changer in navigating this unknown territory.

GIVEAWAY FROM HARSHITA JERATH: One critique for a fiction picture book.

To learn more about Harshita and her new book:
Author: Harshita Jerath
Illustrator: Kamala M Nair
|Book Title: The Leaping Laddoo
Pub date: March 1, 2022
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Instagram: @harshitajerath
Twitter: @hjerath
Website: http://harshitajerath.com/

ME: I don’t know about all of you, but I am blown away by all of this incredible information. To get an inside peek into how debut authors did it – that’s priceless! Most of you are too young to remember the TV commercials by Ron Popeil back in the 50’s and 60’s and onward. No matter how many things he was giving you for free, he’d always say: AND THERE’S MORE! Dear friends…and there’s more! Last up to chat with us is Carrie Tillotson.

CARRIE: My debut picture book, Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book, releases in April 2022 with Flamingo Books. When a narrator starts filling this story with fruit, Banana can’t wait to step into the spotlight. The book is called Counting to Bananas, after all. But as more and more fruits (and non-fruits) are added to the story, Banana objects. When will it be time for bananas?!

And here’s a bit about my Path to Publication:

I’m a runner, so I sometimes compare my path to publication to running down a trail. You don’t always know the best spot for your foot to land, you just take one step at a time and hope for the best.

As a writer, I have often mulled over many decisions. Should I submit to agents? Editors? Should I write magazine articles, or focus on my passion—picture books? These and other questions tripped me up. But I realized each of us are on our own writing journey, like our own personal running path. My path has included writing for magazines, submitting to agents, rejections, and tears.

When I finally attended the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Plus Conference in 2019, I had the opportunity to submit to many editors. I got a lot of rejections, but I also received two R&Rs! I had also recently submitted to a new round of agents, so I got in touch to let them know that I had two editors interested. Luckily, Tracy Marchini with BookEnds Literary Agency had already requested more material from me. Tracy wanted to represent me, and after I submitted my revised manuscript, we had an offer from Cheryl Eissing, formerly at Philomel, now at Flamingo Books, on what is now my debut picture book!

I’m so grateful for each step I’ve taken on my path to publication, because they’ve all led me to a wonderful place with Tracy, Cheryl, and my debut picture book!


I love being able to check in with other debut authors about how they are navigating the launch of their new books. I’m also looking forward to filling my bookshelf with a lot of Kidlit Caravan books!

GIVEAWAY FROM CARRIE TILLOTSON: One picture book critique.

To learn more about Carrie and her new book:
Author: Carrie Tillotson
Illustrator: Estrela Lourer
Book Title: Counting to Bananas: A Mostly Rhyming Fruit Book
Pub date: April 12, 2022
Publisher: Flamingo Books
Instagram: @carrietillotson
Twitter: @carrietillotson
Website: carrietillotson.com

And, as another famous TV personality was known to say, “THAT’S ALL FOLKS!!!”

But of course, that’s not really all. Quick reminder to leave a comment to enter the Triple Giveaway…please let us know which prize you would prefer if you are one of the lucky winners. And of course, please remember that authors and illustrators need our help…you can pre-order any of these books from your local indie or other bookstore sites.
BIG DREAMS, SMALL FISH: https://bookshop.org/a/14501/9781646141265
THE LEAPING LADDOO: https://bookshop.org/a/14501/9780807544136
COUNTING TO BANANAS: https://bookshop.org/a/14501/9780593354865

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…stay safe, be healthy, practice kindness.

37 thoughts on “Will Write for Cookies: PAULA COHEN, HARSHITA JERATH, and CARRIE TILLOTSON Plus Triple GIVEAWAY

  1. Congratulations to Paula, Harshita and Carrie! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It sounds like a great idea to have another aspiring author (s) to connect with and share a common goal. I wish you all an abundance of success in all your endeavors!
    If I’m fortunate enough to have my name drawn, I would love a critique from any one of these wonderful authors! Thank you for the opportunity!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Triple the fun! Congratulations to all! I have my fingers crossed that I too will grow up to be a debut author. I would thoroughly enjoy a PB critique from any of these talented authors. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing all of your stories. Congrats on all your books! I would love a critique from any of these talented authors! Thank you for the opportunity. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for the fabulous post Vivian! And congratulations to all these amazing debuts. I’m looking forward to reading all three books. If drawn, I’d appreciate a critique from Paula.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations Paula, Harshita and Carrie! I’m looking forward to reading all of your books. A critique from any of these talented ladies would be amazing! Thank you, Vivian!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So much fun! I love the FLAVOR of all three books cooking here together on this post. Congratulations! Great stories and exciting news. Can’t wait to read them!

    Any of the prizes would be welcome! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: #50PreciousWords 2022 OFFICIAL CONTEST POST | VIVIAN KIRKFIELD – Writer for Children

  8. Pingback: #50PreciousWords 2022 WINNERS and HONORABLE MENTIONS | VIVIAN KIRKFIELD – Writer for Children

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