WILL WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
FOR WRITERS, ILLUSTRATORS, PARENTS, TEACHERS, LIBRARIANS,
AND BOOK LOVERS EVERYWHERE
I’m not sure how many authors and illustrators have stopped by to chat on Will Write (and Illustrate) for Cookies over the years – but I’d say it has to be several hundred. The very first post in October 2013 featured the lovely Iza Trapani. Click the link and you’ll be able to read about why I started the series and what I hoped to accomplish. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 10 years.
Once in a while, I’ll invite an author to return for a second Will Write for Cookies – usually because many years have passed and they have new books that are launching. But NEVER has an author been back THREE times…until today!
The first time Susanna Leonard Hill was kind enough to say yes to my request was back in November of 2013. Check out this link to read that post – and scroll through the comments and you’ll see names of people who were starting out in kid lit land just like me – and now they have books out there – Tina Cho, Stacy Jensen, Julie Rowan-Zoch, Sylvia Lui, Sue Heavenrich, and so many more. With passion and patience and perseverance…it happens.
Then four years later, in July 2017, Susanna agreed to visit Will Write for Cookies again. Click here to read that post. Every post that Susanna does, either on her own blog or when visiting other blogs – you can be sure it is jam-packed with valuable tips and information…that’s just who Susanna is. If you never read that post or if you did but don’t remember it, I urge you to read it again, especially if you are a pre-published author or even if you are a seasoned multi-published one – she shares a whole bunch of important truths.
And today makes visit #3…Hip Hip Hooray for one of kid lit land’s most supportive mentors and talented authors, Susanna Leonard Hill.
Susanna L. Hill is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Moon’s First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship, and the award-winning author of over twenty-five more books for children, including Punxsutawney Phyllis, Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, and the popular When Your Lion Needs a Bath series. Her books have been translated into French, Dutch, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Thai. She does frequent school and library visits, teaches picture book writing, and has a popular picture book blog. Susanna lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley where she practices the alphabet with her children and two rescue dogs.
To connect with Susanna and learn more about her and her books and her contests and her classes and all of the other the wonderful resources she offers:
Face Book Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/SusannaLeonardHill
Twitter: @SusannaLHill https://twitter.com/SusannaLHill
Instagram: @susannaleonardhill https://www.instagram.com/susannaleonardhill/
ME: Welcome, Susanna. It’s a joy to have you back! You’ve got so many wonderful books out in the world – and we sang Happy Birthday to a new book baby of yours, ALPHABEDTIME, just a few days ago. I know we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, but I want to remind everyone to please leave a comment after you read the post…and then share the post on your social media (and tag friends) to be entered in the giveaway that Susanna is offering – a copy of her brand-new book!
SUSANNA: Thank you so much for having me, Vivian! It’s such a pleasure to be here again!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
SUSANNA: Would it be okay for me to cheat on this question, since I’ve answered it here before? I want to say who some of my favorite authors/illustrators are now, from the perspective of being still a kid-at-heart as well as being a writer myself and a mom and a grandmom (although I have the same problem with current favorites as with old favorites – too many to narrow down!) I love Oliver Jeffers – words and pictures! Also, Salina Yoon. (Funny, both of them have stories with penguins in them, but that is not why they are among my favorites, although I do also love penguins ) I also love Cori Doerrfeld – The Rabbit Listened and Goodbye Friend, Hello Friend in particular. All three of those authors are also illustrators. I’m also fond of Drew Daywalt, who, would you look at that? has Oliver Jeffers as his illustrator!, Ryan T. Higgins, who also happens to be both author and illustrator, and Alice Schertle because really, how can you not love Little Blue Truck? (I should know – it is my granddaughter’s current favorite so I read it multiple times a day) And I also love Kate DiCamillo, although, doesn’t everybody? And I could list a whole raft of writers I know personally, including you, Vivian, whose work I love, but that would take too long and everyone would fall asleep the way they do when people are accepting awards and drone on and on with thank you so-and-so, and thank you so-and-so else. But no matter whether I try to list old favorites or new ones, there are way too many, really, and I’m quite sure the minute I finish writing this I’m going to think of 27 more I really, really want to include as well!
ME What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
SUSANNA: I wish I knew that the most important person to write for is yourself. Write what interests you. Write what you love. Write what makes you feel joy to write. I think on a certain level I always did that, but I also spent a lot of time worrying about whether it was good enough, whether editors would like it, whether it would sell. But at this point I’ve written quite a few stories I’m glad to have written just because I love them, even though they’ll never see the inside of a bookstore, classroom, or library. I’m glad to have written some truly awful stories because of what I learned about writing in the process. And I’m glad to have written the stories that did get published even if they didn’t always get the best reviews or generate the kind of sales a lot of other authors manage because if even one child tells me that a story I wrote is her favorite, or that a story I wrote made him feel less lonely when he was wishing for a friend, then that was a good story to write.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
SUSANNA: My favorite place to write is my kitchen table. It’s sunny there, and close to the coffee maker. I always write my first drafts with pen and paper. I like the physical act of writing. It helps me think in a way that typing never does. It gets pretty messy, what with all the scribbles and scratch-outs and notes in the margin, but I like looking at that mess and knowing it’s going to come together, and then looking back at it when it has.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
SUSANNA: I used to always write in the morning (except when I woke up with ideas in the middle of the night and crept into the bathroom to write by nightlight.) I still think it’s my best time, and my most preferred time. But life being what it is, I find that nowadays the only time I have to write is sometimes in the afternoon or at night, so I do that too. We’re writers. We gotta write.
ME: Why do you write for children?
SUSANNA: I write for children because everything is new for them. The world is full of wonder – things to see, things to learn about, things to marvel over and delight in. But because the world is new, it can also be a little overwhelming, a little frightening even, a little hard to find their place in or know how to cope with everything. So, I love to write stories that will speak to them in some way. Help them learn something they didn’t know, or are just learning, like the alphabet. Delight them with humor and fun. Let them know that if they’re unsure or worried about something, like the first day of school or a new sibling, they’re not alone – lots of other people feel that way too. I have found a lot of comfort and reassurance in books, a lot of humor and fun, a lot of interesting things I didn’t know about before, and many, many times a feeling of connection, of being seen somehow, because a character in the book feels the same things I feel. I want to provide that kind of humor and fun, comfort, reassurance, learning, connection, joy to any little person who needs it.
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.
SUSANNA: I’m sure any advice I have for aspiring writers is the same thing they’ve heard a million times from other sources, so I’m not sure if it’s worth repeating. I’ll just refer you all back to question #2 which I think has merit.
As for something I’d like to talk about, I do really want to share ALPHABEDTIME! It’s been a long time in the works – almost 9 ½ years since I signed the contract – and now it’s here! And I really love it. I hope a lot of you will get a chance to see it, and I hope even more that you will like it!
Something else I’d like to share is that I was recently chosen to be on the Board of Trustees for the new Unionvale Library, which we are going to be starting from scratch. It’s a pretty cool thing to be part of, and not something I ever expected I would get to do, given that I have absolutely none of the attributes I always thought Board of Trustee members needed – like boatloads of money, the ability to create and manage a budget, and a sincere enjoyment of meetings. But it turns out they like the idea of having an author in the mix, so I’m getting to be part of something pretty unique. Most libraries have been around since time immemorial. It’s rare to have the chance to start one. So, I’m excited about what we might be able to do for our community.
ME: WOW! Susanna, that is awesome! Is the library going to need an infusion of picture books? If so, maybe we can get a book drive going or something. Please let us know how we can help! And I remember when you visited Picture Books Help Kids Soar the first time in 2013, you mentioned ALPHABEDTIME…proving that PATIENCE is one of those important skills that authors need to polish. But while we are waiting for agents to represent us or editors to acquire our manuscripts or books to finally launch, it’s always good to refresh with a sweet treat…and you’ve got something special for us!
SUSANNA: Here’s a recipe for Easy Alphabet Sugar Cookies to Make With Your Kids (with no eggs for those of us with little ones who put everything in their mouth.
You will need:
Alphabet Cookie Cutters (or you can just roll the dough by hand into letter shapes)
A rolling pin
A Ziploc Bag
And a hand mixer or stand mixer
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup fine sugar
1 1/3 cups flour
Put the sugar and butter into a bowl and mix until light and creamy. Add the flour into the mix and combine until it forms dough. When the dough has formed a ball, take it out of the bowl and knead it gently on a floured surface just until it’s a good dough consistency. Put the dough in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. Take it out and pre-heat the oven to 350. Lightly flour your work surface and the rolling pin and roll out the dough (not too thin or it’s hard for little hands to pick up.) Use the cookie cutters and cut out the letters (or use a knife to cut out strips that you can use to form letters.) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies on it. Place the cookie sheet in the center of the oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and cool.
Then have fun making words out of your cookie letters, thinking up things that begin with the letters. . . and eating them!
Thank you so much, Susanna, for a fabulous visit! And a fabulous recipe! And a fabulous giveaway. And for being such an amazing friend and mentor to me and to so many others!
Dear friends, please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of ALPHABEDTIME…and please buy a copy (what an awesome baby shower gift or holiday gift for little ones), review the book, tell friends about it, and ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection.
I hope you all have a beautiful weekend!