Happy Book Birthday: WE WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL: The Fight for Disability Rights PLUS Giveaway

HURRAY!!! Another new book!!! And this one is written by one of my favorite CPs, Maryann Cocca Leffler. And woo-hoo – there is a GIVEAWAY!!

Written by Maryann Cocca-Leffler & Janine Leffler – Illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
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An Interview with SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY Plus Giveaway

Well, bless my boots! We are back again with another special interview!

This time, we’ve got Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy in the house…or should I say barn!

My thanks to author Alayne Kay Christian for lassoing the main character in her brand-new chapter book, SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY: TRYING TO MAKE IT RAIN (Clear Fork, 2017), and convincing her to set a spell and answer some questions. And, when the interview is over,  you can mix up a mess of yummy chocolate bark wth the recipe Alayne shared.

sienna cover (1)

ME: Howdy, Sienna! Many thanks for riding over. We are a curious sort of folk, so we’re going to shoot some questions at you.

  1. What is your favorite Cowboy saying?

SIENNA: Pa wins the belt buckle for wise ol’ cowboy sayings. I reckon they each strike me when the time is right for it to make sense. One that makes sense to me a lot of the time is “It’s better to ride and fall than never to ride at all.” One that he is always pounding into my noggin is “Always ride toward what is right, even if it means riding alone.”  I think I like ridin’ towards what’s right . . . most of the time.

 

  1. What’s the one thing you can’t leave the house without?

SIENNA: One thing? That just ain’t fair to ask. I feel naked without my hat, so I reckon I’d say my hat. My ma always says a proper fairy never leaves home without her fairy dust. And I say a proper cowgirl never leaves home without her lasso. If a cowgirl fairy has her lasso and dust, she can do just about anything.

 

  1. If you gave yourself a nickname, what would it be?

SIENNA: My pa calls me Sunshine and I like that just fine. If I had to pick another, it might be Spunky Sal.

 

  1. How would you describe yourself in three words?

SIENNA: Ma says I’m precocious. That means I’m smart, talented and talk good, too. She also says I’m stubborn. She and Pa taught me to know my own mind, so I don’t know why she acts like my stubborn ways is a bad thing. Puttin’ Ma aside, the three words I would choose are determined, outspoken, and delicate on the inside. Continue reading

Tracy Marchini: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

Will Write for Cookies

Plate of Cookies

Insight, Inspiration, Information

For Writers

Today’s Guest

Marchini-Agent-Photo-cropped (1)

TRACY MARCHINI

Our kidlit community is populated with amazing people…writers, illustrators, mentors, agents, and editors. Sometimes, these amazing people wear more than one hat. And that is true for our guest today.

 

Tracy Marchini is a Literary Agent at BookEnds Literary, representing fiction, non-fiction and illustration for children and teens. Prior to joining BookEnds, Tracy worked as a freelance editor, a Literary Agent’s Assistant, a children’s book reviewer, and a newspaper correspondent. She holds an M.F.A in Writing for Children.

 

But, she is also a debut picture book author and we reviewed her fabulous CHICKEN NEEDS A NAP yesterday. Please don’t forget to leave a comment on that post to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of her book.

 

Welcome, Tracy! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar. I can’t wait to get to the Q&A, and I know there is also a sweet treat at the end.

 

ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

TRACY: My favorite picture book was Chatty Chipmunk’s Nutty Day by Suzanne Gruber and illustrated by Doug Cushman. There was something about the refrain that I just loved, and has stuck with me all this time.

I also loved Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck and Anita Lobel. The idea of three dresses that fit in tiny walnut shells fascinated me, as well as Lobel’s gorgeous illustrations of the dresses that reflected the sun, moon and stars. (I think even as a kid I liked the idea that you could pack your whole wardrobe in one bag – always ready for travel!)

Finally, I think I still have my copy of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. (And as a Literary Agent and reader, I still love more subversive picture books with a bit of dark humor!)

 

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

TRACY: Besides learning craft, patience is one of the greatest things you can learn as a writer. Publishing is a slower paced business and learning to write a good picture book takes a lot of trial and error before you get it right!

 

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

TRACY: I like to write by hand when I’m stuck on something. So if I’m revising, I tend to break out a notebook and write out my inner monologue until I hit the right fix for a manuscript. Sometimes the result is just a page of me asking myself the same question over and over again – but eventually I hit on an answer that works!

 

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

TRACY: I agent during the day, so my writing tends to happen in spurts outside of working hours. I’ll take a whole weekend day to do nothing but work on my writing, or I’ll break out a manuscript in the evening.

 

ME: Why do you write for children?

TRACY: I just love how the world has infinite possibilities for children. There’s an incredible sense of freedom (and opportunity for humor!) when you can write from a number of implausible premises.

As someone who read a lot as a child, I also think that reading itself is a fundamental childhood activity and I hope to write (and as an agent, represent) books that foster a love of reading well throughout adulthood. It does make me a little sad when I hear that an adult doesn’t read (and not just because I’m in the book business!)  I can’t help but wonder if they just never found that book that spoke to them as a child.

CHICKEN cover

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. 🙂

TRACY: Make sure to stay current! Picture books that sold twenty years ago might not sell today, because the market has and will continue to change. Today’s picture books – particularly in fiction – have a lower word count, but still have all the same layers (emotional and physical) that earlier, longer works had.

As an agent, I can always tell when an author has written a picture book but hasn’t read a picture book in a long, long time.

WOW! Thank you so much, Tracy! I love that we have been able to get your take on things from two perspectives…as an author AND as an agent. I know this post is going to be shared quite a bit on social media…your comment about knowing when an author hasn’t read a picture book in a long, long time is going to create a run on the libraries, I think. Although with all of the online kidlit challenges throughout the year, I know that most of us read picture books like crazy.

But I will admit that when I first started writing, before I had taken any classes or joined any writing groups, my head was still back in the picture books I had read to my kindergarten students and my own children, so many years before. I needed a wake up call which I got from online challenges and critique buddies.

 

Thank you so much, Tracy!

To find out more about Tracy, as an agent and as an author:

Website: www.tracymarchini.com

Twitter: @TracyMarchini

CHICKEN NEEDS A NAP is available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target.

 

And now, a very special treat…actually one of my favorites. Take it away, Tracy!!!!!

TRACY: I’ve been making my own pizza lately and it’s been working really well!

I use this recipe to make the dough: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/pizza-dough-recipe-1921714

and then I cook at 500 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes on a sheet of parchment paper. Then I pull the dough out, add my toppings, and bake it again for another 7 to 8 minutes.

We’ve experimented a lot with trying to get a good crust without a pizza stone, and even though we use a pizza pan to get the dough in and out of the oven more easily, baking directly on parchment paper on the oven rack gives you a great crispy crust that still has a bit of depth/lightness to it.

The recipe makes two 14 inch pizzas, so we almost always have a ball of dough in the freezer now for quick baking!

This is fabulous, Tracy! I can’t wait to try this! You’ve been a delightful guest and we are all very appreciative of your insights.

I’m wishing everyone a wonderful and safe weekend and hope you’ll be back on TUESDAY when my special guests will be the pirates from Henry Herz’ new picture book, CAP’N REX AND HIS CLEVER CREW.