Category Archives: Author/illustrator Interview

Denise Fleming: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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DENISE FLEMING

I’m often praising the mentors in our kid lit community. They share their expertise graciously. And our Will Write for Cookies guest is one who has led the way. I was already a fan of her award-winning books when I met Denise at a writing retreat two years ago. Her workshop on paper making was filled with passion. And during our one-on-one, she pointed out important problems in the picture book manuscript I was working on at the time.

Denise, I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

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

 DENISE:

 My favorite book when I was a child was The Giant Golden Book of Cat Stories. It was full of stories and poems about cats. For my fourth birthday, my grandparents gave me a Siamese kitten. From then on I was drawn to anything written about cats.

kid and cat

 I also read every issue of National Geographic magazine. The photographs and articles about places and animals, so different from my everyday experience, fascinated me.

 ME:

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

DENISE:

Actually, I can’t think of anything I wish I had known when I first started writing. All the info out there now on the internet, the classes and workshops would have intimidated me when I started. I just burrowed in and started reading as many books as I could and made notes of what I liked, what appealed to me.

ME:

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

DENISE:

I write most everywhere – in bed, in the tub, outside, wherever I feel comfortable at the time.

outdoor work space

I worked on my first book in a tent in Canada with a doe keeping an eye on me.

I write on yellow legal pads with soft lead pencils.

ME:

When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

DENISE:

I am not a morning person. I am an owl. Most productive work starts after 3 in the afternoon.

I do not write or make book art every day. Some days I garden, work in clay, make art dolls , read, or sketch out ideas.

cat on wall

ME:

Why do you write for children?

DENISE:

Children are open to adventure. They jump into new ideas. They enjoy animals and nature. They find butterflies and bugs interesting. They paint with abandon and laugh easily. Children are a great audience. They are my people.

ME: Denise, if you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.

DENISE:

Read as much poetry as you can. Not just poetry for children, but adult poetry too.

Listen for the rhythm of the language.

Think like a child.

ME: BINGO!!!! THINK. LIKE. A. CHILD.

Denise, this is a mantra I think all of us need to embrace! Thank you so very much for stopping by to chat with us and sharing your insights.

Dear readers, if you’d like to find out more about Denise and her fabulous books:

www.denisefleming.com

And check out her newest book, coming in Spring 2018:

robin nest cover 

And guess what? We are not done yet! I know you are all waiting for a sweet treat.

Denise says:

Now, about that recipe, cooking is not really a part of my life anymore.

I do suggest you take a good-sized spoon, dip it in in the peanut butter, then into the jar of Nutella. Top this spoonful of deliciousness with a honey roasted pecan half. Yum.

May be served in spoon.

HA! I LOVE THAT! NO MUSS! NO FUSS! JUST PURE YUM!

And wait…this post has ONE MORE dollop of awesomeness thanks to our lovely guest. Denise wants to do ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of 5 Little Ducks and you might be the lucky winner of a copy of Beetle Bop. AND, if you leave a comment on THIS post, you might be the lucky winner of a copy of 5 LITTLE DUCKS.

cover

I told you this kid lit mentor was one of the best! Truly, Denise, your generosity is much appreciated.

And the way WE can show our appreciation is to go to Amazon and/or Goodreads and write a review for 5 Little Ducks

 and Denise’s other fab books.

Thank you all for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend and I wish a most Happy Father’s Day to all those who fill the role of a dad.

Jane Yolen – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

JANEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

JANE YOLEN

Anyone who is active in the kid lit community is familiar with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor. In fact, anyone who loves picture books has probably read several of the over 300 books she has written. Not only is she extremely talented and prolific, she is also one of the most generous and supportive mentors you will ever meet. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Jane agreed to share some of her thoughts here.

Thank you so much, Jane. You always have so much going on in your life, both personally and professionally, so we won’t waste any time. I know everyone is anxious to find out more about you.

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

JANE:

  1. Andrew Lang, whom I thought wrote the Color Fairy Books, all twelve of them, only I have recently (as in the last couple of years) come to understand that his wife did all the work. But as he was the well-known folklorist and jack of many genres–this was Edwardian times in England–the publisher used his name.2. Louisa May Alcott–everything she wrote but especially Little Women and Under the Lilacs.3. James Thurber, a toss up between Thirteen Clocks and The White Deer. (And if you make me make a choice, I will have to slit you from your guggle to your zatch.) It didn’t hurt that he was a friend of my dad’s.4. Also I adored my parents’ copy of the illustrated Rubiyat of Omar Kayyham, probably more for the pictures than the poetry, to be honest.5. As many Wizard of Oz books as I could get my hands on.6. And every single dog and horse book every written for kids!!!

 

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ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

JANE: That editors may like my work but it was a mistake to become best friends with them since in the end, they work for a publisher and have to side with where their pay check comes from. When I saw the second (I think it is) Godfather movie and the good fellas are taking one of the Don’s men out to shoot him, in the car one turns to him and says, “I like you, but this is just business.” I think of that when an editor gets overruled on buying one of my books or keeping it in print.

 

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ME: Where do you like to write: inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

JANE: On my lap top wherever I am sitting at the time. Mostly either in bed first thing in the morning (5 a.m.-ish) or in the tv room since I can no longer (bad back) sit at a desk.
ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write when the muse speaks?

JANE: I work every day, usually about 4-6 hours. Though when things are going well, I may work for ten straight. But not all of that is fingers on the keys. A lot is thinking time, smelling the roses time, watching the birds, watching a tv show or movie. Or day dreaming.
 6month2

ME: Why do you write for children?

1. Why not?

2. Inside I am still a child. Outside I am an old woman. This split personality works well for me.

3. Children are the greatest audience, and the most honest. They don’t like a story, they start playing with a toy, throw the book across the room, walk away from the storyteller, fall asleep withouot apology. They like a book, it’s “Another chapter. . . please.”

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ME: Please feel free to share any tips that will help aspiring writers/illustrators.

My mantra is “Butt in the chair, heart on the page.” Also, “Stop talking about the book/story/poem/factual piece/lyrics/memoir you’re going to write when you find the time. There is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is. . .to sit down and do it. Everything else is a fantasy.” 

 

This has been fantastic, Jane! I love your down-to-earth, commonsense approach to writing. I especially appreciate your realistic take on time-management – yes, ‘there is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is…to sit down and do it’…that is the truth, Jane!

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And now Jane is sharing with us a VERY special recipe – it appears in How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies.

RECIPEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

It looks like the bottom of the recipe photo got cut off – I believe the last lines are: Bake for 9-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove pan and cool a few minutes before taking the cookies off. Store in air-tight container.

Please join me in thanking Jane for taking the spotlight today! We are so fortunate to have generous mentors like her, who share their expertise and experience with us.

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To learn more about Jane and her incredible books, please visit her website: http://janeyolen.com/

Dianne de las Casas – Will Write for Cookies

DSCN7064

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

DIANNE DE LAS CASAS

IN LIBRARY

I connected with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor because she shares my love for picture books. I had heard about Picture Book Month as I followed the blogs of writers, illustrators, educators and parents. A month devoted to picture books? What brilliant person had thought of that?

Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of 24 books, Dianne is the International Reading Association LEADER 2014 Poet Laureate, and the 2014 recipient of the Ann Martin Book Mark award. Her children’s titles include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The Little “Read” Hen, The House That Santa Built, and Cinderellaphant.

When Dianne agreed to participate and share her thoughts with us, I was thrilled. There are lots of golden nuggets of inspiration and information that you will take away from this interview…and wait till you see her cookie recipe! So, without further ado…here’s Dianne! Read the rest of this entry

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