ANNETTE WHIPPLE: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway



Plate of Cookies






Can we have a show of hands for people who enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie over the past almost 50 years? I would have watched it no matter who the actors and actresses were…but ever since Bonanza, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Michael Landon – and as Charles Ingalls, he was at his best. Many of the episodes were written and directed by him…and as the seasons unfolded, I often wished he had been my dad. So, when I heard that author Annette Whipple had a new book coming out entitled: THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION…I knew I’d want to ask her to stop by to talk with us about it.

Annette Whipple celebrates curiosity and inspires a sense of wonder in young readers while exciting them about science and history. She’s the author of eight fact-filled children’s books including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press), Whooo Knew? The Truth about Owls (Reycraft Books), and The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press). Annette is a fact-loving, chocolate chip cookie-baking children’s nonfiction author from Pennsylvania. Get to know her and learn about her presentations at or connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

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ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Annette. Thanks so much for visiting and for agreeing to do a Q&A with us. Why don’t we get started because I know you have a lot to share.

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

ANNETTE: As a young child, we didn’t have a lot of books at home (or a library in town) so I don’t have many memories of being read to at home, but I know we had The Monster at the End of This Book. It cracked me up! In school, Mrs. Schoonover introduced me to Anne of Green Gables and Old Yeller. By 4th grade or so I began reading Ann M. Martin’s the Baby-sitters Club series and even owned some of them. I appreciated Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine’s creepy mysteries a bit later. I wasn’t a strong reader, but I loved my school’s library. It was there that I first met Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child, I wondered if she exaggerated The Long Winter. It wasn’t until I was an adult researching for my own book that I learned the answer. (And readers of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion will know the answer, too!)

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

ANNETTE: I’m pretty sure this question wasn’t supposed to make me laugh, but it did. And you know what? That’s appropriate because I think one of the most important things to remember when writing for children is to make it fun—especially nonfiction if it’s an appropriate topic! It took me a while to figure this out, but now I try to add more humor to my writing.

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

ANNETTE: I need quiet to write, and I prefer to write inside. Though I don’t have an office, I do have a desk. I use a laptop connected to a larger monitor for most of my writing. When I really need to focus—such as on just the first lines of a book or revisions—I prefer to use pen and paper. (Pentel’s EnerGel Needle Tip pens are my favorite. And they’re refillable!)

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

ANNETTE: Um…is it fair to say when my family doesn’t need me? It really depends on the time of year. If my children are in school (and at school), I don’t get started until mid-morning. But during the summer my mornings tend to start early. If I’m well rested, I might be at my desk by 5:30. Other days I might get up close to 7 and exercise, eat, and shower before starting. It just depends on the day. Exercise may cut into my writing time, but if I’m going to sit at my desk for hours each day, I need to get my muscles moving.

ME: Why do you write for children?

ANNETTE: I love to inspire and encourage children through my words. Facts are fun, and I want kids to celebrate their curiosity. I love that my words can teach kids though a bit differently now than when I was a classroom teacher.

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ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. 

 ANNETTE: Aspiring writers must be persistent. Take the time to study the publishing world. Consider yourself a life-long learner of the craft of writing. Learn how to use mentor texts and spend a lot of time reading recently-published books in your genre. And find a critique partner (or two) or a critique group for writers in your genre. You will learn so much as you study their manuscripts, and they’ll help you improve your own.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide was inspired by another book. I had the idea for The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion in 2014 when I was reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my own children and going through a companion guide which they loved! I knew I could write a book like Roar! A Christian Family’s Guide to Narnia. I didn’t even know what a mentor text was, but I studied the book and used it as a model. The next summer I attended my first writing conference (though I’d already taken online classes and been published in magazines). Though this was my first book idea, it will be my 7th book published. Writing takes a lot of persistence and patience! BUT if you have a dream, keep at it.

I know The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion is a better book because of my wait. The publisher and I waited two years from their offer to the contract (because of rights and permissions). During that time I spent lots more time reading children’s books and learned the wonder of sidebars. My sample manuscript didn’t include sidebars, but the final version of ‘The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion is full of them along with lots of history, thoughtful questions, pioneer terms, and 75 activities for fans of the Little House books.

ME: And I absolutely LOVE the sidebars, Annette…and so will parents and teachers…and kids! But we’re not done yet because I know you have a double-header sweet treat for us. Take it away, Annette!

Annette: I love chocolate chip cookies! It took me years and years to find a recipe that I LOVED that didn’t require a special ingredient. But when my friend made me her cookies, I asked for the recipe…and it actually worked for me! The key is to add more flour for some extra fluff and goodness. Here’s my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can I share a second favorite cookie-related recipe, too? Chocolate chip cookie pie is my favorite pie to make. It’s quick and delicious. Other than the pie crust, it only takes a few minutes to get it in the oven. (Sometimes I cheat and make my pat-in-the-pan pie crust so it’s still in the oven in a matter of minutes.) And here’s the chocolate chip cookie pie recipe!

ME and every single one of my readers: Can you share a second favorite cookie-related recipe? You bet! And I love the idea of a chocolate chip cookie PIE! Last week, Carrie Finison shared a doughnut cookie recipe to celebrate her new book, DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS…and now you are sharing a chocolate chip cookie PIE recipe to celebrate the launch of your new book, THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION

Annette at Almanzo

I know everyone joins me in thanking Annette for sharing some of her writing journey and insights with us. And please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of her wonderful new book, THE LAURA INGALLS WILDER COMPANION…why not tell us your favorite TV series when you were growing up.

I’m wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend. My days are a whirlwind of sorting/purging/packing…my house is sold and the closing is August 31. And one of the perks of all of this is that I am finding scraps of paper and old PiBoIdMo (Storystorm) notebooks filled with story ideas.

CARRIE FINISON: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway



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In 2012, I jumped into the kidlit world, intent on becoming a published picture author. I joined 12×12 and quickly connected with many of the other writers who were pursuing the same goal. When Carrie Finison reached out to ask who’d like to be in a critique group, my hand flew up. Having Carrie for a critique buddy has been a blessing, for sure.

Carrie Finison began her literary career at the age of seven with an idea, a box of markers, and her father’s typewriter. She has been writing off and on ever since, though she has (somewhat regretfully) traded in the typewriter for a laptop. Her debut picture book is DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS (July, 2020), and a second picture book, DON’T HUG DOUG, will follow in January, 2021. She also writes for children’s magazines including Babybug, Ladybug, High Five, and Highlights. When she’s not writing, Carrie enjoys reading mystery novels, trying new recipes, and curling up on the couch for family movie nights. She lives outside Boston with her husband, son, daughter, and two cats who permit her to write in their cozy attic office. Find her online at or on Twitter @CarrieFinison.

ME: I am jumping for joy to welcome you, Carrie, to Will Write for Cookies. I loved DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS even in its early drafts and I’m thrilled to see it become a real book!!! Thank you for stopping by – let’s get started with the questions because I know everyone is excited to find out more about you and your writing journey!

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

CARRIE: It’s so much fun to look back at old favorites. My mother still has many of my childhood books. I remember reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton many times over, and also her book The Little House. I loved seeing the Little House get all fixed up and taken care of in the end. Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library was another favorite and when I got the soundtrack to the show Really Rosie, I had fun singing Carol King’s version of those stories. I also loved One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. We spent many vacations in Maine so those illustrations feel familiar and homey.

Another book that I remember vividly is The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer. It’s an unusual story about a girl who gets rescued from an unhappy life by three robbers. They then set up a home for her and for other unhappy children. I liked the idea that the robbers could be good at heart even though they did some bad things.

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

CARRIE: I’ll answer the opposite. I’m glad I DIDN’T know how long the path to publication would be and how much persistence it would take. I might have given up before I started! I think the key to moving forward in this business is that you have to really enjoy the process – the actual act of writing and revision. As much as I sometimes avoid it, I do take pleasure in just creating something, whether or not someone is ever going to publish it. That part never feels like work.


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

CARRIE: I’m lucky to have an office up on our third floor. I write at my grandfather’s desk with my two cats nearby – and sometimes draped over my keyboard adding their own “revisions.” But I’m not always in that space. Especially in summer, when it’s way too hot up there, I spend time writing on the couch, out on our deck, or (in pre-Covid times) in coffee shops. I miss the coffee shops!


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

CARRIE: As the muse strikes, for sure! Most often that is early in the morning. Sometimes she gets me out of bed! I really don’t have a set schedule and probably need to get better about that. But every time I try to create a schedule something seems to happen to derail it. These days, with my family home, it can be difficult. I don’t need quiet to write, but I do need time free from interruptions and that is hard to come by lately.

ME: Why do you write for children?

CARRIE: I remember all those special moments when my own kids sat on my lap and we shared a story, often reading whole piles of books. It’s a privilege to be a part of that moment of enjoyment between an adult reader and a child. Even better is knowing that I have the power to actually make that moment of connection happen by writing books that kids will ask to read — hopefully more than once!

ME: With DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS? Definitely more than once! The rhythm and rhyme are so spot on…clever and a great message to boot!

Thank you so much, Carrie…and if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.

CARRIE: My best advice for aspiring writers is to read many, many recently-published books, and read them with a child if you possibly can. Pay attention to how they interact with books as well as what appeals to you about the books you read.

Then write many, many manuscripts. The biggest mistake I made starting out was to focus too much on “perfecting” one or two stories, rather than just writing a lot. Picture books take a lot of practice and some stories are never going to make it for a whole host of reasons. Give yourself lots of practice and lots of options. I won’t say it gets easier, but I will say that the more you read and write the more ideas you will have and the more writing you’ll want to do.

ME: That is fabulous advice, Carrie! Thank you so much!

And dear readers, here is some information if you’d like to find out more about Carrie and her books:

Order a signed copy from her local bookstore, Belmont Books:





And just like with doughnuts, we always want more…and Carrie is ready with a fabulous treat for us! Take it away, Carrie!


CARRIE: Vivian, I’m so glad you invited me to do this blog because it gave me an excuse to develop a recipe for doughnut cookies! I originally wanted to include a doughnut recipe with DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS – it seems like a natural fit. But, between rising them with yeast or deep frying, they can be difficult to make and aren’t the most approachable project with young children. In the end we ran out of space in the book, but I did develop a simplified doughnut recipe that’s available on my website and that I’m using as a freebie at events.

However, a doughnut COOKIE is a much easier project for kids, and just as satisfying! I started this with a basic sugar cookie recipe, but added some spices to make it taste more like my favorite fall apple cider doughnuts. I hope you like it!

LouAnn's_Doughnut_CookiesThis is fabulous, Carrie! Thank you so very much! I bet if I asked for a show of hands, we’d have a bunch of readers and writers who are going to give these doughnut cookies a try! But before you get busy doing that, make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, thanks to our lovely guest! Why not share which is YOUR favorite doughnut. Mine is Chocolate Glazed Chocolate…with Chocolate Sprinkles…because you can never have enough chocolate.

For those who have been following my house-on-the-market saga, it was listed on July 16, Open House on July 18…with immediate offers! We signed the contract July 21…and I’m now packing in earnest. And so very excited to turn the page on this next chapter of my life!

Stay safe, dear friends…and have a wonderful weekend!

DAWN PROCHOVNIC: Will Write for Cookies PLUS PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway



Plate of Cookies







One of the things that always impresses me is how multi-talented my kidlit friends are. Many have had (or still have) careers as engineers, educators, and doctors. Others are, as Paul Simon wrote:

I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket to my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.

I think, after you finish reading this post, you’ll agree that my guest today fits the bill of that last line.

Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?; Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?; First Day Jitters, featured in the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud; and 16 books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series, including one title that was selected as an Oregon Book Awards finalist. Dawn is a vocal advocate for school and public libraries and was honored Continue reading