Category Archives: Dessert recipe

Beth Anderson: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Beth Anderson head shot hi res

BETH ANDERSON

I first met today’s guest in June 2014 when I took a class in writing nonfiction picture books. I fell in love with writing nonfiction…and so did Beth Anderson. We enjoyed critiquing together then…and we still do.

Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. Armed with linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Colorado where she laughs, wonders, thinks, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same.

Welcome, Beth! Thanks for stopping by. I’m so excited for your debut picture book, AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution. And I know you have more books in the pipeline…but for today, let’s find out a little more about you and your writing journey.

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

BETH: I don’t have a recollection of favorite authors or illustrators. I know the first book I bought with my own money (as recorded in my baby book, I have no memory of this) was Children of the World – which is interesting when you consider I became an ESL teacher! I remember The Cat in the Hat Came Back, a book of poems, and a book of Bennett Cerf’s riddles. (What’s black and white and red all over?) I was always checking out biographies and Nancy Drew books from the library. My mom also read to us each night from thick classics like Pinocchio and Winnie the Pooh. 

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

BETH: I wish I knew (and still wish I knew) more about the process of creating picture books! But in general, things unfolded as I was ready, so I don’t know if I’d change a whole lot. Sometimes if you know the road is littered with potholes and bumps and detours and barriers, you’re afraid to step out on the journey. There is so much information available now online that it’s immensely easier than when I took my first crack at writing for kids years ago. The most valuable bit of info now is knowing that there are endless resources for learning available.

inconvenient alphabet

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

BETH: I’ve claimed the study as my writing room where I have easy access to shelves of books, drawers of files, and the current pile of research. Sticking with one spot helps my focus – except that I can look out the window and watch the world go by. Initially, I use pencil and spiral to organize and make lots of notes. (See my post on how I organize HERE. I’ve found it’s really beneficial to brainstorm by hand. When I start drafting, it all goes on the laptop. At various points in the process, I print out a one-sided copy and start marking it up by hand with highlighters and notes. I like to be able to lay out the entire story and see how sections balance, where different plot points fall, where repetitions hit, identify page breaks, the conflict points, the emotional arc, etc. I think it helps to see the story in different formats.

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

BETH: I’m my best creative self in the morning. So as soon as I exercise and eat breakfast, I’m at it. Once in a while an idea hits when I’m about to fall asleep, so I have pencil and paper on the night stand. But I’ve learned that I shouldn’t work on a manuscript in the evening, or it will torture me all night. Most days, at least Monday through Friday, I’m researching, drafting, or revising. But now that I have a book coming out, there are some days that I’m working on other related tasks.

ME: Why do you write for children?

BETH: I’ve had the “someday” of writing for children in the back of my mind for a very long time. Finally, as I prepared to retire from teaching, that idea came out of hiding. When my students asked me what I was going to do, I admitted I’d always wanted to write for kids. Seeing their excitement gave me the encouragement I needed to give it a try. Also, they made me feel accountable. How could I tell them to chase their “somedays” if I wasn’t willing to?

But as to why I’m drawn to narrative nonfiction…it all comes from my years as an ESL teacher using literature to teach content as well as language. I saw the lightbulbs go on and heard the reactions. I watched wonder creep over a child’s face and listened to questions that came forth. I got to see the power of story to connect kids to their world, open minds, and inspire learning. My goal is to be a part of that.

Interior BF letters public

Jumping off from there, I’d say a story can teach us all something different, something we need. Certainly as a writer, I get multiple lessons, about life as well as writing, with every manuscript as I connect to the characters and learn from their experiences. With An Inconvenient Alphabet, the lingering idea gleaned from Ben Franklin was to let your ideas “take their chance in the world.” Once that book is out in the world, others will largely determine its success. But I’ll continue to learn from the experience.

ME: How about some thoughts for aspiring authors?

BETH: One of the most difficult things for any of us is to put our ideas out there and risk reactions that are not positive. When I started this kid lit endeavor, I couldn’t use the word “writer” about myself. When I got over that hurdle, I struggled with “author.” There seemed to be “requirements” I wasn’t sure I met. Am I a writer if no one reads what I write? Am I an author if my story is in my drawer? But…if we keep it to ourselves, no one will ever read that story in the drawer. We’ll never make the connections we desperately need to move ourselves forward. My first public “confession” that I was diving into this came at a weavers’ guild meeting, and lo and behold, I met a local author who told me how to connect with the kid lit community in the area. So…you just never know…one thing leads to another…a chance.

Thank you so much, Beth. I loved this entire Q&A…but I know that for me, your organizational tips will be so very helpful…I can’t wait to visit the link you provided!

And, my friends, Beth has provided something else just as sweet…her favorite treat recipe! Take it away, Beth!

 

Peach Cobbler

I got this recipe from a dear friend when we lived in Georgia, land of peaches. It’s fabulous!

¾ C. flour

2 C sugar (I cut down to justify eating more. Usually put ¾ c. into batter and ¼ to ½ c. with fruit.)

2 t. baking powder

Dash salt

¾ stick butter/margarine

¾ C milk

2 C. sliced peaches (be generous)

Melt butter or margarine in 8×8 pan (I use microwave, glass pan).

Combine flour, 1 C (or less) sugar, baking powder, milk, salt.

Mix peaches and 1 cup (or less) sugar.

Pour batter into the melted butter in pan. DO NOT MIX.

Dump peaches into batter (distribute evenly). DO NOT MIX.

Bake ~1 hour @ 350’ – you want a golden crusty top.

Oh my goodness…that sounds amazing! Thanks so much, Beth. I wonder how many people are going to try this…looks like the perfect dessert for company.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.  Have a safe and happy weekend, my friends. 

 

Robin Newman: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

head shot

ROBIN NEWMAN

I met today’s guest early on in my kidlit writing journey and was always impressed with her passion and determination.

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the City University of New York School of Law. She’s been a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She’s the author of the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and The Case of the Poached Egg, and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs her Sleep. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, National Writing Project’s Writers Council, and the Bank Street Writers Lab. She lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels, who are extremely fond of Phil, Jim, and Harry.  

ME: Welcome, Robin! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat…and a big thank you for offering a copy of your awesome new picture book, NO PEACOCKS! as a giveaway. I know everyone is excited to learn more about you, so let’s get started.

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

 

ROBIN: I will seriously date myself but here goes:

 

  • Maurice Sendak—My twin sister and I grew up with Max and Pierre. By age 3, I’m pretty sure we knew every single word in The Nutshell Library. And we can still sing all the stories out of tune with some help from Carole King in the background;

 

  • Ludwig Bemelmans—We lived in Paris when we were kids and fantasized about going to school with Madeline. Boohoo! Who wouldn’t want their appendix out too?;

 

  • Jean de Brumhoff—Loved Babar, Celeste, and the Old Lady. In fact, one of our English bulldogs was named Babar; and

 

  • Beatrix Potter—How could you not love The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny?

 

 

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

 

ROBIN: It may seem very obvious, but writers need a gene for patience. Patience for writing and developing story ideas. Patience for working on rewrites. Patience waiting for agents and editors to review your submissions and patience for implementing and processing feedback. Patience, as well as a good box of tissues and chocolate, for dealing with lots of rejection.

 

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

 

ROBIN: I work on a laptop. Most of the time, I work in my teeny tiny office that’s been overtaken by swag and books with my dogs, Cupcake and Madeleine, under my feet. But I also like to work in coffee shops while waiting for my son to get out of camp or school.

 

Now, if I don’t have my laptop with me, I always have a notebook or two that I use for marking down ideas and sketching/outlining stories. When I finally have a solid draft, I like to print it out and mark it up on paper. I seem to see the story more clearly when I’m reviewing it on paper. And if I’m working on a picture book, once I have a solid draft, I always always always make one or several dummies so that I can cut, see where the page turns are going to fall, and cut some more.

cover

 

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

 

ROBIN: I write in the morning after my son heads off to school or camp. And I have till school or camp pick up to finish my work.

 

ME: Why do you write for children?

 

ROBIN: I LOVE it! I love getting kids excited about reading and writing, including my own son, who’s a difficult customer to please. And it’s an absolute privilege to write for children.

 

Prior to writing for children, I had been a miserable attorney (that’s miserable with a capital M), and then a legal editor before switching gears completely to writing picture books and early chapter books. I still remember the day when I walked into my first children’s fiction writing class, it just felt so right. I knew I had found my people.  

 

Bottom line: there’s no better job in the world than writing for children. (And I’m extremely grateful to my amazing husband who supports my writing habit.)

 

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

ROBIN:

  1. Write and rewrite. Rinse and repeat.
  2. Follow Publishers Weekly, familiarize yourself with the children’s publishing industry and the business of publishing children’s books, and be aware of what editors are buying.
  3. Do your homework when looking for an agent. And yes, it is easier to sell a story with an agent who can get your work in front of the right editor.
  4. Join the SCBWI.
  5. Join a critique group.
  6. Don’t give up!

ME: HURRAY! What amazing advice, Robin! Thank you so much. I know everyone is applauding. We appreciate that you shared so much with us. And I know you have a very special treat to share with us.

ROBIN: Although I will most definitely write for cookies, I must confess that I prefer carrot cake. Here’s Molly Katzen’s awesome carrot cake recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. It’s super easy and super yummy!

recipe

Thank you so much, Robin! This is a fabulous recipe…and you’ve been so generous in sharing your thoughts on writing!

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway, dear friends.

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful weekend! 

 

 

 

Anna Redding: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

ANNA Crowley Redding- Author of Google it! A history of google

ANNA CROWLEY REDDING

Anna is one of my favorite kidlit people. She is smart and kind, passionate about writing and compassionate about life. We’ve been critique buddies for several years and have had many long Skype one-on-ones. We live in contiguous states. But…

…we’ve never actually met in person. Each conference at which we were supposed to connect, something happened and one of us couldn’t go. I’m making a promise that, before the end of next year, Anna and I are going to hug each other for real! Anna…I hope you are listening!

Anna Crowley Redding is the debut author of YA nonfiction Google it: A history of Google (How two students’ mission to organize the internet changed the world). Her debut picture book RESCUING THE DECLARATION OF INDEPEDENCE (illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham) will hit the bookstore shelves in 2020.

Before diving into the deep end of writing for children, Anna Crowley Redding’s first career was as an Emmy-award winning investigative television reporter, anchor, and journalist. The recipient of multiple Edward R. Murrow awards and recognized by the Associated Press for her reporting, Redding now focuses her stealthy detective skills on digging up great stories for kids and teens — which, as it turns out, is her true passion.

Dear readers, thanks to Anna, we have a giveaway of a copy of GOOGLE THIS! Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing.

book cover

ME: It’s definitely an honor and a pleasure to welcome you, Anna.

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

ANNA: I loved Maurice Sendak’s In The Night Kitchen. I can remember being about 5 or 6 years old and poring over the illustrations and I can remember being completely captivated by the fact that illustrations spilled out of their borders. He went outside the lines of each spread and I LOVED that. He was a rule breaker and I identified with that immediately. I also loved that he used the cross-hatch technique for shadows, fill, and definition. My father, then, taught me how to do it. That technique gives children a lot of freedom when they are drawing and I loved that, too.

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

ANNA: Learn the rules of writing, craft, structure . . . so that you can break them really well, in just the right spot. This adds more depth and voice to your writing and punctuates your storytelling. But if you don’t learn the craft first, you can’t properly break the rules in compelling ways.

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

ANNA: There are four places I love to write. 1) My desk which is a piece of live edge pine from Maine. The trick is not staring off at the ocean endlessly. 2) On the floor in front of the fireplace. I love sitting in front of the fire. It’s such a creative and cozy spot. I stack up my favorite books and plop my laptop right on top. 3) At the coffee shop. There is something about writing in a public space with other people around that makes me super productive. I mean first of all you want to look like you are working which usually leads to actual work. 4) The Library. I love writing with lots of other books around and you cannot beat the expertise of real live actual librarians for help with research questions, mentor text ideas, and market knowledge. Plus, they are fun to be around.

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

ANNA: I write on a schedule, keeping normal business hours and adding a couple of nights and some weekend times. For me it’s like going to the gym. If I take a break, then starting up again is super painful. So, I try to keep it going all the time.

ME: Why do you write for children?

ANNA: I have wanted to write for children and teens since I was in early Elementary school. I think it’s a very creative time in life with tremendous purpose. And so creating books that might inspire and empower young readers or capture their imagination, really, there is nothing better!

ME: And Anna, your books are definitely going to do that! Thank you so much for sharing so much of your process. If you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.

ANNA: To young writers, don’t ever give up. Keep writing, keep learning, try new things, and learn as much as you can. All of your life experience, what you read, who you meet, the music you listen to . . . all of it informs and shapes your own writing. Get out there and experience life, soak up as much information as you can, and don’t forget to share what you learn with others along the way. And have confidence in your writing and your ability to grow. The pithy nature of social media writing is making your generation a really fabulously practiced group of writers. Social media really forces you to get to the heart of every story. That is such an exciting quality you guys are growing up cultivating. Once you have the heart of your story, you can build out from there. What a fun journey lies before young writers!

ME: WOW…what great advice for kids…and we, as older writers, can probably follow Anna’s suggestions, too.

One thing I know we will want to follow are the instructions for her delicious banana muffin recipe. Take it away, Anna!

ANNA: Here’s our Banana Muffin recipe. We love to make this when reading IF YOU GIVE A MOOSE A MUFFIN By Laura Numeroff :

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 maple syrup
  • 2 eggs or egg replacer
  • 4 mashed bananas (honestly I throw mine in whole)
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoon chia seed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon flax-seed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream butter  and sugar
  3. Add Maple syrup and apple sauce
  4. Add two beaten eggs
  5. Add bananas and combine well
  6. Add dry ingredients to combine
  7. Add vanilla and cinnamon
  8. Spoon into muffin tin
  9. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until an inserted knife comes out clean

Yield:  A dozen muffins (we had enough for two extra 

Thank you so much, Anna! I’m thrilled you stopped by to chat with us today. I hope everyone tries the muffin recipe, buys a copy of GOOGLE THIS!, and leaves a comment for the giveaway.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. I thank you so much for spending your precious time here with us. I hope you’ll be back often this month…we have a FULL schedule with Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews EVERY Friday and Will Write for Cookies author/illustrator interviews EVERY Saturday PLUS FOUR book birthday posts! Lots of giveaways, lots of insights, and hopefully, lots of fun!

)

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