Category Archives: Dessert recipe

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!

)

Leah Henderson: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

hnderson

LEAH HENDERSON

As many of you know, I’ve stepped back a bit from the number of blogs I post. Last year I had three or four Fridays and Saturdays filled each month. This year, I’m only doing one or at most, two, Will Write for Cookies post each month and a few Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Which makes each one all the more special.

Special…now that is a perfect word to describe today’s guest. I met Leah at a writing retreat in Georgia and I fell in love immediately with her passion for writing and her sincere, honest, and compassionate approach to life. So when I found out her award-winning middle grade novel, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL, was coming out in paperback on June 12th, I knew I had to ask her if she would stop by for a Q&A. And she said YES!

Leah’s novel One Shadow on the Wall, is an Africana Children’s Book Award notable book and a Bank Street “Best Book of 2017” starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” is part of the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her debut picture book is entitled Mamie on the Mound. Leah mentors at-risk teens, is an avid traveler, and her volunteer work has roots in Mali, West Africa. She attended Callaloo Writing Workshop at Oxford University, is on Highlights Foundation faculty, and volunteers with Kweli Journal and We Need Diverse Books. She received her MFA from Spalding University and lives in Washington, D.C.

You can find her on Twitter @LeahsMark or at her website: leahhendersonbooks.com.

But today, fortunately, you can find her right here!!!!

And if you leave a comment, thanks to our generous guest, you’ll be entered into the giveaway of a brand new paperback copy of ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL.

ME: Hello Leah. Thank you so much for stopping by to chat. I know everyone is excited to find out more about you.

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

LEAH: Hi all! I’m excited to be here!

One of the books I always passed on my family’s sunroom coffee table was THE PEOPLE COULD FLY by Virginia Hamilton with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. And from time to time one of my parents and I would open it just to read a few pages. That was a definite comfort book, and still is a reminder of home. I also loved Corduroy by Don Freeman because it was the first time I saw a black girl like me with her mom as part of an everyday adventure. The Bernstein Bear books were also big in my house because they showed a family doing so much together, just like mine always did.

people could fly

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

LEAH: I am still working on this, but I wish I had known to be kinder to myself and my writing, and to trust that even if I don’t figure something out right away that I will not give up until I do. Over the years, I’ve added a lot more stress to my writing hours than I needed to. I’m not saying I don’t still stress about every little thing, but now when I tell myself to take a couple breaths I actually try to.

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

LEAH: So, I write all over the place, inside, outside—on rooftops, in gardens, on planes, and in Bedouin tents, wherever inspiration strikes (or wherever I am when I have to get something done). Though my ideal place is anywhere my dog is curled nearby. I usually start a story in one of my favorite notebooks with one of my favorite pens. Then I move to my laptop or desktop depending where I am.

real laptop

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

LEAH: Again, I’ve learned I need to be flexible if I’m ever going to get anything done. But years ago when I started to take my writing more seriously I was shocked to find that the early morning hours were a magical time for me (basically I worked in a nightclub and all my friends were asleep then.

I have always been a night owl and get a lot done under the cover of night, but purely by accident I found that the early morning hours were the best time for me to write new scenes. I’ve never been too fond of morning unless I’ve already been up half the night. But one morning I popped up during the early stages of a new story and realized my characters were buzzing to get on the page when the sun had still barely pushed its way into the sky. Now, when writing a new draft I get excited to see how the ideas have been playing in my head all night.

working outside

ME: Why do you write for children?

LEAH: Because children have the most open hearts and the most expansive minds!

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

LEAH: My advice to aspiring writers is the same advice I give to myself now: Be kind to yourself and your writing. Don’t cringe at your mistakes. Sometimes the most magical things come from these stumbles—these true moments of learning. But we have to be open to seeing them. So keep your eyes open to everything! And write for you . . .

one shadow cover

Thank you so much for having me, Vivian!

ME: The pleasure is mine, Leah…and I know that you aren’t done yet. I took a peek at the treat recipe and it looks amazing!

LEAH: Not exactly cookies, but this is a common treat you’ll see at outdoor street vendors and it’s also a wonderful snack during Ramadan and other occasions.

                                                                                       donuts         Photo: Eat Your World

Senegalese Donuts (Beignets)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cups of flour

1 cup of sugar

½ cup of milk

4 eggs

2 oranges

1 tbsp of baking powder

½ tbsp of butter (melted)

Optional:

Powdered sugar

Coconut flakes

Raisins

Nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, and melted butter into a bowl
  2. Add squeezed orange juice and milk
  3. Mix together
  4. Add zest of orange for flavor
  5. Add vegetable oil
  6. Continue to mix until soft, not too sticky
  7. Add raisins (optional) and mix
  8. Add a bit more orange zest and mix
  9. Sprinkle a little more vegetable oil on top
  10. Add a bit of coconut (optional)
  11. Then let rest for 2-3 hours. Best results: let sit overnight
  12. Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on top (optional)
  13. Mix a little more
  14. Create little balls and drop them into a pan of hot vegetable oil

*put a little vegetable oil on your hands for stickiness.

  1. Flip the donuts as they cook
  2. Let them fry for 10 mins or until golden brown
  3. Remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb extra oil
  4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar

And enjoy!!!

Oh my goodness…thank you, Leah. You brought me right back on a Saturday morning with my grandmother who used to bake a lot. I’d sneak downstairs while everyone slept in, and help her. Fried doughnuts were one of her specialties. I will definitely have to try these!

Dear readers, thank you so much for spending your precious time here with us. Please don’t forget the the greatest gifts you can give your favorite authors is to buy their books, review their books, and tell others about their books. Make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.

Have a safe and happy weekend! I’ll be leaving for a 10-day trip to Chicago on Wednesday to visit family…but I hope to be able to connect with some Chicago area writer friends as well.

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