Category Archives: Dessert recipe

Alison Goldberg: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




Alison Goldberg headshot small


Our guest today is a debut picture book author this year–and I was thrilled to meet her when I joined Picture the Books 2017, a group dedicated to authors and illustrators whose books are launching this year.

Alison Goldberg is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before becoming a children’s book author, Alison worked for economic justice organizations and wrote a resource guide about social change philanthropy. These days, she blogs about activism in children’s literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. Alison is also a board member of the Food Research and Action Center, an organization committed to ending hunger in the United States. Learn more at

ME: Welcome, Alison! I’m thrilled you stopped by to chat with us. 

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

 ALISON: When I was in elementary school, Norman Bridwell visited my school. For months after, I drew fan art and even sent him a Clifford book that I made. I think this was the first time I understood that becoming a children’s author was an actual job that someone could do, so my love of his books was connected to that experience.

Clifford fan art

This is the Clifford book I sent to Norman Bridwell after he visited my school.

            Other favorite picture book creators from childhood include Maurice Sendak, Leo Lionni, Margaret Wise Brown, and Ezra Jack Keats.

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

 ALISON: I wish I knew what close friends and collaborators I would find in the children’s writing community! This knowledge would have inspired me in those early days when it felt like a big risk to change fields, when I was solely focused on learning about writing picture books and novels, and when I did not know if any of my stories could possibly ever become books. Then I would have known that through all of the ups and downs in this journey there would be such kind and generous book creators to share it with.

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

ALISON: All of the above. I like to write at my desk, while taking walks, at the library, in coffee shops, at the beach, in playgrounds, and on trains. The more I write, the more I realize writing isn’t something that’s easily shut off, so I’ve become comfortable with jotting down notes—whether on computer, phone, or on paper–wherever I am.

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

 ALISON: It depends on the project. Some picture book drafts arrive in a burst that last anywhere from an hour to a few days and at any time of day. In those instances, I just go with it (and sometimes forget to pull dinner together for my kids until the very last minute!).

            But when it comes to revision—especially for longer projects like the middle grade novel I’m working on—I prefer more scheduled, daytime writing sessions and setting concrete goals.

   Often what I choose to write about is connected to my desire to share stories with children that further social justice. I love writing about the topics that grab me and don’t let go—whether it’s the actions of inspiring activists, the art of creative individuals, or the journeys of fictional characters. When this happens I work on figuring out what makes the topic feel so meaningful and then how to introduce it to kids.

            And sometimes the process works the other way around, like in the case of I Love You for Miles and Miles. My kids were the ones hooked on trucks and trains, and I needed to understand their magic!

big rig page_Miles and Miles

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. 

 ALISON: For writers: Don’t worry about the market. Or, understand the market, and then let go of its expectations. Write the books of your heart. If something grabs hold of you and won’t let go you’ll bring a passion to that subject that will come through on the page. Carrying that story to publication will likely take years, so make sure it’s truly a story you want to tell.

ME: Oh my goodness…that is awesome advice, Alison. We really have got to love our subject and  story because when you get to the 45th revision, you want to still enjoy reading it! Thank you so much, dear friend! I know everyone is going to remember  this, for sure!


And to give you energy along the journey, why not try this delicious treat that doubles as a dinner for Alison and her family.

Cinnamon French Toast & Bananas

Recipe: Cinnamon French Toast & Bananas (for 2)

I am a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies, but here I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe for writers like me who sometimes get caught up in writing, forget about dinner, and need to pull food together in a flash. This treat doubles as supper! My kids eat a lot of French Toast ☺

4 slices of bread (I like to use sourdough, ciabatta, or challah, but any bread will work.)

2 eggs

1/3 cup of milk

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Butter for the pan

Banana slices

Maple syrup, honey, jam, applesauce, or any other topping you like


Beat eggs with milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in a wide, shallow bowl. Dip the bread into the mixture until the bread is coated on both sides. Heat up a frying pan over medium heat, melt butter, and then cook the French Toast, flipping to cook both sides. Once done, serve with banana slices (or another fruit) and topping of choice.


Thank you again, Alison. I know I will definitely enjoy this…French Toast used to be one of my childhood favorites.

Dear friends, thank you for spending your precious time with us. Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES.


And, with the holidays just around the corner, if you want to give a wonderful gift to your favorite authors, please remember to leave book reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other review sites. For more information or to purchase I LOVE YOUR FOR MILES AND MILES, please go to the author’s book page or indie-bound.

Have a safe and happy weekend.

And if you are in the writing mood, why not enter Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest!

Lori Alexander: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway





Author Photo_Lori Alexander


2017 is bursting with super picture books and I’ve been thrilled to feature their authors on my blog. I’m especially happy to welcome Lori…she’s a fabulous writer and a super lovely lady.

 Lori Alexander is the author of BACKHOE JOE (Harper Children’s), FAMOUSLY PHOEBE (Sterling Children’s) and the upcoming ALL IN A DROP, a biography of scientist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She lives with her husband and two children under the star-filled skies of Tucson, AZ. 

Welcome, Lori! Thanks so much for stopping by to chat with us today. We’ll get right to the Q&A.

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

LORI: I remember reading lots of Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman books. My brother and I loved Virginia Lee Burton’s MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL and KATY AND THE BIG SNOW. Arnold Lobel’s FROG AND TOAD books were favorites, too. But above all, it was CHRISTINA KATERINA AND THE BOX by Patricia Lee Gauch. Oh, how I loved the wonderful things Christina Katerina crafted with that refrigerator box: a castle, a clubhouse, a race car, a dance floor. Time and again, she rescued her creations from her tidy mother (and the garbage bin!). And when the poor box got wet and disintegrated on the front lawn, there was still a happy ending—two new boxes!

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

LORI: Things get easier…and more difficult. The various aspects of writing get easier as you hone your craft. I’m much more comfortable with character development, plot structure, pacing, page turns, word choice, etc. But at the same time, writing is more difficult than when I first began. I tend to self-edit too early in the process. I don’t always give my ideas a chance because right from the get-go, I’m trying to judge their marketability. When I first started out, I wrote with more freedom because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I suppose the learning never ends, no matter where you are in the process.

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

LORI: I usually write inside at the shared family computer in our great room. Needless to say, I get more done when my kids are at school.


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

LORI: As the muse strikes, but mostly mid-day when the kid count is zero. I haven’t had much luck sticking with a strict writing schedule.

desert view

ME: Why do you write for children?

LORI: The challenge! Holding the attention of a classroom of kindergartners is the very best kind of tricky. And making kids laugh is addicting.

reading with kids


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.

LORI: Advice to aspiring writers! When I read interviews, this is my favorite part. I always hope a seasoned writer will spill the beans and dole out some first-rate advice that will make my next story flow from my fingertips, sell to the first editor who reads it, and rocket to the top of the bestseller list. As soon as I find that seasoned writer with the stellar advice, I’ll be sure to pass it on! J

For now: read lots of current books in your genre, hone your craft, seek out critique partners, and don’t give up no matter how many rejections you collect.

As for educators and librarians, I’ve spent a ton of time volunteering at my kids’ public elementary school, in both the classrooms and the library. The energy, care, and grace you put into your work never ceases to amaze me. Thank you! Thank you!    

ME: WOW! This is fabulous, Lori! I especially love your advice to READ, JOIN CRITIQUE GROUPS, HONE YOUR CRAFT, and NEVER GIVE UP!!!!

And I’m sure part of the advice you didn’t add is to keep your energy up with yummy treats, right Lori? I’m a fan of the recipe you are sharing…it’s perfect to prepare with kids!

LORI: Although this is not a cookie recipe, it’s our go-to when we want a quick, sweet treat (and it’s been a hit at school bake sales). We call them something different each time we make a batch. In this case…

Famously Phoebe’s Star Bars

recipe photo

6 cups crisp rice cereal

1 bag mini marshmallows

3 bags white chocolate chips

1 bag mini chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter (almond butter would work, too, if allergies are a concern)

Melt the white chocolate chips over low heat. Stir in peanut butter. Remove from heat and add rice cereal. Stir gently. Then stir in mini marshmallows (they don’t need to melt) and half bag of mini chocolate chips. Line rimmed cookie sheet with parchment. Pour mixture onto cookie sheet and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle top with remaining mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate for about an hour. Cut into bars and enjoy!

Dear friends, you can find out more about Lori on her website at or follow her on Twitter at @LoriJAlexander

And don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of FAMOUSLY PHOEBE.

Phoebe cover JPEG

Have a wonderful weekend! I’m behind on awarding our giveaways, so next Friday, I’ll be announcing the ones from the last three posts.

Katey Howes: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




KathrynHeadshots-40 (2)


Author Katey Howes is actually a very special person in my life. Facebook friends and fellow kidliters, we met online in writing challenges. Then, in March 2015, I noticed on Twitter that she had just signed with Storm Literary Agency. I had never heard of Storm, nor of the agent, Essie White. So, I hopped over to their website…and fell in love. And the rest is history!

Katey Howes is a fierce advocate of not just literacy, but of raising kids who love to read. She treasures those moments when books allow children to relate their experience to the greater world, or when their curiosity skyrockets from interest to obsession. Katey tries to weave her passion for nature, travel, science, and creativity, as well as her sense of wonder, into stories that make children think more deeply, explore more broadly, and laugh a little bit louder.

Katey is the author of GRANDMOTHER THORN (Ripple Grove Press, Aug. 2017) and MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE (Sterling, Jan. 2, 2018.) Katey is a team member at All the Wonders and founding member of Picture the Books.  You can get to know Katey better at or by following her on Twitter @kateywrites or on Instagram @kidlitlove. 

ME: Welcome, Katey! I’m so very excited to have you here today. I could chat with you forever, but first let’s get to the Q&A.

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

KATEY: I’ve always loved rabbits, so many of my favorite books as a child were bunny books. I still have my battered and much-loved copy of A Home For a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, as well as I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom. I think those two books shaped my illustration preferences for a long time – I still get a warm, fond feeling over illustrations that remind me of Garth Williams’ or Richard Scarry’s signature styles.


As an older child, I gravitated toward epic adventures, from The Chronicles of Narnia to The Dark is Rising. I also loved nature stories, science fiction, and historical fiction. Prolific authors were big favorites, too – I always wanted more of the characters and voices I loved. I had shelves dedicated to L.M. Montgomery, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony and Cynthia Voight.  My fondness for bunnies continued – I’ve read my copy of Watership Down (given to me by my middle school librarian) so many times that the cover completely fell off.

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

KATEY: I wish I had known how much a manuscript changes from inception to publication!  I must have wasted hours agonizing over illustration notes that wouldn’t matter to the illustrator, word choices that would change ten times after acquisition, word counts that would expand and shrink over rounds of revision. It’s important to realize that, while every detail is important, none is immutable, and that other voices and opinions and viewpoints will influence the manuscript many times before it sits on a bookshelf. I could have spared myself a lot of heartache and headaches if I knew that sooner.

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

KATEY: I prefer peace and quiet to write. For a long time, the only place I could really find that was in my little office in the basement. Now that we’ve moved to a more rural location, I can sit on my screened porch without interruption from anyone but the birds. It’s perfect.  I jot ideas in notebooks and on sticky notes, and I sketch out rough dummies by hand, but I prefer to do the real drafting of a manuscript on my laptop. There’s an option to turn the keystroke sound off – but I like it on. Loud. That tappity typing sound makes me feel very productive.  


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

KATEY: In the summer, my family keeps me busy, and while I have time to write, it has to be flex-time. Once the kids are back in school, I try to focus on writing, revising, studying, reading, promoting, and all that jazz from 8:30am until 3pm. I’m not much good at writing in the early morning hours (by which I mean all hours before my third cup of coffee) but I find I can use that time to read and critique my CP’s manuscripts while I load up on caffeine – and their work usually inspires me to buckle down and create my own. If the day goes according to plan, I take what I call “a writer’s nap” around two in the afternoon. With no plans to actually sleep, I curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket, set a timer for 20 minutes, and give my brain permission to drift and dream. I find a lot of solutions to writing problems that way, and always feel reenergized afterwards.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KATEY: I don’t think I have a choice. I’ve done a lot of other things with my life –  things I’ve enjoyed, things that came easily, things that made more sense or more money – but my path keeps bringing me inexorably back to children and to books.

ME: WOW…Katey…you struck several chords with me in this Q&A. Everything you said about spending time on the illustrator notes and worrying about word choices and word counts (which are, of course, important…but not the way we agonize over them since they ARE going to change) is true. And you’ve given me a wonderful plan of action…that 20 minute afternoon siesta sounds like a great idea! But now i know you have another Great Idea…the recipe you are sharing!

KATEY: My daughters and I love to cook together. We decided to try out a new recipe to go with GRANDMOTHER THORN. In the story, Ojisaan brings Grandmother sweets from the village each time he visits. On one occasion, he brings “a parcel of sweet dorayaki.”

Dorayaki are a traditional, casual Japanese treat made of two small, sweet pancakes sandwiched around a filing of anko – a sweet red bean paste. We watched several videos (I recommend Japanese Cooking 101 for a great instructional video) and read a few recipes, tried a package of pre-made dorayaki, and then tried our hand at making our own – with a twist. This is a very easy recipe for kids to participate in – they especially loved squeezing the “sandwiches” together at the end. We hope you enjoy!

Dorayaki-New-IVPhoto courtesy:


  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 3/4 c milk
  • Fillings: Traditional: Anko (red bean paste – can be found at an Asian grocery or ordered online. We bought ours through Amazon.)

Twist: Nutella, Peanut Butter, or Jam (we used our homemade blackberry jam)



  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and honey together.
  3. Add milk to liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture. Stir or whisk until smooth.
  5. Spray a nonstick pan or griddle with a generous amount of cooking spray like Pam.
  6. Pour batter onto hot griddle or pan to make round, pancake-like cakes. About 1/8 cup of batter makes a nice-sized cake.
  7. Cook about 2 minutes – until the bubbles pop, leaving little holes. Flip over and cook 1-2 more minutes. Don’t let it dry out – moist cakes work best!
  8. Transfer to a plate. Cover with a wet paper towel to keep them moist until you cook all the batter.
  9. When you have all your cakes cooked, it’s time to sandwich them! Place one cake on a square of plastic wrap. Top it with a big spoonful of your favorite filling. Put another cake on top.
  10. Wrap the sandwich tightly in the plastic wrap and squeeze together. Pinch the edges to seal.
  11. Keep wrapped until ready to eat!

This is awesome, Katey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope everyone will leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of an authographed copy of GRANDMOTHER THORN, compliments of Katey!

Have a safe and happy weekend, dear readers!

Polilla Writes

reading, writing, celebrating the written word

National Day Calendar

Fun, unusual and forgotten designations on our calendar.

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate


about reading, writing & thinking children's books

Laura Boffa: Write of Way

Giving the way of writing the right of way


A Gallery of New Picture Book Talent

EMU's Debuts

From Deal to Debut: the Path to Publication

Wander, Ponder, Write

A KidLit Journey...

Picture Book House

reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Norah Colvin

Live Love Laugh Learn . . . Create the possibilities

Gathering Books

Singapore | United States of America | Philippines

Beth Anderson, Children's Writer

Reader, Writer, Miner of Moments

Dan Szczesny

Travel Writer / Journalist / Author

Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's Author

The Stinky Backpack

Traveling the Everyday World

Write One Real Life

Where writing meets faith in the real world.

The Runaway Palate

Food. Travel. Cooking. Random musings. Maybe some historical stuff.

The Reader and the Book

"O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught." Ralph Waldo Emerson


Authors & Illustrators Wild About Kidlit!

One Good Thing

Teresa Robeson's 365-Day project

Tracy Campbell

Heart for Ewe Publishing

kidsbook friends

Check out this blog about children's books!

Mary Jo Beswick

Artist Author Illustrator

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

Pattern Me Mommy

My journey from Type A know-it-all to MOMMY! by Anna Redding


PB author, poet, writing for kids

Friendly Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales and Poetry Celebrating Magic and Nature for Kids of all Ages

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Sharing and Celebrating Picture Books Since 2009

Stacy S. Jensen

Writer & Reader

Reading With Rhythm

book reviews from Rhythm the Library Dog

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Nerdy Chicks Write

Get it Write this Summer!

Laura Sassi Tales

Celebrating writing, reading, and life.

Erika Wassall here... The Jersey Farm Scribe

Author, Freelance Writer, Entreprenur... LIVER of life

Angie Karcher

Writing Children's Books

Chapter Book Chat

A Writer Reviews Chapter Books, by Marty Mokler Banks

The Blabbermouth Blog

Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking

%d bloggers like this: