Category Archives: Dessert recipe

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.

Alison Goldberg: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Alison Goldberg headshot small

ALISON GOLDBERG

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 http://www.alisongoldberg.com.

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!

CARRYING A STORY TO PUBLICATION WILL LIKELY TAKE YEARS, SO MAKE SURE IT’S TRULY A STORY YOU WANT TO TELL!

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

INSTRUCTIONS:

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.

Enjoy!

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.

LoveYouForMiles_biblio

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

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INFORMATION, INSPIRATION, INSIGHT

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Author Photo_Lori Alexander

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.

workspace

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 lorialexanderbooks.com 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.

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