Category Archives: Giveaway

BRIAN LIES: Will Write for Cookies Plus Double Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS (AND ILLUSTRATORS, OF COURSE!)

TODAY’S GUEST

Brian Lies photo

 

BRIAN LIES

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve only recently connected with today’s guest. Of course, I’ve been a long time admirer of the work of this talented author/illustrator and I’m thrilled to welcome him to Will Write for Cookies.

Brian Lies is the NY Times-bestselling author and/or illustrator of nearly 30 children’s books, including his latest, THE ROUGH PATCH (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Aug. 2018) and GOT TO GET TO BEAR’S! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Oct. 2018), and his bat series (including BATS AT THE BEACH, BATS AT THE LIBRARY, etc.).  When he’s not working on his stories or visiting schools around the country, he can be found in his vegetable garden, reading, or preparing unusual foods such as kimchi, pickles, switchel or limoncello.  He and his wife have a grown daughter and live 30 miles south of Boston, MA.

To connect with Brian and learn more about his books: 

website:  www.brianlies.com

Twitter:  @BrianLiesbooks

Blog:  GETTING INTO CHARACTER,  brianlies.blogspot.com

Instagram:  brianlies

ME: Hi Brian! So glad you could stop by to chat with us today. I know everyone is excited to hear more about you and your writing/illustrating life. 

rough patch

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

BRIAN: I grew up with a lot of books, so creating a shortlist is tough!  Early on, I loved Richard Scarry’s “Best Word Book Ever”—it was the book that taught me the connection between objects and the words that described them.  Another favorite was “Miss Suzy,” by Miriam Young and Arnold Lobel.   There was “Put Me in the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire, with the creature (polar bear?) with its moveable and changeable spots, and a very obscure one called “Why I Built the Boogle House,” by Helen Palmer (photo illustrations by Lynn Fayman).  That one’s about a boy who keeps remodeling a small pet house to accommodate larger and larger animals.  Also Bennett Cerf’s “Book of Laughs,” with its really corny, 1960-era illustrated jokes.

When I entered the world of chapter books, I loved things like the Edward Eager “Magic” book series, “The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian” by Lloyd Alexander, and anything by Jane Langton (“The Diamond in the Window,” “The Swing in the Summerhouse,” etc.).  I was also very into the “Childhood of Famous Americans” series, though I’d probably be really dismayed now to know how much of those books was fabricated or idealized.

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

BRIAN: I think the biggest thing would be that, for the vast majority of writers, you never “make it” in a blockbuster-so-big-you-never-have-to-worry-again way.  You’ve got to keep paddling, because there’s always a current, even if slight, against you.  It’s so much easier to NOT write than it is to write.  So focusing on the joy that comes when you’re on a new idea and madly scribbling away, or revising a really tricky bit, and it suddenly falls into place—is more important than focusing on the ultimate success of any particular book.

GOT TO GET TO BEAR'S 300dpi

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

BRIAN: Like many authors or illustrators, I’m a creature of habit.  I write with a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil on yellow Ampad legal pads (they feel sturdier than other brands).  I write by hand because it almost always comes out better than drafting on the computer.  I type really fast, so my first ideas splat onto the screen without a lot of consideration.  But when I write by hand, it’s slower, and I pre-edit or reconsider each sentence as I’m writing.  So a first draft is invariably better when it’s put down on paper.

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

BRIAN: For me, the best writing comes in the first thing in the morning, when I’m not thinking about “have-tos” or people I should email, etc.  There’s something about that quiet time before the world is in gear that feels the clearest.  Unfortunately, that time has become polluted by the iPhone—news or emails may have come in overnight, and as soon as you’ve looked at them, that quiet time is gone.  So the idea of a social media vacation sounds pretty good right now.

writing desk

ME: Why do you write for children?

BRIAN: It’s a cliché to say “I really write for myself,” but there it is.  Books meant so much to me as a boy:  entertainment, knowledge, imagination.  And as a boy, I worried about whether I’d ever be good enough at anything to do something “real,” something that nobody would question in the adult world.  So I try to write stories that I enjoy now, but also ones that I think I’d have liked as a kid.  I do love the idea that real people, people I’ve never met and haven’t shoved a homemade copy of a story at, might read one of these books out there in the world and then write to me about how it affected them.  That’s pretty amazing.

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. 

BRIAN: There’s little I can say that hasn’t already been said, but repetition drums things into our brains.  So:  focus on craft.  Try writing the story from different perspectives.  I have a 300-page novel which I first wrote in third person, then tried again in first person, and the action became more immediate (I still have to go back and whittle perhaps 1/3 of it away).  Make sure every character’s voice is distinct enough that you can guess who’s speaking, after a few lines, without dialogue tags.  Nancy Werlin has a fantastic revising process in which she makes sure every chapter serves the story, every paragraph serves the chapter, and every sentence serves the paragraph (she may have something about that on her web /social media platforms).  Very important:  read everything aloud.  What looks good on paper or screen doesn’t always sound good aloud.

And for educators and librarians:  Please let kids read what they want.  I believe that becoming a good reader springs out of enjoying reading, rather than out of a drilled mastery of skills.  Kids are going to read at different levels—that’s just life.  I think kids should read what they want, whether it’s “above” or “below” their level.  Not letting them take out an advanced book stifles learning—how do we learn unless we reach beyond our grasp?  What’s so bad about having a book at home for a week that’s too hard to read? Shaming them because they’re “behind” or pressuring them into reading above their level makes reading a chore, and something to be avoided.  I used to despair at the idea of boys wanting to read what some would consider “garbage,” but I’ve come around—at least they’re reading!  And if they love it, they can be coaxed to try other, more “literary” materials.  In any case, wouldn’t it be better to have a grownup who loves reading comic books than a grownup who wouldn’t touch a book?  I know our culture is all about achievement and scores, but the real end goal here is someone who picks up a book because she or he WANTS to.

ME: PLEASE LET KIDS READ WHAT THEY WANT…you put it in italics, Brian, but I’m going to put it in it in caps as well. Not that I’m shouting it, but for emphasis. I am so much a fan of that, Brian. Because, as you say, they are reading. I remember reading plenty of comic books and Trixie Belden and folktales…even these days I’ll reread books like Pollyanna or Little Women…bringing back memories of when summer days meant nothing but bringing home piles of books from the library and sitting all day long, devouring those sweet stories.

And mentioning sweet reminds me that Brian has a very special recipe for us. Take it away, Brian!

BRIAN: My Will Write for Cookies recipe is Angel Flakes.  There’s a chance that the recipe is on the side of shredded coconut bags all over the world, but this is one of our favorite Christmas cookies—to the point where I double the batch and we’ve left off making some of our other favorites to make more room for these.  The photo below is a Xerox of the typed card that’s been in the family for many decades—the recipe was originally baked by my grandmother, Bertha Sherwood Bonham, and it’s now gone three generations down.

Brian Lies recipe

ANGEL FLAKES

1/2 C butter

1/2 C shortening

1 tsp vanilla

1 C sugar

1 1/2 C. sifted flour

1/2 tsp soda (baking soda)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 C flake coconut

Cream butter, shortening and sugar.  Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter-sugar mixture with coconut and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Roll into small balls, dip in powdered sugar and place on cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly. (Not too much).  Bake at 350 for about 15 min.  Makes about 48.

Thank you so very much, Brian…for all of your insights and for sharing some of your process with us. And of course, we are grateful for a family recipe that just might become someone else’s holiday tradition. We are all wishing you much success with your newest additions to your bookshelf…and for your very generous giveaway.

Dear friends, please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway…and find ways to thank your favorite authors: buy their books, ask your local library to purchase for their collection, post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, tell all of your friends how much you enjoyed a particular book. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool we have – and it doesn’t cost a penny.

I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend. See you on Monday for another extra special blog post…a COVER REVEAL for Laura Gehl’s newest picture book: DIBS!

 

 

Happy Book Birthday: MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS Plus Giveaway

Sometimes a book cover grabs your attention. Other times it’s the title. With this book, for me, it was BOTH!

A VERY HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS!!!!

book cover

MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS

Written by Margaret Chiu Greanias

Illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow

Published by Running Press Kids (TODAY: August 28, 2019)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Acceptance, be true to yourself

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

“For anyone who loved Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, this is a humorous and important book about learning to follow your heart and proving that kindness can outweigh villainy any day.

Maximillian Villainous is a monster who doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. His famous family pulls pranks on the likes of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Max spends his time undoing them. So when he brings home a bunny to be his sidekick, Max’s disapproving mother hatches a plan. She challenges Max and the bunny to become a devious duo; otherwise . . . the bunny hops. If they want to stay together, Max and the bunny have no choice but to go against their nature. They blunder into villainy with comical effect until Max discovers that embracing his good heart may just be the key to pulling off the most devious deed of all and winning his family’s acceptance.

Delightfully fun and irreverent, Maximillian Villainous is an empowering story about embracing one’s true self and finding acceptance. Up and coming illustrator Lesley Breen Withrow brings the characters to life with bold and colorful illustrations in a style reminiscent of Richard Scarry.”

Dear friends…I know this is a book that kids are going to love. I feel like I already know the author, Margaret Chiu Greanias. From my very first toe-dipping into the water of this kidlit community, I saw her name as an active participant. And when I spoke to her, I found out that she has loved writing for a very long time.

 Margaret wrote her first terrifically terrible book in fourth grade. From grade school through college, she suffered through English—she was especially bad at analyzing stories and writing essays. Then, during her very last year of college, she took a creative writing class and discovered she loved writing. Despite this, it wasn’t until her second child was born that she remembered her love of children’s books. She’s been writing ever since. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three children, and a fluffle of dust bunnies.

To learn more about Margaret and her books, please visit her website: http://margaretgreanias.com/

And guess what? The author has graciously offered a copy as a giveaway! Please leave a comment for a chance to win!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! And whenever you have the time, why not hop over to one of the book review sites like Amazon or Goodreads and leave a review for your favorite picture books!

Christy Mihaly: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Picture Book Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

 

PHOTO_ChristyMihaly

CHRISTY MIHALY

I usually reduce the size of the headshot for my Will Write for Cookies guests…but I just couldn’t take away one inch of this glorious scene. It looks so much like a photo I have of my grandson and me at a lake in New Hampshire which figures because Christy is right next door in Vermont. 

Christy Mihaly lives and writes in Vermont, overlooking the hayfield that inspired her picture book, Hey, Hey, Hay! She has published a half-dozen books in the educational market, on topics from California’s redwood forest to cosplay to elephants and moose. She writes for children’s magazines about science, nature, and history. Her poetry has appeared in publications including Imperfect: Poems about Mistakes, an Anthology for Middle Schoolers; Highlights; and the SCBWI Bulletin. Christy also co-wrote a nonfiction book for YA readers, Diet for a Changing Climate: Food for Thought, to be published October 1 by Lerner/TFCB. Christy loves walking in the woods and playing the cello (though not simultaneously). She is represented by Erzsi Deak, of Hen&ink Literary Studio.

You can connect with Christy on any of these platforms:

Blogging at GROG

Instagram: @christymihaly

Twitter: @CMwriter4kids

Facebook Author page

But right now, we are going to connect with Christy right here. 

Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Christy! We are so happy to have you hear!

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

CHRISTY: As a kid, I read all the time, but for the most part I didn’t think much about the people writing the books. I loved classics like The Borrowers and The Secret Garden. I also read and re-read Harriet the Spy and A Wrinkle in Time. And I guess the exception to my ignorance about authors was Beverly Cleary – if I saw her name on a book, I picked it up!

kid with book

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

CHRISTY: I wish I had appreciated the importance of meeting others who are doing this work. In the beginning, I didn’t understand that you’re not fully a children’s writer until you engage with the community of writers and illustrators. Even more than publishing my first magazine pieces, what made me feel like a real writer was meeting with others who were also writing for kids—and joining a critique group!

WOW July 2015

Conferences and writing retreats are a great place to connect with others in your field. This is from the 2015 WOW retreat in Helen, Georgia. I see a bunch of familiar faces there. (Vivian left early that morning with Ann Magee and a couple of others because they had an early plane to catch out of Atlanta so they missed the photo).

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

CHRISTY: Everywhere! I write on scraps of paper in the car, on my phone in the middle of the night, and in a notebook I keep in my purse. I write in my head when those words come in the middle of a walk in the woods. Still, most of my writing is on my trusty laptop, which I move around a lot – kitchen, porch, desk, seeking different views of trees and fields … As a writer, I am peripatetic.

Note from Vivian: I had to look that word up…peripatetic: traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.

beautiful rows

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

CHRISTY: I’m lucky right now to be writing for a living. So – I write all the time. I spend more time writing, in fact, than some people around me might prefer … [What, we’re out of dog food again?]

dog bale

Sometimes I sit down first thing in the morning and write a poem. Other times, I’m facing a book deadline and writing all day and at 4:00 I realize I forgot lunch. I do some of my best work after dinner and into the wee hours, but that can’t happen too often or I get sleep-deprived and cranky.

ME: Why do you write for children?

CHRISTY: Because I keep having new ideas that I want to write about and I love doing it! And because I believe that our best hope for the future is raising a generation of people who love to read. My wish is that by giving kids books that are engaging and fun, we can spark their love of learning, and also foster the critical thinking skills that this generation is going to need.

HeyHay_intr_tractor

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

CHRISTY: Vivian, you didn’t ask me about the many rejections I’ve received. I do love sharing about my published pieces – but the manuscripts that don’t find (or haven’t yet found) a home are equally important. Each one that gets a “pass” from an editor can help in my writing journey, because I learn from it: What works and what doesn’t work? What grabs an editor’s attention and what leaves her cold? How might I better address a subject I really want to tackle? How can I make this story sparkle? Or … which editor might like this story better? Rejections are never easy, but they’re inevitable, and they feel less awful if I remember that each one is a step forward.

Thanks, again, Vivian, for all you do to support children’s books and writers and illustrators. This has been fun.

ME: Christy, I love that you talked about rejections…and your attitude towards them is spot on! And it’s my honor and pleasure to feature authors and illustrators and to review all of their wonderful books! And hosting the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge is something I am truly passionate about…providing a safe and encouraging platform for fellow writers.

I know you aren’t finished here, Christy…there’s a VERY special recipe you’ve got in store for us!

CHRISTY: Yes…for a summer change of pace, how about a little switchel?

Switchel—or ginger water—is the traditional haymaker’s drink. In one of her books, Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to Ma’s zesty ginger-water, declaring that after a blazing hot summer day working in the fields, nothing could quench the thirst quite so well. Or, as my narrator reports with delight in Hey, Hey, Hay!,

“Mom calls out, ‘Let’s take a break … for switchel and a piece of cake!’”

There are many regional variations, and you can make your own adjustments to taste. This simplified recipe (included in the back of HAY) is based on the Vermont version of the drink. And yes, they’re bottling this stuff now – but why not make your own?

quart-jar-switchelPhoto courtesy: The Vermont Switchel  Company

Make Your Own Switchel

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

4 cups water (plain or sparkling)

Combine the ingredients in a large jar with a lid, and shake. Pour the mixture over ice cubes to serve right away, or chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Stir well before pouring it into your glass. Makes about a quart.

Variations:

You can add mint leaves, lemon, or cucumber – why not experiment? Try some switchel with ginger cookies!

Thank you so much, Christy! This has been so much fun. And I want to remind everyone that Christy has generously offered to do a picture book manuscript critique…so make sure you leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe and be happy!

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

Hmmmmm

about reading, writing & thinking children's books

Laura Boffa: Write of Way

Giving the way of writing the right of way

PICTURE the BOOKS

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

Pernille Ripp

Teacher. Author. Creator. Speaker. Mom.

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

Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's Author

The Stinky Backpack

Traveling the Everyday 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

WRITERS' RUMPUS

Authors & Illustrators Wild About Kidlit!

Teresa Robeson

thoughts on kidlit nonfiction, diversity, and food

Tracy Campbell

Heart for Ewe Publishing

kidsbook friends

Check out this blog featuring kids' books with correlating questions & activities!

Mary Jo Beswick

Artist - Author & Illustrator - Teacher

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

READ to KIDS

READING: like dancing in your brain

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

Reader | Writer | List Maker

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

The Waiting

Turns out, it's not the hardest part.

%d bloggers like this: