Category Archives: Giveaway

Denise Fleming: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

DENISE FLEMING

I’m often praising the mentors in our kid lit community. They share their expertise graciously. And our Will Write for Cookies guest is one who has led the way. I was already a fan of her award-winning books when I met Denise at a writing retreat two years ago. Her workshop on paper making was filled with passion. And during our one-on-one, she pointed out important problems in the picture book manuscript I was working on at the time.

Denise, I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

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

 DENISE:

 My favorite book when I was a child was The Giant Golden Book of Cat Stories. It was full of stories and poems about cats. For my fourth birthday, my grandparents gave me a Siamese kitten. From then on I was drawn to anything written about cats.

kid and cat

 I also read every issue of National Geographic magazine. The photographs and articles about places and animals, so different from my everyday experience, fascinated me.

 ME:

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

DENISE:

Actually, I can’t think of anything I wish I had known when I first started writing. All the info out there now on the internet, the classes and workshops would have intimidated me when I started. I just burrowed in and started reading as many books as I could and made notes of what I liked, what appealed to me.

ME:

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

DENISE:

I write most everywhere – in bed, in the tub, outside, wherever I feel comfortable at the time.

outdoor work space

I worked on my first book in a tent in Canada with a doe keeping an eye on me.

I write on yellow legal pads with soft lead pencils.

ME:

When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

DENISE:

I am not a morning person. I am an owl. Most productive work starts after 3 in the afternoon.

I do not write or make book art every day. Some days I garden, work in clay, make art dolls , read, or sketch out ideas.

cat on wall

ME:

Why do you write for children?

DENISE:

Children are open to adventure. They jump into new ideas. They enjoy animals and nature. They find butterflies and bugs interesting. They paint with abandon and laugh easily. Children are a great audience. They are my people.

ME: Denise, if you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.

DENISE:

Read as much poetry as you can. Not just poetry for children, but adult poetry too.

Listen for the rhythm of the language.

Think like a child.

ME: BINGO!!!! THINK. LIKE. A. CHILD.

Denise, this is a mantra I think all of us need to embrace! Thank you so very much for stopping by to chat with us and sharing your insights.

Dear readers, if you’d like to find out more about Denise and her fabulous books:

www.denisefleming.com

And check out her newest book, coming in Spring 2018:

robin nest cover 

And guess what? We are not done yet! I know you are all waiting for a sweet treat.

Denise says:

Now, about that recipe, cooking is not really a part of my life anymore.

I do suggest you take a good-sized spoon, dip it in in the peanut butter, then into the jar of Nutella. Top this spoonful of deliciousness with a honey roasted pecan half. Yum.

May be served in spoon.

HA! I LOVE THAT! NO MUSS! NO FUSS! JUST PURE YUM!

And wait…this post has ONE MORE dollop of awesomeness thanks to our lovely guest. Denise wants to do ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of 5 Little Ducks and you might be the lucky winner of a copy of Beetle Bop. AND, if you leave a comment on THIS post, you might be the lucky winner of a copy of 5 LITTLE DUCKS.

cover

I told you this kid lit mentor was one of the best! Truly, Denise, your generosity is much appreciated.

And the way WE can show our appreciation is to go to Amazon and/or Goodreads and write a review for 5 Little Ducks

 and Denise’s other fab books.

Thank you all for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend and I wish a most Happy Father’s Day to all those who fill the role of a dad.

Ellen Leventhal: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

ellen me linda

ELLEN LEVENTHAL

Most of you know I am a great fan of critique groups. They help us in so many ways…not just with their suggestions and feedback on manuscripts, but also with support and encouragement regarding all aspects of our lives. I’m blessed to be a member of several amazing critique groups and I’m always thrilled to meet my critique partners at conferences and retreats. Last July, at the WOW Retreat in Georgia, I got to hug two of my favorite writing buddies, Linda Hofke (on the right) and Ellen Leventhal (in the middle). And you guessed it…Ellen is our guest today!

 While growing up in New Jersey. Ellen Leventhal didn’t dream of bluebonnet fields, but she did dream of writing books. Ellen has a master’s degree in education and has been writing for and with her students for many years. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and is the proud mother of two grown sons, and three grandchildren who love bluebonnets, Longhorns, and just about anything Texan.

I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Ellen!

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

 ELLEN:

 I can’t remember all the authors’ names, but I sure do remember the stories. A few of the many picture books that stick in my mind are all the Curious George books (especially the hospital one, for some reason), Babar, Madeline, and Caps for Sale. I can remember trying to balance a bunch of hats on my head like the man in Caps for Sale. As I got a little older, I read all the Nancy Drew books as well as the Cherry Ames series. Some people may not be familiar with Cherry Ames, but she was a nursing student and then a nurse. I lived close to a hospital, and I really wanted to be a nurse, just like Cherry Ames. Hmm…as I re-read this, I see I had kind of a “hospital thing” going on when I was a kid. That couldn’t be farther from who I am now.

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

ELLEN:

I wish I knew how difficult it is to write a good picture book! Or maybe I’m glad I didn’t know. If I had known, I wonder if I would have forged ahead. I had been writing poetry and even wrote an MG story with Ellen Rothberg (who is my coauthor on a few books), but when our first picture book was accepted, the revision process was crazy!! A very nice editor told me that I was a good writer, but didn’t know how to write picture books. Many years, classes, tears, and chocolate later, I still struggle, but I love it.

The other thing I wish I knew is the value of critique groups. My next picture book, Lola Can’t Leap, will be out in March 2018, and if it were not for all my critique buddies (including the wonderful Vivian Kirkfield), it would be sitting in a drawer. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but having good critique buddies is absolutely the best thing about this business.

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

ELLEN:

My initial brainstorm is usually scribbled in a spiral, legal pad, or whatever scrap of paper I have handy. That can happen anywhere, including the dark lobby of a Chinese restaurant waiting for my take-out order. (Yes, that just happened.) When I get to the actual writing part, I usually write in my home office on my desk top computer. But sometimes I need a change of scenery, and I bring my lap top to a coffee shop. That only works if I’m totally “in the zone.”  If I’m not, I tend to get distracted. Sometimes that’s a good thing because I’ve gotten story ideas from watching people.

 ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

ELLEN:

My goal is to set a real schedule to write, but I am not there yet. I am trying very hard to make writing time a priority. I try to write every day, but it’s not always for as long as I’d like. I can’t say if I’m more productive during the day or in the evening because it depends on so many different factors. To be honest, I’m more of a muse seeker, and when that muse visits, I immediately stop when I’m doing and indulge her.

cover1

 ME: Why do you write for children?

ELLEN:

The first answer that pops into my head is “Why not?” But of course, it’s more complicated than that. I’ve always loved literacy and being with children. So, writing for kids felt right.

Children need to feel like they belong. They need to feel that they are not alone in their fears, dreams, and idiosyncrasies. If I can at least try to add to a child’s sense of self while making them smile, it’s something I need to do.

And of course, the bonus of writing for children is getting to share my stories with them. I never get tired of that.

 ME: Ellen, if you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.

ELLEN:

Here’s something funny about stories. One day I was teaching a creative writing class, and a book that Ellen Rothberg and I wrote was on the shelf. A child said, “I love that book! I read it almost every night. The lady who wrote it came to my school.” It took a while for the child to realize that I was that lady, but I thought it was great. I don’t need to be remembered, but I hope my stories are.

As I said, a new book is coming out in March, but I’m also very excited about a “re-boot” of an older one that is out now. Several years ago, Ellen Rothberg and I wrote the book, Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, but unfortunately, it went out of print. However, we loved the book and didn’t want it to die a slow death. We wanted a new generation of children to read it, but we knew the picture book market had changed. We took a leap of faith and embraced an opportunity most people don’t get. Instead of giving up, we updated. We cut down the word count, illustrator, Joel Cook, took the art in a new direction, and I am happy to say, Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, Ten Year Anniversary Edition hit bookstores this past spring.

ME: Hurray!!! I’m so thrilled that BLUEBONNETS is back, bigger and better than ever. If any of you missed the Perfect Picture Book Review I did yesterday, please go here. https://viviankirkfield.com/2017/06/09/perfect-picture-book-friday-dont-eat-the-bluebonnets-plus-critique-giveaway/

 For information on Ellen’s other books and her availability for school visits, please check out her website at www.EllenLeventhal.com

Amazon

Clear Fork Publishing

Barnes and Noble

Now, before we say goodbye, Ellen has a fabulous recipe to share with us. It’s something with chocolate so I am smiling already. Take it away, Ellen!!!

ELLLEN:

I must admit that I did not come up with this on my own, but I make it whenever dessert is called for. It’s from www.allrecipes.com, and it’s yummy!

Chocolate Trifle Recipe

 cake

Ingredients:

I package brownie mix

I package instant chocolate pudding

½ C water

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (8oz)  container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

 

Directions:

Prepare brownie mix according to package and cool. Cut into 1 inch squares.

In a large bowl combine pudding mix, water, and condensed milk. Mix until smooth.

Fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.

In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mix, and half of the 12 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers.

Garnish any way you’d like.

Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

WOW…this looks amazing, Ellen! If I make it, I will eat it. And if I eat it, I will have to hide the scale. 😉

I know everyone is clapping, Ellen. Thank you for participating.

Dear friends, if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for a picture book manuscript critique from Ellen (and I can tell you from experience that she give wonderful feedback), please make sure you leave a comment.

And if you’d like to thank Ellen for her insights, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Book reviews are so very important in this business.

Thank you all for stopping by…I love visiting with friends!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Review and Activity: PAX AND BLUE plus Giveaway

Today is the last day of March…and you know what they say…it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

We will keep our fingers crossed for good weather, blue skies, and balmy temperatures. But I don’t think I have enough fingers, because they say there is a blizzard coming today.

In the meantime, please sit back and relax. I’ve got a wonderful Perfect Picture Book Friday for you!

Oh wait! Last week’s wonderful author, Catherine Bailey offered a super-duper prize package of a signed copy of LUCY LOVES SHERMAN plus a lobster cookie cutter and a bookmark.

AND THE WINNER IS…

PAULA MOWERY

Congratulations, Paula. Please contact me so I can get your mailing information to Catherine.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday also has a giveaway…so don’t forget to leave a comment. I also have a favor to ask. If you have not yet signed up for my email list, please do! One day, I PROMISE, I will be sending out a newsletter…and hope to have coupons for critique discounts for writers and other neat stuff for teachers and parents and kids. And all of that goodness can be yours…but only if you click on the sidebar logo. Many of you are already followers of my blog, but the email list is different. It allows me to email you directly. If you follow my blog, but aren’t subscribed to my email list, please click on the Positive Parental Participation logo. I thank you!

And now, on to our fabulous 2017 debut picture book from Lori Richmond.

book cover

PAX AND BLUE

Written and illustrated by Lori Richmond

Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Friendship, thoughtfulness, kindness

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

“A young boy makes an unlikely friend on his way to school. One thing is for sure. Pax is the littlest everywhere he goes. In school. At playtime. On the train. Then Pax meets a pigeon at the park—he names him Blue and makes a friend who knows what it’s like to be small. And understanding each other can lead to the best friendships.”

Why I like this book:

  • The text is so simple…how did the author say so much with so few words?
  • It definitely helps that she is also the illustrator…and a darn good one! There is a purity and a simplicity in the illustrations that lets us discover the true message of the book.
  • And the message is one that we want to share with children every day…how to be a real friend! This book will be a wonderful launch pad for discussions about friendship at home and in schools.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Rainbow  Pigeon Mobile

pigeon craft

Photo courtesy: https://www.pinterest.com/moonbeamsps/moonbeams-birds-nest/

You will need: Piece of construction paper, feathers or colored tissue paper or other scraps of colored construction paper, markers, glue, string.

  1. Cut construction paper in shape of bird.
  2. Glue feather or crumpled pieces of tissue or construction paper onto bird.
  3. Use marker to draw eyes, beak.
  4. Punch hole at top and thread string through it.
  5. Hang in the breeze and watch the bird flutter and fly.

For more wonderful bird craft ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/moonbeamsps/moonbeams-birds-nest/

 

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends…don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of PAX AND BLUE…and please come back tomorrow for:

 

Will Write for Cookies

LORI RICHMOND

 This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

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