Category Archives: GIVEAWAYS

Catherine Bailey: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

CATHERINE BAILEY

It’s a joy for me to welcome our guest today. Catherine Bailey is a children’s author and presenter from sunny Florida. Her current books include MIND YOUR MONSTERS (Sterling Publishing, 2015), HYPNOSIS HARRY (Sky Pony Press, 2016), and LUCY LOVES SHERMAN (Sky Pony Press, 2017) – with more on the way! She has also written for popular children’s magazines such as Highlight’s Hello and Babybug. She is a frequent children’s speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events.

 

When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitos, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer (interesting), Sailboat Deckhand (fun but occasionally sea-sicky), and Cartoon Network Intern (best job ever, besides writing). Her hobbies include reading, travel, and TJ MAXX. But mostly reading.

 We are so happy to have you here, Catherine!

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

 CATHERINE:

My favorite author as a child was Roald Dahl and my favorite illustrator (perhaps not surprisingly) was Quentin Blake. There was – and still is today – a magic that comes from the combination of Dahl’s witty text and Blake’s expressive characters. I actually saw original Quentin Blake sketches for sale at the Palm Beach Art and Antique Show a few years back. If I ever win the lottery I’m going to go back and try and find them – LOL!

hypnosis harry cover

ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

CATHERINE:

When I first started to write for children, I wish I knew about SCBWI. I did not learn about the organization for several months and *oh boy* did it have a lot to teach me!  On the other hand, I am actually glad I did NOT know how long it takes to get published, how hard it is to write good rhyme, how everyone thinks this job is so easy, and so on. If I had been aware of all those negatives, I may have been too scared to plunge into kidlit. Of course, now it’s too late to turn back. I’m hooked!

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

CATHERINE:

I began writing for children (officially anyway) in January 2010, right after my first daughter was born. At that time, I either wrote at the local Panera, or I wrote sitting on an ottoman that was tucked in sort of an office/closet combo. I called it my “cloffice” and it was smack in between both of daughters’ rooms. It was not ideal for concentrating, LOL! However, in 2016 we finished building a new house. I now write in my fabulous new office. I always write out manuscripts on my laptop, though if I get a random idea I will jot it down on anything I have handy (including McDonald’s bags, my hand, the back of grocery lists…)

office

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?

CATHERINE:

I first started writing in the middle of the night when I got up to feed my then infant daughters. It worked well for a few years (see aforementioned cloffice, located near babies’ bedrooms), but eventually my kids started sleeping through the night and I was able to start working in the daylight. Like a normal person – ha! Nowadays I try to keep office hours 9am-2pm, at least four days a week. “Try” being the key word. However my writing will usually spill over into evenings when I am close to finishing a draft of a manuscript.

workspace

ME: Why do you write for children?

CATHERINE:

I write for children because I love introducing kids to the world of reading. Books were a massive component of my youth – they taught me to be creative and curious. They made me feel excited and safe all at the same time. It may sound cheesy, but if I can do that for even a handful of kids, then I’m a success. And of course, there is the totally selfish reason – it’s SO FLIPPIN’ FUN!

Thank you, thank you, Catherine! This was wonderful. You are an inspiration! I know everyone truly appreciates how you shared your journey.

Learn more about Catherine and her work at www.catherinebaileybooks.com.

 And now for one of my favorite parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe! And what a treat it is…perfect for a salty sea story, right?

SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

cookies

CATHERINE: I really enjoy baking, as do my two daughters. (They are excellent taste testers and oven watchers!). Since my latest book, LUCY LOVES SHERMAN, is a sweet and salty story of friendship between a girl and a lobster, I picked an equally flavorful cookie for your readers. I think they will get hooked on the combination of rich chocolate and tangy, sea salt.

Ingredients:

1 ½ c flour          

1 tsp baking powder     

½ tsp salt           

¼ tsp baking soda

1 stick room temperature unsalted butter

¾ c packed brown sugar

½ c sugar

¼ c powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

8oz bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

 

Instructions:

(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

(2) Combine flour through baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

(3) In electric mixer, combine butter through powdered sugar. When those ingredients are mixed, add in egg yolks through vanilla. When those ingredients are mixed, slowly add dry ingredients until mixed.

(4) Turn off the mixer and fold in chocolate chunks.

(5) Spoon 1 ½ inch balls of dough (about 1-2 inches apart) onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle lightly with the sea salt.

(6) Bake for 8-9 minutes, and allow a few minutes for them to set before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

WOW! These are a MUST-MAKE…and definitely a MUST-EAT!

And before we sign off, Catherine has one more thing to say:

I am so excited that LUCY LOVES SHERMAN has finally splashed out! I would like to send a signed copy of the book, a bookmark, and lobster-shaped cookie cutter, to one lucky reader.

cover

Thanks again, Catherine! That is a very special giveaway!

So, my dear readers, please comment on this blog post (and/or on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book review) in order to be entered into this fabulous giveaway.

I know you join me in thanking Catherine for a wonderful Q&A.

And I wish you all a beautiful weekend. Thank you all for stopping by and spending your precious time here with me.

Perfect Picture Book Friday PLUS Looking Back, Moving Forward, and the WInner is…

Today is Friday, December 30, 2016…which is significant for several reasons.

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday…so I’ll be reviewing a wonderful picture book.

But I’ve got a couple of other things to tell you, so, hold onto your hats! Today’s post is chock full of good stuff!

12-days

First of all, for the last several years, Julie Hedlund has gifted the kidlit community with the 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. This daily video prompt gives you a chance to take a look at your accomplishments, pat yourself on the back for your successes, as well as your failures…because failures mean that you are one step closer to reaching your goals. There is still time to join in – this is the type of challenge that can help you get on the right track for 2017. And her post, The Anti-Resolution Revolution, is a must-read. As per her suggestion, here is a short list of what made me smile in 2016:

  1. There was a fabulous turnout for my #50PreciousWords writing contest in March that celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss. I expected perhaps a dozen friends to submit stories…but in the end, we had 128 awesome entries. I was blown away with the quality of the stories…and fifteen people walked away with prizes…a critique with my incredible agent, Essie White, a seat in Kristen Fulton’s Nonfiction Archaeology class, a critique from me, and a dozen brand-new books. As many of you know, the writer who won first place chose the agent critique and is now represented by Storm Literary Agency! Which just goes to show that entering contests and writing challenges is definitely a valuable step toward publication. I’m already planning the 2017 contest and hope to see all of you there. If you have something you’d like to offer as a prize (critique, signed art, book), your donation will be much appreciated.
  2. In April, I attended my first real SCBWI conference…in Chicago. It was fantastic. And in July, I spent a glorious week in Georgia at the WOW Retreat.
  3. Sweet Dreams, Sarah became available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and several Indie bookstore sites…and the cover is all I could have hoped for. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in this business, there was a delay and the publication date has been pushed back till 2018. But I am turning lemons into lemonade and using this time as an opportunity to lift up the picture books that will launch in 2017.
  4. With the accountability of 12×12, I wrote 12 picture book drafts and revised them and others.
  5. Several of my manuscripts received very positive editor feedback…and I revised two of them for specific editors. Three stories are still out on submission and hopefully we will hear good news in 2017.
  6. Three new nonfiction picture book manuscripts are ready to send to my agent – who knows – maybe one of them will catch an editor’s eye. What I am finding out is that this business is 100% subjective…and if you’ve written a great story, there is an editor out there who WILL fall in love with it.
  7. Thanks to the prayers and positive thoughts of friends and family, I sailed through major surgery this summer.

I’ll stop with lucky number seven!

storystorm

Another thing I want to mention is that since 2009, countless writers and illustrators have participated in Tara Lazar’s month-long challenge, PiBoIdMo. But for 2017, she’s changed things up…so grab your snow boots and get ready for a blizzard of ideas and inspiration…STORYSTORM is on the horizon and it’s time to sign up.

I can tell you from my own experience that keeping a journal or notebook of ideas really works…my first Picture Book Idea Month notebook contained an idea about a pristine mountain river where animals converged…I wrote that picture book draft for 12×12…and, after dozens of rounds with critique buddies, the polished manuscript went out on submission and got lots of positive feedback from editors. Right now we are waiting to hear back from a major house…but whatever the outcome, it’s an indication that the process works and these challenges can help move you along towards your goals.

Plate of Cookies

Last of all, I want to share some changes I’m making in my blog posts. For the past four years, my Will Write for Cookies series has been honored to interview dozens of authors and illustrators. On the third Saturday of every month, we’ve all enjoyed an informative Q&A with Katharine Holabird, Iza Trapani, Duncan Tonatiuh, Josh Funk, Susanna Leonard Hill, Sylvia Liu, Jill Esbaum, and so many more. Each guest has shared an inside peek into their writing process, what they wished they had known from the start, plus a favorite cookie or other sweet treat recipe. And for 2017, it’s going to get even better!

When I discovered that the publication date of Sweet Dreams, Sarah was being pushed back to February 2018, I knew I had to find a way to turn disappointment into something positive. What about featuring ALL the 2017 picture books on Perfect Picture Book Friday and their authors and/or illustrators on Will Write for Cookies? YES! YES! YES! And many of those posts will offer a book giveaway as well!

p-and-w

Speaking of giveaways, it’s time for one of those, I believe. Earlier this month, we were fortunate enough to have a Q&A with author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh. And I promised a giveaway of his newest picture book, The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos.

AND THE WINNER IS:

 

KATHY HALSEY

Congratulations, Kathy…PM me or email me with your address and I will get this beautiful book out to you ASAP.

And now, dear friends and readers, since many people take the opportunity of the New Year to make plans to reach their goals and follow their dreams, our Perfect Picture Book is all about believing in yourself and following your dreams.

cow-who-climbed-a-tree

THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE

Written and illustrated by Gemma Merino

Publisher: Albert Whitman (2016)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Be true to yourself, follow your dream, ingenuity

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Tina isn’t like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren’t convinced―and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her…and soon discover a world of surprises!

Opening Lines:

“Tina was a very curious cow. She had a thirst for discovery.”

Why I like this book:

  • I read this story to my grandson and he asked for it the next day.
  • I love the whimsical illustrations.
  • Most of all, I love the simple, concise way the author is able to convey the emotions of Tina and the message of the importance of following your dreams.

 

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.

I’m wishing all of you a New Year that blossoms with joy, good health, and much success! See you next year!

 

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

Emma Bland Smith: Will Write for Cookies PLUS GIVEAWAY

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot-1

EMMA BLAND SMITH

Joining Storm Literary Agency connected me with a wonderful family of awesome authors and illustrators. They are smart and super supportive. And I’m thrilled to welcome one of them to Will Write for Cookies.

Emma Bland Smith is a mom, librarian, and writer. She was born in Scotland, grew up in San Francisco, and has lived in New York, Santa Barbara, and Paris…no wonder she wrote a book called Journey. Now she’s back home in San Francisco, living a block away from the house she grew up in. Her past careers have included magazine editor and French teacher. Today she works part-time as a librarian and fills the rest of her time volunteering at her kids’ school, leading a Girl Scouts troop, driving to baseball practice, cooking, gardening, and writing.  

Emma, I’m not sure how you find time for the writing with all those other activities…but thank goodness you do. I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Emma’s BRAND NEW picture book, Journey: The Most Famous Wolf in the West (click here to read my Perfect Picture Book Friday review)…so please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end.

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

 EMMA:

I was definitely a book worm, and the first books I remember reading on my own, starting in about first grade, were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. So many lines from those books, along with the evocative illustrations by Garth Williams, are ingrained in my mind! After that, the book I remember the most clearly is Ramona the Pest. I used to get so indignant on Ramona’s behalf, when the she got in trouble for pulling Susan’s curls! I loved Henry Higgins, too. I remember practically dying of anxiety when Henry smuggled Ribsy onto the bus in a box, and Ribsy slowly began to wiggle his way out of the box, to Henry’s horror. The way that Beverly Cleary makes the reader pull for her characters is extraordinary. When I got older, I read the entire Green Gables series over and over until they fell apart. In about sixth grade I began reading James Herriot and Gerald Durrell, and their beautiful imagery, compassion, humor, and language were very influential for me years later, when I began to write.

Picture books I remember from childhood and still love include Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, Charlie Needs a Cloak, Dogger (and anything by Shirley Hughes), and Madeline.

 ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

EMMA:  

I should say that I wish I had known what a long haul this journey would be. I started writing about seven years ago, and of course I expected to get published right away! However, if someone had told me that my first book wouldn’t come out for seven years, I probably would have given up, so maybe it’s for the best that I started out so naïve!

I wish I had read more books and blogs about picture book writing, attended more conferences, and taken more classes. It took me a few years to jump into the kidlit world with both feet. Now that I’m here, I learn something every day.

journey-emma-bland-smith

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

EMMA:

I write either on the sofa or out in the backyard, with my computer on my lap. (Sitting outside can be very effective. It’s harder to get out there, but once I’m there, I’m not as distracted by constantly nagging housework, paperwork, and other obligations.) The only time I’ll write with pen and paper is when I’m out and get inspiration on the run. Then I’ll frantically make notes on notebooks, receipts, anything I can find. (I highly recommend something like this! If I don’t jot things down, I will forget them, no matter how sure I was that they’d stick with me!)

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?

EMMA:

As soon as my kids are at school, I sit down and dig into any real writing I might have on my plate. I don’t write on schedule and my work is pretty varied. On any given day, I might work on critiques for my critique partners, revise a manuscript and send it to my agent, start something new, or work on an article for Red Tricycle. And there are plenty of days I don’t write at all. I definitely work as the muse strikes, but I don’t procrastinate much, so if someone asks me for a revision, I usually get it done within a few days.

ME: Why do you write for children?

EMMA:

I write for children because I want to be part of what I think is the most beautiful, dynamic, challenging literary field. When my kids were young, I was reading them all these wonderful books, and I remember being so amazed at the quality of children’s literature. One of the first picture books that made me want to be a children’s book writer was Someday, by Alison McGhee. That book just slayed me with its lyricism and ability to touch the emotions. Another inspiration was the Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant. I would love to create books that grab readers the way these do.

ME: Emma, 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.

EMMA:

One thing I’d recommend to beginning writers is to think about looking for an agent first, rather than submitting mostly to publishers. Although some writers do land a book contract on their own, unagented, it’s hard. Once you have an agent, you have someone on your side, who has access to all the houses, and who will take care of all submissions, so that you can focus on writing.

And the single most important thing new writers can do is join a critique group! It can be in person or online. I learn so much from critiquing and reading other people’s critiques. It can be a little hard to receive criticism, and sometimes I need a few days to digest major edits. (The worst is always hearing that everyone likes the concept and the beginning, but that the middle and ending don’t work at all!) But eventually, I end up seeing their points, and I revise the manuscript and send it right back for another round. Most of my manuscripts simply wouldn’t exist without the help of my critique partners!

Oh, Emma! I totally agree with you…critique groups are such an important part of our writing journey. And I thank you so very much for participating in Will Write for Cookies…this was so much fun!

 And for all of you who want to find out more about Emma and her awesome book or get in touch with her:

Twitter

Facebook

Author Website

Okay friends…please take a breath…because we are not finished yet. Emma has shared one of her favorite cookie recipes.

Lace Cookies

cookies

Our whole family looks forward to these cookies every year at the holidays! The recipe, from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, is incredibly easy to make, and after you try one, it will become one of your regulars, too!

1 ½ cups uncooked oatmeal

1 ½ cups light brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup melted butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the oatmeal, sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then add the eggs and vanilla and combine. Arrange the batter by teaspoonful, about 2 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly, removing the cookies from the cookie sheet with a spatula as soon as they are firm.

What a perfect recipe for the holidays…a million thanks, Emma!

And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Emma’s beautiful picture book. If you could take a journey to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…and all good wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving.

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate

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