DEBBIE GONZALES: Will Write for Cookies Plus SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

DebGonzalesHeadshot

 

TODAY’S GUEST

DEBBIE GONZALES

Hurray for new connections! Joining debut picture book groups has expanded my already rich network of authors and illustrators. And that’s how I came to become acquainted with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest.

Debbie Gonzales is a career educator, curriculum consultant, former school administrator and adjunct professor, a podcaster (The Debcast), and past SCBWI RA for the Austin Chapter. Deb currently devotes her time to writing middle grade novels, crafting teacher guides and various other freelance projects. She’s the author of six transitional readers for New Zealand publisher, Giltedge, and the non-fiction picture book Girls with Guts: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records (Charlesbridge, 2019). Deb serves as a member of the Michigan Reading Association board and earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Learn more about Deb and her many projects by accessing her websites at www.debbiegonzales.com and www.guidesbydeb.com.

ME: Welcome, Deb! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us. We’ve got a lot to cover, so I’ll get right to the questions.

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

DEB: Sad to say, I can’t recall the names of any beloved childhood authors or illustrators. Believe it or not, I wasn’t an avid reader as a child. While I cherished being in school and enjoyed spelling tests, memorizing math facts and vocabulary words, I wasn’t an independent reader. I wasn’t anti-reading, by any means. It’s just that, in my house, reading wasn’t activity that was practiced or supported. I did, however, fall in LOVE with children’s literature when my first child was born. My son and I thoroughly enjoyed going to the library together. We’d often would fantasize how wonderful it would be if we were to be locked in the library overnight, free to read whatever we wanted to for as long as we wanted to. Sounds like terrific fun, doesn’t it?

 

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

DEB: That marketing was going to be a critical component to the ultimate success of my books, that I would have to consciously put myself out “there” (Wherever “there” might be). That building a publicity platform is as important as crafting a clever query letter. There are lots of ways to establish visibility that don’t feel icky and that are actually fun to do!

 

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

DEB: It depends on what part of the process that I’m in. First, I brainstorm with paper and pencil (You can bet that there’s lots of erasing going on during this phase.). Then I write – more like a brain dump – on a laptop with the internet turned off. In this phase, I am not worried about spelling or sentence structure. I just work to get my thoughts on the page. Lastly, I polish the piece at my desk. I bop around each of these phases as need be.

workspace

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

DEB: Because I have a vibrant freelance business, I must schedule time to get my creative work in. Quite honestly, there are times when a client’s work takes precedence over the needs of my characters (They are very understanding about this, though.). I find that blocking out an entire day to work on creative rather than squeezing minutes in throughout the day works best for me. My ultimate goal is to reserve two full days a week for creative. Let’s keep this plan a secret, okay? We don’t want to disappoint my clients, do we?

ME: Why do you write for children?

DEB: You know, maybe I write for the young Debbie that wasn’t a reader. Perhaps, I’d like to give her opportunity and permission to lose herself in a book, one that I’ve crafted just for her. I’d love to have a nice chat with her about important things such as character development or ways that comprehending a story helps one to better understand their life. I think that’s it. I write for Little Debbie and she seems to like what I say.

Missy

This is Missy! Obviously, she is Deb’s first eyes on every manuscript!

 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. 

 

DEB: I’d like to expound on the notion that “there are lots of ways to establish visibility that don’t feel icky and that are actually fun to do”.  For a year and a half before GIRLS WITH GUTS was published, I immersed myself in all things marketing. I read scads of books written by relationship marketing gurus – Micheal Hyatt, Tim Grahl, Derek Sivers, and Jeff Walker to name just a few. While doing so, the thought stuck me that others might like to know about things I’ve learned. As a result, I produced two online courses that were very well-received. And, much to my delight, these efforts paid off! Not only have I established a program based on the principles the gurus presented, the prelaunch sales numbers for my book were phenomenal! It worked!

Currently, I’m developing a program in which I coach authors how to gain clarity, focus, and the skills required to enhance visibility in the kidlit marketplace. The premise for this program is founded on building thoughtful personal and online relationships. To achieve this, we explore options that align with one’s digital skill set and circles of influence. Then, we discover avenues of opportunity to develop a publicity platform that feels authentic and sincere.  The process is remarkably painless. It’s true!

As a giveaway, I’d like to offer an hour-long strategy session during which we will explore options that are just right for you. Enter the drawing and let’s have some visibility platform building fun.

ME: YAY…that is fabulous!!! What a special giveaway! And dear friends, wait till you see the special Vanilla Wafer Hamburger Cookie recipe Deb is sharing with us. You heard me right! Vanilla Wafer HAMBURGER Cookie…the kids are going to love asking for this one!

DEB:  You’re not going to believe how easy it is. My daughter actually won the blue ribbon at an annual back-off for her elementary school with this recipe.

Vanilla Wafer Hamburger Cookies
Ingredients:
  • A box of Vanilla Wafers
  • A bag  of small-sized York peppermint paddies
  • a bag of coconut
  • green food coloring
  • yellow food coloring
  • water
  • sesame seeds
  • a microwave plate or platter
  • two small bowls
  • two spoons
  • a microwave oven
Instructions:
  • Place a generous amount (1/3 of a cup)  of coconut in a bowl. Sprinkle a few drops of green food coloring on the coconut. Mix well. You have just made the lettuce for your Vanilla Wafer Hamburger cookies.Place a generous amount (1/2 of a cup) of coconut in a bowl. Sprinkle a few drops of yellow food coloring on the coconut. Mix well. You have just made the shredded cheese for your Vanilla Wafer Hamburger cookies.
  • To build your hamburgers, place on Vanilla Wafer. top side down, on your plate. Next, place a York peppermint paddy on the the cookie. Sprinkle bits of “lettuce” and “cheese” on the paddy. Cover the “hamburger” with another Vanilla Wafer. Dab small drops of water on the upper portion of the Vanilla Wafer on the top and sprinkle a few sesame seeds on the water.
  • Nuke in the microwave over for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • There you have it! An award-winning and very delicious Vanilla Wafer Hamburger cookie!

WOW…thank you so much, Deb…for your insights in the Q&A, for the very special giveaway, and of course, for the Vanilla Wafer Hamburger Cookie recipe!

And dear readers, please don’t forget to check out Deb’s wonderful new picture book: GIRLS WITH GUTS: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records.

Remember that the greatest gift we can give our favorite authors is:

  • to buy their books
  • to review their books
  • to tell friends about their books
  • to ask our local library to purchase the book for their collection

And please leave a comment to be entered into the special giveaway…and share, share, share the post for extra chances in the giveaway hat.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful weekend. I’ll be going to have family pictures taken with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson at a chateau in New Hampshire…a chateau in New Hampshire? Below is the family photo we took last year at an apple orchard. when you see this year’s, I guarantee that Jeremy is going to be the same height as I am!

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: GIRLS WITH GUTS Plus Very Special Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends!

This post is chock full…so hold on to your hats. But before we get to the review of this amazing #mightygirl book, I need to announce some winners of previous giveaways:

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a fabulous parody – GOODNIGHT BUBBALA, written by Shery Haft. Illustrator Jill Weber offered a prize of a copy of the book. And the winner is:

ARLENE SCHENKER!

And we also reviewed a wonderful #STEM picture book by Jenna Grodzicki – I SEE SEAFOOD. And the winner is:

JENNIFER MERRIFIELD!

Plus, we turned the spotlight on Dawn Prochovnic and her books, WHERE DO COWGIRLS GO POTTY and WHERE DO PIRATES GO POTTY. She offered a choice of giveaway…either an ARC of one of her books or a picture book manuscript critique…the winner decides which. And the winner is:

EILEEN MAYO

Congratulations, Arlene and Jennifer and Eileen. We’ll be in touch and make sure you receive your prizes!

Please help me give a huge round of applause to our authors and illustrators! Whether we are reviewing one of their picture books or meeting them during a Q&A, they are always gracious and generous with their time and expertise. And they are providing kids with wonderful books like today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection.

:girls with guts

 

GIRLS WITH GUTS: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records

Written by Debbie Gonzales

Illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon

Published by Charlesbridge (2019)

Ages: 6-9

Themes: #mightygirls, courage, sports

Synopsis: From Amazon:

No chasing! No stretching or straining! And never, ever sweat. These were the rules girls were forced to play by until Title IX passed in 1972. And it was a game-changer.

A celebration of the strength, endurance, and athleticism of women and girls throughout the ages, Girls With Guts! keeps score with examples of women athletes from the late 1800s up through the 1970s, sharing how women refused to take no for an answer, and how finally, they pushed for a law to protect their right to play, compete, and be athletes.

“I find that this book tells the story of courageous and remarkable women that has brought the opportunities for today’s girls in a positive and fun way even though the fight has not always been easy. But this book captures history in way where the first thought is strength and will of these remarkable ladies.

It is also a good book to remind that it is not that long ago that we were in a very different situation still. A good reminder that even though there are still things and attitudes to change, women’s sport has come a long way to the point we had in Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games for the first time ever, 50/50 female and male athletes competing!”

—Emma Terho, a multiple-time Olympic and Women’s World Championship bronze medalist

Why I love this book:

  • I love books that provide role models for young kids.
  • I love books that inform and inspire…I learned a lot from this book – I think it has a place in every school library and home bookshelf.
  • The illustrations are fab: A ulous – full of action!

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

podcast avatar - the debcast 5

The Big Kahuna: is a big activity guide for GIRLS WITH GUTS created by author Debbie Gonzales…it’s filled with lots of things to do with kids after you read the book.

I mentioned a VERY SPECIAL GIVEAWAY…Debbie has devoted a whole lot of time and thought to developing her own marketing program to spread the word about her books. And guess what? She’s sharing that with the world. WOW! And she’s offering an hour-long session as a giveaway to one lucky winner. Here’s a bit about what she has accomplished…take it away, Debbie!

DEBBIE:  I’d like to expound on the notion that “there are lots of ways to establish visibility that don’t feel icky and that are actually fun to do”.  For a year and a half before GIRLS WITH GUTS was published, I immersed myself in all things marketing. I read scads of books written by relationship marketing gurus – Micheal Hyatt, Tim Grahl, Derek Sivers, and Jeff Walker to name just a few. While doing so, the thought stuck me that others might like to know about things I’ve learned. As a result, I produced two online courses that were very well-received. And, much to my delight, these efforts paid off! Not only have I established a program based on the principles the gurus presented, the prelaunch sales numbers for my book were phenomenal! It worked!

Currently, I’m developing a program in which I coach authors how to gain clarity, focus, and the skills required to enhance visibility in the kidlit marketplace. The premise for this program is founded on building thoughtful personal and online relationships. To achieve this, we explore options that align with one’s digital skill set and circles of influence. Then, we discover avenues of opportunity to develop a publicity platform that feels authentic and sincere.  The process is remarkably painless. It’s true!

As a giveaway, I’d like to offer an hour-long strategy session during which we will explore options that are just right for you. Enter the drawing and let’s have some visibility platform building fun.

Isn’t that fabulous? Please leave a comment and most importantly, please share the post on any social media channels you have. And make sure you come back tomorrow when Debbie stops by to chat with us on Will Write for Cookies – and if you leave a comment and share that post, you get extra chances in the giveaway hat!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Thank you for spending your precious time with us.

 

 

DAWN PROCHOVNIC: Will Write for Cookies PLUS PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

ProchovnicPhoto2018

TODAY’S GUEST

DAWN PROCHOVNIC

 

One of the things that always impresses me is how multi-talented my kidlit friends are. Many have had (or still have) careers as engineers, educators, and doctors. Others are, as Paul Simon wrote:

I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket to my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.

I think, after you finish reading this post, you’ll agree that my guest today fits the bill of that last line.

Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?; Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?; First Day Jitters, featured in the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud; and 16 books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series, including one title that was selected as an Oregon Book Awards finalist. Dawn is a vocal advocate for school and public libraries and was honored Continue reading

ALLEANNA HARRIS: Will Write/Illustrate for Cookies PLUS Original Art Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

alleanna_headshot

TODAY’S GUEST

ALLEANNA HARRIS

 

What an honor this is for me! Today I’m hosting the illustrator for one of my upcoming picture books…and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how she has brought the characters of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe to life. Every page turn sings…Alleanna has definitely made their voices be heard!

Alleanna Harris is a illustrator who has been drawing for as long as she can remember. As a little kid, she would Continue reading

SHANNON STOCKER: Will Write for Cookies Plus CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

photo Shannon

TODAY’S GUEST

SHANNON STOCKER

Why do I love this kidlit community so much? Because of people like today’s guest, Shannon Stocker, that’s why!

Shannon Stocker is an award-winning author and proud word nerd who loves all letters equally. She lives with her husband, Greg, and her children, Cassidy and Tye, in Louisville, KY, where she molds the alphabet into picture books and songs all day. LISTEN, Shannon’s picture book biography about deaf percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, is next in line (Dial/Random House), and several of her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Shannon currently serves as SCBWI social co-director for Louisville, a judge for Rate Your Story, and she created the blog series, Pivotal Moments: inHERview, highlighting transitional life stories of female picture book authors.  Cool facts: Currently writing her memoir, Shannon is a medical school graduate, a coma survivor, and an RSD/CRPS patient and advocate. She’s also a singer/songwriter who once performed two songs, including one original, as part of an opening act for Blake Shelton. To subscribe to her blog, visit her website, http://www.shannonstocker.com/blog/. She can also be found Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: CAN U SAVE THE DAY? Plus Critique Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. It’s been a couple of weeks – a bit of a summer blog break, plus with the #PBChat Mentorship applications and manuscripts, I knew I’d be a bit buried for a while. I’ve started working with my mentee, the lovely Helen Ishmurzin – and we are both enjoying connecting and finding out more about each other.

Life here is busy as usual – I received a phone call from the publicity department at Continue reading

Critique Winners, Book News, and a VERY SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

I don’t have a regularly scheduled blog post until the weekend of the 19th, but I missed you!

Plus, I have several critique giveaways thanks to several generous authors. And I also wanted to share some great book prices as well as some photos from the Tough Mudder competition last month AND news of a special giveaway that I am doing for my upcoming Ella Fitzgerald/Marilyn Monroe book.

The lovely Lydia Lukidis, author of NO BEARS ALLOWED, is giving away a PB manuscript critique.

no bears allowed cover

And the winner is: MARY NOON

The delightful Pj McIlvaine, author of LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE, is giving away two PB manuscript critiques.

51W6JFHWgVL

And the winners are: DIANE TULLOCH and CORINE TIMMER

The wonderful Gayle Krause, author of ONCE UPON A TWISTED TALE, is giving away either a copy of her awesome book OR a pb manuscript critique.

book cover

And the winner is: DAVID MCMULLIN

Congratulations to all of the winners…and a huge thank you to the generous authors!

Please remember that the best gift we can give our favorite authors is to: buy their books, review their books, tell our friends about their books, and ask our local library to purchase copies for their collection.

Many of you may enjoy purchasing your picture books at local indie stores…I know I do. But sometimes, Amazon has a really great deal and it makes it hard to resist. Or sometimes, my local store doesn’t have a book in stock and I really want it quickly…that happened this weekend when I wanted to grab a copy of Anna Redding’s ELON MUSK: A MISSION TO SAVE THE WORLD because I wanted to read it with my grandson who was staying over for a couple of nights. And sure enough, it arrived Saturday morning…and we have already started reading it. The introduction talks about how actor Robert Downey, Jr. was going to be portraying Iron Man and wanted to get into the character of a real live billionaire entrepreneur so he met with Elon Musk. And my grandson, a fan of the Marvel Comic movie adventures, was able to rattle off the words from the movie that describe Tony Stark, the alter-ego of Iron Man – genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist – before I even read them!

While noodling around Amazon, I also noticed that PIPPA’S PASSOVER PLATE is only $8.02…oh my gosh. And SWEET DREAMS, SARAH is only $12.77. Plus FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK is reduced to $14.74. Honestly, I know it doesn’t seem possible, but even though we are in the dog days of summer here in New England – today was in the 90’s – it will be gift-giving time before you know it.

I’m also so excited about starting the new year with another picture book, MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020) illustrated by Alleanna Harris. I did a cover reveal the other day – but here’s an inside spread, just to whet your appetite to see more!

inside spread 1

I’m going to be asking the incredibly talented Alleanna Harris if she’d like to stop by to chat here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar.  If you have any questions you’d specifically like to ask her, please put them in the comments and I will include them in the interview. PLUS, one lucky person will win a copy of this brand new book…as soon as I get my author copies, which might not be until close to the end of the year.

Last weekend, I accompanied my son and son-in-law and grandson to cheer them on for their Tough Mudder competition which took place in Chelton, Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day…until it wasn’t. What a torrential downpour! They had to stop the event for about an hour to wait out the thunder and lightning storm. But we all had a great time.

The rest of my summer will be kind of quiet, I think. Except for a trip to Colorado in late August, that is. I’m hoping to connect with some of you who live in and around the Denver area. And I’m also working on an R&R for an editor…fingers crossed that I revise in a way that makes her unable to resist.

What are your plans for the rest of the summer? Traveling? Or perhaps you are working and trying to squeeze in time to read or write.

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway of a copy of MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE. And if you have a question for illustrator Alleanna, please include that in your comment.

I hope you all have a beautiful week ahead of you!