Category Archives: GIVEAWAYS

Maria Gianferrari: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

unnamed

MARIA GIANFERRARI

I’m so excited to introduce everyone to our Will Write for Cookies guest today, although many of you may already know Maria. And I’m jumping for joy because she has a book signing event in Keene, New Hampshire on August 20th…that’s only an hour away from me and some of my local critique buddies and I are going to take a picture book field trip and attend! Woo-hoo!

I grabbed a bit of info from Maria’s website:

 I write both fiction and nonfiction picture books, usually while my faithful companion, Becca, snores at my feet. I love nature and animals, especially dogs!

Most of my nonfiction picture books are about creatures in the natural world. I’m also fascinated by the subject of urban ecology, and the different ways in which wild animals have adapted to life and co-existence with humans.

Most of my fiction picture books contain dogs as main characters, and some cats too! I am most intrigued by the human-animal bond, so this is a topic that I like to explore in my fiction.

Welcome, Maria…I’m so excited to welcome you!

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

MARIA:

I had two favorite picture books that I read and read and re-read again: Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse by Jean & Nancy Soule, with illustrations by Barbara Remington, and Miss Twiggley’s Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox.

scuttle book cover

inside page of scuttle

Both stories are rollicking, rhyming read alouds. I love the whimsical illustrations for Scuttle, the wayward mouse who finds a home. And I still wish I could live in a tree, like Miss Twiggley, with a dog and some bears. That is my introvert dream come true. I still have my childhood copies!

 

twiggle book cover

inside cover of twiggle

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

 MARIA:

I’m not sure—I knew it was going to be hard, since there is so much rejection involved, but I didn’t know the extent of the joy it would bring, especially upon seeing life breathed into my words by the talented illustrators with whom I’ve been matched. That was and is beyond my wildest dreams!

coyote moon

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

MARIA:

Most of the time I write in my home office on my laptop while my dog, Becca snores on her nearby dog bed. I have a keyboard and a large monitor so it’s easy to see what I’m working on. I also like to write drafts by hand, especially when I get stuck, and I can do that pretty much anywhere. 

houdini

ME: When do you write? Set schedule? When the muse strikes?

MARIA:

Every day starts with walking Becca, rain or shine, cold or heat (though I much prefer cooler temperatures). Then I usually write late morning, followed by a nap, and more writing and/or reading in the afternoon. I try to write every day, Monday through Friday, and take the weekends off to do things with my family.

ME: Why do you write for children?

MARIA:

I love their wonder and curiosity and ability to be present in the moment, something I continually strive for in life and in my writing. I write because kids are our hope, and our future. I also write for my inner child—the child who I was, and still am.

penny and jelly

ME: Maria, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

MARIE:

I don’t have any new advice—it’s the same basic advice that everyone gives: read, read, read, and write, write, write! Don’t give up—it’s a marathon, not a sprint, full of ups and downs. And find a good critique group for support during the downs as well as the ups. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my wonderful critique partners: Andrea Wang, Lois Sepahban, Lisa Robinson, Sheri Dillard and Abby Calkins Aguirre!

Thanks for letting me stop by, Vivian!!

WOW…it is me who is thanking you, Maria! And so is everyone else! I love that you shared those favorite books from your childhood…I think we had similar tastes! I also wanted to thank you for your generous giveaways this weekend…heads up, dear friends…leave a comment on yesterdays Perfect Picture Book Friday post and you are entered into the giveaway for a copy of HELLO GOODBYE DOG.

hello goodbye dog cover

And then leave a comment on today’s blog and get an entry into the giveaway for a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE from Maria!

For more information about Maria and her books: http://mariagianferrari.com/

And the fun doesn’t stop here, folks! Maria is sharing something yummy!

brownie photo

BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIES:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 11×14” baking pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), melted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chocolate covered heath toffee pieces

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in microwave-safe glass bowl.
  2. Mix in brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Add in dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and heath pieces
  5. Pour into baking pan
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes

Enjoy!!

 

Before we say goodbye, I wanted to let you know that Maria will be heading out on a whirlwind BOOK BLOG TOUR in less than two weeks. There will be PRIZES EVERY DAY on the tour, so you don’t want to miss a single stop!

HELLO GOODBYE DOG BLOG TOUR!

GIVEAWAYS EVERY DAY!!

 

*Monday, July 24th:                                  Pragmatic Mom + THREE book giveaway!

*Two for Tuesday, July 25th:              Librarian’s Quest

Reading for Research

*Wednesday, July 26th:                         Homemade City

*Thursday, July 27th:                               Kid Lit Frenzy

*Friday, July 28th:                                      Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

*Monday, July 31st:                                   Picture Books Help Kids Soar

*Tuesday, August 1st:                              Bildebok

*Wednesday, August 2nd:                      The Loud Library Lady

*Thursday, August 3rd:                           DEBtastic Reads!

*Friday, August 4th:                                  Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love

*Monday, August 7th:                               Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

EXTRA: August 25th:                                Kidlit411—Interview with Patrice Barton

 

Thank you all for stopping by to visit. I know we all appreciate the beautiful books Maria and our other authors write. And we can help our favorite authors by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I hope you will do that for the books you love!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Jackie Azua Kramer: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

JACKIE AZÚA KRAMER

Jackie and I connected in a couple of kid lit Facebook groups. I absolutely love her picture book, THE GREEN UMBRELLA, which we spotlighted during her book blog tour. I’m thrilled to announce that THE GREEN UMBRELLA was just chosen as a Bank St College Best Books.

 green umbrella cover

Her story melds so perfectly with the reuse/recycle/repurpose theme of  Earth Day http://www.earthday.org/I knew we would want to welcome her to Will Write for Cookies today.

And because I think it’s fun for you to know a little bit about our guests, I grabbed a paragraph from her website about page:

Many lives ago I was an actor, singer & school counselor. Now I’m an author, and wile away my time writing children’s picture books. What ties these all together are my dreams and imagination. Most of the time you’ll find me reading, watching old movies, globe trekking and whenever possible sharing laughter & food with my family.

 Welcome, Jackie! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us.

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

 JACKIE:

It may sound cliché, but Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss and Arnold Lobel. They were my generations Mo Willems or Mac Barnett. I wore my copies thin of In the Night Kitchen, Horton Hears a Who and Frog and Toad are Friends. At the time, reading in school was very dry and uninventive. It was a welcome relief to discover these books at the library and simply laugh out load or see yourself in these stories. I remember crying when I read Frog and Toad because I knew as a child what it meant to feel lonely sometimes. 

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

JACKIE:

Apart from the ‘ins and outs’ of the publishing industry, not much. I felt then, as I do now, that wonder is the secret sauce. Wonder allows you to stay curious, open and present, and from that can come great stories. There is one thing—I would have read more picture books.

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?

JACKIE:

All the above. I love my writing space at home, but sometimes there are too many shiny distractions. When the weather is warm, I love to sit on my deck under a canopy of trees. I also love the back corner of my library that faces an old church.

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?

JACKIE:

I’m writing ALL the time. Just not on paper or my computer. Much of the time, I write in what I call my ‘writerly mind’. In that space–I imagine, dream, think and wonder. Bit by bit, the idea for a story begins to form along with a possible structure. The Boy and the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla (Candlewick Press, TBD) at 300 words lingered in my thoughts for almost two years.

ME: Why do you write for children?

JACKIE:

Honestly, I write for children because I feel I have something I want to share with them. My hope is that my stories are conduits to feelings—joy, curiosity, sadness, laughter, surprise. Nothing is worse than knowing a child read my book and at the end there wasn’t an ‘AHA’ moment.

ME: Yes, you are so right, Jackie…those are crucial elements to strive to have in our stories. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

JACKIE:

Join Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators—that’s a must. Have something where you can jot down inspirations, thoughts, ideas. Don’t edit or limit your ideas at this incubation stage. Quirky, nuggets or impossible, silly, bizarre and wrong ideas, collect them like a jar of penny’s. One day you’ll cash in BIG!

Thank you so very much, Jackie, for sharing your insights. I know everyone is walking away with a renewed (YES, renewed…pun intended) excitement for why we are all writing for children.

To find out more about Jackie and her books:

www.Jackieazuakramer.com

Twitter @jackiekramer422

Facebook: Jackie Azúa Kramer

The Green Umbrella on Amazon

Oh, wait a minute…don’t walk away yet. First check out the treat recipe. And then make sure you leave a comment to be entered in Jackie’s giveaway. And because it is Earth Day, please join the fun and post or tweet a photo of you doing your Earth Day thing…recycling/repurposing/reusing…make sure you tag me and Jackie so we can see it.

And because we are doing things a bit differently in honor of Earth Day, Jackie has a savory dish for us to try. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe she shared my hubby’s FAVORITE brunch.

JACKIE: I have a simple breakfast dish that we love in our family, Egg in a Basket. And eggs and spring also go well together.

treat.

Recipe for Egg in a Basket:

Cut a medium slice of your favorite round bread. I like a good sour dough. Take out most of the center of the bread. Place in a hot pan with butter and crack two eggs in the center. Flip once and cook eggs to your preference. I love the eggs over easy which compliments the crispy bread. Tip: In the last 30 seconds, add a slice of cooked bacon on top. Bacon makes everything special.

Vivian’s note: This is my husband’s favorite brunch…we call it Egg in a Nest and we add a slice of cheese…American, Swiss, or provolone…let it melt on top…mmmm…mmmm…good!

At this very moment, I am at the NESCBWI with so many of my kid lit friends…maybe even you! Next week, I hope you’ll stop by again for an NESCBWI recap, a Book Review and Giveaway from Rosie Pova in honor of Mother’s Day (doing it early so the prize will get to the winner by Mother’s Day), a Perfect Picture Book Friday with Tara Lazar and a Will Write for Cookies with Anna Forrester. And don’t forget to leave a comment and share a recycle/reuse/repurpose photo on social media.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

with crayon

GRETCHEN BRANDENBURG MCLELLAN

Gretchen is another writer I met in the Picture the Books 2017 group. Hurray for all of these wonderful stories that wonderful authors like Gretchen are bringing to life.  As a teacher and reading specialist, she delights in welcoming children into the magical world of reading.  As a book fairy, she enjoys slipping books under the pillows of readers that remind them of where they have been and take them to places they didn’t know they needed to go.   As a writer, she is excited about the coming publication of her picture books with Beach Lane and Peachtree. 

 Gretchen has lived on three continents and is an advocate for TCKs, Third Culture Kids, who grew up as global nomads, especially military brats like herself.  Children yearning for a home will find they belong in her picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels. Gretchen has settled in Washington State, where she lives with her husband, cat and dog and celebrates when her three children come home.

 book cover 1

Dear friends…you are in for a treat with this Q&A! Please leave a comment at the end to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3.

 Welcome, Gretchen! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us.

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

 GRETCHEN:

I loved A.A. Milne in all the adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss, and E.B.White’s Charlotte’s Web. I was a big-time Nancy Drew fan and had my own library with check out cards!

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

GRETCHEN:

I wish I had known that there is a writing Cupid.

So many factors need to fall into place to ultimately publish—factors that are out of a writer’s control. Rejection doesn’t mean that a story is unpublishable. It means that fickle Cupid was busy doing other matchmaking when the submission was read. Cupid needs to pierce the heart of the right editor at the right time with the right space on her list in the right company that will be so smitten with the story that they’ll find it a worthwhile investment. It’s all about love. And money. The publisher must believe that Cupid will strike the heart of the reading public and that they will put up cash to possess the book. 

Those are a lot of variables that a writer has no control over. All a writer can do is write, improve her craft, write, read, and write and read some more, and strive to get her work in Cupid’s quiver by going to conferences to make connections with agents and editors who are open to submissions. This involves a lot that is out of the comfort zone of most of us introverts. Cupid may strike during your open mike reading! All in all, the writer must persevere.

book event

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?

GRETCHEN:

I started writing for children when my own children were young  and continued while I worked full time as a reading specialist during their school years. I learned to snatch writing time wherever I could–in the car, in barns, on sports fields, even in the bathtub! Now that I am not multitasking so much, I really enjoy working in coffee shops with the happy hum of people around me. I’m not a picky superstitious  writer. I’ll write on anything, with any instrument, at any time. I’m messy and so is my process.   

kids in hard hats

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?

GRETCHEN:

I don’t follow a schedule. Maybe when I get organized….

ME: Why do you write for children?

GRETCHEN:

Writing for kids is one pure, unquestionable YES in my life. 

When I became a mother, one of the unexpected gifts was my reentry into the world of children’s literature. First, I fell totally in love with beauty and power and form of the picture book.  As a young mother and as a teacher, I was overwhelmed by what I and my children discovered in the experience of sharing picture books together.  We cherished our reading time. We bonded through laughter and tears and wonder. Reading was at the heart of how we lived and grew.

Frost wrote of poems that they begin in delight, but end in wisdom. So do most picture books. If the book is of any importance it will end in wisdom—often so profound that I am moved to tears.  The delight of a picture book is not just in the reading, but in the writing as well.  When a picture book idea arrives, it often comes with a shiver of excitement—a delight so surprising and vital that it carries me along on the magic carpet ride of creation from the beginning to the middle to the end—to story.

As my children grew, so did my love of easy readers and middle grade fiction and YA. Each genre gave me glimpses of myself and literary experiences I wish I had had as a child. Each genre gave me a bit of home I never had, and a sense of belonging I craved. In my own work, I hope I can give children and their adult readers opportunities to see themselves and their lives in my stories, to find a home too. I am particularly committed to making a room for children who have grown up as Third Culture Kids, especially military kids such as myself.

with kids

ME: Gretchen…this is fabulous. I love your focus on Third Culture Kids. And I love all that you shared with us, especially about how Cupid must pierce the heart of the editor who looks at our manuscript. I believe that is true!

And now for one of the sweetest parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe!

GRETCHEN:

The book birthday party for Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3, I wanted the treats to be thematically related to my story—about the bittersweet. Mrs. McBee helps the kids in her classroom label their mixed emotions about the end of the school year. “Children, this is called a bittersweet moment. It’s like swirly ice cream with happy and sad twisted together. We’re sad about saying good-bye, but we’re happy about what’s ahead.” So my cookies are twisty ice cream cones, of course!\

cookie pic1

Basic Sugar Cookies—you can use your favorite. This is mine:

Whisk or sift in a bowl and set aside:

         2 and 3/4 cups unbleached flour

         1 teaspoon baking powder

         ½ teaspoon salt

In a mixer bowl beat:

         ¾ cup soft butter

And add:

         1 cup sugar

         2 eggs

         1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until fluffy, then add the flour mixture

Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll on floured board to desired thickness

Cut into your favorite shapes. I used a pastry cutter to make the diagonal lines on my cones before baking.

Bake on parchment paper for easy cleanup or on a greased cookie sheet  for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven, until a pale brown.

Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

I used Butter Cream Frosting for my swirls:

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ teaspoon salt

4-6 tablespoons scalded cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar

Beat until creamy. For a two-toned effect, divide frosting into two equal parts. Add 2 tablespoons cocoa for chocolate—or more.  Add the same quantity of powdered sugar to the vanilla to have equal consistency for swirling. You could use food coloring and other flavors as well!

Use a split pastry bag designed for swirls to decorate your ice cream cones! Enjoy!

cookie pic 2

WOW! These would be perfect for any kid’s party! Thanks so much, Gretchen.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by today. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend…don’t sit on any of those eggs the Easter bunny has left.

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate

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