WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
One of the nicest things that happened to me this summer was connecting with our Will Write for Cookies author. Jessica commented on my July review of Sophie’s Squash Goes to School sharing the story that a dead squirrel was the most unique item she had ever brought to school. I just LOVE how friendships are formed in this kid lit community.
Jessica is the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, a book that Publishers Weekly called “a delightfully clever debut” in a starred review, and Nooks & Crannies, a Junior Library Guild Selection and recipient of three starred reviews. Her latest middle grade novel, Waiting for Augusta, is also a Junior Library Guild Selection. She enjoys living in Pennsylvania, where she and her family spend weekend hours exploring backroads and discovering old stone houses and barns to drool over. She likes pizza. A lot.
I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Jessica’s middle grade novel, Nooks and Crannies (click here to read my Perfect Picture Book Friday review). 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?
My favorite picture books were by Steven Kellogg, Bill Peet, and Chris Van Allsburg. During my middle grade years, I loved Roald Dahl and LM Montgomery and stories with a nature or survival bent like A Girl of the Limberlost and My Side of the Mountain. I adored my copies of The Cricket in Times Square (George Seldon) and Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White), both of which were illustrated by Garth Nix. I had two older sisters and also read whatever they were reading, which was a lot of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
I wish I’d known about the online writing community earlier! There are so many fabulous blogs focused on children’s books (eh-hem, like this one!) that offer advice and insight about reading and writing. I also think the urge to have publication be your immediate goal is one that’s common among writers starting out. I wish I’d put a backseat to that goal early on. It was really when I stopped thinking/stressing about getting an agent/book deal and started caring very deeply about learning to write a good story that I began making significant progress.
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?
I generally write at the kitchen table or on the couch, but would love to have a simple writing nook of my own at some point.
I LOVE being outside, but find that I really can’t focus on writing in an outdoor environment, mostly because it makes me want to go for a walk .
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?
As a mom to young ones (and older ones- my oldest graduates from college this December, and my 2nd oldest just started college), I need to have a flexible writing style. I take notes on post-its or in notebooks or on the back of receipts whenever I get inspiration, then use my laptop girl for actual drafting writing.
I’m a morning person by nature and my best drafting time is early morning. My creative side is often useless after about 3:00 p.m., so the afternoons are best for more logistical tasks. I can’t stay up late for the life of me, so that’s out as an option.
ME: Why do you write for children?
I fell in love with reading during my middle grade years (8 to 12) and found that my heart never really left that age range in terms of my taste in books. I write for that audience for the same reasons that I still love reading it—to follow journeys, to find out what inspires me, to maintain a sense of hope for what lies ahead, and to figure out what kind of person I’d like to be.
ME: Jessica, 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.
Aspiring writers, don’t give up! Keep at it, get yourself some solid critique partners, and read, read, read I wrote and submitted 8 middle grade manuscripts over several years, amassing a huge number of rejections (including ones for picture books and articles, etc.) before getting an agent and a book deal. Writing is still very much a journey for me—I still get rejections and still struggle and still want to learn how to tell stories. If it’s your passion, stick with it. It’s worth it.
To parents, educators, librarians, & writers: You are raising and teaching and guiding and inspiring the future. I am grateful for you.
Jessica…I totally agree with you…critique partners are our allies…and rejection is just a part of the process that gets one step closer to successful publication.
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 Jessica and her awesome book or get in touch with her:
And just in time for holiday baking, Jessica and her daughters are sharing a fabulous cookie recipe with us.
Gingerbread Sandwich Holiday Cookie Recipe
We call them Gingys
The recipe is adapted from The Taste of Home)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vanilla frosting and colored sprinkles of your choice
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. *If the dough seems a bit dry, add milk or heavy cream one tablespoon at a time until moistened.
Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or until easy to handle.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness (FYI, I prefer slightly thicker than that). *If you let the dough come closer to room temperature, it will be easier to handle. Cut in small circles (I use inverted juice glasses). Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle half with colored sugar sprinkles of your choice (my hubby likes them plain).
Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Spread plain gingerbread circles with frosting and top with sprinkled circles. Enjoy!
WOW…this is just in time. My three-year old granddaughter will be here for Christmas and yesterday on the phone, she asked if we could make gingerbread cookies. Thanks a million, Jessica!
And now, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Jessica’s book. What was the scariest place you ever went to when you were a kid?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…please don’t forget to visit Susanna Hill’s Holiday Writing Contest post…there are so many great original stories to read.