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 tweeting positive quotes, mantras, and adorable animal pics @iwriteforkidz, or on Instagram (also @iwriteforkidz). Shannon is represented by Allison Remcheck of Stimola Literary Studio.

Dear friends, are you exhausted yet? I hope not, because Shannon is here now, ready to answer our questions. But first let me remind everyone that Shannon is offering a picture book manuscript critique as a GIVEAWAY…one lucky person is going to win this, so please make sure you leave a comment to be entered.

ME: Hi Shannon…welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! I am so very thrilled to have you as a guest today. Let’s get to the questions – I know everyone is waiting to hear your answers.

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

SHANNON: This is always a tough question for me…I came from a broken family and don’t remember books being a part of my early childhood. The first book that really grabbed me and wouldn’t let go was Judy Blume’s ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET. My daughter just finished it; I want to read it again! After that book, I devoured everything that I could by Judy Blume. I was late to discover picture books—I was probably in college or medical school when I fell in love with Dr. Seuss. He breaks so many “rules” and has a writing and illustrating style that is all his own. I’ve always been one to march to my own beat so I’m very inspired by him.

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

SHANNON: Oh, to know early on the importance of critique partners! In my opinion, CPs are the most crucial part of this rejection-laden journey. Critique partners not only help you improve your craft, but perhaps more importantly, they are there to lift you up when your confidence falters…which, I think, happens weekly for most of us. The sloth-like pace of the publishing world will test even the most patient of writers. But it can be hard to find “your people.” You don’t just want people who give good constructive feedback – you want people who give feedback that resonates with you. You also want to be part of a group where you feel like everyone has similar expectations. My best CPs know that there are some months where I’ll need feedback several times a week and other months where I won’t need anything at all (but I’m always willing to give back). We all cycle through busy/quiet periods. This willingness to be there for one another has been invaluable to me. If someone feels like they’re giving a lot more than they’re getting, bitterness enters the equation (and that’s never a good thing). I wish I’d known that this kind of flexibility, this give-and-take, was out there earlier in my career. My first agent experience was not a good one; she told me I didn’t need my CPs anymore and directed me to quit my groups. She didn’t want me getting “bad feedback.” When she and I parted ways, I stopped writing for quite some time. I don’t think I would’ve ever recovered from that experience if I’d cut ties with all my CPs. I credit them 100% with helping me get my head back in the game.

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

SHANNON: So funny that you ask this question—I just created a few slides for one of my school presentations about the creative person’s workspace. I typically write at my desk, but I can focus anyplace I have my laptop. Watching the kids at the pool, on my deck, at my kitchen table where I can see the birds…anyplace, really. I like silence when I’m drafting a new story or writing a new chapter in my memoir, but I prefer music in the background when I’m editing, catching up on emails, working on marketing, that kind of thing. I’m a singer/songwriter, so the type of music varies depending on my mood and my subject (and how much I need to concentrate). My next book is about Evelyn Glennie, a fabulous percussionist who happens to be deaf. When working on her book, I often had her music playing in the background. I just completed a draft about a pianist and often played his music when working on his story. If I’m tired, I’ll play 80’s, 90’s, Broadway, or a Pandora station associated with one of my favorite artists (Meghan Trainor, Ingrid Michaelson, Miranda Lambert, Colbie Caillat, Bruno Mars, OneRepublic, Aretha Franklin, Sheryl Crow, The Judds, Trisha Yearwood, and Jewel all being at the top of the list). But the best part of writing at home is that we have a billion animals, so one of them is usually beside me or in my lap. We have a miniature Aussie named Copper who curls up in a bed beside my chair, a Maine Coon named Simba who periodically paws at me for attention, a Senegal parrot named Prozac (Zac) who sings to me on a stand by my desk, and an orange tabby kitten named Nugget with one heck of a motor. The kids know that if I’m working, they can almost always find Nugget purring away in my lap.

Shannon Stocker cover and cat workspace

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

SHANNON: HA! I’m a mother, so I write when I can. Mornings bring my freshest, cleanest thinking, so I try to draft first thing. That said, I can get caught up in emails and social media if I’m not careful. I’ve really had to force myself to stay away from Google during typical work hours. Yahoo and NPR are NOT my friends. Although I have had ideas come to me as I was falling asleep several times, I believe the muse rarely just “strikes” – typically, she strikes when my butt is in the chair. I will always stop to jot down random ideas when they come to me, but more often than not my best work comes when I sit down to actually work. I’m finding it difficult to balance out everything that comes with a launch right now…marketing, social media, blog posts, revising for my next book, school visits, contacting libraries, Goodreads reviews, prepping new submissions, my own blog (InHERview), and my memoir all have to find a way into my schedule. New picture book drafts have definitely taken a back seat this summer. I’m not looking forward to the early mornings once school begins, but I am. It’ll be nice to have my schedule back.

ME: Why do you write for children?

SHANNON: Wow. That feels like a loaded question. I think the bigger question for me is, what took me so long to START writing for children? Like songwriting, writing for children has always been in my blood. It’s always been something I felt like I needed to do. It was more than just a “want.” I always said that music was like oxygen for me—both the performing aspect and the writing aspect. Writing for children feels the same. As this journey has progressed, it’s become clear to me that although I’ve always wanted my children to have a piece of me that they can share with their children, my desire to write FOR children is deeper than that.

 

In 2007, I was given two years to live. I have a disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system (which is different from an autoimmune disorder). When in flare, things like my ability to perceive pain normally, or my ability to regulate temperature, are broken. During the two years when I was at my sickest, my body was covered in ulcers and I needed a wheelchair to get around. When we went places, strangers rarely made eye contact with me or said hello. I felt so isolated…so “less than.” My heart breaks when I think of all the children in this world who feel that way. I currently have a daughter who suffers from gastroparesis (paralysis of the gut), and she feels the exact same way. She’s been in and out of the hospital more times than I can count this past year, and she feels like no one understands what she’s going through. And for her, it’s particularly tough because her disability is invisible to most of the world. They don’t see her struggle with daily nausea, vomiting, fevers. There are so many books in this world, but so few represent children who feel/are different from the masses. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to see themselves in a book, no matter their brand of diversity. It’s more than something I want to do at this point. It feels like something I need to do. Because of my own medical history and now because of my daughter’s illness, I’ve gained empathy and perspective. I want to give these kids a voice. More importantly, I want them to know that they’re not alone.

ME: Oh my gosh…Shannon…that is a story that will touch everyone’s heart! Do you have anything you’d like to add for teachers and librarians?

SHANNON: Quick note to educators and librarians: I’m excited about doing school visits so I can speak with kids a little about my story, overcoming obstacles, and the importance of revision during the writing process. My elementary school presentations also incorporate music (singing/guitar). Please visit my website (www.shannonstocker.com) for booking information!

My first picture book , CAN U SAVE THE DAY, is a fun, rhyming alphabet story in which the consonants bully the vowels who, one-by-one, leave the farm (and the dialogue in the book), until a looming disaster must be solved by U.

ME: This has been awesome, Shannon! You’ve shared so much, straight from your heart and soul…we all thank you so very much. But I know you are not done yet. You’ve got something yummy for us, right?

SHANNON: Due to gastroparesis, my daughter is on a strict diet called a low-FODMAP diet. She is unable to eat short-chain carbohydrates, which includes dairy, gluten, many kinds of sugars, certain vegetables, most soy, dried fruits…it’s restrictive, to say the least. These oatmeal chocolate chip energy bites are a big hit in the house—even with our non-FODMAP eaters!

OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP ENERGY BITES

Shannon Stocker cookies

(recipe courtesy of Rachel Paul’s Foods)

Serves 12 (yields about 20-24 bites, depending on size)

Prep time: 20 minutes (10 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to roll balls)

Chill time: 30 min or longer

Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats, gluten-free
    • Can also use ½ cup oats and ½ cup cooked quinoa for a variation
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (unsweetened)
    • Can also use raw coconut
    • I prefer the flavor of toasted coconut so I toast the flakes at 300 F for about 5 minutes in the oven, stirring once
      • I toast all my baking ingredients in batches and keep toasted pecans, coconut and walnuts in my freezer to have on hand (I much prefer the deeper flavor this gives my cookies/cakes/etc or for sprinkling in low-FODMAP oatmeal and yogurt)
    • You may be able to buy pre-toasted coconut near you
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use all-natural, no other added ingredients)
    • Can use salted, or unsalted based on your preference
  • 1/2 cup flax seed meal
    • You can buy this or grind your own using flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free if available); miniature or regular size
    • Can substitute dried cranberries, raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds or combine more than one together
      • ½ cup is about 65 g of dried cranberries/raisins
        • This is about 5 low-FODMAP servings for raisins (one serving is 13 g)
        • This is about 4 low-FODMAP servings for cranberries (one serving is 15 g)
      • 1/3 cup maple syrup
      • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt (if not added to your peanut butter
      • Optional add ins:
        • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, hemp seeds or whole flax seeds
        • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
      • Directions
        • Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed
        • Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour
          • It will be sticky, chilling makes it easier to handle
        • Once chilled, roll into balls of about 1 inch diameter (a small cookie-scoop works well)
          • You can add additional maple syrup or peanut butter if needed
        • Store in sealed contained in refrigerator for about 2 weeks or freeze for longer

 

This is such an important recipe, folks…there are more and more kids who have sensitivities, large and small, to many ingredients that are found in most treat recipes…here is a SAFE one for many of those problems.

I know we are all joining in to thank Shannon for stopping by today…and also for the GENEROUS MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY!  Please leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win. If you also left a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post, you will have two chances.

And remember, dear friends, there are several ways to support and encourage our favorite authors who write these wonderful books:

  1. Buy their books
  2. Review their books
  3. Tell friends about their books
  4. Ask local libraries to purchase their books for their collection

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. I’ll be off to Colorado on Monday…and will be at the Second Star to the Right Bookstore at 1545 S. Pearl Street in Denver on Friday, August 23 for their storytime from 10:30am to 11:15am. If you are in the neightborhood, please stop in to say hello. There will be a story reading of Four Otters Toboggan, a craft activity and coloring pages for the kiddos, and lots of great kidlit conversations for the adults.

 

 

 

 

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 Little Bee. We chatted about the plan for Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe which launches in less than SIX MONTHS! The F&Gs arrived this week also – and I am loving every page of the book!

Speaking about books…we have two books to giveaway.

The lovely Laura Roettiger is giving away a copy of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON. And the winner is…

ELLEN LEVENTHAL

The magnificent Michael Samulak is giving away a copy of A WONDERFUL DAY. And the winner is…

RINDA BEACH

CONGRATULATIONS ELLEN AND RINDA. I’ll reach out to you, Rinda, to get your shipping address…and I believe that Laura and Ellen have already connected.

I’m starting to pack for my Colorado trip – my son and I will be fly-fishing at Eleven Mile Canyon and at the Dream Stream…so I’ve got to bring rods, reels, and all manner of fly-fishing paraphanelia…it’s a good thing Southwest Airlines lets you check two bags for free.

Another good thing is the brand new picture book I am reviewing today!

cover

CAN U SAVE THE DAY?

Written by Shannon Stocker

Illustrated by Tom Disbury

Published by Sleeping Bear Press (2019)

Ages: 5-7

Themes: Getting along, respecting others, alphabet

Synopsis: From Amazon:

“B is an awfully boastful bloke and when he and the rest of the alphabet get together, he can’t help but tease the vowels about their small numbers. So the vowels begin to take off, one by one. The consonants–and the rest of the farm–see just how important vowels really are. With disaster looming and B seeing the error of his ways, can U save the day and set the alphabet right again?”

Why I love this book:

  • Funny – funny – funny…and kids love funny books!
  • So many lessons under the humor…respecting and valuing each other and getting along.
  • Fabulous illustrations!

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

letter-of-the-week-crafts-for-preschoolers-crystalandcomp-1024x10241Photo courtesy: https://crystalandcomp.com/letter-of-the-week-crafts-for-preschoolers/

Check out all of these cool alphabet crafts – for detailed instructions: https://crystalandcomp.com/letter-of-the-week-crafts-for-preschoolers/

Please don’t forget to leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway of a Picture Book Manuscript Critique from the lovely Shannon Stocker! Her debut picture book, CAN U SAVE THE DAy, JUST LAUNCHED yesterday…so let’s show our support and add this book to our picture book collection, ask local libraries to purchase it for their shelves, and share this post on social media.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…I leave on Monday for a week in Colorado with my family…looking forward to those beautiful Rocky Mountains…and a bookstore event at Second Star to the Right in Denver on Friday, Aug 23…I know that Julie Hedlund will be there…and Laura Roettiger and several other Colorado kidlit folk…if you are in the neighborhood, please do stop in to say hello.

photo of store

 

National Family Fun Day: A WONDERFUL DAY by Michael Samulak Plus GIVEAWAY

Did you know that almost every day is a national holiday of sorts?

It’s true! Yesterday was Mutt Day. And tomorrow is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day…and also National Beer Day…I guess you can take your pick, depending on what you love the most.

But the entire month of August is NATIONAL FAMILY FUN MONTH. Which is perfect for residents of the Northeast, where I live. The temps rise and the sun shines and it is wonderful to get out and do things, especially if you have young children. Today I’m sharing a lovely book from a dear writer friend of mine that is all about spending time with family and having fun. He was kind enough to send me two books…one for me and one for…a giveaway! Please leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win!

cover

A WONDERFUL DAY

Written by Michael Samulak

Illustrated by Louise Pulvera

Published by: Pen It (2019)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Zoo animals, family togetherness, diversity

Synopsis: A child wakes and discovers that today the family is taking a trip to the zoo. Page by page, we travel alongside, seeing all the animals and also, all of the other zoo visitors. And when the day ends, the last page turn provides a sweet closure, as the tired child is tucked into bed.

What I love about this book:

  • It’s an easy reader – so an older child would be able to read it to a younger sibling.
  • Colorful illustrations harken back to a kinder gentler time
  • Diverse families populate the story

RELATED ACTIVITIES

20-paper-bag-animal-crafts-8-1Photo courtesy: https://iheartcraftythings.com

PAPER BAG ANIMAL PUPPETS

I’m a big fan of paper bags as a craft supply to keep on hand when you have little ones. They are inexpensive, safe, and oh so versatile.

For detailed instructions: https://iheartcraftythings.com/20-paper-bag-animal-crafts-for-kids.html

Here’s a mini bio about Michael:

Mr. Samulak obtained his bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Michigan State University (’96) and finished his master’s in Reading Curriculum and Instruction at Cleveland State University (’12). He’s been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for almost 20 years.

Michael uses his formal education, experiences, world travels and life’s adventures to write award-winning children’s picture books.
The author currently resides in the city of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and five children.

Michael is also the author of two other books: A IS FOR AFRICA, illustrated by Sswaga Sendiba. Plus there is a companion coloring book that contains the same text, but the illustrations aren’t colored in, so children can use their own imaginations to create fantastical creatures.

To find out more about Michael and his books: http://www.michaelsamulak.com/

Thank you for stopping by, my friends. The selection process for the #PBChat Mentorship organized by Justin Colon has ended…but the mentorship itself is just beginning. I received over 100 amazing applications and manuscripts…writers poured their hearts onto the pages…and for the past two weeks, I have been struggling, not only to read them all (100 manuscripts is a lot of manuscripts!), but also to choose the ONE person I thought could benefit most from my help. Oh my, if only I was able to clone myself!

In the end, just under the wire, I did choose…Helen Ishmurzin. I am so excited to work with her over the next three months. And she speaks five languages….so I know that I will be learning a lot from her.

I also have been making plans for my trip to Colorado in August. And guess what? The day I am in Denver, I will be doing a book event at 10:30am on August 23rd at Second Star to the Right, an awesome bookstore on S.Pearl Street. Huge thanks go to our very own Laura Roettiger, author of the fabulous ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON, who was a major player in arranging this…I owe you big time, Laura!!! I’m hoping that lots of Colorado friends will be able to come…what better place for kidlit folk to meet than at a children’s bookstore, right? And maybe after the event, we can walk up S.Pearl Street and find a little cafe to sit and chat before I have to head off to meet up with my family and fly back home.

photo of store

And before I let you go, last night on Facebook I announced the winner of Laura Roettiger’s wonderful book. Congratulations, Ellen Leventhal…you will be receiving a copy of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON, thanks to dear Laura.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – stay safe and stay cool! Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of Michael’s book!

Carmen Gloria: Will Write, Illustrate and Self-Publish for Cookies Plus GIVEAWAY

I meet the nicest people in the kid-lit world. The other day, I discovered a lovely new series of books about space – and with the mega-celebration this weekend, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. Especially because the author is also the illustrator and also the publisher. Carmen Gloria is wearing many hats…and she looks good in all of them!

Carmen Gloria Author Illustrator

Carmen Gloria was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, now a veteran, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. She was born in The Bronx, New York and moved to Puerto Rico at the age of ten. She is a member of SCBWI and is a writer, artist, award-winning actress, experimental short film writer/director, and even co-wrote two songs in the Billboard Dance and UK Pop charts. After moving to Norway in 2017 with her family, she decided to focus on her writing. She launched her first children’s picture book series as an author and illustrator, in which the first book “Thank You Mercury” made the Best New Space Books 2019 list by Book Authority.

thank you mercury cover

Well, dear friends…do you see why I just had to invite this amazing woman to stop by to chat with us.

ME: Carmen…welcome! And before we begin with the questions, I want to thank you for your service to the country. I’m sure you have buckets full of stories about your experiences, but today we are going to concentrate on your writing journey.

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

CARMEN: Thank YOU for having me, Vivian! You have one of my favorite blogs, and I am so honored to be interviewed by you. I feel pretty lucky in this business to meet people like you, who care so much and are doing so many things for the children’s books community. You’re inspiring. And to answer your first question, Dr. Seuss has always been my absolute favorite, including his illustrations. Also A.A. Milne with his Winnie The Pooh series. I also love Hans Christian Andersen’s books and illustrations by Arthur Rackman.

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

CARMEN: I wish I knew how challenging it would be to get the story “just right.” I still find it difficult to finish stories sometimes and not doubt myself. I’ve only just launched my second book, and already learned that making the characters relatable is important.

dear pluto cover

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

CARMEN: I have a home studio where I write, draw and paint. It’s a cute little studio we built when we first moved in to the house. I have a Mac Laptop where I write most of the time, but sometimes I like to just hand write ideas and notes. I feel a bit more free with pen and paper. Writing while traveling is also very inspiring.

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

CARMEN: I write best early in the morning with my coffee or tea. Sometimes the muse strikes the middle of the day or at night too, and I just go with it!

ME: Why do you write for children?

CARMEN: I write for children because I love drawing and painting fun and sweet characters that children will love. I also love being able to show and teach children things in an entertaining manner so it doesn’t feel like “school.” I chose to begin with the Kid Astronomy series because as a space lover, I wish there were more books about astronomy when I was growing up. Children are our next generation and they are the ones that will be exploring space.

Other reasons I like about writing for children is the freedom of topic and being able to tap into the imagination – anything is possible.

 ME: 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.

CARMEN: What I’ve learned as a new writer is that we have to stick to our goals. It is easy to fall into doubts as new writers and then stop writing. But we have to keep going and not give up.

As far as educators, parents and librarians, I believe in exploring and being open to sharing new books, stories and new authors to children. Information is limitless and it’s beautiful when we as authors can be a part of what kids absorb in this day and age.

in studio

ME: This is fabulous, Carmen! Thank you so much for your insights. I’d also like to pick your brain on behalf of all the authors and illustrators out there – you’ve taken a big step…just like the astronauts did 50 years ago when they stepped out on the moon. You’ve taken the leap into self-publishing – and that takes courage! Would you share with us some thoughts about that?

CARMEN: I debated for about a year whether I was going to publish my book the traditional route or self-publish. I researched and read a lot about how to self-publish, and the pros and cons of both. There is so much information online! I decided on self-publishing because I wanted to learn all of the ins and outs of the publishing business. I am a creative being, but I also love being an entrepreneur. One of the downsides to self-publishing books though is that they are not as easy to promote, as not everyone is open to reading and reviewing books that are not traditionally published. Also not easy if there is not a big budget.

It is A LOT more work to write, illustrate, design, format, and promote the book myself,  but in some weird way, it is more rewarding to me. As a self-published author, I appreciate the artistic freedom, making my own deadlines, ownership to my art, and being the final decision maker. I’m sure there are many advantages to going the traditional route, but I’m enjoying self-publishing so far.

ME: Kudos to you, Carmen. And thank you so much…this has been such a pleasure for me. I know that everyone is applauding and will be RUSHING over to Amazon today to view your newest book DEAR PLUTO, using the link for the FREE download of the Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/

But before you leave, please share with us that special Apple Pie recipe you were telling me about.

CARMEN: My favorite type of apple pie? Here goes:

 Ingredients

PIE DOUGH

  • 2 ½ cups flour (320 g)
  • ¾ cup butter, 1 1/2 sticks, cold, cubed (170 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

FILLING

  • ¾ cup sugar (150 g)
  • 2 ½ lb apples, cored, sliced, peeled (1 kg)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 egg, beaten

 Preparation

  • In a bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix with fork.
  • Add in cubed butter and break up into flour with a fork. Mixture will still have lumps about the size of small peas.
  • Gradually add the ice water and continue to mix until the dough starts to come together. You may not need all of the water and the dough should not be very sticky. It shouldn’t be too dry either. If it is too dry, you can add more water.
  • Work the dough together with your hands into a ball and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate.
  • Peel the apples and slice.
  • In a bowl, add the sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour, salt, and juice from the lemon.
  • Mix until combined and all apples are coated. Refrigerate.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (200°C).
  • On a floured surface, cut the pie dough in half and roll out both halves until round and about 3 mm thick.
  • Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll onto a pie dish making sure the dough reaches all edges.
  • Pour in apple filling mixtur
  • Roll the other half of the dough and cut it into even strips, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide, depending on how thick you want your lattice strips. You can use a blunt knife or a pizza wheel to cut them evenly.
  • Lay out 4 to 7 parallel strips of the pie dough on top, and then lay them over in the opposite direction.
  • Trim the extra dough from the edges and pinch the edges to make sure they are sealed together.
  • Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.
  • Bake pie for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

How did you know apple pie was one of my favorite desserts? Anyone have some vanilla ice cream for some pie ala mode?

Please don’t forget to leave a comment because Carmen is offering a print copy of DEAR PLUTO as a giveaway. And take advantage of this last day of FREE Kindle download so you can read the book right now: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/

And dear friends, remember, the greatest gift we can give our favorite authors is to buy, review, and shout out about their books! I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. There are a couple of major kidlit happenings coming up this week:

FREE Picture Book Palooza

banner photos

 

FREE 12×12 Mini Picture Book Summit

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Laura Roettiger: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

 

LauraRoettiger Headshot 2019

TODAY’S GUEST

LAURA ROETTIGER

 

Happy 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Walk, folks! Our special guest knows all about reaching for the moon…she’s the author of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON.

One of my favorite things is to meet kidlit friends in person. Happily, that happened not too long ago with this wonderful lady. Laura and I had been Facebook friends. Then we found ourselves in the same debut picture book author group. And when we realized she was going to be passing near my house on her way to a writing retreat, we knew we had to make a get-together happen! We did…and it was wonderful!

Laura Roettiger is the author of Aliana Reaches for the Moon, a picture book that draws inspiration from the moon and the curiosity of children. She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL (where my son and his family live) before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (where I lived for 18 years) where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for literacy at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. She has three children of her own (I have three children also…this is uncanny) whose curiosity and creativity led them into STEM related professions.

AlianaReachesfortheMoon-ebook

ME: I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Laura!

LAURA: Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Vivian! I’m thrilled that we were able to meet in person in June and your contribution to the Kidlit community continues to amaze and impress me. So happy to have you as a friend.

ME: The feeling is mutual, Laura…that’s for sure! We talked about a lot of things when we meet, but here are some questions we didn’t cover. And I know everyone wants to hear your answers. Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

LAURA: I have so many happy memories reading as a child. I loved reading all the Ramona, Beezuz, and Henry books by Beverly Cleary. RAMONA THE PEST was my favorite of all because when she takes a bite from each apple in the bushel, I could imagine what that would feel like and how much trouble I would be in if I tried something like that. She was a very relatable character for me as a little sister.

My favorite book of childhood was ALL OF A KIND FAMILY, by Sydney Taylor because it had so many similarities to my family and made me feel even closer to my grandma.

I also have wonderful memories of reading AMELIA BEDELIA, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and CHARLOTTE’S WEB at school.

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

LAURA: I wish I had found SCBWI right away. I knew there must be a group for picture book writers, but it took me a year of writing to discover it. My local chapter is a strong group of amazing authors and illustrators who I have been fortunate to support and be supported by. Whenever anyone says, “I want to write a book” or “I have an idea for a children’s book,” I suggest they join SCBWI.

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

LAURA: I start writing by hand whether it’s a draft, research, or a brainstorm of words but then I switch to my laptop because it’s easier to organize and less likely to get buried in the archeological dig of paper on my desk.

I usually write in my dining room which is 99% my writing room and only called ‘the dining room’ because the furniture was originally purchased for that purpose. I have a desk that overlooks the forest, but I usually sit at the table which allows me views of a beautiful painting that belonged to my parents, the underside of a log staircase, and a floor to ceiling view of nature.

My creative work often happens when I am hiking or driving in the canyon. I use voice to text and text myself notes all the time. It’s fun to go back and look through my notes and hopefully remember what I was thinking. I’ve written poems, entire scenes, and thought of just the right word for revisions while I’m in nature.

charlie dog

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

LAURA: I try to write in the morning, but never early and only after breakfast and coffee. I know there are plenty of people who get up at 5am and write for an hour while their house is quiet, but I am definitely not one of them. If I hike or workout in the morning, I’m also productive in the afternoon or right after dinner. Rarely do I write something late at night that looks great in the light of the following day. I don’t write every day, but I try to do something writing adjacent every day such as researching agents, reading writing craft books, blogs, or mentor texts, or critiquing. All of these things are part of the process.

laura photography

ME: Why do you write for children?

LAURA: I have spent most of my adult life reading with children as a parent and a teacher. I love children’s literature and I love the way children view the world. When I was a reading specialist, I wrote stories for and with my students. I never wrote them with the expectation of publishing but I ALWAYS wanted to be a writer. Writing for children seems like a natural fit for me given my experience as a reading specialist.

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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. 🙂

LAURA: Vivian, you and I kindred spirits in so many ways. We both put our hearts and souls into children at home and at work. We understand how important that work is and continue that through our writing for children. We also both know how important it is to share our knowledge with others and encourage fellow writers along the way.

My advice for writers, which I am sure you have also shared many times: Join SCBWI. Learn about craft whether that’s through online classes or groups (such as Julie Hedlund’s 12×12), attending conferences and workshops, listening to writing podcasts, and reading craft books. Find critique partners who will help your writing shine and don’t be afraid to revise. Read extensively in the genre you write in. The more you read, the better you understand the market and the better your writing will be.

My advice for parents and educators: Enjoy reading with your children. Let them see you read for pleasure and information. When I worked in an at-risk pre-K program, I was admonished for bringing the newspaper in to read while the children napped. I was right next to my napping charges and didn’t understand what harm would happen if they woke up and saw me reading! I was told I could only read when I was off the clock. Clearly the administration didn’t understand the value of modeling.

We all process information differently so don’t judge what children are reading; encourage them to love reading and they will read more. I always said I didn’t want to teach my students to read. I wanted to teach them to love reading.

My advice to anyone who wants to support authors: Buy books if you can, but also talk about books you love, ask your library to purchase them, write reviews on GoodReads and Amazon. Word of mouth and reviews are both very important ways to help books you love be recognized and loved by others.

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ME: Laura, I love all of your advice. All. Of. It. And I thank you so very much for spending all of this time with us.

To find out more about Laura and her books:

Website: LauraRoettigerBooks.com

Blog: https://lauraroettigerbooks.com/blog/

Aliana Reaches for the Moon

Facebook Page

Twitter: @ljrwritenow

Instagram @AlianaReachesfortheMoon or @ljrwritenow

ME: And here is an OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD sweet treat recipe – take it away, Laura!

LAURA: The pumpkin bread recipe is from a preschool cookbook we made for a fundraiser when my kids were little, so I’ve been making it for a long time. The original recipe calls for 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, and 2/3 cup chopped nuts but I make it with fresh cranberries and chocolate chips and omitted those ingredients. I often include the spices and use only cranberries or chocolate chips and it always comes out delicious so feel free to experiment on those things.

Pumpkin Bread (makes 2 loaves)

2/3 cup butter softened

2 2/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling

2/3 cup water

3 1/3 – 3 2/3 cups flour (it should be creamy but not watery)

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2/3 12 ounce bag tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips (this is a guess because I never measure)

2/3 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries (I actually stock up on these around Thanksgiving and keep a bunch in my freezer)

 Preheat oven to 350. Grease or use cooking spray on two loaf pans.

Using beaters, cream butter and sugar together. Mix in eggs. Add water and pumpkin and blend well. Add baking soda, salt, and baking powder and mix again. Add flour and mix well. If it looks to watery, add additional flour. Now, by hand mix in chocolate chips and cranberries. Pour into two pans and bake 70 minutes. I usually check the oven at 60 minutes and sometimes it even goes a bit longer than 70 minutes to make sure the center is completely cooked.

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Thank you so much, Laura…this looks quite yummy. And thank you, everyone, for sticking around till the end. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of Laura’s wonderful new book, ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON.

And please make sure to be back tomorrow for an ultra special Sunday post that includes an inside look at the journey of self-published author Carmen Gloria, whose lovely Kid’s Astronomy Series has a new book, just in time for this special celebration of space…plus a giveaway of Dear Pluto. And Carmen has a special gift for all of us: click on the link: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/ and you can DOWNLOAD FOR FREE a Kindle ebook version of Dear Pluto…JUST FOR THIS SPECIAL MOON-LANDING WEEKEND!!!

 

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON Plus Giveaway

On July 20, 1969, something momentous happened.

Two human beings walked on the moon!

It’s the kind of occurence that, if you were old enough to know what was going on, you probably remember exactly what you were doing. My husband and I were on our first cross-country trip. We’d left NYC at 11:30pm (because we were so excited, we couldn’t wait for the morning) on June 29, 1969. We were both teachers and were taking the entire summer to travel. And by July 20th, we had made our way to Bakersfield, California. Here is my journal entry:

It is Sunday, July 20, and we are at our motel. Today we drove about 150 miles and toured through the Italian Swiss Colony Wine factory and tasted a little, too. Tomorrow we will go into San Francisco and go to the AAA office to make reservations and plot out our stay in the city. By the way – it is really an historic night – the astronauts have landed on the moon and are walking around there – HALLELUJAH!!!

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of that amazing feat. And to help celebrate, we’ve got a very special weekend planned here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar.

Today we are turning the spotlight on ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON…with a giveaway of a copy of the book thanks to the generosity of the fabulous debut author author. And tomorrow the lovely Laura Roettiger will be stopping by to chat and share a fabulous treat recipe. Then on Sunday, we have another special guest. But more about that later. Right now, it picture book review time!

AlianaReachesfortheMoon-ebook

ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON

Written by Laura Roettiger

Illustrated by Ariel Boroff

Published by Eifrig Publishing (2019)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Moon, scientific method, family

Synopsis: From Amazon:

Aliana loves observing everything in nature. Noticing how bright the light of the moon is in her bedroom, she spends time learning about the moon and experimenting with light. As she prepares for her brother’s birthday, she plans for a wonderful surprise to be revealed at the next full moon.

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Why I love this book:

  • A strong mightygirl who loves science
  • Additional layer of family love
  • Wonderful story
  • Great illustrations that keep the reader turning the pages
  • A perfect story to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon walk

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Moon-activities-for-kidsPhoto courtesy: https://www.howweelearn.com/moon-activities-for-kids/

For detailed instructions on various moon crafts: https://www.howweelearn.com/moon-activities-for-kids/

Please remember to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of this awesome book. And also remember that the best gifts we can give our favorite authors are:

  1. Buy their books
  2. Review their books
  3. Tell our friends about their books
  4. Ask our local library to purchase the books for their collections

And last of all, don’t forget to be back here tomorrow for a super cool interview with the awesome Laura.

Plus on Sunday, we’ll have a special post from self-published author Carmen Gloria. You won’t want to miss that because she is going to chat about her writing journey…and many other journeys. Oh, and there will be a giveaway. of her newest book in her planet series, Dear Pluto. Plus, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon walk, Carmen is giving us a link for a free download on Amazon Kindle of the Dear Pluto ebook.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful weekend!

 

 

Sneak Preview of a Fabulous Book!

Hey dear friends…I just had to share Cathy Ogren’s review of the upcoming Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe book that she posted on her blog. I hope you’ll hop over to her website to say hello and leave a comment.

Humor Me

ella and marilynI had the opportunity to read Vivian Kirkfield’s upcoming nonfiction book, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. With a lyrical quality to her writing, Vivian Kirkfield has written a beautiful story of friendship between two iconic personalities, Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. They were different in many ways, but they both had the same hopes and dreams. The author piques curiosity by giving readers a bit of background information about each woman. Ella Fitzgerald wanted to share her music with the world, and Marilyn Monroe hoped to become a great actress. How did these two women forge a life-long friendship? When Marilyn was offered a role in a musical, the first thing she did was to buy her idol’s records to listen to and study. Those records were Ella Fitzgerald’s. Marilyn’s performance in the movie was hailed by critics. This gave Marilyn a…

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