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Kerri Kokias: Will Write for Cookies Plus Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Kerri Kokias Headshot

 

KERRI KOKIAS

I met today’s guest in Picture the Books 2017. Debut picture book authors together, we really had no clue as to how the process of publication worked. As Robert Burns said in To a Mouse: The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” Which in plain English means, sometimes your plans don’t work out exactly as you thought they would. There can be all kinds of hold-ups in the publishing industry…that’s just how it is. So here it is 2018, and Kerri and I are part of Epic Eighteens, the group formed to give support and encouragement to debut picture book authors and illustrators with books coming out this year.

Now it looks like there is a chance Sweet Dreams, Sarah may be pushed back even further to 2019, but I’m thrilled to welcome Kerri and congratulate her on her exceedingly beautiful 2018 picture book debut!!! 

Kerri’s writing features unique structures, playful language, humor, tension, tenderness, simple text, and complicated characters. She has a good vision for how text and art can work together to tell a complete story. Kerri credits most of her story ideas to her “fly on the wall” personality. This means she’s both a keen observer of social interactions and a nosey eavesdropper.  Kerri lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, two children, and three dogs.

book covers for sisters

Hello, Kerri! Thanks so much for stopping by! We enjoyed finding out about SNOW SISTERS yesterday on Perfect Picture Book Friday and everyone is excited to hear a little bit more about you.

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

KERRI: In my youngest reading memories I was a big fan of anything written by Shel Silverstein, James Marshall, Arnold Lobel, Judith Viorst, and William Steig. As I got a little older I liked books by Beverly Clearly, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and Ann Martin. I still treasure these author’s books and expect that I’ll never outgrow them.

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

KERRI: Hmm, I started to say that I wish I knew how long it was going to take me to get published, but then I realized that it was probably a good thing that I didn’t.  (12 years!) I guess I would reframe that a little and say that I wish I knew that a career as an author doesn’t really come easy for anyone, even if it may look like it from the outside. I’ve been fortunate to make a lot of author friends through the years and everyone’s path to publication is different, but every one includes a lot of hard work, determination, grit, a little luck and some disappointment along the way.  And as best as I call tell, this doesn’t change post publication either.

SnowSistersLargeCover

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

KERRI: I can tell you the most unusual place I have even written- at the swimming pool while swimming laps. There was one particular manuscript I was working on that I kept getting ideas for while I was swimming. So I kept a waterproof notebook at the end of the pool and would jot down notes between laps. But more ordinarily, I have a nice space with my picture book collection set up in my basement but I usually prefer to just sit on my living room couch or at my kitchen table and write on my laptop. Occasionally, if I’m having a hard time staying focused I’ll go to the library or a coffee shop to work. One thing that I’ve noticed is that I often come up with my best ideas when I’m driving or falling asleep. So a surprising amount of my writing originates as notes taken on my phone or whatever scrap of paper happens to be nearby. I have learned the hard way that these pieces of inspiration are lost if I don’t record them immediately, so I know to pull the car over when I need to jot something down and that it’s worth it to turn on that bedside lamp at record my idea even if it’s tempting to just roll-pver and fall asleep.

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

KERRI: I’m not very structured with my writing time (gasp!) and have never had much luck with the old butt in the chair technique. I’m more prone to just go about my day and write as the muse strikes. However, projects are ALWAYS stewing in my brain, even if I don’t have anything on paper to show for it. I take notes throughout the day and typically when enough of them build up I feel motivated to sit down and pull them together.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KERRI: Kids are my favorite kind of people!

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. 

KERRI:  I often hear beginning aspiring authors say that they can write better stories than what’s already out there. My advice here is that people’s tastes vary, and there is an audience for just about anything. So don’t compare your writing to books that are outside of your taste; compare it to the books that you most admire.  Take your time striving to get your work the best that it can be.

ME: What awesome advice, Kerri. TAKE YOUR TIME STRIVING TO GET YOUR WORK THE BEST THAT IT CAN BE!!! That’s a great mantra for all of us!

I know we are want to thank Kerri for her insights, her generous picture book manuscript critique giveaway, and for spending this precious time with us. But we’re not done yet!

I guess Kerri is part seer…she must have known that here on the East Coast, we have been hit by a blizzard and record cold temperatures and we are in need of some warm beverages. So pull out some of those previous cookie recipes and bake up a hatch and then…

KERRI: How about some hot cocoa to go with all of those cookies?

Homemade Hot Cocoa

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Cup milk

Dash of salt

Multiply by desired number of servings. Heat until warm. Snuggle up and enjoy!

YUM! And while you are sipping your hot chocolate, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of A PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE from the lovely and talented Kerri Kokias! And after you do that, choose one or more of the following to help your favorite author:

1. One of the best ways is to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book review sites. 

2. Ask your local library to order the book…many libraries honor patron requests and some even have online request forms.

3. Buy a copy of the book.

4. And most importantly…TALK ABOUT THE BOOK…to friends, family, and anyone who will listen!

Amazingly, it is almost time to start talking about the #50PreciousWords writing challenge. The challenge opens March 2 – it celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss – last year we had 253 incredibly wonderful entries and 40 prizes! I’ve already got two kidlit powerhouses to help me. So, if you have a prize you’d like to donate (book, critique, original art, or anything a writer would love to have), please contact me at viviankirkfield@gmail.com or via FB or Twitter PM. This challenge brought out amazing talent…the 1st place winner in 2016 already has a contract for that story and a sequel to it! Many people who participated said it was the FIRST time they had ever submitted anything. That is a huge accomplishment for them right there! And the camaraderie and positivity that wove through the thread of over 2000 comments was a testament to what a beautiful kidlit world we are creating! The informational post will go up in mid February, but I just wanted to get the ball rolling.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: SNOW SISTERS plus Critique Giveaway

What a totally perfect day for a totally perfect picture book entitled SNOW SISTERS

Yes, here in New Hampshire, we are in the middle of a BLIZZARD! It’s actually lovely if you don’t have to go anywhere and have plenty of food and water and power to heat your home and keep the internet going.

And the lovely Kerri Kokias, author of Snow Sisters, has graciously offered a picture book manuscript critique as a giveaway. Woo-hoo! And tomorrow, Kerri will be stopping by to chat and share a delicious recipe for hot cocoa! MMMMM…whose got the marshmallows?

SnowSistersLargeCover

SNOW SISTERS

Written by Kerri Kokias

Illustrated by Teagan White

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (2018)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Sisters, friendship, being yourself

Synopsis:

From Amazon: Just like snowflakes, no two sisters are alike, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together to make the perfect snow day! A heartwarming sibling story from the illustrator of That’s Me Loving You.

When snowflakes fall, two sisters react very differently. One is excited and the other is wary. The first sister spends the morning outdoors, playing until she’s all tuckered out. Meanwhile, the second sister stays indoors, becoming ever more curious about the drifts outside. Soon, they switch places, and spend the second half of the day retracing each other’s footsteps. But each sister puts her own unique spin on activities like sledding, baking and building.


The simple mirrored text is spare and lovely, and each spread is split to show what each sister is doing independently–until at last they come together in the sweet, satisfying conclusion. LeUyen Pham’s Big Sister, Little Sister meets Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Snow.

Why I like this book:

  • I have a sister and remember well our differences, but I also remember how we found ways to come together

  • I love how each sister goes her own way, but in the end, they show how much they love each other

  • Wonderful illustrations and perfect pacing of the text will engage children from the first page to the last.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

30-ways-to-make-a-snowflake-2Photo courtesy:https://handsonaswegrow.com

Make a snowflake craft: for detailed instructions on any of these beautiful snowflakes: https://handsonaswegrow.com/make-snowflake-crafts/

For lots of fun when summer comes, why not fill a plastic container with clean snowballs and put it in the freezer. On a hot summer day, go out with the kids and throw snowballs. Just make sure they aren’t too hard. If they are, you can make a game of tossing them into a bucket. 

Thank you so much for spending your precious time here. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the picture book manuscript critique giveaway…and definitely pop in tomorrow for the Q&A with Kerri Kokias.

The 2018 books are coming in fast and furious and I hope to review lots of them this year! Please remember that authors need reviews and shout outs…I’m off to write an Amazon review right now.

Happy Book Birthday: LOVE, MAMA Plus Giveaway

I LOVE PICTURE BOOKS!
SO OF COURSE, I LOVE CELEBRATING NEW ONES!

CONGRATULATIONS

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR JEANETTE BRADLEY!

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 Written and illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

Published by Roaring Brook Press (January 2018)

Ages: 2-6

Themes: Parent/child relationship

Synopsis: From Amazon:

With a heartwarming story and tender illustrations, Jeanette Bradley’s debut picture book Love, Mama is perfect for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and any day when a child needs a reminder of the strength of a mother’s love.

When Mama leaves her young penguin Kipling, he knows she’ll return home soon―yet he still can’t help but miss her. After all, Pillow Mama won’t read, Picture Mama won’t laugh, and Snow Mama is too cold to cuddle.

But then Kipling receives a special delivery from Mama, including a note that reads:

My love for you stretches across the wide ocean, 
through day and night, 
from earth to sky 
and back again.

And Kipling knows that no matter where Mama is, he is loved. Soon, Mama comes home, and Kipling ends the day where he belongs―right in her arms.

Why I like this book:

  • Heartwarming text…sparse yet beautiful lyrical language

  • Super illustrations engage the reader from the first page turn to the last

  • I love books that give children confidence in the love of their parents…and the realization that even if parents leave (for a day of work or for the night when they go to sleep) they will be back!

  • The perfect book for Valentine’s Day and a new favorite of mine for bedtime storytime.

 RELATED ACTIVITIES

TREASURE BOX

Jeanette was kind enough to share a super fun activity with us!

You can print out the template here: 

heart template copy

What you need:

 

Small cardboard box

Paper for cutting out hearts (see templates)

Used postage stamps cut off envelopes

Glue stick

Stamps and stamp pad for “cancelling” the stamps

“Treasures” to put in the box, like rocks, feathers, pom poms, buttons, beads, or other found objects

 

Cut stamps off envelopes, or use Easter Seals:
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Print out the heart template on pink paper, if you have it:
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Cut out hearts:
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Glue old postage stamps onto box using glue stick.  Then “cancel” the stamps with whatever rubber stamps you have on hand
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Write a love note to someone you love:
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Fill your box with treasures, add your heart, and give it to someone special!
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I hope all of you will join me in celebrating the debut picture book authors and illustrators of the wonderful stories that will be coming this year. I’ll be shining the spotlight on them for book birthdays and for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

But as parents or teachers or just picture book lovers, do you ever wonder how you can help your favorite authors?

1. One of the best ways is to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book review sites. 

2. Ask your local library to order the book…many libraries honor patron requests and some even have online request forms.

3. Buy a copy of the book.

4. And most importantly…TALK ABOUT THE BOOK…to friends, family, and anyone who will listen!

Please leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for the copy of LOVE, MAMA that author/illustrator Jeanette is graciously giving away.

To learn more about Jeanette and her work and to download an educational guide for the book: http://www.jeanettebradley.com/

And just a few more important notes:

1. I’m participating in Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas...an inspiring challenge to help kick off your writing year by looking back on 2017 and looking ahead to what you hope to accomplish in 2018.

2. Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm started yesterday…and I’ll be joining in as a participant as well one of the guest bloggers…I’m up on January 25th…I hope you’ll register and stop by as many days as you can on Tara’s blog…there are prizes and inspiring posts. In fact, two of my book deals this year were PiBoIdMo/Storystorm ideas from years past and in my post, I’ll be talking about how to take an idea to a published book.

3. I just received the color layouts for Sweet Dreams, Sarah…although there are still some tweaks needed…I’ve got my eyes on the October 2018 launch date, but am open to the possibility the book might not pub until Jan/Feb 2019. In which case I might just have FOUR books launching in ONE year. I will definitely need your help!

I’m looking forward to a stellar year with all of you!

Thank you for joining me on this grand adventure!

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