Category Archives: Will Write for Cookies – Author/Illustrator interviews

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!

Linda Whalen: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

LINDA WHALEN

 

I first met Linda in the Picture the Books 2017 group…what an awesome array of authors and illustrators! I’m thrilled with the quality of books that are debuting this year!

Linda Whalen lives with her husband on a plot of land in Northern California. Born a city kid, she married a farm boy from the mid-west and fell in love with country life.  Surrounded by family, pets and bunches of wild creatures, life is never dull. After working in, and then owning her own child-care facility, Linda is now pursing her passion of writing for children. She also enjoys time spent with her art supplies.

Maybe Linda will one day illustrate her own stories…we’ll have to ask if that is a goal of hers.

Just a reminder that Linda is giving away give a copy of LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY. If you want to see my review of it, click here. Make sure you leave a comment below. And if you haven’t already joined my email list, please click on the sidebar logo. I promise not to send you any junk…just good stuff.

 And now, let’s give a big Will Write for Cookies welcome to Linda!

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

 LINDA:

There were no funds for books in our household when I was growing up. But I did get an understanding that books were important because my mother had a set of The Book of Knowledge that were very dear to her and I wasn’t allowed to touch them. She also had a book that was a collection of children’s stories which she read to me occasionally. I still have that book and read it to my children often. When I was eleven she bought a set of World Book Encyclopedia and I loved flipping the pages and reading about all sorts of things outside of my little world. I still have the set and every yearbook that goes with it. The fact that someone actually wrote what I was reading didn’t sink in until I was a teenager.

book cover

Once I started reading books I couldn’t get enough of them. To quote my husband in our early years of marriage, “you always have your nose stuck in a book.” He’s used to it now.

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

LINDA:

Gag the internal editor! I was like so many new authors who think that the words you put on that blank piece of paper had to be perfect in every way until at a conference, I heard a speaker say “write crap, then edit.” It took a while for it to sink in but it really does release the creative side of writing to just let go and write what comes to mind. Believe me there is a lot of editing going on when I’m done.  Then there’s editing after critique and editing after the sale. So just let go and go with the flow on the first draft.

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?

LINDA:

I resisted writing on anything electronic. I love the feel of a pencil in my hand however, I’m much faster on the computer and can get the words down in a hurry. When writing by hand I sometimes have a hard time reading my own writing when I’ve rushed to get an idea down. Now I do both. I print out what I write electronically, grab a pencil and cuddle up somewhere to read and tear apart what I’ve written. I never clean my car or purse out completely, I need those scraps of paper to scribble down ideas when I get them.  Of course, I do pull over and stop if I’m in driving. On retreat or vacation when life isn’t whizzing by I like to write outside if my allergies will let me. I’ve found the balcony of a cruise ship is wonderful place to let your mind go where it wants. However, that doesn’t happen often so wherever I can find the time and space, I write.

workspace

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?

LINDA:

I’m working on setting aside a specific time to write (like a job…eek!) My life is way too crazy for that but I’m trying. If I haven’t taken the time to write for a while I get a little itchy to do so, it’s the same way with art. My daughter has said to me, “Mom, I think you need to go write something.” Maybe I get a little grumpy when I ignore my creative me. So, I guess I prefer letting the muse strike.

art space

ME: Why do you write for children?

LINDA:

Children have always been a big part of my life both personally and professionally.  I love reading stories to children and seeing their emotions dance through their eyes as they listen. What better way to connect with that dance than to write the words.

 Words written to bring joy, warmth, spark the imagination, sooth, and teach while entertaining young minds, cross all boundaries of color, gender, or wealth.

My husband while not an avid reader read bedtime stories to our children and often the words would spark his imagination and he would go off script and weave other elements into the story. While the author might not appreciate this, I think getting a reluctant reader to read stories to children is a great way to spark their imagination and interest to read more.

WOW! Linda…I love your reasons! And I know everyone joins me in thanking you for sharing those insights.

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

cookies

Coconut –Oatmeal Cookies

1 C. butter

1 C. brown sugar

3 eggs (well beaten)

2 C. Flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 C. shredded coconut

2 C. oats

1 C. chopped nuts (optional)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
  2. Add eggs. Mix well
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamons.
  4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture blending well.
  5. Add coconut, oats and nuts.
  6. Drop rounded tablespoons on greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Now, that’s what I call an oatmeal cookies that begs to be eaten! Dear friends, to find out more about Linda:

Website: http://www.lindawhalenauthor.com

Twitter:  @lindacwhalen

FB: Linda Whalen

LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY on Amazon

book cover

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY.

And a BIG thank you to everyone who has been spreading the word about the #50PreciousWordsforKids Writing Challenge. Don’t know about it yet? Click on the link in the sidebar to get all the details…or email me at viviankirkfield@gmail.com…it’s going to be AWESOME!

 

Have a beautiful weekend, dear friends. Anything special planned? Our son is flying in from Chicago on Sunday to spend the night because he has a business meeting in Boston on Monday. Yippee! We love spending time with him!

Catherine Bailey: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

CATHERINE BAILEY

It’s a joy for me to welcome our guest today. Catherine Bailey is a children’s author and presenter from sunny Florida. Her current books include MIND YOUR MONSTERS (Sterling Publishing, 2015), HYPNOSIS HARRY (Sky Pony Press, 2016), and LUCY LOVES SHERMAN (Sky Pony Press, 2017) – with more on the way! She has also written for popular children’s magazines such as Highlight’s Hello and Babybug. She is a frequent children’s speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events.

 

When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitos, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway. Her prior job titles include Lawyer (interesting), Sailboat Deckhand (fun but occasionally sea-sicky), and Cartoon Network Intern (best job ever, besides writing). Her hobbies include reading, travel, and TJ MAXX. But mostly reading.

 We are so happy to have you here, Catherine!

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

 CATHERINE:

My favorite author as a child was Roald Dahl and my favorite illustrator (perhaps not surprisingly) was Quentin Blake. There was – and still is today – a magic that comes from the combination of Dahl’s witty text and Blake’s expressive characters. I actually saw original Quentin Blake sketches for sale at the Palm Beach Art and Antique Show a few years back. If I ever win the lottery I’m going to go back and try and find them – LOL!

hypnosis harry cover

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

CATHERINE:

When I first started to write for children, I wish I knew about SCBWI. I did not learn about the organization for several months and *oh boy* did it have a lot to teach me!  On the other hand, I am actually glad I did NOT know how long it takes to get published, how hard it is to write good rhyme, how everyone thinks this job is so easy, and so on. If I had been aware of all those negatives, I may have been too scared to plunge into kidlit. Of course, now it’s too late to turn back. I’m hooked!

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?

CATHERINE:

I began writing for children (officially anyway) in January 2010, right after my first daughter was born. At that time, I either wrote at the local Panera, or I wrote sitting on an ottoman that was tucked in sort of an office/closet combo. I called it my “cloffice” and it was smack in between both of daughters’ rooms. It was not ideal for concentrating, LOL! However, in 2016 we finished building a new house. I now write in my fabulous new office. I always write out manuscripts on my laptop, though if I get a random idea I will jot it down on anything I have handy (including McDonald’s bags, my hand, the back of grocery lists…)

office

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?

CATHERINE:

I first started writing in the middle of the night when I got up to feed my then infant daughters. It worked well for a few years (see aforementioned cloffice, located near babies’ bedrooms), but eventually my kids started sleeping through the night and I was able to start working in the daylight. Like a normal person – ha! Nowadays I try to keep office hours 9am-2pm, at least four days a week. “Try” being the key word. However my writing will usually spill over into evenings when I am close to finishing a draft of a manuscript.

workspace

ME: Why do you write for children?

CATHERINE:

I write for children because I love introducing kids to the world of reading. Books were a massive component of my youth – they taught me to be creative and curious. They made me feel excited and safe all at the same time. It may sound cheesy, but if I can do that for even a handful of kids, then I’m a success. And of course, there is the totally selfish reason – it’s SO FLIPPIN’ FUN!

Thank you, thank you, Catherine! This was wonderful. You are an inspiration! I know everyone truly appreciates how you shared your journey.

Learn more about Catherine and her work at www.catherinebaileybooks.com.

 And now for one of my favorite parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe! And what a treat it is…perfect for a salty sea story, right?

SEA SALT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

cookies

CATHERINE: I really enjoy baking, as do my two daughters. (They are excellent taste testers and oven watchers!). Since my latest book, LUCY LOVES SHERMAN, is a sweet and salty story of friendship between a girl and a lobster, I picked an equally flavorful cookie for your readers. I think they will get hooked on the combination of rich chocolate and tangy, sea salt.

Ingredients:

1 ½ c flour          

1 tsp baking powder     

½ tsp salt           

¼ tsp baking soda

1 stick room temperature unsalted butter

¾ c packed brown sugar

½ c sugar

¼ c powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

8oz bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped

Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

 

Instructions:

(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

(2) Combine flour through baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

(3) In electric mixer, combine butter through powdered sugar. When those ingredients are mixed, add in egg yolks through vanilla. When those ingredients are mixed, slowly add dry ingredients until mixed.

(4) Turn off the mixer and fold in chocolate chunks.

(5) Spoon 1 ½ inch balls of dough (about 1-2 inches apart) onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle lightly with the sea salt.

(6) Bake for 8-9 minutes, and allow a few minutes for them to set before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

WOW! These are a MUST-MAKE…and definitely a MUST-EAT!

And before we sign off, Catherine has one more thing to say:

I am so excited that LUCY LOVES SHERMAN has finally splashed out! I would like to send a signed copy of the book, a bookmark, and lobster-shaped cookie cutter, to one lucky reader.

cover

Thanks again, Catherine! That is a very special giveaway!

So, my dear readers, please comment on this blog post (and/or on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book review) in order to be entered into this fabulous giveaway.

I know you join me in thanking Catherine for a wonderful Q&A.

And I wish you all a beautiful weekend. Thank you all for stopping by and spending your precious time here with me.

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