ALLEANNA HARRIS: Will Write/Illustrate for Cookies PLUS Original Art Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

alleanna_headshot

TODAY’S GUEST

ALLEANNA HARRIS

 

What an honor this is for me! Today I’m hosting the illustrator for one of my upcoming picture books…and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how she has brought the characters of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe to life. Every page turn sings…Alleanna has definitely made their voices be heard!

Alleanna Harris is a illustrator who has been drawing for as long as she can remember. As a little kid, she would draw on every page of her mom’s legal pads, doodle on her notebooks at school and on the programs at church.

She graduated from the University of Arts with a BFA in Animation with Honors, and it was during this time she realized her love for illustration.

She has illustrated several children’s books, including The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, The Day Abuelo Got Lost, Making Their Voices Heard, and Patricia’s Vision.

Alleanna finds inspiration in the beauty in everyday things. Everything inspires her. In her work, she seeks to create images that are immersive, rich in color and have a sense of warmth. She lives in New Jersey.

Thank you so much, Alleanna! I really appreciate you stopping by to answer some questions. I know my readers are excited to find out more about you – and I just want to let them know that the giveaway today – thanks to your talent and generosity – is an original sketch…oh my goodness! One lucky person is going to win a piece of original art created by you! So, dear friends, make sure  you leave a comment below. But please don’t rush through the post to get to the comment section, because you are going to want to read Alleanna’s amazing Q&A.

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

ALLEANNA: I loved Wendelin Van Draanen. I read every single book of her Sammy Keyes series. In terms of illustrators:

Garth Williams, who did the illustrations for Charlotte’s Web and the Little House books.

Eric Carle, because I loved the colored collage and cutouts.

Bill Watterson because I have a ton of Calvin and Hobbes books.

Pat Brady, because I used to love the comic Rose Is Rose in the Sunday newspaper.

cover 2

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

ALLEANNA: A schedule is key! Time management is everything. Deciding which illustrations to do, on which day, and which time of day according to how I work really makes my job easier.

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

ALLEANNA: I have two main places: my room and the kitchen. In my room, I use a drawing desk that my mom got for me before college. It’s next to my bed and I can look out my window to the street. In the kitchen, I sit at the table where I can see out the kitchen window to my front yard and where I can see out the back door to the sun porch and backyard. I like being able to look out the window to daydream every once in a while.

alleanna workspace

For my rough illustrations, I like to use my iPad. I enjoy the ease of use, and it’s almost like pen and paper but it’s digital and portable. For my final illustrations, I use my laptop and Wacom drawing tablet.

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

ALLEANNA: On weekdays during the school year, I wake up really early and I work until late afternoon with short breaks in between. Then I take a long break and I might work for a few hours at night. In the summer, I work anytime, but mostly at night.

ME: Why do you illustrate for children?

ALLEANNA: I illustrate for children because I love it. I want to help kids experience new stories and new people, and illustrating is my way of going about it. I want to help spark their imaginations and looking at illustrations offer a fast track to their imagination.

patricias vision

 

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

ALLEANNA: For writers and illustrators: I’m not sure exactly where I heard this from, but make your things first, and then judge your things later. If you overthink too much, you won’t ever make anything. With than being said, I need to take my own advice!

york journey cover

ME: And this awesome sweetness is not over yet…here’s a special recipe from Alleanna.

ALLEANNA: Here’s a recipe that’s very close to a recipe that my grandma, Me-Me used to fix for a treat. It’s really simple and really tasty.

 

Mom’s Fried Apples

Total Time
Prep: 15 min.

Cook: 30 min.

Makes 8 servings

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 6 medium unpeeled tart red apples, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  • Melt butter in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet. Add apples and 1/2 cup sugar; stir to mix well. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring frequently.
    Add cinnamon and remaining sugar. Cook and stir over medium-high heat 5-10 minutes longer.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/mom-s-fried-apples/

ME: What a perfect time for an apple recipe, Alleanna! I may have to go apple picking this weekend so that I will have fresh apples to try this yummy looking recipe.

Dear friends, I know we are all applauding for Alleanna – she is a illustrator rockstar – do you know that she has TWO picture books launching in January? YES! She is the illustrator for PATRICIA’S VISION: The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord (Sterling Books, January 7, 2020) and of course, MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee, January 14, 2020)

Folks…this is pretty spectacular! Two books in one month…and she is the ILLUSTRATOR, for goodness sake. This is one busy woman who knows how to prioritize her time. I’m so thrilled to be on her team. And one lucky winner will be thrilled with an original sketch by Alleanna because she is graciously offering that as our giveaway. So PLEASE, leave a comment below to be entered for a chance. And PLEASE, show her how much you love her work by buying her books, reviewing her books, telling friends about her books, and asking local libraries to purchase her books for their collections. And, to learn about Alleanna and her work, please visit her website: https://www.alleannaharris.com/

By the way, did you know she has two books that JUST launched last week?  Again…two books that she illustrated in one month! This woman is amazing!!!! THE DAY ABUELO GOT LOST: Memory Loss of a Loved Grandfather by Diane de Anda (Albert Whitman, September 1, 2019).

abuelo cover

And the second book that launched last week is THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF MARY SEACOLE (Puffin, September 5, 2019)

Seacole cover

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 Continue reading

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

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FREE 12×12 Mini Picture Book Summit

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Will Write and Illustrate for Cookies: Raven Howell and Carina Povarchik PLUS Double Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

Carina Povarchik self portraitRaven Howell portrait by Carina

TODAY’S GUESTS

CARINA POVARCHIK AND RAVEN HOWELL

(That’s Carina up top and Raven below – both portraits were created by Carina)

KABOOM! This is going to be an explosively awesome post, my friends! So much talent in one spot – I feel blessed to Continue reading

Will Write for Cookies: Callie Metler Smith PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

headshot

 

TODAY’S GUEST

CALLIE METLER-SMITH

 

I’ve haven’t met our Will Write for Cookies guest in person yet. But I’ve shared the stage with her on picture book writing webinars and I’ve chatted with her in many Facebook forums…and I know that one day, our paths will cross and we will get to hug each other. And that will make me very happy because Callie Metler-Smith is one of the kindest, sweetest, and friendliest publishers I know. She’s the editor for Clear Fork/Spork and is responsible for a bunch of awesome books that have launched within the past year: LOLA CAN’T LEAP by Ellen Leventhal; THE MASTERPIECE by Shelley Kinder; SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH by Melissa Stoller; and Continue reading

Maryann Coccoa-Leffler: Will Write For Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

Cocca-Leffler_MaryAnn-2018a_RGB

 

TODAY’S GUEST

MARYANN COCCOA-LEFFLER

As most of you know, one of the things I love best about this kidlit community is the connections we make. And what could be better than to have a multipublished author/illustrator who wants to critique with you and Continue reading

HEATHER MACHT: Will Write for Cookies Plus A FABULOUS TRAILER REVEAL for THE ANT FARM ESCAPE and a Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

heather macht

HEATHER MACHT

Continue reading