Will Write for Cookies: Callie Metler Smith PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies








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 so many more.

Callie Metler-Smith is the owner of Clear Fork Media Group in Stamford, Texas. She has owned the Stamford American since 2009 and Clear Fork Publishing since 2014. When not working on her corner of the Stamford Square, she is spending time with her husband, Philip and two sons, Logan and Ben.


ME: A great big welcome to you, Callie! Thank you so much for stopping by. I know everyone is anxious to hear more about you and your writerly/editorial journey.

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

CALLIE: My all-time favorite book when I was growing up was There’s a Monster at the end of this book. I remember sitting with my mom asking her to read it to me over and over again. I loved to read from the time I knew how and was passionate about the Sweet Valley High books, Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I don’t remember really loving picture books until my oldest son, Logan, was born and reading with him became a key interaction between us. His favorites were the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, Click, Clack, Moo, and Skippy Jon Jones.

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

CALLIE: One of the biggest things I wish I had learned earlier was how important having a very specific mission statement of the story can really help shape the story. If your story can’t be summed up in one sentence, usually this can be an indication of too much going on with a story or that it isn’t focused enough.

In my personal writing, I also think I’ve developed an appreciation for not forcing a story when it isn’t working but instead letting it sit and develop for a while in my head before reproaching it. I think I could have saved myself many hours staring at a blank page.

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

CALLIE: It is funny that you asked this because I use to have a very defined writing ritual when I was writing five or six news stories a week in addition to my weekly editor’s column. It consisted of spinach and artichoke dip, the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Dr. Pepper. I was also very strict about it being a No Kid Zone.


As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve noticed that for me it isn’t as much about the ritual as it is just setting clear and defined times to be creative and realize that I needed to be intentional about writing. I’m still big on it being a no interruption zone, but I’m much more laid back about the when and where. I also write in a combination of formats, but since I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year being the mom taxi to two teenage boys, I’ve fallen in love with writing on my iPhone in google drive.


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

CALLIE: The when often depends on what I’m working on. I still tend to write news stories first thing in the morning when my mind is the clearest and focused because it is normally very technical and requires a lot of details, notes, and sometimes tape-recorded interviews. My other writing is mainly done on the weekends, usually on Sunday afternoons.


ME: Why do you write for children and/or why did you decide to become a children’s book editor/publisher?

CALLIE: Words have been one of the great love affairs of my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t pouring over a book and enjoying how the author had weaved together their story. My first career path was in the newspaper world where I really dealt with a high volume of both writing and editing. This gave way to my bookstore, which expanded my love for books and gave me a lot more knowledge of how the publishing world worked. I knew about four years before I published the first book that I was heading in that direction, but it wasn’t until I published my first Children’s book that I really fell in love the industry. The pay off from knowing that you have had a hand in putting a beautiful story into the world has a value for me that is priceless. I also really love working with authors and illustrators.



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

CALLIE: My biggest piece of advice for aspiring writers is to ALWAYS continue to believe in yourself. When getting feedback, take it all in and implement what rings true for you and your writing. When getting a rejection, always remember that that rejection is putting you closer to the yes and finding the person that will believe in your writing as much as you do.

Oh my goodness…Callie…this has been amazing! It’s especially helpful for us as writers to hear insights from someone who is an editor AND a writer! And I need to share with everyone in case they don’t know it…Callie is especially passionate about giving new authors and illustrators a chance…when she reads a story or sees samples from an illustrator that she loves, she does everything she can to move forward with the project. That is quite spectacular, if you ask me!

santa and son

And now, my friends, we have even more Will Write for Cookies awesomeness…Callie is providing a VERY special cookie recipe!

CALLIE: I would recommend Monster Cookies which are Logan’s favorite!


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup candy-coated milk chocolate pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a very large bowl, beat the eggs.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients in order, mixing well.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

CALLIE: Logan’s favorite part is the m&m pieces so usually, I add extra or change it up with Reece’s Pieces. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

Me, too, Callie! I just may have to make a cup of tea and scrounge around for some cookie-like treat to go with it.

Meanwhile, dear friends, please don’t forget to leave a comment because Callie is giving away not one, but two copies of HOW TO BABYSIT A LOGAN. There will be a copy given away to one person who comments on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and another copy for today’s Will Write for Cookies. Thank you so much, Callie!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. If you find yourself with a bit of free time and want to delve into the story of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, there is a discussion going on at the Missing Voices Facebook Group…and Tuesday, May 28 at 8pm Eastern time, I’ll be hanging out in a live FB chat, answering questions. I hope you’ll stop by over the next week and a half and then get your questions ready for the 28th.



Maryann Coccoa-Leffler: Will Write For Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies







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



Plate of Cookies




heather macht


Continue reading



Plate of Cookies






When I joined Storm Literary Agency in 2015, not only did I get an awesome agent, but I also got a wonderful support system – all of the other clients – authors and illustrators. And one of the most active is today’s guest, Alexandria LaFaye. I grabbed a bit about her from her wonderful website.

ALEXANDRIA: Family is at the core of who I am which why families are at the center of most of my books whether it is families torn apart by injury (Worth) or absence (The Year of the Sawdust Man) or drawn together by tragedy (Water Steps and The Keening) or seeking each other (Walking Home to Rosie Lee). 

When I’m not joining my family for a board game, a jaunt to the park, or a trip to the zoo, I’m usually writing or reading, but I’m also an associate professor of English at Greenville College in the academic year and a visiting associate professor in the Hollins University Summer Graduate Program in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

Follow Me Cover


ME: Welcome, Alexandria! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us and share your writing journey. and a little bit about yourself. Can you name a book that changed the way you saw the world?

ALEXANDRIA: I seek out books that show me things about the world I did not previous know like Michelson’s The Alphabet of Angels revealing that Hebrew had nearly died out as a spoken language until one man, Ben Yehuda, popularized it in Isreal in the 19th century. Hesse’s Aluetian Sparrow opened my eyes to the horrific treatment of the Aleut people of the Aluetian Islands during World War II.  I love books that expand my world one page at a time and that’s the type of book I was trying to write  with FOLLOW ME DOWN TO NICODEMUS TOWN.  By sharing a story of the Exodusters who built Nicodemus, KS and homesteaded in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and other parts of Kansas, I hoped to celebrate their achievements and spread the world about these historical heroes who are often overlooked in historical accounts of homesteading the US.

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

ALEXANDRIA: How to write in way that is true to my own voice and experience, but that reaches out to readers of all walks of life and speaks to them in a way that makes them feel understood, inspired them, or lead to see things in a new way.  I’ve also always wanted this literary connection to lead readers to spread the news about my books to other potential readers.   I’m still trying to figure out this formula for great writing.

book vobrt

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

ALEXANDRIA: The answer depends on the genre.  I prefer to write poetry and short stories with a pen and paper and usually in one of my writing journals and I can do that pretty much anywhere, but I often do it at my writing desk at home or in my office at work (I’m an associate professor at Greenville University).  I have to admit that when I write “outside” of these spaces, I’m usually too drawn into observing things around me to focus on writing.

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

ALEXANDRIA: I’ve always been quite bad at doing things routinely, so I write as the muse strikes most of the time.  I often get a burning idea I need to write down and that often leads to more ideas which means I put other things on hold until I’ve followed this vein of creativity to its conclusion, then I go back to my daily activities. Other times, I leave things at home in my husband’s capable hands and spend a weekend in a cabin on a nearby lake and write, write, write.  That often involves a lot of revising, revising, revising.  But it’s a great time to fully emerse myself in my work.

with kids at bookstore or library

ME: Why do you write for children?

ALEXANDRIA: I write the stories that come to me.  Since I so enjoy children—understanding them, raising them, helping them, I believe I’m drawn to the stories that interest them. I also have an alterior motive.  If the books children read are inclusive, inspiring, historically and culturally accurate, and open the world up to young readers, then they will grow up with a kinder, more accurate, and layered view of the world.  The things we read as children shape our views of the world and prepare us for all the learning and experience that follows, so I guess, I’m hoping to help kids build expansive and supportive views of the world through the stories that I write.

ME: What is your writing advice?

ALEXANDRIA: Write to become the best writer you’re meant to become—don’t try to measure up to some external ideal of writing and writers—find your own voice and speak in it through your writing.  You’re a uniquely made person who has a singular life experience and point of view to share with the world, so embrace that and become the best writer you can as you learn to speak in your own voice.

ME: Is there anything you’d change about your writing life right now?

ALEXANDRIA: Yes, I’d love to do more school visits!  As a greater admirer of kids, I love to create school presentations that are entertaining, educational, and uplifting.  As a geek who was bullied in school, I can inspire the kids who struggle with self-confidence and engage with the kids who are following the crowd and need to be encouraged to become the “kind kid” who says “no” to bullying.  I’m also a professor who teaches preservice teachers how to integrate literature into the classroom, so I’m uniquely skilled to help kids become life-long learners and process writers. My professional credentials also make it possible for me to do professional development programs for teachers, administrators, and librarians.  And I love the school visits where I learn as much as I mentor.  If anyone would be interested in hosting me for a school visit, they can contact me at Alexandria.lafaye@greenville.edu

with class reading

ME: WOW…thank you so much, Alexandria. I love your authenticity…it shines right through all of your answers. I know we all appreciate you stopping by…and I know you are not done yet. You’ve got a recipe to share with us that is kind of special to your new picture book, right?

ALEXANDRIA:  Yes, this is a recipe Dede’s mama would have known by heart – hoecakes:


The legend is that African Americans who had been enslaved “baked hoecakes on a hoe in the fields for their midday meal.  Elizabeth Lea, a cookbook author from Montgomery County in the mid-19th century has several corn cake recipes, one of which she called a “Virginia hoe cake.”  Indeed, hoecake was the hardtack, the matzah, of enslaved Blacks for several centuries.  Some Maryland hoecakes were made over a griddle in the hearth (also known as a hoe), others were baked on a “bannock” board placed facing the fire.”  Although an African-American staple it was also a food served in many kitchens across the frontier in the 1800s.

1 cup of white stone-ground cornmeal

3/4 cup of boiling hot water

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of lard, vegetable oil or shortening

Mix the cornmeal and salt in a bowl.  Add the boiling water, stir constantly and mix it well and allow the mixture to sit for about ten minutes.  Melt the frying fat in the skillet and get it hot, but do not allow it to reach smoking. Two tablespoons of batter can be scooped up to make a hoecake.  Form it into a small thin pancake and add to the pan.  Fry on each side 2-3 minutes until firm and lightly brown.  Set on paper towels to drain and serve immediately once all the hoecakes have been cooked.

Recipe and background by  Michael W. Twitty in “A Few Antebellum African American Recipes” published in Afroculinaria (2011)


My dear friends, please join me in thanking Alexandria for her wonderful insights and the fantastic hoecake recipe…plus, she is generously donating a signed copy of her wonderful picture book, Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town, so make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you back here next week for another review (and a giveaway!) of a fabulous new picture book, HONEYSMOKE, by Monique Fields. I’ll be cloistered away, working on the redlines for the big compilation book – 9 stories means 9 times as many edits to go through, right? So if I am a bit MIA on social media this weekend, you’ll know why.

KATY FARBER: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies





I mentioned in yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post that Katy was one of the first bloggers I connected with. Her Non-Toxic Kids blog really appealed to me and I immediately signed up to follow it – and I’m still subscribed!

Katy Farber is a Continue reading

BRIAN LIES: Will Write for Cookies Plus Double Giveaway



Continue reading

SHERRY HOWARD: Will Write for Cookies PLUS PB Critique Giveaway


Continue reading