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

Baptiste Paul: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies






In 2016, I attended the Wild Wild West SCBWI conference in Chicago and got to meet our Will Write for Cookies guest. His wife, our own Miranda Paul, was signing some of her books and I had a chance to chat with Baptiste. I don’t know if he will remember…I’ll have to ask him. But we talked about books and families and it was lovely. And when I discovered he had a debut picture book coming out in March, I knew I wanted to have him stop by to share some of his journey with us.

Baptiste Paul is a man of many talents—from woodworking to gardening to entertaining hoards of children for hours on end. Born and raised in the Caribbean (Saint Lucia), Baptise is a native Creole/Patois speaker and enjoys roasting his own coffee and chocolate. Baptiste holds Degrees in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Bucknell University and currently resides with his family in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His debut picture book, THE FIELD, launched on March 6, 2018.

Welcome, Baptiste! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us. I’ve got a bunch of questions and we’d all love to hear your answers, so let’s get started. Read the rest of this entry

Jackie Leigh Davis: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

Plate of Cookies




(c) 2016 JackieAuthor_500x500


I’m so excited to welcome one of my local SCBWI buddies. She’s such a special lady…and I was thrilled when she agreed to stop by to chat with us.

Jackie Davis began her career as a professional mime at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. In 1995, she began developing a circus arts curriculum at the Pine Hill Waldorf School in Wilton where she created the first Hilltop Circus in 1996. This led to her founding Silver Lining Circus Camp and the Flying Gravity Circus youth troupe.

Her husband, Rick Davis, who was a teacher at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, became the resident director at youth circus arts education for Circus Smirkus in Vermont.

Together they became founding members of the American Youth Circus Organization, which hosts biennial national festivals in the U.S.

WOW…so now you know that Jackie knows what she is talking about when she writes a book about circus for kids!

Welcome, Jackie…it’s wonderful to have you here. I know you have a lot to share with all of us!

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

JACKIE: I was a huge Dr. Seuss fan as a child (The Sleep Book!! Sneetches!) I loved his wacky worlds and creatures, and I was inspired to draw my own for hours and hours on my mom’s scrap paper. Later, I read The Phantom Tollbooth at the perfect age when I totally understood all of Norton Juster’s plays on words (he really woke up the fun of writing in me), and I loved Jules Feiffer’s dynamic, scribbly illustrations. Louise Fitzugh had a similar scribbly style in her drawings, though I didn’t realize until much later that she had illustrated as well as written Harriet the Spy. I emulated Harriet and did some spying in my neighborhood!

Circademic with Brain&Logo

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

JACKIE: Well, I’m coming late to the party – I’m really just starting my writing career in earnest, even though I’ve been writing all my life. Ask me this question in a couple years. 

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

JACKIE: I’ve read that you should be able to write anywhere so that you train yourself to be able to write, well, anywhere. That’s hard for me – I get attached to place. I have a lovely little cabin in my back yard that I love to write in, but it’s not insulated so I can only do that on temperate days. I do like to write on my laptop. However, I also keep a journal (an actual book made of paper), and I write longhand in there. Gotta have a fast, smooth pen. Pentel Energel!

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

JACKIE: I am still sorting this out! Lots of folks get up early and write in the morning. I am a terrible morning person, the brain takes a while to get revved up. By then, the phone is ringing and people are emailing, and I get pulled into the mundanities of the day. So – I THINK I am a night writer. Left to my own devices, I write at night – sometime after dinner and before my brain gets too tired. I keep experimenting. Ask me this one again in a couple years, too!

DIYCircusLab_Cover_FRONT 320x240

ME: Why do you write for children?

JACKIE: I remember being 10 or 11 years old, looking out my bedroom window in the direction of the next town, and suddenly I realized I could “travel” to the next town, and the next… that the whole world was open and my whole life was ahead of me. That was the first moment where I caught a glimmer of self-determination, where I “got” that I was the captain of my ship, and this was my life. I’ve been a teacher for much of my adult life, and I love opening the door to kids’ realization that they are the captains of their ships. I never get tired of that. As a teacher I could do that one-on-one, but as an author I hope to show many, many more kids a magical door to their self-determination.

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. 

JACKIE: This first book of mine, DIY Circus Lab for Kids, is a non-fiction, how-to book based on my decades of teaching circus. But I was working on a middle grade novel before DIY came along, and now that it’s published (yay!!) I am going back to the novel.  I am so eager to get it written, yet there are so many demands on my time I worry about getting it done. But NO! 2018 is the year! I look forward to being a guest of yours again, Vivian, sometime in 2019!

That sounds like a plan, Jackie! Thank you so much for all of your insights and for sharing your journey with us.

And now, dear friends, we are not done yet. Jackie has a book event today at our favorite local indie bookstore: Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, NH from 2-4pm. I’ll be there and I’m going to buy a copy of DIY CIRCUS LAB FOR KIDS…I’ll have Jackie sign it and I’ll be giving it away to someone who leaves a comment on today’s post or the book birthday post from last Tuesday.

If you’d like to learn more about Jackie, her circus programs, and her book: (summer camp where I’ll be teaching — this will also be updated by February)


And of course, we have to have a sweet ending to our post.

One of the circus tricks is juggling balls…how about making some GLUTEN FREE nut butter balls to eat!

nut butter ballsPhoto courtesy:

There are only THREE ingredients in this yummy recipe. Any nut butter. Coconut flour. Maple syrup. It is easy peasy to make with the kiddos…and provides a healthy punch of protein and other nutrients. For detailed instructions:

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend and I thank you so much for spending some of your precious time with me.


Kerri Kokias: Will Write for Cookies Plus Critique Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




Kerri Kokias Headshot



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.


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 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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