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

Melissa Stoller: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INSPIRATION, INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

head shot

MELISSA STOLLER

What a joy it is to connect with those in the kidlit community! I’d seen Melissa’s name as a participant in many of the challenges. I’d read her comments on blog posts. And when I discovered she had a new chapter book series launching, I knew I’d want to invite her to be my guest.

Melissa Stoller is the author of the debut chapter book THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND (Clear Fork Publishing, July 2017); the debut picture book OLIVE’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Clear Fork, March, 2018); and THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION: THE LIBERTY BELL TRAIN RIDE (Clear Fork, April 2018).  She is also the co-author of THE PARENT-CHILD BOOK CLUB: CONNECTING WITH YOUR KIDS THROUGH READING (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and an Assistant for Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. Melissa writes parenting articles, and has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, and early childhood educator. She lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing or reading, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, travelling, and adding treasures to her collections.

ME: I’m so thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Melissa!

MELISSA: First, I’m so honored to be chatting with you on your Will Write for Cookies Blog, Vivian! I’m a huge fan! You are the sweetest cheerleader for the KidLit World and I love your #50 Precious Words Writing Challenge. Also, I have benefited from your excellent critiques. I hope to meet you in person one day soon!

ME: I really appreciate your kind words, Melissa…and I’m sure we will meet…maybe at a conference one day soon!

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

MELISSA: I had so many favorite authors and books when I was a child! I loved the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (I still love a good mystery). I also enjoyed The All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor (I still enjoy inter-generational family stories) and Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hillary Knight (Eloise is the classic precocious imp! My children and I loved the Eloise Tea at The Plaza in New York City). And of course anything and everything by Judy Blume! All these stories and more informed my own writing style. Read the rest of this entry

Mike Malbrough: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

head shot

MIKE MALBROUGH

Hip, hip hooray for another incredible 2017 debut picture book author/illustrator. Please welcome our Will Write for Cookies guest of honor.

Mike Malbrough was a freelance graphic designer, comic book artist, performer and teacher with a career spanning two decades before beginning his career as a picture book author-illustrator. He is an active teacher and mentor for young artists in his community, and has received several awards and honors for his work with children and teens. Mike lives in Orange, New Jersey, with his wife, two adventurous kids, and a cat named Agnes who hates him.

cat on desk

Mike, I’m so excited to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

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

MIKE:

I was always enamored with the work of Mercer Mayer, especially how his creature characters crowded the pages in PROFESSOR WORMBOG IN SEARCH FOR THE ZIPPERUMP-A-ZOO. And of course Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Suess and Ludwig Bemelmans. I also remember the HENRY books by Mark Taylor and Graham Booth always being around.

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

MIKE:

That having terrible ideas and writing even worse sentences was just part of the path as opposed to a cosmic sign that you should never write. Putting that stuff down on the paper/ screen is important to getting somewhere as a storyteller.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

MIKE:

I am constantly in flux, like I am trying to tune in a radio. I gravitate towards whatever gets me somewhere. As an author and illustrator, I interchange disciplines fluidly. Sometimes I can “write” quite a bit by designing a character’s clothes or setting, but there are times when just pounding the keyboard gets me there faster.

storyboard and illustration

ME: When do you write? Set schedule? When the muse strikes?

MIKE:

Early morning at a coffee shop is the best time to plow through a first draft. I haven’t quite exited the world of dreams while having enough caffeine in me to work quickly.

ME: Why do you write for children?

MIKE:

I think of storytelling, and art in general, as a call and response, a dialogue. You “see” certain things in the world and then reflect those back through your creativity to a certain audience. The things that I find fascinating and fill me with a sense of love and wonder radiate strongest in the world of children, and I find that the work that I find most pleasing to do resonates with the hearts and minds of young people.

MarigoldBakesCake_interior_1

ME: Mike, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

MIKE

My advice for writers: It’s never too early to take it seriously. Also, it’s never too late to take it seriously. And lastly, you should never take it too seriously.

MarigoldBakesCake_interior_2

I LOVE THAT ADVICE, Mike! We’ve got to buckle down and do the writing and rewriting, right? But we also have to find joy doing it and have fun with it…like kids. And it is NEVER too late. EVER!

If you’d like to find out more about Mike and his work:

www.mikemalbrough.com)

Twitter: @studiomalbrough.

Now dear friends, Mike has a very special treat recipe for us. Take it away, Mike.

Kourabiedes

A traditional Greek shortbread cookie, that is dense and delicious. The texture is amazing. Have some with tea!

Ingredients should be at room temperature.

Bake at 300 degrees for 22 minutes. Makes 2 ½ dozen.

 

2 ½ sticks of unsalted butter

1 cup superfine sugar

2 egg yolks

1 ½ tbsp. brandy

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

Whole Cloves (optional)

1 package 10x confectioners’ powdered sugar

 

Beat butter and superfine sugar in a large bowl with electric mixture at high speed for 15 MINUTES, or until light and fluffy. (Should have a white pearlescent look when ready.) Don’t skimp on the time it makes a difference. Scrape side of bowl with rubber spatula occasionally.

Add egg yolks, brandy and vanilla. Add flour, ½ cup at a time. If dough is too heavy, work it by hand. (Dough should be soft but firm.)

Break off walnut-sized pieces. Shape into crescents and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Insert a clove (optional) in each crescent.

 

Bake in slow oven (200 degrees) for 22 minutes or until pale brown. (Color should not change too much.) Remove cookies from oven and place on a platter. Cool. Remove cloves. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar. (The cookies will look like a mound of sugar.) Store in a metal tin with a tight-fitting lid.

WOW! These look amazing! I think I am gaining a pound every week with all of these fabulous treat recipes. But it is worth it, right?

Please don’t forget to leave a comment today…it will give you an entry into the giveaway of a copy of MARIGOLD BAKES A CAKE. And for another entry, make sure you comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of the book.

Marigold_COVER

And, if you have a little extra time, why not hop over to Amazon and/or Goodreads and leave a review for Mike and all of your favorite authors and illustrators. It will mean the world to them!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Maria Gianferrari: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

unnamed

MARIA GIANFERRARI

I’m so excited to introduce everyone to our Will Write for Cookies guest today, although many of you may already know Maria. And I’m jumping for joy because she has a book signing event in Keene, New Hampshire on August 20th…that’s only an hour away from me and some of my local critique buddies and I are going to take a picture book field trip and attend! Woo-hoo!

I grabbed a bit of info from Maria’s website:

 I write both fiction and nonfiction picture books, usually while my faithful companion, Becca, snores at my feet. I love nature and animals, especially dogs!

Most of my nonfiction picture books are about creatures in the natural world. I’m also fascinated by the subject of urban ecology, and the different ways in which wild animals have adapted to life and co-existence with humans.

Most of my fiction picture books contain dogs as main characters, and some cats too! I am most intrigued by the human-animal bond, so this is a topic that I like to explore in my fiction.

Welcome, Maria…I’m so excited to welcome you!

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

MARIA:

I had two favorite picture books that I read and read and re-read again: Scuttle the Stowaway Mouse by Jean & Nancy Soule, with illustrations by Barbara Remington, and Miss Twiggley’s Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox.

scuttle book cover

inside page of scuttle

Both stories are rollicking, rhyming read alouds. I love the whimsical illustrations for Scuttle, the wayward mouse who finds a home. And I still wish I could live in a tree, like Miss Twiggley, with a dog and some bears. That is my introvert dream come true. I still have my childhood copies!

 

twiggle book cover

inside cover of twiggle

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

 MARIA:

I’m not sure—I knew it was going to be hard, since there is so much rejection involved, but I didn’t know the extent of the joy it would bring, especially upon seeing life breathed into my words by the talented illustrators with whom I’ve been matched. That was and is beyond my wildest dreams!

coyote moon

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

MARIA:

Most of the time I write in my home office on my laptop while my dog, Becca snores on her nearby dog bed. I have a keyboard and a large monitor so it’s easy to see what I’m working on. I also like to write drafts by hand, especially when I get stuck, and I can do that pretty much anywhere. 

houdini

ME: When do you write? Set schedule? When the muse strikes?

MARIA:

Every day starts with walking Becca, rain or shine, cold or heat (though I much prefer cooler temperatures). Then I usually write late morning, followed by a nap, and more writing and/or reading in the afternoon. I try to write every day, Monday through Friday, and take the weekends off to do things with my family.

ME: Why do you write for children?

MARIA:

I love their wonder and curiosity and ability to be present in the moment, something I continually strive for in life and in my writing. I write because kids are our hope, and our future. I also write for my inner child—the child who I was, and still am.

penny and jelly

ME: Maria, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

MARIE:

I don’t have any new advice—it’s the same basic advice that everyone gives: read, read, read, and write, write, write! Don’t give up—it’s a marathon, not a sprint, full of ups and downs. And find a good critique group for support during the downs as well as the ups. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my wonderful critique partners: Andrea Wang, Lois Sepahban, Lisa Robinson, Sheri Dillard and Abby Calkins Aguirre!

Thanks for letting me stop by, Vivian!!

WOW…it is me who is thanking you, Maria! And so is everyone else! I love that you shared those favorite books from your childhood…I think we had similar tastes! I also wanted to thank you for your generous giveaways this weekend…heads up, dear friends…leave a comment on yesterdays Perfect Picture Book Friday post and you are entered into the giveaway for a copy of HELLO GOODBYE DOG.

hello goodbye dog cover

And then leave a comment on today’s blog and get an entry into the giveaway for a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE from Maria!

For more information about Maria and her books: http://mariagianferrari.com/

And the fun doesn’t stop here, folks! Maria is sharing something yummy!

brownie photo

BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIES:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 11×14” baking pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter (2 sticks), melted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chocolate covered heath toffee pieces

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in microwave-safe glass bowl.
  2. Mix in brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Add in dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and heath pieces
  5. Pour into baking pan
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes

Enjoy!!

 

Before we say goodbye, I wanted to let you know that Maria will be heading out on a whirlwind BOOK BLOG TOUR in less than two weeks. There will be PRIZES EVERY DAY on the tour, so you don’t want to miss a single stop!

HELLO GOODBYE DOG BLOG TOUR!

GIVEAWAYS EVERY DAY!!

 

*Monday, July 24th:                                  Pragmatic Mom + THREE book giveaway!

*Two for Tuesday, July 25th:              Librarian’s Quest

Reading for Research

*Wednesday, July 26th:                         Homemade City

*Thursday, July 27th:                               Kid Lit Frenzy

*Friday, July 28th:                                      Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook

*Monday, July 31st:                                   Picture Books Help Kids Soar

*Tuesday, August 1st:                              Bildebok

*Wednesday, August 2nd:                      The Loud Library Lady

*Thursday, August 3rd:                           DEBtastic Reads!

*Friday, August 4th:                                  Mamabelly’s Lunches with Love

*Monday, August 7th:                               Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

EXTRA: August 25th:                                Kidlit411—Interview with Patrice Barton

 

Thank you all for stopping by to visit. I know we all appreciate the beautiful books Maria and our other authors write. And we can help our favorite authors by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I hope you will do that for the books you love!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

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