Category Archives: Will Write for Cookies

Denise Fleming: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

DENISE FLEMING

I’m often praising the mentors in our kid lit community. They share their expertise graciously. And our Will Write for Cookies guest is one who has led the way. I was already a fan of her award-winning books when I met Denise at a writing retreat two years ago. Her workshop on paper making was filled with passion. And during our one-on-one, she pointed out important problems in the picture book manuscript I was working on at the time.

Denise, I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

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

 DENISE:

 My favorite book when I was a child was The Giant Golden Book of Cat Stories. It was full of stories and poems about cats. For my fourth birthday, my grandparents gave me a Siamese kitten. From then on I was drawn to anything written about cats.

kid and cat

 I also read every issue of National Geographic magazine. The photographs and articles about places and animals, so different from my everyday experience, fascinated me.

 ME:

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

DENISE:

Actually, I can’t think of anything I wish I had known when I first started writing. All the info out there now on the internet, the classes and workshops would have intimidated me when I started. I just burrowed in and started reading as many books as I could and made notes of what I liked, what appealed to me.

ME:

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

DENISE:

I write most everywhere – in bed, in the tub, outside, wherever I feel comfortable at the time.

outdoor work space

I worked on my first book in a tent in Canada with a doe keeping an eye on me.

I write on yellow legal pads with soft lead pencils.

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?

DENISE:

I am not a morning person. I am an owl. Most productive work starts after 3 in the afternoon.

I do not write or make book art every day. Some days I garden, work in clay, make art dolls , read, or sketch out ideas.

cat on wall

ME:

Why do you write for children?

DENISE:

Children are open to adventure. They jump into new ideas. They enjoy animals and nature. They find butterflies and bugs interesting. They paint with abandon and laugh easily. Children are a great audience. They are my people.

ME: Denise, if you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.

DENISE:

Read as much poetry as you can. Not just poetry for children, but adult poetry too.

Listen for the rhythm of the language.

Think like a child.

ME: BINGO!!!! THINK. LIKE. A. CHILD.

Denise, this is a mantra I think all of us need to embrace! Thank you so very much for stopping by to chat with us and sharing your insights.

Dear readers, if you’d like to find out more about Denise and her fabulous books:

www.denisefleming.com

And check out her newest book, coming in Spring 2018:

robin nest cover 

And guess what? We are not done yet! I know you are all waiting for a sweet treat.

Denise says:

Now, about that recipe, cooking is not really a part of my life anymore.

I do suggest you take a good-sized spoon, dip it in in the peanut butter, then into the jar of Nutella. Top this spoonful of deliciousness with a honey roasted pecan half. Yum.

May be served in spoon.

HA! I LOVE THAT! NO MUSS! NO FUSS! JUST PURE YUM!

And wait…this post has ONE MORE dollop of awesomeness thanks to our lovely guest. Denise wants to do ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of 5 Little Ducks and you might be the lucky winner of a copy of Beetle Bop. AND, if you leave a comment on THIS post, you might be the lucky winner of a copy of 5 LITTLE DUCKS.

cover

I told you this kid lit mentor was one of the best! Truly, Denise, your generosity is much appreciated.

And the way WE can show our appreciation is to go to Amazon and/or Goodreads and write a review for 5 Little Ducks

 and Denise’s other fab books.

Thank you all for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend and I wish a most Happy Father’s Day to all those who fill the role of a dad.

Laurie Wallmark: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR READERS AND WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

LAURIE WALLMARK

We are breaking new ground on Will Write for Cookies today!

Laurie Wallmark is back! This is her second visit for a Q&A…I am so in love with her books and if you’ve read them, you’ll understand why.

Award-winning author Laurie Wallmark’s debut picture book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books, 2015), received four starred trade reviews (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal) and several national awards, including Outstanding Science Trade Book and the Eureka Award. It is a Cook Prize Honor Book. Her recently released picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), earned a Kirkus star and was well-reviewed in several trade journals. Laurie has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. When not writing, she teaches computer science at Raritan Valley Community College.

 I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Laurie!

ME:

 You seem to have found a wonderful niche in writing nonfiction picture books about strong women? Did you enjoy reading women’s biographies when you were a kid? If so, who were your favorites?

 LAURIE:

 When I was a child, you would have thought that Marie Curie was the only woman scientist who had ever lived. There were no biographies of any other women scientists or mathematicians. I did enjoy reading books about mathematicians like Euclid, Newton, and Fermat. In fact, I was convinced I would be the one to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem. (Spoiler alert. I wasn’t.)

Ada cover 72dpi

 ME:

In your opinion, what are the most important steps in writing a great nonfiction picture book?

LAURIE:

The most important part of writing a nonfiction picture book is research, research, research. Not only does that help ensure that your writing is accurate, but it’s through research that you find those fun little nuggets that really bring a person to life. For example, the fact that Grace Hopper couldn’t wait to ride in an airplane with a barnstormer exemplifies her spirit of adventure. Her words perfectly sum up her feelings about doing this: “I squandered all my money—it cost $10—and went up in the plane.” I found this event referenced in only one of my sources about Grace’s life.

unnamed

ME:

Is there a particular era in history that you prefer to write about? When it that? Or is it more important that your subject is a strong STEM woman?

LAURIE:

I’m more interested in the person than when she lived. So far, the women I’ve written about and/or researched for future books have lived in the 1800s and 1900s. By choice, I’m not writing about people who are still alive. Because of the limited word count of picture books, I’d rather be able to view someone’s entire lifetime of accomplishments before deciding which ones to include

ME:

Why do you write nonfiction picture books for children?

LAURIE:

Children absorb stereotypes about who should be a scientist or mathematician at a very early age. If all the people in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) biographies look the same, then children who are of a different sex, race, religion, etc. will assume that this is not a possible career path for them. By writing picture books, I can vaccinate children before they’ve been infected by these negative stereotypes.

hopper cover

ME:

If you have any special tips or thoughts for writers, teachers, parents…please share.

LAURIE:

My best advice for anyone interested in encouraging children to enter STEM is to show the fun side of these fields. Whether it’s through writing or engaging in activities with children, we can show counteract the idea that STEM is hard or boring or, most importantly, for someone else.

Thank you so very much, Laurie…I really appreciate you coming back to provide us with more wonderful insights.

And for all of you who want to find out more about Laurie and her awesome books or get in touch with her:

Click here to join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code.

Author Website: http://www.lauriewallmark.com/

And if you have a computer-loving kid at home, why not try Laurie’s clever cookie recipe.

GEAR-SHAPED COOKIES RECIPE

gear cookies

INGREDIENTS:

 Butter, softened: 1 and 1/2 cups

White sugar: 2 cups

Eggs: 4

Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon

All-purpose flour: 5 cups

Baking powder: 2 teaspoons

Salt: 1 teaspoon

Food coloring

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Make dough
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla
  4. Stir in dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Prepare dough for baking
  6. Separate dough into four or more batches
  7. Mix food coloring into each batch
  8. Shape each batch into a thick disk
  9. Chill disk for at least one hour (or overnight)
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
  11. Make cookies
  12. Cut dough into shapes using gear-shaped cookie cutters
  13. Make sure to use a lot of flour to keep dough from sticking
  14. Place cookies one-inch apart on ungreased (or parchment covered) cookie sheets
  15. Bake 6-8 minutes in preheated oven.

 This was so much fun! A huge confetti toss to Laurie for joining us.

Thank you all for stopping by…I love chatting with friends!

 

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

with crayon

GRETCHEN BRANDENBURG MCLELLAN

Gretchen is another writer I met in the Picture the Books 2017 group. Hurray for all of these wonderful stories that wonderful authors like Gretchen are bringing to life.  As a teacher and reading specialist, she delights in welcoming children into the magical world of reading.  As a book fairy, she enjoys slipping books under the pillows of readers that remind them of where they have been and take them to places they didn’t know they needed to go.   As a writer, she is excited about the coming publication of her picture books with Beach Lane and Peachtree. 

 Gretchen has lived on three continents and is an advocate for TCKs, Third Culture Kids, who grew up as global nomads, especially military brats like herself.  Children yearning for a home will find they belong in her picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels. Gretchen has settled in Washington State, where she lives with her husband, cat and dog and celebrates when her three children come home.

 book cover 1

Dear friends…you are in for a treat with this Q&A! Please leave a comment at the end to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3.

 Welcome, Gretchen! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us.

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

 GRETCHEN:

I loved A.A. Milne in all the adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss, and E.B.White’s Charlotte’s Web. I was a big-time Nancy Drew fan and had my own library with check out cards!

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

GRETCHEN:

I wish I had known that there is a writing Cupid.

So many factors need to fall into place to ultimately publish—factors that are out of a writer’s control. Rejection doesn’t mean that a story is unpublishable. It means that fickle Cupid was busy doing other matchmaking when the submission was read. Cupid needs to pierce the heart of the right editor at the right time with the right space on her list in the right company that will be so smitten with the story that they’ll find it a worthwhile investment. It’s all about love. And money. The publisher must believe that Cupid will strike the heart of the reading public and that they will put up cash to possess the book. 

Those are a lot of variables that a writer has no control over. All a writer can do is write, improve her craft, write, read, and write and read some more, and strive to get her work in Cupid’s quiver by going to conferences to make connections with agents and editors who are open to submissions. This involves a lot that is out of the comfort zone of most of us introverts. Cupid may strike during your open mike reading! All in all, the writer must persevere.

book event

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?

GRETCHEN:

I started writing for children when my own children were young  and continued while I worked full time as a reading specialist during their school years. I learned to snatch writing time wherever I could–in the car, in barns, on sports fields, even in the bathtub! Now that I am not multitasking so much, I really enjoy working in coffee shops with the happy hum of people around me. I’m not a picky superstitious  writer. I’ll write on anything, with any instrument, at any time. I’m messy and so is my process.   

kids in hard hats

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?

GRETCHEN:

I don’t follow a schedule. Maybe when I get organized….

ME: Why do you write for children?

GRETCHEN:

Writing for kids is one pure, unquestionable YES in my life. 

When I became a mother, one of the unexpected gifts was my reentry into the world of children’s literature. First, I fell totally in love with beauty and power and form of the picture book.  As a young mother and as a teacher, I was overwhelmed by what I and my children discovered in the experience of sharing picture books together.  We cherished our reading time. We bonded through laughter and tears and wonder. Reading was at the heart of how we lived and grew.

Frost wrote of poems that they begin in delight, but end in wisdom. So do most picture books. If the book is of any importance it will end in wisdom—often so profound that I am moved to tears.  The delight of a picture book is not just in the reading, but in the writing as well.  When a picture book idea arrives, it often comes with a shiver of excitement—a delight so surprising and vital that it carries me along on the magic carpet ride of creation from the beginning to the middle to the end—to story.

As my children grew, so did my love of easy readers and middle grade fiction and YA. Each genre gave me glimpses of myself and literary experiences I wish I had had as a child. Each genre gave me a bit of home I never had, and a sense of belonging I craved. In my own work, I hope I can give children and their adult readers opportunities to see themselves and their lives in my stories, to find a home too. I am particularly committed to making a room for children who have grown up as Third Culture Kids, especially military kids such as myself.

with kids

ME: Gretchen…this is fabulous. I love your focus on Third Culture Kids. And I love all that you shared with us, especially about how Cupid must pierce the heart of the editor who looks at our manuscript. I believe that is true!

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

GRETCHEN:

The book birthday party for Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3, I wanted the treats to be thematically related to my story—about the bittersweet. Mrs. McBee helps the kids in her classroom label their mixed emotions about the end of the school year. “Children, this is called a bittersweet moment. It’s like swirly ice cream with happy and sad twisted together. We’re sad about saying good-bye, but we’re happy about what’s ahead.” So my cookies are twisty ice cream cones, of course!\

cookie pic1

Basic Sugar Cookies—you can use your favorite. This is mine:

Whisk or sift in a bowl and set aside:

         2 and 3/4 cups unbleached flour

         1 teaspoon baking powder

         ½ teaspoon salt

In a mixer bowl beat:

         ¾ cup soft butter

And add:

         1 cup sugar

         2 eggs

         1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until fluffy, then add the flour mixture

Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll on floured board to desired thickness

Cut into your favorite shapes. I used a pastry cutter to make the diagonal lines on my cones before baking.

Bake on parchment paper for easy cleanup or on a greased cookie sheet  for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven, until a pale brown.

Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

I used Butter Cream Frosting for my swirls:

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ teaspoon salt

4-6 tablespoons scalded cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar

Beat until creamy. For a two-toned effect, divide frosting into two equal parts. Add 2 tablespoons cocoa for chocolate—or more.  Add the same quantity of powdered sugar to the vanilla to have equal consistency for swirling. You could use food coloring and other flavors as well!

Use a split pastry bag designed for swirls to decorate your ice cream cones! Enjoy!

cookie pic 2

WOW! These would be perfect for any kid’s party! Thanks so much, Gretchen.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by today. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend…don’t sit on any of those eggs the Easter bunny has left.

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Hmmmmm

about reading, writing & thinking children's books

Laura Boffa: Write of Way

Giving the way of writing the right of way

PICTURE the BOOKS

A Gallery of New Picture Book Talent

EMU's Debuts

From Deal to Debut: the Path to Publication

Wander, Ponder, Write

A KidLit Journey...

Picture Book House

reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

pernilleripp.wordpress.com/

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Norah Colvin

Live Love Laugh Learn . . . Create the possibilities

Beth Anderson, Children's Writer

Reader, Writer, Miner of Moments

Dan Szczesny

Travel Writer / Journalist / Author

Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's Author

The Stinky Backpack

Traveling the Everyday World

Write One Real Life

Where writing meets faith in the real world.

The Runaway Palate

Food. Travel. Cooking. Random musings.

The Reader and the Book

"O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught." Ralph Waldo Emerson

WRITERS' RUMPUS

Authors & Illustrators Wild About Kidlit!

One Good Thing

Teresa Robeson's 365-Day project

Tracy Campbell

Wacky World of Writing & Whimsical Works of Art

Jilanne Hoffmann

The Writer's Shadow

kidsbook friends

Check out this blog about children's books!

Mary Jo Beswick

Author and Illustrator of Children's Picture Books

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

Pattern Me Mommy

My journey from Type A know-it-all to MOMMY! by Anna Redding

READ to KIDS

PB author, poet, writing for kids

Friendly Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales and Poetry Celebrating Magic and Nature for Kids of all Ages

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Sharing and Celebrating Picture Books Since 2009

Stacy S. Jensen

Let's Read Picture Books Together

Reading With Rhythm

book reviews from Rhythm the Library Dog

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Nerdy Chicks Write

Get it Write this Summer!

Laura Sassi Tales

Celebrating writing, reading, and life.

Erika Wassall here... The Jersey Farm Scribe

Author, Freelance Writer, Entreprenur... LIVER of life

Angie Karcher

Writing Children's Books

Chapter Book Chat

A Writer Reviews Chapter Books, by Marty Mokler Banks

The Blabbermouth Blog

Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking

The Waiting

Turns out, it's not the hardest part.

Robyn Graham Photography

Capturing Life One Image at a Time

%d bloggers like this: