Category Archives: Will Write for Cookies

Mira Reisberg: Will Write/Teach/Edit for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Mira-pic-flowerTRANS

MIRA REISBERG

Aspiring authors and illustrators often ask: what are the steps you need to take to climb the ladder of success in this industry. There is one thing the pros all agree upon: HONE YOUR CRAFT. And one of the ways to do that is to take classes. In 2014, I jumped in with both feet and signed up for five different picture book writing classes. Towards the end of the year, I realized that even though I was ‘only a writer’, it might be helpful to get the perspective of an illustrator. I thought this would help me become a better writer, especially with my pacing and page turns. So, in December of 2014, I signed up for Mira Reisberg’s Illustrating Children’s Picture Books, and was thrilled to connect with the mentor I had admired from afar. The class rocked. I did learn more about pacing and page turns…and even gathered my courage and posted a thumbnail storyboard at one of the interactive webinars that were part of the class. And now I have three pbs debuting in 2019 and two in 2020.  

 

Mira Reisberg has helped MANY authors and illustrators get published. She has worn just about every hat in the industry including award-winning illustrator, author, and literary agent. Mira holds a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She has taught children’s literature courses at Washington State University, Northern Illinois University, San Francisco City College Extension, and UC Berkeley Extension. Mira also works as an acquiring editor and art director at Clear Fork Publishing’s children’s book imprint Spork. Receive free goodies from her at bit.ly/CBA-Gift  and learn about the Children’s Book Academy here http://bit.ly/CreateKidsBooks

Hello Mira…it is such a pleasure to have you here. I know everyone is anxious to get an inside peek at this publishing industry from an editor’s POV

Hi Vivian, thank you for having me here. It was such a pleasure having you in the course and I’m so delighted that we’ve stayed friends and that you’ve been so successful.

ME: And what luck for me, Mira, that I will get to hug you in person next year at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference in Sydney! I was lucky enough to take your Illustrating Picture Books class back in 2014. The content is fabulous. But can you tell us a bit about how you work with students in the course? Is it different from the way you work in your position as an editorial art director?

 

 MIRA: As you know I love helping people in a very hands-on, love-connected way. When I was a university professor, I wasn’t allowed to be so heart-centric but having my own school, I am. In both my teaching and art directing and editing I give very specific suggestions and provide examples. A long time ago I had a publisher who would just say “that’s not quite it yet,” which would make me crazy because I had no idea what “it” was. So I like to give very specific suggestions that the person can take or leave.

 

Our interactive courses, such as our upcoming illustration course, are very comprehensive with daily lessons that include worksheets and handouts for working with ideas, and creating children’s books along with video demonstrations teaching drawing, painting, collage, stamp making, dummy making, etc. along with interviews with experts sharing their techniques and experiences. It’s all the technical and business aspects of making a book and getting published.

 

There’s way too much to describe but besides sharing over 30 years of experience and learning in the biz, my favorite parts are about working directly with students in the courses and the folks that I acquire for Spork. In the courses, I get to do this through a very interactive Facebook group, the weekly live critiques, and the optional additional one-hour critiques that I do via shared-screen Skype and Photoshop. I do it this way so I can show and tell and teach at the same time.

 

In all aspects of my life, I am a teacher. In just the past 8 months I have art directed eight picture books from last year’s illustration course students including two writers who took the course and whose stories I fell in love with. I’ve developed a technique that I think has been very effective in art directing. I look at the work at each stage and make video critiques where I can literally point at things that I think can be strengthened. Sometimes I’ll take something into Photoshop and demonstrate how to make something recede or make a character cuter or play with body language and include that in the video as well. Then we’ll talk via email and also via Skype. It’s a wonderfully collaborative process where I often bring the author in as well because once the art stuff is happening the text often needs to change because it can be shortened or because the art will show that something isn’t clear in the text or that could be improved. I don’t want the author to be prescriptive about what the illustrator can or should do, but rather to have it be a collaborative love fest and it usually is.

ME: The Children’s Book Academy is a household word in our kidlit community. Why did you start CBA?

MIRA: The Children’s Book Academy started as the Picture Book Academy after I’d been a university professor teaching Kid Lit survey courses to future teachers and Children’s Book Writing and Illustration courses to graduate students. I didn’t like institutional teaching with grading and rubrics, where everyone needed to be on the same page at the same time. I really wanted to teach in a much more unconventional and love-centric way where people could learn at their own pace and in their own way and really help each other. I wanted my students to learn through pleasure and their own personal desire to grow and blossom, so I started the Academy. Because of my Ph.D. and university work, I knew how to set up comprehensive sequential systems of teaching and learning using scaffolding techniques, but the rest of it I developed myself through hard work and vertical learning curves. I am so grateful that it has paid off for our students.

 

ME: I know you’ve had a long and successful career as a mentor and teacher for kidlit. How have your own experiences as an author and illustrator, as well as an art director and editor and agent, helped you in your position as an instructor?

 

MIRA: I am very fortunate to have been in the business for over 30 years and to discover fairly early on my life’s work so that I could help others. I’m able to bring all of these experiences together to provide really rich experiences teaching both technique and business skills for my students to help them create fantastic books, many of which get published. I am so thrilled that my students have published over 220 books that I know of, and won many, many awards. It makes me feel like a proud mama.

72dpi-Spork-covers (2)this one

As a teacher, I continue helping my students long after the course ends as you can see in this video with just some of our now published students that we did a year ago – https://youtu.be/t3QRa3vovvI  With both the students that I hire to write and illustrate books for Spork, plus other now published former students, I’m doing all sorts of marketing stuff to help them succeed. It’s obvious, I do a little too much, but I truly love this work. I’m hoping to do less in the future but not sure how. I’ve also contracted two of my own books that I’ve written and am illustrating, which I’ll be sharing in the illustration course as well.

ME: What advice would you give aspiring authors and illustrators who are just starting their journey?

MIRA: There are three things I’d advise them to do. One, take courses like the Children’s Book Academy. The second is is to play, and experiment. If you take a playful approach rather than a work approach you’re going to be open to revising and experimenting, doing things over and over until you get your work where you want it to be. If you play and experiment, you’ll enjoy doing it more, you’ll get hooked on the endorphins and do it a lot, and this too will grow your skills. The third thing is to join a critique group so other eyes can see your work. We set these up for you in our interactive courses but you can also join a critique group through SCBWI.org, which is another fabulous resource for you.

ME: Oh WOW! This has been amazing, Mira! Lots of great insider info about the editing process and how your CBA Illustrating Chidren’s Picture Books class works. And I love your advice to play and experiment…I think sometimes we get so serious about our writing, we forget it needs to be fun!

MIRA: Vivian, thank you so much for interviewing me. I really got into this and it made me think about what I do and why. One of the things that came up for me is that when I die, I’ll go knowing that I’ve done a lot of good in the world, and that’s a wonderful thing.

ME: Oh my goodness…it’s always good to reflect on what we have accomplished as well as what we want to do as we move forward, Mira. But I’m planning on continuing our friendship for a good long time…so you’ll have decades more time to do more good things. 

And one good thing that appears at the end of our Write for Cookies post is always a recipe for a sweet treat. Since Mira doesn’t eat foods with gluten or with sugar, I’m sharing a link to a fabulous website with not one, not two, but FORTY Gluten-Free Sugar Free cookie recipes.

Paleo-Cookies-Horiz-728x381Photo courtesy: https://wholenewmom.com/recipes/paleo-cookies-sugar-free-cookies/

And dear friends, please let me know if you try any of them…I want to try ALL of them!

Thank you all for spending your precious time here – and I know we are all thanking Mira for stopping by. I hope this post gave you an inside peek at some of what goes on when a book is acquired by an editor. If  you are in search of online classes to help you hone your craft, I know Mira would be delighted to have you stop by CBA.  She often gives free webinars where she teams up with other editors to offer tips and techniques on writing picture books…and guess what? There is one coming soon:

webinar-jam-long-narrow-cbicb_1_orig

Katy Duffield: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

KD Candid Photo

KATY DUFFIELD

 

I’m having so much fun this year, featuring as many of the 2017 picture books as I can and shining a well-deserved spotlight on the authors and illustrators. I was thrilled to connect with Katy who is the award winning author of more than twenty-five children’s books including the picture books Farmer McPeepers and His Missing Milk Cows, illustrated by Steve Gray (Rising Moon Children’s Books), Loud Lula, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Two Lions, 2015), and Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Candlewick Press, 2017).

She has also written many nonfiction books for older readers, both fiction and nonfiction for many children’s magazines, and for several educational publishers. To connect with Katy and find out more about her writing, please visit her at www.katyduffield and follow her on Twitter at @KatyDuffield.

ME: Welcome, Katy! Thanks so much for powering down to earth to chat with us and share a bit of your writing journey. 

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

KATY: I don’t know that I had any favorite authors or illustrators when I was a child, but I DEFINITELY had plenty of favorite books. When I was in elementary school, the librarian would open the school library one day a week in the summer so students could check out books—and that was right down my alley! I checked and re-checked picture books like KATY NO-POCKETS, THE SEVEN CHINESE BROTHERS, MILLIONS OF CATS, and THE FUNNY LITTLE WOMAN. Aren’t librarians the greatest?

Loud Lula Final Cover

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

KATY: Oh so many things!

  1. That there are many different kinds of writing successes.
  2. That getting published can take a REALLY long time.
  3. That getting that first book published doesn’t mean you have it made. 🙂
  4. That it truly IS all about the journey.
  5. That letting a manuscript “rest” is one of the best things you can do.
  6. That studying (and typing out) picture books is a great way to learn how to write them.
  7. That kid lit folks are the kindest, most giving people ever.
  8. That you should follow your dreams—even if it looks like you’ll never reach them.
  9. That first drafts will always be hard.
  10. That revision is always where the magic happens.

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

KATY: Two of my favorite places to write are out on our back porch when the sea breeze is blowing  and in the living room in my favorite chair. But when I’m doing some serious nonfiction research/writing, you can find me camped out in our guest bedroom/office with my research books spread all over the desk and spilling over onto the floor.

View From My Back Porch

 This is the view from our back porch. Looks like I need to refill the bird feeder!

I write almost  exclusively on my laptop, and when I’m writing nonfiction, I pair my laptop with an external monitor—it’s nonfiction writing/researching heaven (thanks to my professor son for that tip)!

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

KATY: My “best” writing comes mid-morning to mid-afternoon, I think. I like to do my devotional reading and have a quiet time first thing in the morning (after taking the dog out!), and then I usually walk or ride my bike. Only then is my mind right to get to work. I also write sometimes in the evenings—especially if I’m obsessing over revisions—and I’ve been known to get up in the middle of the night and write if something clicks at a late hour.

ME: Why do you write for children?

KATY: It sounds simplistic, but I love kids. I love hearing kids laugh. I love seeing the world through kids’ eyes. I have a three-year-old granddaughter and it’s so much fun to hear her unique take on things. Kids amaze me. It is such an honor for me to be able to write something that kids read.

And I ADORE picture books—and the people who create them. I’d much rather read a stack of picture books than the latest best-selling adult novel. I make the 45-minute (one-way) trek to the public library on a regular basis and come home with stacks of picture books.

Picture books are jam-packed with wisdom and insight and goodness—in these succinct, tight little packages. It’s astounding when you think about it!

ME: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! These are wonderful insights, Katy! But I know you aren’t finished giving us sweet things to think about.

KATY: My Mom called these “Hello Dollies,” but in keeping with a Little Alien theme, we’ll call them “Mars Bars.”)

Mars Bars image

This is serious, gooey goodness!

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle coconut onto crust, then sprinkle on the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over all.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes. Check frequently and do not overbake.

Cool and cut into small squares.

Definitely Alien Awesomeness!

Thanks, everyone, for spending your precious time with us here. Leave a comment to be entered into the book giveaway. And don’t forget that leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other book review sites is a great gift to your favorite authors!

Alien Cover Medium jpeg copy

 

Annette Bay Pimentel: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

2016 Head shot

ANNETTE BAY PIMEMTEL

One of my favorite things to do is to check out the blogs of authors, illustrators, and educators…I always find amazing resources and amazing people! Last year, when I hopped over to our guest’s website, I fell in love with her books and with her mission to bring history alive for young children.

Last year, Mountain Chef  (Charlesbridge, 2016) which next month will be awarded the National Council of Social Studies’ Carter G. Woodson Award. Here’s the link.  Next year, Girl Running  (Nancy Paulsen: 2018), and the year after that, Ann Brooks Goes West (with her piano) (Nancy Paulsen: 2019)…I hope Annette never stops!

Welcome, Annette! Thanks so much for stopping by to chat. I know my readers are excited to hear more about your writing journey.

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

ANNETTE: My first grade teacher read us the new Richard Scarry Busytown mysteries (oh how I age myself!) and I was totally entranced by his vision of a town filled with all sorts of different creatures with different backstories and different motivations that could be uncovered. Obviously his story was fiction, but in some ways it seemed more true to the multi-cultural city I lived in than the Sally, Dick, and Jane books that were our usual fare.

Girl Running cover

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

ANNETTE: I wish I’d known that—at least so far!—I would never discover the secret that would make it easy. Every project has its own challenges and problems—but also its own pleasures and delights.

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

ANNETTE: I write at my treadmill desk. My handwriting is horrible, so I draft on the computer, though I do at least one revision by hand, sometimes with literal scissors and tape.

treadmill

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

ANNETTE: I write during the day while my children are at school.

ME: Why do you write for children?

ANNETTE: I love the magic that happens when artist and writer collaborate, so picture books feel like the most wonderful spot in the publishing world.

ME: Thank you so very much, Annette. And I agree…it is definitely magic when artist and writer meet and create a wonderland for kids! Kind of like a batch of the Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies you gave of the recipe for!

ANNETTE: Here’s a recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies, based on a recipe by Mollie Katzen in her wonderful cookbook, Still Life with Menu. My family desperately wishes I had a photo of them to send you, as they would like to eat them, but no time to bake them up now.

Cream together:

3/4 c. butter

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

 

Mix in: 

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. peppermit extract

Add:

1 1/2 c. white flour

1/4 c. cocoa

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Bake about 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

cover mountain chef

To find out more about Annette: annettepimentel@gmail.com

Dear friends…thank you for stopping by and spending your precious time with Annette and me. Annette is generously offering a copy of Mountain Chef…so don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.  And also don’t forget to leave reviews for your favorite authors on Amazon and Goodreads.

And an update on our visit to Mass General in Boston…Stuart’s cardiac catherization went well…and we should be bringing him home later today!!! Thanks to all who kept us close to their hearts and sent loving thoughts and healing prayers.

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