Will Write for Cookies: Callie Metler Smith PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

headshot

 

TODAY’S GUEST

CALLIE METLER-SMITH

 

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.

hOW TO BABSIT A LOGAN

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.

workspace

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.

BENS WEST TEXAS SNOW

 

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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

Cocca-Leffler_MaryAnn-2018a_RGB

 

TODAY’S GUEST

MARYANN COCCOA-LEFFLER

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

Will Write for Cookies: JULIE ABERY Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

julieabery-2

TODAY’S GUEST

 

JULIE ABERY

Today’s guest holds a special place in my heart. I got to know her when she submitted an entry to the first #50PreciousWords Writing Contest in 2016. Now she is a Storm Literary Agency teammate and the author of TWO debut picture books in 2019…plus more in the pipeline.

Julie Abery is a children’s author and Pre-K teacher. Originally from England, she has spent half of her life living in Europe, bringing up her three (now grown up) children and experiencing new languages and cultures. She now calls Switzerland home.

Julie is looking forward to welcoming: her debut board books Little Tiger and Little Panda publishing in Spring 2019 with Amicus Ink with a further two in the Amicus Little Animal Friends series publishing in Spring 2020 ; a nonfiction picture book biography entitled Yusra Swims from Creative Editions (TBA); a true story Mr. Joao and Dindim the Penguin, Kids Can Press (Fall 2020) and a nonfiction picture book Sakamoto and the Sugar-Ditch Kids from Kids Can Press (Spring 2021). She is represented by Essie White of Storm Literary Agency. You can find out more about her on her website: https://littleredstoryshed.wordpress.com/ and connect with her on Twitter or on Facebook: @julieabery

little tiger cover

ME: WELCOME, my friend! It is an absolute pleasure and thrill to have you here. I know my readers want to get to know you a little bit better. Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

JULIE: As a child I loved to read the Amelia Jane books by Enid Blyton. Amelia Jane was a big rag doll with a bright red dress and corkscrew curls. I had a few books in the series… but Naughty Amelia Jane! was my favorite. As the title says, she was naughty and loved to play tricks on the other toys! I was never naughty, of course, just for the record! The book was a compilation of short stories, which were well read and very much loved.

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

JULIE: Probably that writing picture books isn’t as easy as it looks! I sometimes look back at my early work and wonder how I really thought that it was good enough to share with an agent.

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

JULIE: I have my writing table in the lounge, in front of the windows overlooking the garden. I like to watch the birds while I work. I have notebooks too, so I work with pen and paper first and then I transfer onto my laptop.

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

JULIE: I am an early bird, so most of my writing is done in the daytime, although when I am puzzling on rhymes I have been known to wake up in the early hours with the complete stanza in my head, and sometimes the perfect rhyme and meter comes to me when I am out jogging with my dog, so I need a notepad or phone on hand to jot everything down.

little panda cover

ME: Why do you write for children?

JULIE: I love picture books and, as a teacher, I have been fortunate to have a career sharing stories and singing songs with hundreds of children from around the world. Through those years, picture books have been my friends and allies bringing rhyme, rhythm and repetition to the ears of young EAL students. It is the magic that picture books create for children that inspires me to write.

 

ME: Do you have any thoughts for aspiring authors?

JULIE: Read lots. Write lots. Take courses to learn more about your craft. Share your writing with a critique group, listen to what they have to say and revise – lots. And most of all be persistent and patient, because perfecting your story may take longer than you think.

YAY! Persistent! Patience! And read and write and revise! The magic formula, right? Although there is probably nothing magic about it…just hard work and determination. Thank you so much, Julie. I loved having you, and I know you have one more treat for us. And I saw the word ‘ginger’ in the name of the treat, so I know this is something I am going to LOVE!

JULIE:

ginger fairings

GINGER FAIRINGS

85 grams of butter

1 tablespoon golden syrup

170 grams of flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

85 grams fine sugar

Melt the butter and syrup in a pan over a gentle heat. Sift the flour, bicarb., ginger and add these to the melted mixture with the sugar. Mix well. Form the mixture into small balls, using a rounded teaspoon of the mixture for each. Put balls onto an ungreased baking tray, leaving space for each to spread.

Bake in a moderately hot oven, about 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for approx. 8 – 12 minutes or until golden. Leave on the tray to stiffen slightly before placing on a cooling rack.

Oh my goodness! I do love any cookie with ginger. I hope you all give this one a try. In a week or so, I’m going to be hugging Julie in person…how lucky I am! But meanwhile, I’m giving away a copy of each of Julie’s two 2019 board books, LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA to one lucky winner. And if you share on Twitter or Facebook or other social media, please do let me know and I will add another entry for you.

Until the next post (Little Tiger and Little Panda’s book birthday on March 12), I hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend. Right now, I am in Auckland, NZ, reading Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book to a lovely group of little kiddos at a local Auckland library.

auckland library flyer

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.

Suzy Leopold: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INFORMATION, INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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SUZY LEOPOLD

Whenever I think of Suzy, I think of flowers. She is well-known in the kidlit community as the official giver of the most beautiful flower photos. If someone is sick or in need of cheering up…if someone has just gotten a book contract or signed with an agent, Suzy gifts them with virtual flowers. Birthday, anniversary, you name it, this lovely lady finds the perfect bouquet. I’ve known Suzy online for several years and was fortunate enough to meet her in person last summer at the WOW writing retreat. And she is even sweeter in person!

flowers on piano

When I asked Suzy for a bio, this is what she wrote:

I am a wife who is adored by my husband, Perry. We are proud parents to five boys and three daughters in law. Pa Perry and Oma Sue [grandparents] adore their seven sweet, smart, and sometimes sassy grandkids, who reside in Texas. I am an educator of hundreds of students, from preschool through eighth grade, including college level students, administrators and colleagues. Currently I teach a Reading course at Lincoln Land Community College and share summer school and after school reading and writing lessons in our community.

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, a Bilingual certification, Reading Recovery certificate, and a Master’s of Science in Reading.

My husband and I are organic gardeners on the Illinois prairie, who enjoy cooking and baking for family and friends. I am a reader and a writer. I am a painter of acrylics & watercolors and a creative crafter. I am a cyclist on a pink Marin Portofina. The proprietor of Afterwords Book Store calls me a reading extraordinaire, as I participate in story time and share the love of reading.

Leaving the world a better place is important to me.

Read, write & create every day.

yellow flower

WOW! And now you know why I love her! And why, when I had an opening in my blog schedule, I invited her to share her knowledge and her spirit with all of us.

Welcome, Suzy! I’m so happy to have you stop by today. I know you are going to chat about the importance of writing in journals. Thanks to you, yesterday we had a journal-making craft to go along with the Perfect Picture Book Friday selection which was a book you use in your classroom.

So, please take it away!

As a reader, writer, and an educator I use journals. I have a collection of them. Journals help me stay organized and become an excellent resource to refer to over time.

There are many purposes for keeping a journal or two or more. A journal has many functions and uses. Some of my journals list numerous book titles, including summaries, and my thoughts and recommendation about books. Many of my journals include tips, ideas, titles of mentor texts, even rough drafts for my fiction and nonfiction stories I write. I use journals to write notes about my students’ and their progress. My students and I keep reading and writing skills and strategies in classroom journals that become interactive notebooks.

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Let me share some more ideas with you on how to keep a journal and encourage children to do so as well. Parents are our children’s first teacher. Empowering parents and guardians with tips and tools needed to support their child’s learning at home and at school, prepares the child for a successful future.

Many readers keep a journal to write about books. A journal is an excellent place to create a reading log of books being read. Scribe your thoughts about the book. Write a quick book report. Summarize and evaluate the book. Would you recommend the book to others? A journal can be used as a wish list of titles a reader wants to read. A double-entry journal, is a way to share, read and respond while rotating the journal between two writers. Most often a double-entry journal dialogue is between a teacher and a student or a parent and a child. These journals become a written conversation for learning, growing, and reflection.

Many writers use journals to create stories. Consider recording ideas, information, data and facts, or rhyming words about topics you wish to write about or are currently researching and writing. Many students and writers brainstorm thoughts and make lists in a journal. A journal can be used for pre writing. Make it spontaneous and write in a first draft form. Try a strategy referred to as quick writing. It is an informal ramble of words on paper to develop and generate ideas. Create a graphic organizer. Jot down words and more words. Just focus on your thinking and ideas; not grammar and spelling. The revisions and editing can follow later.

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Many people, young and old, keep journals-artists, students, teachers, librarians, gardeners, farmers, athletes, politicians, scientists, writers, chefs, and many more. Writing in a journal is an excellent place to jot down personal experiences, thoughts, favorite quotes, and Bible scriptures. The journal may turn into a mini scrap book filled with memories. Add mementos and ephemera. Doodle. Sketch. Be creative. Most writers use a journal to record everyday events and topics that interest them. These journals may include daily entries that record news and events that are personal in nature. They are private and not intended for others to read as one writes about personal experiences, thoughts and dreams, turning the journal into a diary.

Journals come in a variety of sizes and styles, making them portable. Carry one in your purse or backpack. Use a variety of writing implements. You can use more than a pencil. Try writing with colored pencils, markers, or even a collection of rainbow colored pens.

leo inventions

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci kept over forty notebooks? He wrote about his activities, and recorded plans for his engineering projects. If Meriwether Lewis had not kept a journal, while exploring across North America, we would not have a glimpse of his travels, during the time he lived, nor the geographical information that he recorded in his journal. The beloved, best known child diary, The Diary of Anne Frank, was written while Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.

anne frank

Don’t place limits on what you write and put in your journal or notebook. Reading and writing are reciprocal. Reading and writing are thinking. If readers are writers and writers are readers, then all readers and writers should keep at least one journal.

YAY! Thanks so much, Suzy! I’m definitely a paper person. I love journals…and especially love the one you made for me. And I’m so excited you are giving away a personalized journal as a prize today! 

my journal

To find out more about Suzy:

Grog Blog: https://groggorg.blogspot.com/2017/02/meet-jennifer-ward-by-suzy-leopold.html

Through the Prairie Garden Gate: http://sleopoldblog.wordpress.com

Twitter:  SuzyK5

Facebook: suzy.leopold

I’m also excited about the yummy recipe she is sharing! The floor is yours, Suzy…or should I say, the kitchen!

journals group

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup softened butter

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

Instructions:

Mix sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix thoroughly, set aside. Mix flour and dry ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 375°. Divide dough in half and roll 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutter; sprinkle with sugar. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until delicately golden. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. While they may not last long, these cookies can be wrapped in stored in the freezer.

Please leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway – you might be the lucky winnr of a personaized journal from Suzy!

Have a safe and happy weekend, everyone!