Laura Roettiger: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

 

LauraRoettiger Headshot 2019

TODAY’S GUEST

LAURA ROETTIGER

 

Happy 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Walk, folks! Our special guest knows all about reaching for the moon…she’s the author of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON.

One of my favorite things is to meet kidlit friends in person. Happily, that happened not too long ago with this wonderful lady. Laura and I had been Facebook friends. Then we found ourselves in the same debut picture book author group. And when we realized she was going to be passing near my house on her way to a writing retreat, we knew we had to make a get-together happen! We did…and it was wonderful!

Laura Roettiger is the author of Aliana Reaches for the Moon, a picture book that draws inspiration from the moon and the curiosity of children. She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL (where my son and his family live) before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (where I lived for 18 years) where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for literacy at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. She has three children of her own (I have three children also…this is uncanny) whose curiosity and creativity led them into STEM related professions.

AlianaReachesfortheMoon-ebook

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

LAURA: Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Vivian! I’m thrilled that we were able to meet in person in June and your contribution to the Kidlit community continues to amaze and impress me. So happy to have you as a friend.

ME: The feeling is mutual, Laura…that’s for sure! We talked about a lot of things when we meet, but here are some questions we didn’t cover. And I know everyone wants to hear your answers. Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

LAURA: I have so many happy memories reading as a child. I loved reading all the Ramona, Beezuz, and Henry books by Beverly Cleary. RAMONA THE PEST was my favorite of all because when she takes a bite from each apple in the bushel, I could imagine what that would feel like and how much trouble I would be in if I tried something like that. She was a very relatable character for me as a little sister.

My favorite book of childhood was ALL OF A KIND FAMILY, by Sydney Taylor because it had so many similarities to my family and made me feel even closer to my grandma.

I also have wonderful memories of reading AMELIA BEDELIA, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and CHARLOTTE’S WEB at school.

inside spread

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

LAURA: I wish I had found SCBWI right away. I knew there must be a group for picture book writers, but it took me a year of writing to discover it. My local chapter is a strong group of amazing authors and illustrators who I have been fortunate to support and be supported by. Whenever anyone says, “I want to write a book” or “I have an idea for a children’s book,” I suggest they join SCBWI.

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

LAURA: I start writing by hand whether it’s a draft, research, or a brainstorm of words but then I switch to my laptop because it’s easier to organize and less likely to get buried in the archeological dig of paper on my desk.

I usually write in my dining room which is 99% my writing room and only called ‘the dining room’ because the furniture was originally purchased for that purpose. I have a desk that overlooks the forest, but I usually sit at the table which allows me views of a beautiful painting that belonged to my parents, the underside of a log staircase, and a floor to ceiling view of nature.

My creative work often happens when I am hiking or driving in the canyon. I use voice to text and text myself notes all the time. It’s fun to go back and look through my notes and hopefully remember what I was thinking. I’ve written poems, entire scenes, and thought of just the right word for revisions while I’m in nature.

charlie dog

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

LAURA: I try to write in the morning, but never early and only after breakfast and coffee. I know there are plenty of people who get up at 5am and write for an hour while their house is quiet, but I am definitely not one of them. If I hike or workout in the morning, I’m also productive in the afternoon or right after dinner. Rarely do I write something late at night that looks great in the light of the following day. I don’t write every day, but I try to do something writing adjacent every day such as researching agents, reading writing craft books, blogs, or mentor texts, or critiquing. All of these things are part of the process.

laura photography

ME: Why do you write for children?

LAURA: I have spent most of my adult life reading with children as a parent and a teacher. I love children’s literature and I love the way children view the world. When I was a reading specialist, I wrote stories for and with my students. I never wrote them with the expectation of publishing but I ALWAYS wanted to be a writer. Writing for children seems like a natural fit for me given my experience as a reading specialist.

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ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear. 🙂

LAURA: Vivian, you and I kindred spirits in so many ways. We both put our hearts and souls into children at home and at work. We understand how important that work is and continue that through our writing for children. We also both know how important it is to share our knowledge with others and encourage fellow writers along the way.

My advice for writers, which I am sure you have also shared many times: Join SCBWI. Learn about craft whether that’s through online classes or groups (such as Julie Hedlund’s 12×12), attending conferences and workshops, listening to writing podcasts, and reading craft books. Find critique partners who will help your writing shine and don’t be afraid to revise. Read extensively in the genre you write in. The more you read, the better you understand the market and the better your writing will be.

My advice for parents and educators: Enjoy reading with your children. Let them see you read for pleasure and information. When I worked in an at-risk pre-K program, I was admonished for bringing the newspaper in to read while the children napped. I was right next to my napping charges and didn’t understand what harm would happen if they woke up and saw me reading! I was told I could only read when I was off the clock. Clearly the administration didn’t understand the value of modeling.

We all process information differently so don’t judge what children are reading; encourage them to love reading and they will read more. I always said I didn’t want to teach my students to read. I wanted to teach them to love reading.

My advice to anyone who wants to support authors: Buy books if you can, but also talk about books you love, ask your library to purchase them, write reviews on GoodReads and Amazon. Word of mouth and reviews are both very important ways to help books you love be recognized and loved by others.

back cover

ME: Laura, I love all of your advice. All. Of. It. And I thank you so very much for spending all of this time with us.

To find out more about Laura and her books:

Website: LauraRoettigerBooks.com

Blog: https://lauraroettigerbooks.com/blog/

Aliana Reaches for the Moon

Facebook Page

Twitter: @ljrwritenow

Instagram @AlianaReachesfortheMoon or @ljrwritenow

ME: And here is an OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD sweet treat recipe – take it away, Laura!

LAURA: The pumpkin bread recipe is from a preschool cookbook we made for a fundraiser when my kids were little, so I’ve been making it for a long time. The original recipe calls for 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, and 2/3 cup chopped nuts but I make it with fresh cranberries and chocolate chips and omitted those ingredients. I often include the spices and use only cranberries or chocolate chips and it always comes out delicious so feel free to experiment on those things.

Pumpkin Bread (makes 2 loaves)

2/3 cup butter softened

2 2/3 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling

2/3 cup water

3 1/3 – 3 2/3 cups flour (it should be creamy but not watery)

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2/3 12 ounce bag tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips (this is a guess because I never measure)

2/3 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries (I actually stock up on these around Thanksgiving and keep a bunch in my freezer)

 Preheat oven to 350. Grease or use cooking spray on two loaf pans.

Using beaters, cream butter and sugar together. Mix in eggs. Add water and pumpkin and blend well. Add baking soda, salt, and baking powder and mix again. Add flour and mix well. If it looks to watery, add additional flour. Now, by hand mix in chocolate chips and cranberries. Pour into two pans and bake 70 minutes. I usually check the oven at 60 minutes and sometimes it even goes a bit longer than 70 minutes to make sure the center is completely cooked.

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Thank you so much, Laura…this looks quite yummy. And thank you, everyone, for sticking around till the end. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of Laura’s wonderful new book, ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON.

And please make sure to be back tomorrow for an ultra special Sunday post that includes an inside look at the journey of self-published author Carmen Gloria, whose lovely Kid’s Astronomy Series has a new book, just in time for this special celebration of space…plus a giveaway of Dear Pluto. And Carmen has a special gift for all of us: click on the link: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/ and you can DOWNLOAD FOR FREE a Kindle ebook version of Dear Pluto…JUST FOR THIS SPECIAL MOON-LANDING WEEKEND!!!

 

 

 

 

Gayle C. Krause: Will Write for Cookies plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

GAYLE C. KRAUSE

I run into today’s Will Write for Cookies guest at so many kidlit online forums, and I even got to meet her at a conference a couple of years ago. But I got to know her a bit better through our interactiion in the #PictureBookBuzz debut picture book author group this year with her beautiful book, DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON?

As a Master Educationalist, Gayle C. Krause has taught Children’s Literacreative writing, and storytelling techniques to prospective teachers and children’s authors. Her work has been nominated for the Boston Globe /Horn Book and The International Reading Association Award. She’s a PAL member of SCBWI, the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, a past member of the Historical Novel Society, and The Poets’ Garage. She serves on Angie Karcher’s Rhyming Revolution Committee, selecting the best nationally acclaimed rhyming picture book award from 2015-2018. Ms. Krause writes Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels. Rebecca Angus of Golden Wheat Literary Agency represents her. You can find the latest news about her books at www.gayleckrause.com Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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!

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Alien Cover Medium jpeg copy