Category Archives: Will Write for Cookies

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

with crayon

GRETCHEN BRANDENBURG MCLELLAN

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

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

 book cover 1

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

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

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

 GRETCHEN:

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

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

GRETCHEN:

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

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

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

book event

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

GRETCHEN:

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

kids in hard hats

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

GRETCHEN:

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

ME: Why do you write for children?

GRETCHEN:

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

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

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

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

with kids

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

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

GRETCHEN:

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

cookie pic1

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

Whisk or sift in a bowl and set aside:

         2 and 3/4 cups unbleached flour

         1 teaspoon baking powder

         ½ teaspoon salt

In a mixer bowl beat:

         ¾ cup soft butter

And add:

         1 cup sugar

         2 eggs

         1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until fluffy, then add the flour mixture

Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll on floured board to desired thickness

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

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

Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

I used Butter Cream Frosting for my swirls:

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ teaspoon salt

4-6 tablespoons scalded cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar

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

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

cookie pic 2

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

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

Lori Richmond: Will Write for Cookies plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

LORI RICHMOND

 Lori Richmond is a corporate creative director turned picture book maker. She is the author-illustrator of PAX AND BLUE (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books) and BUNNY’S STAYCATION (Scholastic), which debuts in 2018. Lori is also the illustrator of A HOP IS UP (Bloomsbury) and two more picture books coming in 2018. As a former contributing editor and spokesperson for leading pregnancy and parenting brand, The Bump, Lori has appeared as an expert on TODAY, Good Morning America, CNN, and more. She lives and creates with her family in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about Lori at www.LoriDraws.com

 I met up with Lori here and there around kid-lit-land…but really got to know her when we both joined up with the 2017 debut picture book author group, Picture the Books

And even though my debut picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah, has been pushed to next year, they are still letting me hang out with them.

 Which is a really good thing, because I like them all so much!

 book cover

Just a reminder that Lori has graciously agreed to do a giveaway of a copy of PAX AND BLUE. I reviewed it yesterday. Make sure you leave a comment below. And if you haven’t already joined my email list, please click on the sidebar logo. I promise not to send you any junk…just good stuff.

 And now, let’s welcome our guest, author/illustrator Lori Richmond!

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

 LORI:

I have early memories of staring for hours at the work of Steven Kellogg — especially his book TALLYHO, PINKERTON! I was so amazed by all the detail in his line work. I also loved Shel Silverstein’s books, which I would always read while visiting my aunt’s house. As I got older, I was really into the Nancy Drew mysteries and, of course, Sweet Valley High!

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

LORI:

I’m new to writing, so I feel like I haven’t earned enough stripes yet to confidently answer this question. Writing is hard! You have to give it time. Your first drafts will be truly awful, and you have to push through it to get to the good stuff. Find people that you trust to give you feedback, and don’t take anything personally.

reading to kids

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?

LORI:

I’m still looking for the best spot! I’ve done all of the above, with mixed results.

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

LORI:

This is another one I am still figuring out. I am in a shared studio space called Friends Work Here that has a ton of beautiful natural light. I think my best creative time tends to be in the morning, so I try to plan my day so that drawing and writing is done in the first half of the day, and I save other tasks for later on. But I do have the Evernote app on both my laptop and my phone, so whenever an idea strikes I can quickly jot it down and save it.

workspace

ME: Why do you write for children?

LORI:

Young readers are introduced to different kinds of writing and art for the first time through picture books, and reading picture books can start a lifelong love of literature and art for a child. How incredibly special to be a part of that. I feel extremely fortunate to be creating books, and I hope that my work inspires even just one child.

reading with kids 2

ME: Lori, 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.

LORI:

For aspiring writers doing this as a second, third, or even fourth career, it is never too late! I started writing and illustrating picture books when I was 20+ years into my career as a corporate Creative Director. With kids and life and everything else, you really have to make an effort to put in the time — and it’s not always easy. Just do what you can, and be consistent in your practice. It will pay off!

To educators and librarians, thank you for all that you do. You are heroes!

THANK YOU SO MUCH, LORI! I AGREE WITH YOU 100% about educators and librarians being heroes! And also about it never being too late…look at me!!!! I didn’t really get serious about writing picture books until 5 years ago.

You can visit Lori at www.LoriDraws.com

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

Lori says,

As for the cookie — I am NOT a cook so I can’t provide a recipe. 🙂  But my favorites are homemade Rice Krispie Treats and Girl Scout Thin Mints (in the refrigerator.)

I thought about what recipe we could give you all, dear readers. And guess what? I found a Rice Krispie Treat recipe on the Kellogg’s website that is PERFECT for next month!

HIDDEN SURPRISES RICE KRISPIE TREAT EASTER EGGS

kicfileasset-100904_rk_hiddensurpriseeastereggtreats_3

https://www.ricekrispies.com/en_US/recipes/hidden-surprise-easter-egg-treats-recipe.htmlHidden Surprise Easter Egg Treats™

Give these Easter egg-shaped goodies a shake to hear the tasty surprise inside – M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies!

Prep Time: 20 min

Total Time: 40 min

Servings: 12

NUTRITION INFO

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoonsbutter or margarine
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40)JET-PUFFED Marshmallows
  • OR
  • 4 cupsJET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows
  • 6 cupsKellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1/2 cupM&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies
  • Canned frosting or decorating gel (optional)
  • 12Plastic snap-apart 3 x 2-in Easter eggs

Directions

  1. Clean, then coat inside of plastic eggs with cooking spray. Set aside.2. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add JET-PUFFED Marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

    3. Add KELLOGG’S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

    4. Using greased hands, firmly press 1/4 cup of the cereal mixture into each plastic egg half. Use fingers to make hollow center in each half. Remove from molds. Place on wax paper. Cool slightly.

    5. Place about 6 M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies in one half of each egg. Gently press two halves of each egg together until they stick. Cool completely.

    6. Decorate with frosting and additional M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies (if desired). Best if served the same day.

    MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS:Follow step 1 above. In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Follow steps 3 through 6 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.

    Notes:
    For best results, use fresh marshmallows.

    1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.

    Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.

    Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container.

WOW! Aren’t these perfect?

Let’s all give Lori a big round of applause! As a writer, I also love getting the inside peek into the perspective of someone who also illustrates!

And please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of PAX AND BLUE.

inner page

Have a beautiful weekend…and Happy April Fool’s Day, dear friends.

Will Write for Cookies: Lori Degman PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

LORI DEGMAN

Many of you know that I’m a lover of rhyme and a fan of rhyming picture books. So when Lori Degman agreed to participate in Will Write for Cookies, I was thrilled.

Lori Degman writes in rhyme, most of the time – but not always.  She is the award winning author of  1 Zany Zoo, illustrated by Colin Jack (Simon & Schuster, 2010 – Winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest, Illinois Reads featured title, and South Carolina Picture Book Award Nominee); Cock-a-Doodle Oops!, illustrated by Deborah Zemke (Creston Books, 2014 – International Literacy Association Honor Book); Norbert’s Big Dream, illustrated by Marco Bucci (Sleeping Bear Press, 2016); and the forthcoming Just Read (Sterling, 2018). Lori lives near Chicago – home of the World Champion Cubs! (She says she is sorry about the plug, but it’s been such a LONG wait!) 

Before we begin with the Q&A, I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of Lori’s newest picture book, Norbert’s Big Dream, so please stick with us throughout the post and then leave a comment at the end. How about telling us what your biggest dream was when you were a kid.

norbert-cover

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

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

 LORI:

My favorite picture book authors & illustrators were Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, PD Eastman, William Steig, Shel Silverstein & Else Holmelund Minarik. 

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

LORI:

I first started writing before the Internet existed (I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty old) so I’d never heard of SCBWI and I had no idea there was a whole kid-lit community out there.  I think, if I’d known about SCBWI, it wouldn’t have taken so long to get published – or maybe it would have, but I’d have had more fun along the way!

 zany-zoo-cover

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

LORI:

I always write on my laptop – I type faster than I write and I don’t usually have trouble reading it later.  I flip-flopped my living and dining rooms and now my dining room table is by the front window, so I can look outside while I write.  I’ve become a bit of a Gladys Kravitz (the <40’s can look her up), but that’s part of the fun!

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

LORI:

I do my best writing in the morning – unless I’m totally inspired, then I can write anytime!  I still teach full-time (this is my last year!), so I do most of my original writing in the summer and on breaks and I mostly revise during the school year.  Sadly, I go for long stretches when I can’t get any writing done – but that’s going to change in June. 

ME: Why do you write for children?

LORI:

The main reason I write for kids is to make them laugh and instill a love of books!  When my sons were young, I read to them all the time and they loved the funny books best.  I really wanted to write books I could read to them that would make them laugh! (unfortunately, they were in their 20s by the time my first book was published).  I love knowing there are kids reading my books and hopefully enjoying them! 

oops

ME: Lori, 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.

LORI:

My advice to aspiring writers is to join SCBWI, get into a critique group with writers whose opinions you value, write – write – write, and don’t give up!

My advice for parents and teachers is to let kids focus more on story-telling and less on the mechanics for their first drafts.  There’s always time to go back and clean things up!

Lori, thank you so very much…it’s been an honor to have you here!

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

Website – http://loridegman.com/loridegman.com/Home.html

Blog – http://loridegman.blogspot.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lori.degman

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LoriDegman

Okay friends…you know what they say…it’s not over until the cookie recipe is shared!

LORI:

I’m not a good baker – I think it’s because I’m not precise enough, so the desserts I make are usually no-bake or things that don’t rely on precision.  The closest thing to a cookie that I make is called a Cheese Blintz Roll-up.  I make them every year for Thanksgiving and they’re gone in minutes!  I don’t have any pictures of them and I didn’t want to make a whole batch because I’d eat them all, so I found a picture that looks just like them on the website Amish365.com. 

cookie

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1 egg yolk

¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp lemon juice

1 large loaf of white bread

1-2 sticks of butter

¾ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350. Cut the crust off the bread and flatten the slices using a rolling pin.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, egg yolks, white sugar and lemon juice.
  3. Spread the mixture over each slice of bread and roll up the bread to enclose the filling.
  4. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  5. Melt the butter and brush it on all sides of each roll and then roll them in the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.
  6. Place the rolls on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least three hours. Cut logs into thirds after frozen and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

OH MY GOSH! I’d make these immediately, but I am missing several of the ingredients…white bread, butter, cream cheese…not my usual fare…HOWEVER…I think I need to give this one a try…it sounds somewhat decadent, rich, and…perfect for a long night of revision.

And while I’m enjoying one of these treats with a cup of tea, I’ll be reading your comments and then Random.org will choose the winner of a copy of Norbert’s Big Dream. Don’t forget to share what YOUR biggest dream was when you were a kid.

Dear friends, thank you for spending your time with Lori and me…next week I’ll have another wonderful guest as I turn the spotlight on one of the debut picture book authors of 2017: Andrea Loney. Don’t miss it!

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Hmmmmm

about reading, writing & thinking children's books

Laura Boffa: Write of Way

Giving the way of writing the right of way

PICTURE the BOOKS

A Gallery of New Picture Book Talent

EMU's Debuts

From Deal to Debut: the Path to Publication

Wander, Ponder, Write

A KidLit Journey...

Picture Book House

reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

pernilleripp.wordpress.com/

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Norah Colvin

Live Love Laugh Learn . . . Create the possibilities

Beth Anderson, Children's Writer

Reader, Writer, Miner of Moments

Dan Szczesny

Travel Writer / Journalist / Author

Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's Author

The Stinky Backpack

Traveling the Everyday World

Write One Real Life

Where writing meets faith in the real world.

The Runaway Palate

Food. Travel. Cooking. Random musings.

The Reader and the Book

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

WRITERS' RUMPUS

Authors & Illustrators Wild About Kidlit!

One Good Thing

Teresa Robeson's 365-Day project

Tracy Campbell

Wacky World of Writing & Whimsical Works of Art

Jilanne Hoffmann

The Writer's Shadow

kidsbook friends

Check out this blog about children's books!

Mary Jo Beswick

Author and Illustrator of Children's Picture Books

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

Pattern Me Mommy

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

READ to KIDS

PB author, poet, writing for kids

Friendly Fairy Tales

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

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Sharing and Celebrating Picture Books Since 2009

Stacy S. Jensen

Let's Read Picture Books Together

Reading With Rhythm

book reviews from Rhythm the Library Dog

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Nerdy Chicks Write

Get it Write this Summer!

Laura Sassi Tales

Celebrating writing, reading, and life.

Erika Wassall here... The Jersey Farm Scribe

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

Angie Karcher

Writing Children's Books

Chapter Book Chat

A Writer Reviews Chapter Books, by Marty Mokler Banks

The Blabbermouth Blog

Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking

The Waiting

Turns out, it's not the hardest part.

Robyn Graham Photography

Capturing Life One Image at a Time

%d bloggers like this: