Category Archives: Will Write for Cookies

Tracy Marchini: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

Will Write for Cookies

Plate of Cookies

Insight, Inspiration, Information

For Writers

Today’s Guest

Marchini-Agent-Photo-cropped (1)

TRACY MARCHINI

Our kidlit community is populated with amazing people…writers, illustrators, mentors, agents, and editors. Sometimes, these amazing people wear more than one hat. And that is true for our guest today.

 

Tracy Marchini is a Literary Agent at BookEnds Literary, representing fiction, non-fiction and illustration for children and teens. Prior to joining BookEnds, Tracy worked as a freelance editor, a Literary Agent’s Assistant, a children’s book reviewer, and a newspaper correspondent. She holds an M.F.A in Writing for Children.

 

But, she is also a debut picture book author and we reviewed her fabulous CHICKEN NEEDS A NAP yesterday. Please don’t forget to leave a comment on that post to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of her book.

 

Welcome, Tracy! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar. I can’t wait to get to the Q&A, and I know there is also a sweet treat at the end.

 

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

TRACY: My favorite picture book was Chatty Chipmunk’s Nutty Day by Suzanne Gruber and illustrated by Doug Cushman. There was something about the refrain that I just loved, and has stuck with me all this time.

I also loved Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck and Anita Lobel. The idea of three dresses that fit in tiny walnut shells fascinated me, as well as Lobel’s gorgeous illustrations of the dresses that reflected the sun, moon and stars. (I think even as a kid I liked the idea that you could pack your whole wardrobe in one bag – always ready for travel!)

Finally, I think I still have my copy of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. (And as a Literary Agent and reader, I still love more subversive picture books with a bit of dark humor!)

 

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

TRACY: Besides learning craft, patience is one of the greatest things you can learn as a writer. Publishing is a slower paced business and learning to write a good picture book takes a lot of trial and error before you get it right!

 

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

TRACY: I like to write by hand when I’m stuck on something. So if I’m revising, I tend to break out a notebook and write out my inner monologue until I hit the right fix for a manuscript. Sometimes the result is just a page of me asking myself the same question over and over again – but eventually I hit on an answer that works!

 

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

TRACY: I agent during the day, so my writing tends to happen in spurts outside of working hours. I’ll take a whole weekend day to do nothing but work on my writing, or I’ll break out a manuscript in the evening.

 

ME: Why do you write for children?

TRACY: I just love how the world has infinite possibilities for children. There’s an incredible sense of freedom (and opportunity for humor!) when you can write from a number of implausible premises.

As someone who read a lot as a child, I also think that reading itself is a fundamental childhood activity and I hope to write (and as an agent, represent) books that foster a love of reading well throughout adulthood. It does make me a little sad when I hear that an adult doesn’t read (and not just because I’m in the book business!)  I can’t help but wonder if they just never found that book that spoke to them as a child.

CHICKEN cover

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. 🙂

TRACY: Make sure to stay current! Picture books that sold twenty years ago might not sell today, because the market has and will continue to change. Today’s picture books – particularly in fiction – have a lower word count, but still have all the same layers (emotional and physical) that earlier, longer works had.

As an agent, I can always tell when an author has written a picture book but hasn’t read a picture book in a long, long time.

WOW! Thank you so much, Tracy! I love that we have been able to get your take on things from two perspectives…as an author AND as an agent. I know this post is going to be shared quite a bit on social media…your comment about knowing when an author hasn’t read a picture book in a long, long time is going to create a run on the libraries, I think. Although with all of the online kidlit challenges throughout the year, I know that most of us read picture books like crazy.

But I will admit that when I first started writing, before I had taken any classes or joined any writing groups, my head was still back in the picture books I had read to my kindergarten students and my own children, so many years before. I needed a wake up call which I got from online challenges and critique buddies.

 

Thank you so much, Tracy!

To find out more about Tracy, as an agent and as an author:

Website: www.tracymarchini.com

Twitter: @TracyMarchini

CHICKEN NEEDS A NAP is available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target.

 

And now, a very special treat…actually one of my favorites. Take it away, Tracy!!!!!

TRACY: I’ve been making my own pizza lately and it’s been working really well!

I use this recipe to make the dough: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/pizza-dough-recipe-1921714

and then I cook at 500 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes on a sheet of parchment paper. Then I pull the dough out, add my toppings, and bake it again for another 7 to 8 minutes.

We’ve experimented a lot with trying to get a good crust without a pizza stone, and even though we use a pizza pan to get the dough in and out of the oven more easily, baking directly on parchment paper on the oven rack gives you a great crispy crust that still has a bit of depth/lightness to it.

The recipe makes two 14 inch pizzas, so we almost always have a ball of dough in the freezer now for quick baking!

This is fabulous, Tracy! I can’t wait to try this! You’ve been a delightful guest and we are all very appreciative of your insights.

I’m wishing everyone a wonderful and safe weekend and hope you’ll be back on TUESDAY when my special guests will be the pirates from Henry Herz’ new picture book, CAP’N REX AND HIS CLEVER CREW.

Susanna Hill: Will Write for Cookies – It’s Not Easy Being Green…or Experienced

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Susanna Hill (3)

SUSANNA LEONARD HILL

DO YOU WANT TO WRITE PICTURE BOOKS, MG, YA? wELL, FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS…BECAUSE YOU ARE IN FOR A WILD RIDE. Luckily, in this kidlit community, we have a couple of amazing mentors who are always there to help. ..even in the midst of busy book blog tours!

Susanna…thank you so much for stopping by to chat with us today! Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! The floor is yours!

Hi Everyone!

(And Vivian, thank you so much for inviting me for cookies again!  You know what a sweet tooth I have!)

Vivian and I thought that today perhaps we’d have a frank discussion about the writing life. Read the rest of this entry

Carole Gerber: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

CAROLE GERBER

I’ve connected with amazing people on this kid lit writing journey. Some I meet at conferences. Others join Facebook groups where I’m active. Many are my critique buddies. And once in a while, authors reach out to ask if I will review their books and new friendships are formed. Our Will Write for Cookies guest emailed me because her newest book was launching…and I’m so glad she did. What a special lady she is! Here’s just a bit from her website:

Carole Gerber is a poet and children’s book author living in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Not only is she the author of nearly two dozen picture books, early readers and chapter books, but she has also worked as a high school and middle school English teacher, an adjunct professor of journalism at Ohio State, a marketing director, editor of a company magazine, a member of creative teams at an ad agency and a hospital, a contributing editor to a computer magazine, and – finally! – as a freelance writer of hundreds of elementary textbooks, magazine articles, speeches, annual reports, and patient education materials.

 Besides being a “Jill” of many trades – or more precisely – one trade (writing) with many incarnations, she is also the wife of Mark, the mother of two grown daughters, Jess and Paige, and “Mimi” to Sara and Tyler, Paige’s children, and to Joanna, Jess’s daughter. Plus, she also sponsors half a dozen children at a time through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children of all faiths in more than 100 developing countries. 

Carole, it is an honor to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

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

 CAROLE:

I read all the Louisa May Alcott books. Jo was my favorite character. I also read all the stories in a set of books for children that my parents bought. It was called “The Young Folks Shelf of Books,” and categories included adventure, poetry, history, and various others. In high school, I used to check out a book every morning before home room and sneakily read it throughout the day. Our school librarian, Maxine Finkbine (isn’t that a memorable name?!), was impressed by my appetite for reading but feared I was a slacker about my studies. She was right!

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

CAROLE: 

I now know that the first idea isn’t necessarily the best idea – and that rewriting is far more important than writing.  After teaching school for two years, I returned to college and earned a master’s degree in journalism. Afterwards, I held a variety of writing jobs that included marketing director, ad agency writer, churning out textbook ad copy for McGraw-Hill, teaching newswriting and covering conferences for Ohio State, and writing feature articles and annual reports. As a freelancer, I also wrote dozens of work-for-hire elementary science and reading books, which was my entry into becoming a children’s author.  From these jobs, I learned that self-discipline and perseverance are essential for success as a writer.

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

CAROLE:

I write on a desktop computer, so that limits my movement. I haven’t yet found a laptop with a keyboard that feels as substantial as my Dell desktop. My office is now located near two big windows and a glass door in our walkout basement. Before he sold it, I had an office in my husband’s software company. I drove to work there five days a week for 20+ years when I freelanced.

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?

CAROLE:

After an early breakfast and a walk, I drive to my local Starbucks for my morning fix –  a grande chai latte – which I try not to drink until I sit down at my desk. Some days I spend a few hours writing. Others, I just read emails and enjoy my latte before heading outside to work in my flower gardens or run errands. Since I no longer need to make a living as a freelancer, I rarely have deadlines except those I self-impose.  

ME: Why do you write for children?

CAROLE:

I spent most of my career as a journalist writing for adults, and I find writing for kids to be far more creative.  I enjoy the playfulness! For example, my new book, A BAND OF BABIES, tells in verse the story of the newcomer who arrives at daycare and leads a group to a nearby grocery, where they wreak havoc. Refrain: “Thump-a-thump. Toot-toot. Whee! Babies on a shopping spree.” Jane Dyer illustrated and the babies are adorable! Amazon editors named it among its “Best children’s book picks for June.” Another reason I write for children is that pre-readers love to hear their favorites read again and again. Young readers will often reread them on their own.  Children grow intensely attached to books, and that should warm our hearts. They literally love our words and pictures!

SchoolVisit041212

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

CAROLE:

Publishing is a competitive business. Many wonderful manuscripts never make the cut. I describe the process as sewing a lovely garment and then trying to find the perfect fit for it.  Some of my books have been sold by agents. Others were accepted by publishers who take direct submissions. But most of what I write will never be published. Sob! It’s true! Rejection is the rule, even for those of us with many books to our credit. When you get rejected, whimper a bit but don’t take it personally. Revise yet again, if you need to, and then jump back in. If you want to be published, you must continue to submit – and so must I because, for the first time in several years, I have no in manuscripts in production. Sniffle.

Thank you so very much, Carole. That is GREAT advice! Write, revise, submit, repeat!

Dear readers, let’s join in a big round of applause for Carole…the insights she shared will help all of us. And if you’d like to find out more about Carole and her fabulous books:

www.carolegerber.com

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

French Bread Pudding Cake

pudding cakePhoto courtesy (and you can find a gluten free version of this pudding cake here: http://cookituppaleo.com/french-toast-bread-pudding/

This bread pudding cake separates in baking to a soft custard sauce below and soft chocolate crumbs on top.  Makes about 8 servings.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients

2 one-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate*

1/3 cup butter

3 large eggs (separate yolks and whites of 2 eggs)

1 ¼ cup granulated white sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

½ tsp. vanilla

1 ½ cups milk

1 ½ cups fine soft bread crumbs from day-old French bread (use Cuisinart to make crumbs)

Directions

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. *(Instead of chocolate squares, you can make the equivalent by following the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa box. (1 T cooking oil and 3 T cocoa powder = 1 chocolate square.) Cool butter/chocolate mixture.
  2. Separate 2 eggs, putting whites in one small bowl and yolks in a larger bowl. Set egg whites aside.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the egg yolks and one whole egg.
  4. Into the beaten yolks, stir in these ingredients in this order: 1 cup sugar, melted chocolate and butter mixture, salt, vanilla, milk, and crumbs.
  5. In the small bowl, beat the 2 egg whites with an electric mixer. Add ¼ cup sugar to form stiff peaks.
  6. Use rubber spatula to fold beaten egg whites gently into chocolate mixture.
  7. Spray Pam in bottom and sides of a 1 ½ quart baking dish. Pour batter into baking dish.
  8. Set dish into a large metal baking pan. Fill baking pan with water so that 1 inch surrounds the baking dish.
  9. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Remove pudding pan from water pan. Cool to room temperature. Enjoy!

 

Dear friends, if you’d like to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of Carole’s lovely new book, A BAND OF BABIES, please make sure you leave a comment. And if you’d like to thank Carole for her insights, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Book reviews are so very important in this business.

Thank you all for stopping by…and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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