Tina Cho: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

 

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TINA CHO

In this business, we need a core of critique partners who not only help us polish our manuscripts, but also encourage and support us, commiserating when we get rejections and cheering when success comes knocking at our door. I am truly fortunate to have today’s Will Write for Cookies guest as one of mine. Tina Cho is part of the very first critique group I joined back in 2012 and I credit her with helping me revise and polish many of my manuscripts.

Tina Cho is the author of three picture books– Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books/Bonnier Publishing August 2018), Korean Celebrations (forthcoming Tuttle 2019) and Breakfast with Jesus (forthcoming Harvest House 2020). Although she grew up and taught in the United States, she currently lives in South Korea with her husband and two children while teaching at an international school. To learn more about her, you can go to her Website, or connect with her on Twitter or Instagram: tinamcho.

I love doing Q&A’s with every author and illustrator who stops by here, but there is a special joy when it is someone whose work I’ve seen from early draft to polished picture book story. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Tina!

ME: Hello, Tina. After all these years, I feel like I really know you. And I hope that after this interview, many more people will, too. Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

TINA: Richard Scarry: My mom used to read to us from Richard Scarry’s Animal Nursery Tales (fairy tales).

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona & Beezus

Carolyn Haywood’s Betsy & Eddie series

Judy Blume–everything

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

TINA: I wish I had understood that it takes many, many drafts and real revision to make a story superb. When I first began, I thought my first and second drafts were pretty good. Not!

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

TINA: I like to write in my little office off my bedroom. It’s really a connecting room to the bathroom with a vanity, but it’s big enough for a small table, my laptop, and small shelf. I usually outline my stories in a notebook with pen or pencil. Then, I type out the story on my laptop in my office.

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

TINA: During the school year, I write in the evenings after school, especially when I’m doing a work-for-hire assignment. Otherwise, I have dedicated Saturdays as my writing day.

ME: Why do you write for children?

TINA: I fell in love with picture books, especially, from being an elementary teacher and reading them every day to my students. I want to create stories for children because children are our future. Children deserve to learn, to be loved, and to hear about all the stories in the world. I also write for children because I have a passion for different topics, and I just have to share it!

ME: Do you have any special thoughts for aspiring writers

TINA: Never give up. If you want to write, then you have to learn the craft, just like any other career. Take writing classes, read writing craft books, join critique groups, and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Find writing groups in Facebook and stay active 😊

ME: WOW…thank you so much for sharing all of this with us, Tina. I love your action plan for aspiring writers. You’ve laid out all the right steps that lead to success! And I know you are also going to lay out the right steps to creating one of your favorite sweet treats…so, take it away, Tina!

TINA: My grandma used to make Scotcheroos, and I’d take some with me to college. They were so addicting. Here’s a Scotcheroo recipe from a friend in Iowa.

Scotcheroos

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

1 cup peanut butter

6 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Cook sugar and corn syrup over medium heat until it boils in the saucepan. Let boil 1 minute. Take off heat.
  2. Add peanut butter. Stir. Add Rice Krispies.
  3. Press into a 9×13 pan.
  4. Melt butterscotch chips and chocolate chips in a pan on the stove. You can add a tiny bit of water or milk if needed. Pour over the bars. Cut into squares right away.

Enjoy!

We will definitely enjoy these, Tina! And I am enjoying RICE FROM HEAVEN. I know many people are buying it because it is the #1 New Releases in Children’s Asia Books on Amazon..and I hope that many people will be reviewing it as well. Reviews are so important because they help other potential buyers to make good choices when it comes to selecting books for their children.

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I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. Thank you for spending your precious time here.

It’s a BOOK BIRTHDAY: A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR COOKED UP FAIRY TALE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.

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One of the first kidliters I met when I ventured out on this writing journey in 2011 was Penny Parker Klostermann. She was an active participant in all of the writing challenges and contests that Susanna Leonard Hill hosted. Reading her entries, I knew she’d be a successfully published author before long.

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Her debut picture book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT, is a joy to read. And TODAY, her second picture book launches!

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, Penny and I put our heads together. (and you know how much trouble two picture book writers can get into when they do that) In addition to a giveaway of a signed copy of A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE and a yummy recipe, we’ve cooked up a super fun interview. So hold on to your hats!

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OH MY GOSH! HOW MUCH FUN WAS THIS?

Huge thanks to Penny for arranging space for our interview on the front page of THE ROYAL REPORTER.

Penny Parker Klostermann is the author of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight and the upcoming, A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale which is releasing today! She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. Penny has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too. 

Penny grew up in Colorado and now lives in Abilene, Texas-the Storybook Capital of Texas!

To learn more about Penny and her books: https://pennyklostermann.com/

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway (U.S. addresses only, please). And remember, one of the greatest gifts you can give to your favorite author is to leave a review on Amazon and /or Goodreads.

More picture book awesomeness this coming weekend when we welcome author Nancy Churnin and illustrator Danny Popovici and another soon-to-be-released picture book, Manjhi Moves a Mountain.

 

 

Carole Gerber: 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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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!

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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!

Laura Gehl – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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LAURA GEHL

I met today’s Will Write for Cookies author because my grandson fell in love with her debut picture book, One Big Pair of Underpants. I read it to him…and I fell in love also. I knew I had to invite her to participate here – and was thrilled when she said YES!

The book is a Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title and Booklist Best Book for Youth of 2014. She has written several other picture books, and her PEEP AND EGG series, hatching spring 2016 from FSG/Macmillan, will consist of four books.  A former science and reading teacher, she also writes about science for children and adults.  She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children.

I’m so happy to have her here to Continue reading

Author Emily Lim – Will Write for Cookies

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WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

EMILY LIM

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There are many reasons to blog…for me, one of the most important is to reach out and connect.

And that is how I connected author Emily Lim. Two years ago, while searching for articles on the importance of picture books, I discovered Mum Mum’s The Word, Emily’s blog. I didn’t know who she was…I only knew that someone had written a darn good post about a topic near and dear to my heart. I linked my post to hers…and the rest is history.

I met Emily when I was in Singapore last year at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. She is kind and generous and smart and beautiful and talented and a true friend. As one of the festival directors, Emily was directly responsible for my being there. I was thrilled and honored to go…and I am equally thrilled and honored to shine the Will Write for Cookies spotlight on one of Singapore’s leading picture book authors, Emily Lim!

Welcome, Emily…thank you so much for agreeing to the interview. I know everyone is anxious to hear all about you.

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

Emily:  Enid Blyton was my all time favourite. I dreamt of finding a faraway tree and wishing chair which could take me to magical places. When I was older, my girlfriends and I all chanted Judy Blume’s recommended… ahem…exercises.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

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Emily: I wish I knew how helpful it is to have critique partners and Continue reading

Will Write for Cookies – Children’s Author and Advocate Susanne Gervay

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WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

TODAY’S GUEST

SUSANNE GERVAY

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I first met Susanne Gervay in the lobby of the Hotel Grand Pacific in Singapore. I attended several of her presentations at the 2013 AFCC/SCBWI conference and sat next to her for many of the functions.

Susanne is kind and generous and funny and smart…I was thrilled when she agreed to step into the spotlight today. I know you will find her answers enlightening. I’m going to be printing out her writing tips to keep posted on my wall – I need to remember them – especially #4. And she is sharing a really special recipe that I am sure you will want to try!

Susanne…I know you are extremely busy with your own writing, your speaking engagements all over the world, your hotel in Sydney, your family and the many children’s causes you advocate for. It was kind of you to agree to be interviewed and I know everyone is anxious to hear from you.

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

Johanna Spyri – Heidi.

 

Elizabeth George Speare – The Witch of Blackbird Pond

 

Lucy Maud Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables .

 

Eleanor H. Porter – Pollyanna

 

May Gibbs illustrator of the gumnut babies

 

Beatrix Potter illustrator of Peter Rabbit

 

 

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

 

I wish I knew I should have worked on my manuscripts, edited them, let them sit for a while, until I looked at them again, before I sent them to publishers.  It would have reduced the heart aches of rejection.

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I also wish Continue reading