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Darcy Pattison: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

DarcyBeach500x500-300

DARCY PATTISON

When I first entered the blogging world, Darcy Pattison was already a mover and a shaker. I quickly followed her website and learned a ton!

Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, and founder of Mims House (mimshouse.com) publisher, Darcy Pattison has been published in nine languages. Her books, published with Harcourt, Philomel/Penguin, Harpercollins, Arbordale, and Mims House have received recognition for excellence with starred reviews in Kirkus, BCCB and PW. Three nonfiction nature books have been honored as National Science Teacher’s Association Outstanding Science Trade books. The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt) received an Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature Honor Book award, and has been published in a Houghton Mifflin textbook.  She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature.

Darcy-SchoolVisit

Wow…so, dear readers, you can see why I wanted to have Darcy stop by to chat with us.

Welcome, Darcy! 

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

DARCY: My family always had a story time at night. We lived in a remote mountain town in New Mexico. With seven kids and tight budgets, my mother wrote to the state library and asked them to mail her books, listing out the ages of her kids. We grew up with the best of children’s literature. I particularly remember Winnie the Pooh. But there was one Babar book that totally fascinated me. During the midst of a war, the elephants disguise themselves by painting huge eyes on their rumps, letting the tail serve as a nose. I remember being scared of that image, but slowly coming to understand that it was a disguise, and then finally admiring the elephants for pulling such a trick.

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

DARCY: How much fun the writing and publishing process can be.

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

DARCY:My husband and I own a three-story Victorian house in a historic district, and we use it as an office. The bottom two floors are his real estate appraisal offices. But the attic is mine. I go to work—arriving at the office about 9 pm and leaving about 4pm. That means, I write every day. There’s no waiting for the muse to strike for me.

ME: Why do you write for children?

Katherine Paterson once commented that books for adults are like a full orchestra playing beautifully. But when she writes, she only hears a flute solo. In other words, we write and are surprised by what comes out! I wish that I had more control, but writing is tied to your personality on a deep level. I can direct the writing some, but if you want me to follow my passions, then children’s literature is what comes out.

DarcySigningBooks

ME: Any advice to aspiring writers?

DARCY: Write. When I first started writing, I told myself that I should write 15 minutes a day. I carried around a special ink pen to remind me to do that. The visual and tactile cue of an ink pen was necessary to help me carve out those 15 minutes. Of course, that time grew until I’m writing most of a day. But don’t discount the importance of those first steps. The habit of writing begins with a simple commitment to write 15 minutes a day.

ME: And how about some words for parents, educators and librarians?

DARCY: I’m very excited about THE NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER: A Fake New Story, which is the true story of a fake news story. I think the most important thing you can do for kids is discuss such stories with them. Our American democracy is built on the idea that an educated citizen is crucial to the success of our form of government. This book can be read just for fun! It’s a sea monster story! However, if you choose to take it further, enjoy the quick wit and deep understanding of your kids!

ME: WOW! This has been awesome, Darcy! I love the idea of helping kids recognize fake news! I’ll bet a great school exercise would be to ask the kids to write a fake news story. I’ll bet there would be some doozies in the bunch! Thank you so much for stopping by…but before you leave, I know you’ve got a super cookie recipe for all of us.
Darcy’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter cookies

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

Mix all ingredients. Roll into 1″ balls. Optional: Roll balls in sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet and use a fork to criss-cross the balls and smash them flat. Cook at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.

Yup…that is definitely simple enough! Great for the kiddos to help with!

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Darcy has generously provided a copy of NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER as a giveaway. Please leave a comment and don’t forget that reviews are like gold to authors.

And thank you so much for stopping by to visit with me today, dear friends. I hope everyone has a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

Lori Alexander: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INFORMATION, INSPIRATION, INSIGHT

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Author Photo_Lori Alexander

LORI ALEXANDER

2017 is bursting with super picture books and I’ve been thrilled to feature their authors on my blog. I’m especially happy to welcome Lori…she’s a fabulous writer and a super lovely lady.

 Lori Alexander is the author of BACKHOE JOE (Harper Children’s), FAMOUSLY PHOEBE (Sterling Children’s) and the upcoming ALL IN A DROP, a biography of scientist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She lives with her husband and two children under the star-filled skies of Tucson, AZ. 

Welcome, Lori! Thanks so much for stopping by to chat with us today. We’ll get right to the Q&A.

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

LORI: I remember reading lots of Dr. Seuss and P.D. Eastman books. My brother and I loved Virginia Lee Burton’s MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL and KATY AND THE BIG SNOW. Arnold Lobel’s FROG AND TOAD books were favorites, too. But above all, it was CHRISTINA KATERINA AND THE BOX by Patricia Lee Gauch. Oh, how I loved the wonderful things Christina Katerina crafted with that refrigerator box: a castle, a clubhouse, a race car, a dance floor. Time and again, she rescued her creations from her tidy mother (and the garbage bin!). And when the poor box got wet and disintegrated on the front lawn, there was still a happy ending—two new boxes!

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

LORI: Things get easier…and more difficult. The various aspects of writing get easier as you hone your craft. I’m much more comfortable with character development, plot structure, pacing, page turns, word choice, etc. But at the same time, writing is more difficult than when I first began. I tend to self-edit too early in the process. I don’t always give my ideas a chance because right from the get-go, I’m trying to judge their marketability. When I first started out, I wrote with more freedom because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I suppose the learning never ends, no matter where you are in the process.

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

LORI: I usually write inside at the shared family computer in our great room. Needless to say, I get more done when my kids are at school.

workspace

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

LORI: As the muse strikes, but mostly mid-day when the kid count is zero. I haven’t had much luck sticking with a strict writing schedule.

desert view

ME: Why do you write for children?

LORI: The challenge! Holding the attention of a classroom of kindergartners is the very best kind of tricky. And making kids laugh is addicting.

reading with kids

 

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.

LORI: Advice to aspiring writers! When I read interviews, this is my favorite part. I always hope a seasoned writer will spill the beans and dole out some first-rate advice that will make my next story flow from my fingertips, sell to the first editor who reads it, and rocket to the top of the bestseller list. As soon as I find that seasoned writer with the stellar advice, I’ll be sure to pass it on! J

For now: read lots of current books in your genre, hone your craft, seek out critique partners, and don’t give up no matter how many rejections you collect.

As for educators and librarians, I’ve spent a ton of time volunteering at my kids’ public elementary school, in both the classrooms and the library. The energy, care, and grace you put into your work never ceases to amaze me. Thank you! Thank you!    

ME: WOW! This is fabulous, Lori! I especially love your advice to READ, JOIN CRITIQUE GROUPS, HONE YOUR CRAFT, and NEVER GIVE UP!!!!

And I’m sure part of the advice you didn’t add is to keep your energy up with yummy treats, right Lori? I’m a fan of the recipe you are sharing…it’s perfect to prepare with kids!

LORI: Although this is not a cookie recipe, it’s our go-to when we want a quick, sweet treat (and it’s been a hit at school bake sales). We call them something different each time we make a batch. In this case…

Famously Phoebe’s Star Bars

recipe photo

6 cups crisp rice cereal

1 bag mini marshmallows

3 bags white chocolate chips

1 bag mini chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter (almond butter would work, too, if allergies are a concern)

Melt the white chocolate chips over low heat. Stir in peanut butter. Remove from heat and add rice cereal. Stir gently. Then stir in mini marshmallows (they don’t need to melt) and half bag of mini chocolate chips. Line rimmed cookie sheet with parchment. Pour mixture onto cookie sheet and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle top with remaining mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate for about an hour. Cut into bars and enjoy!

Dear friends, you can find out more about Lori on her website at lorialexanderbooks.com or follow her on Twitter at @LoriJAlexander

And don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of FAMOUSLY PHOEBE.

Phoebe cover JPEG

Have a wonderful weekend! I’m behind on awarding our giveaways, so next Friday, I’ll be announcing the ones from the last three posts.

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.

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