Tracey M. Cox Will Write for Cookies

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

TraceyMCox

TRACEY M. COX

As I’ve mentioned many times, the connections I’ve made in this amazing kid lit community are as important to me as the actual writing. I interact with people all over the world and have even gotten to meet some of them. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting today’s special Will Write for Cookies guest of honor, but I feel I know her well through our shared Facebook groups.

Tracey M. Cox has been writing professionally since 2000. She is the author of nine picture books and has a few more under contract. Her first illustrated book, Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum In a Dish, will be release in 2016. Tracey is involved in SCBWI, the South Georgia Writers Guild, the Books Love & Taters Book Festival, and is a KidLit TV team member. I did a review of one of Tracey’s book here.

 

Welcome, Tracey! It is a pleasure having you here. We’ll get right down to the interview because I know you’ve got some great ideas to share.

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

 

TRACEY:

My favorite author growing up was my papa. No, he doesn’t have any books per say, but he would take stories and make them his own. Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Three Pigs were all heard in the house, but with a special twist. My papa was a magnificent storyteller and shared his story-magic with me. Two of his original stories, with a special twist, can now be read. They are my own stories, Ribbert’s Way Home and Liddil Gets Her Light. I’m so thankful he got to see them both in print before he passed away.

 

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

TRACEY:

Something I wish I knew back then that I know now is that it takes time to learn your craft and it takes time to find your own voice. It’s more than writing sentences, more than having correct grammar, and more than having a beginning, middle, and end. It’s finding your own lane. Staying true to that inner you. Never giving up and always believing in that initial spark that sends you down a writing/illustrating path.

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?

TRACEY:

First drafts are always on paper. Yep, I’m old school. I love the feel of putting the words out before me, to feel the flow of the words. Once I’ve gone through a few (or several) revisions, I move over to my laptop. I’m usually at the end of my dining room table, a/k/a Tracey’s Office, but will occasionally be found on the couch or outside, enjoying the country air. Sometimes it will depend where I can get some work done without my fur-babies in the way. *laughing*

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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?

TRACEY:

I don’t have a set schedule. I know many authors tell you to do this, but I don’t. It doesn’t work for me. I tried to do this, but would stare at a blank page and doodle. I write when and wherever I can. Part of this may be my sons’ fault. I started writing when I had a 7-year old, 5-year old, and a 3-month old. I learned to write in snippets… at baseball practice, during the lull time of wrestling tournaments, or whenever I could find a minute or two to jot something down. 

 

 

ME: Why do you write for children?

TRACEY:

Honestly? Because I have never grown up, and I don’t want to either. Children have a way of looking at the world and seeing the wonder of it all. Feelings are deep and true. Everyone can be on the same level. Things can be simpler, yet more complicated. I hope to write stories for them that matter, that will make a difference, that will inspire them to continue to see the world and everyone in it as one.

 

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ME: Tracey, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

TRACEY:

Two pieces of advice
1) Don’t be afraid to go after the small publishing houses. I have three publishing houses I’ve been published with: Guardian Angel Publishing, Xist Publishing, & 4RV Publishing. All of them have treated me with respect and I have been very pleased with the end results of all my books. While they might not have the pull of the bigger houses, they sure do show some mighty love!

2) Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn! Marketing is key for the longevity of your career. It doesn’t matter if you are published with a big or small house. Marketing is falling on the shoulders of the authors and illustrators now. Have a website, blog if you like, be active on social media, network, and make friends with people in the industry. After all, kidlit-ers are some of the bestest people in the world!

 

Great advice, Tracey…and I know everyone wants to thank you so much for the inside look at your writing process.

If you’d like to connect with Tracey or find out more about her books:

Website: www.traceymcox.com

Blog: www.traceymcox.wordpress.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/traceymcox

Any of you who know Tracey, know that she is a really sweet young lady…and how lucky can we get…she is sharing a really sweet treat recipe with us today!

Tracey says, “My favorite cookie recipe is for Peanut Butter w/ M&Ms Cookie.”

 

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • M&M Minis

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl mix sugar, peanut butter, and eggs until smooth. This will take a while.
  3. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet.
  4. Press to flatten
  5. Place a few M&M minis on each cookie and press into batter
  6. Place in oven and cook 10-12 minutes. Depends on oven and how done you like them.
  7. Take out of oven and place on cooling rack.
  8. ENJOY!

 

We sure will, Tracey…thank you again!

Well, dear readers, all of the prizes from the #50Precious Words Contest have been sent off. The challenge was a thrill for me…and from the many comments, I can tell it was enjoyed by all. Now that I don’t have wonderful entries to read, I’m back to writing my own stories. Right now I am working on two nonfiction picture book biographies. Later this month I’ll be traveling to Chicago to visit family as well as attend the Wild Midwest SCBWI Conference in Naperville, Illinois. I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of you there.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend…if you are traveling, please be safe.

Jane Yolen – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

JANEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

JANE YOLEN

Anyone who is active in the kid lit community is familiar with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor. In fact, anyone who loves picture books has probably read several of the over 300 books she has written. Not only is she extremely talented and prolific, she is also one of the most generous and supportive mentors you will ever meet. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Jane agreed to share some of her thoughts here.

Thank you so much, Jane. You always have so much going on in your life, both personally and professionally, so we won’t waste any time. I know everyone is anxious to find out more about you.

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

JANE:

  1. Andrew Lang, whom I thought wrote the Color Fairy Books, all twelve of them, only I have recently (as in the last couple of years) come to understand that his wife did all the work. But as he was the well-known folklorist and jack of many genres–this was Edwardian times in England–the publisher used his name.2. Louisa May Alcott–everything she wrote but especially Little Women and Under the Lilacs.3. James Thurber, a toss up between Thirteen Clocks and The White Deer. (And if you make me make a choice, I will have to slit you from your guggle to your zatch.) It didn’t hurt that he was a friend of my dad’s.4. Also I adored my parents’ copy of the illustrated Rubiyat of Omar Kayyham, probably more for the pictures than the poetry, to be honest.5. As many Wizard of Oz books as I could get my hands on.6. And every single dog and horse book every written for kids!!!

 

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

JANE: That editors may like my work but it was a mistake to become best friends with them since in the end, they work for a publisher and have to side with where their pay check comes from. When I saw the second (I think it is) Godfather movie and the good fellas are taking one of the Don’s men out to shoot him, in the car one turns to him and says, “I like you, but this is just business.” I think of that when an editor gets overruled on buying one of my books or keeping it in print.

 

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

JANE: On my lap top wherever I am sitting at the time. Mostly either in bed first thing in the morning (5 a.m.-ish) or in the tv room since I can no longer (bad back) sit at a desk.
ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write when the muse speaks?

JANE: I work every day, usually about 4-6 hours. Though when things are going well, I may work for ten straight. But not all of that is fingers on the keys. A lot is thinking time, smelling the roses time, watching the birds, watching a tv show or movie. Or day dreaming.
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ME: Why do you write for children?

1. Why not?

2. Inside I am still a child. Outside I am an old woman. This split personality works well for me.

3. Children are the greatest audience, and the most honest. They don’t like a story, they start playing with a toy, throw the book across the room, walk away from the storyteller, fall asleep withouot apology. They like a book, it’s “Another chapter. . . please.”

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ME: Please feel free to share any tips that will help aspiring writers/illustrators.

My mantra is “Butt in the chair, heart on the page.” Also, “Stop talking about the book/story/poem/factual piece/lyrics/memoir you’re going to write when you find the time. There is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is. . .to sit down and do it. Everything else is a fantasy.” 

 

This has been fantastic, Jane! I love your down-to-earth, commonsense approach to writing. I especially appreciate your realistic take on time-management – yes, ‘there is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is…to sit down and do it’…that is the truth, Jane!

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And now Jane is sharing with us a VERY special recipe – it appears in How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies.

RECIPEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

It looks like the bottom of the recipe photo got cut off – I believe the last lines are: Bake for 9-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove pan and cool a few minutes before taking the cookies off. Store in air-tight container.

Please join me in thanking Jane for taking the spotlight today! We are so fortunate to have generous mentors like her, who share their expertise and experience with us.

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To learn more about Jane and her incredible books, please visit her website: http://janeyolen.com/

Dianne de las Casas – Will Write for Cookies

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WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

DIANNE DE LAS CASAS

IN LIBRARY

I connected with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor because she shares my love for picture books. I had heard about Picture Book Month as I followed the blogs of writers, illustrators, educators and parents. A month devoted to picture books? What brilliant person had thought of that?

Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of 24 books, Dianne is the International Reading Association LEADER 2014 Poet Laureate, and the 2014 recipient of the Ann Martin Book Mark award. Her children’s titles include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The Little “Read” Hen, The House That Santa Built, and Cinderellaphant.

When Dianne agreed to participate and share her thoughts with us, I was thrilled. There are lots of golden nuggets of inspiration and information that you will take away from this interview…and wait till you see her cookie recipe! So, without further ado…here’s Dianne! Continue reading

Singaporean author David Seow – Will Write for Cookies

 

WOW! DO I HAVE A TREAT (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE) FOR YOU TODAY!

When I got the opportunity to travel half-way around the world to attend the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content/SCBWI Conference, I was excited, and somewhat anxious. What would I find there? How would it be? Where would I stay? When would I ever get back? Who would I meet?

Those questions were soon answered…all very positively. I found a beautiful country, with amazing facilities, an awesome hotel and had no problem getting back (although I didn’t want to leave). I met the most incredible people – and today, on WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES, I’m honored to introduce one of Singapore’s leading picture book authors, DAVID SEOW.

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That is David on the left and Enrico Sallustio, one of the illustrators he works with, on the right…and lucky me behind them).

I asked David five questions – here are his answers:

WHO WERE MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD AUTHORS

 

When I was little, my favorite authors were Eric Carle Jean de Brunhoff, Roald Dahl, Astrid Lindgren and Oscar Wilde.

 

 

WHAT I KNOW NOW

 

I wish I had known a lot more than I did when I first embarked on this crazy adventure in children’s publishing.  Like most first-time authors I was relatively idealistic about writing and publishing. I have to admit that it was a dream to have my first book published. After 15 years I’m a bit wiser and a lot less idealistic. It’s a tough industry and you’ve got to be prepared to handle disappointment and rejection on a regular basis.

david seow book signing

Yes, that’s right…Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking with David and Continue reading

Will Write for Cookies: Iza Trapani In the Spotlight

Can you hear my heart beating quickly?

I remember this feeling – kind of scared – very excited – a little anxious.

When I was in 7th grade, we made an apron in home ec (short for home economics – the class all the GIRLS took so they would know how to cook and sew…BOYS took woodworking so they would know how to…build a log cabin?).

Each student received a piece of material and a pattern and instructions on how to proceed. It took a great deal of courage to make that first cut, knowing that if you did it incorrectly, your finished apron would look ridiculous.

I’m sure artists feel the same way when their hand hovers over a clean blank canvas.

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As I hover over this new project and lay out the template for future posts in the ‘WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES’ series, I experience those same feelings. My vision is to provide insights and information from experienced authors and illustrators – my hope is that you will find these posts educational and entertaining.

Lucky for me, the award-winning, multi-talented children’s author and illustrator, Iza Trapani, graciously agreed to participate. I’ve gotten to know Iza through her wonderful picture books and her warm and generous comments on many kid lit blogs.

iza trapani at work

Kids have an innate curiosity that drives them to always be asking WHO? WHAT?, WHERE? WHEN/ and WHY? So here, without further ado to answer those questions AND to provide us with a recipe for a treat that is guaranteed to excite your taste-buds, is the lovely Iza!

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

Sto Bajek cover

I immigrated to the U.S. from Poland when I was seven years old. One of my favorite books was a collection of poems called Sto Bajek (100 Tales) and I still have a copy! The author was Jan Brzechwa and his poems were full of Seuss-like humor and hyperbole. The wordplay, tongue-twisters playful language and clever concepts never ceased to delight and amaze me. One example is Continue reading