KIRSTI CALL: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

KIRSTI CALL

I love relaying how I met each of our Will Write for Cookies guests – I think it shows what a close-knit kidlit community we have. As co-coordinator of ReFoReMo (Reading for Research Month), Kirsti was one of my first kidlit mentors. I loved participating in that challenge – it really helped me focus on the importance of using published picture books as mentor texts for my own writing. And I’m grateful to her and to Carrie Charlie Brown for creating such a helpful resource.

Kirsti Call is the co-host of the Picture Book Look Podcast and the co-coordinator of ReFoReMo. She reads, reviews, revises and critiques every day as a 12×12 elf, a blogger for Writer’s Rumpus, and a member of critique groups. She’s judged the CYBILS award for fiction picture books since 2015. Kirsti’s picture book, MOOTILITA’S BAD MOOD (Little Bee) debuts fall 2020. COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) release in 2021. Kirsti is represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency.

And I count myself fortunate to have connected with Kirsti in person…we’ve met at our regional NESCBWI conferences, as well as at other local book events. Plus, she generously invited me and Alleanna Harris to be the very first author-illustrator duo to be interviewed on her fabulous new undertaking: Picture Book Look Podcast.

ME: Howdy, Kirsti! I’m thrilled to have you visiting here today! And I know that everyone is excited to hear more about you and your writing journey – so let’s get to the Q&A.

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

Kirsti: I absolutely loved Maurice Sendak’s quirky stories and his expressive illustrations. 

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

KIRSTI: I wish I had known how little I knew.  Haha.  But seriously. There’s so much that goes into the craft and business of children’s writing—I had no idea. I wish I had slowed down and enjoyed the journey and been less frustrated about the concrete results (or non-results) of my work.  I now know that I’m closer to creating exceptional books with each new day that passes.

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

KIRSTI: I like to mix it up.  I write on paper and on my laptop.  I write inside and outside.  I just finished converting my sunroom into a writing studio! 

It’s the perfect place for creating. I have a desk and a papasan and windows that overlook a backyard teaming with birds and animals.  And of course I have a stream filled with frogs.  And children to enjoy all of it with me.

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

KIRSTI: Early mornings are my favorite time to write.  But in actuality, I write in the open spaces and the ten minutes crevices of time between kid interruptions.  Having five kids and my husband home full time makes for a chaotic (and fantastic!) household, so focused writing time is rare. 

ME: Why do you write for children?

KIRSTI: I write for children because I love them. I love how silly kids are, how they let curiosity lead them to learn, how easy it is for them to love other people, how kind and open hearted they are, how they soak up stories.

I write for children because reading has been one of favorite things for as long as I can remember.  I hope my words make children laugh and maybe even learn a little too.

ME: Kirsti…thank you so much. I love that you write for kids because…you love them! Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

KIRSTI: I sure do, Vivian

Failure lives in the neighborhood of success. 

The more rejections we get, the closer we are to getting those book contracts.

Just. Keep. Writing.

My first book came out 7 years ago.  It took me 5 years after that to get an agent.  And now I finally have another book coming out.  Persistence, baby!

Enjoy the journey.

There’s nothing better than putting words together in a way that will influence other people for the better!

Thank you so very much, dear Kirsti! We are all loving your insights…and I know you are sharing a great recipe with us – because when it comes to cookies…there is nothing better than putting great ingredients together!

KIRSTI: This has been so much fun, Vivian! And I sure do have a super yummy recipe for everyone.

WOWOWOWOW! Rice crispies in date balls…that is an amazing combination. Thank you so very much, Kirsti!

Hey, dear readers…I know we are all grateful to Kirsti for her thoughts and for the recipe…and please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a signed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of MOOTILLA’S BAD MOOD, written by Kirsti Call and Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Claudia Ranucci, and published by Little Bee Books.

If you’d like to check out the other stops on the book blog tour for MOOTILLA’S BAD MOOD, check this out:


August 17   The Story Behind the Story

August 19   Grog

August 24    Kidlit Oasis

August 28    deborahkalb.com

September 1    ReFoReMo

September 1    Picture Book Look Podcast

September 2  Future Bookworms

September 4  Perfect Picture Book Friday 

September 10  https://www.nancychurnin.com/

September 12  Will Writer For Cookies

September 15  Writer’s Rumpus

September 25 Mining for the Heart

And remember…the best way to help your favorite books success is to buy them if you can, review them on Amazon and other sites, share them with friends and on social media…and ask your local library to purchase them for their collections.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…and please swing by next week for more Picture Book awesomeness when we feature NO VOICE TOO SMALL and authors Jeanette Bradley, Keila Dawson, and Lindsay Metcalf.

Rebecca Gomez – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

REBECCA GOMEZ

 

When I dove into the kid lit community a couple of years ago, one of first my role models, especially since I loved to write in rhyme, was Corey Rosen Schwartz. And she still is! Recently, I found out Corey and her co-author, Becky Gomez, have a new book that just came out in June. So when Becky agreed to participate in Will Write for Cookies, I did a happy dance.

 

Rebecca J. Gomez is the coauthor of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? , a picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She lives in Nebraska with her hubby, three kids, two poodles, and one parrotlet.

Parrotlet? I had to look that one up. It is a mini-parrot with a lot of personality. Sounds like a picture book mc to me.

I’m excited to welcome Becky. She’s got a lot to share with us so let’s get started.

 

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

 

Becky:


Oh gosh. This is hard to answer. We had a lot of Little Golden Books when I was a kid, probably because they were so affordable. I adored The Poky Little Puppy and The Monster at the End of this Book. But the name that jumped out at me when I saw this question was Shel Silverstein. His poems and drawings have been a part of my life since before I can remember. I’m sure he had something to do with my desire to write my own rhymes when as young as five! Dr. Seuss was a big one too, of course.

 

 

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

 

Becky:

You know, I almost answered this question, “How long and hard this journey was going to be!” But then I realized that not knowing how long and hard something is going to be is part of the adventure. I tell my kids often that if something is worth accomplishing, then it is worth the struggle it takes to get it done. And that is definitely true of this process, at least for me. Looking back, I don’t know if there is anything I would change to make it easier.

what-about-moose-9781481404969_lg

 

But, something that I didn’t know right away, and that probably would have been a big encouragement to me when I first set out, is that so many of my favorite authors were rejected dozens of times before selling their first book. Rejections are just bumps in the road, but when you have enough of them together, they can make for pretty rough travel! That is part of every author’s journey though. And that thought is very encouraging!

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

 

Becky:

All of the above! Well, actually, I don’t own a laptop. But I do have a tablet and I use it in a pinch, like when I want to access a document on Google drive when I’m sitting in bed. 

 

I do love to draft by hand, though. With a mechanical pencil. In a composition notebook. Writing by hand in the early stages of a manuscript seems to help the words flow better for me than when I’m staring at a glowing screen. Plus, when I get stuck, I doodle in the margins. It’s very freeing! I can take a pencil and notebook anywhere–out on the deck, in the car on a road trip, to church (just in case!)–and it never has to be charged up. 

 

That said, I do have an official space in the corner of my family room where most of the “work” is done. I’d like to have a real office in the attic of an old house someday. I can dream, right?

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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?

Becky:

I am most productive in the morning, though that is primarily out of necessity. Because I work from home, I do most of my writing during the day. The kids are off to school most days by 7:30, which gives me time for my morning routine–prayer time, breakfast, tending the pets, a walk on the treadmill–and by 9:30 I am usually writing (between loads of laundry some days). Sometimes I stop around lunchtime. Other times I write until I have to leave to pick my son up from school. I think I do my best writing in my pajamas, which sometimes leads to me frantically pulling on jeans and a sweatshirt before I run out of the door! When summer vacation comes along, I try keeping a similar schedule, but it is much more “fluid.”

Of course there are exceptions. The muse is notorious for not sticking to a schedule. But that is what my handy dandy notebook is for!

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ME: Why do you write for children?

 

Becky:

Because I have to. Honestly. I’ve been a writer all my life. When I was a kid I wrote about childish things, and that hasn’t changed. Though I’ve written a few little things for adults, my writer brain doesn’t seem to want to grow up. As a reader, I prefer reading stories that are written for kids–picture books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, even poetry collections–so I guess it makes sense that those are the things I want to write.

 

I love words, and ever since I was very young I’ve loved stringing those words together to create poems and stories. And stories that are written for children just seem to be the purest and truest stories (and poems!) in the world. 

 

Plus, I love kids. I love the way they react to stories. The giggles and gasps, the oohs and ahs, the exclamations of “read it again!” That is pure magic.

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

Becky:

An important thing to remember as a writer is that it is okay to write crap. When I get a new story or poem idea, the most important thing for me is to get the story down on paper. I do my best work and have the most fun (usually) during the revision process. Even when I’m writing with my coauthor, Corey Rosen Schwartz, we try to get the bones of a story down before really giving it any meat or worrying about word choice and meter. It’s better to have something a little wonky to polish up than to try to make a story perfect from line one.

 

For writers of rhyme, my advice is to read lots and lots of rhyming picture books by lots of different authors. Read them aloud, to yourself and to kids. Note what works and what doesn’t. Read your own rhyming manuscripts aloud to yourself and to kids and to other adults, and ask some other adults to do the same. One of the things that helps Corey and me write fabulous rhyme together is that we live in different parts of the country, so we talk differently. Rhyme doesn’t always work the same for me as it does for her. So we are forced to make it work for both of us, which helps ensure that it will work for a wider range of readers. The truth is, there will almost always be some reader who stumbles on some part of a rhyming story no matter how perfect it is. But if you are willing to do the hard work, that will be less of an issue for you.

 

The most important thing is to have fun!

 

That is so important, Becky! I’m glad you mentioned that because, without the aspect of fun, we might as well do something else.

I know all of you want to join me in thanking Becky for sharing all of this writer-love!

If you’d like to connect with Becky or find out more about her book and her writing: www.rebeccajgomez.com

If you’d like to read the Perfect Picture Book Friday review I did yesterday: viviankirkfield.com/2015/08/14/perfect-picture-book-friday-what-about-moose

 

And there’s MORE! Becky is also sharing a yummy Gingersnap Cookie recipe.

Becky:

Here’s a recipe I like to bake when I want something different than the usual homemade chocolate chip.

Photo courtesy: http://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/gingersnaps

beard-ginger-snaps-istock

Gingersnaps (from the Better Homes and Gardens (old) New Cookbook

These spicy-sweet treats are quick and easy.

 

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup shortening or cooking oil

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 cup sugar

 

In a mixing bowl combine about half of the flour, the brown sugar, shortening, molasses, egg, baking soda and spices. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour.

 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until set and tops are crackled. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.

A million thanks, Becky! I’m a gingersnap fan—I will definitely try these.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Summer is winding down and school is starting in many places. Please be safe if you are traveling, have fun whether you are at home or away, and read lots of books!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: What About Moose?

Can you believe it? It’s already the middle of August. A couple of trees have taken on a tinge of the autumn that is yet to come. I’ll be sad to see summer disappear—I love long sunny days. So I might be asking,“What about making summer longer?”

But instead, because it’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’m asking, “What About Moose?”

what-about-moose-9781481404969_lg

WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez

Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2015)

Ages: 3-8

Themes: Teamwork, social skills, friendship

 

Opening Lines:

Fox met her friends, with her toolbox in hand.

“Time to start building! Now here’s what I’ve planned.”

She divvied up jobs, and then Moose trotted in.

“I’m here,” he announced. “Let construction begin.”

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

“It takes a team to build a tree house—but what if that team includes one very bossy moose?

When Fox, Toad, Bear, Porcupine, and Skunk set out to build a tree house, they know just what to do: they’ll follow a plan and they’ll work as a team. But when bossy Moose barges in and upends their plans with some of his own, his friends become more and more frustrated…until things go hilariously awry!

This lively rhyming picture book is pure, bouncy fun even as it imparts a subtle lesson about teamwork. Young readers will love to chant along: “But what about you, Moose!”

Why I like this book:

  • The incredible rhyme and humor of Corey Rosen Schwartz and her co-author, Rebecca Gomez
  • Bold colorful illustrations of Keika Yamaguchi
  • Addresses teamwork and sharing
  • Encourages friendship building

 

How a parent can use this book:

  • Wonderful read aloud
  • Great book for kids who are having a problem with sharing the load and teamwork
  • Talk about how to be a good friend – what are the qualities we want in a friend…those are the same qualities a friend wants in us

 

 

Related Activity

MAKE A PAPER BAG MOOSE PUPPET

moose paper bag craft

Photo courtesy: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/preschool-crafts-activities

I’m a big fan of using inexpensive materials for craft projects with young kids…with a paper bag or a paper plate, you can have a barrel of fun!

You will need: One paper lunch bag, one piece of construction paper, markers or crayons, scissors, glue.

  1. Help your child trace his handprints on a piece of construction paper.
  2. Glue at the top of the lunch bag – these are the antlers.
  3. Draw moose features with markers or crayons.
  4. Role play with your child and retell the story – you can take turns being moose. Acting out the story is a great way to develop literacy skills like comprehension and vocabulary.

There are several other simple moose crafts here: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/preschool-crafts-activities/61650-four-moose-crafts-for-preschool

 

And guess what? I’ve got a special treat in store for you TOMORROW.

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

WELCOMES

REBECCA J. GOMEZ

CO-AUTHOR OF TODAY’S PPBF, WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?

Please don’t miss it—she’s got lots to share, including a stellar recipe for gingersnaps!

Thank you all for visiting – I look forward to your comments – please share this wonderful book and activity with parents, teachers and librarians  – they are always looking for great books and quick & easy activities that educate and entertain.