Sara O’Leary: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT, INSPIRATION, INFORMATION

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

SARA O’LEARY

One of the most fun things about this kidlit community is that it is composed of people from all of the world. I have critique partners in New Zealand, France, and South Korea.  Some of my fellow Storm Literary Agency authors and illustrators live in Switzerland, Australia, and Stockholm.  I hope to one day travel around the world, stopping in to meet all of these amazing friends. And perhaps, if I stop in the Canada, I will get to meet today’s guest, Sara O’Leary.

Sara O’Leary writes for both children and adults. Her most recent picture books are A Family Is A Family Is a Family with Qin Leng and You Are Three with Karen Klassen. She has a degree in screenwriting from University of British Columbia and has taught children’s writing at Concordia University in Montreal. Her first novel, The Ghost in the House, will be published next year.

And here is the cover of her next picture which will launch next year

blue moon

I’m so thrilled to welcome her to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

ME: Hello, Sara! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat. Let’s start!

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

SARA: I loved Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban’s Frances books. I remember being somewhat surprised as an adult to realize that Frances was a badger so complete was my identification with the character. Arnold Loebel’s Frog and Toad stories appealed to me for their gentle humour as did Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear with those sweet Sendak illos. I loved Joan Walsh Anglund’s Look Out My Window and spent a good few years drawing trees because of that book. Alice was also very important to me and I still have my battered green cloth edition of Through The Looking Glass. I also loved fairy tales and nursery rhymes and verse by writers like R.L. Stevenson and A.A. Milne. I think the echoes of all that early immersion in literature run deep in my writing. And if I could ever write something I love half as much as I love Ogden Nash’s “Adventures of Isabel” I would consider myself a success. Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library books are such a perfect marriage of form and content and I love them as much now as I did when I was small.

     2. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

SARA: When I first started writing children’s books I didn’t really think of it as being who I was but more as something I did. Now I consider myself a children’s writer and very lucky to be one.

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

SARA: Anywhere really. I write on a laptop for first draft and then somewhere along the line I write the whole thing out by hand. I also make a very, very rough dummy to get a sense of page turns and the amount of text on the page. At this stage I find I am able to eliminate a lot of text by imagining what the illustrator can do.

this is sadie

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

SARA: Anytime. And most of it is done in my head as I walk or do mundane chores. One of the reasons I like picture books so is that you really can carry the whole text around in your head for a spell and let it tumble around like a bit of dull, rough stone in a rock tumbler.

  1. Why do you write for children?

SARA: Because they are the very best readers. Because I know what it is to carry a line or two somebody wrote a hundred years ago around in your head throughout childhood and into adulthood. Because they laugh at my jokes.

Cy2_cNIUkAE8TGA

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.

SARA: Reading is key. I was a child who was read to often and I often think of the line from the poem by Strickland Gillian: “Richer than I you can never be–I had a Mother who read to me.”

ME: Oh my gosh…that is one of my favorite quotes!!!

To find out more about Sara and her books:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/saraoleary

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sara-OLeary-246685492054006/

Blog: https://123oleary.blogspot.ca/

And now for the sweet treat…take it away, Sara!

SARA: My good friend, Marina Endicott, is a novelist and also writes the most beautiful recipes. Once she had a good laugh over one of my overly minimalist recipes. It might have been this one for my mother’s variation on her mother’s shortbread.

Ginger Shortbread

3 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups butter

salt

ginger

2 x 9 inch round pan

60 mins at 300

SARA: Looking at this recipe I now realize that I do sometimes let the reductive impulse go too far!  I fail to mention that the ginger referred to is the crystallized variety and that you’ll want to finely mince it. I also fail to mention the quantity required. But really that all depends on how much you like ginger.

ME: That’s okay, Sara…I think most of us would use our own tastes when it comes to adding the ginger.

Thank you so much, Sara, for sharing your insights with us. And thank you, dear readers, for spending some of your precious time here. Please leave a comment here or on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post in order to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY. Big thanks to Groundwood Books for offering the giveaway. (U.S. and Canadian addresses only)

Groundwood Logos Spine

But wait! One more thing! We need to give away a copy of Melissa Stoller’s THE ENCHANTED SNOWGLOBE COLLECTION: Return to Coney Island.

And the winner is:

TRACY POTASH

Congratulations, Tracy…I’ll be in touch and connect you with Melissa.

Enjoy this next to the last weekend in August, dear friends. And please do come back next week for more book reviews and author/illustrator interviews…and of course, more giveaways!

 

 

PPBF: Summer in a Bowl

The third week of every month is pretty special around here. On Saturday, we’ll welcome our Will Write for Cookies author, Joan Leotta. And that means that today, we’ll be featuring one of her picture books for Perfect Picture Book Friday. If you’d like to see all of this week’s other wonderful perfect picture book reviews, please hop on over to Susanna Hill’s blog.

With the end of the summer closing in on us, I found the perfect one.

 

 summer-in-a-bowl

SUMMER IN A BOWL

Written by Joan Leotta

Illustrated by Rebecca Michael Zeissler

Published by Theaq Publishing (2016)

Age: 5-9

 Themes:  Gardening, family togetherness

 Synopsis:

From Amazon: “Summer in a Bowl” is a wonderful introduction to the joys of gardening and cooking with children. Rosa spends every Thursday helping Aunt Mary tend her garden. On this last Thursday of the season, they harvest the vegetables and cook them. Rosa finds that vegetables can be delicious and discovers a new way to preserve all of her summer fun.”

 Why I love this book:

  • I love stories that promote family togetherness
  • It reminded me of the fun my children had helping me in our big vegetable garden when they were growing up…my younger son still loves to garden…and enjoys cooking with fresh vegetables all the time

 How parents can use this book:

  • Great opportunity for intergenerational family activities
  • Perfect way to help a fussy eater expand his or her choices
  • Children will gain an appreciation for where food comes from

 Related Activities

 

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill. Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, dear friends and readers. If you enjoyed the post, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or whatever social media channels you prefer.

And please do come back tomorrow for:

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

WITH

JOAN LEOTTA

AND ANOTHER BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Holiday Writing Contest – The Christmas Seed

Guess what? It’s December! Do you know how I know?

It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual Holiday Writing Contest! YAY!

holiday contest

And this is the fifth year I have participated! Sorry for all the exclamation marks…but it’s one of my favorite writing challenges.

Here are some of the basic rules from Susanna website: the contest is open to everyone and there is still time to enter—deadline is Friday, December 11.  Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) beginning with any version of “Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing [any preposition you choose] the [any item you choose] [any preposition you choose] the [venue of your choice].”  For example, “Surfing along the wind-whipped waves at the Yuletide barbeque,” or “Wandering through the pine-sweet woods at the cut-your-own tree farm,” or “Quarreling in the checkout line at the local Toys R Us,” or “Waltzing among the candy canes at the Holiday Bazaar”….   You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂 And the maximum word count is 350. There are PRIZES galore! For more information: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2015/11/monday-munchdayan-exciting-announcement.html

Those of you who know me know I love to write in rhyme. Here’s my entry—I hope you like it!

 

The Christmas Seed (341 words)

 

Circling round the planet Mars on their space craft RV-3,

the children begged and pleaded for a real live Christmas tree.

“There is no way,” cried Maw and Paw, “for that to come about.”

So Sue and Lou and Baby Boo would have to do without.

No Christmas tree? That cannot be…they vowed to find a way.

Sue climbed up high and searched the sky, but only saw a sleigh.

And Lou got tangled in the lights while looking in a drawer.

And Baby Boo picked up a seed as he crawled on the floor.

“Take that away,” cried Maw and Paw, “that’s not for Boo to eat”

But Boo skedaddled like a flash to the ejection seat.

Maw screamed! Lou tripped! Sue scrambled down! Paw reached to

save his kid.

They heard a BOOM! It shook the room! The spaceship blew its lid!

They watched as Boo flew through the air; it was a fearful sight.

This wasn’t quite the way they’d planned to spend this Christmas

night.

And Maw, she moaned, and Paw, he groaned, and Sue and Lou,

they cried.

But then they heard a HO! HO! HO! and Santa slid inside.

He opened up his big red sack – plucked out a doll for Sue,

a watch for Paw, a book for Maw, a bat and ball for Lou.

But Maw and Paw, their faces drooped, and Sue and Lou, they

frowned,

until they heard, deep in the sack, a most familiar sound.

Then Santa reached way down inside and pulled out Baby Boo.

“I saved the best for last,” he said. “This one’s for all of you!”

And scrambling up onto his sleigh, he pointed straight at Mars

The seed Boo found had grown into a Christmas tree with stars.

And Santa’s booming voice rang out as he rode out of sight,

“May peace and love and joy be yours on this and every night.”

So if you get a telescope, please aim the lens towards Mars,

and you might see Boo’s Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling

stars.

 

I hope you get a chance to visit the other contest submissions…they are sure to be fantastic!

And before I forget, a couple of weeks ago, I was part of a book blog tour for Margret Peot’s new picture book,  Crow Made a Friend. I promised there would be a GIVEAWAY of a copy of this precious story. And the winner is….

LESLIE GOODMAN

Congrats, Leslie!

I will get in touch with you for your address so they can ship the book to you.

Have a wonderful week—pass along a smile, give someone a hug, and be kind to yourself.

Sunday Post: Cities…A Good Place to Raise Children?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is CITIES.

 

Do you live in a big city like Chicago?

Or are you raising your family in a smaller town?

Wherever children grow up, they enjoy doing things with their parents.

If you want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.”

How can we do this?


Read with them.  This is Carter with the interactive Cheerios Halloween book that was part of the Halloween Prize Package I sent to his family.

Introduce them to nature and let them get dirty!  This is my grandson, Jeremy, having a ball with mud!

Share your interests with them!  This is my granddaughter, learning to fish.

Be joyous with them!  Laugh with them!  Love them!

 

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/

Sunday Post: Favorite Spot – Wherever Loved Ones Are!

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is FAVORITE SPOT.

Horseback riding in the western hills above Steamboat Springs, CO.

 

FAVORITE SPOT: WITH MY HUSBAND!

Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park

 

Great cast into the Big Thompson River in RMNP.

A perfect autumn day in New England.

FAVORITE SPOT:  WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN!

 

Reading with kids at Tollhouse Preschool in New Hampshire.

FAVORITE SPOT: SCHOOL VISITS!

 

Cooking with kids builds self-esteem, develops literacy skills and is just plain fun!

FAVORITE SPOT: IN THE KITCHEN!

 

FAVORITE SPOT I HAVEN’T BEEN TO YET: ITALY

I’d love to have the opportunity to travel…I’ve driven across the country twice and next spring I may have the unbelievable opportunity to speak at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore.

However, sipping wine and feasting on homemade bread and cheese al fresco under the Tuscan sun is a dream of mine. 

A writer friend of mine has organized an amazing retreat for women writers in Florence, Italy.  It will take place from April 7-13, 2013. I cannot attend (this time), but you might like to go. Julie has an overview of the retreat on her website, plus specific information about the ProgramFacultyAccommodation and Rates. If you do register, please let Julie know I sent you!

Speaking about Julie…today is the last day of September…time to check in with the 12×12 in 2012 Challenge.  In January, children’s author Julie Hedlund issued a challenge: write one picture book draft every month in 2012.  Over 400 writers answered that challenge!

 

 The challenge has definitely inspired me to write a picture book draft each month…and I’ve enjoyed connecting with dozens of members of this amazing kidlit community.  My September draft is done…I’m hoping that in the next few months, I will prepare several manuscripts for submission!

 

This is the last day for nominations to give a dozen free copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cookingto schools or other childcare facilities.  Nominate your child’s school, or your own school if you are a teacher, in the Show Me How School Initiative by leaving a comment and telling us why you’d like that school or classroom to have this book.  If you don’t have young children, but know people who do, please tell them about the free book their child’s school can receive!  On Friday, we will use Random.org to choose 12 lucky schools. 

You can purchase a copy of this award-winning resource on Amazon (only $19.95) and on Amazon Kindle (only $9.95).  This award-winning book is a great gift for parents, grandparents, teachers, daycare providers and every young child (ages 2-8) that you know!  Get started on your holiday shopping…no batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination and a parent’s positive participation!  Check out this wonderful review from a kid’s point of view.

 

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

 http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ 

The Forgotten Ones…

The Forgotten Ones….

Have you ever walked down the halls of a nursing home?

In most of them, it’s a heartbreaking sight.

I read a blog post that moved my heart…I hope it moves yours as well.

Piglet in Portugal has an award-winning blog in…you guessed it…Portugal.  Her tales about her vegetable garden will have you rolling on the floor…her sense of humor is apparent in every post she does.

The post she did about people in nursing homes won’t make you laugh…but I hope it will make you smile as you think about what you can do to bring a moment of happiness to an elderly resident of a nursing home. 

Parents: how about reading Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, a picture book by Mem Fox about a little boy who lives next door to a home for the elderly?  Then you and your child can talk about how you can make them smile…maybe make a card or picture and deliver it to a local nursing home. 

I’ll be reviewing that book in my next post.

Autumn is in the Air: Time to Turn on the Oven and Bake a Cake

 

I love the fall…cool crisp mornings and warm sunny afternoons.

Here in Colorado, the aspen leaves will be turning to gold, while back in New England where my daughter and her family live; the maples will be wearing flaming headdresses of scarlet, crimson and purple.

 

Many parents will be helping their children plan their Halloween costumes and decorate the house with pumpkins and sheaves of autumn wheat and Indian corn.  Years ago, our local library had an annual pumpkin-painting contest and all of my children looked forward to choosing the “perfect” pumpkin to decorate and enter…hoping to win the coveted first place prize ribbon.

 

As the weather cools down, many of us start getting out the muffin pans and cookie sheets in preparation for holiday baking.  I encourage parents to include their children in meal preparation…and holiday baking is an especially fun time to have your kids in the kitchen. If you are looking for simple child-friendly recipes, you’ll find dozens of them in my book, Show Me How!

Here’s a wonderful recipe for Carrot Cake that doesn’t appear in the book.  It’s special enough for festive occasions, but simple enough so that young children can help.

 

The best thing about this cake is that it is very nutritious (one pound of carrots in each cake) and easy on the digestive system.  I recommend it for anyone who suffers from IBS or GERD problems.

CARROT CAKE

You will need: 1½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, 1½ tsp baking powder, ¾ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 egg beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of 1 orange, 1 pound baby carrots grated, ¾ cup pineapple chunks with juice (about ½ cup), 2 bowls, 1 Bundt pan lightly greased, blender or food processor.

  1. Mix in large bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  2. Mix in another bowl: brown sugar, beaten egg, canola oil, vanilla, orange zest.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to grate the carrots and add the pineapple chunks and juice and blend until fairly smooth.
  4. Add the carrot/pineapple mixture to the brown sugar/egg mixture and stir well till blended.
  5. Add this to the flour mixture and stir gently but thoroughly..
  6. Pour/spoon into lightly greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.  After 30 minutes or so, turn upside down on a serving plate and allow the cake to continue cooling.
  8. For storage, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to one week.

                                                                     For parents who are local to the Colorado Springs area

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE

STAYING HEALTHY

THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

SHOW-ME-HOW STORY-TIME PROGRAM

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12 to 12:45pm

Family Christian Store: 7165 N. Academy

719-598-1500 to RSVP

Or email vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com

  • Bring your young children and listen to a story
  • Help your child make a simple craft project
  • Get a free flyer: Have a Healthier School Year

Vivian Kirkfield is a local author, former kindergarten and Head Start teacher and mom of three. Her parenting program and award-winning activity book for ages 2-7, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, has helped thousands of parents build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a stronger parent-child connection.