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Jen Goldfinger: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT, INFORMATION AND INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

head shot

JEN GOLDFINGER

Earlier this year, I went to lunch with one of my local critique buddies. We drove to a lovely restuarant in Massachusetts and met with two other author/illustrators. I really connected with Jen and, when I found out she wrote and illustrated picture books, I knew I’d want to have her on Will Write for Cookies.

Jen is a sweetheart and this past May, when I held the 2nd Annual #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge, she offered to donate a copy of her newest picture book, HELLO, MY NAME IS TIGER.

Jen lives in a town a quick drive away from Boston and Cambridge, with her husband and two daughters. She has a studio in an old Mill that’s on a bike path. It takes her 5 minutes to bike there, but it’s downhill from her house, so it takes twice as long to get home. She usually drives to the studio so she can bring her dog Lila. Sometimes they take breaks to go rollerblading.

I’m so glad Jen took a break to visit with us.
ME: Welcome, Jen! It’s so good to have you here. I know everyone is anxious to hear about you.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

JEN: I lived on a farm as a young girl and it was a big outing to go to the library to get books. We’d come home with stacks and stacks to hold us over until the next long drive to the library. I have such a strong memory of reading THE PLANT SITTER and HARRY THE DIRTY DOG by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. In the PLANT SITTER, I was so taken by the visuals of plants taking over a whole house that the walls fell down revealing a house shaped plant. I also loved HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, WINNIE THE POOH and CHARLOTTE’S WEB.

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

JEN: I know how to break down a story now to see if it has the elements that makes it have tension and resolve, how flaws in the protagonist and their failed attempts can make the story progress. Before I would write and cross my fingers that it worked.

I’m also getting better at showing not telling in my longer books. The use of words can make a sentence much more dynamic if you don’t describe too much. I don’t have as much trouble with this in picture books since I’m an illustrator. I tend to picture what I’m going to illustrate at the same time I’m writing it, so the illustrations pull a lot of weight.

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

JEN: When I’m stuck on an issue an a book, I “write” when I first wake up in the morning and my eyes are still shut, I also “write” when I’m scrubbing my hair in the shower and even when I’m walking my dog. This is when ideas pop into my head, or problems are worked out.

workspace for art

The physical part of writing, I do in a couple of places. Inside, I write on a laptop, on a big brown fuzzy couch in my living room next to a giant window looking out a the treetops. Because I’m also an illustrator and fine artist, I also have a studio in an old mill where I do my artwork and sometimes write, although I do many first sketches on that couch too.

meditation chair

I also have what I call a “meditation chair” hanging on my porch. I go out there to think, solve problems and pound on my keyboard.

with tea

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

JEN: It varies… I write when I have any free moment.  As I said earlier, I’m also an illustrator and a fine artist, so I toggle between writing, illustrating and painting.  I can work from 2 to 16 hours a day depending on other commitments and deadlines. If I have the time I can work for hours on end, I’m so immersed, it still feels like only a few hours. As a fine artist I sell my paintings in a gallery in Provincetown, MA called the Rice Polak Gallery.

DROPPING DAISIESDropping Daisies, 36″x 48″ Wax, oil stick, pastel

ME: Why do you write for children?

JEN: I’ve noticed when casually talking to other author friends that we tend to write for an age that we had strong memories and emotions. I lived on the farm from ages 6-12. I remember so many stories, feelings and hardships from those ages. I think my super power is seeing the world like a 6 year old.

bored 2Bored, gouache, colored pencil, watercolor.

bear bird 3BEAR BIRD, antique and colored paper, colored pencil, gouche

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. 🙂

 

JEN: Many people want to be children’s book authors and/or illustrators. One of the most important things to do is keep pushing yourself by writing and rewriting, go to conferences, show your work around, write it again, get knocked down, cry a little and take a deep breath and do it all over again. The people I know who are successful in this field did what I mentioned above, again, again and again.

ME: Thank you so much, Jen! This has been fabulous. I love hearing about how others have taken journey…and it’s especially helpful to hear it from the double perspective of an author/illustrator.

Dear friends, if you’d like to find out more about Jen, her artwork, and her wonderful books:

Children’s book website

Fine art

And I know you are waiting anxiously (just like the little boy in HELLO, MY NAME IS TIGER) for the sweet treat at the end of the post. So please take it away, Jen!

JEN: My favorite cookie is a fresh baked variation on the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. It’s one of the only things I bake and I’ve memorized the recipe when I was a child. I tend to put in less flour, and bake a little less than the recipe because I like gooey cookies. Recently I’ve changed up the recipe even more because my daughter is vegan.

I’ve discovered that replacing the butter with coconut oil, I like the cookies even better than before. It has a slight coconut taste and it lasts longer than the butter version. I don’t think substituting the egg makes a difference in the quality of the cookie, so choose your preference.

In the picture below I also substituted 2 cups of almond flour for one of the cups of flour (because I ran out of flour and I was curious how it would come out, delicious and extra nutty, btw).

cookies

INGREDIENTS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 cup coconut oil

¾ cup of brown sugar

¾ cup of white sugar

2 eggs or egg substitute for vegan cookies

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups flour

1 cup vegan chocolate chips (trader joes’ chocolate chips happen to be vegan)

1 cup broken walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

I only like to use one bowl, so I mix the wet ingredients first then add the dry ingredients and mix well. Put tablespoons worth of batter on a cookie sheet with room around the blobs and cook for around 8-9 minutes. Watch carefully so the base is slightly brown and the rest is slightly soft.

ME: Oh dear…this sounds just too tempting. I may have to try these when my grandson comes for Grammy Camp next week.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway of a copy of HELLO, MY NAME IS TIGER.

And for those of you in the path of the Texas storm, we are praying for you.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Hello, My Name is Tiger PLUS Giveaway

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is coming just at the right time!

But before we get to the review, we have TWO giveaway winners to announce!

I feel blessed that our author guests and their publishers have been so generous this year.

The winner of a copy of CHICKEN WANTS A NAP by Tracy Marchini is….

INGRID BOYDSTON

And the winner of a copy of A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY by Sara O’Leary is…

LILY ERLIC

CONGRATULATIONS, dear ladies. I will contact you ASAP.

And now for our Perfect Picture Book!

School is just around the corner for many kids…and it may have already started for some. Whether it’s the first ever day of school, the first day at a new school, or the first day in a new class, kids often have a lot of anxiety. Will they make new friends? Will other kids laugh at them? Will they find their way around? Will they like their new teacher?

 cover

 

HELLO, MY NAME IS TIGER

Written and illustrated by Jen Goldfinger

Published by HarperCollins (2016)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: first day of school, anxiety, be yourself

Synopsis:

From Amazon

A reassuring picture book for back-to-school jitters!

Toby likes being a cat more than he likes being a boy. So when it’s time to go to school, he becomes a timid kitten. But when Toby finally gathers the courage to join in with the other kids, he finds out that everything is more fun with friends.

Why I like this book:

  • Wonderful text
  • Bold bright colorful illustrations
  • Super message for kids

Related Activities

ttigerPhoto courtesy: http://www.dltk-kids.com

Paper Plate Tiger

If you’ve visited my blog before, you probably know I LOVE paper plate crafts for kids. They are quick, easy, and inexpensive…plus kids really enjoy making them and they can be hung up and displayed proudly or used for role playing or children’s theater.

You will need: Paper plate, markers or crayons, scissors, glue, construction paper.

For detailed instructions: http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/metiger.html

And one of the best things we can do for our children when they are anxious about something is to LISTEN, really listen.

Thank you so much for stopping by today…I hope you’ll be back tomorrow when author/illustrator Jen Goldfinger is in the Will Write for Cookies house with an eye-opening Q&A and a yummy original take on the classic Toll House Cookie recipe.

Dont forget to leave a comment to qualify for Jen’s giveaway of a copy of HELLO, MY NAME IS TIGER.

For more wonderful picture book reviews you will find hundreds on Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book site.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends!

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