WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
‘HOLT’ on to your hats, my friends. One of my dearest critique partners, Hannah Holt, is in the house.
Hannah is a children’s author with an engineering degree. Her books, The Diamond & The Boy (2018, Balzer & Bray) and A Father’s Love (2019, Philomel) weave together her love of language and science. She lives in Oregon with her husband, four children, and a very patient cat named Zephyr. She and her family enjoy reading, hiking, and eating chocolate chip cookies.
ME: What a thrill to have you here, Hannah. And it has nothing to do with those chocolate chip cookies. I’ve read your stories since 2012…and watched your stories get better and better as you grew in your craft…actually, your manuscripts were really good from the very start…in 2016, you won the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award for picture books. But I know right now everyone wants to find out a little bit more about you.
Who were your favorite authors and/or illustrators when you were a child?
HANNAH: As a child, my favorite illustrator was Maurice Sendak. His characters were as beautiful as angles, but those angels seemed to wink at me. It made it easy to connect with them.
My favorite author was Judith Viorst. I was a quiet child, who felt things strongly and her work spoke straight to me. I still remember sitting in kindergarten while the librarian read us Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I remember feeling relieved that someone else felt the same way I did sometimes. Then I realized that meant other people felt things. Sitting in the library that day, I experienced a new type of feeling—empathy.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
HANNAH: I had a lot of doubts in the beginning. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be good enough. Somewhere along the line, I changed my thinking from “if” to “when” and just settled in for however long and wherever the ride took me.
I’d say, don’t waste your energy wondering whether or not you will make it. Instead, pour yourself into creating the best work you can. The rest will follow…eventually!
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
HANNAH: I mostly write in my home office but once a week or so I take my laptop over to a friend’s house for a writing date. A lot of these are at Evelyn Shoop’s house. She’s a killer content developer and copy editor, who used to work full time for Sesame Street. She doesn’t write children’s books, but we both live the writing life. Sometimes it’s nice to work separately but together.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
HANNAH: I write mostly while my kids are at school and late at night when they are in bed. However, when I’m on deadline, it’s every moment I can steal. Summers are the hardest time for me to write. Last summer I flew my mom in town, so I could finish a big project on time. I worked long days for a week straight, but I finished the project.
ME: Why do you write for children?
HANNAH: I’m a kid at heart. I’m constantly asking, Why, How, and What? Writing for children, is an outlet for me to explore my curiosity and connect with readers.
ME: Thank you so much for all of this insignt, Hannah. I especially love your answer to #2:
“I’d say, don’t waste your energy wondering whether or not you will make it. Instead, pour yourself into creating the best work you can. The rest will follow…eventually!”
YES! That is so true…I believe that success will come to everyone who keeps writing, keeps revising, hones their craft, and NEVER gives up. And I also believe that chocolate chip cookies helps…so luckily, Hannah is providing us with one of her favorite recipes.
Hannah: Like any kid at heart, I love cookies! My husband’s favorite type of cookie is chocolate chip. For his birthday, I make him a giant chocolate chip cookie-cake!
Every cookie cake, should be served warm, needs a giant scoop of ice cream on top, and several forks for sharing!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 ¼ sticks softened unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 cups flour
- 10 oz chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside for later.
Cream together the butter and sugars.
Step 2: Mix in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
Step 3: Add the vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda one at a time. Mix well. Scraping the sides and mixing again. (I can’t be bothered messing two bowls while baking, and have never had trouble getting cookies to rise. However, if you want the “proper” way to do it, you are welcome to combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add them that way.)
Step 4: Gradually add the flour until just combined.
Step 5: Mix in the chocolate chips.
Step 6: Pat the cookie dough into the prepared cake pan.
Cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the sides look golden and the middle is no longer raw/shiny.
Step 7: Serve warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
Our family of six eats it off one plate with several forks, but you may dish into individual portions to avoid the elbow-pushing rush to get the most. 🙂
Step 8: Nap. You’ll need one after eating this rich dessert.
THAT LOOKS AMAZING! Thank you so much Hannah. And thank you for sharing so much of your journey in this Q&A and thank you also for the generous giveaway of a picture book critique!
Dear readers, please leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway of a picture book critique from Hannah Holt…I know from personal experience that her critiques are fabulous! She’s been a critique ninja for the 12×12 forum and she totally knows her stuff! And, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve added a copy of the book as an additional giveaway. We will have two winners, one for the critique and one for the book!
And here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar, we’ve got exciting weeks ahead…lots of Perfect Picture Book Fridays and Will Write for Cookies with old friends and new ones. Safe travels if you plan to go anywhere…I’ll be home on Saturday, glued to my computer screen for the Picture Book Summit conference. And Sunday, my local indie bookstore has a book signing with a couple of local writers. Next year it will be my turn times three, so I’d better take notes.
I’m wishing you all a wonderful weekend.
Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY plus Picture Book Manuscript Critique Giveaway Plus Book Giveaway
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends! I’m continuing on my journey through the fabulous debut picture books of 2018. And today, you are in for a treat. I think most of you know how much I LOVE non-fiction picture book stories. And here is one that is going to go to the top of the charts!
THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creations of Diamonds & The Life of H. Tracy Hall
Written by Hannah Holt
Illustrated by Jay Fleck
Published by Balzer & Bray (October 2018)
Themes: Inventors, curiosity, bullying
Opening lines: “A ROCK named graphite. A BOY named Tracy.
Synopsis: From Amazon:
Told in a unique dual-narrative format, The Diamond and the Boy follows the stories of both natural diamond creation and the life of H. Tracy Hall, the inventor of a revolutionary diamond-making machine. Perfect for fans of Rosie Revere, Engineer, and On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein.
Before a diamond is a gem, it’s a common gray rock called graphite. Through an intense trial of heat and pressure, it changes into one of the most valuable stones in the world.
Before Tracy Hall was an inventor, he was a boy—born into poverty, bullied by peers, forced to work at an early age. However, through education and experimentation, he became one of the brightest innovators of the twentieth century, eventually building a revolutionary machine that makes diamonds.
From debut author Hannah Holt—the granddaughter of Tracy Hall—and illustrator Jay Fleck comes this fascinating in-depth portrait of both rock and man.”
Why I like this book:
- Based on the life of her grandfather, the author had access to fabulous research resources…and it shows. The book has an authenticity that you don’t often find, even in nonfiction.
- I love that there are so many layers in this story…the life of the diamond, the life of H. Tracy Hall, bullying, staying true to who you are, following your dream.F
- The talented Jay Fleck brings the story to life with vivid colors and fabulous illustrations.
Diamond Shaped Craft for Kids
For detailed instructions and other crafts: http://cleverlearner.com/shapes/diamond-shape-activity.html
Diamond facts for kids: http://www.scienceforkidsclub.com/diamond.html
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a picture book manuscript critique from Hannah Holt. It will be a priceless gift to one lucky winner!
PLUS…I’m adding another giveaway…a brand new copy of THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY. Here’s the back story: I ordered a copy from Amazon months and months ago. And then, for some reason, I forgot (life has been a bit busy and distracting for me this year)…and so I ordered one from my local indie bookstore. And I picked that one up a few weeks ago…and then the other day, I got a message from Amazon saying my book order would arrive on Thursday. So, now I have two copies and I want to share the joy! I’ll choose one winner for the critique and a different winner for the book. Make sure you comment on today’s post and tomorrow’s and Tuesday’s Book Birthday post. That way you will have three chances.
And I want to thank everyone who shared and/or commented on my Facebook post about the new cover and corrected launch date for Sweet Dreams, Sarah…I’m getting really excited about 2019…I’ve received the hard copy of Pippa’s Passover Plate and I can’t wait to share the cover of Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book…I think it will be ready to reveal in the next month or so!
For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.
Enjoy your weekend, dear friends! The autumn leaf colors are deepening. If you are driving or traveling, please be safe.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
I’m definitely singing at the top of my lungs because THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: The Creation of Diamonds & the Life of H. Tracy Hall launches today! And this is the debut picture book of one of my critique buddies from the VERY FIRST CRITIQUE GROUP I EVER JOINED! (and we are all still going strong!) I saw this story as a rough draft and watched as it grew more and more polished…until it became a shining gem of a book.
CONGRATULATIONS, dear Hannah Holt!
Make sure you come back on Friday for a Perfect Picture Book Friday review and craft ideas for kids. PLUS, on Saturday, Hannah will be stopping by to chat and share some of her writing journey with us. And don’t forget to leave a comment here and on the other THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY posts…BECAUSE…Hannah has graciously and generously agreed to give away a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE…and I can tell you from many years experience, this talented author knows how to give unbelievable feedback!
Meanwhile, what can you do? Well, you can head over to pick up a copy of her book on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore. You can write a review on Amazon or Goodreads or some other book review sites. You can go to your library and ask them to purchase a copy or two for their collection, if it isn’t already available there. And you can share this post on your social media channels so the whole world will find out about this fabulous book. It’s going to be such a great #STEM addition to every elementary school and library. And if your kiddos are curious, inventive, lovers of anything science, or have ever been bullied, you definitely want to read this with them.
CONGRATULATIONS, Hannah! This is the first of many more book birthdays to come for you!!!!