Blog Archives

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

DSCN7064

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

with crayon

GRETCHEN BRANDENBURG MCLELLAN

Gretchen is another writer I met in the Picture the Books 2017 group. Hurray for all of these wonderful stories that wonderful authors like Gretchen are bringing to life.  As a teacher and reading specialist, she delights in welcoming children into the magical world of reading.  As a book fairy, she enjoys slipping books under the pillows of readers that remind them of where they have been and take them to places they didn’t know they needed to go.   As a writer, she is excited about the coming publication of her picture books with Beach Lane and Peachtree. 

 Gretchen has lived on three continents and is an advocate for TCKs, Third Culture Kids, who grew up as global nomads, especially military brats like herself.  Children yearning for a home will find they belong in her picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels. Gretchen has settled in Washington State, where she lives with her husband, cat and dog and celebrates when her three children come home.

 book cover 1

Dear friends…you are in for a treat with this Q&A! Please leave a comment at the end to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3.

 Welcome, Gretchen! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit with us.

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

 GRETCHEN:

I loved A.A. Milne in all the adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss, and E.B.White’s Charlotte’s Web. I was a big-time Nancy Drew fan and had my own library with check out cards!

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

GRETCHEN:

I wish I had known that there is a writing Cupid.

So many factors need to fall into place to ultimately publish—factors that are out of a writer’s control. Rejection doesn’t mean that a story is unpublishable. It means that fickle Cupid was busy doing other matchmaking when the submission was read. Cupid needs to pierce the heart of the right editor at the right time with the right space on her list in the right company that will be so smitten with the story that they’ll find it a worthwhile investment. It’s all about love. And money. The publisher must believe that Cupid will strike the heart of the reading public and that they will put up cash to possess the book. 

Those are a lot of variables that a writer has no control over. All a writer can do is write, improve her craft, write, read, and write and read some more, and strive to get her work in Cupid’s quiver by going to conferences to make connections with agents and editors who are open to submissions. This involves a lot that is out of the comfort zone of most of us introverts. Cupid may strike during your open mike reading! All in all, the writer must persevere.

book event

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?

GRETCHEN:

I started writing for children when my own children were young  and continued while I worked full time as a reading specialist during their school years. I learned to snatch writing time wherever I could–in the car, in barns, on sports fields, even in the bathtub! Now that I am not multitasking so much, I really enjoy working in coffee shops with the happy hum of people around me. I’m not a picky superstitious  writer. I’ll write on anything, with any instrument, at any time. I’m messy and so is my process.   

kids in hard hats

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?

GRETCHEN:

I don’t follow a schedule. Maybe when I get organized….

ME: Why do you write for children?

GRETCHEN:

Writing for kids is one pure, unquestionable YES in my life. 

When I became a mother, one of the unexpected gifts was my reentry into the world of children’s literature. First, I fell totally in love with beauty and power and form of the picture book.  As a young mother and as a teacher, I was overwhelmed by what I and my children discovered in the experience of sharing picture books together.  We cherished our reading time. We bonded through laughter and tears and wonder. Reading was at the heart of how we lived and grew.

Frost wrote of poems that they begin in delight, but end in wisdom. So do most picture books. If the book is of any importance it will end in wisdom—often so profound that I am moved to tears.  The delight of a picture book is not just in the reading, but in the writing as well.  When a picture book idea arrives, it often comes with a shiver of excitement—a delight so surprising and vital that it carries me along on the magic carpet ride of creation from the beginning to the middle to the end—to story.

As my children grew, so did my love of easy readers and middle grade fiction and YA. Each genre gave me glimpses of myself and literary experiences I wish I had had as a child. Each genre gave me a bit of home I never had, and a sense of belonging I craved. In my own work, I hope I can give children and their adult readers opportunities to see themselves and their lives in my stories, to find a home too. I am particularly committed to making a room for children who have grown up as Third Culture Kids, especially military kids such as myself.

with kids

ME: Gretchen…this is fabulous. I love your focus on Third Culture Kids. And I love all that you shared with us, especially about how Cupid must pierce the heart of the editor who looks at our manuscript. I believe that is true!

And now for one of the sweetest parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe!

GRETCHEN:

The book birthday party for Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3, I wanted the treats to be thematically related to my story—about the bittersweet. Mrs. McBee helps the kids in her classroom label their mixed emotions about the end of the school year. “Children, this is called a bittersweet moment. It’s like swirly ice cream with happy and sad twisted together. We’re sad about saying good-bye, but we’re happy about what’s ahead.” So my cookies are twisty ice cream cones, of course!\

cookie pic1

Basic Sugar Cookies—you can use your favorite. This is mine:

Whisk or sift in a bowl and set aside:

         2 and 3/4 cups unbleached flour

         1 teaspoon baking powder

         ½ teaspoon salt

In a mixer bowl beat:

         ¾ cup soft butter

And add:

         1 cup sugar

         2 eggs

         1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until fluffy, then add the flour mixture

Chill for at least 1 hour

Roll on floured board to desired thickness

Cut into your favorite shapes. I used a pastry cutter to make the diagonal lines on my cones before baking.

Bake on parchment paper for easy cleanup or on a greased cookie sheet  for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven, until a pale brown.

Cool and frost with your favorite frosting.

I used Butter Cream Frosting for my swirls:

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ teaspoon salt

4-6 tablespoons scalded cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Powdered sugar

Beat until creamy. For a two-toned effect, divide frosting into two equal parts. Add 2 tablespoons cocoa for chocolate—or more.  Add the same quantity of powdered sugar to the vanilla to have equal consistency for swirling. You could use food coloring and other flavors as well!

Use a split pastry bag designed for swirls to decorate your ice cream cones! Enjoy!

cookie pic 2

WOW! These would be perfect for any kid’s party! Thanks so much, Gretchen.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by today. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend…don’t sit on any of those eggs the Easter bunny has left.

Linda Whalen: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

 

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

LINDA WHALEN

 

I first met Linda in the Picture the Books 2017 group…what an awesome array of authors and illustrators! I’m thrilled with the quality of books that are debuting this year!

Linda Whalen lives with her husband on a plot of land in Northern California. Born a city kid, she married a farm boy from the mid-west and fell in love with country life.  Surrounded by family, pets and bunches of wild creatures, life is never dull. After working in, and then owning her own child-care facility, Linda is now pursing her passion of writing for children. She also enjoys time spent with her art supplies.

Maybe Linda will one day illustrate her own stories…we’ll have to ask if that is a goal of hers.

Just a reminder that Linda is giving away give a copy of LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY. If you want to see my review of it, click here. Make sure you leave a comment below. And if you haven’t already joined my email list, please click on the sidebar logo. I promise not to send you any junk…just good stuff.

 And now, let’s give a big Will Write for Cookies welcome to Linda!

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

 LINDA:

There were no funds for books in our household when I was growing up. But I did get an understanding that books were important because my mother had a set of The Book of Knowledge that were very dear to her and I wasn’t allowed to touch them. She also had a book that was a collection of children’s stories which she read to me occasionally. I still have that book and read it to my children often. When I was eleven she bought a set of World Book Encyclopedia and I loved flipping the pages and reading about all sorts of things outside of my little world. I still have the set and every yearbook that goes with it. The fact that someone actually wrote what I was reading didn’t sink in until I was a teenager.

book cover

Once I started reading books I couldn’t get enough of them. To quote my husband in our early years of marriage, “you always have your nose stuck in a book.” He’s used to it now.

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

LINDA:

Gag the internal editor! I was like so many new authors who think that the words you put on that blank piece of paper had to be perfect in every way until at a conference, I heard a speaker say “write crap, then edit.” It took a while for it to sink in but it really does release the creative side of writing to just let go and write what comes to mind. Believe me there is a lot of editing going on when I’m done.  Then there’s editing after critique and editing after the sale. So just let go and go with the flow on the first draft.

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?

LINDA:

I resisted writing on anything electronic. I love the feel of a pencil in my hand however, I’m much faster on the computer and can get the words down in a hurry. When writing by hand I sometimes have a hard time reading my own writing when I’ve rushed to get an idea down. Now I do both. I print out what I write electronically, grab a pencil and cuddle up somewhere to read and tear apart what I’ve written. I never clean my car or purse out completely, I need those scraps of paper to scribble down ideas when I get them.  Of course, I do pull over and stop if I’m in driving. On retreat or vacation when life isn’t whizzing by I like to write outside if my allergies will let me. I’ve found the balcony of a cruise ship is wonderful place to let your mind go where it wants. However, that doesn’t happen often so wherever I can find the time and space, I write.

workspace

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?

LINDA:

I’m working on setting aside a specific time to write (like a job…eek!) My life is way too crazy for that but I’m trying. If I haven’t taken the time to write for a while I get a little itchy to do so, it’s the same way with art. My daughter has said to me, “Mom, I think you need to go write something.” Maybe I get a little grumpy when I ignore my creative me. So, I guess I prefer letting the muse strike.

art space

ME: Why do you write for children?

LINDA:

Children have always been a big part of my life both personally and professionally.  I love reading stories to children and seeing their emotions dance through their eyes as they listen. What better way to connect with that dance than to write the words.

 Words written to bring joy, warmth, spark the imagination, sooth, and teach while entertaining young minds, cross all boundaries of color, gender, or wealth.

My husband while not an avid reader read bedtime stories to our children and often the words would spark his imagination and he would go off script and weave other elements into the story. While the author might not appreciate this, I think getting a reluctant reader to read stories to children is a great way to spark their imagination and interest to read more.

WOW! Linda…I love your reasons! And I know everyone joins me in thanking you for sharing those insights.

And now for one of my favorite parts of Will Write for Cookies…the treat recipe!

cookies

Coconut –Oatmeal Cookies

1 C. butter

1 C. brown sugar

3 eggs (well beaten)

2 C. Flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 C. shredded coconut

2 C. oats

1 C. chopped nuts (optional)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
  2. Add eggs. Mix well
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamons.
  4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture blending well.
  5. Add coconut, oats and nuts.
  6. Drop rounded tablespoons on greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Now, that’s what I call an oatmeal cookies that begs to be eaten! Dear friends, to find out more about Linda:

Website: http://www.lindawhalenauthor.com

Twitter:  @lindacwhalen

FB: Linda Whalen

LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY on Amazon

book cover

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for a copy of LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY.

And a BIG thank you to everyone who has been spreading the word about the #50PreciousWordsforKids Writing Challenge. Don’t know about it yet? Click on the link in the sidebar to get all the details…or email me at viviankirkfield@gmail.com…it’s going to be AWESOME!

 

Have a beautiful weekend, dear friends. Anything special planned? Our son is flying in from Chicago on Sunday to spend the night because he has a business meeting in Boston on Monday. Yippee! We love spending time with him!

Old Tracks, New Tricks: Picture Book Review Plus Craft Activity and Giveaway Prize Package

What? You guys are back?

Not tired of hanging out with me?

I’m so glad, because we’ve got a 2017 debut picture book to review for Perfect Picture Book Friday plus an awesome fun craft to create with kids. Plus a fabulous giveaway prize package from author Jessica Petersen. More about that at the end of the post.

But first, more picture book goodness…author Peter McCleery reminded me that we have a copy of Bob and Joss Get Lost to give away from last week’s Will Write for Cookies post.

AND THE WINNER IS:

SANDY PERLIC!

Congratulations, Sandy…I will give Peter your email so he can connect with you and get you the book!

And now, let’s get back on track with our Perfect Picture Book of the week.

cover

 

OLD TRACKS, NEW TRICKS

Written and illustrated by Jessica Petersen

Publisher: The Innovation Press (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Trains, imagination, working together

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Wooden train tracks Trixie, Tracky, and Tinker are thrilled to finally join a train set of their own. Unfortunately, their excitement derails when they discover things at their new home are not what they expected. Bossy wooden trains blare orders, and the old tracks snore on the floor. But with a little creativity, the three new tracks work together to prove that you really can teach old tracks — and trains! — new tricks.

 With rhyming text and clever word play, Old Tracks, New Tricks is sure to entertain parents and children of all ages, from train-obsessed toddlers to school-age kids looking for new ways to play with their old favorite toys. Full directions for each fun “trick” from the story can be found at the back of the book to inspire hours of creative train play.

 Why I like this book:

  • Visually stimulating, this book encourages creativity, inspires imagination, and creates many moments of working together.
  • I’m a big fan of repurpose and recycle…I know many parents relegate the train sets to the back of the closet when kids lose interest in them…this book is your best reason to pull them out again.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Make A Ride On Train

cardboard-trainsPhoto courtesty: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/trains-craftsideasactivitieskids.html

Wow…can you imagine how much fun your child will have with this.

You will need: Cardboard boxes, paper plates, empty oatmeal box, glue, scissors, markers…optional: tempura paint, construction paper/newspaper/gift wrap.

  1. Cut the boxes as show in the picture or as you desire.
  2. Cover with some type of paper (newsprint, giftwrap, construction paper) or paint or let your child color with markers or crayons.
  3. Decorate the paper plate wheels and attach with glue (or stapler).
  4. Cover oatmeal box with construction paper and attach to front top of train.
  5. Cut front grill from paper, decorate, and attach.
  6. With only a few cents of materials, you and your child will have a ball.
  7. If you don’t have boxes large enough for your child to sit in, make a train from shoeboxes or cereal boxes, attach a string, and you’ll have a pull-toy.

For more train crafts: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/trains-craftsideasactivitieskids.html

Jessica’s book include many creative ideas also.

creative ways to use tracks

So cool, right? Who would’ve thought! If you’d like to throw your conductor’s cap in the ring, leave a comment here and/or on tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies post. Author Jessica Petersen is giving away a super prize package: a signed copy of Old Tracks, New Tricks plus a wooden track decorated as one of the characters in the book plus a sheet of decals so the child can decorate his own tracks (or anything else…like walls, baby sisters, etc.).

giveaway

Have a wonderful weekend…and don’t forget to come back tomorrow to hear all about the all aboard moment that set Jessica on the right track to create this wonderful book.

And to join in more picture book review fun, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s website for more Perfect Picture Book Friday posts.

 

 

 

Michelle Eastman Books

Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Hmmmmm

about reading, writing & thinking children's books

Laura Boffa: Write of Way

Giving the way of writing the right of way

PICTURE the BOOKS

A Gallery of New Picture Book Talent

EMU's Debuts

From Deal to Debut: the Path to Publication

Wander, Ponder, Write

A KidLit Journey...

Picture Book House

reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

pernilleripp.wordpress.com/

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Norah Colvin

Live Love Laugh Learn . . . Create the possibilities

Beth Anderson, Children's Writer

Reader, Writer, Miner of Moments

Dan Szczesny

Travel Writer / Journalist / Author

Susanna Leonard Hill

Children's Author

The Stinky Backpack

Traveling the Everyday World

Write One Real Life

Where writing meets faith in the real world.

The Runaway Palate

Food. Travel. Cooking. Random musings.

The Reader and the Book

"O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught." Ralph Waldo Emerson

WRITERS' RUMPUS

Authors & Illustrators Wild About Kidlit!

One Good Thing

Teresa Robeson's 365-Day project

Tracy Campbell

Wacky World of Writing & Whimsical Works of Art

Jilanne Hoffmann

The Writer's Shadow

kidsbook friends

Check out this blog about children's books!

Mary Jo Beswick

Author and Illustrator of Children's Picture Books

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Children's Writer

Pattern Me Mommy

My journey from Type A know-it-all to MOMMY! by Anna Redding

READ to KIDS

PB author, poet, writing for kids

Friendly Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales and Poetry Celebrating Magic and Nature for Kids of all Ages

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Sharing and Celebrating Picture Books Since 2009

Stacy S. Jensen

Let's Read Picture Books Together

Reading With Rhythm

book reviews from Rhythm the Library Dog

Nerdy Book Club

A community of readers

Nerdy Chicks Write

Get it Write this Summer!

Laura Sassi Tales

Celebrating writing, reading, and life.

Erika Wassall here... The Jersey Farm Scribe

Author, Freelance Writer, Entreprenur... LIVER of life

Angie Karcher

Writing Children's Books

Chapter Book Chat

A Writer Reviews Chapter Books, by Marty Mokler Banks

The Blabbermouth Blog

Literary Agent Linda Epstein's Yakkety Yakking

The Waiting

Turns out, it's not the hardest part.

Robyn Graham Photography

Capturing Life One Image at a Time

%d bloggers like this: