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Alison Goldberg: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Alison Goldberg headshot small

ALISON GOLDBERG

Our guest today is a debut picture book author this year–and I was thrilled to meet her when I joined Picture the Books 2017, a group dedicated to authors and illustrators whose books are launching this year.

Alison Goldberg is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Before becoming a children’s book author, Alison worked for economic justice organizations and wrote a resource guide about social change philanthropy. These days, she blogs about activism in children’s literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. Alison is also a board member of the Food Research and Action Center, an organization committed to ending hunger in the United States. Learn more at http://www.alisongoldberg.com.

ME: Welcome, Alison! I’m thrilled you stopped by to chat with us. 

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

 ALISON: When I was in elementary school, Norman Bridwell visited my school. For months after, I drew fan art and even sent him a Clifford book that I made. I think this was the first time I understood that becoming a children’s author was an actual job that someone could do, so my love of his books was connected to that experience.

Clifford fan art

This is the Clifford book I sent to Norman Bridwell after he visited my school.

            Other favorite picture book creators from childhood include Maurice Sendak, Leo Lionni, Margaret Wise Brown, and Ezra Jack Keats.

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

 ALISON: I wish I knew what close friends and collaborators I would find in the children’s writing community! This knowledge would have inspired me in those early days when it felt like a big risk to change fields, when I was solely focused on learning about writing picture books and novels, and when I did not know if any of my stories could possibly ever become books. Then I would have known that through all of the ups and downs in this journey there would be such kind and generous book creators to share it with.

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

ALISON: All of the above. I like to write at my desk, while taking walks, at the library, in coffee shops, at the beach, in playgrounds, and on trains. The more I write, the more I realize writing isn’t something that’s easily shut off, so I’ve become comfortable with jotting down notes—whether on computer, phone, or on paper–wherever I am.

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

 ALISON: It depends on the project. Some picture book drafts arrive in a burst that last anywhere from an hour to a few days and at any time of day. In those instances, I just go with it (and sometimes forget to pull dinner together for my kids until the very last minute!).

            But when it comes to revision—especially for longer projects like the middle grade novel I’m working on—I prefer more scheduled, daytime writing sessions and setting concrete goals.

   Often what I choose to write about is connected to my desire to share stories with children that further social justice. I love writing about the topics that grab me and don’t let go—whether it’s the actions of inspiring activists, the art of creative individuals, or the journeys of fictional characters. When this happens I work on figuring out what makes the topic feel so meaningful and then how to introduce it to kids.

            And sometimes the process works the other way around, like in the case of I Love You for Miles and Miles. My kids were the ones hooked on trucks and trains, and I needed to understand their magic!

big rig page_Miles and Miles

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. 

 ALISON: For writers: Don’t worry about the market. Or, understand the market, and then let go of its expectations. Write the books of your heart. If something grabs hold of you and won’t let go you’ll bring a passion to that subject that will come through on the page. Carrying that story to publication will likely take years, so make sure it’s truly a story you want to tell.

ME: Oh my goodness…that is awesome advice, Alison. We really have got to love our subject and  story because when you get to the 45th revision, you want to still enjoy reading it! Thank you so much, dear friend! I know everyone is going to remember  this, for sure!

CARRYING A STORY TO PUBLICATION WILL LIKELY TAKE YEARS, SO MAKE SURE IT’S TRULY A STORY YOU WANT TO TELL!

And to give you energy along the journey, why not try this delicious treat that doubles as a dinner for Alison and her family.

Cinnamon French Toast & Bananas

Recipe: Cinnamon French Toast & Bananas (for 2)

I am a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies, but here I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe for writers like me who sometimes get caught up in writing, forget about dinner, and need to pull food together in a flash. This treat doubles as supper! My kids eat a lot of French Toast ☺

4 slices of bread (I like to use sourdough, ciabatta, or challah, but any bread will work.)

2 eggs

1/3 cup of milk

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Butter for the pan

Banana slices

Maple syrup, honey, jam, applesauce, or any other topping you like

INSTRUCTIONS:

Beat eggs with milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in a wide, shallow bowl. Dip the bread into the mixture until the bread is coated on both sides. Heat up a frying pan over medium heat, melt butter, and then cook the French Toast, flipping to cook both sides. Once done, serve with banana slices (or another fruit) and topping of choice.

Enjoy!

Thank you again, Alison. I know I will definitely enjoy this…French Toast used to be one of my childhood favorites.

Dear friends, thank you for spending your precious time with us. Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of I LOVE YOU FOR MILES AND MILES.

LoveYouForMiles_biblio

And, with the holidays just around the corner, if you want to give a wonderful gift to your favorite authors, please remember to leave book reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other review sites. For more information or to purchase I LOVE YOUR FOR MILES AND MILES, please go to the author’s book page or indie-bound.

Have a safe and happy weekend.

And if you are in the writing mood, why not enter Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest!

Joy Keller: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

Me&TreeEdited

JOY KELLER

Every year brings a new crop of debut picture book authors. I met today’s Will Write for Cookies guest through the PictureTheBooks2017 group and I’m thrilled to have connected with a talented author like Joy.

Joy Keller isn’t a monster, but she does have experience driving trucks on a blueberry farm. Her debut picture book, Monster Trucks (Henry Holt, 2017), is all about monsters and the vehicles that match their personalities, from the skeleton crew that fixes roads to the werewolf who digs, digs, digs. Joy currently teaches elementary students of all ages and lives in Fairport, NY with her husband, two children, and four cats. You can visit her at www.joykellerauthor.com or find her on Twitter @jrkeller80.

ME: Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Joy! I’m so happy you were able to stop by to chat. If it’s okay, we’ll start with the Q&A.

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

JOY: That’s a hard question to answer! One picture book I loved was my grandfather’s copy of The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian and Ann Seidler. I thought it was hilarious. What kid like reading about a monster that wants “shmancakes” and “feetloaf?”

I also vividly remember Margaret Wise Brown’s Fox Eyes. There was something about that sneaky fox, and Garth William’s mysterious drawings of the fox peeping in on the other animals, that was really intriguing to 5-year-old me!

As I got older, I was drawn to mystery and fantasy stories. I read all the Nancy Drew books, and the Bunnicula series, and all the tales of Narnia and Prydain and Middle Earth.

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

JOY: It took me a while to learn that not all advice is good advice. Authors need to have critique partners they can trust to steer their writing in the right direction, but it’s very important to have the right critique partners. It took a few mismatches before I found people who “got” what I do, and who also weren’t afraid to tell me how my writing could be improved.

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

JOY: I’m an elementary teacher with two young children, so I take my writing time whenever—and wherever!—I can get it. Typically, this means writing for an hour or so on my laptop before I go to sleep. This might be on the couch, or on my bed, or at the kitchen table. I’m really not picky. I also keep a notebook handy so that I can jot down notes any time an idea strikes. I think the people at both my salon and my doctor’s office are used to seeing me working!

ME: Why do you write for children?

JOY: I’ve taught elementary students for many years, and part of being a good teacher is being a good storyteller. Nothing gets a room full of kids to pay attention quite like an entertaining story. But guess what? Kids are also a tough audience. They’ll let you know if your story is dragging or confusing. They don’t hold back! That’s why it’s so magical when you have twenty-four kids staring at you, a look of intense fascination on their faces, waiting to find out what’s going to happen next.

I think that when I write for kids, it’s an extension of what I’ve done for almost two decades now. I’m just telling fun stories. And I hope that somewhere there’s a kid with a copy of MONSTER TRUCKS, eager to see what happens on the next page.

MonsterTrucks_Cvrs

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. 

JOY: I would advise aspiring writers to write what they like. It’s important to know what books are out there, but it’s too easy to get caught up in the “will it sell?” worries. Write a good book, revise it to make it better, and then believe in your story. If my first three books can be about truck-driving monsters, a pet store that sells mythical creatures, and the world of fungus, then you can write about pretty much anything! (On a related note, picture book stories always sound silly when you try to explain them to other adults. It’s just a fact of life. Even typing that list felt kind of silly to me.)

ME: This is fabulous advice, Joy! WRITE A GOOD BOOK. REVISE IT TO MAKE IT BETTER. AND BELIEVE IN YOUR STORY!!!!!

I think that needs to be taped up near my computer!

Thank you so much, Joy! And I know everyone is waiting anxiously for the sweet treat at the end of the post, so please take it away!

JOY: Here’s the recipe. I thought no-bake Rocky Road Clusters fit nicely with the MONSTER TRUCKS theme!

cookies

Rocky Road Clusters

Ingredients

2 cups chocolate chips (1 cup chocolate and 1 cup butterscotch are also good!)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 10 oz package of mini marshmallows

1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts

Directions

  1. Line a couple cookie sheets with waxed paper and set them aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Heat them for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between heatings. When the chocolate has melted, mix in the peanut butter.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the marshmallows and peanuts. Pour in the chocolate/peanut butter mixture and stir to coat.
  4. Drop the mixture by heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheets. Let the clusters cool. Chill them in the refrigerator for about an hour to help them set faster.

Store the clusters in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week…but they probably won’t be around that long!

YUM!!! These look amazing! What a great treat for Halloween parties! And speaking of Halloween, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the Joy’s giveaway of a copy of MONSTER TRUCKS.

PLUS, do come back tomorrow for a special HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST post. I still have to write my story to enter into Susanna Hill’s fabulous writing challenge. There’s time for YOU to enter also!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MONSTER TRUCKS Plus Giveaway

Is it just me, or does Friday come around really quickly every week?  I guess it’s a good thing that I LOVE Friday because we always have a super picture book review and activity.

And today’s choice is especially perfect with Halloween just around the corner.

MonsterTrucks_Cvrs

MONSTER TRUCKS

Written by Joy Keller

Illustrated by Misa Saburi

Published by Godwin Books – Henry Holt and Company (2017)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Vehicles, monsters, humor, rhyme

Synopsis: 

From Amazon: 

All monsters love the autumn air,
just right to sneak and spook and scare.
But other seasons of the year,
they shift into a different gear.

Monsters get to work―paving roads, plowing snow, hauling muck―with their monster trucks in this fun, rhyming picture book. With a gentle bedtime ending, this not-too-scary story is perfect for young monster and truck lovers.

Why I like this book:

  • Fabulous rhyme filled with heart and humor
  • Super cool bold and colorful illustrations
  • Great addition to Halloween, monster, and/or vehicle shelves

RELATED ACTIVITY

Popsicle Stick Monster Trucks

monster-truck-4Photo courtesy: http://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com

Do you have a monster truck lover at your house? Give this craft activity a try…the kids will have a ball!

You will need: Popsicle sticks, glue, markers, construction paper or poster board, scissors.

For detailed instructions: http://www.gluedtomycraftsblog.com/2016/04/popsicle-stick-monster-trucks-kid-craft.html

Take a walk in the neighborhood and see how many different types of trucks you can identify.

Play a rhyming game with your kids. Read the story and leave off the last word of the rhyming verse…see what words they come up with.

Debut picture book author Joy Keller is offering a copy of MONSTER TRUCKS, so please remember to leave a comment. Also, she is stopping by tomorrow to chat on Will Write for Cookies, and another comment there will give you another entry. PLUS, on Sunday, I’ll be posting my entry into Susanna Hill’s 7th ANNUAL HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST. Have you heard about it? Have you ever entered? It is one of the most fun filled writing challenges around..I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Here in New England, we’ve had a ton of rain and the fall foliage has to fight hard to hold on. If you are planning on going out Trick or Treating with the kids, stay safe. I know many neighborhoods organize Halloween parties so kids can come to one location to have fun. We used to do it at our church and the parishoners would dress up and take up residence in the many classrooms and offices and then the kids would parade through the halls, knocking on each door. There were games and prizes for costumes and lots of good food and safe fun. 

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