MAXINE ROSE SCHUR: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

MAXINE ROSE SCHUR

Today is the second part of our double-header, dear friends. And I’m thrilled to bring you this Q&A with the lovely Maxine Rose Schur, author of the fabulous book that was our Perfect Picture Book selection yesterday, BRAVE WITH BEAUTY.

Maxine Rose Schur is the author of award-winning children’s books and teaches children’s book writing at conferences and colleges nationwide. Maxine has written books for preschoolers to young adults and as a former actress, enjoys engaging her young readers in lively discussions and activities.

Her picture book, Marielle in Paris won the 2019 Northern Lights Book Award for Best Picture Book in All Categories. Maxine’s latest picture book is the fun, wacky alphabet book, Pigs Dancing Jigs.

More information about Maxine Rose Schur and her critically-acclaimed books can be found at: www.maxineroseschur.com.

ME: Welcome, Maxine! It’s a pleasure to have you sharing your writing journey with us today. Thank you for your time…and for your generous giveaway of a copy of BRAVE WITH BEAUTY. I know everyone is excited to learn more about you…so let’s get started!

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

MAXINE: I’m so happy to be here, Vivian! When I was a child I absolutely loved Alice in Wonderland, the delightful and somewhat unsettling absurdity of it, enhanced with illustrations by John Tenniel. Tenniel was the original and most famous illustrator of Alice. His illustrations are detailed, atmospheric, and disturbing— perfect for conveying the bizarre imagery of dreams. Later I fell in love with Little Women, perhaps because I had no sisters and this was a way for me to imagine the fun of living in this cozy world of girls. Also, I want to mention a book that takes place in my hometown of San Francisco, The Hill of Little Miracles by Valenti Angelo.  How I loved this book! It’s about an early 20th century Italian fisherman’s family living on a hill in San Francisco. Though Valenti Angelo wrote children’s books, he was most known as an artist and has illustrated many beautiful books. His family immigrated from Tuscany in the late 19th century and his style was influenced by the medieval manuscripts he saw in a monastery as a child. We met and became friends when I was an adult. Though his books are out-of-print, they reflect his positive spirit and love of family. They’re worth checking out.

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

MAXINE Well, I’m not sure I can answer that because I think learning to write is a process and it takes time. You learn to write by writing. If you have any talent at all, you’ll get better, little by little. I don’t think it can be rushed. I was fortunate in that I started to write for children when I lived in New Zealand. I lived there after traveling around the world for more than a year. My first stories were about some of my travel adventures and published by the New Zealand Department of Education. I was so tickled to find that people liked my stories that it gave me the confidence to write more. Five years later when I returned to the US, I took a full-time job for Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. I couldn’t believe I could have a job writing for children— favorite thing! I wrote stories, articles and poems and hung out with the other writers. Once, my boss told me they needed a poem about soybeans by the end of day. Soybeans! I wrote the poem and it was published.  So that job taught me you don’t wait for inspiration; you write.

To expand on that, the very act of writing unleashes ideas. Most often it’s like what the French philosopher, Montaigne said, “I write to find out what I’m thinking.”

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

MAXINE: When I’m first figuring out a story, I write longhand and this can be anywhere—in bed, at the beach, in a comfy chair. I think the brain is so connected to the hand that thoughts fly out when I have a pen so it seems thinking and recording is a single action. Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts would come slower if I didn’t know cursive?

When I like where the story’s going then I go to my desktop computer in my home office to type it up.  

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

MAXINE: I write in the morning or afternoon. If I write in the morning,  I find I have to get up and take a walk in the afternoon as sitting in a chair for hours makes me restless. I have to move.

ME: Why do you write for children?

MAXINE: I like the challenge of brevity. I like conveying ideas and emotion in a concentrated way. It’s not as easy as some people might think. Also, because I loved books as a child, I write books that I would have liked to read—books that inform, are suspenseful, funny, show a child’s agency and inspire by offering a sense of hope.

To end, I would love to quote a little verse by fellow children’s book author, Deborrah Rose. It’s is a little poem for all of us who may not make a fortune as writers but find great value in expressing what’s in our minds and hearts.

I’ve made it to an upper rank,

but not much money in the bank.

I see the books upon the shelf,

I see myself.

I love that, Maxine! And I know many writers will be nodding their heads. No one should go into this business to get rich with dollars…because most of the time, we still need to keep our day jobs. But I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else…and I’m sure you feel the same way.

Your insights are much appreciated, Maxine…and I know you have more awesomeness in store for us because I got a peek at the recipe you are sharing.

Maxine’s Perfectly Powdery Pecan Balls

Preheat oven to 300.

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter

1 T sugar

Pinch of salt

1 t vanilla

1 cup pecans

1 cup flour

Powdered sugar

How to make them

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy

Add salt and vanilla.

Grind nuts and mix with spoon

Add flour to mixture

Form soft dough and roll into little balls

Place balls on cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes

Take out of oven and roll in powdered sugar to coat while still hot.

You can substitute almonds or walnuts for the pecans. Also, you could add a pinch of nutmeg to the batter and later sprinkle with cinnamon.

Oh my gosh! I LOVE pecan balls! Thank you so much, Maxine. I think quite a few of us will be making these ASAP.

Dear friends…please remember that the best gift we can give authors is to buy their books, review their books, tell others about their books, ask local libraries to purchase their books for the shelves. And don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of BRAVE WITH BEAUTY.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. August is fading fast…Monday is my house closing…and I will be living with my daughter and her family full-time…I am soooo excited!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: BRAVE WITH BEAUTY Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I always love writing these blog posts, but right now, this a welcome break for me…every day this week I have been sorting through stuff and clearing out closets and cabinets…the house closing is Monday. I’m also excited because I love meeting new author friends…and Maxine Rose Schur, the author of BRAVE WITH BEAUTY, was introduced to me by another author friend, Arlene Schenker. And it turns out that Maxine is also the author of several other picture books including MARIELLE IN PARIS…a story about a little mouse who is a fashion designer in Paris. Now this is where things get really interesting. My 7-year old granddaughter goes to the French school in Chicago…and loves to design clothes for her dolls and I knew she would LOVE this book. And Maxine very kindly and generously inscribed a copy for Sophie and sent it to her. Maxine is also offering a copy of her new book as a giveaway for this post.AND she’ll be stopping by tomorrow to share some insights into her writing journey and a favorite cookie recipe! We are all in for a treat! But for now, let’s find out more about BRAVE WITH BEAUTY.

BRAVE WITH BEAUTIY

Written by Maxine Rose Schur

Illustrated by Patricia Dewitt-Grush, Robin Dewitt, Golsa Yabhoobie

Published by Yali Books (2019)

Ages: 7-9

Themes: Women in Stem, diversity, Queen Goharshad

Synopsis: From Amazon:

This is the extraordinary story of Queen Goharshad, a 15th century monarch, who many historians now believe was the most powerful woman in world history.  Ruling from the Timurid artistic and cultural center of Herat in western Afghanistan, Queen Goharshad ushered in a remarkable, rare period when poetry, music, calligraphy, painting and the sciences flourished as never before. A poet and an architect, she designed a complex of buildings that were considered to be some of the most beautiful structures ever built on earth.

Why I love this book:

  1. A true story of a young girl who chose to spend her time learning and creating even though most girls in those days did not do that.
  2. The writing hooks you in from the first page – this is a fascinating story of action and determination.
  3. The illustrations are exceptional…rich with detail and color.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Photo courtesy: https://creativefamilyfun.net/watercolor-tiles-exploring-afghanistan/

How about making a mosaic of watercolor tiles? For detailed instructions: https://creativefamilyfun.net/watercolor-tiles-exploring-afghanistan/

And here’s a link from the Yali Books website: https://yalibooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Flyer_Islamic-Tiles.pdf

Find Afghanistan on a world map…look up information about it – what type of climate does it have? Are there any animals that are native to this country? What types of fruits or vegetables grow there?

I know that many children will be returning to school soon…but school will look very different this September. Whether your child is attending remotely, on-site, or some hybrid model, the time you spend reading will go a long way to developing literacy skills in young children and sparking the curiosity of older ones. A book like BRAVE WITH BEAUTY would be a wonderful launch pad for a discussion about diverse cultures, their contributions to the world, and how they enrich our lives.

Please remember to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of BRAVE WITH BEAUTY, thanks to our generous author, Maxine Rose Schur. And make sure you are here tomorrow when Maxine stops by to chat about her fascinating writing journey.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Please stay safe and well!

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