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SHERRY HOWARD: Will Write for Cookies PLUS PB Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

headshot

SHERRY HOWARD

I met today’s guest in and around the online kid lit community several years ago. We belonged to many of the same Facebook groups and participated in many of the same writing challenges. She was thoughtful and helpful and knew what she was talking about. And now I’m thrilled she is here today!

Sherry Howard lives with her children and silly dogs in Middletown, Kentucky, a stone’s throw from the beautiful horse farms Kentucky is always bragging about. During her career in education, she served as a middle school principal in one of the largest metro school districts in the US; she and cat-herders share many common skills. Sherry loves to read, write, cook, and sit in the sand watching the waves when she can. She credits her ability to write a complete sentence in English to her training in classical Latin. Now her picture books and chapter books are arriving through Clear Fork Publishing. She also writes for the educational market.

ME: Welcome, Sherry! Thank you for stopping by to chat with us. I know you have a lot to share!

SHERRY: Thanks for having me, Vivian! It’s so fun to go down memory lane to try to answer these!

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

SHERRY: My childhood was so long ago that I’m not sure I remember my favorite books! Every Saturday, or so it seems, Mom or Dad piled seven (guessing it was never really all of us) kids into the car and went to the library. We were allowed five books each, and had to keep them stacked up on the high piano so they weren’t lost in the house.

I don’t remember owning a lot of picture books when we were children. But, I remember loving them, and still search collectible book stores trying to find copies of the few I remember. I remember a book I loved: Snip, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes. And the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books were all favorites. These series are older than I am, so I’m guessing our library wasn’t well-stocked. I have no idea why I was obsessed with these triplets books—maybe because my siblings and I were so close in age, and I felt like a triplet for a while. I wonder why these stick in my memory, but they do. I never felt deprived by not having a lot of books to own when I was little because both Mom and Dad were storytellers and entertainers. Besides, I had six siblings! There was never a dull moment.

The newspaper was also golden in my home! On Sunday mornings, before church, nine people piled into the bed and shared stories and comics from the paper.

I don’t think any of us in my family stayed with picture books long. We all read super early, and moved on to longer things, often entertaining ourselves with old sets of encyclopedias. I read novels that were way too adult for me at super early ages, but no one ever censored my reading. I always considered Little Women my one true story, but that, of course was after picture books!

When I was a kid, you’d find me curled up with a book sometimes, but there was always too much activity to read for long.

book cover

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

SHERRY: I wish I’d kept better records from the start—I understand now that it’s fun to remember the origin of a story idea once its published. I wish I’d understood how hard the picture book is to do well—I still don’t know all there is to know there. Just when I think I’m pretty solid, I learn something new!

I wish I’d known more about what a supportive, welcoming community the kidlit world is.

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

SHERRY: Because I’m disabled, I do a lot of writing lying down. I use my iPad and special pens that write when you’re lying down. I’ve said more than once that the iPad changed my writing life. I can’t sit at a computer for long periods, but the iPad goes anywhere—I always have two of them charged and rotating.

I love to be on my big front porch. I’ve decided next summer to make a “bed” out there for writing. I’ve saved a picture of what I want it to look like.

I have a wonderful desk, but use it for storing works-in-progress. I’m more likely to sit in an open area, like the kitchen table. I enjoy being in the middle of chaos when I work. I think it’s that big family thing—not fond of quiet. The exception to all of this is novel revision. That takes a completely intense mindset for me, and I’ll schedule that around quiet in the house.

inner spread

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

SHERRY: All of the above. I do a lot of writing in the middle of the night. I don’t sleep through the night, so I’ll write instead of tossing and turning. I have the luxury of not having too much rigidity in schedule, and that helps. I find it easy to chat with friends all around the world because I sleep so little. As I think about my answers I sound pretty eccentric, but I’m really not!

ME: Why do you write for children?

SHERRY: I LOVE children! It’s that simple. I had to retire as a school principal really young after an injury that sidelined me. I have to stay connected to children. Writing for them is a wonderful way to do that. I know how much reading meant in my life, that thirst for seeing other families, other cities, other worlds. Remember, I read encyclopedias for fun!

sherry presentation

I’m also thrilled to be working on a work-for-hire project that’s really special to me: high interest/low reading level. When I started teaching middle school, there were NO BOOKS of interest for my kids, especially the boys! They thirsted to read something they’d enjoy, but there wasn’t much out there. So, it’s such a privilege to be able to work on that project!

I’d write even if nothing of mine ever got published. Everything I write pushes from inside my heart to get out for one reason or another—something I’ve learned about life that I can share through a story. My family has roots in the Appalachian mountains, where storytellers abound. I think I have a storyteller gene!

ME: That’s fabulous, Sherry! And do you have any words of wisdom for other writers?

SHERRY: Here’s my advice, and it’s to everybody in the writing community. Reach down—give a hand up! Don’t be so focused on your own goals that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Find a writer or illustrator who could learn from you. Adopt them. Do whatever you can to support their upward movement. Do it even if you don’t have time. Don’t ever be too busy to be kind, and offer help. I’ve had some fabulous mentors along the way, and they mean the world to me! I hope to always pay it forward. In this breath, I have to mention Mira Reisberg as my vision of that helping hand. Mira, my own fabulous art director and editor at Clear Fork Publishing as well as the founding instructor at Children’s Book Academy, does so much of this. Behind the scenes of her classes, she is always at work helping others rise!

ME: Oh my goodness! That is such wonderful advice, Sherry. And I agree about how helpful Mira is…I took one of her classes and have enjoyed seeing many of her webinar presentations…and I’m so excited that I’m going to get to meet her in person at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference in Sydney next February.

I know we are all applauding for Sherry’s stellar insights. She says she loves to connect with other readers and writers, so here is her social media contact info:

Sherry Howard | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Meet Kuda and Rock and Roll Woods here.

 And our sweet guest is not leaving without sharing a sweet treat with us! Take it away, Sherry!

SHERRY: This is one of the easiest recipes ever, but is a family favorite. It’s best served warm with whipped cream or ice cream. I’ve made it for my family for more years than I want to count.

recipe

Here’s the news on the pie crust—with this particular pie, a frozen pie crust works well. Since it’s like a giant chocolate chip cookie, the crust is more of a vessel, than a culinary delight. So, use your favorite crust recipe, or purchase a nice quality frozen shell. Mix the listed ingredients together, pour into a frozen shell, and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour.

recipe photo

Derby Pie

Ingredients to mix together:

1 cup sugar

½ cup flour

Stir together, and add to flour/sugar mixture:

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ lb margarine (I use butter) melted and cooled

Stir in these last ingredients:

6unces semi-sweet chocolate pieces

1 cup nuts (I use pecans because I like that taste.)

1teaspoon vanilla or whiskey (This is bourbon country.)

WHOA NELLIE! THIS is the recipe I’ve been waiting for to make for the holidays…I’m a sucker for pecan pie…so I will definitely use pecans for the nuts.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a picture book critique from the fabulous Sherry!

It’s November, my friends…the year will be gone before we know it and we’ll be in 2019…how did that happen? Wishing you all a safe and happy weekend.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ROCK AND ROLL WOODS Plus PB Critique Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends! 

Do you love music? I do! All kinds! From classical to rhythm and blues. From jazz to folk. But best of all, I love rock and roll.

I totally cannot listen to this song without jumping up and dancing!

And today’s Perfect Picture Book review has EVERYTHING to do with Rock and Roll. But first, we need to take care of some unfinished giveaway business.

Lovely Melissa Stoller offered a copy of her book, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH. And the winner is….

JAY REECE

She also donated a fabulous pb critique. And the winner is…

DIANE TULLOCH

Wonderful Viviane Elbee offered a copy of her book, TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI. And the winner is…

DORIS IMAHIYEROBO

Fantastic Amber Hendricks offered a copy of her book, SOPHIE AND LITTLE STAR. And the winner is…

JILANNE HOFFMAN

And Amber also donated a super pb critique. And the winner is…

LINDA HOFKE

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE WINNERS AND A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE GENEROUS AUTHORS! I will reach out and connect you all. And by the way…the author of today’s book is offering a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE to one lucky winner…so make sure you leave a comment later.

And now…TA-DA! 

book cover

ROCK AND ROLL WOODS

Written by Sherry Howard

Illustrated by Anika A. Wolf

Published by Clear Fork/Spork (September 2018)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Making friends, Sensory Integration Disorder

Synopsis: From a starred review by Kirkus

 

When noisy new neighbors move into a bear’s quiet neighborhood, it takes him time to adjust in this debut picture book from author Howard and illustrator Wolf.

Kuda, a brown bear, loves the soft noises that fill his neighborhood, including a whooshing stream and the chirps of local birds. But during his walk, a new sound seems to attack him: “BOOM whappa whappa.” When Kuda asks Rabbit where the noise is coming from, Rabbit explains that they have new neighbors. Kuda’s surprised that Rabbit, Owl, and Squirrel all like the racket, and he soon goes home and buries himself in blankets and ear muffs. When he finds an invitation to a “ROCK & ROLL celebration,” however, he decides he’s had enough of being alone. He sees friends dancing and playing music, and he slowly lets himself feel the rhythm, too. Soon, the new fox neighbor invites him to jam with them. Howard’s clever, onomatopoeic text is full of sound-words that young readers will love, and her sensitivity in portraying Kuda’s difficulty in trying something new will resonate. An author’s note at the end describes sensory-integration issues and autism with clarity and compassion. Wolf’s adorable, stylized cartoon animals, and the rainbow-colored stream of the music, make the woods feel welcoming.

A tale that offers a kindred spirit for readers who struggle with change.

Why I like this book:

  • As a kid, I hated going places I’d never been and meeting new people and I always got a headache at family gatherings because they were so noisy. I totally identify with Kuda, and so will many children.
  • Wonderful text that kids will enjoy hearing over and over.
  • Bold vivid colors in the illustrations really make the book pop!
  • Important helpful back matter information about sensory intergration disorder and other sensory issues that many children (and adults) experience.

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

rock and roll craftPhoto courtesy: https://ourpastimes.com/rock-n-roll-art-crafts-for-kids

Turn up the rock and roll music while you do some of the craft ideas that you’ll find at: https://ourpastimes.com/rock-n-roll-art-crafts-for-kids-12288608.html

Thank you so much for stopping by today. And please do come back tomorrow when Sherry stops by to chat and share a treat with us on Will Write for Cookies.

Before you go, I wanted to mention again how important it is to connect with your local library to keep them informed of the wonderful new books that are launching. Librarians are so busy, they might not see every great book and you can help by recommending a book via an online request form or by going in and speaking with the library staff. I was thrilled to find out that the lovely Elizabeth Curry just got a message from her local library that they’ve agreed to purchase one of my debut pictures of 2019:

Selection staff has decided to purchase material based on your recommendation. We will reserve the item and notify you when it’s ready to be picked up.

Title: Sweet Dreams, Sarah: From Slavery to Inventor
ISBN: 1939547318 

YAY! Thank you so much, Elizabeth! And she also told me that they’ve already ordered Pippa’s Passover Plate for their collectionThe other thing that we can do to help increase the chance that these wonderful books will be a sales success is to leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other review sites

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the PB Critique giveaway. Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. And come back tomorrow to hear some words of wisdom (oh yeah…you better believe it) from Sherry Howard…and snag a not-to-be-missed holiday dessert recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

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