ZEENA PLISKA: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Critique Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

 

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

 

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TODAY’S GUEST

ZEENA PLISKA

Our kid-lit community spans the globe.  And I’m so grateful to connect with authors and illustrators, no matter where they live. Today’s guest lives in Los Angeles and I’m already planning to Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: HELLO, LITTLE ONE: A Monarch Butterfly Story Plus CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends! I’m fluttering about, just like the character of today’s awesome book…excited to share this brand-new story with you! And tomorrow, you are in store for another treat when debut author Zeena Pliska stops by. (And guess what? She is generously offering a pb manuscript critique as a giveaway  prize…woo hoo!) We’ve already met the talented illustrator, one of my fellow Stormies, Fiona Halliday. She chatted with us earlier this year when her author/illustrator debut, Numenia and the Hurricane, launched.

hello little one Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MARIE CURIE and the Power of Persistence PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends.

I love when new books come out and I know the author and/or illustrator. And it’s especially cool when I’ve actually met them…in person! These days, with social distancing, that isn’t happening very often. But luckily, a few months ago, I happened to be in the Chicago area and was able to have lunch with the wonderful author of today’s featured book. We even spent a few minutes at one of the local bookstores in Evanston, Bookends and Beginnings. And because Karla is such a sweetheart, she is offering a copy of this brand-new only-out-in-the-world-for-a-week book as a giveaway!

Madame Curie ValentiMARIE CURIE AND THE POWER OF PERSISTENCE Continue reading

Happy Book Birthday: PATRICIA’S VISION Plus Giveaway

I hope you’ve been exercising your vocal chords becasue we are going to have quite a few books that will need the Happy Birthday song this year! And this one is the first for 2020…and for me, a very important one. That’s because I’ve had quite a few eye surgeries over the past 20 years…and if it weren’t for Dr. Patricia Bath, I might not be able to read or write picture book stories. So, I’m thrilled to join the chorus for Michelle Lord’s newest picture book. AND, it’s illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Alleanna Harris. Author Michelle is generously donating a copy of this beautiful book as a giveaway, so, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: I SEE SEAFOOD Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends! I really can’t believe it is Friday already…the days are FLYING by, just like the leaves from the trees!

But no worries! We’ve got a super cool book today to review and a generous giveaway from author Jenna Grodzicki.

But before we dive in, we have a giveaway winner to announce. A couple of weeks ago, my fabulous illustrator for Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, Alleanna Harris, offered an original sketch.  And the winner is:

Pamela Harrison!

Congratulations, Pamela…I will be in touch with you shortly!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Are you hungry???? Continue reading

Carmen Gloria: Will Write, Illustrate and Self-Publish for Cookies Plus GIVEAWAY

I meet the nicest people in the kid-lit world. The other day, I discovered a lovely new series of books about space – and with the mega-celebration this weekend, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. Especially because the author is also the illustrator and also the publisher. Carmen Gloria is wearing many hats…and she looks good in all of them!

Carmen Gloria Author Illustrator

Carmen Gloria was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, now a veteran, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and International Politics from George Mason University. She was born in The Bronx, New York and moved to Puerto Rico at the age of ten. She is a member of SCBWI and is a writer, artist, award-winning actress, experimental short film writer/director, and even co-wrote two songs in the Billboard Dance and UK Pop charts. After moving to Norway in 2017 with her family, she decided to focus on her writing. She launched her first children’s picture book series as an author and illustrator, in which the first book “Thank You Mercury” made the Best New Space Books 2019 list by Book Authority.

thank you mercury cover

Well, dear friends…do you see why I just had to invite this amazing woman to stop by to chat with us.

ME: Carmen…welcome! And before we begin with the questions, I want to thank you for your service to the country. I’m sure you have buckets full of stories about your experiences, but today we are going to concentrate on your writing journey.

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

CARMEN: Thank YOU for having me, Vivian! You have one of my favorite blogs, and I am so honored to be interviewed by you. I feel pretty lucky in this business to meet people like you, who care so much and are doing so many things for the children’s books community. You’re inspiring. And to answer your first question, Dr. Seuss has always been my absolute favorite, including his illustrations. Also A.A. Milne with his Winnie The Pooh series. I also love Hans Christian Andersen’s books and illustrations by Arthur Rackman.

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

CARMEN: I wish I knew how challenging it would be to get the story “just right.” I still find it difficult to finish stories sometimes and not doubt myself. I’ve only just launched my second book, and already learned that making the characters relatable is important.

dear pluto cover

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

CARMEN: I have a home studio where I write, draw and paint. It’s a cute little studio we built when we first moved in to the house. I have a Mac Laptop where I write most of the time, but sometimes I like to just hand write ideas and notes. I feel a bit more free with pen and paper. Writing while traveling is also very inspiring.

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

CARMEN: I write best early in the morning with my coffee or tea. Sometimes the muse strikes the middle of the day or at night too, and I just go with it!

ME: Why do you write for children?

CARMEN: I write for children because I love drawing and painting fun and sweet characters that children will love. I also love being able to show and teach children things in an entertaining manner so it doesn’t feel like “school.” I chose to begin with the Kid Astronomy series because as a space lover, I wish there were more books about astronomy when I was growing up. Children are our next generation and they are the ones that will be exploring space.

Other reasons I like about writing for children is the freedom of topic and being able to tap into the imagination – anything is possible.

 ME: 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.

CARMEN: What I’ve learned as a new writer is that we have to stick to our goals. It is easy to fall into doubts as new writers and then stop writing. But we have to keep going and not give up.

As far as educators, parents and librarians, I believe in exploring and being open to sharing new books, stories and new authors to children. Information is limitless and it’s beautiful when we as authors can be a part of what kids absorb in this day and age.

in studio

ME: This is fabulous, Carmen! Thank you so much for your insights. I’d also like to pick your brain on behalf of all the authors and illustrators out there – you’ve taken a big step…just like the astronauts did 50 years ago when they stepped out on the moon. You’ve taken the leap into self-publishing – and that takes courage! Would you share with us some thoughts about that?

CARMEN: I debated for about a year whether I was going to publish my book the traditional route or self-publish. I researched and read a lot about how to self-publish, and the pros and cons of both. There is so much information online! I decided on self-publishing because I wanted to learn all of the ins and outs of the publishing business. I am a creative being, but I also love being an entrepreneur. One of the downsides to self-publishing books though is that they are not as easy to promote, as not everyone is open to reading and reviewing books that are not traditionally published. Also not easy if there is not a big budget.

It is A LOT more work to write, illustrate, design, format, and promote the book myself,  but in some weird way, it is more rewarding to me. As a self-published author, I appreciate the artistic freedom, making my own deadlines, ownership to my art, and being the final decision maker. I’m sure there are many advantages to going the traditional route, but I’m enjoying self-publishing so far.

ME: Kudos to you, Carmen. And thank you so much…this has been such a pleasure for me. I know that everyone is applauding and will be RUSHING over to Amazon today to view your newest book DEAR PLUTO, using the link for the FREE download of the Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/

But before you leave, please share with us that special Apple Pie recipe you were telling me about.

CARMEN: My favorite type of apple pie? Here goes:

 Ingredients

PIE DOUGH

  • 2 ½ cups flour (320 g)
  • ¾ cup butter, 1 1/2 sticks, cold, cubed (170 g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

FILLING

  • ¾ cup sugar (150 g)
  • 2 ½ lb apples, cored, sliced, peeled (1 kg)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 egg, beaten

 Preparation

  • In a bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix with fork.
  • Add in cubed butter and break up into flour with a fork. Mixture will still have lumps about the size of small peas.
  • Gradually add the ice water and continue to mix until the dough starts to come together. You may not need all of the water and the dough should not be very sticky. It shouldn’t be too dry either. If it is too dry, you can add more water.
  • Work the dough together with your hands into a ball and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate.
  • Peel the apples and slice.
  • In a bowl, add the sliced apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour, salt, and juice from the lemon.
  • Mix until combined and all apples are coated. Refrigerate.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (200°C).
  • On a floured surface, cut the pie dough in half and roll out both halves until round and about 3 mm thick.
  • Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll onto a pie dish making sure the dough reaches all edges.
  • Pour in apple filling mixtur
  • Roll the other half of the dough and cut it into even strips, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide, depending on how thick you want your lattice strips. You can use a blunt knife or a pizza wheel to cut them evenly.
  • Lay out 4 to 7 parallel strips of the pie dough on top, and then lay them over in the opposite direction.
  • Trim the extra dough from the edges and pinch the edges to make sure they are sealed together.
  • Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar.
  • Bake pie for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

How did you know apple pie was one of my favorite desserts? Anyone have some vanilla ice cream for some pie ala mode?

Please don’t forget to leave a comment because Carmen is offering a print copy of DEAR PLUTO as a giveaway. And take advantage of this last day of FREE Kindle download so you can read the book right now: https://www.amazon.com/Dear-Pluto-Kid-Astronomy-Book-ebook/dp/B07T68GC74/

And dear friends, remember, the greatest gift we can give our favorite authors is to buy, review, and shout out about their books! I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. There are a couple of major kidlit happenings coming up this week:

FREE Picture Book Palooza

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FREE 12×12 Mini Picture Book Summit

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: IF YOU HAD YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY ON THE MOON plus #50PreciousWords WINNERS!

Hold on to your seats, everyone! We are ready to blast off! Our Perfect Picture Book Friday story is the obvious choice for such a momentous blog post that will also contain the WINNERS of #50PreciousWords.

Most of you know that I left home on February 19 and didn’t get back until April 8. That time was spent in Sydney at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference (which rocked!) and sightseeing through the beautiful city and its lovely beach areas. Maria Marshall and I walked EVERYWHERE! Below is a photo of Maria and me at a beach where they had the most amazing poster art graffiti – since my slogan is Nothing is Impossible if You Can Imagine It…we had to take a pic with the bottle of dreams and me holding the little heart pillow my six-year old granddaughter had sewed for me to take on my trip as a little lovey.

viv and maria at sydney beach poster Continue reading