WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
In 2012, I jumped into the kidlit world, intent on becoming a published picture author. I joined 12×12 and quickly connected with many of the other writers who were pursuing the same goal. When Carrie Finison reached out to ask who’d like to be in a critique group, my hand flew up. Having Carrie for a critique buddy has been a blessing, for sure.
Carrie Finison began her literary career at the age of seven with an idea, a box of markers, and her father’s typewriter. She has been writing off and on ever since, though she has (somewhat regretfully) traded in the typewriter for a laptop. Her debut picture book is DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS (July, 2020), and a second picture book, DON’T HUG DOUG, will follow in January, 2021. She also writes for children’s magazines including Babybug, Ladybug, High Five, and Highlights. When she’s not writing, Carrie enjoys reading mystery novels, trying new recipes, and curling up on the couch for family movie nights. She lives outside Boston with her husband, son, daughter, and two cats who permit her to write in their cozy attic office. Find her online at www.carriefinison.com or on Twitter @CarrieFinison.
ME: I am jumping for joy to welcome you, Carrie, to Will Write for Cookies. I loved DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS even in its early drafts and I’m thrilled to see it become a real book!!! Thank you for stopping by – let’s get started with the questions because I know everyone is excited to find out more about you and your writing journey!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
CARRIE: It’s so much fun to look back at old favorites. My mother still has many of my childhood books. I remember reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton many times over, and also her book The Little House. I loved seeing the Little House get all fixed up and taken care of in the end. Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library was another favorite and when I got the soundtrack to the show Really Rosie, I had fun singing Carol King’s version of those stories. I also loved One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. We spent many vacations in Maine so those illustrations feel familiar and homey.
Another book that I remember vividly is The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer. It’s an unusual story about a girl who gets rescued from an unhappy life by three robbers. They then set up a home for her and for other unhappy children. I liked the idea that the robbers could be good at heart even though they did some bad things.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
CARRIE: I’ll answer the opposite. I’m glad I DIDN’T know how long the path to publication would be and how much persistence it would take. I might have given up before I started! I think the key to moving forward in this business is that you have to really enjoy the process – the actual act of writing and revision. As much as I sometimes avoid it, I do take pleasure in just creating something, whether or not someone is ever going to publish it. That part never feels like work.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
CARRIE: I’m lucky to have an office up on our third floor. I write at my grandfather’s desk with my two cats nearby – and sometimes draped over my keyboard adding their own “revisions.” But I’m not always in that space. Especially in summer, when it’s way too hot up there, I spend time writing on the couch, out on our deck, or (in pre-Covid times) in coffee shops. I miss the coffee shops!
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
CARRIE: As the muse strikes, for sure! Most often that is early in the morning. Sometimes she gets me out of bed! I really don’t have a set schedule and probably need to get better about that. But every time I try to create a schedule something seems to happen to derail it. These days, with my family home, it can be difficult. I don’t need quiet to write, but I do need time free from interruptions and that is hard to come by lately.
ME: Why do you write for children?
CARRIE: I remember all those special moments when my own kids sat on my lap and we shared a story, often reading whole piles of books. It’s a privilege to be a part of that moment of enjoyment between an adult reader and a child. Even better is knowing that I have the power to actually make that moment of connection happen by writing books that kids will ask to read — hopefully more than once!
ME: With DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS? Definitely more than once! The rhythm and rhyme are so spot on…clever and a great message to boot!
Thank you so much, Carrie…and if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
CARRIE: My best advice for aspiring writers is to read many, many recently-published books, and read them with a child if you possibly can. Pay attention to how they interact with books as well as what appeals to you about the books you read.
Then write many, many manuscripts. The biggest mistake I made starting out was to focus too much on “perfecting” one or two stories, rather than just writing a lot. Picture books take a lot of practice and some stories are never going to make it for a whole host of reasons. Give yourself lots of practice and lots of options. I won’t say it gets easier, but I will say that the more you read and write the more ideas you will have and the more writing you’ll want to do.
ME: That is fabulous advice, Carrie! Thank you so much!
And dear readers, here is some information if you’d like to find out more about Carrie and her books:
Order a signed copy from her local bookstore, Belmont Books: https://www.belmontbooks.com/book/9780525518358
And just like with doughnuts, we always want more…and Carrie is ready with a fabulous treat for us! Take it away, Carrie!
CARRIE: Vivian, I’m so glad you invited me to do this blog because it gave me an excuse to develop a recipe for doughnut cookies! I originally wanted to include a doughnut recipe with DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS – it seems like a natural fit. But, between rising them with yeast or deep frying, they can be difficult to make and aren’t the most approachable project with young children. In the end we ran out of space in the book, but I did develop a simplified doughnut recipe that’s available on my website and that I’m using as a freebie at events.
However, a doughnut COOKIE is a much easier project for kids, and just as satisfying! I started this with a basic sugar cookie recipe, but added some spices to make it taste more like my favorite fall apple cider doughnuts. I hope you like it!
This is fabulous, Carrie! Thank you so very much! I bet if I asked for a show of hands, we’d have a bunch of readers and writers who are going to give these doughnut cookies a try! But before you get busy doing that, make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, thanks to our lovely guest! Why not share which is YOUR favorite doughnut. Mine is Chocolate Glazed Chocolate…with Chocolate Sprinkles…because you can never have enough chocolate.
For those who have been following my house-on-the-market saga, it was listed on July 16, Open House on July 18…with immediate offers! We signed the contract July 21…and I’m now packing in earnest. And so very excited to turn the page on this next chapter of my life!
Stay safe, dear friends…and have a wonderful weekend!