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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!

#50PreciousWordsforKids – Where Kids Become the Storytellers

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Last month, I hosted a challenge for writers. I invited them to create a story for children in 50 words or less. #50PreciousWords drew hundreds of participants. What amazed me was the incredible creativity that was unleashed by the restrictive word limit.

MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!

One of the participants told me that she and her six-year old daughter had an amazing bonding experience. Seeing her mom writing, the little girl wanted to write a story also. And she did. And her mom shared it with me.

DINOSAUR SNOW by Bethany (age 6)

It snowed a lot through the day. Pteranodon and her sister Teethless were bored. Pteranodon said, “I planned to go outside and it’s almost time for lunch. Oh it’s 11:00. Let’s go wake Mom and Dad.” “You’re right,” said Teethless. So they did. And then they ate lunch.

Then my eight-year old grandson spent a day with me and he wanted to write one, too.

LOCKED OUT by Jeremy (age 8)

One evening, when me and my mom got home from school, we tried to unlock our door. We heard a snap. Our house key broke! We went to our neighbors for help. They said, “Get a ladder and climb into a window.” We followed their advice. Unlocked the door. Home!

Those two stories got me excited! I’m a retired kindergarten teacher. My debut picture book will launch next year. My book for parents and teachers, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, recommends 100 picture books and provides hundered of activities to extend the reading experience. I’ve always been on a mission to help kids become lovers of books and reading. What a thrill if I could encourage them to become their own storytellers!

I decided to create a writing challenge for children!

An ALL-INCLUSIVE INTERNATIONAL ONE!

#50PreciousWordsforKids will coincide with Children’s Book Week, May 1-7. Every child in grades K-6 is invited to participate. Teachers will have each child write a story of 50 words or less…then the teacher and/or class will choose one story to submit. Parents who homeschool their children can submit one story per child.

Here are the guidelines.

final jpeg of flyer

I’m asking all of you who have connections with elementary schools or homeschooling families in any state and any country to please spread the word. Last month, I contacted the Children’s Book Council and they agree – it’s a perfect activity for Children’s Book Week.

The challenge runs May 1-7 and the stories need to be emailed to me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, May 7th. I’ll post those stories on Thursday, May 11th. Teachers and parents will receive a certificate that can be copied and personalized with the name of each child who participated. And there will be seven mini-Skype author classroom visits randomly awarded—one per grade.

I’m grateful to talented artist Vicky Fang who designed the perfect logo. And to Deborah Weed, Jennifer Petersen, and my daughter, Caroline, who all helped put the flyer together. It takes a village.

And it takes a village to help kids stretch and grow their imaginations.

I’m excited to read all of their precious words.

Sunday Post: Plains…What Did Kids Do In Little House On The Prairie?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge…today’s theme is PLAINS.

The dictionary defines plains as: ‘A stretch of nearly level treeless country.

 

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These snow-covered plains might have been the backyard of young Laura Ingalls Wilder who wrote Little House on the Prairie. When I looked at this painting, I got the feeling that if I walked around the small stand of trees, I would stumble upon her little homestead.

I used to love watching the Little House television series. I’d had a crush on Michael Landon ever since high school when Bonanza aired, with Michael Landon starring as Little Joe. I remember trading hard-won information with my best friend, Jane…how tall he was, what color eyes…all the little tidbits we could discover from pouring over celebrity magazines…there were no computers or internet or Google searches in those days.

Those old reruns are still enjoyable…and provide valuable lessons that are timely and timeless. Here are three of those:

  • Kids need routines
  • Kids need rules
  • Kids need responsibilities

Routines help everything run smoothly…like when to go to bed and when to do homework.

Rules help everyone know what is expected of them…like no phone calls or texting during dinner time.

Responsibilities help each person feel useful and valuable…like clearing the table or picking up toys.

A family is like a business that operates on love and teamwork and respect.

Watch some of these old shows if you can…you’ll see what I mean.

viv reading with jake 

Back in the day of Little House on the Prairie and Ponderosa, there were no iPads, iPods or iPhones. Did you realize that all of those begin with the letter ‘I’? One of the biggest problems today is the disconnection between people. Years ago, reading, crafting and cooking were three activities that families did together. Today, many parents and kids go shopping together, eat dinner together or sit watching TV together in the same room, but each is busy texting or checking emails or twitter on their phones. If you’d like to bring back some family time, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking  gives picture book recommendations, quick and easy craft projects and simple child-friendly recipes.  Click this link to buy a copy! Engage your child, encourage creative expression and, most of all, have fun together

 

It’s the Year of the Snake!

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http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/

http://rainbowbakery.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/sunday-post-plains/

http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/sunday-post-plains/

http://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/sunday-post-theme-plains/

http://imissmetoo.me/2013/02/24/sunday-post-plains/

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