WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION
As many of you know, I’ve stepped back a bit from the number of blogs I post. Last year I had three or four Fridays and Saturdays filled each month. This year, I’m only doing one or at most, two, Will Write for Cookies post each month and a few Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Which makes each one all the more special.
Special…now that is a perfect word to describe today’s guest. I met Leah at a writing retreat in Georgia and I fell in love immediately with her passion for writing and her sincere, honest, and compassionate approach to life. So when I found out her award-winning middle grade novel, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL, was coming out in paperback on June 12th, I knew I had to ask her if she would stop by for a Q&A. And she said YES!
Leah’s novel One Shadow on the Wall, is an Africana Children’s Book Award notable book and a Bank Street “Best Book of 2017” starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” is part of the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America and her debut picture book is entitled Mamie on the Mound. Leah mentors at-risk teens, is an avid traveler, and her volunteer work has roots in Mali, West Africa. She attended Callaloo Writing Workshop at Oxford University, is on Highlights Foundation faculty, and volunteers with Kweli Journal and We Need Diverse Books. She received her MFA from Spalding University and lives in Washington, D.C.
But today, fortunately, you can find her right here!!!!
And if you leave a comment, thanks to our generous guest, you’ll be entered into the giveaway of a brand new paperback copy of ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL.
ME: Hello Leah. Thank you so much for stopping by to chat. I know everyone is excited to find out more about you.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
LEAH: Hi all! I’m excited to be here!
One of the books I always passed on my family’s sunroom coffee table was THE PEOPLE COULD FLY by Virginia Hamilton with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. And from time to time one of my parents and I would open it just to read a few pages. That was a definite comfort book, and still is a reminder of home. I also loved Corduroy by Don Freeman because it was the first time I saw a black girl like me with her mom as part of an everyday adventure. The Bernstein Bear books were also big in my house because they showed a family doing so much together, just like mine always did.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
LEAH: I am still working on this, but I wish I had known to be kinder to myself and my writing, and to trust that even if I don’t figure something out right away that I will not give up until I do. Over the years, I’ve added a lot more stress to my writing hours than I needed to. I’m not saying I don’t still stress about every little thing, but now when I tell myself to take a couple breaths I actually try to.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
LEAH: So, I write all over the place, inside, outside—on rooftops, in gardens, on planes, and in Bedouin tents, wherever inspiration strikes (or wherever I am when I have to get something done). Though my ideal place is anywhere my dog is curled nearby. I usually start a story in one of my favorite notebooks with one of my favorite pens. Then I move to my laptop or desktop depending where I am.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
LEAH: Again, I’ve learned I need to be flexible if I’m ever going to get anything done. But years ago when I started to take my writing more seriously I was shocked to find that the early morning hours were a magical time for me (basically I worked in a nightclub and all my friends were asleep then.
I have always been a night owl and get a lot done under the cover of night, but purely by accident I found that the early morning hours were the best time for me to write new scenes. I’ve never been too fond of morning unless I’ve already been up half the night. But one morning I popped up during the early stages of a new story and realized my characters were buzzing to get on the page when the sun had still barely pushed its way into the sky. Now, when writing a new draft I get excited to see how the ideas have been playing in my head all night.
ME: Why do you write for children?
LEAH: Because children have the most open hearts and the most expansive minds!
ME: Leah, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
LEAH: My advice to aspiring writers is the same advice I give to myself now: Be kind to yourself and your writing. Don’t cringe at your mistakes. Sometimes the most magical things come from these stumbles—these true moments of learning. But we have to be open to seeing them. So keep your eyes open to everything! And write for you . . .
Thank you so much for having me, Vivian!
ME: The pleasure is mine, Leah…and I know that you aren’t done yet. I took a peek at the treat recipe and it looks amazing!
LEAH: Not exactly cookies, but this is a common treat you’ll see at outdoor street vendors and it’s also a wonderful snack during Ramadan and other occasions.
Photo: Eat Your World
Senegalese Donuts (Beignets)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of milk
1 tbsp of baking powder
½ tbsp of butter (melted)
- Add flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, and melted butter into a bowl
- Add squeezed orange juice and milk
- Mix together
- Add zest of orange for flavor
- Add vegetable oil
- Continue to mix until soft, not too sticky
- Add raisins (optional) and mix
- Add a bit more orange zest and mix
- Sprinkle a little more vegetable oil on top
- Add a bit of coconut (optional)
- Then let rest for 2-3 hours. Best results: let sit overnight
- Sprinkle a bit of nutmeg on top (optional)
- Mix a little more
- Create little balls and drop them into a pan of hot vegetable oil
*put a little vegetable oil on your hands for stickiness.
- Flip the donuts as they cook
- Let them fry for 10 mins or until golden brown
- Remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb extra oil
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar
Oh my goodness…thank you, Leah. You brought me right back on a Saturday morning with my grandmother who used to bake a lot. I’d sneak downstairs while everyone slept in, and help her. Fried doughnuts were one of her specialties. I will definitely have to try these!
Dear readers, thank you so much for spending your precious time here with us. Please don’t forget the the greatest gifts you can give your favorite authors is to buy their books, review their books, and tell others about their books. Make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.
Have a safe and happy weekend! I’ll be leaving for a 10-day trip to Chicago on Wednesday to visit family…but I hope to be able to connect with some Chicago area writer friends as well.
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!
I’ve been blogging a bit less in the last couple of weeks, but when I received this book in the mail, I knew I had to share it with you today. I’m a fan of anything written by Miranda Paul and this book is cowritten by her husband, Baptiste, whose debut picture book, THE FIELD, just launched earlier this year!
ADVENTURES TO SCHOOL
Written by Miranda and Baptiste Paul
Illustrated by Isabel Munoz
Published by Little Bee Books (May 2018)
Themes: School, cultures around the world
Synopsis: From Amazon:
Kids around the world get to school in unique ways. Take a peek inside this book and see how they reach their destinations!
Children all around the world go to school. Whether they’re from Japan, Ukraine, Ethiopia, or the United States, all students have the desire to learn about the world and shape the future. In Bhutan, children walk for three hours to make it to school, and in Pakistan, children travel by rickshaw. Some children in China must climb a heaven ladder, while children in Nepal must walk over a wire bridge. The treks of these students are unique, extraordinary, and even dangerous, and they signify the common determination, perseverance, and sense of adventure shared by young people around the world.
Read along as students from thirteen different nations embark on their journeys to get to school in the morning, and learn about the diverse landscapes and cultures of these countries along the way!
Why I like this book:
- Love the content – amazingly personal stories of children on their way to school PLUS so much history and culture is included.
- Love the illustrations – bold, bright, and filled with heart.
- This is a perfect book for kids who want to/need to learn about cultures around the world.
Photo courtesy: http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids
How about TEN awesome crafts for back to school? Check out PBS: http://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-for-kids/10-favorite-back-to-school-crafts/
Illustrated above is a homework center to help young kids organize their pencils, crayons, and other school supplies.
Other activities…take a trip to your child’s school…by car or bus or walking…and draw a map, taking note of stores and other landmarks you pass along the way.
Thank you all for stopping by today and spending your precious time here. If you have a few minutes left over (I know this is Memorial Day weekend and many of you may be celebrating), please thank your favorite authors by posting reviews of their books on Amazon, Goodreads, or other book review sites. This is the best gift we can five them!
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday. Actually, for me, every day is a perfect day for reading a picture book. And today we have one that will win everyone’s heart. It’s brand new…not even out yet…and I was lucky enough to get a copy of the F&G’s…but if you leave a comment on this blog post today, you might win a copy of the real thing.
But before we talk about today’s featured book, we need to announce the winner of Susanna Hill’s giveaway from last week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post. And the winner is…
Congratulations, Sandy! I’ll send a joint email to you and Susanna so she can mail your prize to you.
And now it’s time for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick.
HELLO GOODBYE DOG
Written by: Maria Gianferrari
Illustrated by: Patrice Barton
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (July 2017)
Ages: Preschool – Grade 3
For Zara’s dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side.
Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school and Moose has to go back home.
But Moose can’t be held back for long. Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long.
Why I like this book:
- Great text and page turns
- Wonderful illustrations
- Full of humor and heart
- Perfect launch pad for discussions about relationships, friendships, and how animals help us
PAPER BAG PUPPET – DOG
Photo courtesy: http://www.dltk-kids.com
Just give me a group of young children, a stack of paper bags, and some scissors, glue, markers and construction paper – we’ll be happy for hours.
And to make this adorable dog puppet, that’s all you’ll need.
For detailed instructions, go here: http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/pets-dogs.htm
Check out your local library…ours has a therapy dog that comes once a week to listen to the children read.
Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for a copy of HELLO GOODBYE DOG. And there is more picture book awesomeness afoot!
Tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies post has a special giveaway…a Picture Book Manuscript CRITIQUE from author Maria Gianferrari. DON’T MISS IT!
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend!