Susanna Hill: Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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SUSANNA LEONARD HILL

When I started blogging back in 2011, a friend steered me to Susanna’s website. “She loves picture books, too,” my friend told me. I hopped over and discovered one of the kindest, smartest, sweetest, most generous kid lit mentors in the world!

Her picture book writing class was the first one I ever took…what an amazing foundation she gave to me! Her writing contests are legendary. Her Monday Fun-day writing prompts and Would You Read it Wednesday pitch picks encourage us to exercise our writing muscles.

I met her for the first time at the NESCBWI conference in April…what a thrill to be able to give her a hug in person.

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For those of you who may not know Susanna, I grabbed a bit from her website about page.

Susanna began writing as soon as she could hold a pencil. She used to lie on the kitchen floor and ask her mom how to spell things. She wrote her first book in 2nd Grade. It is called The Girl and The Witch and she will read it to you if she comes to visit your school!

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Her first published book was The House That Mack Built, released by Little Simon in 2002

And the rest is history. She has published almost a dozen more books…including the wildly popular Punxsutawney Phyllis series and has many more coming down the pike. I know you are all going to be thrilled with this post because Susanna wanted to share a bit about how she gets her ideas.

I’m excited to welcome her…take it away, Susanna!

Hi Everybody!

Thanks so much for stopping by Vivian’s blog today!

As many of you know, I have the privilege of visiting a number of blogs this month as I introduce some new books to the world.  Vivian kindly invited me to join her for cookies… an invitation I will never turn down  … and we decided that it might be fun to talk about where ideas come from. Continue reading

Dianna Aston: Will Write for Cookies PLUS GIVEAWAY

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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DIANNA ASTON

 

Even before I started writing for children, I knew the name Dianna Aston. Her beautiful nature books for young kids are widely used in the schools. So you can imagine what a thrill it was to connect with her when I joined the kidlit community. And then I met her at the WOW Retreat…and had a one-on-one critique that turned into a two-hour chat where we shared our passion for picture books. I’m honored to have her visiting today…especially since it is Valentine’s Day as well as International Book Giving Day. Make sure you scroll through all the way to the end of the post…to enter the GIVEAWAY of TWO BOOKS. Continue reading

Rebecca Gomez – Will Write for Cookies

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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REBECCA GOMEZ

 

When I dove into the kid lit community a couple of years ago, one of first my role models, especially since I loved to write in rhyme, was Corey Rosen Schwartz. And she still is! Recently, I found out Corey and her co-author, Becky Gomez, have a new book that just came out in June. So when Becky agreed to participate in Will Write for Cookies, I did a happy dance.

 

Rebecca J. Gomez is the coauthor of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? , a picture book published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She lives in Nebraska with her hubby, three kids, two poodles, and one parrotlet.

Parrotlet? I had to look that one up. It is a mini-parrot with a lot of personality. Sounds like a picture book mc to me.

I’m excited to welcome Becky. She’s got a lot to share with us so let’s get started.

 

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

 

Becky:


Oh gosh. This is hard to answer. We had a lot of Little Golden Books when I was a kid, probably because they were so affordable. I adored The Poky Little Puppy and The Monster at the End of this Book. But the name that jumped out at me when I saw this question was Shel Silverstein. His poems and drawings have been a part of my life since before I can remember. I’m sure he had something to do with my desire to write my own rhymes when as young as five! Dr. Seuss was a big one too, of course.

 

 

ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

 

Becky:

You know, I almost answered this question, “How long and hard this journey was going to be!” But then I realized that not knowing how long and hard something is going to be is part of the adventure. I tell my kids often that if something is worth accomplishing, then it is worth the struggle it takes to get it done. And that is definitely true of this process, at least for me. Looking back, I don’t know if there is anything I would change to make it easier.

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But, something that I didn’t know right away, and that probably would have been a big encouragement to me when I first set out, is that so many of my favorite authors were rejected dozens of times before selling their first book. Rejections are just bumps in the road, but when you have enough of them together, they can make for pretty rough travel! That is part of every author’s journey though. And that thought is very encouraging!

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

 

Becky:

All of the above! Well, actually, I don’t own a laptop. But I do have a tablet and I use it in a pinch, like when I want to access a document on Google drive when I’m sitting in bed. 

 

I do love to draft by hand, though. With a mechanical pencil. In a composition notebook. Writing by hand in the early stages of a manuscript seems to help the words flow better for me than when I’m staring at a glowing screen. Plus, when I get stuck, I doodle in the margins. It’s very freeing! I can take a pencil and notebook anywhere–out on the deck, in the car on a road trip, to church (just in case!)–and it never has to be charged up. 

 

That said, I do have an official space in the corner of my family room where most of the “work” is done. I’d like to have a real office in the attic of an old house someday. I can dream, right?

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ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?

Becky:

I am most productive in the morning, though that is primarily out of necessity. Because I work from home, I do most of my writing during the day. The kids are off to school most days by 7:30, which gives me time for my morning routine–prayer time, breakfast, tending the pets, a walk on the treadmill–and by 9:30 I am usually writing (between loads of laundry some days). Sometimes I stop around lunchtime. Other times I write until I have to leave to pick my son up from school. I think I do my best writing in my pajamas, which sometimes leads to me frantically pulling on jeans and a sweatshirt before I run out of the door! When summer vacation comes along, I try keeping a similar schedule, but it is much more “fluid.”

Of course there are exceptions. The muse is notorious for not sticking to a schedule. But that is what my handy dandy notebook is for!

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ME: Why do you write for children?

 

Becky:

Because I have to. Honestly. I’ve been a writer all my life. When I was a kid I wrote about childish things, and that hasn’t changed. Though I’ve written a few little things for adults, my writer brain doesn’t seem to want to grow up. As a reader, I prefer reading stories that are written for kids–picture books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, even poetry collections–so I guess it makes sense that those are the things I want to write.

 

I love words, and ever since I was very young I’ve loved stringing those words together to create poems and stories. And stories that are written for children just seem to be the purest and truest stories (and poems!) in the world. 

 

Plus, I love kids. I love the way they react to stories. The giggles and gasps, the oohs and ahs, the exclamations of “read it again!” That is pure magic.

ME: Becky, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?

Becky:

An important thing to remember as a writer is that it is okay to write crap. When I get a new story or poem idea, the most important thing for me is to get the story down on paper. I do my best work and have the most fun (usually) during the revision process. Even when I’m writing with my coauthor, Corey Rosen Schwartz, we try to get the bones of a story down before really giving it any meat or worrying about word choice and meter. It’s better to have something a little wonky to polish up than to try to make a story perfect from line one.

 

For writers of rhyme, my advice is to read lots and lots of rhyming picture books by lots of different authors. Read them aloud, to yourself and to kids. Note what works and what doesn’t. Read your own rhyming manuscripts aloud to yourself and to kids and to other adults, and ask some other adults to do the same. One of the things that helps Corey and me write fabulous rhyme together is that we live in different parts of the country, so we talk differently. Rhyme doesn’t always work the same for me as it does for her. So we are forced to make it work for both of us, which helps ensure that it will work for a wider range of readers. The truth is, there will almost always be some reader who stumbles on some part of a rhyming story no matter how perfect it is. But if you are willing to do the hard work, that will be less of an issue for you.

 

The most important thing is to have fun!

 

That is so important, Becky! I’m glad you mentioned that because, without the aspect of fun, we might as well do something else.

I know all of you want to join me in thanking Becky for sharing all of this writer-love!

If you’d like to connect with Becky or find out more about her book and her writing: www.rebeccajgomez.com

If you’d like to read the Perfect Picture Book Friday review I did yesterday: viviankirkfield.com/2015/08/14/perfect-picture-book-friday-what-about-moose

 

And there’s MORE! Becky is also sharing a yummy Gingersnap Cookie recipe.

Becky:

Here’s a recipe I like to bake when I want something different than the usual homemade chocolate chip.

Photo courtesy: http://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/gingersnaps

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Gingersnaps (from the Better Homes and Gardens (old) New Cookbook

These spicy-sweet treats are quick and easy.

 

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup shortening or cooking oil

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 cup sugar

 

In a mixing bowl combine about half of the flour, the brown sugar, shortening, molasses, egg, baking soda and spices. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour.

 

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until set and tops are crackled. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen.

A million thanks, Becky! I’m a gingersnap fan—I will definitely try these.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Summer is winding down and school is starting in many places. Please be safe if you are traveling, have fun whether you are at home or away, and read lots of books!

PB 14:14 Day Two: Top 10 Picture Book Story Elements – Beginnings and Endings

Today is Day Two of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14…I had fun yesterday, hopping around to several other blogs to read the other entries

If you are just tuning into the challenge, you can follow this link to find out all about it: http://christiewrightwild.blogspot.com/2015/02/pb-1414-in-2015-day-one-with-vivian.html

Do you ever wonder why you love certain books, while others leave you wanting more? Every book needs to be strong in certain elements in order to capture…and hold your attention.

For me, the beginning of a story – the hook that grabs me…and the ending of a story – the finish that leaves me feeling satisfied, are crucial. Love, Twelve Miles Long is a perfect example of a picture book that succeeds in both of these.

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Title: LOVE, TWELVE MILES LONG

Author: Glenda Armand

Illustrator: Colin Bootman

Publisher: Lee & Low

Date: 2011

Word Count: 1200 est.

Top 10 Element: Beginnings and Endings

This book stands out for many reasons, but the beginning absolutely grabs you.

The scene is set in a Continue reading

Goal-Buster: Sheri McCrimmon

Last Tuesday was April Fool’s Day!

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Lucky for you, this is today…and I’m not fooling when I tell you we have a special GOAL-BUSTER guest…my dear friend, Sheri McCrimmon.
I met Sheri at a local SCBWI meeting in Colorado Springs two years ago. It was a Sunday…I think we sat next to each other…we chatted and exchanged manuscripts for critique…and that night I emailed her with a request to drive me to Denver very early the next morning…and she immediately said, ‘YES!” You don’t find many people who would do that.
Sheri is an amazing woman, true friend, talented writer, spot-on critique partner, active participant in the kid lit community…and a sweetheart for agreeing to share her goals for 2014 and her plans for reaching them.
So, without further ado, except for a big thank you, here is Sheri!

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Vivian, thank you so much for the invitation to share my writing goals. This has been such a helpful exercise for me! I hope that it will be helpful to others as well.
Sheri’s Writing Goals for 2014:
1) Have 10 polished books in submission circulation by year’s end. (As of March 15, I have nine ready).

How:
A. Write and send query/cover letters using what I’ve learned with the help of Mira Reisberg’s awesome picture book class (and free webinars) at the Children’s Book Academy, 12 x 12 resources and lots of googling. (As of March 15, I have one picture book out to two different agents, another to one agent and yet another to two agents). This process is more terrifying and slower than I had hoped, but I am moving forward.
B. Continue to revise, revise, revise. . . with the help of my awesome critique posse, 12 x 12, Rate Your Story and Continue reading

Author Emily Lim – Will Write for Cookies

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WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

EMILY LIM

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There are many reasons to blog…for me, one of the most important is to reach out and connect.

And that is how I connected author Emily Lim. Two years ago, while searching for articles on the importance of picture books, I discovered Mum Mum’s The Word, Emily’s blog. I didn’t know who she was…I only knew that someone had written a darn good post about a topic near and dear to my heart. I linked my post to hers…and the rest is history.

I met Emily when I was in Singapore last year at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. She is kind and generous and smart and beautiful and talented and a true friend. As one of the festival directors, Emily was directly responsible for my being there. I was thrilled and honored to go…and I am equally thrilled and honored to shine the Will Write for Cookies spotlight on one of Singapore’s leading picture book authors, Emily Lim!

Welcome, Emily…thank you so much for agreeing to the interview. I know everyone is anxious to hear all about you.

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

Emily:  Enid Blyton was my all time favourite. I dreamt of finding a faraway tree and wishing chair which could take me to magical places. When I was older, my girlfriends and I all chanted Judy Blume’s recommended… ahem…exercises.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

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Emily: I wish I knew how helpful it is to have critique partners and Continue reading

Alayne Kay Christian: Goal-Buster Extraodinaire

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If you haven’t already done it, go and rip the month of January from your calendar!

That right…one month over and gone! Hard to believe…and January was one of the long ones.

Many of us make resolutions or do goal-setting at the beginning of every year – but often, after a couple of weeks, life gets in the way and those resolutions fall by the wayside and those goals remain unreached.

That’s why I’m so very excited to have Alayne Kay Christian here today as my guest for Goal Busters.

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I met Alayne through our common interest in writing for children – you will find her in just about every kid lit writing challenge out there – many times as an ‘expert witness’ so to speak. She’s an award-winning children’s author, life coach, founder of Sub Six, does awesome professional manuscript critiques (I can vouch for that) and so much more – scroll down to the end of the post to read her bio and find out how to connect with this amazing lady.

Welcome, Alayne! I’m thrilled to have you here today.

Thank you, Vivian, for inviting me to be a goal buster. I have decided to only share some of my bigger goals for 2014. If I shared all my goals, this post would become a total bore. I love goals that provide their own rewards. So, when it comes to rewards, you will notice that in most cases my rewards come from Continue reading