Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Mr. Pig LIVE Christmas Special -- with a cookie recipe & a GIVEAWAY!

Chomp . . . snuffle . . . chomp-- OH, hello! You've caught me taste-testing my freshly baked sugar cookies. They're ready just in time for my special guest, Stephanie Shaw, author of A COOKIE FOR SANTA. She's at my door now. . . .

Welcome, Stephanie!

Wow! The Cottage is so nice and cozy. What’s that I smell? Cookies? Well, thanks, don’t mind if I do!

I brought you some of my Scottish grandmother’s shortbread cookies. These are a big Christmas tradition for my family. They are so coveted that as an adult my mother would hide the ones baked and sent to her by her sister! Apparently, that ‘sharing’ spirit of Christmas did not extend to the shortbread.


Oh, and I also brought along a copy of my new picture book, A COOKIE FOR SANTA and a SIGNED copy to GIVEAWAY to your readers! 



Thanks, Stephanie! Let’s me just the dab the crumbs from my snout, so I can ask you about your adorable book. How did you get the idea for A Cookie for Santa?

It was a warm spring day. . . . No, seriously. I was talking with the illustrator of my first book, Laura Watkins. She was inextricably drawing gingerbread men in the middle of spring. Her agent contacted her and said that Sleeping Bear Press was looking for a Christmas story. Her agent suggested that Laura Skype with me (Laura lives in England) and that we come up with some text and sample art. Then the agent pitched it at BEA.

So, it was an idea that actually came to me via Laura. The publisher eventually went with a different illustrator, and Laura was quite gracious about that.

Did you know from the initial spark of the idea that you wanted to write the piece as an adaptation of the Clement Clarke Moore poem?

Oh no! I wrote two different stories that were in prose. But, they didn’t quite have the spark that I wanted. Then I glanced over at my bookshelf and saw a very old copy of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I read it thinking I might get all ‘Christmassy’ and WHAM! The first stanza came to me: ‘Twas the night before Christmas// And there on a plate// Was a ginger bread cookie// Awaiting his fate.

After that, everything really came together nicely. You know? It’s like you open the cupboard and waaaaaay in the back is that special canister of cocoa you forget about! Wouldn’t brownies be great?



From A COOKIE FOR SANTA by Stephanie Shaw. Illustration copyright 2014 by Bruno Robert.

Most of your books are written in rhyme. Conventional advice for new writers is always, "Don't submit rhyming manuscripts!" I hear this confounds authors who see rhyming picture books on each new list. What's your take?

I know! “Don’t write rhyme” and “Don’t write holiday books!” Here’s my take on it: Don’t. I mean it. Plot out a really good story first. Because really, that is what the publisher is after.  If you have that and if you are confident you can do rhyme well, then go for it. So, my process is to know where the story is going first.

Of course, there are those doggone rhymes that get a foot in the door and will not go away until you give them a whole story of their own --- I’ve had that happen, too. Rhyming words can be really persistent when they want a story!



From A COOKIE FOR SANTA by Stephanie Shaw. Illustration copyright 2014 by Bruno Robert.

Bruno Robert's illustrations for A Cookie For Santa are lots of fun. Did you have any input into that part of the process after a different illustrator was chosen?

Sleeping Bear Press is an absolute joy to work with. They sent complete sketches to me and asked me about them all the way through. So, even though I didn’t select Bruno (who lives in Normandy, by the way) I felt very included. And, I love so many of the details he added --- like the little gingerbread boy clinging to the tablecloth as the dogs upset the room.

What was your favorite Christmas book to read as a child?

Oh, I’m pretty sure as a child it was a Little Golden Book copy of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.  And, then there was also going to church on Christmas Eve and hearing the Bible story. When I was little, we would go to midnight services. And then (if you as a parent can imagine this) we would hang our stockings, leave out cookies and go to bed. There was not a single other decoration in the house. By morning, Santa had arrived and left a fully decorated tree with gifts! Talk about your Christmas magic!


And you've brought something a bit magical, too! Would you mind giving the Cottagers and our friends at home the recipe for your delicious shortbread cookies?

Of course, Mr. Pig! Thanks for having me. I’d like to wish everyone a very, very Happy Christmas and wildly successful New Year!


[A note from Stephanie: My mother’s family came from Scotland to Canada and then to America. Another Scottish family sponsored them, the Grays who operated a bakery.]

Click on Stephanie's recipe to enlarge it.

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About A COOKIE FOR SANTA
by Stephanie Shaw
Illustrated by Bruno Robert
Sleeping Bear Press, 2014
ISBN 978-1585368839
 
“The rhyming verses are pitch-perfect in their cadence. . . . A successful mixture of two classic ingredients yields a sweet Christmas treat." ---Kirkus

"A gingerbread cookie is baked especially for Santa’s visit in this spin on The Night before Christmas. . . . Youngsters will anxiously listen to learn the cookie’s fate."  ---Booklist
 
About Stephanie Shaw
Stephanie Shaw is the author of Bedtime in the Meadow, illustrated by Laura Watkins, and the forthcoming picture books Under the Sleepy Stars (Tiger Tales) and The Legend of the Beaver's Tail (Sleeping Bear Press).
In addition to her books, She is also a contributor to Highlights for Children, High Five, and Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids, and is a member of SCBWI.

Stephanie lives in McMinnville, Oregon, an area that provides her with lots of weather-related excuses to stay inside reading or writing.

To learn more about Stephanie, visit her website.

From an early age, I had it in mind to draw and play with colours, so much so that I naturally went to the National School of Fine Arts in Caen, France, whith I attended from 1991 to 1995 (option: Visual Communication).
Right after a short stay in the multimedia market, I illustrated my first album for the young Qui tire la langue? published by Magnard, in 2002. Some more commissions followed and I have had books published by du Ricochet, Les Editions Hemma, Fleurus, Larousse, Atlas, Hachette Children’s Books, Child’s Play, Wayland, Milan Jeunesse, Magnard Scolaire, Editions Sed…
Moreover, I work for the young children's press: Wakou (Milan Presse), Mille et une Histoires and Arc en Ciel (Fleurus Presse). I also work for publishing agencies and administrations.
While I am illustrating a story, I think up a funny and coloured world with a hint of tenderness. I work with acrylic paint and sometimes on a computer.
I live and work in Normandy (France) where I was born.
- See more at: http://www.childs-play.com/illustrator/robert_bruno.html#sthash.zMfp7N4Q.dpuf
From an early age, I had it in mind to draw and play with colours, so much so that I naturally went to the National School of Fine Arts in Caen, France, whith I attended from 1991 to 1995 (option: Visual Communication).
Right after a short stay in the multimedia market, I illustrated my first album for the young Qui tire la langue? published by Magnard, in 2002. Some more commissions followed and I have had books published by du Ricochet, Les Editions Hemma, Fleurus, Larousse, Atlas, Hachette Children’s Books, Child’s Play, Wayland, Milan Jeunesse, Magnard Scolaire, Editions Sed…
Moreover, I work for the young children's press: Wakou (Milan Presse), Mille et une Histoires and Arc en Ciel (Fleurus Presse). I also work for publishing agencies and administrations.
While I am illustrating a story, I think up a funny and coloured world with a hint of tenderness. I work with acrylic paint and sometimes on a computer.
I live and work in Normandy (France) where I was born.
- See more at: http://www.childs-play.com/illustrator/robert_bruno.html#sthash.NqazNbki.dpuf

FOR A COPY OF A COOKIE FOR SANTA SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR PLEASE TELL US YOUR FAVORITE COOKIE IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW!

* ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON DECEMBER 17th! *

17 comments:

  1. I love what Stephanie said about writing in rhyme- to plot out a really good story first. When I put together a riddle for my book blog, it starts with a theme, then I take that idea and sum it up with two words that rhyme. I pick away at word choice and cadence, alluding to the topic that coincides with the book we're featuring. It's very challenging, but fun! A Cookie for Santa looks adorable, and the recipe sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing! ~ Jess

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Jess! I love the sound of rhyming riddles! Please tell our reader the address of your blog and we'll hop on over and take a look. --Mr. Pig

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  2. Excellent! Thank you. :)
    Here is the address of my book blog. You can view the riddles by clicking on Fairday's Riddles on the top of the page: http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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    1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing. We enjoyed the Bella & Stella clue. :)

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  3. I love shortbread but I have a new favourite Christmas cookie which I've baked for the first time this year - orange and mixed spice cookies. The house smells wonderful while they bake :)

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  4. I love the idea of the fate of the gingerbread cookie. Thanks for the post. If I have to choose just ONE favorite cookie at Christmas it is gingerbread. Katmaz@mac.com
    Kathy Mazurowski My wordpress is not working!?!

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    1. (We promise we won't tell the main character of Stephanie's picture book.) ;) Thanks for you comment, Kathy!

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  5. Your book sounds wonderful, Stephanie. I can't wait to find a copy to add to my collection of Christmas books. The advice to plot out and plan the story before the rhyme is spot on. If the rhyme wants to still chase you around after that, so be it. My favorite cookie is a really simple one -- Spritz. I love twisting them out of the press and adding sprinkles.

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  6. Looking forward to reading A Cookie for Santa, Stephanie, that is sure to delight. Your writing tip to know your story first before working on the rhyme is the best. Favorite Christmas cookie . . . Does it have to be just one? Okay, my first choice is sugar cookies. ~Suzy Leopold

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    1. Mr. Pig agrees. Thanks for your comment, Suzy!

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  7. My favorite cookie is definitely Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies, warm and gooey straight out of the oven! And please serve with a tall, cold glass of milk, please!

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  8. Your book sounds really cute. We have big gingerbread traditions in my family that have been around for generations -- lots of fond memories! Thanks for the comments on rhyming. I have a few manuscripts in rhyme that I am a little afraid of because of all the warnings to NOT rhyme, but two of them just sort of flowed out in rhyme. I couldn't help it! Maybe I'll be brave enough to submit them some day!

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  9. Those cookies sound amazing, Kristi! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Thank you for such an inspiring post. Your book sounds delightful! My favorite cookies are Mexican Wedding Cookies.

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  11. Congratulations, Kristi! You are the winner! Please email your mailing address to littlecrookedcottage@gmail.com

    Thanks to all who entered and happy holidays!

    xo the Cottagers

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