WILL WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
FOR WRITERS, ILLUSTRATORS, PARENTS, TEACHERS, LIBRARIANS,
AND BOOK LOVERS EVERYWHERE
Today’s Will Write for Cookies guest has been a Facebook and kid-lit friend of mine for many years. And when I found out her debut picture book was about one of my favorite people, Fred Rogers, and when I heard a bit about the path to publication back story, I knew I’d want to invite her to chat with us.
Donna Cangelosi enjoys writing stories that entertain, enlighten, and inspire young readers. Her debut picture book, MISTER ROGERS’ GIFT OF MUSIC, illustrated by Amanda Calatzis will be published by Page Street Kids, August 23, 2022. When not writing, Donna works with children in her psychology practice. Like Mister Rogers, she helps kids deal with feelings using play, art, music, and of course, picture books! Visit her at www.donnacangelosi.com Twitter @DonnaCangelosi2 and Instagram @donnacangelosi2
ME: Welcome, Donna. Thank you so much for stopping by to visit. It kind of feels like we are neighbors because we are in so many groups together – I guess that’s just what Fred Rogers would have loved! And you are generously offering a giveaway of a copy of your new book…that’s delightful. I know everyone is excited to learn more about you and your writerly journey, so let’s get started.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
DONNA: Hi Vivian! Thank you for having me on your blog. When I was about six, my mother signed me up for the Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Club. I can still remember the thrill of receiving a package addressed to me and the excitement of opening it to see the monthly surprise. The King, The Mice, and the Cheese, by Nancy and Eric Gurney was my favorite. To this day, I love the illustrations and the book’s message of finding creative ways to live with others. I’ve also been a life-long fan of Hans Christian Andersen. As a child, I especially enjoyed his story, The Emperor’s New Clothes.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
DONNA: A fun idea does not make a picture book. I have a folder on my computer desktop labeled “Story Beginnings,” filled with unfinished manuscripts. Some are fun opening lines, but many of them are lyrical “stories,” which I spent hours writing before hitting a wall. I eventually learned to narrow down a concept and story arc before spending hours writing. Now, when I come up with a new idea, I talk to one of my critique partners about it. Their questions challenge me to find a way to develop a story or to see that it’s a good idea for another time.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen, and paper?
DONNA: I like to write on my laptop at my dining room table where I can spread out my mentor texts, old drafts, and critiques. I also keep a pen and pad on my bed-stand because I often wake up with words or lines for my stories. Sometimes they seem better in the middle of the night, but occasionally they work well.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
DONNA: I write whenever I can and usually manage to schedule three or four blocks of writing time each week. I tend to be most productive when I have a full afternoon or evening to let my creativity flow.
ME: Why do you write for children?
DONNA: I’ve worked with children my entire adult life—as a babysitter, teachers’ aid, elementary school counselor, and now as a child psychologist. Writing for kids is a natural evolution, which allows me to expand my work out of my office, a way to show kids that they’re understood, matter, and are not alone in the world. Writing for children is also personally fulfilling. I love playing with words and trying to find lyrical ways to string them together. It’s nothing short of magical when words come together to express what I want to say.
ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parent, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.
DONNA: For writers: Write the story that tugs at yoAuthour heart and keeps you up at night. Then, find a fun, engaging way to tell it.
DONNA: For Parents, Educators, Teachers and Librarians: Fred Rogers said it better than I ever could: “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.”
ME: Those are definitely inspiring words…and so encouraging for all of us who are connecting with young children, either through our stories or our home or work lives. And sharing some of the words of Fred Rogers is especially sweet, just like the recipe you are going to share with us.
DONNA: When researching Fred Rogers’ life, I came upon a fun fact that he was a vegetarian and became a co-owner of Vegetarian Times in the mid-1980s. Because Amanda Calatzis and I are also vegetarians, I thought I’d share one of my favorite vegan cookie recipes, found on https://www.noracooks.com.
VEGAN CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, add the sugar and canola oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and smooth. Add the ground flax seeds, non-dairy milk and vanilla, and mix well to combine.
3. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt using a sifter. Stir until combined with the wet ingredients and a soft dough is formed.
4. Place the powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough at a time, and shape into a ball. Roll the ball in the powdered sugar very generously, covering all sides. The more powdered sugar, the prettier the cookies will be.
5. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart so they have room to spread.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set. They will appear slightly undercooked and soft but will firm up as they cool. Servings approximately 18.
7. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Store any extra cookies in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Enjoy!
WOW! This recipe looks wonderful, Donna. Thank you so much! And thank you for the generous giveaway of a copy of MR. ROGERS’ GIFT OF MUSIC! I’m sure every kid-lit writer would love to win it and use it as a mentor text…and parents and teachers will be excited to read it with their young children. I hope everyone leaves a comment to be entered in the giveaway…and shares this post on all of their social media channels.
Dear friends, please remember that the success of books is in your hands. You can buy them, review them, tell friends about them, and ask your local library to purchase copies for their collection.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. We’ve got excitement in the wings…tomorrow I’m doing a TRAILER REVEAL for FRIDGE-O-POLIS by Melissa Coffey. Tuesday is a Happy Book Birthday post for SET SAIL FOR PANCAKES by Tim Kleyn. Thursday is a Happy Book Birthday post for MOON TREE by my 2020 PBChat mentee, Carolyn Fraiser. Friday is Perfect Picture Book Friday and I’ll be featuring BEFORE MUSIC by Annette Bay Pimentel, And that brings us to next Saturday when Ellen Tarlow, author of BECOMING BLUE will stop by for Will Write for Cookies.
Phew! I’m sure you don’t believe that I do any writing of my own…but truly, I do. I just sent a new manuscript to my agent and she is sending it out on submission. And I also worked on another story that was already out on submission – I used the feedback we got from editors to tweak it and hopefully make it better/more marketable.
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