Nurturing a love of reading

September 24th, 2010

Darsa Morrow, fellow Betsy-Tacy fan and fellow mother of boys, has a thoughtful and impassioned blog post today on the vital spark that reading aloud ignites in our children, ensuring a life-long love of reading.  (Click here to read it.)

Good stuff, Darsa.  Certainly proved true in our house — and I have the picture to prove it!

My husband reading to our younger son -- check out that '80s hair!

Pie-of-the-month club – Kimberley Griffiths Little

July 27th, 2010
On the menu today:  Kimberley Griffiths Little, who stopped by to talk about her new novel and to share her favorite recipe for — what else?  — pie!

Kimberley Griffiths Little

Kimberley, what have you been cooking up for readers?

My novel, THE HEALING SPELL, was just released  from Scholastic Press. The word “cooking” describes the writing process perfectly because it took a long time to mix the proper ingredients, rewrite, polish, start over, add, delete, and so on until it was just right. It took a period of about six years from the time I wrote the first draft until it sold – even though I had many editors tasting and re-tasting and telling me how close it was! Just a little more plot, another pinch of character, a few more pecans—I mean scenes.

I understand you also cooked up a mother-daughter book club guide and a book trailer to help promote the novel.  Can you tell us a little bit about that process?

The book trailer was a true labor of love as I worked with Nua Music to bring the story, location, and characters alive. The girl who brought my script and 12-year-old Livie to life with her voice-over did a superb job, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Since I needed very specialized images for an unusual story, I created or photographed more than half of them myself, using models and doing several photo shoots and photo-shopping to get the feel I wanted. I’m thrilled with the original music and the special sound effects as well as the production from Nua Music – and the response has been tremendous from other writers, industry folks, Scholastic, as well as readers.

How about your favorite pie-in-the-sky moment as a writer?  Have you ever had one of those “I never dreamed it would really happen to me” moments that was special to you?

While I kept experimenting with the recipe for THE HEALING SPELL, I baked up a few other pies—I mean books, too. Sorry to keep up the pie analogy ad naseum, but it’s such a good one! I was writing about the ancient Middle East and Egypt as well as a contemporary YA romance set in Paris and was querying agents like mad about three of these projects to see what would stick, like testing spaghetti noodles against the wall. After signing with Super Agent Tracey Adams, she sent out THE HEALING SPELL and a YA historical called SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS to several houses and within a month, we ended up with a three-book deal at Scholastic. Selling three books at once to the same publisher was something I never expected, and one of those dreams you didn’t know you were dreaming until you wake up one morning and bounce off the ceiling with excitement.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?

Do hundreds of rejections count? The biz of writing to get published keeps you pretty darn humble. And then there are the dumb questions you ask your agent or brand new editor, or you worry that you’re being a pest, or you’re so nervous at your first book talk event that your voice is shaking and no matter how hard you try, it won’t stop! I have no trouble feeling like the perpetual newbie on the block.

Now, let’s REALLY talk pie. What’s your favorite kind? Do you have a favorite pie memory? How about the recipe you’re sharing – can you give us a little background on it?

I’m definitely a pie girl. I make a mean apple pie and the SECRET to a successful apple pie is using REAL (not canned), TART apples, sliced THIN with lots of sugar and cinnamon.  It will melt in your mouth. Eat warm, of course.

MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH APPLE PIE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith (or other TART) apples – peeled, cored, and sliced THIN

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Mix 1 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon together and mix well with the apples. Fill the pie pan with the sugared apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
  4. Eat warm or with ice cream!

From one pie girl to another, that sounds fabulous, Kimberley!  I have a special place in my heart for apple pie — it was my mom’s favorite — and I can’t wait to try your recipe.

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out this fall (“Babyberry Pie” and “Pies & Prejudice” – learn more here), I started a pie-of-the-month club to showcase new books by friends and colleagues. To read other selections on the “pie-of-the-month club” menu, check out my interviews with Jane Kurtz, Toni Buzzeo, Lisa Schroeder, Jennifer Ward, Susan Blackaby, Jennifer Jacobson, and Frederic Hunter.  Be sure and drop by again soon, because throughout 2010 I’ll be serving up more stellar books by some of my favorite authors and illustrators.

Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course.   Pie is ALWAYS on the menu here on my blog.  Enjoy!

Middle-grade fun

June 8th, 2010
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