Pie-of-the-month-club – Andrea Beaty

I have a special treat for you today — Andrea Beaty, one of my favorite funny ladies!  Andrea and I share the same agent, the illustrious Barry Goldblatt, and got acquainted at one of Barry’s famous client retreats, where I quickly learned that she loves to laugh as much as I do.  Andrea is the author of a number of wonderful books for young readers, and also co-hosts the blog “Three Silly Chicks” with Julia Durango and Carolyn Crimi, both seriously silly chicks in their own right.

Andrea Beaty
So Andrea, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us about your new book, and how it came about?
My most recent book is graphic novel/novel hybrid called ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES. It chronicles the invasion of three enormous alien rabbits known as the Fierce, Large, Ugly and Ferocious Furballs (FLUFFS). When a flaming meteor hits their marshmallow planet, they hop a rocket to Earth. The FLUFFS land at the decrepit Camp Whatsitooya on the aromatic shores of Lake Whatsosmelly. The FLUFFS set out to conquer the world and use its children as a source of energy but meet their match in a set of B-movie savvy twins, Joules and Kevin Rockman.
The amazing Dan Santat illustrates the mayhem. He is seriously funny!  I think that this book is ideal for that 3rd-6th grade kid (boys and girls) who love some silly!

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?

This crazy author journey always surprises me, so I have pie-in-the-sky moments all the time. Picking one would be like picking one piece of pie!  Nobody can have just one.  Oh, wait.  That’s potato chips.  Anyhow, here is a smattering of my favorite moments:

  • Getting the call that an editor wanted to publish my first book, WHEN GIANTS COME TO PLAY. I was camping in Banff and had to drive up to a hill to get a phone signal. When I got the news, my kids and I did a screamy-happy dance which made the hikers think we were being attacked by bears!  I don’t think getting attacked by a bear would be THAT exciting!
  • Standing in front of 150 4th graders and making them all snort with laughter at the same time. That is a trip!
  • Having dinner with amazingly talented authors, illustrators, and editors. (And not being asked to leave.)  I’m such a fan girl!
  • Every time I get a copy of one of my brand-new books, I crack the book open and it makes that crazy little new book noise. It makes my heart sing every time!

Wow.  That’s a lot of pie-in-the-sky.  Got milk?

There’s no such thing as too much pie-in-the-sky, Andrea.   But what about humble pie — have you ever been served a heaping slice of that during your career?

Oh yeah. It was at a signing in which I was sharing a table with a NY Times best-selling author. The table was as big as a dinner plate and his line was endless. Mine was non-existent. It was mortifying, but the other author was so gracious and funny I waited to commit hara-kiri until later…

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 was raised in southern Illinois a couple of miles from Rend Lake. There has been a café there forever named Burton’s, and its specialty is White Pie. This is a cream custard kind of pie topped with whipped cream and pecans. For about a million years, it was made by a wonderful lady named Freda Webb, a true magician with pie dough. I should say that some people do not love White Pie, but that is okay. That just means more for me and my brothers and sisters. It is our “must have” treat when we go back home. And sometimes, we make it when we can’t go home but truly need to. It is our Wayback Machine. Here’s a link telling about its history.  This is a pie that takes a little practice to get right.

WHITE PIE

Pastry for single-crust pie
2 egg whites
Whipped cream
Chopped pecans

Filling:

¾ c. sugar
Pinch of salt
½ c. flour
1 T. cornstarch
1T. butter
2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Cook filling ingredients together, stirring constantly until thick. Beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Pour hot filling over beaten egg whites and fold in. Pour into cooked pie shell. When cool, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Chill 2 hours.

I’m a big fan of Midwest recipes — can’t wait to give this a whirl!  Thanks for stopping by, Andrea.

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As part of an ongoing celebration for a pair of pie-related books that I have coming out soon (“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, Frederic Hunter, Kimberley Griffiths Little, and Stephanie Burgis.  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!

Operation Secret Puppy

It’s not often that I manage to hoodwink my husband.

I do not have a poker face.  I have a “boy oh boy do I have a secret I betcha can’t guess what it is!” kind of face.  Somehow, though, last week I managed to pull it off.

My husband with his “surprise” puppy

For a while now, we’ve been discussing the possibility of getting another dog — a sibling for Bonnie, our Shetland Sheepdog.  My husband loves tri-color Shelties, and said that if we were ever to get another dog, that’s the one that would win his vote.  He liked the idea of having two little bookends — one with a sable coat, one with a tri-color coat.  But in the end we pretty much tabled the whole idea, and decided to revisit it after our own “puppies” graduated from college.  Besides, we thought, how could we possibly ever find a dog as wonderful as our beloved Bonnie?

My Bonnie Valentine

Bonnie was a surprise present from my husband five years ago.  Sheltie purists might not appove of her one-ear-up-one-ear-down look (show dogs of this breed sport folded ears), but we think it gives her personality and sass and wouldn’t change it for the world.  In fact, we’re convinced Bonnie is an angel in a fur suit.  She keeps me company while I write, takes me on walks when I need a break, and lights up our home life in ways none of us could ever have imagined.  We adore her.

So here we were, content with our “only” dog, when lo and behold what should appear on Facebook a few weeks ago but baby pictures — and not just any baby pictures, but charming shots of two tri-color pups from Kensil’s Shelties. Sylvia and David Calderwood raised Bonnie, and all their dogs are amazingly beautiful and smart, with sweet temperaments. These pups were EXACTLY the kind we WOULD have been looking for, IF we were looking for another puppy.  Which we WEREN’T, remember?

Well.

Last week, egged on by my 19-year-old son, I decided to surprise my husband (turnabout being fair play and all that), and Billie came to join our family.  The look on Steve’s face was worth every second I’d spent agonizing over whether I had made the right decision.  Wouldn’t you have melted, too?

Billie Holliday Frederick

As for Bonnie, she took one look at her new “little sister” and tore around the yard for several minutes doing happy laps. She’s since taken Billie under her wing, showing her the ropes…

Bonnie & Billie exploring the backyard

and sharing her toys…

“May I please play with this now?”
“Thank you!”

and even sharing her favorite bed (along with another toy).

Billie catching some zzz’s

Of course, being a big sister does have some perks.   Twice as many dogs means twice as many new toys, after all!

Bonnie with one of Billie’s toys

And the winner is…

Billie, our new puppy, sinks her teeth into the winning name

SOPHIA! Who says she’s most like Emma.  And KALYN wins a copy, too, for dreaming up this fun character quiz!

You’ll each be receiving an email from me shortly with instructions on how to collect your prize.

Many thanks to all the rest of you who entered the giveaway contest here and on Facebook — only 19 more days until Pies & Prejudice hits the bookstores!  (If you just can’t wait and need a sneak preview, click here to read the first chapter…)


Giveaway: Which Mother-Daughter Book Club character are you?

One last chance to win an ARC (advance review copy) of Pies & Prejudice!

Just complete the quiz below (many thanks to clever Kalyn for creating it!), leave your answer in the comments or on my Facebook page, and you’ll automatically be entered in the drawing.  (U.S. & Canada only, please).

Please help me get the word out by tweeting, blogging, emailing, posting on Facebook, or otherwise letting your fellow mother-daughter book club fans know about this fun opportunity to win a sneak peek at my new book!

Entries will be accepted through midnight Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday, August 25th — winners announced on Thursday the 26th.


WHICH “MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB” CHARACTER ARE YOU?

1. On a Saturday you would most likely be:

A. Playing sports

B. Reading or writing a book

C. Caring for animals

D. Designing or sewing clothes or shopping

2. When you grow up you want to be a:

A. Pro hockey player

B. Author

C. Vet or scientist

D. Fashion designer

3. You would most likely be spotted wearing:

A.  Sports jersey or a T-shirt and shorts

B.  Something casual

C.  Barn clothes in the morning; something casual the rest of the day

D.  A fashionable outfit

4.  Your house is:

A.  A nicely decorated Victorian

B.  Small and cozy

C.  Old with lots of land and a barn

D.  Really big and modern

5.  You feel most relaxed when you are:

A.  On the ice or playing sports

B.  Reading or writing

C.  Milking your pet goat or hanging out on a farm

D.  Designing or sewing clothes

6.  Your favorite thing to do is:

A.  Play sports

B.  Read and write

C.  Spend time with animals

D.  Shop or design clothes

7.  Your hair is:

A.  Red

B.  Brown

C.  Blonde

D.  Black

8. If you were to work on your school newspaper, you would most likely be:

A. A photogragher

B. The head editor

C. A reporter

D. In charge of the social calender

If you answered mostly A’s, you are Cassidy!

If you answered mostly B’s, you are Emma!

If you answered mostly C’s, you are Jess!

If you answered mostly D’s, you are Megan!

Pie-of-the-month-club – Stephanie Burgis

On the menu today — Stephanie Burgis, who stopped by to whet our appetites for her new book (available this month in the UK, and next spring here in the U.S.).  Oh, and to dish about pie, too, of course!

Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie, what have you been cooking up for readers?  Can you tell us a bit about your new book, and how it came about?

The funny thing is, my book came directly FROM my cooking, even though I’m a very reluctant cook. I love baking muffins and brownies, but when I’m doing plain cooking, my mind tends to wander … which is exactly what happened as I chopped onions way back in 2006 and the first lines of my book suddenly and unexpectedly popped into my head! I abandoned my chopping and raced to the living room to grab my notebook and capture them.

A Most Improper Magick (Templar Publishing), which will be published in the U.S. next spring as Kat, Incorrigible (Simon & Schuster), is the first in the Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, a trilogy of fantasy adventures set in a slightly different version of 1803. In Kat’s Regency England, magic is the greatest scandal of all … but that’s not about to stop her when there are highwaymen to foil, sinister aristocrats to defeat, and true loves to capture for her two older sisters!

You’ve also whipped up a little something to whet our appetities, haven’t you?  A slice of the pie, if you will.

Yes!  People can read the first three chapters of the novel on my website.

I have, and all I can say is — YUM!  Absolutely scrumptious.  Regency England, a sassy young heroine, and a touch of magic?  What’s not to love?  I can’t wait to read the rest.

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?

The most wonderful moment of the whole process so far came this spring when I got an email  from someone I’d never met. She’s twelve years old, she lives in Canada, many thousands of miles away from me, and this was months before my book came out anywhere in the world … but she wrote to me because her local bookstore manager had handed her a copy of my ARC. She wants to be a writer herself, she loves so many of the same authors I loved at her age, and as I read her email about how much she loved Kat, I actually teared up because this was my impossible fantasy come true.

I wrote A Most Improper Magick because it was the book I’d always wanted to read when I was twelve years old (combining the two genres I most loved – Regency romantic comedies and fantasy adventure), and here was a girl of exactly that age who loved it, just as I’d dreamed way back in 2006, back when I didn’t even believe that the book would ever be published. It was an amazing, amazing feeling to get that email.

Has there ever been a moment in your career when you had to eat humble pie?  (I did, big-time, when as a fledgling author I showed up at a bookstore for what I thought was just a signing and found to my chagrin was educator night – dozens of shining faces looking at me expectantly, and I hadn’t prepared a talk…)

OH, yeah. When I was first starting to send short stories out to magazines, I got a really nice rejection from one of my very favorite magazines. The editor said all sorts of great things about my writing style, and said how close the story had come to being published, but she still turned it down. Well, I was feeling sick with a cold and very sorry for myself that day, and I ended up letting it all out by venting on my journal (ohhhh, I still cringe when I remember this!) all about how the nice rejections are always the most frustrating ones … and although I didn’t name any names, I quoted a line from that rejection email in my whine.

Guess what? Half an hour later, another email popped into my inbox, from that same editor – who had just read my blog entry! OMG. I wanted to burst into flames with pure shame and embarrassment. I was much, much luckier than I deserved. She wrote to tell me that she hadn’t just been saying those nice things – that she’d really meant them and really did want me to send more stories to her magazine.

I immediately deleted the entry from my blog and apologized to her profusely … and amazingly, since then we’ve become friends.  (And she’s published four of my stories!)  She’s a very, very kind and understanding person.

But I learned my lesson, and ever since, I have NEVER complained about a rejection online! Not all editors would react with so much grace and good humor.

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?

My absolute favorite kind is pecan pie. In my family, every Thanksgiving celebration has to include both pecan pie and pumpkin pie, and I looked forward to every Thanksgiving dessert session just for that fabulous pecan pie! It’s the only pie I’ve ever baked as an adult, and I love it.

Now that I’m living in Wales, I invite all of my in-laws to come over for Thanksgiving dinner each year (although we have to move Thanksgiving to the weekend, since British workers aren’t given that Thursday off !), and we end the meal with pecan pie. My husband often cooks the main meal, but the pie is always my job.

I have to admit that I tend to buy a pre-baked pie crust from the store. (I feel like such a wimp for confessing that…but it is true.)   However, this is the recipe for the pastry filling that I inherited from my parents, who copied it down from a cookbook a long time ago. None of us can figure out which cookbook it came from – so if anyone recognizes it, please let me know!

A MOST MAGICAL PECAN PIE

Ingredients:

1 recipe pastry for single-crust pie
1/2 cup butter (or vegetable shortening)
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1 T. flour
1-1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces

Directions:

Melt butter in small saucepan and set aside. In a medium bowl beat eggs and salt for about 3 minutes (or until light and lemon colored). Add vanilla. Beat in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Pour the syrup into the warm butter and stir well to blend. With a wire whisk, fold the butter and syrup mixture into the eggs. Stir or fold slowly until all the ingredients are blended. Blend in the tablespoon of flour.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Place the pecans on the crust and then pour the filling into the shell.

Place pie on the middle shelf of the hot oven. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking for  30 minutes, or until a silver knife inserted near the center of the pie comes out clean. (The heat continues to cook the filling even after it is removed from the oven, so don’t leave overlong in the oven.)

Can I come to your house for Thanksgiving, Stephanie?  That sounds absolutely delicious!  Thanks again for stopping by.

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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, Frederic Hunter, and Kimberley Griffiths Little.  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!

A Betsy-Tacy treasure

Just in the door from a quick pilgrimage to Powell’s (always an eagerly-anticipated destination when either of our sons is home) where I spotted a treasure for all you Betsy-Tacy fans out there:

It’s a pristine first edition of Betsy’s Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace, the final book in her fabulous Betsy-Tacy series!  This charming bookseller at the Powell’s Cedar Hills store gamely posed with it so I could snap a picture.

At $150, it’s out of my price range (we’re still knee deep in the college years), but I thought perhaps someone might be interested.  AND for all you mother-daughter book club fans out there, I’m herewith dropping a HUGE HINT as to what my fictional club will be reading in the fifth installment (currently under construction and due in bookstores sometime in September 2011)…

Pies & Prejudice giveaway

I’m in the mood to celebrate this week!

I have two very good reasons to do so, too: a  poppin’ fresh new website (thanks to the design wizards at Winding Oak), plus the fact that there are only 34 days left until Pies & Prejudice is released!

I have three ARCs (advance review copies) of the new book to give away, so leave a comment here (or on my Facebook page) if you’d like to enter your name in the random drawing (U.S. & Canada only, please).  And please help me get the word out by tweeting, blogging, emailing, posting on Facebook, or otherwise letting your fellow mother-daughter book club fans know about this fun opportunity to win a sneak peek at my new book!

Entries will be accepted through midnight Pacific Standard Time this Sunday, August 15th — winners announced on Monday the 16th.

Paging Krista…

If your name is Krista, and you live in California, and you emailed me a few days ago — I tried to email you back, but the address didn’t work!

To answer your questions, YES, you can get an autographed book — there are two ways to go about this:  #1, you can mail me your book, along with a mailer with return postage on it, and I will autograph it and mail it back to you.  #2, you can send me an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and I’ll mail you back an autographed book plate, which you can then stick in your book.  My snail mail address is:  P.O. Box 80442, Portland, OR  97280.

And YES, I’d love to visit with your book club!  I visit with clubs via Skype or speakerphone often, and will be happy to schedule a chat with you and your friends and moms.  Send me another email and we’ll find a date that works for everybody.

Hope you get this message, Krista!  Thanks for writing to me!

All the best,

Heather

P.S.  I hope to be visiting some bookstores in California later this fall, so keep an eye on my “appearances” calendar — maybe I’ll be signing at a bookstore near you, and can autograph your book in person.