Fabulous foursome Author Panel

Calling all PDX (Portland) friends!

Tomorrow night, Tuesday July 28th, from 6:30-8:30 pm, I’ll be at the Garden Home Community Library for an author panel.

I’ll be joining Rosanne Parry, Cindy Brown, and Jerrold Packard to talk about (and answer your questions about) books, writing, and reading.

Wow! Four authors for the price of–well, absolutely free! That’s what I call a deal.

Click here for a little more information about the event, and click here to read my answers to the librarian’s questions…

Hope to see you there!

 

 

I know we’re all tired of winter, but …

… look what just arrived!

 

ABSOLUTELY TRULY arcs!

ABSOLUTELY TRULY ARCs

 

(By the way, “arc” stands for “advance reviewer copy,” which is an uncorrected proof of the book.)

Totally GORGEOUS, right?  Charles Santoso did the cover illustration, which still makes me swoon every time I see it, and Krista Vossen at Simon & Schuster did the fabulous cover design.  I get to work with the BEST people — geniuses, both of them!

Coming to a bookstore near you on November 4th!  I’ll be posting a sneak peek later this spring (and yes, there’ll be a giveaway, too), but for now, I can’t resist sharing the prologue:

 

“A week before the January thaw finally arrived in February, I found myself hanging like a bat from a rafter inside a church steeple, face-to-face with a bell made by Paul Revere.

If you’d have told me a month ago that I’d find myself in this position, I would have said you were crazy.

But then, a month ago my life was completely different. A month ago, my career as a middle school private eye hadn’t begun.

And by the way, it didn’t begin inside a steeple. Absolutely truly not. It began the day my report card made it home before I did.”

 

 

 

Nurturing a love of reading

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

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.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

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!

Wild Geese Guides

Attention, teachers, librarians, book club members, parents, and everyone else interested in literature for young readers!  My good friend Tracie Vaughn Zimmer has uploaded ALL of her amazing teacher guides onto her new blog, Wild Geese Guides.

Discussion questions, suggested activites, multiple intelligence projects, quiz questions and more abound for over 250 books (including several of mine).  This is a fabulous resource — stretching from preschool to high school — and one to bookmark, save, follow, tweet and re-tweet (I’m a twit, but Twitter-less), and share with friends.

National Pie Day

You’ve got to love a country that sets aside a whole day on the calendar to celebrate dessert.  Yes, my fellow Americans, it’s that time of year again — get out your rolling pins and let the flour fly!

Pie just happens to be my favorite dessert of all time.  I love ’em all — apple, pumpkin, cherry, lemon meringue, blueberry, marionberry (a Northwest specialty).  My favorites, though, are strawberry-rhubarb and coconut cream.  Mmmm.

And since it’s National Pie Day, I figured this would be the perfect time to announce two forthcoming books for 2010 which, coincidentally, are both pie-related.  What can I say?  I must have been piestruck when I picked up my pen…

Drumroll, please:

My first picture book!  And no, as you can see, I did not illustrate it (I can’t even draw stick figures).  The sublime Ms. Amy Schwartz did.  Wait until you see what she has in store — I’m absolutely head-over-heels in love with her artwork.  As a writer, handing over one’s manuscript to an illustrator is akin to handing over your newborn to a babysitter the first time you venture back out into the world.  Let’s just say there’s some trepidation involved.  With Amy, though, I hit the jackpot, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with her vision for my story.

Babyberry Pie will be published next fall by Harcourt.

The second book in my pie-a-palooza of a fall lineup is the fourth installment of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series.  The cover is almost-but-not-quite-ready-for-prime-time (check back here in a few days).  The title tells it all, though.  Pies & Prejudice hits the shelves in September, and I’ll bet you can guess what the book club will be reading this time around!

All this talk of pies is making me hungry.  Fortunately, there’s one waiting for me in the kitchen.

Coconut Cream Pie

Years ago, I coaxed one of the waitresses at Heather’s Cafe in Cannon Beach, Oregon, into sharing the restaurant’s recipe for coconut cream pie.  The cafe, alas, is no longer in business, but its memory lingers on in this sweet treat.  Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Cream Pie
Heather’s Cafe — Cannon Beach, Oregon

1 c. heavy cream
3 c. milk (don’t use less than 2%)
1-1/4 c. sugar
6 egg yolks
4 T. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 T. vanilla
1 T. butter
3-4 cups coconut
Baked pie crust
Whipped cream

In a bowl, mix 1/2 c. milk, salt, egg yolks, and cornstarch.

Bring remaining cream, milk, and sugar to a gentle boil.  Pour a bit slowly into the egg mixture, stir, then slowly pour egg mixture back into the heated milk (the point here is to avoid scrambled eggs).  Return to medium low heat and stir until thickened and boiling (small bubbles, not full rolling boil).  Boil for about four minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Add 3 cups coconut (more or less, depending on your preference).  Cool.  Pour into baked and cooled pie crust.  Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes.

Happy National Pie Day!

Hip hip hooray!

Today is the equivalent of the “Oscars” in the world of children’s books, with all the big awards from the American Library Association announced this morning, and I just have to give a shout out to pals Libba Bray, who won the Printz award for excellence in young adult literature for her book “Going Bovine,” and Tanya Lee Stone, whose “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream” received a Sibert medal for non-fiction.  Wahoo to you both, and to all the other stellar authors and illustrators who were honored today!  (I was going to say click here for a full listing of winners and honorees, but I think the ALA website — www.ala.org — has crashed… hey, it happens.)

Disappearing Dulche

There are honors for writers, and then there are honors.

Over the weekend I stopped by my post office box (which I sometimes forget to do, so please be patient with me if you’ve written me a letter and haven’t received a reply just yet!).  Waiting for me inside was this:

It’s a book, written by a group of sixth grade girls whose mother-daughter book club I Skyped with last summer.  They had it printed and bound, with an elegant touch of gold leaf and everything.  Isn’t it beautiful?  But wait — it gets better.  I opened their book and found this inside:

Could a writer ask for a greater honor than to know that she inspired such beautiful young women to try their wings?  I don’t think so.

THANK YOU, girls!  (And by the way, your story ROCKS!)