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!

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!)

Louisa May Alcott on PBS

What are you doing tomorrow night? 

I know what I’ll be doing.  I’ll be watching the premiere of Louisa May Alcott — The Woman Behind Little Women.  (Dec. 28th/PBS)   

Those of you familiar with my novel The Mother-Daughter Book Club know that I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Concord, Massachusetts, the historic town where Louisa lived when she wrote Little Women.  I used to visit her home, Orchard House, regularly, hoping perhaps that some of its magic might rub off on me, and that I, too, might grow up to be a writer someday. 

Surprisingly, that someday eventually came. 

 And even more surprisingly, I eventually had the opportunity to write about Louisa herself, for in my novel a group of sixth grade girls and their mothers form a book club and dive into “Little Women,” learning about the book, its author, and themselves in the process.

I learned a great deal about my childhood hero in the process of writing The Mother-Daughter Book Club, and I can’t wait to see how the film (based on Harriet Reisen’s acclaimed biography) portrays her.  Advance buzz promises a real treat.

Words can’t express…

… how great it makes an author feel when a reader falls in love with  his or her books.  When that reader happens to be a bookseller or librarian and a blogger to boot, well, we feel like we’ve hit the jackpot. 

Heartfelt thanks to Tanya at Books4yourkids and to Stacy at Welcome to my Tweendom for totally making my day!

Another fabulous MDBC giveaway

Just in time for the holidays, Jennifer Donovan at 5 Minutes for Books is offering a wonderful giveaway:  a complete set of my mother-daughter book club novels (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne, and Dear Pen Pal), along with The Anne of Green Gables Treasury.   Hurry on over and enter to win — the contest ends December 8th!

MDBC in Woman’s Day!

What would I do without sharp-eyed friends and readers?

I might have entirely missed the lovely nod given to “The Mother-Daughter Book Club” in the December holiday issue of Woman’s Day magazine, that’s what.

Fortunately, someone — or more precisely, someones (Gina, Patty, and April, you know who you are!) — took the time to alert me to an article by “Momfidence” columnist Paula Spencer entitled “Gifts that Keep on Giving.”  Among other great ideas for meaningful gifts for kids, she recommends wrapping up a copy of my book along with a plan to start a club of your own. 

What fun!  I’m thrilled to be included!  Thank you Paula, and thank you, sharp-eyed friends!

Happy birthday, Dear Pen Pal!

Dear Pen Pal

Today is the official publication day for my new book, Dear Pen Pal! 

(Those pop and fizz sounds you hear in the background would be me cracking open a bottle of sparkling cider.)

To help celebrate, I’m giving away an autographed copy of the book, so if you or any young mother-daughter book club fans you might know are interested in entering the drawing, please send an email to heather@heathervogelfrederick.com by September 30, 2009.  A winner will be selected at random on October 1st by a team of highly-trained experts me. 

And since so many of you have kindly asked, “What’s the best thing I can do to help support your books?” click here to read Eileen Flanagan’s fabulous article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on that very topic.  

Thanks for spreading the love!