August 30, 2013
As the kids head back to school, so do I. I’ve been going through Scholastic catalogs and textbooks and web pages listing award-winning children’s books and I’ve put together the list of books students will be reading in my Children’s Lit class this semester. I thought I’d share.
Charles Perrault’s Cinderella and the Grimm Brother’s Aschenputel, followed by two choice fairy tales.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Choice books (one from each genre):
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
- Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- The BFG by Roald Dahl
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
- Frindle by Andrew Clements
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
- Love that Dog by Sharon Creech
They’ll read two other choice books: one by an author whose name they’ll pick from a hat, and one based on a theme their group selects.
A lot of great books and a lot of fun! Don’t you wish you were in my class this semester?
August 2, 2013
I have no writing news, but I’ve been cooking and thinking about cooking a lot this summer.
I like to cook, but I’m a lazy person. I’m also a rule-follower. The first time I cook something from a recipe, I follow it exactly. After that, I might substitute ingredients and alter how it is put together, knowing that the changes I make could negatively affect the recipe. For stupendous recipes, I don’t alter anything.
The problem with this system is that I end up not making stupendous recipes very often either because I don’t have the ingredients at hand, because the recipe is difficult or because it is time consuming. Or all three.
I had a scone recipe that fit that problem. I LOVE scones, and this recipe was excellent—so I nearly never made them. Then one day, I had the time, energy, and desire, but not all the ingredients, so I made it with some substitutions. And guess what? It was even better!
Now I made it a little more often, but it was still difficult and time-consuming. For example, I was supposed to roll out the dough into a thick circle so it could be cut into wedges. I hate rolling out dough. No matter how exactly one follows the recipe, sometimes the dough is too sticky and needs more flour or is too dry and crumbles. And it makes such a mess.
I have a recipe for dropped biscuits and decided to follow that concept instead. You know what? Round scones don’t taste much different than wedge-shaped scones.
But still, I didn’t make them often enough because it called for cutting the butter into the dry ingredients. Ugh. What a pain! I have a pastry cutter and followed that part of the recipe for about ten years, then about a month ago, I thought, Why don’t I just soften the butter in the microwave, then add it to the dry ingredients? Pastry chefs may have reasons for not doing this, but I will tell you that I saw absolutely no difference in texture or taste.
So, here it is, my simplified recipe for scones:
Cherry Almond Scones
½ cup butter, softened in microwave
2 cups white flour
4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup vanilla yogurt
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup dried cherries
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter, spray or grease cookie sheet. Soften butter in the microwave. Add the flour, baking powder and soda, sugar, ginger and salt. Mix well. Add the yogurt, milk and almond extract. Mix well. Add dried cherries and mix until well distributed. Drop batter by very large spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Should make about 8 scones. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Eat warm.
May 28, 2013
Today I welcome Stephanie Barko to my series of interviews. Stephanie will be presenting at the Historical Novels Society Conference as a literary publicist. In the workshop Building an Effective Platform for your Historical, Stephanie will lead attendees through her proprietary exercises that coax a book’s platform to the surface. Welcome, Stephanie.
Q: What does a typical day look like in your job as a literary publicist?
A: My day begins with black coffee, a lit candle, a gratitude list and soul writing (a la Janet Conner).
After listening to a guided meditation through a headset, I clean up my email before beginning to execute client deliverables. During my day, I may be shipping galleys for pre-pub review, pitching radio producers, subcontracting for a colleague in Manhattan, or arranging a virtual tour. Depending on the season of the year, I will be working in some yoga, aqua aerobics, Tai Chi or walking to keep my brain oxygenated during the work week. I break to cook dinner and then get right back to it during the evening unless there’s something I can’t bear to miss on PBS.
Q: What do you like most about promoting historical novels and nonfiction?
A: My favorite task during a contract is research–researching journalists for a media list, researching the top Technorati book bloggers, or researching the best endorser candidates for a client’s book. The pre-pub phase is when I can add the most value, and that’s the part of a campaign I enjoy the most.
Q: What do you like the LEAST about your job?
A: Redirecting stray prospects who have queried for my services without doing their homework.
Q: What can historical novelists and nonfiction authors do to help you help THEM?
A: A good start would be to approach me with a publisher already on board, a release date, an edited manuscript, and professionally designed cover still in progress, and a list o potential or actual endorsers.
We’ve now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-interviewee-better, nearly-pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Organic French Roast
Ocean or Mountain: Mountains of the American West
Hiking or shopping? Hiking
Violin or piano? Piano
Mystery or fantasy: Mystery
Darcy or Heathcliff? Darcy
Love scene or death scene? Death scene