Posted on | November 11, 2013 | 6 Comments
One of the true delights of being a parent to a young child is reading picture books. It’s fun to read favorites from my own childhood like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Caps for Sale, and pretty much anything by Dr. Seuss. But it’s even more fun to discover new authors and illustrators.
Yesterday I was reading a picture book to my small son. The book was the adorable and beautifully-illustrated RAIN! by Linda Ashman, which came out earlier this year. I love the book because it’s all about perspective. A grumpy old man sees that it’s raining one morning and complains that he has to put on his “blasted overcoat” and trudge out into the gray day. I can identify with his curmudgeonly character. I feel the same way on lot of mornings lately, as winter settles in over Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the books follows a young child in the same city neighborhood. The child jumps up and down with glee when he learns it is raining. For the child, the “bad” weather is an opportunity to don his frog hat and galoshes and go puddle jumping. Same day, same neighborhood, same weather, different experiences. It’s all about perspective.
I’ve read this book many times to my son, but yesterday, I gained yet another level of insight.
There is an illustration that depicts a cafe scene, where the old man is reading his newspaper and the little boy is drinking hot cocoa with his mom. At a nearby table, a woman types at a laptop with a serious expression. My 2-year-old son pointed to the woman and said, “That’s Mama.”
I cracked up.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been in deadline mode, finishing my second book while gearing up to promote my first, VINTAGE, which comes out in March. Add a day job and a house renovation to that and you can see how there hasn’t been much room lately for goofing around.
So, yes, my son’s analogy was accurate. But just to prove him–or more likely myself–wrong, we headed to the park after finishing the story. We basked in what will probably be one of the last sunny, mittenless autumn days. We dropped spinning maple helicopters from the top of the jungle gym. We walked around the block, identifying the makes, models, and colors of cars (yes, my toddler is a bit auto-obsessed).
I knew that later, I’d have to go back to my laptop. But a kids’ book reminded me to make time for play, too.
Image credit: Illustrations are from RAIN! by Linda Ashman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)
Posted on | October 9, 2013 | No Comments
Today I’m over at The Debutante Ball, where I blog every Wednesday, talking about the unlikely link between dragons, seasonal affective disorder, and writing goals. Here’s a sneak preview:
Winter is coming. No, this is not a post about Game of Thrones, though I do love me some dragons and wildlings. We’ll talk about the HBO medieval fantasy series some other time.
Really, though. Winter is coming. Even though we’ve had some lovely fall days lately, I can feel the light waning, the change creeping in. The sun is getting further away, its warmth weaker.
Sorry to be a downer, but this week’s topic is “seasons” of writing and productivity. This is a tough topic for me because, like so many people in northern climates, I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder or, as it is aptly abbreviated, S.A.D.
Photo credit: HBO
Posted on | September 30, 2013 | 4 Comments
Kickass women, from any period in history, never cease to inspire. Julia Child was one of those women, which is why multi-published author Karen Karbo chose to write about her for the latest book in the Kickass Women series, Julia Child Rules. Other subjects in Karbo’s series—which are one part biography, one part humor essay, with a dash of motivational speaking tossed in—include Katherine Hepburn, Georgia O’Keefe, and Coco Chanel. Hmmm. Art, fashion, film, and food? Why have we never had lunch, Ms. Karbo? Oh, because you live in Portland.
Each chapter of Karbo’s book, Julia Child Rules, lays out a truism that Julia preached and practiced in her life. I just finished reading Chapter 4, “Obey Your Whims.” I’m a fairly risk-averse person (I did go to law school, after all). In whim-following, as well as in the kitchen, I have a lot to learn from Julia.
How refreshing, then, to read about someone who was a big believer in not getting stuck in any certain path. When, during World War II, the Women Army Corps (WACs) rejected Julia for being too tall (she was six-foot-three), she didn’t give up on her goal of serving the war effort. She took the civil service exam and traveled to Washington, D.C., where she got a job with the OSS–the precursor to the CIA. The job took her to India, where she met Paul Child, the man she’d eventually marry. Paul, a man of refined tastes, was the reason she learned to cook. When presented with something unfamiliar or a new challenge, Julia’s attitude was “what the hell” and she’d roll up her sleeves and see what it was all about.
I, for one, know I could exercise a little less caution at times and a little more what-the-hell. How about you? I’ll leave you with this tidbit from the book, which comes out tomorrow:
“The best time to heed a whim is when we find ourselves stuck in life, when putting one foot in front of the other is only taking us further away from where we want to go, even though we don’t know where that is.”
–Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo
Posted on | September 25, 2013 | No Comments
It takes more than one person to write a novel, and any author who doesn’t admit that is either lying or an egomaniac. In my case, it took a whole lot of people for VINTAGE to go from a glimmer of an idea to a manuscript to a real-life book that hits bookstores in March. Here are five of them, or five categories of people, since I couldn’t actually narrow it down to just five individuals.
First, there was my very patient husband, who didn’t complain, or only minimally so, when I took off for a critique group meeting or yet another late-evening editing session. He also gets credit for not thinking I was completely insane for wanting to do, and thinking I could do, this author thing in the first place, when I have a perfectly good law degree. My husband has encouraged me in an endeavor that requires me to hang out alone for long periods of time, leaving him with the toddler, the dog, and the dishes. Did I mention I love this man?
Posted on | August 29, 2013 | 4 Comments
Lately, I’ve been dusting off my dancing shoes and picking out the perfect string of pearls. Why, you might ask? Because I learned this month that I’ve been selected as one of five authors to join the Class of 2014 at The Debutante Ball, a blog for debut authors, now in its eighth season.
Of course, at thirty-four, I’m a little old to be a real debutante, of the white dress and perfect pedigree variety. But apparent it’s not that old to be making a debut of the literary kind. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until she was sixty-five.
The Debutante Ball, a group blog on all things books, has been celebrating new authors since 2007 and has helped launch the careers of past debs and national bestsellers Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters), Sarah Jio (Blackberry Winter), and Mia King (Table Manners). Guest authors who have posted for the blog include John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Jamie Ford, Meg Cabot, and Jane Green. Ahem. Okay, I’m done with the name dropping now.
And this year, my fellow debs and I are planning to kick off our debut year with a new site design, new topics, and new, behind-the-scenes looks at the journey to publication. I’ll still be blogging here, but you can come see me at the Debutante Ball, too, where I’ll be posting every Wednesday. My fellow debs– Heather Webb, Natalia Sylvester, Lisa Alber, and Lori Rader-Day—will be handling the rest of the week. We’ll talk about reading, writing, and lots of other non-bookish topics, too. Mostly, we’ll try not to trip over our long white dresses as we waltz, or more like Macarena, our way to publication.
Posted on | August 16, 2013 | 1 Comment
Thank you so very much to everyone who tweeted, linked, and otherwise shared the cover reveal contest for my novel, Vintage. This was my first giveaway on the blog, and I really felt the love when I saw Vintage’s cover being shared far and wide. I used Rafflecopter to organize the giveaway and pick the winner at random. And so, without further adieu, the winner of the $50 Amazon gift card is….
Congratulations, Jaye! And, in a lovely bit of kismet, Jaye’s first novel is coming out in 2014, too! It’s a YA novel called No Place to Fall. Can’t wait to see her cover when it comes out. Thank you again to everyone who participated!
Posted on | August 9, 2013 | 30 Comments
I am beyond excited to share with you the cover for my debut novel, VINTAGE, which will be released on March 25, 2014, and is available for pre-order now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, or your favorite bookstore.
When my publisher, William Morrow/HarperCollins, first shared the cover with me, I couldn’t believe that it looked almost exactly like the cover image I’d had in my head. I had always pictured VINTAGE with a shop window on its cover, since the story centers on a Midwestern vintage clothing shop and a group of women who eventually transform the store and each others’ lives. And now, I am so very thrilled to share the cover with you and, next spring, to share the story with you as well!
To celebrate, I’m holding a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card, which I hope the winner will spend on books, but of course can be spent on anything. Scroll down to sign up using the form, and earn extra entries by spreading the word in any of the ways below. I’ll use Rafflecopter to choose one lucky winner next week and notify the winner here on the blog. All email addresses and other personal information will be kept private. The contest ends at 12:00 CST on Friday, August 16, but you can tweet about the contest once a day until then to earn extra entries. Thanks for helping me celebrate!
Posted on | July 25, 2013 | 3 Comments
For me, one of summer’s great joys is scarfing down mass quantities of berries and stone fruits. Another one of the season’s pleasures is sitting in a shaded spot, curled up with a good book. When the two converge? Serendipity.
Last week, the fruit box delivered by my CSA farm was packed tight with eight pounds of sweet cherries. My husband, son, and I stuffed as many into our mouths as we could. Immediately. When we wiped the red juice from our faces, though, we still had quite a few cherries left. Enter, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane, the delightful debut novel by Kelly Harms that I happened to be reading.
Good Luck Girls is about two women with the same name who both show up in Maine believing they’ve won a dream house from a cable home network. Rough-and-tumble Janine “Nean” Brown is desperate to escape a string of abusive boyfriends and minimum wage jobs. The other Janine Brown, who goes by Janey, gets practically dragged to the coast by her energetic, eighty-eight year old Aunt Midge, in an effort to snap Janey out of a bout of grief and agoraphobia.
By now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with cherries. Well, in one of the scenes, Janey, an obsessive foodie, whips up a dessert called cherry clafoutis. I had never heard of cherry clafoutis before–or, for that matter, any other kind of clafoutis (pronounced KLAH-FOO-TEE). In the book, Harms describes the French dish as a “beautiful gingham pudding of cherry and custard.”
As a girl with a surplus of sweet cherries is bound to do, I Googled the recipe. After some cupboard raiding and a whole lot of cherry pitting (which I found, incidentally, to be oddly therapeutic), I had a springform pan of cherry clafoutis in the oven. While I waited for the confection to bake, I contacted Kelly, who lives in my hometown of Madison, to see if she’d answer some food-related questions for the blog. She was kind enough to oblige. I hope our discussion makes you hungry for summer treats of both the culinary and literary kind.
GOI: How did you get the ideas and do the research for the many different foods mentioned in your book?
Kelly: It all came from the seasons in which Janey was cooking and my shelf of beloved cookbooks. When I wanted fancier than I actually cook myself, I turned to Charlie Palmer. For Aunt Midge’s eating habits I liked Joy of Cooking. For baking, Dorie Greenspan. For most of the deeper food research I clung to my McGee.
GOI: If you had your dream kitchen, like Janey gets hers, what would it include? What would the fridge be stocked with?
Kelly: A chest freezer, fer sure. Summer plus my tiny side-by-side freezer gives me agita. As it is, I put food by with a canner whenever I have the urge to slave over four hot burners for ten or twelve hours straight. The fridge would be stocked with good eggs, fresh pasta made by someone else very recently, and this morning’s spinach. A perfect pound of sea scallops dry on ice. Maybe a ball of mozzarella, and some perfect August tomatoes nearby too. Basil and dill growing in the window.
GOI: Do you prefer to cook (like Janey) or to bake (like Nean) and why?
Kelly: Cook, like Janey. I prefer savory food to sweets and eyeballing to measurements. An exception is made for pie.
Thanks, Kelly, for talking with Glossing Over It! In case anyone is wondering, the cherry clafoutis was delicious and surprisingly easy to make, other than the time-intensive pitting of all the cherries. The recipe I used was from Bon Apetitit and can be found here.
KELLY HARMS is a former editor and literary agent who has worked with a wide array of bestselling and award-winning authors of commercial fiction. She traded New York City for the writing life in Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her adorable and sometimes imperious toddler Griffin. The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is her first novel.
Posted on | July 11, 2013 | No Comments
The best gift for a book nerd is, of course, a book. And giving books is easier than ever. Good, old-fashioned paper books are a classic gift and double as decor on a bookshelf when the recipient has finished them. But did you know that you can give specific titles to e-reader owners, too? Yep. Most titles for Kindle and Nook now have a “Give as a Gift” button that allows you to buy that specific book for your recipient. I love this instantaneous and eco-friendly approach to gift-giving.
But let’s say you need a little something to go with that beach read or thriller or latest biography. Something appropriate for a bibliophile. Below are six finds perfect for the book lover in your life.
Clockwise from top left: Big Books print from Anthology in Madison, Wisconsin; Open Book Necklace from Block Party Press; Pride & Prejudice t-short from Out of Print Clothing; Reading is Sexy eco-friendly mug from Buy Olympia; Alice in Wonderland pillow from Vintage Designs Reborn; Industrial Bookends by Orange Door Vintage.
Posted on | June 6, 2013 | 5 Comments
I went to see the The Great Gatsby a couple of weekends ago, and I loved every over-the-top second of it. (No spoilers here, by the way, even if you’ve never read the novel).
Well, yes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t expect subtlety when I see movies directed by Baz Luhrmann. I mean, this is the director who gave us the epic Australia. He gave us Prince tunes and drag queens in his 1996 version of Romeo and Juliet. The whores’ tango number to “Roxanne” in Moulin Rouge is quite possibly my favorite film scene of all time.
Is the Gastby film 100% true to the novel? No. Is it a sensory overload? Yes! And that’s what I loved about it. If I want subtlety, I’ll watch a Noah Baumbach film (which, by the way, I also love. Anyone want to go see Frances Ha with me? My husband has had it with what he calls my “depressive angsty lady” movies).
The haters giving Gatsby bad reviews need to forget about the book they read in high school or in their college American Lit classes. This is Baz Luhrmann, people. I go to Baz for pure beauty, joy, and escapism. I would watch an egg being fried if Luhrmann filmed it. And the egg would have fireworks flying from it and would sizzle to a Jay-Z soundtrack.keep looking »