Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So I finished the artwork for WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON right under the wire...okay, I bent the wire a bit, so I had to get the art there as soon as possible. So, I decided the fastest way was to jump in the car and bring it to New York, NY myself.
Handing the art in was strangely anti-climatic, perhaps because my brain was a bit numb from the two month intensive creative purging. But a pleasant stroll in Central Park with Alvina and chat with Hans Christian Anderson helped.

Well, it helped enough that I could be fairly coherent during a little audio interview Little, Brown will put on their website as a promotional for the book. At least I think it was coherent. I realize I am not the best judge.

But I do know, the thing that most cured my mental blahs was this:

YES! My elusive half-moon cookies, called in NYC-speak "black and whites." To me, they will always be half moons and they will always be my remedy for lethargy. For as soon as I ate one (or two) I felt ready to go again.

Which is good, because I am now doing a three-week marathon of school visits in Texas. Yes, three weeks. I had to bring my bunny slippers so I could make my hotel room feel like home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

finally finished

It's done! I've finally finished the art for WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON. I can't believe it. I almost feel like there is a part of my brain missing now, I had gotten used to the constant pressure of creation. It is very strange. I think I might be babbling incoherently...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

first day of school

I still have not finished the paintings for WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, but I stopped for a school visit in Rome, Georgia.

The school put me up in this gorgeous B&B, The Claremont House, so with the break in painting and the beautiful room it was a nice change. I was a bit nervous, this would be my first school visit of what is scheduled to be a very hectic presentation year for me. I wondered if I'd be rusty and, since the school year had just begun, if the students would be ready for me.
But I shouldn't have worried. The Darlington School, under the direction of the lovely librarian Ann Glass (whom I mistakenly and repeatedly called Ann Darlington) prepared the students so well that I was amazed. The school had made the day before I came into an author appreciation day with activities based on my books. They wrote and drew season haikus, like in my book OUR SEASONS:
stretched their imagination with UGLY VEGETABLES
and shared their fears like OLVINA:
That's only a sampling of what they did. They also made origami, kites, soup...so by the time I arrived, the students were excited. And it showed--their enthusiasm washed away any rust I might have had and it was a wonderful visit. I think it was a great way to start of my school year!

Thank you, Darlington School!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I am beginning to suspect I might be a really boring person. I can eat the same thing, do the same exercise routine, listen to the same music over and over again and not get sick of it. As I get down to the last two painting of WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON (and I am really feeling the burn!), I realize I have listened to the same two Feist albums for a month straight. The neighbors must be so annoyed.

But that is why when Alvina showed me this I was extremely happy. Or maybe my days of isolated nonstop painting are causing me to develop euphoric lunacy...

for Aunt Vicky

After Robert's memorial service, his Aunt Vicky handed me a tin of...half-moon cookies!

Yum! They were delicious, even though they were not like the ones I had in my childhood. As soon as I finish my book (2 more paintings to go!) I'll reciprocate the half-moon cookie gift. But in the meantime (at her request), this is recipe of the cookies from my youth:

Source: Saveur Magazine, March 1999


Hemstrought’s Bakery generously shared its recipe with us, but we had to adapt the quantities: The original makes 2,400 cookies!

3 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cup sugar
16 tbsp. margarine, cut into pieces
3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. butter
4 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch salt
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 tbsp. room temperature butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
7 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Put sugar, margarine, cocoa, and salt in bowl of standing mixer and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat. Add half the milk, then half the flour mixture, beating after each addition until smooth; repeat with remaining milk and flour mixture. Spoon or pipe batter onto parchment-lined baking sheets, making 3-inch rounds 2-inches apart.

Bake until cookies are set, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool, then remove from parchment.

Melt bittersweet and semisweet chocolates and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water over medium heat. Add confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt, and 6 tbsp. boiling water and mix to a smooth, stiff paste with a rubber spatula. Thin icing with up to 8 tbsp. more boiling water. Icing should fall from a spoon in thick ribbons. Keep icing warm in a double boiler over low heat.

Put sugar, butter, shortening, milk, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on low speed to mix, then increase to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a metal spatula, spread about 1 tbsp. of warm fudge icing on half of the flat side of each cookie. Spread the other half of each cookie with 1 heaping tbsp. buttercream icing.