The Kikimoto Backpack was a big hit! In our imaginary make-believe it became a school bag for pretend school (taught by Mr. Hinklemcdoodle, aka the Sasquatch...I wonder if she would draw the Sasquatch like darpl?) and then a traveling pack for our expedition through the pyramids. I was actually surprised how much she liked it.
"This is my favorite bag," she said, "because there's food in all the buses."
I decided a while ago that I was going to start taking better records of my cupcakes, it is my back-up career plan after all. But so far, thanks to career plan #1 working out okay (crossing my fingers that is stays that way!) I have not really done much baking and what I have done hasn't really been photography-worthy. But last weekend's girl weekend with the Blue Rose Girls was a good excuse to take a break from writing and make some pretty cupcakes.
These were a bit inspired by my recent reading of The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan: An Enola Homes Mystery by Nancy Springer. I love those books. This one features the villains throwing a pink tea party, described in gruesome, very pink detail. I admit, even though it was suppose to sound hideous in the book, I kind of liked the idea!
These are gluten-free chocolate ones (Libby is gluten-intolerent) with Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting, which I highly recommend. I've always used cream cheese frosting, which I love, but the Swiss Meringue is what really helps give the cupcakes that rounded top (vs the flat top of most my previous cupcakes). I also kept the tradition of using the Teacupcake Holders I received for my birthday long ago!
I'm in the middle of writing "Return to Sky" (though the title might change) and had to scrawl out a little map to help me keep things in order. I kept having the shadows fall and the sunset on the wrong side. Also I wanted make sure the geography was working with what I had set up in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Maybe when I finish the third book (now called Needle at Sea Bottom), I can include an elaborate, less-scrawly map!
In all my interviews, I usually say I write the story before I draw the pictures. An exception to this was the cover of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, where I drew my idea for the cover long before the book was done. For "Return to Sky," the same thing is happening. Recently, this image for the cover came into my mind:
We'll see if the image makes it to the final book...when I finish it (about 1/3 left to go, I think).
Here's a photo I took of most of my family gathered together to watch the 4th of July fireworks. We're all busy and it seems like time flashes by so it's nice to take a moment and realize, if only in retrospect, these are the faces of those I love most. Not as loud or as brilliant as fireworks, but beautiful nonetheless.
IndieBound Description: "Did Mama sing every day?" Caleb asks his sister Anna. "Every-single-day," she answers. "Papa sang, too."
Their mother died the day after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from one Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine. Papa, Anna, and Caleb write back. Caleb asks if she sings. Sarah decides to come for a month. She writes Papa: I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall, and Tell them I sing. Anna and Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she like them? Will she stay?
My Thoughts: Such a jewel of a book! It is a slim volume but so lovely. It is a real lesson to authors that when it comes to writing less can be so much more. These days as I struggle with words, I am really in awe of how much story, character and emotion Patricia Maclachlan told by so few words.
This is the famous Cafe Du Monde coffee that I bought as a gift for the Sasquatch to try during my trip to New Orleans. He's a bit reluctant to try it. And I don't drink coffee. I think it might be sitting on the desk for a long time.
I admit I am not much of a cook. I like to bake, I like watching other people cook and I like to eat but somehow when I cook I tend to lose interest.
This is especially dangerous when I am writing. In the middle of boiling something, I'll realize that perfect line for the character to say and run to my computer for "only a minute." Suffice to say, it is never only a minute and dinner is ruined.
Lucky for me, I have a very understanding Sasquatch who has taken over dinner duty. And let me say he has taken over dinner duty in a way I could never achieve. Most recently, in honor of my Asian-themed novel-writing, he tried out a recipe to make us an Asian-themed dinner.
Rice porridge with crab, chicken and soft cooked egg from the May 29th New York Times Magazine
I thought I was in a restaurant! And it was soooo good. It's given me an idea for a new picture book too!
My college years were during the age of grunge and combat boots were the rage. In attempt to be cool and artsy, I bought a pair of bright red Doc Martens--mainly because I loved the color and they were on sale (I was a poor college student!), even though they were a good 2 sizes too large on me.
Needless to say, over the years, I realized that these oversized, red boots made me look like Ronald McDonald and weren't very comfortable. But somehow, I didn't have the heart to throw them away. So, I left them in storage at my parent's house where they have been for years.
Recently, when I returned to visit, I saw this is what my mother had done to them:
Coincidentally, my mother's creative gardening venture is the same project my friend Anna Alter titled her book on.
Next, I think my mom should consult Anna on what to do with my old cassette tapes of the Cure.
IndieBound Description: Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.
My Thoughts: This was one of the most honored books in 2010, so much so that they had to redesign the cover to fit all the fancy medals on it! Completely well deserved, it was my choice to win the Newbery last year, though I had not read Moon over Manifest (the winner) so can't really comment.
And finally, on my last day in New Orleans, was the event I was especially there for. The Geisel Award ceremony!
If you remember during my search for my Geisel dress, the Geisel Award ceremony is not a banquet or a breakfast. It was in the middle of the day (before lunch) and in a room in the convention center. Room 268, if I remember correctly. This was a bit problematic for me as the signs read as follows:
I wasn't really sure which way I should go.
But, eventually, with the help of Rebecca (agent) and Alvina (editor), the room was found.
I feel like we look so colorful together!
After receiving my program I found my seat--it was reserved just for me!
As well as the Geisel, the award ceremony was also for the Seibert (best non-fiction book), the Batchelder (best translation) and the Carnegie (best movie/video adaptation). The winners all gave lovely speeches. I was particularly moved by Sy Montgomery's impassioned speech about the Kakapo parrot (an animal I never heard of before). One line she said, which I'll paraphrase, went something like, "These birds should be treasured more than diamonds because they are real living creatures and even more rare."
But all deep thoughts and musings quickly disappeared when they got to the Geisel portion of the ceremony...