I found a little motivation in my back pocket

* she looks up from typing furiously on her laptop*

Oh, hello there! It's you!

Don't mind me - I'm just writing. See, my whole life - particularly my young life - I have loved writing. I have dozens of journals, hundreds of letters, dozens of old stories...and now my blog. Whenever I wanted to argue my case to stay out past curfew as a teenager, I would write my parents a letter. Verbally, I fumble. Or I get emotional and cry. Or later I wish I had expressed myself differently and feel full of regret. But writing. Writing is my medium.

So why haven't I written a single story - nay, even started one, let alone finished one - since about 1992? I can't say. Nevertheless, here I am, working on one. I've been brainstorming and outlining and mulling for months now, and I finally starting really writing a couple days ago. Which has burned up my blogging time. Nevertheless, I'm thrilled. I was riding the subway this morning, and a conversation between two characters spontaneously popped into my head. What I would have given for a pen and paper at that moment! Dammit! Even now, I haven't had a chance to write it down. Instead, I've been holding it tight in my head, changing its tone, switching some of the words, tweaking moments. I can't wait to get it all written down!

So stay tuned. Mind you, I won't share much else here. Heaven knows that I have enough to handle between the books and the food. But I did want all of you to know that I've got a project I'm working on.

* begins typing furiously again, curls falling forward and obscuring her face *


All the single ladies!

I am asked - on a surprisingly regular basis - how I do all the things that I do.

The question "How do you do it all?" surprises me because 1) I don't think I do that much more than anyone else, 2) it seems like a rather personal question, and 3) I always wonder why I don't do more. And yet...I still find myself answering the question.

Nevertheless, my answer is always the same: "Adam." I couldn't go to all the conferences I do, attend culinary school, cook the meals I cook, or write as much as I do without Adam there as a partner, co-parent, friend, and counselor. I don't say this in a cavity-causing sweet way; rather, it is a statement of fact: Adam.

So when my husband goes on a week-long business trip, which happens very rarely, I find myself in a bind. But you know me: my biggest concern is how to keep up my usual standard of cooking and eating. I still want to make stellar meals...but while having my attention pulled away by homework, showers, forms to fill out, and other family sorts of things. Seriously, Adam does all that while I'm in the kitchen. So here is what I came up with for our menu last week, dubbed "Girls' Week":

Saturday: Out to dinner (we got dressed up and went to Uno's...which isn't too bad, as chain restaurants go...)
Sunday: "Spanish platter" - chorizo, rosemary Manchego, grilled ciabatta, Serrano ham, grapes, and olives
Monday: Grilled chicken-apple sausages with green salad and grilled bread (I had the salad, Bug had peaches)

Tuesday: Prosciutto and Melon Panini (Bug had a pear, I had more salad) - recipe

Wednesday: Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Croutons (Bug had cantaloupe, I ate more of those pesky leftover salad greens) - recipe

Thursday: Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter (I also cut up some of the leftover sausages and put them on mine - Bug's had no sage. And did I make fresh gnocchi? Hell to the no. I bought frozen, and it didn't suck at all.)

Friday: "Leftover Night" - Bug had a quesadilla and grapes. I had more of the sausages with gnocchi

And my life partner returned at 1 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning.

Eat, drink, and cheers to family!

Note: Where I linked to no recipe, I just made it up. No recipe, no measurements. I dressed the salad each night with about a teaspoon of mustard, salt and pepper, a tablespoon of olive oil, and about a half-tablespoon of vinegar (one night it was balsamic, another night white wine...I changed it up). Again, though, I didn't actually measure - I just kept tasting, tasting, tasting.


The Annual Kidlitosphere Conference

It's official! I've registered for the Annual Kidlitosphere Conference in Washington D.C. on October 17th! Organized by the intrepid MotherReader, it'll be a wonderful opportunity to network and learn about better blogging (which goodness knows, I need!).

MotherReader has posted a list of attendees, and lots of bloggers have shared their previous experiences at the conference, including Liz Burns and Lee Wind.

Lastly, I'm finalizing my hotel room, and I would LOVE to have a roommate to share costs. If you're considering attending but not quite sure if you can afford it, go in on a room with me. Let me know if you're interested...but do it soon - time's running out!

And this will give me a chance to hand out my beautiful Pinot and Prose business cards!!!!


Introducing: Chris Crutcher

So I finally read my first Chris Crutcher book. I figured that, as part of my job, I'm going to be spending lots of time with him soon...so, um, best that I read his books.

There wasn't a real reason as to why I had never read his books before. He's just one of those authors I never got around to reading, you know? I'm sure you all have those authors too.

So, at my boss's recommendation, I started with Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.

This was a strange book for me, and I can't honestly say I've had this experience reading a book before. I loved it, I did. Like I said on GoodReads, for an issue-driven novel it's amazing that Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes moves like a heavily plot-driven story. It was compulsively readable. It called to me. Seriously. And I couldn't put it down.

But here's the thing: I was confused by the book as well. It is soooooo issue-driven. Bullying, disabilities, weight issues, abandonment, physical abuse, suicide, religion, abortion. Man, it is ALL there. I cracked a joke at one point, about two-thirds of the way through, that the only things we hadn't gotten to were drugs, drinking, and homosexuality. But then towards the end, Ellerby's father says something about supporting homosexual rights. And BAM! We got that one in too. For heaven's sake. My friend Jen at Reading Rants told me, in reponse to my guffawing, "Yep, that's Crutcher's M.O." Indeed.

All of this made me want to not like the book. I tried not liking it. And yet...and yet...

You can't not like it! It's some kind of mind game by Crutcher! The characters are so interesting, so likable, and so fun that you're drawn in anyway. You care about them, you want to know more about them, you love them. You're invested in them. And there are so many ideas and opinions being thrown around that you find yourself repeatedly cheering and agreeing and disagreeing and internally arguing with the characters' dialogue. The adult in you is rolling your eyes...but the teenager that we've all internalized is completely engaged. I can't imagine a better read for all those 15- and 16-year-olds out there who are defining themselves and exploring all their possibilities.

So in defiance of my cynical adult self, I am officially a fan of Chris Crutcher. Next up: Whale Talk.


The Thirteenth Princess

I recently read Diane Zahler's The Thirteenth Princess, which is a HarperCollins book coming out in February 2010. I know, I know, it's a long ways off. What I want to talk about is the covers. Here is the original cover for the book:

After various discussions that I was not privy to, the cover was changed to this:

Rebecca's Book Blog has a discussion going on about it as well, and I was curious to know your thoughts. And I don't think it matters, at this point, that you haven't read the book because we're talking about what the cover looks like on the shelf and whether someone would be motivated to pull it off the shelf based on the cover (because we do that and we know children do that).

Which cover are you drawn to or would be more likely to read? More importantly, what about the kids in your library? Which would they like better? Some of Rebecca's commenters get at this, but I do think there is a big difference here as far as what kids will find attractive and what we adults like best.

It's a solid middle-grade novel, approriate for ages 9 - 14, I think. The new cover is a permanent choice but I still want to talk about it. Because the covers are just so different and really appeal to a different kind of reader.

Can you tell I'm censoring my opinion? Yeah, I am...kind of have to, right? But you can express away.

Which one do you feel is better?


More things that I want...

...an all-expenses-paid trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park.

Admit it. You want one too.

Move over, Wusthof.

And I thought I knew what love was. Clearly I did not (sorry, Adam).

Today I read this. Anyone got a couple hundy to drop on me? I'll accept it. Thank you.

Eat, drink, and - I can't stress this enough - realize that greatness in the kitchen begins with knives.


"Listen All You New Yorkers": Part II

Pret a Manger? Au Bon Pain? Certé? Any of you frequent these places when you're stuck in Midtown Manhattan and need lunch? Well, now on Monday, you have an out-of-this-world alternative: Schnitzel & Things.

This food truck has gotten a lot of hype: here, here, here, and here. Then last week came the spot on Good Day NY. Previously their location was announced the dayof each appearance via Twitter, and then they'd pull up anywhere from the Upper West Side all the way down to Brooklyn. No more. They have a page announcing the week's schedule and, even better, a permanent Monday location at 52nd St. between 6th and 7th Ave. Conveniently located super close to my work!

It was because of this that I was able to eat there for the first time today and, honestly, the food is worth every ounce of hype. I ordered the chicken schnitzel platter which comes with two sides at the bargain price of $9. I chose the mesclun salad and the sauerkraut...which was odd because I have never tried sauerkraut in my life. But I figured it was going to be good from them and not the lumpy, stringy mess I'm used to seeing elsewhere. Here's what I got:

The chicken was hot, super fresh, and moist - I don't know if I've ever had anything fried that was so light. The salad was serviceable - it's hard to mess up a mesclun salad with a vinaigrette. The sauerkraut? I'm so glad that I lost my sauerkraut virginity with Schnitzel & Things! There was still some bite to the cabbage - it was al dente, if you will. There was a vinegary bite to it, in addition to caraway seeds sprinkled throughout. Add the sauerkraut to a bite of chicken schnitz? Shazam.

You also get your choice of a condiment, and I chose the pesto mayo. That was my one misstep. It's not that it was bad but, when compared with the 'kraut, the mayo paled in comparison. I think next time I'll try the garlic, scallion, and ginger relish. They also have a spicy sriracha sauce I want to order...but first I have to learn how to pronounce the damn word. They also have potato salad as a side, which I never order usually because so many places crap it up with gobs of mayo, but I'm going to give theirs a shot. I have high hopes.

I have only had schnitzel one other place in NYC - Café Steinhof - and it has to be said: Schnitzel & Things KILLS Steinhof. And that's hard for me to say because I have felt particularly loyal to Café Steinhof. Try Schnitzel & Things, you Brooklynites, and let me know if you agree.

This is officially part of my Monday routine, visiting the truck. What a fantastic way to start the week.

Eat, drink, and "get your schnitz on"!

NOTE: And I can't resist noting that the guys who run the truck? They're adorable so you can also have a friendly side of flirtation with your lunch.


Why I Don't Bake: a Theory (a true one, at that)

Via Facebook and Twitter, I recently mentioned the Chardonnay Cake with Almond Sugar Crust made by the always-amazing Always Order Dessert; Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn had recently highlighted the cake on their page. Me being me, I added that this cake made me wish I baked. Which is true.

My friend Daphne responded with: "I think you insist you don't bake so that you won't feel required to do everything that interests you."

Well, damn. She got that right. I mean, aside from my lack of a sweet tooth, this is exactly why I don't bake. I love lemon poppyseed anything. I love the way it smells when it's baking. I love the way it looks, particularly when you get big flecks of lemon zest in between the black seeds. I love the way the seeds crackle when I bite them. I love the sweetness, sure, but there's also something savory about it too. In my mind, lemon and poppyseed is one of life's most sublime pairings.

All this love and passion...and just ask me if I've ever actually baked anything lemon or poppyseed... And then comes the big why? Or why not?

All of you who cook and bake, do you feel the same way? I mean, we can't go chasing after every single thing, right? There aren't enough hours in the day, particularly for those of us who have non-food full-time jobs, right? So how do you narrow it down?

NOTE: The image is from Picky Cook's heavenly blog post on Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with Lemon Glaze. You'll understand my love after reading this - her photos are stunning.


Steampunk on crack

I read this Publishers Weekly article about Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan this morning. I was already desperate to read it and now I'm even more so. The collaborative relationship between Westerfeld and illustrator Keith Thompson is fascinating and inspiring.

One bummer of the new HarperCollins job? No more review copies from all the houses like I got before. But I will gladly pull out my wallet for this one. Just have to wait one. more. loooong. month.


"Listen all you New Yorkers"

This article in the New York Times on the reading habits of subway riders made me elated, thrilled, nostalgic, and grateful. I love those who love books and I have fallen in love (again) with this amazing city.

(For all you children's literature folks, try to read the section about the kids reading without getting choked up. Just try. Like me, you'll probably fail.)

Poetry Friday

Surprise! I'm actually participating in Poetry Friday, which I think I've only done once in my two years of blogging. But I don't know - I'm just feeling it today. Even with the 83 degrees of predicted warmth today, there's still a nip in the air that prompted me to wrap my pale pink pashmina around my neck this morning. I sit with some green tea, sipping and hoping that my stomach will soon be ready for more Pumpkin Spice Lattes...or perhaps a Grazin' Angus burger with prosciutto and Gorgonzola (Wednesday night's dinner this week)... The time just seems right to share some of my favorite poetry.

I'm sure I've mentioned at some point that I'm a passionate fan of anything Walt Whitman put on paper. I discovered him at that impressionable age of 14, thanks to Dead Poets Society, and I've never been the same since. As you know his poems can be rather long so I've excerpted only the first three stanzas of "A Song of Joys":

Song of Joys
by Walt Whitman

O to make the most jubilant song!
Full of music — full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments — full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals —
O for the swiftness and balance of fishes!
O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!

O the joy of my spirit — it is uncaged — it darts like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time,
I will have thousands of globes and all time.

I love that. My spirit is uncaged.

Eat, drink, and have lovely long weekend!


Something about my job...

Some of you have mentioned wanting to know what a school and library marketing manager does exactly. And while I'm still figuring that out myself, I do have one thing to share:

So I really want to reach out to school & library bloggers. As it is, I follow hundreds of blogs myself. And I've talked to lots of newer bloggers (when I was a librarian) who wanted to know how to get "in" with publishers. Well, here's a roadblock I've run up against:


So if, say, I want to send 20 copies of a new book to "select" bloggers, I have to track down all that mailing info by emailing each blogger individually.

I want to send you review copies, I do. But you're all making it so damn hard on me.

More to come...apologies for the lack of blogging lately...but I've been all about my fantasy football teams: I have three of them. I had a draft last night and two more tonight then I'll be back in full force this weekend!

EDIT (9.4.09): I feel like it might be shady taking this post down now. On the other hand, it wasn't altogether smart of me to post it. I was clearly having an "off" day. Well-written, thought-out, smart posts coming soon and apologies for my mini-tantrum.
ANOTHER EDIT (9.10.09): Oh, for heaven's sake, now Betsy has linked to this post. If any of you are first-time visitors to my blog, don't judge. Read the rest. I really am nice...and relatively normal. And don't believe everything Betsy tells you: I know a gazillion librarians who are neither shy nor unobtrusive. I count myself as one of those...