Saturday, May 24, 2008

1st Stop: Portland, Oregon

So, we got into Portland at 11:00 PM or 2 Am NY time on Friday. Didn't get to sleep until 2 (or 5 am NY time), having been awake for 23 hours. My one year old woke up four hours later. Needless to say, yesterday was all about trying to feel like a human until I could go to sleep. We are here for a family event for my husband's family, and then my book tour kicks off here on Tuesday, the day my book comes out, at Borders Beaverton. It hardly feels real. The rest of my husband's family is staying at a hotel on the river, but all I could think about for the past few weeks was me and my husband in a hotel room with no kitchen and our 2 small children, so I fled to Craigs list and found this:
It is a very sweet little house in
Sellwood a wonderful, historic, pseudo-Melrose-but-not-goth section of Portland.
The bed is dreamy, and our sons have their own room. And the kitchen is great. The owner of the house even went grocery shopping for me before we arrived - is that heaven, or what? and half the price of the hotel. My four year old looked at me tonight and said,
"Momma, this house is small, but it is soooo beautiful."
Though I think that had more to do with what we found waiting for him in the living room:
Legos! A whole huge box of them! Both boys were entranced for hours. Okay, minutes, but still. It was many long minutes.
My in-laws are in from Boca; the whole family is here. My mother-in-law came by our place yesterday and brought us a chicken. That she cooked. In Florida. As my husband said, that bird flew more than most birds migrate. The worst part is that it is still in the frig, in case she comes by. I can't tell her I threw it out because it went bad. If she'd believe that, she wouldn't have brought it on the plane. I was tempted to get some yellow hazard tape to put around it, but my 4 year old is into work sites, so that would just make it more appealing. I don't even want to know if she checked it or if it went carry on. It gives a whole new meaning to the term "to go." But really,
But anyway, enough about being benignly poisoned by my mother-in-law, I just got some radio interviews about my book added, and more tour dates are happening, so check out my schedule on my website and come say hey!! Happy Memorial day weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Off We Go

Hey y'all
so the car for JFK comes in less than an hour, and I think we're ready. We have a family event weekend in Portland and then my book tour starts there on Tuesday, May 27th, the day my new book comes out. How is it already here ? Isn't it still February? I think someone turned up the speed on the time dial while I wasn't looking. I packed for myself and my two sons today. And I'm ready for my medal. Actually, the person who should get a medal is my four year old son who somehow was able to let go of the contents of the playroom and bring only one small suitcase of toys. I was looking at skirt after skirt on my bed, envision a life far more fabulous than my own, as if suddenly just by going into the air, I will wear outfits that I don't wear at home. Though I will be on the book tour, so I will be wearing clothes that aren't all about playing fire truck, but let's just say that I was having a harder time letting go of the contents of my closet than my four year old let who go of his fire trucks. Particularly difficult not to pack was a pair of shoes that I was sure were fabulous last summer, but I never wore once, then suddenly this morning, they were screaming to me that I really really would need them on this trip. I don't. They aren't coming. My sister came in - bless her, to do a last minute post office run for me, a true goddess! - and saw the bags and said, "That's all your taking?? Where are the clothes???" So that made me feel good. I am still bringing waaaaay too much, but oh well. Please come by while I'm on tour!! I'm going to lots of fun places and it'd be so nice to say hey! my tour is on my website. Okay, off to pack sippy cups, and my book to read from at the signings! Have a great holiday weekend. Summer is here!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What's in a Name?

So, I had a Spoken Interludes the other night, and it was a great, fun night. On the morning of the show, I found out that Elizabeth Strout was sick, so had to cancel :( . So, I was trying to think of a writer that I could call who could jump in at the last minute and read, then suddenly I remembered that I'm a writer, and could read, so I grabbed my new book, The Safety of Secrets, that I just got from HarperCollins a few days before and took it with me to read from.
It is fun to hold the real thing in my hands. I love the cover, and the back is this really beautiful pink and green, but not preppy looking, just very beautiful. I'll get a picture of the back and put it up here. So anyway. I read first. I figured it was only polite of me to take the hardest spot. it was the first time I have read from the new book for a live crowd, so that was great fun.
Then Charles Bock read from Beautiful Children which was amazing, and hearing him read from it is every bit, if not more, wonderful than reading his words. When he finished, he did a literary trivia quiz and the prizes were two completely fab posters for his book that comic artists did for him. check one out here:
Isn't it great? The question for that one was: What book won the National Book Award in 1997? Hint, it was made into a film.
and the other question was which writer was in the movie "Drugstore Cowboy"?
That was such a fun part of the night that I am considering doing a literary jeopardy before the readings.what do y'all think??

then Jeff Gordinier read from his new book,
X Saves the World and read a section about hearing Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit which afterwards I turned to my husband and was like, okay, which song was that one? Because I love Nirvana, but never really knew what any of the songs were called. I was totally shocked when he hummed it for me. anyway. maybe I'm a bad gen X-er.
And last but very not least, AJ Jacobs took the stage, and that is the only way to describe it. Okay, this guy is hysterical. If you haven't read The Year of Living Biblically yet, get it!!
We were all double over laughing so hard. he read the section about when he has to stone an adulterer, and it is just beyond hilarious.
Okay, so quick back story, in the section that I read from my book, Fiona, the main character, is talking about her best friend's new boyfriend, Zane, who she doesn't really like, and she has this little inner monologue about him. "Zane. Whenever I hear the name of Patricia’s boyfriend of six months, I imagine some woman in a lonely rural town stuck with dusty old videos of “Shane” and “Zorro” to get her through her pregnancy, then in the delirium of her labor, naming her child Zane in deference to them. In reality, he was probably named Jim." So after AJ reads and he's talking about the year that he wrote his book, and during that year, he and his wife followed the biblical law of being fruitful and multiplying, and he say, "oh and by the way, one of my twin sons' name is Zane." So we were all laughing about that, though I did feel bad since I had just bashed it from the podium, not that he cared, and he reassured me of that in an email the next day, after I wrote him that I really did actually like the name, but how odd a coincidence is that?especially since I wasn't even supposed to read that night. and then I realized later, that another character in the book has the same name as one of Jeff's kids(and it is not a terribly common name) which didn't hit me until then. so now I'm wondering that if Charles has kids (or when if he doesn't) if one of them is destined for one of those names, too. anyway.
oh, the answer to the first is Cold Mountain and the second is William Burroughs.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

High School & Zepplin

Hey y'all
So yesterday, I drove to a high school in NJ, in this interesting little part right across from Staten Island - who knew? My geography of the Yankee states is so bad. Of course, when I first moved to NY at 18, and would go for a daily run in Riverside Park, and would see NJ across the Hudson, I thought it was Manhattan curving back on itself. Even my mind boggles at that one. Anyway, I went down to do two writing workshops for the students at Middlesex County Vo-Tech High School - Perth Amboy Campus. Check out part of my group here:
They were so fun! And sweet. These are the seniors, the juniors ands sophomores aren't in the picture. The woman on the far right is Dagmar Finkle, the librarian for the school. I met her at the ALA conference in January, and we connected about me bringing a workshop version of Spoken Interludes Next writing program to her students. She made the day so wonderful, and the kids were an amazing, very bright group.
As we were getting ready for the photo, I told the boy on the left (he's wearing a Led Zepplin t-shirt, but it's hard to tell) that I love Led Zepplin and was listening to them on my drive down.
He said, "So was I on the way to school!"
I said, "What's your favorite album?"
He said, "I don't know albums."
And I was like, "Oh, right."
"But I love the Immigrant Song," he said.
So I told him the other songs off that album to get. He looked completely shocked that I could list them by heart. And maybe I should be, too.
After the workshops, Dagmar took me up to the Culinary Arts shop where the students had made a special lunch of lobster bisque and shrimp scampi, and julienned carrots, and tons of other amazing stuff. My tummy was so happy. It was a wonderful day. And I got to have another nice long drive at the end with more Led Zepplin.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Supper

Hey y'all,
When I woke up this morning, it felt like early fall here in New York (then 12 noon came and suddenly it was like summer!), so I decided it'd be a good time to make some lentil soup. My four year old helped me; he's a big cook. We do our cooking projects when the 16 month old is taking his morning nap. Anyway. I found this recipe in the New York Times a few months ago, and it is the YUMMIEST lentil soup in the world - and so easy!!! It freezes very well, and if you seve it with rice, it is a complete protein. I like it with a green salad and crusty bread. My husband and kids love it, too. Hope you enjoy it if you make it. I realize I should have written this at the beginning of winter - sorry!! But it's a great one for next fall. Or if you are like me, and can live on soup, it's good for now, too. Actually, I have a great cold pea soup that is too easy to believe, so I'll put that one up when the weather is finally completely hot. Have a great week!!

Yummy Lentil Soup
cooking time 45 minutes
3 T olive oil - I eyeball this
1 large onion chopped - I omit this because of my 4 year old and no one misses it
2 cloves garlic, choped - I use the already minced in the jar, and usually more - I like garlic!
1 T tomato paste - I use more!
1 t ground cumin - the secret to the yumminess!! I use more and even the kids love it!
1/4 t salt, more to taste
1/4 t ground black pepper - I can't eat pepper, so I leave that out. I know, sacrilege since I'm from Louisiana!
pinch of cayenne pepper or ground chili powder - I use more, and I'm not a big chili powder person, but it gives it a great depth.
1 quart chicken or veggie broth - I make it vegetarian, but it's great either way
1 cup red lentils - it is just as yummy with teh brown
1 large carrot peeled - my 4 year old loves to help with this part, we usually use 2
juice of 1/2 lemon - if I have one, I use it, if not, no big deal.
3 T chopped fresh cilantro - my husband doesn't like cilantro, so I never use it.

1. In large pot, heat 3 T of olive oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne or chili powder, and sauté 2 minutes longer.
3. Add broth, plus 2 cups of water, lentil and carrots. Bring to simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
4. Using an immersion or regular blender or food processor, purée half the soup, then add back to the pot. I NEVER DO THIS!! too much work, and no one cares how it looks!
5. stir in lemon juice and cilantro - if you are using these!

Yield: 4 servings

I usually make the whole bag of lentils, and adjust the other ingrediant accordingly, and freeze a container.
Hope you enjoy it!