Very excellent news!
I'm going to write another book with Ten Speed Press! This time around I'm turning my focus to baking. I've been working and working to distill all of my baking experience and ideas down to the exact recipes and tips/tricks you need to make the best baked goods of your life. Sounds outrageous, doesn't it? AND IT WILL BE!
I"m formulating my list of BEST EVER GOLD recipes now. Here are a few you might see in early spring 2020 when this great job of a baking book is published:
Buttermilk Brown Sugar Blueberry Crumble Layer Cake
Marshmallow Cookie Cake
Cherry Chocolate Coconut Scones
Pretzel Toffee Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Black Tea and Lemon Butter Cookies
Cinnamon Sugar Bubble Buns
Chocolate Custard Twisty Bread
More soon! xx
Very excellent news!
It takes a tiny bit of time to write a letter and mail a letter.
Your tiny bit of time transforms into great big good feelings the moment the recipient finds the letter in her mailbox.
Just one reason you should still be writing letters.
I love super fun collaborative projects, and I'm lucky enough to have friends who love the same experiences. Michelle Ott is an illustrator based in California, and we've been working together on various cool projects for years (CANDY IS MAGIC BEING ONE OF THEM!) I love working with Michelle because she is extraordinarily talented and is someone who BLASTS IT even more than I do. She's always working on something, she's always getting better, she's never one to chill at low speed. We're a perfect match.
Our latest collaboration is a newsletter called HARD WORK MONTAGE. Our first issue is almost ready. It's about written correspondence and the importance of letter writing (a subject near and dear to my heart). I don't want to say much more because I'd like for you to experience HWM and the correspondence issue when it arrives. We're shooting for July 1. In the meantime, here are some sneaky peaks!
And here's something on the subject truly worth watching: watch it!
Every once in a while I am completely and totally stunned by the internet. I make it no secret that I prefer just about anything (books, art museums, real life conversations, music, long walks, grocery stores) to the internet, especially when it comes to inspiration-seeking pursuits. Still, I must give the internet some credit because really great things can be found there. (Note: I am basically your great grandma when it comes to the internet. Except I won’t call you for help when trying to figure out how to use it. I just won’t use it (or will choose to use it less.)
Thanks to the internet, I recently started listening to Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady, and I am in love. I love this podcast more than I can explain, yet I’m still going to try to explain it because it’s worth explaining - that’s how good this show happens to be! Worth explaining even though it’s unexplainable.
First of all, Roxanne Coady is a living legend. She’s the founder of RJ Julia Booksellers in CT, and she brings every ounce of her nearly 30 years of bookselling to the podcast. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s a great storyteller - she’s the ideal host.
Second, Just the Right Book gets the most interesting authors and book people on the show! I am constantly/consistently amazed by the guests. One of my favorite episodes features Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette. If you're at all interested in the way publishing works, you'd better listen.
Third, Roxanne asks the best questions. You know how everyone always talks about how they listen to Howard Stern because he’s just a great interviewer (uhhh, okay)? Well, Roxanne actually IS the best interviewer. She has the most unique way of pulling details and information out of people - it’s not confession, it’s not a therapy session, it’s just great talk about books, writing, inspiration, motivation, human beings, and more.
Fourth (I’ll stop after this point, I promise), Roxanne makes me want to read more. I didn’t think it was possible, as I am already never without a book, always reading in my spare minutes (rather than picking up my phone), always staying up way too late to squeeze in more reading time. Somehow, after listening to Roxanne talk about a book, no matter what the book is, I want to read it.
I highly recommend two author episodes because they led me to read two books I never would have considered reading without hearing about them from Roxanne.
The first is The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson.
It’s memoir. I didn’t even know I liked memoir until I read this book. Amy Dickinson is incredible. She's a gifted storyteller, and I would read ANYTHING she writes. Her interview with Roxanne is a gift. Listen and read.
Next? None other than John Grisham. I haven’t read a single word Grisham has ever written. And then I heard him on Just the Right Book and basically fell in love. What a great guy doing so much good in the world, not even including writing! He talked a lot about his writing rituals and how he manages to be so prolific. Hint: It has a lot to do with consistency. After hearing him on the podcast I immediately got a copy of Camino Island, his latest. I read it so fast and learned so much about plot advancement. Grisham excels at concision. Incredible.
And last thing about Just the Right Book. Not only is it a podcast, but it’s also a book selection service aimed at getting just the right book into your hands. The fine folks at RJ Julia ask you to answer a few questions about your reading preferences then (in my dreams this is what happens) Roxanne herself and hand picks a book according to your preferences then ships it to you.
I’m a member, and I just received my first book. Not only is it a book I’ve never read, it’s a book I’ve never even heard of that I actually want to read.
I know I'm not alone. I can't possibly be the only parent who, when her kid starts yammering on about the intricate details of the game they're playing, either totally tunes out (or, if she's even more like me than she cares to admit,) finds herself getting frustrated or angry and wishing the talking would just stop because she really doesn't care about the 10th-level-of-hell-"Devine Beast"-fight-for-precious-gems-and-a-special-shield going on in the land of Zelda. I mean, I could care less and my kid talks ENDLESSLY about every single detail. On and on and on. I'm pretty sure I've said to him, more than once in fact, "I don't really care about this. Can you stop talking?" And that's a mild version of what's running through my head which is something more like PLEASE SHUT UP THIS IS TERRIBLE.
The thing is, it doesn't stop with stupid games. He does the same thing with A Series of Unfortunate Events. I actually care more about this than I do Zelda because Neil Patrick Harris is at least interesting, the scenic design is great, and the costumes are fantastic. But FOR REAL I don't actually care about the tiny, minute details that my kid insists upon sharing about Count Olaf and the woman who played an evil stepsister in Into the Woods. Maybe I'd care more if he took a breath every once in a while, but the talking just goes ON and ON, a mile a minute, with no signs of stopping. Please just watch the show. Go worry about Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. Be thankful that I'm letting you watch tv as it is. Stop giving me a play by play because when you are watching television you're watching television because I clearly have some other very important thing I need to be doing or you wouldn't be watching tv in the first place! Now leave me alone.
One more thing I do not care about AT ALL, then I'll finish.
Star Wars. Please stop. I honestly care less about this than the other two combined. I understand the major plot lines and characters from a pop culture perspective, and that should be enough. But which cape looks best on the bad guys in the scene with the laser guns kind of talk - questions about the scene on the planet with the creatures and the flying machines? Again, PLEASE STOP TALKING.
This afternoon, in a moment of rare understanding, I was actually listening to my kid desperately try to explain to me why playing Zelda is educational and developmental (uhhhh, okay). As he was talking, I started to think about the topics that I go on and on about...And I realized that there are plenty of them.
I probably bug the living heck out of some people with my yammering about books, reading, the library, the post office, the cool pencil I found at JetPens, my plans for storage of my reference books with the less-used volumes on my office table and the most-used volumes within reach on my desk. And the funniest thing of all? The topic I realized I talk about the most? MY KID. So here I am complaining about my kid's non-stop blabbering about his special topics when there are a handful of people who probably want to say to me JUST STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM WE GET IT HE'S SPECIAL.
He's my special topic.
I'm continuously curious about reading habits. I want to know how you read, I want to know when you read, and I want to know what you read.
I have my own weirdo reading habits for sure, still I prefer to talk to you about yours. Talking about reading habits is my favorite way to get to know someone.
I've gotten to know all sorts of people by asking them about their reading habits. Or by encouraging reading habits. Slightly annoying? Probably. Do I care? Not when it's about books and reading.
Reading? No Thanks
I know people who don't read at all. Is this you?
Maybe you read the internet, but you haven't flipped the pages of a real book in years. I'll admit this makes me a little sad, and I'll probably recommend books to you knowing you won't read them (I can't help it).
We'll both be okay.
I'd Rather Listen
I know people who don't read actual books but do listen to actual books. Maybe this is you? If so, I highly recommend Hope Davis reading A Wrinkle in Time. She's incredible, and she made me fall in love with Charles Wallace all over again. (If you like Hope Davis and the way she reads, you must put Selected Shorts on your to-do list. I love Selected Shorts so much, and could dedicate an entire post to my love for the way they do what they do. Fall in love for yourself - give it a listen! One of my very favorite episodes of all time, forever, is one called Finding Yourself. It features a story by one of my favorite writers, Laurie Colwin (read by Hope Davis), and includes a truly incredible story by Audrey Niffenegger called "The Night Bookmobile".
I Read What I Want
I know people who read and stick to just one genre. Fiction (I have lots of mystery and thriller friend readers). Non-fiction (I know lots of people who always want to know, and non-fiction is for them!) Young adult (I have about 5 adult friends who read YA exclusively!) I get a kick out of people like this because they know what they like and they stick to it. I admire that point of view.
I know a few people who read more than one book at a time. They say it's because one book is really heavy, and another book balances it out, and yet another book is teaching them something. I'll admit, I've never really embraced this approach - until recently.
I am currently making my way through three books! I started with one, a book of interviews, and realized I could add a work of fiction into my reading time and I'd be fine. Then I picked up a work of non-fiction with a pretty heavy topic and added that to the mix. They're all different enough that it works (without making me feel too crazy about tracking plot lines and characters!)
I'll admit I'm currently a book juggler.
Here are the three books I've read lately:
Bruce Springsteen is one of the most inspiring artists I've never had the pleasure of meeting. Even when he was just starting out, the way he talked about his art and how it fits into the world - it's just the most inspiring stuff to read. This book is a collection of early-Bruce interviews. Highly recommend.
The Franchise Affair - Josephine Tey
It's a 1940's mystery novel, and it is FANTASTIC.
Being Mortal - Atul Gawande
My parents both died when I was young, people closest to me are being diagnosed with terrible diseases. Being Mortal addresses many concepts that we, as a society, are missing when it comes to dying. I think you should read this more than once.
You've got reading habits, I know you do. Tell me about them in the comments below!
I'm not always defined by what I eat, yet I do look to food to define my experiences in the world. Here's a story I wrote about embracing treat culture while traveling. Or, to put it plainly, the excuses I make for eating as many pastries and candies as possible when visiting someplace new.
some of my favorite favorites about hard work and dreams coming true yet requiring hard work:
It was in January that I bid a fond farewell to Instagram.
In a couple of taps on my phone, I removed an approximate 10,000+ photo history of myself from the internet. In the time it takes to pick up a mug and take a sip of coffee, I removed myself from an equation that I had somehow convinced myself was important "work" in both selling and promoting "my brand" and "my product".
The truth is that Instagram was taking away from any actual work I was doing or could do. Because it was splitting my focus. It caused me to not be able to concentrate for extended periods of time. I'd start work on a legitimate project, get a few minutes in, then stop to see what was happening on Instagram. Had anyone commented on my latest post? Did someone have a question that needed answering right this very second? The short version of the saga is this: Instagram was harming my ability to produce good work. So, I quit.
Should I list here a collection of what I've accomplished since quitting Instagram? I'm not going to do that. I can tell you that I've gotten a lot done. My ability to concentrate is coming back. I've stopped reaching for my phone every 5 minutes. When I wake up I reach for a book, or letter writing paper, or my cursive handwriting workbook (constantly trying to improve! Even my handwriting!) instead of my phone. My time feels better because when I get to the end of the day I can review a big list of different tasks I was able to start AND finish. (I respond really well to this kind of "list and review" way of thinking. Because I am a nerd. A nerd who gets a lot done.)
One of the activities I've decided to commit to since quitting Instagram is to write more. I used to blog every single day, without fail. I think I felt sharper then. I was better at making connections, at reading articles or books and understanding what to do with that information - how to share it in a way that only I could. I miss that very alive thinking feeling. I'm committed to getting it back.