Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston Authors Club Award Finalist

Happy news here!!!

ICE has been selected as a finalist for the Boston Authors Club Young Readers Award!

So exciting! I get to attend a fancy awards ceremony and everything -- May 6th at the Boston Public Library. Until then, I'll be doing the Snoopy Dance of Joy:

This is yet another reason for me to love Boston. With no disrespect meant to my current home, I'm a Massachusetts girl at heart. I grew up near Worcester. (That's pronounced "wis-tah." Also, sprinkles are jimmies. Water fountains are bubblers. You pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd, and it's all wicked good... though I should point out that no actual Massachusetts person would ever say "pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" because everyone knows it's virtually impossible to find an open parking spot in Harvard Square. Much better to just take the T.)

After college, I lived in the Boston area for five years, and I loved it. I loved the Au Bon Pains on every block. I loved the Make Way for Duckling statues in Public Garden. I loved all the bookstores in Harvard Square. And of course I loved the Boston Public Library. I used to take an enormous LL Bean tote bag to that library and lug huge piles of books all the way back to Somerville. I think my arms are still sore.

Anyway, I am very, very excited and thrilled. Thank you so much, Boston Authors Club!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

I have decided to learn how to cook.

(Okay, family, you can stop it with the spit-takes. It's not THAT funny.)

Just to clarify, I don't mean "learn to cook" in the sense of braise a roast or whatever. I don't even know what "braise a roast" means. Sounds like two verbs to me. I mean very basic feed-yourself-to-avoid-scurvy cooking.

You see, I lack the kitchen equivalent of a green thumb. I have shattered glass and melted dish drying racks while attempting the oh-so-complex task of cooking pasta. I have transformed hard-boiled eggs into oozing globules. I have failed to toast toast.

You're probably wondering how I've made it this far in life without cooking. I can answer that in five letters: PIZZA. Also, chocolate.

Anyway, I started this adventure a few days ago by declaring my new resolution on Twitter, and one bit of advice that I got was that learning to cook is like learning to write -- more art than science.

So I've decided to test that as I learn how to cook.

First lesson: You have to know the rules before you can break them.

Obvious enough advice in writing. For example, in general, you want to avoid the passive voice. But sometimes, if you use it sparingly, a sentence in the passive voice can pierce with as much power as a sword strike. Or, conversely, it can soften something that might have felt too much like a sword strike.

Apparently, this advice is also true in cooking. My first real from-scratch meal was supposed to be Thai peanut butter pasta with chicken, broccoli, and mushrooms. But I kind of didn't pay attention to the amounts of ingredients.

Turns out "heaping tablespoon" is not the same as half the jar of peanut butter. You know how they put peanut butter on the top of Mr. Ed's mouth so he would move his jaw as if he were talking. That's how I felt while eating this dish.....

Another unfortunate side effect of my cooking: this song is now stuck in my head

Also, the verb "mince" means more than "chop garlic in half." Who knew?

Since my first attempt was such a disaster (or perhaps "a teachable moment"), I thought I should turn to you guys. How do you all feed yourselves? Do you have any recipes you'd recommend that I try?

Please keep in mind that it MUST be quick and easy. If you tell me to poach an egg, I'll think that I'm supposed to steal one from the king's royal forest. Thanks!

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Tweeting the Tales: Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen created some of the most enduring characters and stories ever written. In honor of his birthday, I am now going to trivialize his monumental achievement by retelling his most famous tales as tweets...


The Little Mermaid: Young mermaid gives up everything to be with man she loves. Dies after he marries less fishy-smelling bride.

The Snow Queen: Young girl embarks on epic quest through winter and woods to save annoying boy. Also, cool ice castle.

The Ugly Duckling: Swan suffering from case of mistaken identity learns that it's more important to be pretty than loved.

The Little Matchgirl: Poor girl freezes to death, but it's okay.

The Emperor's New Clothes: Nude emperor; observant child; rich tailors.

Thumbelina: Small girl is propositioned by inappropriate animals.

The Nightingale: Live birds are better than mechanical birds.

The Tinderbox: Dogs with really huge eyes are cool. (And other stuff happens, but really, their eyes are HUGE.)

The Wild Swans: Girl saves 11 brothers by sewing. Yay for Home Ec!

The Steadfast Tin Soldier: Angst-ridden toys have doomed romances.

The Princess and the Pea: Prince considers fussiness to be reasonable litmus test for suitability to wield supreme executive power.

Happy (belated) birthday, Hans!

If you'd like to read these tales in full, as well as others by Andersen, I recommend the beautiful and fascinating Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, edited by Maria Tatar.

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