Tag Archives: food

Sidetracked by Track Changes

Like Katie, I also turned in my final manuscript to my editor recently. But unlike Katie’s novel, my picture book manuscript has far fewer words. Like, almost a couple of orders of magnitude fewer. Including the back matter, my book will have about one thousand words. (And that’s considered L-O-N-G for a picture book these days.) So editing it should be a piece of cake, right? There are only a limited number of times you can read a thousand fairly simple words, right?

Nope. No cake. No limit.

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Even though my editor had relatively few comments (yay!), revising the manuscript took a lot longer than I anticipated. It was also much more interesting than I expected. From the first round of edits to the (hopefully) last, we were having a dialogue through Track Changes. Our comment-bubble conversation led me down side roads, some I had already traveled, most I had not.

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Side roads? Oh, yeah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NIAN MONSTER is a Chinese New Year story, a folktale retelling, a trickster tale, and a foodie story. It’s also set in Shanghai. One editorial comment, asking about whether the word “chef” would be used in China, took me down a historical path. I ended up writing a long-winded, horribly didactic, reply-comment-bubble about Shanghai’s history as an international port, the French Concession, and whatever other justification I could come up with. When my editor commented back, “Fascinating,” my inner geek did a little jig of joy. Or maybe just arched an eyebrow. (Note: I got to keep the word “chef.”)

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Addressing another comment sent me back to grammar school — Chinese vs. English grammar, that is. The comment was about using the word “the” in front of names of landmarks. We don’t say “the Times Square,” but is it appropriate to say “the People’s Square?” How do English-speakers in China refer to these places? I didn’t know how to respond to this. The little Chinese I know, I absorbed from listening to my parents and suffering through Sunday Chinese School. I knew when something sounded right in Chinese, but I could never explain why. It turns out that there is no equivalent of “the” in Chinese — it’s a language without a definite article. That answer allowed me to choose where to keep and where to delete the “the’s.”

the

Keep this one?

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Or this one?

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Or this one?

 

I did more research and thought harder about my story during the editing process than I had when writing it. None of the history or the grammar I learned will make it into the book. But I don’t regret any of it. More knowledge is never a waste, right? And I love that when I read the text, I see the fingerprints of my mentors, my critique partners, and now my editor. I hope that kids will come up with their own questions after reading the book. Or maybe even the same questions. I know they’re just dying to learn about the French Concession.

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I’ll have a cafe au lait, please!


Andrea Wang

Andrea Wang’s debut picture book, The Nian Monster, is a Chinese New Year folktale retelling set in modern-day Shanghai. The Nian Monster will be published by Albert Whitman & Co. in December 2016. She has also written seven nonfiction books for the educational market.

Andrea spent most of her first grade year reading under the teacher’s desk, barricaded by tall stacks of books. At home, she dragged books, chocolate chips, and the cat into her closet to read. Not much has changed since then, except now she reads and writes sitting in a comfy chair in a sunny room. With a lock on the door. Before embarking on the writer’s journey, Andrea was an environmental consultant, helping to clean up hazardous waste sites. She lives in a wooded suburb of Boston with her very understanding husband, two inspiring sons, and a plump dumpling of a rescue dog.

You can find Andrea online at http://www.andreaywang.com and on Twitter under @AndreaYWang.

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Filed under Editing and Revising, Editor, Picture books, Research, Uncategorized

What would YOU feed a hungry dragon?

There Was an Old Dragon cover

It’s launch week here at Emu’s Debuts for Penny Parker Klostermann’s delightful picture book, There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight! Yesterday, Calista brought you an insightful interview with Dragon’s editor, Maria Modugno. And today, we’re bringing you… FOOD!

I asked my fellow Emus what they would offer a hungry dragon to convince it to eat that instead of them. And, let me tell you, if we Emus were all together in a mob, it would be a mighty fine feast indeed! (For added fun, try to spot the new Emus who will soon be joining the flock!)

For appetizers…

Garlic BreadLuke Reynolds would offer the dragon a full loaf of garlic bread, with extra butter melted and nuzzled within the rich, warm doughiness. The dragon would certainly have no choice but to remember how deeply satisfying melted butter is, and the soft dough would be so much more amazing than a crunchy, yucky human being!

Darcey Rosenblatt would try not only to save herself but further humankind, so she would offer a recipe for yummy roasted vegetables and engage her dragon friend in the cooking process. Never heard of a vegan dragon? Darcey is sure it happens!

I myself (Laurie Ann Thompson) would offer up some steaming crab macaroni & cheese. I just hope that old dragon knows how to share!

We have quite a few main courses for Dragon to choose from:

Sweet & Sour Pork Belly w/ pickled gingerOne of the most delicious things Megan Morrison has ever eaten is pork belly with crispy crackling skin. She was at Beppe in New York and asked the waiter for a recommendation. It sounded so gross, but oh. It was not. It was bacon on crack. She and her husband still talk about it with reverence. Surely a big slab of pork belly would be far tastier than Megan!

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman would serve the dragon the largest turkey she could find with a side of stuffing and an extra dose of tryptophan in hopes that he’d fall asleep.

Carole Gerber did her research first: Komodo dragons–the kind in zoos–eat deer, according to the fact sheet she read. The dragon first knocks the deer off its feet before killing and eating it. Carole would distract the dragon with a heap of deer toenails to confuse him as she made a quick getaway.

UntitledJason Gallaher would offer this hungry dragon a nice rare steak. Not only would it serve as a talking point about something they have in common (Jason likes his steak mooing), but the slab of meat would really save this guy a lot of trouble. He can still get his craving for meat satiated, but he doesn’t have to worry about chewing through all Jason’s clothes, his shoes, the change in his pockets, etc. Plus, deodorant. Jason applies deodorant regularly, and who in their right carnivorous mind would want to eat a creature that just lathered himself in Old Spice? Not Jason, that’s for sure.

Adam Shaughnessy would try to distract the dragon with guinea pig. Not because it’s particularly delicious (it’s fine), but because it might alleviate his guilt to share it. Adam had guinea pig while he was in Peru. It’s good to try new foods when traveling, but when he came back to the elementary school where he was working, a colleague shared Adam’s tasting adventures with a kindergarten teacher—without thinking about the fact that the teacher’s entire class was lined up behind her. They walked past Adam with looks of horror and an obvious terror that he was coming for Mr. Whiskers, their classroom pet, next.

Mmm... pulled pork with slawOne of Debbi Michiko Florence‘s favorite meals her husband makes is pulled pork–North Carolina style (vinegar-based). She would offer the dragon a giant plateful of pulled pork sandwiches piled with her husband’s cole slaw, because even a carnivorous dragon needs his greens!

Indian food is Christine Olson Hayes‘ first choice whenever they go out to eat. So many amazing flavors and textures! She’s pretty wimpy and usually orders things on the mild side, but she’s sure the dragon would appreciate a nice Indian curry, super extra hot and spicy!

And, of course, we mustn’t forget dessert!

StroopwafelMylisa Larsen would offer up stroopwafels! They’re these lovely thin waffle cookies sandwiching a layer of caramel. Best eaten warm. When her husband travels to the Netherlands, their children greet his return not with “hello” or “so glad you’re back” but with “Did you bring stroopwafels?” For Mylisa’s sake, she’d be hoping the dragon felt the same enthusiasm.

To make a hasty escape, Maria Gianferrari would douse the dragon with honey so he’d be in sticky straits. Or if he were in a friendlier mood, she’d serve him some goat cheese since it tastes so delicious when baked.

Vanilla Milkshake @ Lori's DinerHayley Barrett imagines something simple and refreshing… Something to cool a scorched palate…. Something to tame the fire in the belly…. She’s got it! A double-thick vanilla milkshake! Slurp!

If there was a dragon alert, Donna Janell Bowman would make a marshmallow vest with giant chocolate buttons and dragon fruit all over it, then she would trick the meanest bully into thinking it had invisibility powers. When the bully snatched it from her and put it on, she would say, “don’t you dare touch my super powers milkshake!” and, “Hey, back off from that graham cracker wand. Or else!”  Of course the bully would steal it, without realizing that she had lured him into the dragon’s lair. Gulp! And she wouldn’t feel guilty at all because mean bullies are not “nice humans.” Two problems solved.

Bubblegum with bubbleIf Elly Swartz were in danger of being eaten by a dragon, she would offer the dragon a tub of Bazooka bubble gum to ensure her safety. You see, not only would Sir Dragon find Bazooka gum sugary and delicious, but he’d also surely want to learn how to blow a bubble. And Elly would need all of her body parts to teach him. So, she would, of course, offer to teach him how to blow a bubble, saving herself and all her body parts in the process!

S'Mores!Janet Fox knows just what she’d give our hungry dragon: S’Mores! Sweet and tasty and so easy for a dragon to cook in an instant. Plus…chocolate. Did you hear her, Dragon? Chocolate!

Rebecca Van Slyke thinks dragons would prefer ice cream to a tough teacher like her! (Probably chocolate ice cream, but maybe a nice raspberry ripple.) Besides, if he DOES eat the ice cream, it would put out his “internal combustion” and she could get away!

Peanut ButterTamara Smith‘s great idea is peanut butter, of course! Have you seen dogs eating peanut butter? Their jaws get glued together and they make that slurpy, smacking sound as they try–for just enough time for, say, a person to get away–to open their mouths. Tam would definitely give the dragon peanut butter. Plus, it’s the most perfect food on the planet!

For her part, Penny is glad her dragon didn’t encounter the Emus Debuts before he encountered the kingdom… His story would be one of frustration instead of gluttony! And the meter would be all screwed up…

There was an old dragon who swallowed a stroopwafel.
I don’t know why he swallowed the stroopwafel.
It isn’t lawful!

There was an old dragon who swallowed raspberry ripple ice cream.
I don’t know why he swallowed the raspberry ripple ice cream.
It seems extreme!

(“See what I mean? There’s no need to go on!” –Penny) 😉

What's for lunchSo, how about YOU: What would you offer a hungry dragon to entice him to eat it instead of you?

Comment on any post this week for a chance to win your very own SIGNED copy of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight!

Or buy a copy right away. You can find one at YOUR local indie bookstore here: Indiebound

Or, you can order online through Barnes and NobleAmazonBooks-A-Million, or Powell’s.

For personalized signed copies of There Was an Old Dragon, you can order fromTexas Star Trading Co. and give your dedication details in the Gift Message box. You can also contact them by email at texasstartradingco@sbcglobal.net or call  (325) 672-9696.

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Celebrations

KATERINA’S WISH Launches (Along With its Official Companion Snack!)

Launch week is finally here for Jeannie Mobley’s gorgeous debut novel, Katerina’s Wish, and all of us at EMU’s Debuts couldn’t be happier to be celebrating it! We have a variety of fun festivities planned for every day this week, so we hope that you’ll join us back here as the week goes on. But there’s no need to stop there! You can also take the party home with you by winning a signed copy of Katerina’s Wish (scroll down to the end of this post to find out how to enter) and by cooking up a batch of homemade plum dumplings to munch on while you read.

Plum what? you ask. Plum dumplings (known as svestkove knedliky in Czech) are the official companion snack for Katerina’s Wish, thanks to their presence in a key early scene in the book. As a favorite meal from Katerina’s native Bohemia—which her family has left behind to come to America, where they struggle to make ends meet in a Colorado coal camp—the dumplings loom large psychologically as a reminder both of the sweetness of home and the luxuries they can no longer afford.

But when a series of lucky coincidences—or is it a wish granted by a magic fish?—bring the family into possession of some plums, a very special meal results. Here’s the author herself reading from the scene in the book:

If, after reading this scene, you find yourself with a hankering to try this Bohemian treat, you’re in luck! With the help of Jeannie and our fellow Colorado-dwelling debut author Melanie Crowder, I am going to take you through the steps for making your very own plum dumplings at home.

Step 1: Find an affordable source of plums.

In Katerina’s Wish, Katerina is able to buy plums for the bargain price of 1 cent per can. Pretty good, but not quite as cheap as free plums from Melanie’s tree!

Gather up as many debut authors as you can find, and start picking.

Step 2: Find a good plum dumpling recipe.

Oh, how convenient—author Jeannie Mobley already has one up on her website.

Step 3: Remove plum pits.

The easiest way I managed to do this was to cut each plum in half…

…then put the two halves back together before wrapping them up in dough.

Step 4: Make dumpling dough.

You will need flour, milk, eggs, salt, melted butter, and a big bowl to mix them in.

Using the proportions from Jeannie’s recipe, combine and mix. You may start off using a fork…

…but will probably end up with your hands in there sooner or later!

Step 5: Press or roll out the dough.

Grab a small ball of dough and press it out until you have a flat piece that’s large enough to wrap around a whole plum.

This method is a bit laborious, so if you have a rolling pin and a husband handy, you may want to press (haha) the two into service preparing flattened dough pieces for you. (No picture, alas, but trust me that it’s an excellent method.)

Step 6: Assemble the dumplings.

Place your two plum halves inside the dough pancake and wrap’em up!

Bonus step 6.5: Strongarm the author herself into wrapping some up for you!

Step 7: Boil in salted water for 8 minutes.

Keeping the dumplings in one layer is smart.

Step 8: Garnish, and enjoy!

With a bit of melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon on top, these dumplings are divine.

The dumplings are a treat on their own, or you could serve them as part of a larger Bohemian-style dinner like Katerina’s family does (though the “grisly meat” and “bread spread with salted lard” that they eat may not be to everyone’s taste). And to make the meal even more festive, you can bestow an “Aneshka Award” on the person in your party who eats the most plum dumplings—named for Trina’s sister, who “ate so many we all thought she would be sick, and Momma made her stop.” (At our gathering, Jeannie’s son and my husband vied mightily for this award.)

No matter how you enjoy them, you’ll probably agree with Trina that “they were the best things I ate since we had left Bohemia”—almost as good as the delicious book that inspired them. 🙂

Giveaway!

Would you like to enter to win a signed copy of Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley? All you have to do is leave a comment below telling us about your favorite childhood food, or a food that takes you back to your childhood when you eat it now. We’ll draw a winner next Tuesday, August 28—which is also the official release date for Katerina’s Wish!

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Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Promotion