Blueberry Pie in July

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Freshly picked blueberries at Becca's farm in Cape Cod.

Freshly picked blueberries at Becca’s farm in Cape Cod.

This is the time of year when the berries ripen and I can think of nothing else but pie! 

I remember when I lived in Humboldt County and used to go to the U-pick blueberry farms and bake fresh blueberry pie that very night using the berries that had just been picked. Yum!

I wrote a book ten years ago about my quest for the perfect crust and in it I included a few recipes for blueberry pie. Here’s a recipe from A Slice of Humboldt Pie, which has now been re-released in a 10th Anniversary edition:

Morningstar’s Blueberry Pie
One 8 or 9” single pie crust, baked
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. corn starch 1/8 tsp. salt
4 c. blueberries 1/4 c. water
1 T. butter
1 T. lemon juice
Bake pie crust. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add 2 cups berries and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove and stir in butter and lemon juice. Cool. Place 2 cups fresh berries into pie shell. Pour sauce over berries. Chill and serve cold.
Note: If you like a little more zip, add another teaspoon of lemon juice.

More pie recipes inside!

More pie recipes inside!

 

5 Stars for All Four Stars

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Middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. Published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

Middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. Published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

 

I had met Tara Dairman through a mutual author friend, Laura Resau. We were celebrating Jean Mobley’s new book, Katerina’s Wish, at Laura’s house  with nibbles and champagne before heading over to Old Firehouse Books for Jean’s author reading and signing. Tara lives in Boulder, Colorado yet has traveled all over the world. I found her fascinating with a good sense of humor, and was excited for her that she, too, was coming out with a new book soon. When she told the group what the premise was, I immediately filed it in my brain as a future Must Read. All Four Stars doesn’t come out until July 10, but I was lucky to have Tara send me an advanced copy and I read it in 2 days!

Author Tara Dairman

Author Tara Dairman

I am, admittedly, a very slow reader. Which kinda stinks for a writer who has to read lots of books for her job. But Tara’s story was such a fun romp and filled with delicious food metaphors that I ate it up! Here’s an example of how cleverly she sprinkles in food references in her writing. “He’d stuck to his decision like caramel sauce.”  Tara’s story is a delightful mixture of obstacles and humor that kids will gobble up.

Here’s what the book’s about. Gladys Gatsby loves to cook. But her parents are terrible cooks, and therefore bring home lots of gross take-out and microwavable foods. When Gladys sets the kitchen curtains on fire making creme brûlée she is grounded from cooking and her allowance is cut off until she can pay back her parents. She tries to keep her passion for food a secret, but an essay contest for a New York newspaper reveals her talent for writing and cooking. Her essay is mistaken for a job application for restaurant reviewer, and when she gets an assignment to review a dessert cafe in New York City, Gladys must concoct a plan to get to the City and write her review. All the while she has to keep her identity a secret. This is a recipe for disaster! But like a reality show chef, Gladys pulls through under pressure. 5 stars!

If you’re interested in trying a carrot dessert called Gajar Ka Halwa that was mentioned in the book, go to Tara’s blog and there’s a recipe and photos of the preparation steps.

 

Pie Book Giveaway

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Win this book!

Win this book!

With the smells of summer in the air, pie baking season is upon us! To celebrate, I’m giving away 5 signed copies of A Slice of Humboldt Pie: 10th Anniversary Edition. Contest opens today and runs through June 30. So click on over to Goodreads and enter. Then bedazzle your friends and family with a home-baked pie for the 4th of July!

One of the recipes from the book. Look at that beautiful golden brown crust.

One of the recipes from the book. Look at that beautiful golden brown crust.

 

Publisher Meeting in NYC

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My agent, Linda Pratt, of Wernick & Pratt.

Every now and again it’s good to have some face time with your publisher. So recently I went to New York City to meet with the publisher of my The Night Before series, Grosset & Dunlap. It proved to be worth the time! I met the publisher, a rep from series and licensing, marketing, and my editor and her assistant. What a great way to see the people who are working behind the scenes to help keep your series successful!

My agent, Linda Pratt, and I walked away with such a great feeling of cooperation and enthusiasm that it re-energized me to want to write more! And it looks like additional titles are on the horizon. Can’t tell you the topics right now, but I can say they are excited about the next title coming out, The Night Before Hanukkah.

We also talked about new ways to market the series. There are some exciting things ahead!

While in NYC, I took advantage of the pleasant weather and walked the High Line. This is one of my favorite photos taken from the walkway. I love the expression of the lady on the billboard.

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Then after my meeting I met up with a high school friend who now works at The New York Times and toured her building. So cool! I was amazed at how quiet the newsroom was compared to when I used to work at The Arizona Republic 27 years ago. As a tour guide (my first job out of college) I led groups through the newspaper and into the printing press area. The rumble of the presses. The smell of ink. The buzz of deadlines. It was exciting to be around. My agent says I tend to write in a journalist style when I write non-fiction books. Must be ingrained in me!

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The New York Times building where Amy works.

I felt so professional in NYC! I was there to recommit to my career so when I saw this sign, I heard my inner voice answer, “Yes you do!”

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I only got a distant look at the Statue of Liberty. But back in Fort Collins, she stands in City Park.

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Ride for Reading Week

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Delivering books to Harris Bilingual School

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A whole table of free non-fiction books!

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Kelly Proto from Bike Fort Collins on left and Dee Wanger from Ride for Reading organized Fort Collin’s ride.

 

Update on Monday’s event:

In celebration of National Bike to School Week May 5-11, about 50 bicyclists – including moi– pedaled 650 books to 325 students at Harris Bilingual School in Fort Collins, Colorado. The book drop was coordinated by Ride for Reading, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote literacy and healthy living through the distribution of books via bicycle to children in low-income neighborhoods. Some of the books were donated by local bookstores, Book Lovers and Clothes Pony. Ridekick Co-owner, Dee Wanger, participated in Ride for Reading delivery rides in 2011, 2012, and 2013 at the national bicycle trade show, Interbike. A former elementary school teacher, she was inspired by the experience and offered to be the Northern Colorado program coordinator for Ride for Reading deliveries. I signed on through Bike Fort Collins and helped deliver non-fiction children’s books to the students.

Bicycle and Book Collaboration to Support Love of Reading

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Ready to deliver books on Monday as part of Ride for Reading program in Ft. Collins.

Fort Collins, Colorado – Fourteen local, national and international organizations are coming together to encourage children to read and value bicycling.

In celebration of National Bike to School Week, over 60 bicyclists – including local children’s author Natasha Wing – will pedal more than 1,500 books to students at Harris Bilingual School and Laurel School of Arts and Technology. The bicyclists, New Belgium Brewing Employees, OtterBox Employee Volunteers, Bicycle Ambassadors, Bicycle Pedestrian Education Coalition, Safe Routes to Schools Representatives, and other bicycling advocates are supporting the work of Ride for Reading, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote literacy and healthy living through the distribution of books via bicycle to children in low-income neighborhoods.

Local thrift and used book stores – EcoThrift, Book Lovers, Brand Spanking Used – have all donated gently used books for distribution. Those books will be blended with books from the online book seller, Better World Books and books donated by Clothes Pony. In addition, New Belgium Brewing is hosting a Book Drive, offering a tasting room discount to any visitors who donate books. Books that are not given during this delivery will be held for a delivery in the fall.

Safe Routes to School coordinator, Nancy Nichols, has helped determine the safest routes for the delivery cyclists. With its mission to make school routes safe for children when walking and bicycling to school, Safe Routes to School will attend the deliveries and give an informational bookmark to each student.

Ridekick Co-owner, Dee Wanger, participated in Ride for Reading delivery rides in 2011, 2012, and 2013 at the national bicycle trade show, Interbike. A former elementary school teacher, she was inspired by the experience and offered to be the Northern Colorado program coordinator for Ride for Reading deliveries. A delivery of over 500 books was made to Putnam School in 2013.

“This is such an exciting collaborative effort!” Wanger said. “It’s bringing together people who like to bicycle and want it to be safe for everyone, people who like to read, people who are donating their books and their time…all for the purpose of instilling and enabling a love of bicycling and reading in children.”

And, as excellent teachers will do, special activities around reading and bicycling are planned throughout the day and week for students at these schools. What lucky kids!

For other inquiries, please contact Dee Wanger, Co-owner at info@ridekick.com or 877-974- 4440, ext 1.

Website Address: www.ridekick.com

Special thanks to these organizations:

  1. Ride for Reading
  2. Better World Books
  3. New Belgium Brewing
  4. OtterBox
  5. Ridekick International
  6. Harris Bilingual
  7. Laurel School of Arts and Technology
  8. Safe Routes to Schools
  9. Bicycle Ambassadors
  10. Clothes Pony
  11. EcoThrift
  12. Book Lovers Books
  13. Brand Spanking Used
  14. Bicycle Pedestrian Education Coalition

 

Kids Questions

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Letter from second grader.

I received a packet of letters from Mr. Mauldin’s class in California who read Jalapeño Bagels. In their letters were a bunch of questions. I thought I’d share the answers since many kids ask me similar questions when I do school visits.

Merani, Aaron, Nicholas, asked if I had a partner in writing the story? No, I wrote it myself, but I did have help from my writers group and my editor to fix it.

Leilah asked: What is your favorite food? I like pizza. What is your favorite hobby? Collecting squished pennies. What do you do on the weekend? Walk, ride my bike, get outside.

Leilah, Kim, Cydney, Agustin want to know: Do you have kids? No, just a cat, Purrsia.

Emils, Ishan and Jasleen asked if I’m a bakery person. I do like to bake but I don’t work at a bakery.

Jacob wants to know if I have a limo. No, I drive a Subaru Forester. Red.

Abigail Guillen, Agustin, Panth, Danielle and Michelle want to know how old I am. I was born on February 7, 1960.

Ramses asked if I think of other stories? All the time! I would love to get a new story with this family published.

Ryan and Kassandra ask: How many stories have you written? More than 125 but only 23 were made into books. The others are hoping to be books one day. Some are just for practice.

Aislyn asked: How do you make all the books? Lots of time sitting down at the computer, trying to figure out the best way to say things, changing words, moving sentences and writing and rewriting until I feel like I have a good story. It could take months or years until I’m done. When one story is finished, I start another one.

Johann wants to know if I am married. I’ve been married for 26 years.

Daniel Sanchez wants to know what my favorite sport is. I like to do skiing but like to watch football once in a while.

Daniel also wants to know my favorite bakery food. I like chocolate chip cookies and carrot cake. (but now I’m gluten-free)

Vanessa wants to know if I am Mexican. No, I am American with a father who was born in Ukraine.

Sebastian and Agustin asked me if I’m nice. Yes, sometimes too nice. But I’d rather be kind than uncaring.

Keep on being curious!

Spirit Week at Valdez

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Spirit week kicked off Monday at Valdez Elementary School in Denver (a dual language school) with a visit by Colorado author, you’re very own, Natasha Wing! The effort to bring me to their school was spearheaded by Phoebe, the student council secretary.

Phoebe introduced me at their morning Community Meeting then I presented to the 3 year olds to Kindergartners (we read The Night Before Easter and talked about how my love for bunnies inspired the book). Following that, I spoke to the 1st through 3rd graders about writing and the making of a book. After that I met with 4th and 5th graders to talk about writing in a Pick My Brain session.

I was most impressed with how the kids used my books as inspiration for their classroom projects and essays. One class even translated An Eye for Color into Spanish! Here are some of the projects that I spotted displayed in the hallways.

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I was honored to be part of Valdez’s Spirit Week celebration and wonder how many kids came to school wearing a white wig for Dress as your Favorite Author Day.

Gracias, Valdez!

Art Book Talk and Art Activity

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Loveland Museum/Gallery Hosts Gallery Talks and Art Activity During Night on the Town

LOVELAND, CO – The Loveland Museum/Gallery invites individuals of all ages to enjoy two gallery talks and a drop-in art activity during Night on the Town on Friday, April 11, 2014. Night on the Town guests will enjoy free admission to the Authentic Form exhibition and will have the opportunity to learn more about the exhibition from collector Mark Addison and children’s author Natasha Wing. Both events are free and open to the public.

Authentic Form: Abstract Art Featuring Selections from the Polly and Mark Addison Collection, CU Art Museum features 40+ abstract works of art and encompasses a broad array of artistic approaches and aesthetic tendencies. Included in the exhibition are works by many well-known artists such as Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Alexander Calder, Sonia Delaunay, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Elizabeth Murray, Louise Nevelson, Dorothea Rockburne, Frank Stella, and Barbara Takenaga.

Polly and Mark Addison began collecting contemporary art in the early 1970s, and only a small portion of their impressive art collection is represented within the Authentic Form exhibition. On Friday, April 11, guests visiting the Loveland Museum/Gallery will have the rare opportunity to learn more about the exhibition from Mark Addison himself. At 5:30 pm, Addison will present an interactive tour of the Authentic Form exhibition and discuss various works of art featured within the Main Gallery.

Also taking place on Friday, April 11 is a gallery talk and drop-in art activity with children’s author Natasha Wing. As a child growing up in Connecticut, Wing lived just down the street from Josef Albers, one of the artists featured in the Authentic Form exhibition. Albers is famous for his experimentation with color and combining squares of different hues to change the mood of his art. His findings have inspired art educators around the world.

As a writer, Wing wanted to share the story of her childhood neighbor. Her book An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers is for children, but she shares it with art educators and parents alike, giving them suggested activities and ideas to experiment with Albers’ theories. Wing will discuss and sign copies of her book at 4:30 pm on Friday, April 11 in the Foote Gallery of the Museum. At 5:00 pm, following the presentation and book-signing, Wing will lead a drop-in art activity for participants of all ages. Copies of Wing’s book will be available for purchase during the event.

Admission to the Main Gallery exhibit is free during Night on the Town, as are the affiliated gallery talks from Mark Addison and Natasha Wing. For more information contact the Loveland Museum/Gallery at (970) 962-2410.

The Loveland Museum/Gallery is located at 503 N Lincoln Avenue, the corner of 5th and Lincoln, in Loveland, Colorado. http://www.lovelandmuseumgallery.org.