Is there anything more comforting that toast? Whether you like yours smothered in butter (or the decadent Irish butter in the photo above) or with almond butter and apricot jam and a hot cup of tea, as I do, isn't it just the ultimate in quick comfort? In my novel, The Violets of March, I included a passage about toast. But what might pass as simple little description actually was rooted in a meaningful memory from my life. I'll get to that in sec, but first, I wanted to share that Dawn, the lovely blogger over at She Is Too Fond of Books, began reading an advance copy of Violets over the weekend, and wrote to see if she could share an exceprt from the book with her blog readers. (Of course, I said yes, and here's the post---thank you Dawn!) The passage? Yep, the bit on toast! Let me share it with you: "Bee. I could picture her immediately at her Bainbridge Island kitchen table. For every day I have known her, she has eaten the same breakfast: sourdough toast with butter and whipped honey. She slices the golden brown toasted bread into four small squares and places them on a paper towel she has folded in half. A generous smear of softened butter goes on each piece, as thick as frosting on a cupcake, and each is then topped by a good-size dollop of whipped honey. As a child, I watched her do this hundreds of times, and now, when I’m sick, sourdough toast with butter and honey is like medicine." While my book is a work of fiction, of course, I certainly borrowed from the details of my life, and that sourdough toast? It's exactly the way my late grandmother Cecelia ate her breakfast for decades. I co-dedicated the book to her, and I only wish she could be here now to read Violets, and maybe have a slice of toast with me. What's your favorite comfort breakfast? [Photo: Jules: Stonesoup]



Fun news to share! Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling novelist (and you may have seen her recent novel-turned-film, "My Sisters Keeper" starring Cameron Diaz) read The Violets of March and shared this beautiful endorsement for my debut novel: "Mix a love story, history, and a mystery and what takes root? THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, a novel that reminds us how the past comes back to haunt us, and packs a few great surprises for the reader along the way. " —Jodi Picoult, author of Sing You Home & House Rules I think I'll have a smile on my face for the rest of the year about this. An enormous thanks to Jodi for taking the time out of her busy schedule to read!



I'm working with a terrific video production person to create a book trailer for The Violets of March, and I can't wait to share it with you--soon! What's a book trailer, you ask? Think of a movie trailer, but for a book! These little video clips are gaining momentum in the literary world for their ability to successfully (or not--depending how they're done) give a feel for what a story may be like. I was fortunate to get permission from the lovely, and renowned jazz pianist Jessica Williams (who has played with all the greats--Stan Getz, members of the Miles Davis Quartet, you name it) to use one of her gorgeous piano ballads as the backdrop for the trailer. I'm pinching myself! While the trailer for Violets is being produced, I wanted to share a few book trailers from writer friends that I think are fun: The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown: Stay, by Allie Larkin: If I Stay, by Gayle Forman (which I should add, has had almost 25,000 views on YouTube--wowza!): And, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees: Is there a book trailer that you particularly like? Share! I'd love to see it!



The FedEx guy delivered this box today, and when I looked at the label, I nearly kissed the man. My books! Well, my advance reader copies, but they look and feel like the real thing, and I'm am so delighted to have them in my hands! Flipping through the pages was so much fun! It felt a little like looking over your baby after you give birth (OK, maybe too strong of an analogy, but I did have tears of joy in my eyes!), counting toes, admiring eyes, etc. After all, I am this book's mama! Of course, I had to let the boys hold a copy. They squealed with excitement (not really knowing why--they're 1 and 3). Then, this is what happened--total mayhem: A very exciting day. Since I can't toast the occasion with something real (I'm pregnant!), I'm sipping mulled cranberry cider!



I’ve been busy, busy, busy this month, how about you? As autumn rolls in (love this season!), I’ve been working on some new assignments for Redbook, Marie Claire Australia, The Nest, and Kiwi (I feel like I’m forgetting something, but my brain is fried), along with my regular work for American Baby, Glamour.com and WomansDay.com. Oh, be sure to check out my newest article in Real Simple this month (the November issue)–the Winter Washing Guide (when and how to wash your fave winter clothing staples). In addition, my second novel is moving along beautifully–nearing the finish and so thrilled with this story (if I do say so myself!). More on that as soon as I can share!

Whew–I think I need a nap.

But, I’ve found time for fun, too. For example, my boys and I made these cookies this week. And, let me start by saying this post should come with a disclaimer: Do not make this recipe unless you are fully aware that by doing so, you will not be able to stop yourself from nibbling. Now that you’ve been warned …  I’ve been on the search for the perfect maple cookies for years, and finally, last week, made these. Amazing. Delicious. Satisfying. There are no limit to the adjectives I’d use to describe these beauties. And, my kids think they’re pretty swell too. Want the recipe?



I’m a sucker for compelling new women’s fiction, and when there’s an adorable German shepherd puppy on the cover, well, I’m sold! I recently read, and loved, Allie Larkin‘s debut novel, Stay, a terrific story that drew me in from the very early pages. I highly recommend it and think you should order it from Amazon, or your favorite bookstore ASAP! Ask my husband, the evening Stay arrived in the mail, I was on the couch, book in hand, for hours. What a fun read! And, I met Allie a few weeks ago in Seattle at our mutual author friend Allison Winn Scotch’s reading, and I can tell you the author is as lovely and kind as the book. Turns out, Allie was sitting next to me, and we got to chatting. Allie and I are both Penguin authors, though my book is a few months behind her’s (won’t be out until June 2011, but cover designs are beginning this week, so stay tuned for some updates on my novel!). She lives in Rochester New York with her hubby and two pooches.

I recently chatted with Ali about book stuff, and here’s what she had to say:



This is a question I get asked a lot, so I thought I’d try to sum up an answer. It’s a topic that many writer-mothers talk about. My writer friend Allison Winn Scotch wrote about it here recently. And Christina Katz wrote a whole book on the topic. It’s called Writer Mama, and you should check it out if you’re a mom and at all interested in writing.

But here’s the thing for me: I started my writing career before kids and just didn’t want to set it on the back shelf when the kids arrived. I wanted to both a.) continue writing, and b.) be a full time mom who was there for her kids as much as possible. So far, I’m making it work. Am I tired? All the time. Do I complain? Yes. Do I secretly long for the days of grade school? I’m not going to lie, yes, sometimes. My boys are 1 and 3 and I have a full writing career. I blog for Glamour.com daily (5-7 posts per day), write one to two magazine articles a week, a monthly column, and am now halfway through my second novel. Here’s how I fit this all in with the kids: