Three-Book Contract with Dreaming Robot Press!

cerberus-publicdomainvectorRemember back in December, when I announced that I’d delivered my manuscript for A Pixie’s Promise to Dreaming Robot Press? Well, I have a plot twist, literally.

The fine folks at Dreaming Robot Press got back to me about three weeks later. In the interest of brevity, I’ve created this condensed version of our discussion, which actually took place over the course of several weeks:

DRP: So, we like a lot of things in A Pixie’s Promise, but we think it should be two books.

Me: Uhh, what?

DRP: No, really, the first half is one story, and the second half is a different but related story, and its protagonist should really be Sagara.

Me: Dang. Yeah, okay, I can see that now. Yup, you’re right. (I am totally downplaying the massive case of heebie jeebies I had to overcome before I could get my brain around the idea.)

DRP: Problem is, neither half is long enough to be a book, so can you write two more halves to go with them?

Me: GAH. Um, let me think about that. (Two weeks later…) Yeah, I can do that. Kinda disappointed, though. I was gonna write Max’s book next. (Plot synopsis redacted due to spoilers.)

DRP: ZOMG, we want Max’s book, too!!!

Me: Hrm. Okay. Three book contract, then?

And then the contract negotiations began. I still do not have an agent, and there was no time to find one. I looked into hiring an intellectual property attorney, but they are EXPENSIVE. Finally, I posted to a few mailing lists, and several people suggested the Author’s Guild. It turns out that if you join the Author’s Guild, you get free legal assistance, including contract reviews.

Hooray for the Author’s Guild. Within a day of my request, they gave me a very comprehensive review of the contract with excellent suggestions, most of which DRP found reasonable. Finally, this week, we finalized and signed the contract. And that’s what’s been eating my life and keeping me off social media for the past couple of months.

The three books, all sequels to A Witch’s Kitchen, are:

A Pixie’s Promise – told from Petunia’s point of view
An Elf’s Equations – told from Sagara’s point of view
A Wizard’s Wish – told from Max’s point of view, and not loving the title, so it’s likely to change

Due to the massive changes, which I am diligently working on (or was until I took a break to write up this blog), A Pixie’s Promise will not be released until September. Here’s a rough schedule of all the books and when they will come out. Realize that everything after Pixie is subject to change.

Novel Manuscript due by Kickstarter Campaign Publication Date
A Pixie’s Promise May 1, 2018 April 2018 September 2018
An Elf’s Equations October 31, 2018 TBD TBD
A Wizard’s Wish August 1, 2019 TBD TBD


So I’ll be producing three novels in two years. Yowza! But that’s good news for all of you. You’ll be getting lots more Millie, Petunia, Max, and Sagara than I’d originally planned. And after that, who knows? Perhaps a book for Thea? We shall see…

February Hiatus

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting much lately. The truth is, the holidays and completing A Pixie’s Promise ate all of my brain, and I just didn’t have the time or energy left to continue posting.

I’ve been struggling for some time to balance my writing and the rest of my life, but I haven’t had much success at finding good long-term strategies. So I have chosen to take the month of February to reorganize my life, both physically and mentally.

See you in March!

Arisia Appearances

It’s that time of year again! Arisia, the largest science fiction convention in the Boston area, is this very weekend, and I’m appearing in six different panels and events:

  • Friday, January 12, 5:30pm – Food and Fandom – Faneuil
  • Saturday, January 13, 10am – Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading – Adams
  • Saturday, January 13, 2:30pm – Beyond Hogwarts: A Young Fan’s Reading List – Hancock-FastTrack2
  • Saturday, January 13, 7pm – A Wrinkle in Time and Entries into Fandom – Marina 1
  • Sunday, January 14, 7pm – Which Book First: Introducing SF to Kids – Marina 2
  • Monday, January 13, 10am – Race and Identity Issues in SF – Marina 4

I will also be in the Dealers’ Room at the Broad Universe table selling my books and other fabulous books by my fellow Broad authors. If you are attending Arisia, please drop by and chat!

Turkeygeddon, or The Pies Ate My Brain

Pies That Ate My Brain

Hi, all. Sorry I never posted on Wednesday. I got overly ambitious (I know, shocking!) with my Thanksgiving cooking. I meant to post a minimalist pie crust recipe for all of you trying to make the perfect pies, but I failed because I was busy making four pies, two of which I’d never made before. And for complicated reasons, I ended up cooking stuff for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Wait, you’re saying. That’s AFTER Thanksgiving. Yeah, I know. Overly ambitious, remember? Possibly overly social. Let me explain. No, too long; let me sum up. We go to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving every year, which is lovely because lots of people come, and everyone contributes something different, the hosts providing the turkey, stuffing, and gravy. But my daughters wanted a small, intimate family dinner this year. So I ordered the smallest possible turkey and planned to make it Saturday. Meanwhile, I mentioned a post-Thanksgiving tradition to some friends and somehow wound up hosting it: Pie Breakfast, when everybody gathers on Friday morning with their leftover pies and eats them for breakfast.

Thus, this was my week:

  • Wednesday: made two pies (traditional pumpkin and triple chocolate pumpkin), prepped brussels sprouts and left them to soak in salt water overnight.
  • Thursday morning: made mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole wheat rolls, appetizers, two more pies (savory pumpkin and nutella tart), and marinated the sprouts in preparation for cooking them just before dinner at my friends’ home.
  • Friday: Hosted Pie Breakfast, where I put out the leftovers from the four pies, baked Costco mini quiches, and made a veggie frittata for the gluten-challenged.
  • Saturday: Turkey! Also cauliflower au gratin, delicata squash, and fruit salad, plus leftover mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and (you guessed it) pie.

And now I have tendonitis in my right elbow from spatchcocking and hauling around the turkey. More on that later.

To make up for not posting last Wednesday, I’ll be posting recipes for everything new I tried this Turkey Day, plus one I didn’t try but really wanted to:

  • Spatchcocking a turkey
  • Triple chocolate pumpkin pie
  • Savory gruyere and pumpkin pie
  • Cauliflower au gratin
  • No-bake Nutella tart

Stay tuned! Recipes to come…

Wednesday Recipe: Green Tomato Relish and Green Tomato Chutney

Summertime in jars: green tomato relish (l) and green tomato chutney

IMG_20171114_120912122One of the great frustrations of growing tomatoes in New England, particularly heirlooms such as Brandywine, is that the growing season is never quite long enough. You can’t plant until Memorial Day, and the big heirlooms take around 100 days to begin producing. Just as you’re starting to get fantastic tomatoes, the weather turns cold, production slows to a crawl, and when the first frost rolls around, you’ve got a garden full of green tomatoes. If you’re very lucky, the weather will hold until Thanksgiving week, but this year the first frost landed last Wednesday night.

Relish making with my neighbor, Suzanna

Relish making with my neighbor, Suzanna. Matching aprons were a total coincidence, which we love using whenever we cook together.

I used to go to elaborate lengths to help these last few tomatoes ripen, swathing the plants in plastic or wrapping the green tomatoes in newspaper and storing them in a cold cellar to gradually ripen inside. Then, I discovered something amazing: green tomatoes are delicious.

Nearly everyone has heard of fried green tomatoes, but I found recipes for green tomato relish and green tomato chutney in one of my favorite cookbooks, the Gardeners’ Community Cookbook. Now I celebrate the first frost with glee. Green tomato relish may well be the origin of my belief in cooking magic. Putting it on a hamburger in January is like transporting your taste buds to July.

This year, I don’t have an enormous garden to supply me with green tomatoes, so last Tuesday, I asked my neighbors if they had any unpicked green tomatoes I could use. One intrepid neighbor, Suzanna Schell, contacted her CSA provider, and they showed up with fifteen pounds of green tomatoes, three of which ripened before we could process them Tuesday morning. We divided the greenies equally between the two recipes below. Result: an insane amount of relish and chutney, which we’ve shared with our community. Note: jelly jars full of relish and chutney make fantastic Christmas presents.

Quartered green tomatoesGREEN TOMATO RELISH

1 lb green tomatoes, finely chopped
1-1/2 lb onions, finely chopped
1-1/2 lb bell peppers, assorted colors if possible, finely chopped
1 large jalapeno, stemmed and finely chopped (I substitute Hatch green chile)
2 tablespoons pickling salt (any non-iodized salt will do)
3/4 cup sugar
Multicolored bell peppers1 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 teaspoons turmeric
2 Tablespoons pickling spiced tied in cheesecloth (allspice berries, bay leaves, black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, red chili peppers, etc. Use your favorites.)

Place the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapeno, and salt in a large bowl. Add water to cover and set aside to soak overnight at room temperature. Next day, drain and rinse the vegetables. Set aside. Prepare 3 pint jars and lids for canning. Combine the sugar, vinegar, turmeric, and bag of pickling spices in a large nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Add the drained vegetables and return to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and ladle Relish components soaking overnight in brineinto jars. Seal and process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes, or cool, cap, and store in the refrigerator. Will keep in the fridge for 6 months, one year if processed.


2 lb green tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
2 lb tart green apples, peeled, cored, and quartered (I have some big Northern Spy apples)
1 lb shallots, peeled
Green tomatoes chopped in a food processor - note that they're finely chopped but not quite mushy2 heads of garlic, peeled (20-24 cloves each)
6 fresh red chili peppers, stemmed and seeded (In a pinch, use green chile)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped and tied in cheesecloth
1/2 lb golden raisins (I like to substitute some dried apricots)
1 lb Demerara or other crystal-form brown sugar
2-1/2 cups distilled white or cider vinegar (cider is better)

Simmering green tomato chutneyPut the tomatoes, apples, shallots, garlic, and chiles through a mincer or finely chop in a food processor, taking care not to overchop them into a mush. transfer to a nonreactive canning kettle or very large pot. Add the ginger, raisins, sugar, and vinegar and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring from time to time. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour or until all the ingredients are soft and the mixture has thickened into a loose syrup.

Meanwhile, prepare 4 quart jars and lids for canning. Remove the ginger bag and ladle the chutney into the jars. Seal and process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes, or cool, cap, and store in the refrigerator. Let mature for 1 month before using. Will keep up to 6 months in the fridge, 1 year if processed.

Green tomato relish and green tomato chutney on toastRelish and chutney processed and shelf stable for a yearSuzanna give her seal of approval!

Wednesday Recipe: Burrito Wednesday!

Wednesday Burrito Night

The weather here in New England has finally turned cold, with Arctic air on course to hit us this weekend. That means virus season is upon us, and in fact my husband is sick. Many people turn to simple comfort foods when they catch a cold: soups, macaroni, chicken pot pie.

I think spicy. Chile peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges, and their capsaicin can help with those achy joints. Also, the spicy chile helps clear your sinuses and relieve sore throats. So tonight for dinner, I made a classic New Mexican staple, papitas con carne al caldo. Growing up, we ate this as a main course with sides of rice, beans, and a green vegetable such as zucchini or sauteed spinach, along with one of Abuela’s fresh flour tortillas, but in the age of Chipotle, I use it as a burrito filler. My kids love this because they can choose exactly what they want to put in their burrito. It’s a modular meal, with a healthy balance of meat, carbohydrates, and vegetables.

Plus you can add as much or as little spice as you want. My husband and my older daughter prefer red chile powder, which they sprinkle over their cheese and then melt in the microwave. I personally prefer salsa, and my go-to brand is El Pinto, which is thankfully now available on Amazon. Occasionally, I’ll add a dash of sriracha. My ten-year-old still doesn’t like spicy food and puts none in her burrito.

Mexican OreganoThe basic recipe is simple meat and potatoes, and the key to its flavor is Mexican oregano. A completely different species from Italian or Greek oregano, it has a marvelous, pungent flavor that’s essential to all Southwestern cooking. It’s now generally available at Whole Foods where you find dried chile pods, and of course, like everything, you can order it from Amazon.


1 lb. lean ground beef, preferably organic, grass fed beefChop the ground beef into small chunks
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large or 2 medium potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold or russet
1 carrot, shredded

Place the ground beef in a large skillet or everyday pan on medium heat. Add the garlic. Put the oregano in the palm of your Ground beef with potatoeshand and rub your palms together to sprinkle it over the meat. Add the Worcestershire sauce. As the meat begins to cook, break it up into small, bite-size chunks and toss it around to combine all the ingredients.

As the meat is browning, dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. If you are using a thin-skinned potato such as Yukon Gold, you can leave the skin on, but peel russets to make sure you find any bad spots. When the meat is almost completely cooked, throw in the potatoes and toss to coat them in the fat from the meat.

Cover beef and potatoes with waterFinish browning the meat and add just enough water to cover the meat and potatoes. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until the water is almost completely gone and the potatoes are tender. You may wish to turn on your hood fan; it will get steamy! Just before the water completely disappears, add the shredded carrot and let it steam on top. When the water is completely gone, stir in the carrots and remove the pan from heat.

Serve with beans, rice, and whatever condiments you prefer in a burrito. Also perfectly fine in a taco. Stir in the carrotsRecommended condiments: shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend), diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, diced bell peppers (for even more vitamin C), avocado slices or guacamole, roasted or grilled vegetables, salsa, chile powder, sriracha. Pro tip: don’t overfill your burrito. You can always have a second one!

Don't overfill your burrito!Another day, I’ll discuss how to make beans from scratch in an Instant Pot. Homemade frijoles are a bajillion times better than canned beans, but I didn’t have the time to make them tonight.

Happy eating, and may the chile burn out any cold you come across this season.