Strawberry cake

I suppose, if you're really pressed for time, you just could make a half recipe of a white cake mix, smooth it into the bottom of a round cake pan, and press the halved strawberries into the top.

Be sure to sprinkle the two tablespoons of granulated sugar over the strawberries, which helps them turn into the proper consistency.

I may have made this *twice* this weekend.

Yes, it's that good.

Being Brooklyn, three guests at a picnic asked, "Ooh, is that the new Smitten Kitchen cake?"

Why yes. Yes, it is.

If you don't follow Smitten Kitchen, and if you like food, you should get on that. All of the recipes come out beautifully. And the photographs jump right off the page. Yes. Go.

GK's favorite iced tea

(With thanks to IFI, for brewing technique)

This is so good, I just pawned it off on one of our authors. I offered him ice water--no. Iced tea? No. "Are you sure?" I asked. "I just invented something, and it's really good. Please let me make you a glass?"

He agreed. And he loves it. GK tested, author approved!

You will need:

  • Blackcurrant tea
  • A teacup
  • A glass filled to the top with ice
  • Sweetener of your choice
  • Milk, soymilk or half and half
  • Boil water as you would normally for tea.
  • Pour the water over the teabag, to fill the teacup halfway (around 1/2 cup hot water + teabag).
  • Add sweetener of choice.
  • Wait 2-3 minutes for tea to brew. 
  • Pour tea and sweetener over ice. Ice will melt. 
  • Add milk. Stir.
  • Enjoy!

Can someone please invent a service that delivers exactly the amount you need (for example, two tablespoons of balsamic in tiny Tupperware) for any recipe you email them? Same day? For cheap? Yes please.


As you can imagine, we're all rather tired today. IFI came up with a genius way of making gorgeous iced tea, and I feel like I might drink gallons.

As some of you may remember, I'm kind of obsessed with Surge, former beverage of the nineties.

And I just heard the best story of Surge soda enjoyed to its fullest.

I have a feeling you have some stories, too. Do share! Red Bull just isn't the same.

Kale, iDoLVine, Margaret Atwood, the ridiculous gorgeousness of last night's Harlequin party, and sushi

So. Last night was the latest and greatest in a series of seriously amazing BEA events.

First, the Workman party, with delicious dumplings (seriously--I could not stop eating them), cute little rolled sandwiches, fancy ice creams (lemon, lavender, and salted caramel), modern, gorgeous offices (it would seem that all of the staff is handy with a printer: many had custom bins at their stations, one notable one being red with REJECT printed on it), stunning views, and friendly people. Oh, and a table of books for grabs, including the very useful Miracle Ball Method kit. We all seem to slump while reading. This kit helps.

Then I was whisked uptown. Three of us crammed into the back of a speeding taxi to 50th and Lex, the Kimberly Hotel. I'd never heard of it--but, as they say, find the fancy hotels, and anything nearby will be good. It's right across from the Waldorf-Astoria.

This was Harlequin's party, and it was gorgeous--tropical flowers everywhere, a rooftop so high up the ground was difficult to see, open bar with top-shelf liquor and inventive bartenders (one woman asked for something "fruity, fizzy, and boozy"--and it was delicious--I'm pretty sure they added pureed strawberries), and--best of all--a sushi chef. Yup. You'd walk up, say what you wanted, and he'd assemble it all in front of you. I, for one, am never able to make perfect inside-out rolls--the ones on the ends always squish. But these were gorgeous. And delicious.

Yup--this was the actual rooftop. This is not actually my picture. 

Best of all, Margaret Atwood was there. A friend asked if she seemed especially Canadian--I would say she didn't, but some of the people with her did. She was there with her agent and two men who have a seriously awesome new technology I'll discuss in a second. Also, she's doing a really wonderful job of being accessible online--you can follow her clever tweets on Twitter, for example. And everyone is all atwitter about her presentation at BEA.

And she seems lovely. We were all falling all over ourselves, of course, and she handled that gracefully.

Now. What is this new technology?

Well. Have you ever had the experience of seeing that an author you love is reading and signing books--but nowhere near where you live?

Enter iDoLVine (pronounced "idle-vine"), which allows for thirty-second web chat interactions between you and the author giving the event--just as if you'd gone up to have a book signed. The author signs a pad, which can make a personalized signature (or, if you're like me and like to request drawings, a drawing) appear in your e-book. Each one comes with the ability to have it printed once in a paper copy at an iDoLVine station (which, I imagine, will be at bookstores around the country), replicated perfectly by a robotic arm.

Yeah! I know!

I was talking to the iDoLVine reps about all of this. He says that there's only one other person at BEA doing anything like this (though, I believe he said, on a smaller scale) and that the technology will be ready in a matter of months.

And yes, I'm allowed to tell all of you this. I asked that, too.

As you can imagine, we're all rather tired today. Agents were still up on that pretty rooftop, lounging in pretty furniture and hanging out by a functional (but not on at the moment) fireplace long after I left at midnight.

And it's book group tonight--we're reading A Visit From the Goon Squad, which is weird (in a good way) and would be unwieldy in the hands of any author without Egan's talent. I'm still forming my overall opinion. I liked the forty (not really, but it seemed that way) pages of charts, but skipped over them. And, for whatever reason, the punk song (the lyrics are in the book) turned into some bizarre brain mishmash (I could really imagine how it'd sound) that is now stuck in my head. I know. Strange. But plenty to discuss, for a book group.

Since we've all been eating so much, here's what I'm bringing to group tonight: the most perfect kale-quinoa salad ever. Before you think "Quinoa, yuck!" or even "Salad, yuck!" I will give you my word that this ridiculously healthy, vegan, raw recipe is addictive. Almost everyone I know who's made it has confessed to eating the entire batch in one sitting. For serious. It looks weird, it has to sit six hours before the lemon juice softens the kale, but it's awesome.

And I made it with normal kale (see above). Dino/black tuscan kale is sometimes hard to find, but normal kale is super cheap and (supposedly--I kill plants) really easy to grow. I also recommend using a salad spinner on the greens after you wash them. The OXO one is awesome, should you be looking for such things. You can also just pat dry.

Here's the recipe: Someone brought it to a dinner party, and it we've all been making it since. Seriously. Delicious.
I just met Margaret Atwood.
As predicted, the Soho Press party was somewhat ridiculous. It was a preview of summer, heat-wise (Housing Works is beautiful, large, and tall, but it was very, very crowded--and the windows don't open), and almost everyone I spoke to was near-melting, overwhelmed (who wouldn't be, when such a large percentage of the industry is there, one ends having those Oh gosh! I interned with you SEVEN YEARS AGO, how ARE you?! conversations), and happy. I'd say the overall industry mood feels rather optimistic. We're not at a point of serving shrimp at parties yet (still not a budget for that), but soft cheeses? Yes. Definitely soft cheeses.

Housing Works by day. Note the awesome staircases. Last night, however, it looked much more like this.

And the answer to GK's pop quiz?

All of the above.

Yes, really.

The YA Buzz Panel, NYPL lions, and why one should always bring Band-Aids to BEA

The Javits Center is known for many things--mind-boggling enormity, its strange ability to smell like carpet, paper, and fast food (usually something akin to old corn dogs, but today, Sarah Dessen whoopie pies! I snagged a red velvet one, and it was delicious)--but great phone reception, it is not. So, I was all set to blast out a few real time updates--Half an hour early to YA Buzz Panel! 1/3 of seats already taken! and No one knows where the ARCs are! and TOTAL FEEDING FRENZY and I very nearly just got a paper cut in my eye!--but, alas.

Last night's updates would have been Red sky in the morning, book people take warning! (aka, There is no way I am going out on a boat in this weather! Even if it is docked and really cute!) and This New Orleans-style bar is already out of Abita's Purple Haze! Noooooooooooo! 

Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, setting of the Digital Book World party. Cute, yes? Yes. Would be cuter with more Abita.

True confession time: I killed my cell phone, and have been too lazy to get a new one. One that, you know, can get the internet (even) in (very far west) Manhattan. Temporary, until-I-get-an-upgrade-in-June GoPhone, you are my frenemy.

So, I'm back in the office, taking a breather. Yes, you read that right. Taking a break. By doing work.

That said, five very awesome-sounding books (and their editors) were on display this year. I lust(ed) heartily after four of the books, and take a keen interest in the fifth. The moderator, from the NYPL (did you know the lions had a cleaning in 2004 and, ever since, have not been allowed their annual holiday wreaths? Neither did I) was at once hilarious and insightful.

The five buzz books:

The aforementioned Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham

As the moderator pointed out--yes, a lot of these covers feature girls flying without faces.

There were great stories to go along with these books--an editor calling an agent back after reading six pages, and telling her "Don't you dare sell this without telling me"; unanimously approving ed boards (which is rare); books selected via websites (one did very well on InkPop); an editor growing up in the city, having no idea what a badger looks like, and asking her cover artist, "Really? That's what they look like?" and--my favorite, for its perfect way of describing a book's ability to be both funny and horrific--an editor was reading the manuscript and her daughter asked why she was laughing. And she had to tell her that it was because a man was being attacked by a bear. (Which got a roar of approval from the crowd.)

It's always a bit crazy at the end of these buzz panels--everyone follows everyone else, hoping to discover where the ARCs are and get a good spot to hover. Usually there's a table; this year--for whatever reason--there were boxes in a corner that went unopened after the first box was given away. Picture around fifty or seventy young women, most in their twenties, close to willing to resort to violence. When we were all standing there for a long time (okay, probably less than a minute, but still) without any new boxes opened, one edit-staffer tore open the first box, and started passing them to those in the front, who passed them back. A very civilized arrangement, many people commented. The people from the next group told us (over the loudspeaker) we had to leave--nothing. There were no tools, only fingernails--still, the feeding frenzy continued. The Carrier of the Mark was gone in about thirty seconds. I heard rumor of a small box of  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but never saw it.

I got out of there with four ARCs (yes, two of Daughter of Smoke & Bone--I've read only the first page, but I'm enchanted already) and only one minor scratch. Not to worry, I have Band-Aids. I come prepared.

In terms of parties, yes, there were several last night and our schedules for the next few days are simply ridiculous. You can check out the list of (semi-) public parties here. It's my prediction that the Soho Press party tonight will be one of the biggest (yes, perhaps because of the open bar). Huge groups of rather important people were turned away for the Electric Literature party at the very swanky Standard in the Meatpacking District (not my favorite neighborhood: it seems to consist mostly of cobblestones and stilettos); no one knew they had to RSVP. In the elevator, on the defeated ride back down eighteen stories, someone commented on how "the gatekeeper" (I'm sure they meant the young, modelesque women who heard these famous names and replied that, no, they don't know who they are) was very tough. Which got something of an inappropriate chuckle from me.

The lobby of the Standard Hotel

So, yes. Time for more coffee, more sugar (I'm seriously loving these caramel-covered chocolate wedges from Trader Joe's), more zooming around like a madwoman. In flats, today. Tried the (low) heels yesterday, and that's just not going to happen again. Like I said: Band-Aids.

Hope this finds you well.

Pop Quiz!

Where is GK?!?

Is she....

A) Being lazy. And probably sipping lemonade. From real lemons.

B) On vacation in an undisclosed mountainous region. Forget Camp David--it's Camp GK!

C) Resting after sending out two seriously awesome manuscripts.

D) Preparing for BEA and a ridiculous set of parties.

E) Celebrating the completion of a sweet contract for a seriously amazing book.

F) Scheduling a new army of interns (yes, IFI will have new friends!)

G) None of the above.

H) All of the above!

I) I'm not answering. The SAT prep course says you get a negative 1/4th point if you guess incorrectly.

Stay tuned! Answer forthcoming...