April 30, 2011

The final countdown

Eeek! It's suddenly publication eve - Little Sister hits bookstore shelves tomorrow!

In anticipation of next week's blog tour (full details tomorrow), I've done a wee guest post on Literary Life about Ten lessons I learnt while writing Little Sister. Thanks for having me, Megan!

April 26, 2011

Star picks

I can't believe it's already Tuesday! This long-long weekend business is all very well and good, but my to-do list didn't get the relax-it's-a-holiday memo and is chiding me with its many unticked boxes. A few of the blog posts that distracted me from what should have been the business at hand last week were:
  •  The Tales Compendium's review of Little Sister - the first review (as far as I'm aware) of my new book. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the title in my Google reader list!
  • news that Morrissey's autobiography is almost ready to go (although I can't help feeling a tiny bit sorry for his editor-to-be - I imagine Moz has some pretty firm ideas about retaining editorial control of his 600-odd page tome)
  • Josh Berk's explanation of gefilte fish, that unloved Passover staple
  • Pip's not cross buns, which Mr Fantapants and I attempted to make (I did the measuring and he did the kneading because of my bung shoulder) - ours didn't turn out quite so photogenically and were a bit tough heavy dense, but making them together was fun
  • discovering Cute Roulette (warning: may lead to extreme procrastination in animal lovers).

April 20, 2011

Win a copy of Little Sister!

There are two ways you can win a free copy of Little Sister:
  • YA Reads is giving away fantastic Walker Books packs, including my book, the latest Mortal Instruments installment and the new Alex Rider adventure
  • I'm giving away a couple of copies on Goodreads.
Go! Enter!

What she made: matzoh balls

Passover officially began on Monday but since Mr Fantapants and I spent the whole day at the taping of a TV game show on which Mr F may or may not have been a contestant, all we could manage afterwards was home-delivered pizza (obv. we are not very observant about the no-leavened-bread rule chez Fantapants). I did, however, make some matzo balls (aka kneidls) for dinner last night. And they were delicious!

To me, matzo balls are the ultimate comfort food. They are stodgy and a little bit bland, and they float (or if you're stingy with the soup like I am, sit) in a pool of chicken stock (in my case vegetarian 'chicken' stock). My dad makes them using his Aunty Lily's recipe, but I use this much easier vegetarian version. I substitute cinnamon for cayenne, which makes them taste almost as good as Dad's.

Although neither of my parents is religiously inclined*, my sister and I grew up celebrating Easter, Christmas, Passover and Roshashonah (Jewish new year). It was the best of both worlds, particularly since for my family each of these holidays revolved around food. The added bonus of the Jewish holidays was that they often fell on a school night, which usually meant a day off the next day to nurse our overly full tummies.

These days, Passover is probably the only holiday any of us observe with any ceremony. My dad, who has been the main cook in the family since I was about six, makes a huge meal of both traditional (chopped liver, chopped herring, brisket, etc.) and non-traditional ('egg thing' - invented for me as a vego alternative to chopped liver) foods. Mum sets the table with the best tablecloth and silverware, and the crystal wine glasses that are only used at Passover and Christmas because they can't go in the dishwasher.

The traditional Passover sedar (ceremony) is** rather long and involved. There are blessings, prayers and songs. It can be a long wait for dinner. Since few of our family friends are Jewish (and those that are are usually celebrating with their own families), my dad invented his own. It's a short service that each person at the table takes turns in reading (although Dad always has to do the blessings, because they're in Hebrew). It includes the bible story of the first Passover, blessings over the food and wine, the noisy reciting of the plagues***, the youngest chlild at the table asking the four questions, and, finally, some highlights from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which reminds us that there are still people in our world who are enslaved by their circumstances. The we eat. And eat. And eat.

I missed being with my parents and family friends for Passover this year, but making and eating my matzo balls brought me just a tiny bit closer to them.

*and Mum isn't Jewish, so Dad is the only official Jew in the family
** from my recollection of going to more observant friends' houses when I was a tiddler
*** where you dot a drop of 'blood' (red wine) on your plate for each of the plagues of Egypt
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April 19, 2011

Star picks

Star picks is tardy because a) my web browser is on the fritz and b) my shoulder is still on the fritz. Typing is both slow and hurty, so here are the abridged highlights from my blog feeds last week:
And now I must go and put frozen peas on my shoulder...

April 11, 2011

Star picks

Sparkling gems from my blog feeds last week:

  • As if being included on the 2010 White Ravens list announced at the Bologna Children's Book Fair wasn't exciting enough, I spotted a copy of Finding Freia in Alien Onion's report of the fair! Not sure whether to be chuffed or slightly depressed that my book is on its way to being better travelled than I am...
  • Bibliophile Brouhaha joined the growing call for 'older' YA. It'll be interesting to see where this goes - I can see it taking off in the US in a big way.
  • Persnickety Snark reminded me how much I loved Press Gang (although I must admit I watched it more for Spike than for Lynda).
  • Amanda Palmer's post on going to an under-appreciated Duran Duran gig is 100% pure AP, with a dose of meeting Simon le Bon (and touching!) thrown in for good measure - long but hilarious, esp. for old school DD fans like me.* (Language warning if you're sensitive/surrounded by nosy parkers whose eyes are magnetically drawn to every four-letter word on your screen.)
  • Tahereh's post comparing getting published with being naked in the middle of KMart struck a chord, esp. since it's only three weeks till Little Sister comes out. I'm getting more excited by the day, but also nervous that people will think my new baby is hideous.
  • Forever Young Adult got shat upon for alluding to what turned out not to be the script of the Hunger Games movie. All I can think is that if the movie studio had been smarter they would have recognised the huge potential of using FYA to reach their audience.
  • Meet Me at Mike's drew my attention to Knittas - cosying things up for a more positive future.
* Also, did you know that Neil Gaiman wrote a DD biography? I'm on a quest to find a copy!

April 4, 2011

Star picks

Starred posts in my Google blog feed last week included:
  • many posts celebrating Shaun Tan's Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award win, but none sweeter than Shaun's own
  • Khyrinthia of Frenetic Reader wrote about whether book bloggers sell books and why it doesn't (and shouldn't) matter to bloggers
  • Steph Su reflected on tru luv teen romance in YA
  • Ryan Novelline made a ballgown out of Little Golden Book covers (scroll down for photos of the construction process - incredible!) (via the Hairpin)
  • Forever Young Adult preached the gospel of YA (like Sister Erin, I was saved by Meg Cabot)

And...I'm not quite sure what this is all about, but spending a night writing in the beautiful New York Public Library sounds pretty-freaking-amazing:

An invitation to Melbourne friends

So, the 'official' Little Sister launch is in Sydney on 6 May. Being greedy, I really wanted to have some kind of celebration with my Melbourne friends, too. Luckily for me, the Sun Bookshop* has generously offered to host a do** on Saturday 14 May. I hope you can make it!

* My local independent bookshop, home of The Younger Sun and launcher of Finding Freia Lockhart
** not a 'launch' because apparently you're only allowed one of those but it'll be kind of like a launch, without the launching...

April 1, 2011

Tales from the Fantapants archives - 1 April 1982

According to Mr Fantapants's class diary, he got up to April Fool's Day japes at Mama Fantapants's expense.
Sadly, he can't remember what it was...