February 28, 2013

Book Signings Are a Crap Shoot

Last night's event at Round Table Books in Winnetka more than made up for my event a couple weeks ago where no one came. Really...NO. ONE. Well...shit happens.
This book promotion stuff is a challenge, let me tell you.You never know how an event will go. Will you get an audience? Is the book seller supportive? Are people engaged? Will we have a major snow storm?
It's a crap shoot.
And sometimes you win, like I did last night.
Arthur Frank, the owner of this lovely book store, is the most wonderful host. He knows how to do an event! Thanks to Arthur and the lovely Sue (photo at left), and Simone, and the other lady whose name I don't remember (so sorry) but who was so welcoming. Winnetka is a very lucky town to have a book store like Round Table Books.
Want to hear other authors' perspectives about doing events? Check out this article from my friends at ChickLitCentral

February 24, 2013

A Must-Make Recipe

Chicken and dumplings - what makes you feel better than that?
You have to make this - you just throw everything in your slow-cooker, leave for the day and come back to a house that smells like Grandma's. It's easy and delicious and heart-warming.
That's it at left left before I put the dumpling dough on top and finished cooking it, and then, in my impatience to chow down on this comfort food (my favorite food group), I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Just dug right in. And I have one word: yum.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

  • 3 pounds skinless chicken thighs (I use bone-in for more flavor)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • Frozen peas
Combine in a saucepan:
  • 4 T butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning 
Put the vegetables into the bottom of the crockpot and chicken on top. Add the milk/flour mixture.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. An hour before serving, remove chicken and let cool, then pull from bone and shred. 

Drop in dumpling dough. (You could use refrigerated biscuits at this point if you want to make it even easier but I made my own because I had pancake mix that I never use.

Cover and cook on high for another hour. The dumplings are done when you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. They will be spongy and will brown a bit on the sides and top.

  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk pancake mix
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
In medium bowl, stir together pancake mix and remaining ingredients until dough forms.
Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto simmering stew.
(I added salt, herbes de Provence and a touch of cayenne to the dumpling dough.)

February 10, 2013

Two Book Signings...One Audience

Amy, at Women and Children First.
Friday night my friend Amy Andrews Alznauer launched her book Love & Salt at Women and Children First, a bookstore in Lakeview, and had an SRO crowd. What a thrill for Amy. I haven't read her book yet (we only recently met) tho I'm sure it's wonderful since she's a charming and intelligent person.
I was unable to attend Amy's event because I was doing my own book signing at The BookMarket in Glenview, and it turned out to be unlike any signing I've done before: NOT ONE PERSON showed up. Not a soul. Maybe all the book lovers were at Amy's.
They have these lovely, comfy chairs at The Book Market, and when I arrived I was greeted by Rick, who was managing the store that evening, and he was so hospitable and accommodating. He asked me how I wanted to set up the event and we moved these beautiful chairs around until it was a cozy, casual gathering. And then we waited.
My event was scheduled for 7:00p.
7:00 - no one.
7:10 - no one. Okay, it's only ten minutes. People never show up on time, do they?
7:20. Still no one. It was becoming abundantly clear that I was not going to have any butts to fill those comfy seats.
Don't be sad. I'm fine. Shit happens. And I always learn from these experiences.
Here's mine

Here's Amy's event.
Here's my lesson this time: I did not check with the manager of the book store to be sure she had put up the posters (that I created and sent to her), that she had gotten my books and was featuring them in the store, that she even remembered who I am.
In short, even if a store agrees to have a book event for you don't assume they give a shit. (Oh, oops, I was taking the high road here. My apologies.)

February 5, 2013

Is This What Happens When You Get Old?

Oh. My. God. We are old and we cannot help ourselves. I feel as if I'm living in a nursing home and I'm not even collecting social security yet.
Here's the story: three girlfriends (and I use that term with exceptional looseness) and I are planning an outing. (I never used to call these things outings, but now it seems unfortunately appropriate. So sad.)
Anyway, we're mostly doing the coordinating via email (thank god or I'd have no cell phone minutes left). One of us, L., lives in the Lincoln Square area and that's where we're headed. The rest of us live downtown. Two do not own cars. No problem, we can get anywhere by public trans. But, aha! M. owns a car and offered to drive. Perfect!
You'd think. But no...
So G. emails everyone and says, "Thanks, M., for offering to drive. That's nice. Or we can take the train. If we take the train it'll take about 40 minutes, if we drive it'll take maybe 30. Whatever everyone else wants to do is fine with me." Then M. (I'm changing the initials to protect the old) hits reply all and says, "Oh, I'm happy to drive. Or we can take the train. Either way is fine with me."
G. hits reply all and says, "Should we meet at 5:45 or 6:00? Does anyone have a strong opinion about driving or train?"
Really??? Why would we want to take two trains if we can take one car?
So I reply all and say, "Okay, I'm settling this. Thank you M. for offering to drive. We will take you up on your kind offer and meet in the lobby at 5:45."
You'd think. But no...
This a.m. (our outing's this evening) there's another flurry of emails regarding the condition of the roads and the sidewalks and parking and if we should go to L.'s house first for a glass of wine (the original plan) or just meet at the restaurant due to the weather. I am looking outside as I read the latest email and I'm thinking, "What fucking weather?"
Three, four emails later with everyone expressing an opinion and then ending with, "Whatever everyone else wants to do..."
Oh, blah, blah, blah. Jesus. One plan. One email with the details. Done.
You'd think. Used to be that way when I was young. I long for those days.
So I reply all and say, "Ladies, let's leave it as planned. M. will drive, we will meet in the lobby at 5:45 and go to L.'s for a glass of wine and then we'll walk or drive to the restaurant. Done. Quit with the emails. xo, Sam."
Will that be the end? Doubtful. Especially if, god forbid, a snowflake falls.
I don't have the patience for getting old. I'm not going there.
If they start talking about arthritis or their latest colonoscopy when we sit down to eat I will run screaming from the restaurant.
And hope I don't fall on a snowflake and break a hip.