Thursday, June 19, 2008

Books & Berries (I need your recipes!)

Thank you, first of all, to everyone who chimed in on my question concerning cohabitation before marriage. I asked because I am fascinated by the subject, actually. I love hearing people's decisions and opinions on the matter. Full disclosure time: I lived with J before we tied the knot. Having been married once before, marriage was not on my immediate agenda at the time, whatsoever. Our decision had much to do with logistics (distance, finances, etc), because I'm a pragmatist at heart. And yeah, I kinda liked the guy.

Now for the REAL blog post:

Well, what began as a severe determination to not let my entire writing career be thwarted by a stack of rejection letters has finally led me to the store in which I spend a generous chunk of my monthly paycheck.

Me, possibly crying, definitely not crapping my pants.

Look! My eyes are glistening a little. Maybe I’m crying, kind of. I don’t recall. But remember a few days ago when I predicted I’d crap my pants when this moment finally arrived? Well, I’m pleased to tell you I didn’t! I’m sure you’re all relieved. (But either way, I guess my response to exciting events is a regression to the age of three.)

Here’s what actually happened: I asked a nice young stock boy if I could sign them, and he was like, “That’s you? You wrote that book?”

And I’m all, “YES! Can you believe it?”

And he’s all, “Hey, let me call my LED (or LOD or something…may have been LSD: Lead Sales Dude) and ask if you can sign them!”

Okay, I really don’t talk like that (with the ‘alls’ and all), but I’m still a bit high on the moment as I remember it. I'm kind of reliving it. And all.

The Lead Sales Dude arrived and was so excited along with me that he said, “Hell yeah, sign ‘em all! And I’m going to buy this copy myself!”

“Great!” I said, “You’re going to love the bathroom humor!”

(This is the point where I post the PSA: If you ever plan on being seen in public with me, you’ve been warned.)

And a sweet woman was eavesdropping while she examined another book in the next aisle, smiling a little, and then she made eye contact (her first mistake—bet she’ll never do that again). I practically slapped her in the face with the book: “HEYAREYOULOOKINGFORAGOODSUMMERREAD? IJUSTSIGNEDTHISANDIWROTEITANDEVERYTHING!” She seemed a little afraid of me. Dear Green Bay Target shopper: If you’re reading this? I apologize for the enthusiasm…I was caught up in the moment. Don’t feel bad if you reshelved the book when I walked away.

Next week, I shall announce the winners of the Pimp My Book contest. THANK YOU to everyone who donned their feathered fedoras to help promote Driving Sideways!

And now, I have another challenge for you. Next Saturday, I'm doing a signing at Creekside Books in Cedarburg, Wisconsin during Strawberry Festival. I'd like to give a collection of favorite strawberry recipes to anyone who buys a book that day, so if you have a tried-and-true strawberry recipe to share, please tell me in the comments. Or you can email me: jess (at) In return, I'll send you the whole collection (which may include a delicious addition from the talented chefs at Savore). I'll probably add some clip-art, which will make the entire thing totally worth it. (Don't worry, I won't include the creepy little people like I did with my scones recipes.)


  1. Strawberry Cake - My son asks for this every birthday... even though it's pink.

    1 (3 ounce) package
    strawberry flavored gelatin
    1/2 cup cold water
    1 (18.25 ounce) package white
    cake mix
    4 eggs
    1 cup vegetable oil
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    10 oz frozen or fresh strawberries
    6 tablespoons butter
    2 cups confectioners' sugar

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans.
    2. In a large bowl, dissolve the gelatin in cold water; stir in the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, flour and 1/2 of the strawberries. Beat for 5 minutes on the medium speed of an electric mixer. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
    3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the layers spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool cakes in the pans on wire racks.
    4. To Make Frosting: Cream the butter, sugar and the remaining half of the strawberries in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, adding additional confectioners' sugar if needed for a spreadable consistency. Spread the frosting between layers and over the top and sides of cake.

  2. Remarkably I haven't been to Target since your book made the shelves, BUT... I'm on my way there right now! Yes way!

    I don't know if I'll be able to stop myself from making a big scene about how great your book is and exclaiming, "Hey... I KNOW this author! Ok, not actually 'know' as 'in person' but as a blogger buddy! A blog? It's like an online journal..."

    On second thought.

  3. I'm almost finished with the book and I love it!

    Stalker question: When my book club is finished with the book, can I send it to you to sign? Of course, I'll pay for the postage.

    end of stalkering.


    And of course, I totally noticed Jen Lancaster's Such a Pretty Fat directly below yours--how cool that she's your blurber and she's right by you!!!

    I bet that lady in Target was SOOOO thrilled!

    I kinda wanna go to my Target and stand around and bring my pics of you and then tell everyone, "Hey, this is by my great friend Jess! You should BUY IT!"


  5. Hey Jess - That pic looks familiar. I was in Des Moines visitingmy daughter and we were in a Target ( okay there are none in Canada so it's a tourist destination for some of us....) and I saw the same display. There was only one of yours left in the display and I loudly let everyone know what a great read it was!

  6. That picture is so cool. Way to go Jess!

    Also, here's my strawberry recipe:

    1) Pick strawberries.
    2) Eat them.
    3) Throw the tops on the ground, or in the trash if you're inside.

  7. I'll do anything for fresh, homemade strawberry jam!

    Okay here's my recipe (and I haven't read other comments to see if this one is a repeat):

    1. Go to farm with best friend. And kids.

    2. Pick strawberries in warm sun. Take loads of photos of kids cavorting in strawberry fields in warm sun. Plan how to display those on blog and write a post in your head.

    3. Go to friend's house. Let kids rip up err play in the playroom while we cut strawberries.

    4. Pretend to pay attention and watch carefully as she explains---AGAIN---how to make jam. Something about water and a pot and pecking or maybe pectin. Are those measuring cups? I bet they stack nicely. What? Of course I'm listening! You said sugar.

    5. Hum and gossip in between jam instructions and settling kid battles. Keep promising you are so listening. Observe out loud that one would think boiling strawberries would smell yummy and yet...not so much. This makes you think of candles so you dig among your friend's magazines looking for the Yankee Candle catalog.

    6. Assure friend you can read magazines, gossip, mom and pay attention to recipes.

    7. Pour gelling liquid into jam jars and vacu-seal on lids. Go home, open up, and eat right out of jar with fingers. Tell kids that's not really okay but sometimes mommies have to take one for the team to make sure it's all right for them and their bread.


    P.S. I would have totally given you the hairy eyeball in the book store, but it might have been intimidation or jealousy and then I would have totally bought the book after surreptitiously checking to make sure it was a signed one. And I do say totally all the time.

  8. Oh, Jess, you look elated. I'm so happy for you.

    Yesterday, I found my Driving Sideways in the mailbox. It's in my hot little hands! I carried it to work today and didn't get a break but I'll sit in a corner this weekend and devour it. Can't wait!


  9. That is SO cool that you're in Target! Green Bay Target Shopper is gonna LOVE your book.

    As for the strawberries...I cut them up and add them to daqueris (a drink I love, but cannot spell...) Does that count as a recipe???

  10. Jess, I think you should have gotten on the store announcement system and said you were signing your books in the book section!
    I am so proud of you!!!
    And as for recipes, I am much better with chocolate treats, but this is how we eat strawberries in our house. You may not believe this, but it is DELICIOUS!!!!
    1. Take a strawberry
    2. Dip it in SOUR CREAM
    3. Then dip it in BROWN SUGAR.
    I know, you don't believe me, but it will melt in you mouth!

  11. DUDE.

    I went to our local Barnes & Noble, and they DIDN'T HAVE YOUR BOOK IN STOCK. And they were not GOING TO HAVE IT. And I was pissed. But they could order it "for me", so I had them do so. But I was all disapproving and dour. I was robbed.

  12. A recipe? Are you serious? That would imply that I cook, which I, of course, don't. I eat, but cooking? Not so much. Still, the idea that you'll be in Cedarburg is fascinating. That's not too far - perhaps I'll venture up and say hi - in person!

    I also wanted to tell you that I must have pimped your book to my sister because she just told me that she bought a copy and her best friend bought a copy. So now you know that Driving Sideways is being read in Glenview, IL as well as Wisconsin!

  13. Anonymous9:30 AM

    I finished your book this weekend and I was sucked right in and read it every waking moment...You did an excellent job on it and I really enjoyed it.

    I found it fascinating, as I am the daughter of a Kidney transplant recipient. I lived and breathed my mom's dialysis, waiting for the kidney, and helped her through the year of recouperating depression and meds. She is doing great now and she is 3 years past her transplant. Wa-hoo!

    Here's looking forward to reading your next book! Thanks for the good read!

  14. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Great picture! You look so poised. As for strawberry recipes, I don't know any off-hand, but you can find some on Recipe*Zaar. You can search by ingredient or ask around on the forums. It's my main recipe source.

  15. Anonymous3:01 PM

    I am seriously late to the party. Now, I see I must go, posthaste, to the bookstore and buy that puppy!! I'm in need to a new novel as we speak.

    Would you be interested in being featured over at a new promo blog, Book Roast?

    Warmest congratulations, Jess.