Tag: book tour

24
Jun

Friday Favorites: Deep Valley Book Festival!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Friday Favorite! But this week definitely deserves it. After today, the third week of Summer Reading will be in the books, I’ve gotten some writing done on the sequel, and I’ve got a book festival coming up on Sunday! Let’s check out some awesome happenings:

International Yoga Day

June 21st was International Yoga Day! I have been doing yoga for over four years now, and it has totally changed my life. For those of you who don’t know my hero backstory, I used to be hard core into martial arts (Muay Thai primarily) and competitive weight lifting. I trained six days a week, fighting in the ring as much as possible. Until one day. I got my knee blown out in a fight–I saw the kick coming and brought my knee up too late–and my fighting days were over. I got knee surgery in 2008, but couldn’t continue training at that level anymore.

A few years ago, I tried a yoga class for the first time and fell in love. The low impact was perfect for my knee; the intensity and challenge reminded me of why I loved martial arts. Over the years, yoga strengthened my knee so much that I can now mountain bike and hike without pain.

In honor of International Yoga Day, here’s one of my favorite classes with instructor Ali Kamenova (I highly recommend).

I do all my yoga at home, for free, solely through Ali’s videos on YouTube. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or equipment to give her classes a try! They come at all levels and lengths of time, from 15-minute Tabata intervals to over an hour of power yoga. Her style changed my idea of what yoga was (don’t think it’s all relaxing stretches. Ali will kick your BUTT and make you feel good at the same time). Yoga = Awesome.

Bubble Wrap Art

 

I was SUPER excited about this art project! What is Bubble Wrap Art? Prepare to be amazed.

Step 1: Take a piece of bubble wrap

Step 2: Paint it

Step 3: Put a piece of paper on a tarp

Step 4: Lay the bubble wrap paint-side down on the paper

Step 5: STOMP ON THE BUBBLE WRAP!

This project was so much messy fun, I can’t wait to do it again!! We had over 140 people come to paint and stomp. Thank goodness for tarps. 🙂

Deep Valley Book Festival

My first ever Mankato book event is happening THIS SUNDAY! I’ll be at the Deep Valley Book Festival on June 26th from 11:00-4:00. In addition to selling and signing copies of Seven Stones, I’ll also be doing a Romp & Rhyme Story Time at 11:30, and a Yoga Story Time at 1:00 (so come say hi to Shane who will be manning my author table during those times. Make sure you ask him all the really tough questions about writing 😉 ). See you on Sunday!

Book of the Week

Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland by Ken Ilgunas

Book of the Week!

“It started as a far-fetched idea—to hike the entire length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. But in the months that followed, it grew into something more for Ken Ilgunas. It became an irresistible adventure—an opportunity not only to draw attention to global warming but also to explore his personal limits. So in September 2012, he strapped on his backpack, stuck out his thumb on the interstate just north of Denver, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles to the Alberta tar sands. Once there, he turned around and began his 1,700-mile trek to the XL’s endpoint on the Gulf Coast of Texas, a journey he would complete entirely on foot, walking almost exclusively across private property.

Both a travel memoir and a reflection on climate change, Trespassing Across America is filled with colorful characters, harrowing physical trials, and strange encounters with the weather, terrain, and animals of America’s plains. A tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there, Ilgunas’s memoir grapples with difficult questions about our place in the world: What is our personal responsibility as stewards of the land? As members of a rapidly warming planet? As mere individuals up against something as powerful as the fossil fuel industry?”

You need to read this book. PERIOD. I usually don’t get into non-fiction, but I’ve been DEVOURING this narrative. It is told like a story, with plenty of adventure and Lord of the Rings references to keep me happy. Plus, it is a topic close to my heart. I highly recommend!

Happy Friday!

 

26
Oct

Halloween Pumpkin Chili

Halloween is THIS SATURDAY! For those of you who don’t know, Halloween is my FAVORITE of holidays. What is there not to love? Dressing up, delicious foods, bonfires, crunchy leaves, candy, caramel apples, pumpkins, hot apple cider, and a bit of magic–Halloween has it all.

This year, the holiday is going to be even more special because I am hosting a Harry Potter Party this Wednesday at my library. Three hours, fifty kids, Hogwarts classes, and Muggle Quidditch. Talk about magical! I have tried to plan everything so the kids literally feel like they are living the book (and, secretly, so I can feel like I’m living the book, too 🙂 ) Wish me luck, everyone!

When I haven’t been thinking about Harry Potter, I’ve been celebrating! Shane’s 28th birthday was this past week, and we had an amazing day hiking through Seven Mile Creek State Park and enjoying games and good food with people we love. Here’s to another year of love, adventures, laughter, and magic!

Happy Birthday, Hobbit Man!

The other highlight of the week was going to the Spring Grove Public Library for an author talk. I had a FABULOUS time. The library itself is cozy, welcoming, and warm–but that was nothing compared to the people. I have been fortunate to meet some truly wonderful people while on the road with Seven Stones, and this trip was extra special because I was able to connect to a cousin I’ve never met before!

Shane, me, and Sue!

It was such a pleasure to meet my cousin Sue, spend time with her, and make a family connection that will last the rest of my life. Thank you to everyone who came out to meet me, support my writing, and tell me they were fans of my book! Did you hear that? I HAVE FANS! *Happy Dance!* I can’t wait to go back to Spring Grove for another event!

Reading an excerpt from SEVEN STONES

Reading an excerpt from SEVEN STONES

After such an exciting week, I was ready for a lazy Sunday afternoon cuddled on the couch with a bowl of chili with Shane and a romantic movie. Instead, we helped some friends move into their new house. But I DID get my chili! And this isn’t your ordinary bowl of chili. Oh, no. It is the best chili around: PUMPKIN CHILI!

I think I may have mentioned before that pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors. This fall, I’ve been processing pie pumpkins at a rate of about one a week. I scoop out the seeds to toast, then roast and puree the sweet pumpkin “meat” to bake into breads, muffins, and even put into main dishes like my pumpkin chili.

I love simple, delicious food. This pumpkin chili recipe delivers amazing taste, nutrition, and is comforting and warming—perfect for those chilly fall nights. To top it all off, this recipe couldn’t be simpler: just dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away! Most of the work you have to do is chopping: how easy is that? You can throw everything together on Monday and have homemade chili for the rest of the week. As a bonus, the orange of the pumpkin and black beans make a festive Halloween dinner!

Julia’s Scary Good Pumpkin Chili

Serve up a scary good Halloween feast!

Serve up a scary good Halloween feast!

Ingredients

1 can (15.9 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz. can)

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Onion, minced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp Sucanat or other granulated sweetener

Dash nutmeg

Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Turn on “low” and cook for 6-8 hours (if in a hurry, crank on “high” and let cook for 3-5 hours).

That’s it! Top with grated cheese (non-dairy or dairy) or any other chili toppings you like. DEVOUR!

Happy Monday!

19
Oct

Upcoming Author Events!

Mankato bison!

Mankato bison!

What a wonderful weekend! We had friends visiting as a kind of pre-birthday celebration for Shane and had SUCH an amazing time. Aside from all the food (my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe will be posted soon!), the best part was the bison reserve at the Mineopa State Park. You might remember when I posted about Shane and my picnic at Mineopa Falls. As if this park had to get any cooler, it now has a herd of about ten bison!

I hear Mankato bison love Seven Stones...

I hear Mankato bison love Seven Stones…

We found out that bison used to be found in just about every one of the lower 48 states. Because of westward expansion and the mass killings in the 1800s to make way for the railroad, these truly amazing creatures were almost wiped out. This past year, the Mineopa State Park reintroduced a herd of bison to the Mankato area. How cool is that?! They opened up the reserve for public view this month, so of course we had to go!

So close!

So close!

Seriously, this was an incredible experience. Seeing the bison up close was breathtaking! I am so grateful for the conservation efforts that brought us such a fantastic opportunity.

And of course, we stopped at the falls!

And of course, we stopped at the falls!

Speaking of fantastic opportunities, I’m going back on tour this month! If you missed out on my summer book tour, now is your chance to hear me talk about my book and go home with a signed copy of Seven Stones! Here is a list of events I have going on so far. My publicist is hard at work booking more dates, so stay tuned (and feel free to contact her if you’d like me to come to your book club/library/bookstore!)

Saturday, October 24th: 1:00-2:00pm

Saturday, October 31st: 9-3:30pm

Wednesday, November 4th: 5:30-6:30pm

Monday, November 16th: 12:00-1:00pm

 

Happy Monday!

07
Aug

Friday Favorites: Bemidji Favorites

See ya later, Paul & Babe!

See ya later, Paul & Babe!

This Friday, I want to focus on all my favorite parts of our time in Bemidji. Though we were only here for ten months, it really has been a wonderful experience–mostly because of all the truly AMAZING people we’ve come to know and love. So, here is a look back at our days in the North Woods!

The Little Red Duplex

We were incredibly lucky to find such a great place to live. After living in apartments since we got out of college, Shane and I were ready for more space and a yard of our own. It is cozy, inviting, and really became our home in just a short period of time. Here’s a (terrible) video that I shot during our first weeks in Bemidji. Shane has since critiqued my camera work (which is pretty hilariously bad), but it gives you an idea of what our house looked like between all the blurred images. Hey, I never said I was a photographer. I do words, people. 🙂

Region 2 Arts Council

I couldn’t have done any of my marketing or publicity without the generous folks at the Region 2 Arts Council. They awarded me the Individual Artist Grant back in March so I could hire my wonderful publicist, Krista, to plan my book tour, and Christy of Brown Design to create the Seven Stones Book Trailer. Without the financial and professional support of the Council, I definitely wouldn’t be able to reach as many readers!

Check out the original post about the Artist Grant!

My First Book Signing

The table!

Thanks, Kat’s Book Nook!

My very first book tour stop was at Kat’s Book Nook in Bemidji. I was SO nervous and excited to actually be doing my first ever book signing! So many people showed up to support me, and I ended up having a wonderful time. I can’t thank Kat enough, or the community for their amazing support. Bemidji gave me a great start to my book tour, and helped boost my confidence as an author!

Check out the original post from May 16th!

Evening Horse Rides

We're BFFs

We’re BFFs

Imagine riding through a lush, forested state park at sunset on a gorgeous chestnut mare with a great friend by your side. Afterwards, a group of tiny, fuzzy kittens literally romp all over you in the stable. Yup, I got to live a 12 year old girl’s dream thanks to my friend and fellow Packer fan, Kori. I had SUCH great times with her, the horses (my best friend, Firefly, is pictured above), and the barn cats. It was beyond amazing to be able to hit the trails anytime we wanted.

I got to take my very last ride (*sob*) Wednesday night while the sun was setting in brilliant oranges and reds. It was cool, windless, and quiet–a perfect night for a ride, and one that I badly needed. I was super stressing about the move and packing, but once I was in the saddle, everything was okay. I’m sure going to miss our rides, but I’ve got great memories to take with me to Mankato!

Bemidji Community

Northern Lights Farm

For a little town, this place provided us with AWESOME amenities. My favorites were the beautiful Harmony Co-Op, the local board game store (Accidentally Cool Games), the Bemidji Public Library, and our fresh from the farm CSA. I hope Mankato treats us as well as Bemidji!

The PEOPLE!

We love you, Bemidji Friends!

We love you, Bemidji Friends!

Last, and most importantly, we are going to miss all of our friends! We have met amazing people during our time here, and have had some great times! Some of the highlights of our months here:

Jane Austen Tea Party

Outdoor Movie & Video Games

Thank you to everyone who made us feel loved and welcome. We will miss you from the bottom of our hearts! Friends will ALWAYS be welcome in Mankato! Stop by anytime. I’m sure I’ll have something delicious cooking, a board game to play, and a pot of tea to share.

Happy Friday!

 

05
Aug

Two Weddings & A Book Signing!

What a great book! ;)

What a great book! 😉

It feels so good to be back. Here I sit with on my comfy couch with a big pot of tea and my laptop, writing away. I missed this! Did you miss me? Of course you did. Well, sit back, relax, and get ready for some fun and an EXCITING announcement! But fun first.

Shane and I had a crazy, whirlwind vacation that included two weddings and a book signing. To get to the first wedding, we hopped on a train in Chicago. To be more specific, we boarded the Capitol Limited Sleeping Car and spent 20 lovely hours in our first class accommodations, enjoying all the food and free time. If you haven’t traveled by train, you need to give it a try. Not only do you get to feel like Harry Potter, but you are essentially forced to relax. There are no obligations, nothing to do, and nowhere to be. For 20 hours, Shane and I just got to be with each other–and on such a crazy trip, that was soooo nice.

My favorite part was getting up at sunrise as we were going through the Appalachian Mountains. I grabbed my laptop, a cup of coffee, camped out at a table in the observation car and wrote for a few hours. It was one of the best parts of my trip.

View from the Tidal Basin

View from the Tidal Basin

When we got to D.C., my friends Sarah and Patrick took even better care of us than the porter on the train. In our three and a half days in Maryland, they drove us around to sights, fed us, and let us crash at their beautiful apartment. And, of course, I got to spend some much needed girl time with my Sarah! She’s been one of my best friends since high school, and I was so happy to get to see her!

There's me and Sarah being just so fabulous

There’s Sarah & me being just so fabulous

And, of course, Wedding #1! It was a lovely ceremony that took place on a cruise down the Potomac River. Seriously, how gorgeous can you get?! My friendship with Matt also goes back to my high school days, and I couldn’t be happier for him. I was honored to be a part of the ceremony, and we had SO MUCH FUN! Congratulations, Matt & Josh!

Thanks for letting me be a part of your big day

Thanks for letting me be a part of your big day

After the wedding, it was back to Wisconsin for a few days with family. I FINALLY got to meet my nephew, Samuel, and spent some more time with my other little nephew, Ira. One of the days we spent in historic Cedarburg, walking around the town and touring the Cedar Creek Winery. And Shane and I got to climb in a barrel. No, no, that isn’t some innuendo. We actually climbed in a wine barrel. We are small hobbits, and the tour guide asked us if we wanted to shimmy through the tiny opening. Which, of course, we did. And now I have a shirt to prove it, thanks to my Dad. After the wine tour, we had a picnic in one of the downtown parks and all went to a Kenosha Kingfish baseball. It was an all-around awesome summer day with our family.

BEST BOOK EVER!

BEST BOOK EVER!

Then came the Book Signing at the SweetSpot! It was SO good to be back! I had a BLAST reading excerpts from Seven Stones, signing books, and answering all sorts of questions from readers. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me, and special thanks to Lacey and the crew for inviting me out and making my time magical and delicious. It was AMAZING! 🙂

Onto Wedding #2! We booked it down to Illinois (aka Enemy Territory to Packer Fans) for the wedding of another very good friend. The venue itself was GORGEOUS, the bride and groom were fabulous and happy, and the party was off the hook (if people still say that nowadays). Congratulations, Kayla & Brandon!

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Thul!

A beautiful day for a wedding!

So, there in a tightly packed nutshell, is our vacation. We got to see friends & family, celebrate love, do a bit of sightseeing, and have an overall fantastic time. Now, friends, is time for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

While on vacation, Shane got a call from a station in Mankato. After a second interview, KEYC offered him the weekend sports anchor/sports reporter position! I know how long he has been working for this, and I couldn’t be more proud. I am sad, however, to say goodbye to all of our Bemidji friends and can only hope you come visit us in Magnificent Mankato! Here’s to a new adventure!

We move in 10 DAYS! HOLY CATS!

I’m going to go pack. Happy Wednesday!

20
Jul

2015 Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games!

Photo: StarTribune

The last thing I posted on Facebook about the Scottish Fair was, “Sweaty and gross after setting up my tent” on Friday afternoon. I was, indeed, both of those things. But I was also proud. I had made the four hour trek to the Cities all by myself, drove through rush-hour traffic, set up a tent for the first time in my life, and rewarded myself with a delicious trip to the Crescent Moon Bakery. I was full of Afghani baked goods and on my way to hang out with two incredible friends. Life was pretty awesome.

Then, I woke up at 1:00 am to a terrible storm. We’re talking crazy lighting, roaring winds, driving rains–the whole shebang. As I lay in my bed, I thought of my tent–my poor little tent being mangled by the winds.

Needless to say, I got up extra early the next morning and headed back to the fair grounds to assess the damage.

Ho-ly Cats.

The fairgrounds were a mess. It was only later that I learned a tornado was reported in the area (seriously? I feel like they are following me). My poor tent was reduced to a sad, twisted lump of metal. Other, HUGE tents were collapsed–some of which had taken the vendor hours to set up the day before and already had goods inside. Luckily, there were several stores nearby and I joined the clean up and a mad dash for tents. Through the kindness of others, I managed to set up my tent just in time for the fair to open. Though some tents took a few hours to sort out, it was really amazing how quickly everyone came together to help.

Who doesn’t love men in kilts?

The rest of the day was a GREAT success! The day was sunny and bright with a nice breeze, and there were so many people enjoying the beautiful weather. I met fellow writers, was invited to be a guest on an Irish radio show (named Malarkey–love it!), was introduced to distributors, made some new friends, and–best of all–met more new readers!

*Drum roll please* I SOLD FIFTY BOOKS!

Scottish Happy Dance!

AMAZING! And I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many–especially my friends Mike & Jenn who let me crash at their place, usurp their shower, fed me like a queen, and who even braved the heat to help me out at the fair. I had a truly awesome weekend, and I am just so grateful for yet another opportunity to share Seven Stones with more people!

Special thanks to Liz for coordinating the event and answering all my questions!

Next stop on the Seven Stones book tour: Whitewater, Wisconsin! I’ll be at the SweetSpot on July 31st from 5-7pm, for a book reading, author Q&A, and book signing (and, yes, I’ll have copies to sell)!

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was just as fabulous as mine!

08
Jul

My First Radio Interview!

“So, Julia, how do you feel about being a published author?”

Can you say “I’m ready for my close-up” when you’re talking about a radio interview? How about, “I’m ready for my mic check?” However you say it, I’m READY and EXCITED! This is my first radio interview EVER! I can’t wait to talk about Seven Stones to folks over the airwaves at 8:10 in the morning this Friday on KAXE.

Would you like to listen?! Of course you would! If you live in Northern Minnesota, you can get KAXE on the following channels: Grand Rapids 91.7 FM, Brainerd 89.9 FM, Bagley/Bemidji KBXE 90.5 FM. If you don’t live in the broadcast area, visit the KAXE homepage and click “streaming” to listen to the interview live on Friday morning! We’ll be chatting about Seven Stones and spreading the word about my upcoming Brown Bag Lunch event at the Brainerd Public Library.

July 11th 12-12pm!

And that’s not all! Don’t forget that I’ll be driving to Alexandria, Minnesota for a book signing at Cherry Street Books from 12-2pm!

So many exciting things are happening in the month of July! Stay tuned for updates and tune into KAXE on Friday morning to hear my interview with Heidi Holtan! 🙂

03
Jul

Friday Favorites!

Having Monday off really made this week fly by! I feel like we just got back from our mini-vacation and it is already Friday. Not that I’m complaining–this weekend will be filled with good food, fun, friends, and fireworks! All the important “fs.” I’m looking forward to kicking back and enjoying a relaxing weekend before continuing my book tour next weekend at Cherry Street Books in Alexandria, MN. Before I do that, here’s a list of my favorite things from this past week:

VACATION!

Of course our mini-vacation to Lake Tomahawk, Minocqua, and Duluth is on my list of favorites for the week! We arrived back home Monday night, and the whole week was transformed by just a little break. And I’m still dreaming of that ice cream! If you missed it, here are the pictures and stories from our magical weekend. I hope this weekend is just as good!

 

Local Foods: Mushroom & Lambs Quarters Quiche

When I picked up our CSA cooler this week, I scanned the list of produce and stopped in my tracks. Lamb Quarters? I knew the little organic farm raises chickens and cows, but I hadn’t heard anything about lambs. Is there seriously a quarter of a lamb in my cooler?

While I did receive spinach, spicy greens, lettuce greens, radishes, radish greens, a loaf of homemade onion bread, and honey, there was definitely no lamb. Turns out, Lambs Quarters are a wild plant that, when cooked, taste even better than and can replace spinach in dishes. Luckily, our farm newsletter included a drool-worthy recipe that I just had to try: quiche.

I’ve never made quiche before because they tend to be full of heavy cream and–to me, at least–pretty bland. Not this quiche! I share with you my adapted version of the Northern Lights Farm Lambs Quarters Quiche!

Mushroom & Lambs Quarters Quiche

Oatmeal Crust

2 cups regular rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Sucanat, or other granulated sweetener

Quiche Filling

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 cups chopped Lambs Quarters (or spinach)

1 small onion, chopped

8 oz. chopped crimini mushrooms

1 Tbsp flour

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk

Enough shredded cheese to cover the bottom of the crust (the original recipe called for 2 cups. That was way too much for me, so I probably used about 1/2 cup shredded Gouda)

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

1. Make the crust: put all ingredients for the crust in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture turns into crumbly goodness.

2. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of a pie pan and press the crust into the pan and up the sides until all is covered. Note: this crust is very crumbly and delicious! You can use a regular flour crust for a firm pie, but the oatmeal soaks up the liquid from the quiche beautifully!

3. Make the filling: Sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add mushrooms and Lambs Quarters. Sauté until tender.

4. Add the flour, salt & pepper (to taste). Remove from heat.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add egg mixture to Lambs Quarters mixture.

6. Sprinkle cheese onto the bottom of the pie crust. Then, add pour filling over the top of the cheese.

7. The original recipe says bake at 325 for 45 minutes. I’d say it took our quiche more like an hour to firm up. The key here is to check the quiche and wiggle it around. If the middle looks liquidy, it needs more time.

8. DEVOUR! 🙂

 

Evening Horse Ride!

horse

I was lucky enough for one of my good friends to ask me if I wanted to join her for an evening ride this past Wednesday. I’ve ridden before, but sporadically and not for many years. Fortunately for me, Kori is basically the Horse Whisperer and her horses couldn’t be more sweet. I got to ride her horse, Firefly, through the beautiful woods of the state park at dusk. It was perfect. I felt all the stress of the day evaporate as we rode. Afterwards, also got to play with the barn cats and kittens (who were just balls of adorable fluff). The 12-year-old girl in me has never been more happy! I love summer! I hope there are many more rides to come!

 

Book of the Week: Enchantment Lake: A Northwoods Mystery by Margi Preus

A disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts’ neighbors are “dropping like flies” from strange accidents. But are they accidents?

On the shores of Enchantment Lake in the woods of northern Minnesota, something ominous is afoot, and as Francie begins to investigate, the mysteries multiply: a poisoned hot dish, a puzzling confession, eerie noises in the bog, and a legendary treasure that is said to be under enchantment—or is that under Enchantment, as in under the lake? At the center of everything is a suddenly booming business in cabin sales and a road not everyone wants built.

This is the first of my Author Festival books that I’ve been waiting to dive into! I got to meet Margi Preus at Beagle & Wolf Books and Bindery’s Author Festival on June 20th, and just had to get this book. A fellow YA author, Margi was fantastic to chat with and her writing is incredibly engaging! Living in northern Minnesota makes this read even more enjoyable, as I recognize many of the ‘oddities’ that Francie does upon meeting the people of the small town she’s stuck in. It is a fun read that I plan on enjoying outside, curled up in a lawn chair, with an iced coffee by my side. 🙂

 

Word Count

638. I had a feeling it was going to be low this week. That’s what I get for going on vacation. I played catch-up to get all the stuff done that I hadn’t been able to this weekend. Totally worth it, though. I do feel like what I wrote is “keeper worthy,” and I also spent a great deal of time hashing out details. But it’s July, people. Time to get the lead out. Goal for next week is staying at 3,000 words. I’m going to hit it one of these times!

Happy Friday! Safe travels for the 4th!

01
Jul

Book Signings & Sight Seeing: An Author on the Go!

IMG_1402

Book Signing at Book World!

Hello, all my lovely readers! Did you miss me? I can imagine your dismay when 7am Monday morning rolled around there was no post from The Open Book. Sorry I didn’t give any warning on Friday. Shane and I went to Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin to visit his grandparents this past weekend and I didn’t know that their cabin was beyond the reach of the internet. We stayed in a cabin nestled deep in the Northwoods, and I savored every second of it!

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about my book signing at Book World! It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside, but luckily, the store was just as lovely as the sunshine. The Baxter Book World and its staff were wonderful, and I spent a delightful 3 hours meeting new people, getting some new readers, and hugging old friends. I had a fabulous time, and was told by the staff that my book signing was one of the most successful they’ve had! WooHOO!

IMG_1403

Ready for my adoring public!

Shane got some great pics of me chatting up new readers!

Shane got some great pics of me chatting up new readers!

There's my adoring public!

There’s my adoring public!

Thanks, guys! :)

Love these guys!

THANK YOU to Book World and everyone who came to check out Seven Stones and support my writing! If you missed me in Baxter, I’ll be making another stop in the area at the Brainerd Public Library as a part of their Brown Bag Author program! I’ll be there July 13th from 12-1pm reading excerpts from Seven Stones, talking about the writing process, how I got published, answering questions, and–yes!–signing and selling books.

IMG_1413

From the book signing, Shane and I made an obligatory stop at Culver’s for some much needed custard, and drove 5 hours to Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Never heard of it? Lake Tomahawk is up near Lake Superior in the Minocqua/Rhinelander area of the state. I gotta tell you, it was some of the most scenic drives we’ve had. Everywhere I looked was breathtaking forest or lake views. We were lucky enough to stay at Shane’s grandparents’ cabin in the heart of the woods overlooking a large pond.

The Lee Cabin

The Lee Cabin

Early morning view from the pier

Early morning view from the pier

IMG_1423

View from my writing spot

Shane :)

Shane 🙂

It was there that I found my perfect writing spot. I wanted to stay out there for hours with my little notebook, but there was so much else to do–and eat!

Minocqua!

Minocqua!

We drove to Minocqua and explored the quaint downtown area. One of the coolest parts of Minocqua are the murals. Painted on old brick buildings all over town, these were really cool surprises that we couldn’t resist taking photos of.

IMG_1436

A French mural we found on the side of an old building.

Shane couldn’t resist “drinking” from the fountain

Our favorite part of Minocqua? The Minocqua Fudge Shop. Oh. My. God.

Dan's Minocqua Fudge

This place is where dreams come true

When you walk through the door, rich, buttery aromas practically lift you off your feet and pull you toward the rows and rows of homemade fudge. Just breathing that air made me feel like I gained five pounds.

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

Like walking into Honeydukes!

Like walking into Honeydukes!

Then, there was the ice cream. All of it is made at the shop with quality ingredients–and boy, can you taste it. Shane and I tried to practice some self-control by splitting a double-scoop, and THIS is what they gave us.

One massive scoop of Bear Paw and one of Pistachio ice cream.

One massive scoop of Bear Paw and one of Pistachio ice cream.

You can tell we were really heartbroken.

YUM!

YUM!

After another day and too many Euchre games to count, we said goodbye to Shane’s wonderful grandparents and headed back home. But the adventure wasn’t over yet! We stopped in Duluth to stretch our legs on the Lake Walk. We both fell in love with Duluth last September and were really glad to have an excuse to go back to Lake Superior and the rose gardens. We spent two hours walking hand-in-hand along the shore. I guess you could say we take stopping and smelling the roses very seriously. 😉

View from Duluth Harbor

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You know those rare weekends that are so relaxing that two short days feel like five? That was this weekend retreat for us. A book signing, visiting family and friends, and a jaunt in Duluth. It was perfect. I still can’t get the smile off my face.

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Happy Wednesday!

19
Jun

Friday Favorites: Beagle & Wolf Author Festival

Well, it is Friday and I am quite pleased to announce that I AM feeling fabulous! That Italian Wedding Soup really did the trick: I’ve been slurping bowls of it all week and am finally starting to feel like myself again. It got a little dicey there for a while. I lost five pounds in four days–yikes! But don’t worry, I am doing my very best to eat my way back to normal. My appetite has revved up and really am feeling great. Get ready, Park Rapids! Local author coming at ya!

So, besides the return of my good health, here are a few other things that made the Friday Favorites list this week!

Beagle & Wolf Books and Bindery Author Festival!

Next stop on my Seven Stones Book Tour: Park Rapids, Minnesota! This event is quite different than the regular book signing or reading. This is an all-day literary extravaganza! Over 30 other Minnesota authors will be at the festival, doing readings, and signing books! Come at 1:30 to hear William Kent Krueger read from his newest book, and stick around to say hi to me at my table! I’ll be there from 1:30-3:30. So stop by to grab a few books, meet authors, and have a grand time!

Apricot-Ginger Tea Scones

earl grey

When I started feeling better, I knew what I wanted more than anything else: a cup of tea and a chewy, fluffy scone. I whipped together a batch of my Earl Grey Scones with Lemon Icing, but added dried apricots and ginger to give it a little kick. Man, am I glad I did! This new version adds a lot of depth to the scones and really brings them to the next level of delicious. I’m definitely making them again and again! And for those of you who may not love traditional dry scones, these have moisture and fluffiness while being dense and not too sweet. They have Shane’s stamp of approval (who is a self-proclaimed scone hater). I only had powdered ginger at the time, but I will use fresh ginger next time! To make my Apricot-Ginger Tea Scones, follow my Earl Grey Scone recipe and add:

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tsp powdered ginger (1 tsp fresh grated ginger)

Book of the Week: Vegan Cookbooks!

I’ve been playing around with incorporating more plant-based recipes in our diet. We are really good at eating our fruits and veggies, but Shane and I (like most Wisconsinites) tend to go a bit heavy on the cheese and dairy. So, to mix things up and keep meals healthy, I’ve been checking out purely plant-based foods to mix into our weekly meals. The results have been some truly delicious, super healthy foods! Here are some of my favorite vegan cookbooks, along with the recipes we’ve been trying. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, looking to eat healthier, searching for something new to try, or scrounging for a Meatless Monday recipe, these are my favorite vegan cookbooks:

Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon

The Oh She Glows website has been one of my go-to cooking blogs for a while. When Angela released her cookbook, I knew it would be a winner! Oh She Glows is without doubt the most used cookbook in our house. Here’s a few of our favorite recipes you’ll find inside: Mashed Cauliflower with Mushroom Gravy, Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, Pumpkin Custard Pie with Coconut Whipped Cream, Grilled Portobello Salad, Roasted Beet & Hazelnut Salad, Gym Rat Smoothie, Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, Avocado-Basil Pasta.

YumUniverse by Heather Crosby

You ever come across a recipe that totally changes your life? That is the YumUniverse recipe for Pad Thai. Game changer. Another completely delicious and new favorite in our home is her recipe for Buckwheat porridge. Sounds weird, but it amazing and simple.

Detoxinista by Megan Gilmore

Usually, when I hear the word “detox,” I cringe. I don’t believe in juice-fasting or any other type of fasting. Your body craves nutrition, and that is exactly what I give mine. Meghan’s approach to “detox” is not what you think. Her cookbook is all about incorporating whole foods into your diet in very easy and tasty recipes. I have been following her blog for years and just got her cookbook. Here are some of my favorites: Chocolate Breakfast Smoothie, Chinese Cabbage Salad, peanut butter cups (from her website), healthier–and tastier–Klondike bars (website).

And, of course, the Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck cookbook. There are just too many amazing recipes to list, but check out this post for that awesome soup recipe!

So, there you are: my top picks for cookbooks! They all have no-fuss, easy recipes that result in truly delicious food. What are you waiting for? Go check them out and have fun experimenting!

Word Count

2,248. HUZZAH!!!! Next week’s word count goal: 3,000 words!

Happy Friday!