Category: Baker’s Magic

Box o’ Books

They’re here!




For me, all the parts of the publication process are exciting (some parts are mixed with angst and/or despair, but exciting nevertheless) — the contract, the  editorial letter, the copyediting, the proofreading, the arrival of ARCs.  But nothing is more of a thrill than seeing bound books. They are real. They have a cover and chapter headings and a copyright notice. My words are on the pages.


They are something I created, and they’re going out into the world. What could be more exciting than that?

Kids Weigh In

Because Baker’s Magic will be published in the UK at the same time as in the US, my lovely UK publicist has sent the book out to LoveReading4Kids, an organization that publishes reader reviews of books. And the kids have spoken! Here’s a link to the website with the reviews. And here are a few things the readers said:

Miyah Smith, age 10, for ‘With a dash of humour and a good helping of excitement, Baker’s Magic has all the right ingredients for an amazing fairy tale.’

Alexander Bisland, age 10, for ‘I really like this book and I especially like the recipe it gives you at the end. I recommend this book to 9+ adventurous readers. I give it 6/6 stars.’

Holly Wilkins, age 12, for ‘Baking, trees and magic…If you like intriguing mysteries and a little bit of humour then you will love this book.’

Richie Upchurch, age 9, for ‘This is a great adventure story. An orphan, Bee, is rescued by Master Bouts the baker, and they bake magical buns to save the town from an evil mage. There’s also a recipe and Bouts Buns are YUMMY!’


Turkish Delight

Tulips on platter, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul


By now you might know that tulips play an important role in Baker’s Magic. Well, we visited the country of Turkey this month, and I noticed something strange and unexpected. There were tulips everywhere! Not growing, of course — it is December, after all. But there they were in the art — in mosaics, carpets, fabrics, and tiles.


Tulips and Turkey? But…why?



Tulips on wall tiles, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
Tulips on carpet, Carpet Museum, Istanbul

It turns out that tulips come from Turkey. That’s right — we might think of them as Dutch, but they aren’t. Originally they grew wild in Asia Minor — what is now Turkey — and possibly in what is now Iran. Turkish people began cultivating tulips nearly a thousand years ago. In 1554 the Holy Roman Emperor’s ambassador to the Court of Sultan Suleiman in Constantinople (now Istanbul) first saw them. He expressed his amazement at the flowers’ beauty, and the Sultan sent some bulbs back to Europe. They came to the attention of Carolus Clusius, a botanist in Leiden, Holland. Fascinated, Clusius studied them and gave many bulbs to his friends. With that, the craze for tulips — known as Tulipmania — and their place in Dutch history began.

Tulip fields, Keukenhoff Gardens, Netherlands


The reviews for Baker’s Magic have begun to trickle in…and they are looking great! Even Kirkus has given the book a wholeheartedly positive review. Publishers Weekly liked it. And my first blog reviewer not only loved the book but made the Bouts Buns from the recipe in the back (and from the photos, they turned out perfectly)!

A few pull-out lines:

Zahler (Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters) has created a cozy fantasy adventure with tension, twists, and sweet treats. Bee and her companions are quick-thinking and determined heroes, and their journey to right wrongs should appeal to a broad range of readers. (PW)

While this joyful, creative adventure is filled with pirates, magic, missing trees, and a cuddly hedgehog, it is more than just a sweet ride. At its core, this is a story of bravery, resilience, and love. (Kirkus)

As they say here in London: HURRAH!



So THIS happened: Marvelwoods announcement




I am pretty much in shock. And in heaven. And, most wonderfully, in London! It’s an embarrassment of riches.


You might wonder how I could have sold two books within a few months of each other. I don’t actually write that fast. And nothing in publishing happens that fast! I finished The Marvelwood Magicians before writing Baker’s Magic, but I decided to change the narrative point of view in The Marvelwoods, so I rewrote the whole thing. And because the editorial wheels spin at different paces, Baker’s Magic found a home first. I love both of these books, and I’m incredibly happy that each is with an editor who loves it as I do.


Now I’d better start writing that next book…happy writer


Off to the Land of the Hedgehog

I’m going to London!Ben Ben Bus London

Not for a vacation — I’m going to live there for five months while my husband teaches in his university’s London program. We’ll be staying in an apartment near the center of the city. I am SO LUCKY!

Since Baker’s Magic will be published in the UK with Curious Fox Books at the same time it’s hedgehog_wall_calendarpublished in the US (February — mark your calendars), I have a British publicist, and I’ll be able to meet her. She has amazing ideas for publicizing the book (some of them include baked goods, I love her already!), and I’ll tell you how they work out.

My husband’s course is on World War I, so we’ll be taking trips to battlefields, trenches,  and war museums. But I plan to balance that grimness with pilgrimages to kidlit sites. There are so many great children’s books set in London! Here are some of my favorites (I mean favourites):

  • The Magician’s Nephewabearcalledpaddington
  • A  Bear Called Paddington
  • Peter Pan
  • Mary Poppins
  • A Little Princess
  • The Phoenix and the Carpet

What children’s books set in London do you love?

mary poppins

Write, Bake, Revise

The last month has been all about the edits for Baker’s Magihedgehog-typingc. Happily, my editor and I seem to see eye-to-eye, and I found her suggestions helpful and clear.


I sent off the revised manuscript yesterday, and today my editor emailed me to say all was good.




Now the manuscript will be set in ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) for distribution to reviewers — and maybe, if there are extras, for a giveaway or two. Watch this space!


I also saw a preliminary version of the cover art, and I love it. There will be a few tweaks, and then…well, watch this space!

hedgehog bakingAnd as for the baking…well, I don’t want to give too much away. So all I can say is — watch this space!


Remember way back when I pressed “Send” and hurled a manuscript off into the world? That was a while ago. In publishing, the wheels grind exceedingly slow. But now…

…the book is under contract! And I can finally tell you a little more about it. Below is the official announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace:

February 26, 2015
Children’s: Middle grade Diane Zahler’s BAKER’S MAGIC, in which a young baker’s apprentice must save a kingdom (with a little help from a blacksmith’s son, a lonely princess, a pocket hedgehog, a rowdy band of tulip pirates and some magical sweet-rolls), to Beth Brezenoff at Capstone, with Krissy Mohn editing, by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

 I love the description, and I’m thrilled to be working with Capstone. HOORAY!

And here, just because I’m so happy, is a pocket hedgehog for you:

pocket hedgehog