Tag: baker’s magic

Go Cornhuskers!

I’m feeling the Nebraska love this month. Baker’s Magic is nominated for a Golden Sower award,  a statewide children’s-choice award. As a result, I’ve been in touch with lots of readers from the state.

I did a Skype visit with a couple of fifth grade classes from Falls City, NE — the first Skype where I tried to use PowerPoint. I also had to use a borrowed webcam, since my built-in one is, oddly, in the lower left-hand side of my screen. When I Skype with it, it makes me look very strange to people on the other side — I’m looking away from them as I talk to them. Anyway, it all worked; the students were great and asked good questions, the PowerPoint and webcam behaved. And then I did another Skype with kids from Doniphan, NE — again, it went perfectly, and the questions they asked were excellent.

The Golden Sower winner isn’t decided until spring, so I’ll be waiting anxiously. In the meantime, Nebraska students, keep reading! (And I’m happy to Skype with your classes: just send me a request.)

The Magic of Bread

nopoliticsStuff’s been happening!

And I don’t mean the election. Luckily, this is a book-and-writing blog, so I don’t have to go there. Instead, I can talk about Baker’s Magic and try to forget about politics for a while.

portuguese-editionThe Portuguese edition of the book is on the shelves! In Portuguese, it’s called A Magia do Pão, which translates to The Magic of Bread. That works for me. And its first Portuguese review is here. I’m pretty sure the reviewer liked it — but if any Portuguese-speaking readers want to send me a translation, please do!


The audiobook is also out, and it is fabulous. I can hardly believe how perfectly Live Oak Media has realized the story that I had in my head. The voices are exactly right, and it’s a joy to hear these characters I’ve spent so much time with just as I imagined them.


The audio adaptation got a great review audiofile-logoin AudioFile Magazine. The issue isn’t published yet, so I can’t link to it, but I can give you a little taste:

A full cast works together seamlessly in this charming magical adventure….Scenes in the bakery are rendered with as much attention to detail as those on the high seas or in the mage’s castle–beware of listening while hungry.

And…it’s the winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award!

If you wantlive-oak to listen — and hear me at the end, reading the recipe for Bouts Buns (no easy task, see this post) — you can order the audiobook from Live Oak Media here


The View from the Sound Booth

Baker’s Magic is going to be available as an audiobook! And the company that’s doing the img_4366audio version is the wonderful Live Oak Media, run by my dear friends Debra and Arnie Cardillo. Live Oak is an award-winning company; its recordings have won 3 Odyssey Awards, 5 Audie Awards, and 2 Grammys.

Live Oak decided to record Baker’s Magic with a whole cast of voices, and they were kind enough to invite me to be a part of the experience. My job was to read the recipe for Bouts Buns at the end. Hard to screw up reading a recipe, right?

img_4346I got to the recording studio while Stephen DeRosa was reading in the sound booth. You may know him from his turn as Eddie Cantor on Boardwalk Empire. I’m a huge fan of the show — I watched every episode, even the ones where I had to cover my eyes to block out the excessive violence. And Stephen DeRosa was amazing, both on the show and as my villain, the evil Master Joris. In fact, he was so convincingly menacing that we werimg_4358_editede a little unnerved — until he also read the hilariously ancient, doddering Master Nicon and had us snorting with laughter as we tried to be quiet in the studio. Somehow, he performed his own magic to bring my words to life, using his voice to make my characters far scarier, more comical, more melancholy than they are on the page. It was a remarkable performance.

Then it was my turn. The sound booth is an unsettling place — just me, a microphone, and
a window looking into the studio where everyone is listening. The director, knowing she was working with a novice, decided to join me in the booth and encouraged me to imagine that she and I were drinking a Belgian beer together as img_4377I read. (I think she’d secretly been coached.)

My first line was, “Hi!”

It didn’t go well.

There were multiple takes. I tried a cheerful “Hi!” A perky “Hi!” A slightly reserved “Hi!” An exceedingly enthusiastic “Hi!” A merely happy “Hi!” At last I nailed it, and we moved on.

A few more lines needed several takes — who knew reading a recipe could require such delicate modulation? But I managed to earn a thumbs up from the director and the Cardillos (I wasn’t allowed to wear the headphones that would have transmitted what they all actually said about my performance, which was surely for the best). It wimg_4373as both exhilarating and oddly exhausting.

So look for the audiobook of Baker’s Magic, coming in October! You can order it here. And if you listen all the way to the end, you’ll get to hear ME reading my recipe.

And saying, “Hi!”

Gallery of Buns

People have actually been making Bouts Buns! And I’m thrilled (and slightly embarrassed) to say that their efforts are way prettier than mine. If you try the recipe in the back of Baker’s Magic, send me a photo and I’ll add it to the gallery.

Jennifer Bushroe
Jennifer’s are JUST GORGEOUS
Curious Fox
Curious Fox’s are FABULOUS
The kids are KILLING IT
Britt’s are BEWITCHING


And here you can watch Britt make those beautiful Bouts Buns!

To BEA or Not to BEA

This year’s BookExpo America (a.k.a. BEA) convention was held in Chicago. Some authors think the convention is too big, too overwhelming, too crazy to enjoy. But when Capstone invited me to sign copies of Baker’s Magic in their booth, I was thrilled to go. Not only that, my son Ben was invited by his employer, Fordham Press, to work in their booth, so midwaywe could share a hotel room and flight (and he could carry my heavy bag!).


I made the mistake of thinking that Midway Airport would be easier and less crowded than the notorious O’Hare. And of believing that people who rave about Southwest Airlines were correct. I won’t inflict details — suffice it to say that Midway and Southwest were on the national news every night this weekend being castigated for the way they handled passenger overload and security lines.


Airports aside, the two days we spent in Chicago were wonderful. Our hotel had adee[ fabulous view of downtown (and of their own beehives on the 9th floor rooftop, whose honey they infuse into their house beer). We had a near-lethal martini to celebrate our arrival and went in search of deep-dish pizza, which I had promised Ben, an Arthur-Avenue pizza snob, that he would love. And love it he did, though he refused to call it pizza. “Pizza-esque casserole,” he allowed.


DSC01125I checked in with the Capstone folk on Thursday and then wandered around wide-eyed, amazed at the masses of people toting their swag or lined up to see romance and YA authors. I stopped by to see how Ben was doing at his booth, and then I signed books at the Capstone booth for an hour — 250 books, according to the Capstoners! I only know that my hand ached afterward, and that I spoke DSC01136to more people in an hour than I usually do in a year.


The experience became a little bizarre when someone with a guitar starred tuning up next to us and then broke into a rousing and extremely loud rendition of “Footloose,” with convention-goers clapping, cheering, and singing along. It turned out to be the Kenny half of Loggins and Messina, promoting his new children’s book. The surreality grew when the Capstone folk donned Batman pajamas and popped champagne to celebrate their new book, Bedtime for DSC01149Batman. If I’d known this was what BEA was like, I would have gone when it was in New York!


Capstone took its local and visiting authors out to dinner afterward, and we ate delicious Italian food and got to know one another.  My publisher’s generosity more than made up for the mile-long lines at the airport the next day. Thanks so much to April, Shannon, Sheila, and the other Capstoners and to all the librarians, booksellers, and readers who stood in line for Baker’s Magic. Let’s do it again sometime (but not from Midway)!





Bouts Buns Bakers Rule!

The Bouts Buns recipe at the back of Baker’s Magic works!


Of course I knew it worked. I’ve tested it and tested it. I have friends in England who’ve made them. But it’s so great to have confirmation from reader-bakers, too! This photo proves that kids can bake a better bun than I can. Maybe they were super-happy while they baked, so the buns came out super-beautiful.



Here’s the baking.







And here’s the eating. The bakers even agreed to share with their little brother!



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 lovereading4kids.co.uk: ‘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 lovereading4kids.co.uk: ‘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 lovereading4kids.co.uk: ‘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 lovereading4kids.co.uk: ‘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!’



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!