Touring our new cookbook — and spending time with family

Thank you to everyone who came out to Astoria Bookshop for our New York launch and to the Book Cellar for our Chicago launch! Both bookshops were wonderful and we had a terrific turnout! I meant to write sooner, but we’ve been bouncing from one thing to the next for the last month.

We brought the kids for the NYC launch, as well as batches of Dante’s Nine Layers of Torture Bars and Pythagorean Serum cocktails to share with the audience.

At The Astoria Bookshop with Dingding Hu (who makes a fabulous Janet), our illustrator for FORKING GOOD.
It was nice to be able to share our NYC party with the kids this time. It’s not often that they’re all able to travel with us.
Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us!

Inspired by Dingding’s costume, Stephen and I decided to dress as a gender-swapped Michael and Janet for the Chicago party…

So thrilled to have coworker friends from NIIT show up! <3
My Soul Squad. I love these people wholeheartedly.

The Book Cellar featured a special The Good Place-inspired cocktail created by Stephen that was not in the book: French Vanilla Antimatter! And we brought more Dante’s Nine Layers of Torture Bars to share with our guests.

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In the last month, FORKING GOOD made it to the Semifinal Round of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards for “Best Food & Cookbooks!” We also had some nice press, including this featured review by Foreword:

An extended inside joke that show fans will delight in adding to their shelves, Forking Good is a comfort-food laden, lightly philosophical cookbook worth indulging in.

We were included in this feature, “Pop culture cookbooks are one thing Millennials aren’t killing,” by Danielle Zimmerman for Hypable:

We’ve exhausted so many avenues of celebrating the fandoms we love that it was only natural for us to turn to food next. After all, fandom and pop culture already nourish our souls, so why not our bodies as well?

Stephen and I also did a fun interview for i8tonight, which is their own culinary spin on the Proust Questionnaire:

Where is your favorite place to eat?

Valya: Honestly, I love to eat at home—ours and other people’s. I appreciate the intimacy and personality. Outside of home dining, we really love our neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant, Ras Dashen. Also high on our list is Band of Bohemia, such wonderful food and cocktails.

Stephen: As an East Coaster relocated to Chicago, I thank the heavens for Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe, which is the place to get real New York pizza in town.

You can read the rest here.

Meanwhile, in the kid arena, there was a lockdown at my older kids’ high school. That morning, I got a text from my son telling me that their high school was on lockdown, and it was not a drill. My son and daughter, both in the high school, proceeded to relay information to us via text about what was happening as the students shared updates with one another around the school.

As it turns out, the lockdown was prompted by two pellet guns brought in by students, and the school seems to have dealt with it safely and efficiently. Still, it was terrifying to be a parent helplessly waiting for information about your children’s safety… in school, where they should be safe. I am so grateful that all the kids are ok, and I could not help but think of the hundreds of parents across this country who have sat frozen with feelings of helplessness and fear.

We talked about it at length at dinner, and the kids were mostly calm and pragmatic, discussing places where they think security could be better, praising teachers for staying calm and helping, relaying the fears and concerns of their peers.

This is their normal. This is anything but normal.

I’m still processing.

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And speaking of parenting, there was the time last week when I was tucking in my youngest, and she said something sweet about hoping to be a mom like me when she grows up. I told her thank you, but it’s also ok if she decides to be a cool aunt instead. She certainly doesn’t have to decide now.

She looked at me with that intense Lana gaze for a minute and then said, “I see what you’re doing, Mom, trying not to push me in a direction. I know how you think. I KNOW where you get your parenting from. I READ your parenting book. The whole thing.”

Then she settled into her pillow and said (very pleased with herself), “I guess I know famous people too.” And went to sleep.

***

Thanksgiving behind us and the winter holidays ahead, I’m looking forward to some vacation days — cozy afternoons baking with the kids, coffee dates with friends, catching up with reading beside the tree, catching up with writing under quilts, and so much cuddling on the couch.

I hope that your December is also cozy and full of things that make you feel warm and happy and loved.

 

Reading Naked and Reading Clothed

Tomorrow is the Naked Girls Reading Literary Gala and I am one of 5 finalists to have my work read by the lovely ladies of the Everleigh Club in Chicago.

Reservations are required. You can purchase tickets in advance here.

I will neither be naked nor reading on Friday night, but I will be reading (clothed) from The Silence of Trees at the first Chicago Book Expo to be held in Uptown this weekend.

The Chicago Writers House Project is creating a pop-up bookstore in the empty Uptown’s Borders on Nov. 19-20. Featuring more than 40 fiction and poetry presses, Chicago Book Expo 2011 will also include readings, a nonprofit fair, live performances, and architectural walking tours.

For more information, check out their website www.chicagowritershouse.org . They will have panels, workdhopd, children’s programming and more!

I’ll be at the table for Wolfsword Press/The Chicago Creative Coop. Stop by and say hello! I may have cookies. I’ll also be reading (clothed) on Saturday, November 19, 1:00 pm in the basement of the Uptown Broadway Building (former speakeasy) 4701 N. Broadway.

Staying in a metal house and other adventures

Quick check in from La Crosse where I’m staying in a metal house and enjoying fabulous food, coffee, chocolate, and company!

The reading went really well. The People’s Food Co-op is a fantastic venue. I wish I could shrink it tardis-style and bring it home with me to Chicago (along with the fabulous people of La Crosse).

Madeline Carol Matz signing.

Some provocative questions that I had never been asked before, and I loved having Madeline with me to talk about the process of creating the cover. (Plus folks there were lucky to get her to sign their books as well!)

Brunch at Hackberries (excellent coffee!)

Shared dinner with Maura Henn (Tigerinvaseline) who put this all together and her partner Ethan (a phenomenal artist) at the “Metal House” where we’re staying (one of the Lustron Houses).

La Crosse grey but lovely.

This morning began with coffee and breakfast at Hackberries and exploring the neighborhood, enjoying local coffee, crafts, and hospitality. Even the grey, rainy day could not dampen our spirits in such good company.

At the Root Note (home of excellent chai!)

Now we’re listening to The Carolina Chocolate Drops and getting ready for tonight’s roller derby bout and other shenanigans.

Words and wheels weekend in Wisconsin continues…