Friday, December 30, 2011

My year in writing - 2011

I did this last year, and thought I'd do it again this year. It's nice to have a summary of the year to remember all the fun I had.

Baby it's cold in Utah
January marked my one year anniversary of quitting the day job. It felt so good to make it to that year mark. As for writing, I was revising a YA novel I'd written in the fall. I worked on it during a writing retreat my friend, Lindsey Leavitt, hosted in Utah. So much fun. That's me with rock star author, Becca Fitzpatrick.

One day, forever changed
I have written books about love and loss, healing and hope. But nothing can really prepare you for losing a dear friend. On February 23rd, I got the call that Lisa had passed away. A few hours later, I got the call that I had sold my first fantasy middle-grade novel to Holt. As it says in THE DAY BEFORE, "Life is the bad with all the good. The deadly sharks with the beautiful sea stars."

Tri-Cities, here I come and Hello, are you serious?
I attended the Cavalcade of Authors in Washington the first part of March and it was SO much fun! Look at all of those kids, excited about reading and writing. I did three back-to-back workshops on revising and then spent the afternoon signing and answering questions. Later in the month, I got the call that CHASING BROOKLYN was a RITA finalist. I'd finally get to go to NYC!!!

Paperback releases and YAY Scholastic
IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and CHASING BROOKLYN both came out in paperback in April. I also got word that Scholastic had picked up I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and CHASING BROOKLYN for book clubs/fairs in the fall. This made me all kinds of happy. Honestly, getting books picked up by Scholastic has been one of the best things that has happened to me career-wise.

I love Oregon Trail Elementary!
The highlight of May was definitely the elementary school visit I did. The K-2nd graders went on an imagination safari with me and Little Chimp from LITTLE CHIMP'S BIG DAY while the 3rd-5th graders learned how baking up cupcakes is a lot like baking up stories. Thanks to my friend Jenn who helped make the school visit happen. I loved every minute of it.

My fourth YA novel released in June and for the most part, was positively received by readers. The end of June, I headed to New York City for the RITA awards, where I had lunch with my agent, met my fabulous editors in person, had a cupcake party at the S&S offices, and signed books at Books of Wonder. June was an amazing month. More months like June, please!

Vegas, baby!
When you combine Lindsey Leavitt and Lifehouse, Lisa Schroeder will be unable to say no. Lindsey tweeted me one day - Lifehouse will be here in two weeks. Wanna come visit? Yes. Yes I do. And so off I went. And what a fun weekend we had, even if it was about 133 degrees outside. Crystal Perkins, the amazing bookseller at B&N even threw together a signing for me. Awesome.

Summer time, fun time
August was all about enjoying the nice weather that we'd been longing for here in Oregon and preparing for the release of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS. I made a bunch of videos dressed as a cupcake, which you can see on youtube if you'd like by searching for "Fun with Cupcakes Lisa Schroeder."

Yay, after months and months of kids asking if there would be another book about Isabel and Sophie, I could finally say Yes there is and you can read the book now! I also started writing a new book - a YA novel with four different POVs. Oh boy.

Wordstock with special thanks to Sara Gundell
I love this picture like WHOA! Hung out with my pals Lindsey Leavitt, Suzanne Young, Sara Gundell, and Corey Whaley, who I hadn't met until Wordstock but fell madly in love with because he is the type of guy you just can't help but adore. The panel with Lindsey, Corey and myself was awesome and I want to do it again. Please, someone invite us - we're an entertaining trio and you will LOVE us! Thanks Sara, for making it happen!

Hit me Vegas, one more time
I couldn't resist. I went to Vegas again! My sweet friend, Suzanne Young, and I shared a room and participated in the Vegas Book Festival with a whole bunch of amazing authors. We also played the Wizard of Oz penny slots while drinking Coronas and had a magical night with Dorothy. I'm ready to go again. Suz??

First draft done!!
I finished the year with a new YA manuscript. Yay! I'm getting ready to send it off to a beta reader and after that, to my agent. The new year will bring revisions on contracted books (one of which I haven't even announced yet, but hopefully SOON), a new middle grade fantasy I want to write, and a couple of trips I'm really excited about. The best one? A trip to Rhode Island in March to participate as a JUDGE at an event called Cupcake Madness!

I have the best job in the world!! And I just realized I saw Lindsey four months out of twelve this year. Thank you, God. You obviously gave me what I really needed.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year for everyone!


Thursday, December 29, 2011


Thanks to everyone who entered the contest!! I appreciate all the comments and tweets, really and truly.

The winner, according to the random number generator, is Bookish Sarah!

Sarah, drop me a note with your address so we can get your goodies in the mail to you.

Thanks again, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Contest Time - Happy Holidays!

Welcome to another stop on the Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop! Thanks to Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Jessie Harrell at Oasis for YA for hosting another fabulous giveaway hop. 

What am I giving away, you ask?

First of all, you get an amazing couple of YA reads written by my friend, Daisy Whitney. I loved THE MOCKINGBIRDS, and you have a chance to win a signed copy from Daisy!

But, wait, There's more!! Because she's also throwing in an Advanced Reader's Copy of THE RIVALS, a follow-up to THE MOCKINGBIRDS that doesn't come out until February. So this is a rare chance to get the book early!

Here's what the book is about:

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

In addition to those two fantastic books, I'll throw in one more thing - a $20.00 Barnes and Noble gift card!!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: (must be 16 or older to enter this giveaway)

1 easy entry - leave a comment

+1 tweeting about this contest (tell me in the comments)
+1 follow me on twitter (@lisa_schroeder)

Please make sure you give me a way to contact you if you should win. The contest runs from December 21st all the way through 11:59, December 27th, and is open to anyone who has a US address. 

I will announce the winner on December 29th!!

If you're new to my blog, thanks for stopping by! If you're one of my regular readers, thanks, as always for reading!

Click on the link below to find the list of the participating blogs - hop away!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Nat'l Cupcake Day - Dr. Seuss Cupcake Recipe!

December 15th is National Cupcake Day - hooray!

To celebrate, and as a special holiday gift from me to you, I'm going to give everyone the Dr. Seuss cupcake recipe.

If you've read IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, you know that Isabel visits a cupcake shop in New York City and there she decides to try the Dr. Seuss cupcake. It's a secret what's in it, until she tastes it! Here's an excerpt from IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES:

     I reached down and took a bite. First I tasted chocolate. Then I tasted something sweet and crunchy. Jelly beans! But there was something else I couldn't quite figure out.
     I sat there chewing and thinking. "I know. Bananas! Chocolate, jelly beans, and bananas. It's so good! It's like they threw a bunch of stuff into a bowl, not sure how it would turn out, and surprise, it turned out fantastic!"

I get asked for recipes from the book all the time, but this recipe is the one kids wanted to have the most. So, I went to my kitchen, and tried to come up with something using the ingredients I came up with as I wrote the book. See, there really wasn't a Dr. Seuss cupcake when I wrote the book.

But now there is!! Here's the recipe - enjoy!

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed) 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 large eggs 
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium sized bananas) 
1/2 cup warm water 
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 cup canola or corn oil 
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
24 Jelly Belly jelly beans in flavors that will compliment, like banana, vanilla, tutti-fruiti, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 24 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non-stick vegetable spray.

Take the jelly beans and carefully chop each one into 3-4 pieces with a sharp knife. This is something an adult should do. (If you don’t chop them in to pieces, they’ll sink to the bottom and burn.)

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Carefully pour the batter into the muffin cups, about 3⁄4 full. Stick just a few pieces of jelly beans on top, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting. Makes about 24 regular sized cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 cups (16 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature 
5 cups powdered sugar 
2 tsp vanilla extract 
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Whip the butter on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. (If you have a stand mixer, use the wire whisk attachment). Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. After all of the powdered sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, continuing to mix. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Pipe onto cupcakes. Top with a slice of banana and/or chocolate sprinkles and/or a jelly bean.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Friday Five - Cookie edition

I have such fond memories of getting together with my best friend, Laurie, when I was nine, ten and eleven, and spending an entire day baking cookies during Christmas vacation. The one I remember most vividly were these candy cane cookies. They were tricky!

What are your favorites to make? To receive? Is it impossible to narrow it down to five? I know, I know, I feel your pain.

I'm going to attempt to do it, though. I'm going to do the ones that are my favorite to eat. And usually, the ones I like to eat are the ones I make, because hello, I may give away some of them, but I'm keeping some too!

1. Sugar cookies

I love them. LOVE them. They are a bit of work, I know, but when all is said and done, they're pretty and delicious and they just say Christmas like nothing else does.

I posted my favorite recipe HERE. Mmmm, so good. This year, I have two new cookie cutters, a candy cane and a snowflake. So exciting, right!?

2. Peanut Butter Bon Bons (click on link for recipe)

Okay, so maybe these are more of a candy than a cookie, but either way, how can you go wrong with the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? They're messy to make, but well worth it, I think. In fact, be careful. They're kind of addictive!

3. Russian Tea Cakes

No one in my family likes these except me. Which is just fine, because when a plate comes from a friend or neighbor and there are a couple of these on there, I know they are MINE. I just love the nutty flavor combined with the sweet powered sugar. They are really so simple and yet, so delicious.

4. Peanut Butter Blossoms

My grandma Beavens always made these and so, they remind me of her, which is a special thing. But aside from that, they are just SO FREAKING GOOD. Again, like the bon bons, we have the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, but it's not just that. When they are cooled somewhat, but still warm, and the soft peanut butter cookie gets eaten alongside the Hershey's chocolate, it's like heaven in a cookie. Seriously. In fact, I microwave them just a few seconds before I eat them after they've cooled completely because I like the chocolate melted just a little bit.

5. Mounds Bars

These are my husband's favorite. Every year, his mom makes some for all of us to have on Christmas Eve, so it's a bit of a tradition now. The graham cracker crust, coconut, and chocolate all work together to make something that is really special. Of course, if you're not a fan of coconut, you won't like them, but I am, along with a fan of graham crackers and chocolate. So, another perfect cookie, in my book!

So there you have it! My top five Christmas cookies (or top six, if you count the candy cane cookies, which are really good, just tedious to make).

Happy Baking!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Draft is Done!

It was like this in my house last night.

Yes, I finished the draft. SO happy to be done.

The manuscript needs a lot of work, and I'm making a long list of things I need to tackle when I revise. But for now, I'm making plans to bake some of these:

To do a lot of this:

And dream of Christmas morning, when we get to see what the guy in the red suit left in these:

19 days, people.
19 days!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's the final countdown

Two chapters to go on this first draft.

Just two more!!

It's a really messy first draft and is going to need a LOT of work in revision. But I'm trying not to think about that now. I am so close to the end, I can taste it. One chapter today. One chapter tomorrow. And then, I can do my Christmas cards and bake cookies and go shopping, while the book rests.

I'm a big believer in that "resting" time. Even if it's only a few weeks, stepping away from the manuscript can help you see the story with fresh eyes.

I bought Cheryl Klein's book about revision, Second Sight, so I'm looking forward to reading that while the manuscript sits for a while.

I Skyped with some teens at the Salem Public Library last week and many of them asked about how you finish a draft when you feel like what you're writing is so bad. I told them, it comes down to total will. There really is no magic answer. Most of the time, it's just powering through. I told her ALL writers hit those low points where we feel like there is no point in finishing. Even Neil Gaiman.

I had a number of those moments throughout this manuscript. But I kept writing and now, I'm almost finished! Whew.

I best get to work!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

I can't believe December is here!

I will not panic, I will not panic.

Here are some cute cupcakes, to help get us in the holiday spirit.

photo credit: cakemommy