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Elizabeth Scott

(almost the) new year...free books!

Friday, December 29, 2006

To celebrate the fact that it's almost 2007, and that bloom will be out in about five months (!!), I'm going to give away a dozen young adult novels, including books by Melissa de la Cruz, E Lockhart, Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Maureen Johnson.

How can you win all these books? Easy! Just send an email to elizabeth at elizabethwrites dot com with the subject line New Year/Free Books

I'll be taking emails through Friday, January 5th, and will announce the winner on January 8th.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Late last week I went to a friend's house. You know how some people have homes where everything is just so comfortable and *right* that when you visit, you don't want to leave? That's what my friend's house is like. She's an artist, so there's lots of paintings she's done on the walls, and she also makes furniture and jewelry. Basically, she can do anything, and she's turned her house into what I can only describe as a really beautiful (yet comfortable!) art gallery.

The best part is that she always is working on something new and interesting. When I was there, she was working on a quilt with a very traditional pattern, but done in really vibrant colors. It looked gorgeous! Seeing her always makes me want to run out and start making things, but then I remember that, in elementary school, my teachers used to say stuff like, "That's nice, Elizabeth, but maybe next time you could try to cut in a straight line/not get glue everywhere/not put your project together inside out." (Sometimes I'd do all three!)

I'm getting ready to start traveling around visiting family and just realized that when I get back, it'll be 2007. (And that my book will be out in less than six months!)

Before I go, here's a link to the results of the survey I mentioned last week, which was on selling first novels, and was conducted by Tobias Buckell. It's really interesting reading, and you can find it here.

I hope you all have a great holiday season!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My husband and I had someone come to stay with us over the weekend, and to make up for the fact that on Friday night we drove forty-five minutes to wait an hour to eat a truly horrific meal, I made brownies. I don't usually cook with chocolate, as I have to be careful around it (yay allergies. SIGH), but this was a time when only chocolate would do. Plus I'd just finished reading Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries* for the second time, and there was a recipe for brownies in there that I thought sounded really good.

So here is the slightly modified version of Nigel Slater's "my very good chocolate brownie recipe" -- very easy, and, as my husband and our guest reported, "#@! good!"

1 and 1/3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter **
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate ***
3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
tiny pinch of salt

Preheat the over to 350 degrees and get out an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.

Melt the chocolate. I know everyone says to do it in a bowl over a pot of boiling water but forget that, it takes forever. Just put 6 oz. of the chocolate in a biggish bowl (set 2 oz of the chocolate aside for later) and melt it in the microwave. Then give it a stir to get any not-quite melted bits melted, and set aside.

Next, melt the butter in the microwave. (Save the wrappers) Again, I know you're supposed to leave it out till it's all mushy, but who has time for that? When the butter is melted, dump it into the melted chocolate and stir. Then add the sugar to the butter and chocolate and stir again.

Next, grease the pan you'll be using with the butter wrappers. Or, if you have non-stick cooking spray lying around, you can use that. (I don't, which is why I always use wrappers)

Now, take a break and drop the remaining 2 oz of chocolate into a bag or wrap it in foil or do something so that it's secure, and bash the hell out of it with a can or a rolling pin or whack it against the counter a bunch of times. Set the shattered chocolate aside.

Go back to your bowl of melted chocolate, butter, and sugar, and add in the eggs (and the extra yolk). I find it easiest to add them in one at a time because I never use a mixer (cleaning the beaters is a pain) and it's much easier to puncture one egg yolk at a time. (They're slippery little things)

Next, add in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bashed chocolate, and the tiny pinch of salt. Stir until it's just mixed, and then dump in the pan. The dough will be really thick.

Now you bake it. How long it'll need to bake will depend on how squishy you like your brownies and the size of the pan. I'd check after 25 minutes--just gently stick a fork in the middle, and if what comes out looks like drippy batter, stick the pan back in. Actual baking time will be around 25-40 minutes unless you like your brownies very dry, in which case it'll take longer. (The time variable is the one annoying thing about making brownies)

When the brownies seem done to you, or when they are almost there (they'll cook a little more as they cool), take them out. Then wait an hour, or until everyone is saying "Why did you make brownies if we can't EAT them?" and then cut into pieces. Nigel says it'll serve 12, but Nigel hasn't met my husband, and I think 'serves 9' is a better estimate.

*The Kitchen Diaries is sold in the cookbook sections of bookstores and it does have some recipes, but mostly it's Nigel Slater writing about all the meals he had over the course of a year. It's engrossing reading if you like reading about food. And I do! But it's not really a cookbook.

**I had to send my husband to the store to buy butter and cocoa. He brought home the cocoa, but forgot the butter, so I just used the no-milk-protein-of-any-kind margarine I use for everything and it worked fine. But I suspect they'd be even better made with butter.

*** My husband is a chocolate addict and snob, so we have a lot of chocolate bars lying around. Originally, I was going to go with Nigel's suggestion of using chocolate bars with 70%+ cocoa solids in them, but ended up using two large semi-sweet bars that someone had gotten my husband and that he hadn't eaten because he likes his chocolate on the bitter end of bittersweet. This turned out to be a good thing, because my husband and our guest reported that bittersweet chocolate would have made the brownies not sweet enough. So, in my long-winded way, I'm trying to say that while it's probably a good idea to use decent chocolate here, don't break the bank buying super expensive bittersweet chocolate. It's not necessary.

Some totally non-brownie links:

Steven Brust, author of The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, and other works, on the myth of the slush pile.

Therese Fowler writes about how she sold her first novel. Really inspiring.

Tobias Buckell is taking a survey to determine how many novels an average author writes before she/he sells their first one. He says he'll be posting the results in about a week.

contest winner!

Monday, December 11, 2006

As promised, here's the name of the contest winner... Kat Werner!

Kat, congrats, and I'll be sending your books out asap!

Additionally, I'm going to send everyone else who entered a little something--when it comes to giving away books, I just can't help myself--so everyone who entered, please keep an eye on your email!

I'm planning on running another contest in January (this one was just so much fun!), so stayed tuned for more details...

reminder: free books! (yes, really!)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Just a reminder that I'm giving away a bunch of books, and all you have to do for a chance to win them is send an email with the subject line Free Books to elizabeth at elizabethwrites dot com by midnight EST tomorrow, December 8th. I'll be announcing the winner this coming Monday, December 11th.

In other news, I got the page proofs for bloom yesterday. I took them to the copy place by my house this morning, because I like to have a copy of everything. (It's something I learned the hard way when I was working as a secretary--always make a copy of everything. Always!)

Anyway, the girl working the copy counter is very nice and she's seen me in there before (I'm not kidding about the making copies of everything thing) and today, when I handed her the pages, she looked at them for a moment and said, "Hey, this is a book. Did you write it?"

And I managed to say "Yes." This is a pretty big deal for me, as up until I sold my first book, I hadn't actually told many people that I even wrote. My husband knew--kind of hard to hide the constant typing from him-- and I told my parents and my brother that I'd been writing when I sold my first short story, but the thought of telling anyone else made me a little anxious. (And by a little anxious, I mean A LOT anxious.)

I've gotten better at telling people I write, if for no other reason than my husband is happy to tell anyone and everyone (total strangers, even!) that I do. But it's still a struggle for me, and so I was proud of myself for saying Yes.

Of course, then she asked me what the book was about and I turned bright red and mumbled and completely hyperventilated through all the really sweet questions she asked about it. But I said Yes, and I figure that's a pretty good start.

free books!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

In honor of the weather finally turning into something that closely resembles actual December-ish conditions (I've actually had to wear a coat when I go out!), I've decided to have a contest.

From now through this Friday, December 8th, anyone who sends an email to elizabeth at elizabethwrites dot com with the subject line Free Books will be entered into a drawing to win half a dozen young adult novels, including Rachel Caine's excellent Glass Houses and M.T. Anderson's National Book Award winner, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.

I'll announce the winner on Monday, December 11th.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ah, December. There's no month like you, with your 70+ degree days...

Oh, wait. There is. Months like April. And May. And parts of June. I want my cold weather!

Seriously, I should not be wearing a t-shirt and shorts now.

In less weather-related news, the Class of 2K7 has created a video. I love it, but have to admit that may be due in part to the fact that I'm a member and my image is the first one you see (proving, once and for all, that you can't go wrong with eyes! hmm. that sounds a little strange.)

Other links:

http://lsparkreader.livejournal.com/2006/11/22/-- thoughts on the National Book Award Young Adult Award process from a Young Adult committee member.

Free stuff! That's right, TeensReadToo.com is giving away lots of books and book-related gifts to teenagers every day this month.

And finally--looking for the perfect gift? Check out the PopGurls Guide to Holiday Gifts. Any gift guide that suggests a carboard bonsai tree (say you can't grow anything? now you can!) is one worth checking out.