I try to talk about books, but all you want are cupcakes.

A few people have asked me for the recipe for those strawberry cupcakes they saw in my book giveaway post (and that currently grace this site’s header), so I thought I should share!

This is the recipe I use. I usually halve it, but I use a smaller-sized muffin tin and still end up with more than a dozen. (My high-altitude adjustment is to bake them at 365° for about 17 minutes.)

I’ve also been making a different icing, a strawberry-lime-buttercream one (it has to be buttercream in my house because my husband won’t eat cream cheese!). I just beat butter, powdered sugar, a little strawberry puree, and a little lime juice.

Finally, to make each cupcake extra fancy, I put half a hulled strawberry on top and replace its green bit with a mint leaf. 100% edible!

The cupcakes are a bit of a project, but they’re worth it. Happy baking! 🙂

Choose Your Own Adventure Giveaway!

Yep, I’m still finding ways to celebrate the fact that my debut middle-grade novel, The Delicious Double life of Gladys Gatsby, is getting published. (When you have a two-year wait for publication, you need to stretch the fun out as long as you can!)

This past weekend, my husband and I threw a little “Tara has a book deal!” party. It was to be our first party in our not-so-new-anymore abode, and when I mentioned our plans to my mom on the phone she said “Do you know enough people in Colorado to have a party?” Funny, I was wondering the same thing myself.

Luckily, several guests did show up (including my wonderful agency-siblings Jean Reidy, Laura Resau, and Jeannie Mobley!) and we had quite a nice time. I probably should have taken some pictures with them or something (you know, as proof for Mom), but of course I only remembered to take pictures of the food.

Now, how to extend the party even farther? Much as I wish I could bake strawberry cupcakes for the entire world (hm, remember this fiasco?), I think I’ll go a different way and give away…books! Books from my new publisher, Putnam!

And, actually, I meant to do one of these giveaways to celebrate signing with my agent in January, but I never quite got around to it. So I’m going to make this a double giveaway, and also give away books written by fellow clients of the fabulous Erin Murphy Literary Agency!

I’m calling it the Choose Your Own Adventure Giveaway, because TWO lucky winners will get to choose which recently-released or forthcoming book they want from one of these lists.

Putnam books:

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine (MG)
Two girls separated by race form an unbreakable bond during the tumultuous integration of Little Rock schools in 1958.

Legend by Marie Lu (YA)
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect.

Deadweather and Sunrise (The Chronicles of Egg, Book 1) by Geoff Rodkey (MG, releases 5/29)
Egg’s running for his life in a bewildering world of cutthroat pirates, villainous businessmen, and strange Native legends. The only people who can help him sort out the mystery of why he’s been marked for death are Millicent and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy.

The Vindico by Wesley King (YA, releases 6/14)
The Vindico are a group of supervillains who have been fighting the League of Heroes for as long as anyone can remember. Realizing they’re not as young as they used to be, they devise a plan to kidnap a group of teenagers to take over for them when they retire–after all, how hard can it be to teach a bunch of angsty teens to be evil?


EMLA books:

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats (YA)
1293. Caernarvon, north Wales. Ten years into English rule. Life is good. If you’re English.

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson  (nonfiction)
The little-known story of the 4,000 black elementary-, middle-, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail in Birmingham, Alabama, between May 2 and May 11, 1963.

The False Prince (The Ascendance Triology, Book 1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen (YA)
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (MG, releases 5/10)
Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she’s blindsided.



To enter, just leave a comment on this post. But you can also earn up to six extra entries by doing the following:

1)  “Liking” the Tara Dairman Author page on Facebook
2)  Adding The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby to your to-read list on Goodreads
3)  Following @TaraDairman on Twitter
4)  Signing up to follow this blog by e-mail (use the button in the top right corner of this page)
5)  Tweeting and/or posting on Facebook about this giveaway.

Sample Tweet:
Win free YA and MG books at @TaraDairman’s Choose Your Own Adventure Giveaway! http://bit.ly/I9S9uj

Sample FB status update:
Win free YA and MG books at Tara Dairman’s Choose Your Own Adventure Giveaway! https://taradairman.com/2012/04/25/choose-your-own-adventure-giveaway

Just let me know in the comments which of these extra things you’ve done, and assuming it checks out, I’ll give you credit! (Clarification: And if you already liked/followed/subscribed/etc. before this contest, you still get the extra entries! Just mention them in your comment. Thanks!)

The contest is open until midnight EST on May 1, and I’ll announce the winners the next day. International entries are welcome. Good luck, and thanks for playing!

Gettin’ my nerd on.

Whoa, two posts in one week? Does this signal the beginning of a new, more rigorous blogging schedule?

Nah. I’ve been too busy drafting a new WIP (that’s “Work In Progress” for the un-writerly-acronym-initiated), so posting here will probably remain somewhat sporadic for a while–though I am hoping to do a nice celebratory book giveaway pretty soon, and definitely have a big interview (with wonderful novelist Ernest Hebert) planned for May.

Speaking of interviews, the excellent Amanda Gardner has graciously featured me in an interview over at her blog, Nerd Couture. Not only does Amanda write great questions, but she’s also the author of one of the funniest first pages I’ve EVER come across in a writing contest–page 1 of her urban fantasy novel Wicked Spirits. I pretty much started stalking her on Twitter as soon as I read that page. 🙂 Anyway, she’s been doing a series of interviews of writers in various stages of the agent-seeking and publishing processes, so if that sounds interesting to you, you’ll probably want to check out her blog.

That’s all from me for this week, but I’ll leave you with some Harry Potter humor, which I stole from Melodie Wright.

Happy Friday!

The Top Seven Things People Ask When They Find Out You Have a Book Deal

It’s been about two weeks since my debut middle-grade novel, The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby, sold to Putnam, and I can’t deny that the experience has been pretty sweet so far. I’ve spoken to my brilliant new editor, Shauna Fay, who fought to acquire the book from day one, and I love all of her editorial suggestions. I’ll probably be getting her official “editorial letter” sometime in the next couple of months, and I’ll work on revisions over the summer.

Anyway, as I’ve broken the good news to family members and friends, I’ve noticed that the same few questions keep popping up again and again…and they’re not necessarily the questions I would have anticipated. If you’d like to know what they are–and what my answers are!–I invite you to read on.

Just as long as it doesn't have a scary face in the sky, I'm cool.

1) What will the cover look like?

The number one thing people seem to be curious about is the cover, and they’re pretty disappointed when they find out how little control I’m going to have over it. I mean, I assume that if I really, really hate it I may have some sort of veto power, but I’m not expecting to have much creative input when it’s conceived. Will it be drawn or photographed? Girly-looking or gender-neutral? I have no idea at this point, and probably won’t for at least a year. Which takes us to question #2…

2) Why is your book not being published until 2014?

Most people have asked this rather politely—with the notable exception of my elementary-aged writing students, who squealed with shock and disbelief when I told them it was going to be a two-year wait before Gladys (which they’ve already read) was in bookstores. One of them now threatens on a regular basis to track down my editors and give them a piece of her mind (Shauna, you may want to screen your calls for an irate 11-year-old).

But it’s a valid question. Why such a long wait? There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when a book will be released, but I’ve been explaining it this way: Publishers release new books in two major “seasons,” fall and spring—like how new collections are released in the world of fashion. My editor thinks that Gladys will stand out more as a spring release (apparently, a lot of big-name authors—like my buddy JKR—release their books in the fall). And since lead times for editing/designing/marketing books are long in publishing, Putnam’s spring 2013 list is pretty much all sewn up. Hence, it’s spring 2014 for Gladys.

Yeah, it’s a long wait. But the good news is that that means we won’t have to rush through the editing process, and there will be lots of time for distributing advance copies to reviewers before the book hits the shelves. Not to mention that it gives me a good amount of down time to work on my next book before I have to shift into promotional mode. Which brings us to question #3…

3) OMG, you’d better get cracking on that sequel!

OK, that isn’t really a question. But a lot of people do assume that the next book I work on should, obviously, be the sequel to Gladys Gatsby. Surely my publisher is chomping at the bit for a book 2, right?

Not exactly. While there are certainly some debut authors who get two- and three-book deals, most publishers want to test out their first-timers with a single book. Then, if it sells well, they’ll sign you up for a couple more in the series.

I’ve already outlined book 2 and my editor and my agent are really enthusiastic about it, so I have high hopes that I will get to write and publish it down the road (you know, in 2025 or thereabouts). But, my dear readers, it seems that that whether that happens will be in large part up to you…so, if you want to see a sequel, make sure you buy plenty of copies of Gladys 1! I’m sure that everyone in your family will want their own copy to, um, dance around the maypole with (or whatever it is that you do for fun in the spring).

4) Will your book be hardcover or softcover? Will there be an e-book?

Yes, yes, and yes (as far as I know). My publisher has bought all of these rights, so I assume that it will be hardback and e-book first, with a paperback printing following sometime down the road. The publisher has also bought audio book rights, so who knows, maybe there will even be an audiobook! I nominate Stephen Fry to read it. 😀 (Yes, I understand that my protagonist is female and not British, but I know he can pull it off—it’s called acting for a reason!)

5) Did you get an advance?

Or, as one friend of mine put it, “Do publishers even pay advances to first-time authors these days?” Thankfully, yes, they still do. No one’s actually come out and asked me how much I’m getting (well, except for a couple of close family members whom I would have told anyway), but if you’re wondering what the usual range is for first-time authors, agent Rachelle Gardner has a good post about that.

6) Can I be in the movie?

I’m actually surprised by how often I get this question—quasi-facetiously from adults and very earnestly from kids. They don’t even ask “Will there be a movie?” or “When does the movie come out?” but jump straight to “Can I be in it?”

Well, from your lips, dear questioners, to the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s ears! Film rights have not been optioned (um, yet!) for the book, and they may never be. Even if they are, that’s no guarantee that a movie will ever be made—hundreds of options on books are bought every year, and very few of them ever actually make it to the big screen.

So, you can cross your fingers, but don’t hold your breath. Of course, I think that Gladys could make a great movie—or TV series, even—but I’m a little biased. Anyway, the end of the book has a big scene at a Broadway theater and another at a crowded restaurant, so if those scenes ever are filmed, and you REALLY want to be an extra…well, here’s hoping!

7) I can’t wait for your book tour!

Again, not a question, but it’s interesting how many people think that every author gets sent on a nationwide book tour by their publisher. I can’t blame them, because I used to think this, too.

The truth is, only the highest-profile authors get sent on all-expenses-paid book tours these days. Which doesn’t mean that I can’t go on my own mini book tour; it just means that I’ll probably be organizing it (and paying for the travel costs) myself.

I’m lucky enough currently to have a pretty flexible working schedule, so if that continues, I’ll definitely plan to do some readings/signings in Colorado (where I live), New York (where my family—and Gladys!—lives), Indiana (where my husband’s family lives), and hopefully Boston and DC (where a lot of my friends live) when the book comes out. Hey, maybe I’ll even throw in a west coast leg with San Fran (where my aunt lives), Seattle (where some family and friends live), and Portland (where Powell’s Books lives!). It’ll all depend on, you know, time and money. But trust me, wherever you live, I’d love to come visit your town–bonus points if I can sleep on your couch and eat your cereal in the morning, too.


So, have any of these answers really surprised you? And do you have any burning questions that I haven’t addressed? Just leave’em in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond!

Do the Happy Waddle

Greetings from Indiana, where I am having a wonderful time getting to know my tiny new niece and nary a green vegetable has passed my lips in three days!

I posted about this on yesterday Facebook and Twitter (and if you have a subscription to Publishers’ Marketplace, it’s possible that you saw it there), but I figured I should put a quick note up here, too, to share that…

I have a book deal!

The Delicious Double Life of Gladys Gatsby will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Books. This seems particularly fitting, since parts of the novel were drafted in Argentina and South Africa, two countries that feature lovely penguins of their own.

A Magellanic penguin from the Valdes Peninsula, Argentina.

My former favorite penguin--the jackass!--near Cape Town, South Africa.

My new favorite penguin.

Here’s the deal announcement that appeared in PM (click on it for a more readable size).

The whole process could not have gone more smoothly for me, thanks to my fabulous agent Ammi-Joan Paquette and my wonderful new editor, Shauna Fay, whose notes have already made the book so much better. 😀

We’re kind of remote at the moment and my internet access is limited out here, so I’ll have to save all the details for another post next week. In the meantime, feel free to join me and Gladys in a virtual happy penguin-waddle dance!

(Addendum: If you’d like a little more info about the book, check out this announcement at my agency’s website.)