Saturday, April 25, 2020

Baking Sourdough Bread!



I'm back! Now, on to baking sourdough bread. There are a lot of different ways to do this. Different amounts of starter to use, different flours, different temperatures, different times. It's dizzying. I tried one with this famous YouTube guy, Joshua Weissman, and honestly, it was too much effort. I have work to do during the day and I can't babysit dough all the frickin' time. I also watched these guys, (Irish guy Patrick, and guitar rocker/baker/FoodGeek named Sune from Denmark) who are both oddly very soothing (unlike Joshua, who is AWESOME but makes me feel like I just drank three pots of coffee).

So yeah, I tried about four different methods, and settled on the method by Culinary Exploration. It's pretty low maintenance, once you get used to it. It's a 65% hydration dough, which gives a loaf with a crunchy crust, an airy but not too airy crumb, but nice and moist and not too dense. It seriously looks like it came from an artisan bakery.

I'm going to adapt his recipe to a two-loaf recipe, because honestly--if you're gonna go through the trouble, you might as well have two loaves to show for it. I stick one dough in the fridge so I can bake two days in a row, instead of baking them back to back to reduce the chance of having unwanted, uneaten stale bread, which would pain my gluten-filled heart.

You can also use that fridge dough for pizza, or foccacia, too. Just know they'll have a slight tang! 


Recipe for 2 loaves:

Total time: Approximately 7-8 hours, not including starter prep the night before

For starter:
100g starter (a full 1/3 cup of stirred down starter)
50g whole wheat flour
50 g unbleached white flour (total of about 3/4 cup of both flours)
98 g warm filtered water (scant 1/2 cup)

For loaves:
500g warmish filtered water (2 1/4 cups)
20g salt (about 3 slightly rounded teaspoons)
750g bread flour (5 1/2 cups). I do think bread flour, with higher protein content, works best here.
256g sourdough starter (a heaping 3/4 cup). I've put in more, like just over  full cup and it works okay but can have a tendency to overproof.

Equipment:
-flexible bench scraper
-banneton, about 9 inches round, or 10 inches for an oval OR a floured cloth napkins inside colanders
-Dutch oven OR big cookie sheet with a pan/ovenproof container on the side for water
-cooling rack
-bowls for mixing and such
-plastic bag (if you want to save one half of the dough to bake another day)
-parchment paper (this is optional, but using parchment to transfer dough to the Dutch oven/sheet really prevents your dough from being slapped down when you drop it onto the hot whatever)

A note about temp: You have to get used to baking according to your room temp, and your oven temp. My room temp is comfy warm. My oven runs hot so I change all these temps down by 25 degrees. You may need to go up to 500 degrees if you have a cool oven. It varies. It's good to have an oven thermometer. The experts have their own fancy proofers with temp settings.

1. Night before, 7-9 PM: mix your starter, flour and water thoroughly, and use a rubber band to mark it.  Leave out at room temp all night.

2. Day of baking, around 8 AM!
Your starter should have doubled or more by now.
Add your warm water and salt in a very large bowl. NO, the salt will not kill your starter. Promise. Dissolve salt, then add your starter and mix it up with your hands until it's pretty loosely distributed in the water.

3. Add your flour. Mix together with your hand. It's going to be a very shaggy, very wet dough. Do not underestimate the size of a bowl you'll need to mix this. USE A HUGE MIXING BOWL or you will have flour in your eardrums. Once it's pretty thoroughly mixed, scrape the dough off your hands (bench scraper works good here) and leave it all in the bowl, covered for one hour with plastic wrap or a plate. This gives your dough time for the flour to get fully hydrated.

4. After an hour, scrape out onto a clean surface. Cut in half with your bench scraper. With each half, gently pull and fold dough over three times, using a different edge each time. Use your bench scraper to gently push and twist around and around, tucking under the dough until it looks nice and round and smooth. I can't do this with my bare hands. Too sticky. I use the bench scraper to do this. DO NOT add flour! RESIST THE TEMPTATION. Place each nicely rounded dough into a separate medium-sized bowl, and cover with plastic wrap or a plate.

5. Cold proof for 4-5 hours at room temp. This part has varied with the little experience I have. If you overproof your dough, it won't rise much in the oven because it's risen so much outside. So I tend to keep to 4.5 hours at the most. If your place is hot, proof less. If cold, proof more OR use a warmed oven to speed the process.  If you've used more sourdough, proof less. If you're proofing in a glass bowl, you'll see gas bubbles forming in your dough and it'll spread and rise a bit. See photo, below.

6. Scrape out dough onto clean surface very, very gently. You don't want to punch it down, or knead or anything. You're going to save all that aeration that's occurred from this rise. Do several folds of your dough, about 4 total, one on each side. Use your bench scraper to get under each edge to grab it. Don't tear the dough! Pull gently and slowly, and it'll stretch and accommodate. Thoroughly flour your banneton, or napkin-lined colanders. Gently flour your dough (I like to use a little mini strainer with flour like this one) and lay it into your colander/banneton.

7. Last proof. This one goes for 1-2 hours. If you'd like to bake a fresh loaf tomorrow, put one into a plastic bag, tie it into a knot, and stick it in the fridge and skip the 1-2 hours of proofing. If you're going to bake today, and you want to have an easier time of scoring it for a pretty design, then proof at room temp for 1 hour, then stick in fridge (like the other loaf) in a plastic bag for 1 hour. It's easier to score with a cold "skin." Not necessary, though.

8. About 15 minutes before you're ready to bake, set your oven to 475 and place your Dutch oven in there. If you're going to use a cookie sheet, then you can preheat your cookie sheet too. Also preheat another oven proof container (a deep set 1/4 jelly roll sheet, for example, or brownie pan) for water. Heat a cup of water to near boiling in the microwave.

9. When it's time to bake, flip your dough gently onto a square piece of parchment paper. Flour the surface until it's covered. Using a very sharp paring knife or lame (fancy word for a razor blade) cut a deepish gash (about 1/3 inch deep) across the loaf, off center. Or make a fun design. You need the cut so the loaf can expand and spread and not be contained by the bread "skin" so-to-speak.

10. Put your loaf into the hot dutch oven and cover. Or, if using the cookie sheet/water method, put dough onto the hot cookie sheet, and add the water to the water pan. You will scream when the water hits the hot pan. It happens.

11. For the Dutch oven: set for 25 minutes. When it goes off, remove the lid to the Dutch oven, and drop the temp to 450. The loaf should look risen and blond. Set the timer for another 15 minutes.

12. For the cookie sheet method--check around 35 minutes. You're looking for a medium brown loaf with some darkness on the crust by your cut. Some like it darker, some lighter. But it should not look "blond." That is not baked enough. It might need a total of 40 minutes.

Remove, and let cool on a rack. Don't forget to turn your oven off, or you will be very sorry. Sometimes if you listen closely, you'll hear your crust "sing" by making crackly noises as the hot crust hits cooler air and contracts!

Next day baking: I heat my oven, take my dough out, score it, and bake it. I don't wait for it to come to room temp, and I don't let it proof again. Works just fine!

Good luck, bakers!


Photos, so as not to ruin the flow of the recipe above.

The dough after about 4.5 hours rise time. I think this was a little over-proofed. 


How floury my napkin/colander set up is


Thoroughly floured and ready to be scored


My husband scored our dough. He's got a good hand! 
This loaf was one where the dough stayed in the fridge overnight. 

The crumb texture on the overnight/fridge dough. Not bad! 

Another gorgeous loaf! This was a same day loaf. 

This crumb was airier. Both tasted about the same sourness (lightly sour), 
both super soft, chewy, and delicious. 




Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sourdough Starter a.k.a. making your pet "Sour Doug"

Sour Doug all grown up. 
Here he is after he's risen to his full peak, about 12 hours after a feeding.


From the top: slightly domed, bubbly, no hooch. Ready to use for baking! 


Hi. 
It's me. 
It's been ages since I've blogged, but I've gotten a few requests on how I do my sourdough starter and bread, so why not share it with the world?
I very much hope you, your friends, and family are all staying safe during this pandemic! 

Here goes! 

What is sourdough?

Sourdough is a mix of water, flour, and natural yeasts and bacteria that grow from the air and the flour itself. It's a bit tangy, as the bacteria produce a little lactic acid (like in yogurt). It's the way to make risen breads, cakes, and other pastries without relying on active yeast you need to buy. Once you've got a "starter" you basically can make bread forever without worrying that a pandemic is going to make active dry yeast hard to buy!

Is it very sour?

The sourdough breads I've made are only a touch sour. Some sourdoughs like the famous Eli's in NYC, or San Francisco's famous sourdough (a very specific mix of yeasts and bacteria) are a bit more strong (deliciously so!) but my homemade has been pretty mild.

For more sour taste, a longer rise when you're making dough, or using starter straight from the fridge, will probably give you a more pungent flavor. Using more starter in your recipe oddly makes it less, sour, compared to more sour with less starter. Confused? Watch this guy.

A few notes to start with:

*Try to use filtered water, not tap/chlorinated. There's a theory that the chlorine will slow the growth of your sourdough microbes, but I know some people who just use tap and it's okay. I like to use filtered, to be safe. If you don't have a filter, just sit some tap water on the counter for a few hours and the chlorine evaporates.

*When possible, use 50/50 unbleached white flour plus whole wheat flour or rye flour. I think the whole meal flours help the sourdough grow better. Vitamins and minerals and all that. But if you only have regular unbleached, at least be sure it's unbleached!

*if you don't have a digital scale, then measurements are in parentheses

*container: I love using those takeout plastic containers. They're wide-mouthed and easy to use. I've used mason jars but I don't like how even the wide mouth ones make it difficult to stir. There are pricier glass Weck jars, but this is about using what you have, so.

*metal: Some people say never use metal instruments or bowls or whatever. I think that's probably bunk. I tend to use plastic, glass and silicone, but I've used metal spoons and it's fine.

Day 1 
(These are about 24 hours apart. I usually do my starter stuff at 8 AM)

Mix 100 g flour (about 3/4 cup) and 115g (about a teaspoon + 1/2 cup) filtered water together. Use either a plastic or glass jar. I like those plastic take out containers because the opening is wide. Keep loosely covered (if it’s airtight it’ll explode and it needs oxygen to grow, too). Use a rubber band to show where the level is, so if it rises you’ll see growth. Keep in a warm place, like near the stove.

You may notice it will get a little bubbly.

Day 2

It should smell a little yeasty. It may have risen, or not. That's okay.

Remove 70g of starter (1/4 cup of stirred down starter) and place in a new container. Store the rest of the starter (the “discard”) in the fridge or throw in compost (there are recipes online for using the discard if you don’t want to be wasteful. Remember it has a 50/50 water to solid content, so you can figure out substitutions in recipes. I have a great banana bread recipe to come to use with starter that I'll post soon.

To your 70g of starter, add 100g flour and 115 g filtered water. Mix really well so it’s well incorporated. Wait another day.

Day 3:

You may notice it rose a little more. It should smell yeasty, but possibly a touch yogurty as the yeast is also mixing with bacteria and fermenting to make some lactic acid. That’s cool. Repeat your discard and feeding (keep 70g starter; add 100g flour; this time, add 110g water (1/2 cup + half a teaspoon).

Day 4:

Repeat, but this time, use 70g starter, 100g flour, and 105 g water (1/2 cup).

Day 5:

Repeat, but this time use 70g starter, 100g flour, and 100 g water (barely less than half cup).

By now, you’ll notice a rhythm. Your starter will get bubbly and rise. As it rises, it’ll look domed on top. At some point, it will flatten out, and start to fall. This is a sign that it’s eating all the food supply and going anaerobic. Sometimes you’ll notice a touch of liquid on top—that's “hooch” or alcohol. A little bit won’t hurt your starter, but a sign that you need to feed it more often. A lot of hooch isn't great.

If you find that your starter rises and is falling around 12 hours after you did your morning feeding/discard, then it’s time to start feeding every 12 hours.

At this point, use 70g starter, 100g flour, and about 98 g water (little less than 1/2 cup). (Good god, does that -2g of water really matter? Dunno for sure. But it seemed happy by being 2% less wet.)

Keep repeating. When your starter has more than doubled reliably 2x within 12-18 hours after each feeding/discard, it’s ripe and ready to use.

Using starter:

Ideally, you should use the starter when it’s at its maximum rise after a feeding. So you need to time this for your baking. Often, it means feeding at night, and baking the next morning.

Storing:

Once your starter is ripe and mature, and you’ve named it something memorable, it’s time to store.

Take 70g starter, add your 100g flour, 98 g water, mix well, and leave alone for about 2 hours. Then stick it in the fridge, and feed/discard once a week. I find that Dough gets hoochy after a full 7 days, so I feed on day 6.

Using starter after it’s been in the fridge.

I'll take it out the night before I'm going to bake, don't discard, just add 100g flour and 100 g of water, and let it rise overnight. The next morning, it should have doubled and be pretty bubbly.

Some people use starter straight out of the fridge for a recipe, but generally it takes more time to rise and will have a slightly stronger flavor.

Problem Solving:

Your starter smells like nail polish remover.


It probably went too far and wasn't being fed often enough. Either start over, or start with a very tiny bit of starter, like a tablespoon, and mix with 100g flour and 100g water and see how it goes.

It also may mean your environment is really warm and your starter is eating through its food supply very fast. It may need to be fed more often, like twice a day.

Are you covering the starter? it should be loosely covered, not airtight.

You're getting a lot of hooch.

See above--probably needs to be fed more often. Or it's not getting enough air.

No rise or activity at all


Probably too cold? Try turning on your oven to 200 degrees, then shutting it off and leaving your starter in there for several hours and see how it goes. Remember it should be loosely covered, not airtight.

It's liquidy and bubbling, smells okay, but never rises.

It probably needs less water, and a touch more flour. Decrease the water amount so after a feed, it feels like a thick, moist dough, not a liquidy, pourable dough.

Good luck all! I'll try to answer questions in the comments!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

YA Scavenger Hunt: TEAM ORANGE!



Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM--but there is also a red team, a gold team, a blue team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the orange team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY, OCT 7, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

*****

AND NOW...TIME FOR THE HUNT! 



Today, I am hosting Jennifer DiGiovanni on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Jennifer is the author of contemporary and light fantasy novels for teens. When she's not reading or writing, she likes to try new sports and activities, from archery to ballroom dancing, all in the name of book research.

Find out more information by checking out her website here, and find her on Twitter @jendwrites and on Instagram @jendwrites!

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Cara Scotto is living a secret life. She hates holding back the truth about her supernatural powers from her family and friends, but tells herself it’s the only way to protect them. When she struggles to control her surging energy levels, she fears someone will uncover pieces of the truth in her lies.\n\nIntent on learning how to best use her new abilities, Cara trains with her boyfriend Alex, hoping to increase her speed and strength. Though Alex and Cara vow not to let fear rule their lives, they can’t forget Ian, the supernatural scientist intent on uncovering Cara’s true potential, and wonder what his next step will be. They won’t need to wait long before he strikes again.

Soon, the answer becomes clear—someone needs to step up, eliminate Ian, and replace him. Until now, Alex has avoided the underground supernatural networks, but he realizes that agreeing to take over Ian’s position may be the only way to secure the future he and Cara dream of having.

Intent on learning how to best use her new abilities, Cara trains with her boyfriend Alex, hoping to increase her speed and strength. Though Alex and Cara vow not to let fear rule their lives, they can’t forget Ian, the supernatural scientist intent on uncovering Cara’s true potential, and wonder what his next step will be. They won’t need to wait long before he strikes again.

And now...drumroll...an exclusive content from TRUTH IN LIES! 

This is a novel aesthetics board to get you in the mood. I love it!



And...

if you need some audiological supplementation to your reading experience, a playlist!


TRUTH IN LIES Playlist
Unstoppable – The Score
Never Be the Same – Camilla Cabello
Whatever it Takes – Imagine Dragons
Bad Liar – Selena Gomez
Come Alive – Greatest Showman Soundtrack
Warriors – Imagine Dragons
Who Do You Love – Marianas Trench
Confident – Demi Lovato
I Lived – OneRepublic
Natural – Imagine Dragons

-->
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers, Coldplay

Jennifer is generously offering an exclusive giveaway just for the YA Scavenger Hunt! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books with my exclusive content, hosted by Tori Rigby! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is   4  . Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on Team Orange and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Katy Upperman!

BUT before you keep going, I am also having my own exclusive giveaway!

A signed copy of TOXIC and this fantastic swag pack including a signed copy of TOXIC artwork created by me, buttons, enamel pins, stickers, and bookmarks!





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 1, 2018

TOXIC Preorder GIVEAWAY!

I'm so excited to announce this preorder. I've been working on it for months, and there is some supremely awesome swag in this preorder bundle!

Here's the painting that I worked on for weeks. 
It's a print of a watercolor that includes pearls, a luna moth, and a lotus flower in space. 
Each has its own symbolism in the book. 


I love this enamel pin! 
I designed it myself, and it also includes a quote from the book 
as well as that lotus flower. 


These are some of the buttons included in the swag pack. Love this quote, too!



Bookmarks!


Stickers!


**Preorder Details**

Open Internationally

Send proof of purchase of TOXIC to LydiaKangContest@gmail.com

Preorders will receive:
-signed 8x10" artwork
-two pins
-enamel lapel pin
-sticker
-bookmark
-signed bookplate

ENDS NOVEMBER 5th!



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

TOXIC countdown!

Have you seen the cover reveals for TOXIC and THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL? Right over there on your left. I am so happy with how well they turned out!

I love the smoky, disintegrating lotus flower on the cover of Toxic. It has so much symbolism in the book. (No spoilers--you'll see!)

And I also love the colorful heart for The Impossible Girl. It's so perfect and delicate and brutal at the same time.

Get ready for two very different books coming soon!

In the meantime, I have this nifty countdown widget for TOXIC. If you'd like it on your blog, click on the HTML button on the left to copy the code!

💕Lydia

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Querying Journey

This is an old blog post from my days as a Lucky13 Debut, on our old defunct blog. So I'm reposting here for posterity!


By Lydia Kang

For some reason, I've been secretive about the intricate details of my querying quest. I think it's time to come clean. Even with an agent and a great book deal, I'm still embarrassed that I got so many rejections. I'm afraid I'll be judged by them, that I'm not one of these "I queried 10 agents and got 8 offers, voila!" kind of people.

So here's the nitty gritty, down the very last numbers and request rate percentages. Hold on to your hats!

2009  
June: Decide to write a YA urban fantasy novel, after writing mostly non-fiction and poetry. In a manic 4 weeks, it's done, all 90K words of it.

July: Start querying. Meet Querytracker and its lovely forum peeps. Get a few partials and a full. I'm overjoyed.

August: Start getting rejections on partials and fulls. Revise the novel lightly. Revise the query heavily. Send out more queries. More fulls and partials; more rejections. Learn a lot about the publishing business. Learn about writing. Inhale Steven King's On Writing. Realize that my UF novel is pretty amateur, but not horrible.

September: Decide that writing a historical YA is the way to go. Start researching (fun!). Continue querying the UF; more rejections pile in. Reread every forum post that says "Rejection means you're that much closer to success." Refresh email box 1000x per day.

October-November: Continue writing the historical novel; decide I'm going to query the heck out of the UF. I exhaust the agents in the U.S. Decide I don't have to be that patriotic. Start querying in Canada and the UK.

December: A bite! FISH ON! (Sorry, I've been watching too many episodes of River Monsters.) Have phone call with UK agent. She wants to pass my MS around to her agent mates. Two weeks later, she rejects me. She offers a R & R, but I've lost faith in the novel and I sense that the agent is not a good fit for me. Meanwhile, the historical novel is written. Send it out to my precious crit partners that I've found via Querytracker and close friends.

2010

January: Stop querying the UF. Crits come back. They are not pretty. Start major revision #1. Continue to read voraciously online about revision and the craft of writing.

February/March: Voraciousness continues. Start blogging, because I vaguely hear I need it for platform. Start meeting lots of blogger/writers who teach me what I don't know about writing, such as arcs (not the gold ones from the first Indiana Jones movie.) Continue revisions.

April: Revision is done; start querying historical YA. I select my agents better this time and refrain from using the spaghetti method. Get better at writing my query. Get lots of rejections. Realize that the historical needs yet another huge revision #2. Hold of on sending full to Very Interested Agent. She graciously agrees to wait.

July: Send full to Very Interested Agent. She loves it. Requests an R & R.

August: Send back revised MS to Very Interested Agent. Start outlining a dystopian.

September: Dystopian outline is 35 single spaced pages. Toss dystopian as certain elements have been done too much, but learn a ton about plotting in the process. Very Interested Agent doesn't offer, but wants more revisions. We email back and forth...

October:...and she stops replying to my emails. Tear out some precious hair. Start outlining a YA sci-fi.

November-December: Write YA sci-fi (AKA CONTROL!). Stop querying the historical, just wait for more rejections on old queries to pour in. Surprise of surprises: I get an R & R from Big League Agent. Realize that to do the R & R correctly, I'd need to completely rewrite historical all over again. But am currently in love with my sci-fi.  I stress out and decide the sci-fi would have a larger audience and might be a better debut novel anyway.

2011

January: Feedback rolls in from crit partners on CONTROL. It's great feedback. CPs enthusiastically tell me this is "the one." Start working on revisions but they are less humongous than the revisions needed on the historical. Plotting skills are much better this time around! I email Big League Agent and tell her I need more time on the R & R because I'm working on the sci-fi. She doesn't respond. (I was hoping she would nibble on the sci-fi; she didn't.)

May: Start querying the sci-fi. Get a good request rate, about 1/4.

June: Start writing a fantasy/dystopian MG. Get one near miss by an agent. Query some more.

July: Get two more near misses by agents. Both said they loved it but had enough issues that they didn't want to offer. I query the R & R Big League agent from January, but she rejects my query. :(

Early August: Get R & R from great, interested agent. I don't agree with the R & R, but sit on them for a while, to see if I'll agree with them after a period of time.

Mid August: Seriously consider self publishing.

Late August: Get offer from agent! She's stoked about my novel. We have a phone call where I bounce around a room a lot. I let the R & R agent from early August know I have an offer, and that I stand by my novel as is; she declines to offer rep. We part ways very amicably.

Early September: After notifying the other agents who have my full, get another offer from awesome agent who's also super enthusiastic.

I accept the second agent's offer...Eric Myers of the Spieler agency.

And now, the deets. I dug them up from Querytracker, which compiled the stats for me. And the highlights, in case the above synopsis was a blur.

YA Urban Fantasy
Queries sent: 155
Partials: 7
Fulls: 11
Request rate: 11%
1 Agent phone call with R & R. I decline to do R & R. No offer.

YA Historical
Queries sent: 54
Partials: 6
Fulls: 4
Request rate: 18%
2 R & R's (one I revised, one I didn't). No offers.

YA Sci-Fi (CONTROL)
Queries sent: 101
Partials: 11
Fulls: 13
Request Rate: 24%
Three near misses
One R & R (I declined to do it)
Two offers of rep!

Total rejections: Umm. A lot.

So there you have it. I've learned plenty along the way, but with regard to querying, these rules always applied:

1) Work on the next WIP while you query. Never stop writing.
2) Be your own best critic and trust your instinct. I rejected one R & R because it didn't feel right; and another because the agent didn't feel right, and yet another because that novel wasn't meant to be the one I wanted to debut with.
3) Never stop trying to perfect your craft (first and foremost) and your query writing skills. My query writing got better and better, and my request rate reflected that, I think. And my third novel reflected that my craft improved a great deal from June of 2009.
4) Understand that there will be practice novels that you will have to shelf. Personally? I am glad that my first two novels didn't find an agent. I am much, much happier with my third novel being the one.
5) Find friends who will celebrate the good news and listen when you're down, because it's no lie when they say querying is an emotional roller coaster.
6) There are certain laws of the universe you can't change. The earth will spin dizzily, vinegar will perpetually remind me of stinky feet...and rejections will always happen to a writer. Don't fester in them or you'll get soggy. Just keep writing.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My QUACKERY Tour, and the talk on CPAN's BookTV!

Well, my book tour for QUACKERY is finally over! I had a wonderful few weeks visiting Boston, Miami, Chicago, Austin, Denver, Cincinnati, Omaha, and Baltimore. I was able to see lots of friends, make some new ones, and meet lots of new readers. It was exhausting but wonderful.

Four different trips, and over fifteen flights! I saw a lot of beautiful sky.

The lovely Alyson McCandless in Chicago! 

U Miami medical students who learned some medical history that night. 

Dr. Hasan, a sweet friend from medical school. This was at Denver's BookBar!

I did a podcast with Dan Rodricks podcast, Roughly Speaking. Listen here.

The Cincinnati Books by the Bank festival

Signing this gorgeous poster at the Bookworm Omaha!

While I was in Chicago, John Green was at my hotel. Cool.

A talented friend--Lenore Eisenhour, who writes beautiful YA!
As part of my talk in Baltimore, hosted by the Enoch Pratt Library, BookTV recorded my talk for CSPAN. So if you missed me when I was travelling, here's a chance for you to see the talk for yourself!

Enjoy! (click image below)