It’s hard to believe, but change is beginning to settle in the thick, smoggy air. The days are getting longer, the cotton material of my shirt is sticking to my armpit to an increasingly embarrassing degree, and these days I can go until nearly 7:45 PM before the sun starts setting and I actually begin to feel guilty about all the work I haven’t done for the day.
In other words: summer is coming!
It’s hard to believe we spent the last two perfect weekends outdoors at two of the West Coast’s biggest book festivals–the Young Adult literature festival last weekend, followed by the city’s annual book festival this weekend–surrounded by some of the best, most delightful names in the world of publishing. (For example, yesterday afternoon I met Mac Barnett, one of the friendliest children’s book authors out there, a veritable genius, and a client of one of the lit agents I had worked for years before!)
I spent the first weekend volunteering at the book festival, meeting a variety of YA authors but also getting to interact with thousands of wonderful, vibrant fans (over 6,500 of them turned up!). Last Saturday was brutally sunny, and some of these folks waited in line for over 2 hours just to nab a signed book copy–not to mention the opportunity to exchange a coveted “hello” with their favorite authors. I ended up monitoring the author signing queues, turning away over 200 people in the course of 3 hours because there was simply no way to accommodate every single autograph request.
It was a thankless task at best, but even I was stunned by just how gracious most of the fans were! Most were disappointed, of course, but several of them thanked me for doing my job and for treating that crazy afternoon with a cheerful smile. And of course, comments like those only made me grin all the wider.
But those grins were nothing compared to the near explosion of excitement I had when I met one special lady. Have I told you guys that I used to write fanfiction? Sappy love stories and alternate envisionments for some of my favorite TV show couples (cough Sailor Moon cough) were my forte: the lyre of love, my instrument of choice. I even had a substantial following in my fandom: nothing like the very best, of course, such as Alicia Blade, but a pretty decent number of followers, reviewers, and fans read my work.
Well, back in the heyday of my writing, I entered a contest in which there were only two entries: mine, and that of the inestimable Alicia Blade. I was incredibly daunted, of course, and fell in love with her story, which featured a futuristic take on the fairy tale, Puss in Boots. To everyone’s immense surprise, and by some crazy turn of fate, my (novel-length?!) entry ended up winning the top prize. It feels strange to even tell this story again after so long a time; I haven’t thought about the episode in years. But life has a funny way of throwing the unlikeliest of people and circumstances together, just when you least expect it….
Yup–that’s a photo of me and Alicia–or should I say, the current New York Times best-selling author of The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer?!
*does a little fangirl dance*
We met at the end of her author signing line, which I had been monitoring for the entire first half of the festival. I recognized her instantly on sight, did a not-so-subtle double-take, ducked around some nearly trees surreptitiously for a few minutes, and finally worked up the nerve to say hello to her. As it turns out, she’s just as gracious and lovely–if not even more so–than I remembered when we corresponded online for those precious few years of shared fandom nerdery. (Yes, I’m aware that “nerdery” is not a real word. <–artistic license, k?)
It turns out that Marissa remembered everything about me, or at least my contest entry–and, as if that wasn’t enough, she actually tells this story to the folks in her life, too! Of course, her story entry eventually became the inspiration behind her best-selling series, which in itself is a mind-blowingly inspiring feat for such a humble individual. It was a real pleasure to reconnect with her during those precious 5 minutes of conversation, and at the end when I asked if we could take a picture together, she actually handed her phone to her friend as asked that she have a copy of the photo, too!
Anyway, it’s a great day any day you confirm that your respected and admired heroes are as wonderful as you remember, or imagine, or both. No matter what the weather is like outside for you–whether you’re reading this on a lovely Hawaiian beach or huddled up in your thermal underwear with a steaming mug of black coffee–I hope you are all having a very bright weekend!
Perfect for a picnic (or at least an indoor one), is what I would say.
And no picnic is complete without these No-Bake Cookie Butter Bars! I’m not kidding you: I brought these to a summery bonfire weeks ago and they were snatched up so fast that I thought somebody had chucked the whole bag out into the ocean for the cookie butter-loving dolphins (my favorite kind, duh) to devour. This couldn’t have been the case, however, because a second later there were five swimmer friends standing in front of me demanding “more of that really good stuff”–which just goes to show that any time chex mix, marshmallows, chocolate, and cookie butter collides in a single treat, it is most definitely A Good Time.
What hero/person have you met who inspires you to be a better person? Let me know in the comments!
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup cookie butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups Chex Mix (or Golden Grahams)
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine corn syrup and white sugar. Heat for 30 seconds in microwave, then stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in cookie butter and vanilla.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine Chex Mix, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. Pour cookie butter mixture over dry ingredients and toss with a spatula until evenly coated. Pour mix into prepared pan and press evenly into bottom. Allow to set completely before cutting into squares!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Sunday Supper crew’s Picnic-themed contributions this week!
- Caprese Skewers by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Crisp Cucumber Salsa with Southwest Style Chips by Momma’s Meals
- French Onion Dip, with Greek Yogurt by Casa de Crews
- Mediterranean Spiced Hummus by Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Pepperoni Pinwheels by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Watermelon Salad by annaDishes
- Blackberry Lemonade by The Redhead Baker
- Blueberry Mojito Mocktails by NeighborFood
- Grandma’s Stuff by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Minty Cardinal Punch by Food Lust People Love
- Pineapple Ginger Lemonade Spiked with Turmeric by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
- Sangria Punch by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Strawberry Pineapple Lemonade by Noshing With The Nolands
- Avocado Sriracha Egg Salad by Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
- Barbecue Ranch Quinoa Chicken Salad by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Boneless Chicken Wings by Nosh My Way
- Burger Ice Cream by Brunch with Joy
- Chicken Salad Sliders by Life Tastes Good
- Spanish tortilla by Caroline’s Cooking
- Broccoli & Tomato Pasta Salad by Flour On My Face
- Buffalo Macaroni Salad by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Couscous Veggie Salad with Pesto by Cooking Chat
- Fully Loaded Baked Potato Salad by Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch
- Granola Salad by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Greek Style Asparagus Salad by Curious Cuisiniere
- No Mayo Slaw with Poppyseed Dressing by Palatable Pastime
- Spiralized Beet and Goat Cheese Salad by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Sweet and Tangy Brussels Coleslaw with Fennel, Chopped Apples and Golden Raisins by Simply Healthy Family
Soups and Salads:
- Barley and Rice Salad by Family Foodie
- Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Dried Cranberries by Food Done Light
- Layered Mason Jar Pasta Salad for Two by The Weekend Gourmet
- Smoked Turkey Salad by Our Good Life
- Spinach Salad with Apples & Pecans in an Apple Balsamic Vinaigrette by Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen
- Nicoise Salad by The Petit Gourmet
- Bacon-Bulleit Brownies by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Fudgey Coca Cola Cake by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Earth Day Cupcakes by Savory Experiments
- Gluten Free Cookie Bars by Gluten Free Crumbley
- Lemon Lime Pound Cake by Vintage Kitchen
- Lemon Yuzu Cookies by NinjaBaker.com
- Mini Lemon Chess Pies by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- No-Bake Cookie Butter Chex Mix Bars by Wallflour Girl
- Peanut Butter Bars by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Peanut Butter Carob Bars by Pies and Plots
- Sourdough Chunk Cookies by What Smells So Good?
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