Thursday was the book launch for The Black Alabaster Box. I read the SCBWI website for children’s book authors and illustrators. I talked to authors. I hadn’t done a launch before. When my academic books were published, I put the title on my vita, and the publisher did the rest. So all this launch and publicity, and marketing business is new territory.
One of the best bits of advice I had was: have fun. It turned out to be more fun than I expected! I suppose I was worried that the program wouldn’t work or I’d stumble over myself when I read from the first two chapters, or people wouldn’t like the gingerbread cookies after I spent a day making them. But once all the balloons were up and it got under way, it was all fun. Sarah VanTiem was a brilliant emcee. She led an interesting conversation with Katie Schmidt, whose class at Rodgers Forge Elementary School piloted the book last year. I didn’t trip over my own tongue and Jack VandenHengel’s “On the Santa Fe Trail,” and “Tumbling’ Tumble Weeds” (with guitar) had everybody so into it that by the time he got to “Red River Valley” people were singing along. It was really fun. And people ate gingerbread cookies much more delicately than either Ruby or Junior in the book–you’ll have to read chapter two for that story.
“Can you have a launch without gingerbread cookies?” Silly question isn’t it? So many people commented on them, though, that I thought I’d share the recipe. They were an important part of my launch! Here it is, my version of an old recipe.
1/3 cup shortening (part butter)
½ tsp. salt
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
½ tsp. allspice
12 oz. jar of dark molasses
1 tsp. ginger
1/3 cup cold water
¾ tsp. cloves
6 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. soda
Cream shortening and brown sugar. Add molasses and mix thoroughly. Stir in water. Sift together dry ingredients and stir in 1 cup at a time. Roll dough to ¼ inch thick. Chill dough at least 1 hour or overnight. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut with cookie cutters and space about 1 inch apart. Decorate with sprinkles before baking (if you want to use sprinkles). Or, after baking, roll in powdered sugar while they are still hot or frost with powdered sugar icing when they are cool.
Bake 12-15 min. or until cookies are starting to brown on the edges.