The Hidden Garden

I almost forgot to let you all know that The Hidden Garden, my newest children’s picture book is now a real-live Something! No longer a computer file, or a hope, or a wish. It’s been transformed into ink and paper and a book to hold and share!

This is a pretty exciting thing for an author. (…and a baker’s daughter…)

Here is the cover.

Hidden Garden (cover only)

And here is a summary of the book.

Within every heart is a hidden garden. We can neglect it until the weeds take over and the flowers wither and die. Or, with the help of Christ, we can care for it and make it a place of beauty, grace, and joy.

This charming parable will encourage children (and adults) to open the gate to Christ and tend the garden of their heart with loving care.

And here is a picture of me holding lemons–just because.

jane lemons close

And here is what three very nice people have to say about the book…

…just beautiful! So simple yet profoundly moving. This is exactly the view of salvation I want my children to absorb. The list of ways to open the gate of our heart at the end of the book are applicable to children and adults alike. Literature that makes me want to be a better human being is truly a gift.

–Molly Sabourin, author of Close to Home, podcaster, blogger, and professional photographer

The garden is much more than a metaphor in the Christian faith. It is a sacrament. Jane Meyer has not so much written a new parable as transcribed–in the simplest prose for the very young–the heart of the Gospel. The Hidden Garden is a beautifully written book and a vibrant bouquet of color from the hand of illustrator Masha Lobastov.

–Vigen Guroian, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and author of The Fragrance of God

Those who read this colorful book will realize that it is never too early–or too late–to care for one’s heart as for a garden.

–Jim Forest, author of Saint George and the Dragon

So, if you’re interested in finding out more, just hop on over to my website and check out The Hidden Garden book page. There’s also a fun link to an interview with Masha Lobastov, the illustrator.

And I’m on Twitter. And on Instagram. And on Facebook. (Sheesh, that’s a line up of ridiculousness right there…)

You can purchase copies at the Conciliar Press website, and pretty soon Amazon and other online sites will be stocking it. You may always head over to your local bookstore with the ISBN number: 978-1-936270-38-5, and they can order you a copy as well…

Lastly, if you’d like a signed copy of the book, for yourself, or for a little one, just email me and I would be happy to sign a book and ship it straight to you. They are $20, including stateside shipping (let’s chat if you live outside the States). Easter is coming and this sweet book would be lovely tucked in a basket next to those dyed eggs and bunny finger puppets.

Back to baking. Rosemary rolls on the rise!

In Process :: The Hidden Garden

Well, there is absolutely nothing in this post about bread. But there is an awful lot of giving, when it comes to the task of writing. There is the gift of time, that my husband affords to me as I build this career. There is the gift of a publisher believing in you. There is the gift of offering a creative piece of work–a part of your own heart and mind–to a reader, and in this case my favorite kind of reader, a small child.

So, a new gift is coming. Just wanted to share the beautiful cover of The Hidden Garden, due out February 1st, 2013. Masha Lobostov is the artist, and the book is currently in production! Such fun.

Three years in the works.. Here it is!

Summer 2011 :: The State of Things

6:30 am

Summer mornings mean writing time. I rise early, stumble out to my office, brew a cup of tea while my eyes adjust, say my prayers to help wake my heart and mind, and then sit in front of words, fiddling, rearranging, composing, and sometimes even rejoicing! Oftentimes the little one stumbles in, and slides onto my lap. Then I have to coax an older sibling awake, and pour corn flakes into a bowl, and ask for help. The help usually comes and the writing recommences… Right now I’m wading through a sailing scene, but don’t know how to sail. That sort of road block is just that. A Word Halter. A Story Buster! Another hurdle to overcome. Any sailors out there just hoping for an interview?

10 am

Laundry, baking, saying hellos to the late risers. Planning for the day. Jumping up and down because I sold a picture book (A Book of Questions to Blue Apple Books)! Jumping up and down because I might even sell another picture book! (on a saint, to Conciliar Press), if I can just get the words right… 10 am is a great time for jumping up and down. Gets the heart moving.

Noon

Lunch! Plums from the tree. Fresh bread and a piece of cheese. A tomato. Hopes that the sun will peek through the gloom. Hopes that the sun will dry my laundry. Hopes that the sun will dehydrate my fruit leather but not get me sunburned. Lots of hopes!

Afternoon

Library for books. Beach for negative ions and sand between the toes. Or, a train set up. Or, shopping for gifts–so many birthdays! Derek’s, Jack’s, Mom’s, Andrew’s, Lucy’s, Miles’s, Asher’s, and little babies being born–like Greyson. He got a blue and green hat 🙂 Logging the yarn projects onto ravelry. Have to find someone to eat that extra bread. The mail comes and lots of sorting happens. And after the news of two potential picture book sales are processed by my meek brain, I am humbled by  yet another rejection. Ah, the joys of being a writer.

Early Evening

Fiddling with yarn. Checking email. Watching Douglas be the mighty chef that he is… Sipping sparkling water, or wine, or nibbling on chips and salsa. Talking about our upcoming fundraising dinners for church–and the trial biscotti I’ve been baking–so we can BUILD our church! (Can’t wait to build our church!!!) Setting the table. I love setting the table. Collecting the crew to pray, eat, laugh, eat, and read from our past travel journals. Allowing the little one to eat his dinner off the pizza peel.

Late Evening

Could be a movie. Or walking the neighborhood with flashlights. We always brew a hot pot of  herbal tea. I dream about the day that is almost gone. Reading, reading, reading (just finished the third Penderwicks–and a Philokalia collection…) Maybe I’ll mix up some dough for the next day, or update my to-do list, or choose a new picture book for bedtime. Brushing teeth, PJ’s. Bugging the big kids to get to bed. Talking about our time with cousins in Santa Ynez, or about the week in LA and the great dinner with the Dimpfls, and the birthday dinner of paella. Still bugging the big kids to get to bed.

Still bugging the big kids to get to bed.

And the lights go out

What about you? What is your State of Things these days. I’d love to know…

Saint Patrick’s Day

Two loaves of brown bread

Mixed: 10:45 am

Molded: 1:15 pm

Baked: 2 pm

 

I’m a wee bit Irish. I like the Irish. Did you know in ancient days the Celts had laws regarding hospitality? If a traveler came to your door, it was your duty and  honor to feed, provide a bed, and entertain the guest, without asking a single question or a coin in return. Saint Brigid was the best bread and butter giver ever–and I bet Saint Patrick did his fair share of charity work while wandering the green hills of Hibernia too.

I met Qu’i at the front door of her new home, and she was happy to take the warm loaf of bread, saying she and her husband were indeed bread eaters and happy to be in our neighborhood. She sported a green T-shirt and was so friendly I wanted to rush home and bake some more. (Which I did :))

But today hasn’t been all about baking and giving. We just had to read The Life of Saint Patrick: Enlightener of the Irish by Zachary Lynch (who, by the way, was recently ordained Father Zechariah!!!). If you don’t know the story well, and a true story it is, Patrick was captured by the Irish as a young boy of about 16–made a slave to watch over sheep, escaped Ireland and fled back to his homeland (which took him three years), and because he was willing to give his life to Christ and listen to the Holy Spirit in his heart, returned to that very place and to that very people who had enslaved him. I’m a big fan of March 17th. Saint Patrick is my kind of hero.

 

What memories… Many years ago, my family and I stopped over in Ireland on our way to a summer vacation in France. We had only three days in the area around Dublin and somehow found ourselves one day on the top of the hill where Saint Patrick lit his Paschal fire. An Irish friend of my husband’s was showing us the ruins of an ancient abby near his home, and there we were, wandering around that very ground where Patrick confronted the king of the land with a challenge. God is merciful and hands us the most unexpected surprises. It just so happened that when I returned to the States, I had the honor of editing the very book on Saint Patrick that I read to my son today…

And so… I think Saint Patrick’s Day is a find day to give fresh bread and wander down the street to meet new neighbors. I’m sporting green in his honor, and will knit with some sheepy wool tonight with friends while drinking cups of green tea.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!

Book Giveaways–The Woman and the Wheat (+ four more)

I’m so excited to be giving away another book! The Woman and the Wheat is my latest picture book released, and has received some very nice reviews. Here’s the page on my website that will tell you a bit more about the story. (Did you know my dad and brothers are actually professional bakers?!) And…you can hear a review of the book on Ancient Faith Radio, a place I go often for spiritual refreshment and learning…

This book giveaway is open for comments right now! All you have to do is leave a comment below to enter. If you’re in the mood, I’d love to hear (if you have a wee one in your life right now) what picture books you’re reading to your little ones at the moment as we tumble deeper into fall and head towards Advent. In our home, we are reading a lot of human body books, and several thick books on machines, too. Oh, and The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a present favorite. The Woman and the Wheat actually gets very high marks from my inventor-boy; he likes the page when the grain is being ground into flour the best… 🙂

So off to the miller did the wheat go next where a large stone wheel turned round and around. The wheel moved the stones and the stones ground the wheat as streams and puffs flowed into bags, and the wheat turned into flour…

I’ll close the comments for the giveaway at midnight, Sunday November 14th, and announce the winner on Monday, November 15th.

The Monster Bonus (don’t stop reading now!)

I’ve rounded up some of my writer friends to join in the book giveaway this week! I’m so excited. As I stated in my last post, I’m hoping that this Christmas many story books will end up wrapped and given to little ones as gifts. This is not about making money as writers–or about getting famous. You know this, right? As writers, we make just pennies from our work–we all engage in this as a ministry, not to make oodles of dollars and retire in the Bahamas! So, if you’re looking for gift ideas, start with a book that will enrich, inspire and encourage.

  • Heather Zydek, a mom of the cutest little girls, and a very vibrant, energetic woman and great writer, is giving away a copy of Basil’s Search for Miracles. Yay, for Heather! You can see more about Basil and read reviews of the book on the Amazon page. And to enter her drawing, just leave a comment below, here on my blog… It’s a two-for-one deal. If you leave a comment below, two people will be drawn as winners. One for my giveaway, and one for Heather’s! Double the fun.
  • Katherine Hyde is giving away one copy of Lucia, Saint of Light. What perfect timing. The name’s day for Santa Lucia is coming up on December 13th. I’ve worked alongside Katherine for many years now, and she is one of the most organized, talented editors I know. She’s also a very creative writer–and I’m sure we’ll see many more books by her in the future. Here’s my review of her book on Ancient Faith Radio.  Click here to visit her at her blog and enter your name in the Lucia, Saint of Light giveaway!

Lastly, don’t forget that both The Man and the Vine, and The Woman and the Wheat will be on sale from SVSPress ($15 each instead of $18 each) for three days, from Tuesday, November 16 through Thursday, November 18th. Tell your friends.

Sending you warm wishes…

jane

November Means… Book Giveaway Time!

Been baking on convection. (Ick)  Been giving (Yay)

Well, it’s November, which means I’ve been writing this blog for one full year!  110 posts, and lots of fun. It’s been a year of changes, of learning, of hopefully growing. If anything, I’ve baked a lot of bread, and given quite a few loaves away.

One of my very favorite giving days was when a whole host of women came to my home and we baked bread en masse. After our time together, they each took their own loaf of bread into the community to give away, and many were struck by the experience. I was struck by the experience, and just a day later I reflected on why I even started this blog. Giving changes you. And I know you–you beautiful readers–you are givers who do it without thinking… without blinking… I appreciate how you’ve encouraged me this last year.

There will be a sale coming up in mid-November. SALE! St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press is putting both The Man and the Vine, and The Woman and the Wheat on sale for just three days. (November 16-18. $15 each) If you’ve been hoping to add one or both of these books to your collection, your time is almost here! Spread the news.

But… before we get there, I’ll be giving away a copy of each of the books here on the blog. The Man and the Vine is first up, since it’s the first I wrote, and all you have to do is comment on this post and I’ll put you in the drawing. Comments will close this Sunday, November 7th, at midnight! (Hi all, comments are now closed…)

Lastly, I’m a gal who has learned to take criticism. You can’t be an author and not listen to advice… If you have any thoughts on how to make this blog better–on how to broaden the scope, or narrow it–on reaching more people, or how to post in a more timely fashion, or about different subject matter you’d like to see posted, I’d love to hear. I’m all ears…

You Can Do it, Sam

Baked a huge, buttery batch of cookies. Shared more than half with lots of 13 year-olds…

Teaching a child to share is a major theme in homes where toddlers scoot about. It’s still something we’re working on with our four year-old–hey, it’s something I’M still working on! Since starting this blog, I’ve tumbled across many picture books for little ones that focus on that all-important theme. Not too long ago, I wrote about The Quiltmaker’s Gift, an exceptional book of ultimate giving that should be in every picture book library. I’ve also posted about Easy as Pie; a tale that is not so much about sharing as it is about the fun of baking good and tasty treats.

Since I’m not only a mama who spends lots of time in book stores and libraries, but also an adorer and writer of children’s books, there will undoubtedly be more posts like this as time goes by. Hope you don’t mind!

You Can Do it, Sam is another sweet story that helps inspire little readers to share. Sam and his mama bear decide one snowy morning to bake twelve small cherry cakes. They measure and stir and bake them in the oven, then head out into the neighborhood to share. Sam’s a little bit nervous about being the one to do the giving.

Mrs. Bear pulled up close to the first sleepy house.

Here we are, Sam. I’ll wait here and YOU take the cake.”

“All by myself?” whispered Sam.

“Go, go, go!” Mrs. Bear put her arm around Sam. “You can do it, Sam.”

Cherry cakes! This book is really fun, and has given me ideas to think about for my own giving. First of all, Mama Bear packages the sweet cherry cakes in bright red bags with little tags that say, “A Tasty Surprise.” I’ve been wanting to come up with a unique way to wrap my bread for giving. I’d like it to be simple, and homemade looking, and not expensive. Right now I simply find some brown paper, or an old gift bag, and hand the bread over that way… I’d love your thoughts…

And…. I know just how Sam feels when he’s nervous about giving away his cakes. I feel each and every time an uncertainty about what I’ll say when the door opens, about whether the folks will actually eat the bread–or will think it’s horrible, poisoned, and just toss it into the trash. Sam has to be brave. You can do it, Sam!

You can do it, Jane!

Sun Bread

Rosemary Rolls–shared with neighbors

Seed cookies–shared with science class

Sourdough on the rise…

My youngest is attending preschool for the first time, two mornings a week. It’s his first foray out of the house–and his play time gives me a few extra moments to really concentrate on my Madeleine, who is homeschooling this 8th-grade year. The school is just a two-block walk, and they have dance class, and art class, and music class, and a playground with water features! Plus, they get to go to the library… When Madeleine and I walk John Ronan to school, and settle him into class, we always longingly look at each other–wishing we too could stay the day there and play!

Though John Ronan is a clear machine boy–with a penchant for underground pipes, copper downspouts, gears, lights, levers, and pulleys, he’s also a baker’s son, and a baker’s grandson, and a baker’s nephew. Bread abounds in this family, so I laughed when the preschool teachers handed me two books that he had checked out, both about BAKING. Too funny.

The one I particularly liked is Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven. The story begins,

The wind it whooshed, the snow it whirled,

The rain streamed down; it sloshed and swirled

And washed the colors from the world.

The prose is really lovely, and full of humor, and the story centers on a very grey and wintry world that a baker makes bright and cheery by creating a giant loaf of bread that looks like the sun. This world is populated by creatures of all sorts who are invited to share the sun bread,

“The baker’s made a sun!” they cried.

The baker let them all inside…

And filled them up from toe to head

With puffy, hot, delicious bread.

Then, they dance and sing while eating bread, and eventually the sun itself finally comes out to play. The baker’s giant loaf of sun bread reminded me of this loaf that my brother’s made a few weeks ago.

This would be an adorable book to bring out in the middle of winter, just when you and the kids are starting to tire of the white sky and grey clouds… I know it’s only fall now, but the days pass quickly and before we know it, winter will be here!

Meanwhile, I’m off to the preschool to return the book and collect leaves along the way. Our sky is blue today, but I just might shape the sourdough that’s rising into a giant sun anyway!

Children’s Books for Budding Bakers

Been bakin’

Been readin’, too

This book put a smile on my face last week when the wind was making all of us wacky and grumpy and altogether very weird. I found it in the new book stack at the library, where I take my four year old each Tuesday. Easy as Pie by Cary Best, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is a newish release about a little baker in the making. His name is Jacob and he makes a peach pie while you’re reading the story. Really! He even makes the pie crust from scratch. And he’s a happy little tot. His enthusiasm is contagious, and, wow, this book would make a great pairing as a birthday gift wrapped alongside an Easy Bake Oven!

And Easy as Pie reminds me of another favorite, favorite that has to do with baking. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman is one of my all time super picks! I’ve purchased many copies of that book for adventurous munchkins.

Priceman zooms you around the world to pick up the ingredients she needs in order to make the apple pie. In fact, one of my favorite and quite handy facts from that book is that cinnamon comes from the Sri Lankin “native kurundu tree”. Good to know stuff! Oh, and the little girl makes her own sea salt. Maybe that’s where I first got the idea.

What about you, do you have favorite books on baking for kids? I’d love to know about them if you do…

And the Winner is?…

Been baking up a storm. Scones to school. Bread to Cheryl. Bread to Cara…They all deserve more than what I could ever give…

But forget about the oven for a minute. It’s time to give away a copy of The Woman and the Wheat. Yippee!!! By the way, an awesome review on the book was posted to Ancient Faith Radio yesterday. The review made me cry–which makes me think Katherine Hyde, the reviewer, better keep on writing herself; she’s that persuasive!

Audio review of The Woman and the Wheat

I’m thrilled with this list of favorite children’s books. What a line up! There are several here that are completely new to me–and I have thousands on my shelves. I can’t wait to read each and every new one mentioned…

Favorites

The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M.T. Anderson and Bagram Ibatoulline

Fingal’s Quest by Madeleine A Polland

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Tales of the Kingdom by David R. Mains, Karen Burton Mains and Linda Lee Wells

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Clown of God by Tomie de Paola

The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and Tibor Gergely

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Olivia by Ian Falconer

If you give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus and Jose Aruego

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and P. J. Lynch

The Abbot & I : as told by Josie the Cat by Sarah Elizabeth Cowie

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

From I-ville to You-ville by Mersine Vigopoulou, Emani Heers, and Fr. Peter Alban Heers

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

Make Way for Ducklings (and other books such as Lentil, and Homer Price) by Robert McCloskey

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

The Life of St. Brigid: Abbess of Kildare by Jane G Meyer 🙂 and Zachary Lynch

The Miracle of St. Nicholas by Gloria Whelan

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham

Books illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Books illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

The Weaving of a Dream by Marilee Heyer

The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan and Michael Wimmer

Go, Dogs, Go!, The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer

The Monk who Grew Prayer by Claire Brandenburg

The Man and the Vine by Jane G Meyer (another :))and Ned Gannon

Beatrix Potter books

Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gillman

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch and Sheila McGraw

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

The Gruffalo and The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Celebrate the Earth and The Story of Mary by Dorrie Papademetriou

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney and Ann M. Martin

Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman and Ben Hatke

Hippos Go Berzerk by Sandra Boynton

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister Herbert and J. Alison James

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Tear Soup by Pat Schweibert, Chuck DeKlyen, and Taylor Bills

The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger

Christmas Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jane Dyer

The Golden Book of Poetry edited by Jane Werner

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

And the winner is…

SAMANTHA STARR!

A high school friend from my Samohi days, whose favorite children’s book pick was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Samantha, how fun!

Okay, off to the post office with the book. I wish you all a blessed and beautiful last Saturday before Christmas!