Best Laid Plans

The Journey took some unexpected twists. Of course, Wisconsin did tip off the scales into the place I loving call Nanny-Foo-Foo Land – but honestly that is not really an excuse. Sure I knew that a reboot was coming, especially with November coming around the bend. Hell, I am already considering designs for my new “This is not Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo” sign for NaNoWriMo. (And yes, I do see the irony in that statement. Thank you very much.) All that aside, the discussion of several novel-themed cupcakes lead me to looking towards going to Authors After Dark in New Orleans this coming year instead of the much closer Romantic Times Chicago. But I think I am getting ahead of myself… let’s start from the beginning of this week.

Sunday Robin and I competed in Iron Cupcake Madison (#6 Late Summer Fruit). We chose cherries and even did a road trip to Door County to collect the cherries and get inspired. The haunted lighthouse exhibit at the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay did that quite nicely for us. Our display for the cupcakes included cake boards decorated and set up to look like a haunted lighthouse. We included the light under glass with a roof on the top tier. Cherry trees were scattered around the graveyard (with cupcakes for cherries) and zombies (made of chocolate) were crawling out of graves (also cupcakes) at the foot of the trees. Zombie Cakes first showing in a public event went well – we even took a couple of votes for best tasting.

While I considered any vote for best taste taken away from a trained pastry chef a win, we did win the top prize for presentation. And by we I mean Robin. She did all the work on the presentation with some help from her friend who was up for a Badger game this weekend and stuck around for the event. In fact Kate was the one who piped 200+ number 9 shapes in red chocolate. We were bakers #9, so we made our flag our garnish and made it edible. End result was a lot of money and a lot of hard work for some bragging rights. What we had been unaware of until the day before the event was that there were in fact prizes for best taste, best presentation and “knocked your socks off” at the event. So we did get a prize basket with a certificate naming us winner, a gift card to a baking store and assorted other goodies.

During the event I was talking with the organizer about the last event ran earlier in the summer. It was a book themed event. Yeah, I’ve never done cupcakes themed around books. Talking about them with her got me thinking about them, and Monday seeing a tweet from Jaye Wells about AAD (and ironically the inspiration behind one of my novel theme cupcakes) kept me thinking about them. Well, that and the clean up from baking 250 cupcakes (as well as giving away the extras).

This brings me to The Journey for next year. While having agents and publishers at RT is a draw for me, more of the authors I know and enjoy talking to will be in New Orleans for AAD this coming year. Should I decide to make a road trip or train ride out of it instead of flying, I can bring themed cakes with me. Also, it would be nice to see more of New Orleans this time around which is made easier by having a car available.

Don’t get me wrong – I still want to be able to celebrate signing with an agent, or even just selling a short story to be published. At the same time though, I really would like a chance to relax and spend time talking books and writing with folks that share the same passion. Also meeting some of the authors for the new series I’ve been picking up wouldn’t suck. Yeah, I’m looking your way Allison Pang.

To offer a preview of the plan should I make it with cake boxes in tow, here is the list I am considering:

The Red Headed Stepchild (from the novel of the same name by Jaye Wells) – a spicy apple cake with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. (I am playing with other flavors of frosting, and will be using my D&D group on Sundays as a test market. Sounds so much better than tester monkeys.) And before Jaye smites me, we will attempt the marzipan Giguhl to top one of the cupcakes again.

The Spicy Demon aka The Ryzkahl (from the Kara Gillian series by Diana Rowland) – a devils food cupcake with ancho pepper in it topped with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. (No, I am not suggesting anything made of marzipan to represent any part of Ryzkahl to go on top of the cake.)

The Hornicorn aka Phin’s Cake (from A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang) – a maple bacon cake… frosting I am thinking of trying a browned agave frosting topped with a small piece of dark chocolate dipped bacon. This will require more testing.

Feral Cakes (named for Amanda Feral from Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry) – dark chocolate cake with a green-gray tinted frosting shaped to be anatomically correct with toasted coconut for the… well… you get the idea. The Wendy cakes (using untoasted coconut) would be filled with a small Twix bar. Y’all know she just can’t help herself. Get a bucket… and some Depends. Even though the series has no more books coming out, they were so much fun in Columbus we may have to. The photo ops alone were worth it. Let’s just say Mark Henry, Dakota Cassidy and a couple other authors will never be able to run for public office. 😉

If I can manage to think up some flavors for series written by Nicole Peeler, Carolyn Crane and Michele Bardsley, I will include those as well. Any ideas for them? Just so I set the expectations, just because Jane True is half selkie, I will NOT be making a sushi cupcake! But feel free to suggest away.

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