Byte-Size Blair | March 14

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram, give us a look. In the meantime, enjoy this collection of posts.

  1. Today is Pi Day! Celebrate by making this delicious buttermilk pie from chef Stephanie L. Tyson at Sweet Potatoes restaurant.
  2. Award season has begun in the book industry. Check out these talented Blair finalists.
  3. For Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day we’re proud to share this Essence interview with author and activist Sybil Haydel Morial, author of Witness to Change.
  4. Fun and educational, here’s an infographic about book cover design.
  5. Seeking creative indie booksellers who explain the industry with puppets? We’ve got you covered.

Now go enjoy some pie like this little guy!

Photo courtesy of Michael McGurk/Rex

Byte-Size Blair | February 22

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram, give us a look.

Tomorrow is the start of a Goodreads giveaway for The Dark of the Island by Philip Gerard. Add it to your to-read shelf and enter to win.

  1. Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr. (NewSouth Books) was chosen as the Foreword Reviews Book of the Day on Thursday.
  2. For Black History Month we took a look at some delicious heritage in Stephanie L. Tyson’s cookbooks.
  3. After reading 27 Views of Hillsborough (Eno Publishers), we love this a beautiful picture of Hillsborough’s Historic Courthouse.
  4. We all wish we had an artistic and colorful book room like this one.
  5. Last but not least, we took time this week to remember Harper Lee, the literary legend who passed away.

This dog is hoping for a free copy of The Dark of the Island.

Byte-Size Blair | November 24

We’re back with Byte-Size Blair, our weekly wrap-up of all things social media. If you’re not already following us on Facebook,Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, give us a look.

Happy Turkey Week, everybody! We can’t believe the holiday season is here… or maybe we can, because we’ve been gifted with so much great book news. Obviously, our books were on the good list this year.

1. Maybe Minnesotans aren’t thrilled about their grape salad, but we couldn’t be happier that Well, Shut My Mouth! and Soul Food Odyssey (July 2015) author Stephanie L. Tyson was the chef behind North Carolina’s must-have Thanksgiving addition, according to The New York Times.

2. Speaking of 2015 titles, Tiya Miles, the MacArthur fellow behind our upcoming novel The Cherokee Rose, was featured with her husband in a great article in Montana State’s newsletter.

3. The Messy Desk contest is coming to an end, so make sure you “like” your favorite entries, because we are announcing the winner and runners-up on Tuesday, November 25.

4. Foreword Reviews featured Badass Civil War Beards for No Shave November (make sure to enter our #NSN contest!)

5. We’re happy to share space on this list with Jeni’s Ice Creams, but seriously… when are they going to open a storefront in Winston-Salem?

We know many of you hate to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving has even arrived, but c’mon! This is too cute.

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Stephanie Tyson speaks at UCF Book Festival March 31, 2012

As one of Florida’s premier literary events, the UCF Book Festival features renowned national and local authors, book signings and sales, exhibits, book appraisals, and special children’s activities. This year, they invited Stephanie L. Tyson, author of Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook. She’ll appear with Nathalie Dupree March 31, 2012, at 3 p.m., for the panel “Southern Cooking at its Best: Biscuits, Sweet Potatoes and More.” Just talking about it makes our mouths water!

Born in North Carolina, Chef Tyson spent countless hours dreaming of leaving for the bright lights of anywhere else. But once she left to travel and cook around the world, she could not believe what a relief it was to come home again. Trained in culinary arts at Baltimore International College, Chef Tyson opened her award-winning restaurant with her partner Vivián Joiner in 2003 in the downtown Arts District of Winston-Salem, where they live.

Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook is recipes—recipes from the Sweet Potatoes restaurant, recipes from the families of Chef Stephanie Tyson and co-owner Vivian Joiner, recipes that are Southern, plain and simple. But beyond the how-to’s for Gullah Shrimp and Crab Pilau, Cheerwine-Glazed Country Ham, and other lip-smacking dishes, this soul food cookbook is also the history of the two women who started a locally and nationally acclaimed restaurant. As Tyson says in her introduction, “Every part of me is a part of Sweet Potatoes.” In Well, Shut My Mouth! she shares a culinary experience that has been a favorite of Winston-Salem natives and visitors for years, allowing readers and patrons to recreate it in their own kitchens.

View the entire festival schedule here. And if you can’t make it to Orlando, perhaps Stephanie’s sweet potato biscuits will tide you over? Nancie McDermott, chef in her own right, shared her thoughts on the recipe here.

Our 2011 gift guide for the southern reader

Still looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list? Here are a few of our favorite titles of 2011; we think they’d make stellar gifts for your family and friends!

For the music or mystery lover

In Murder on Music Row, by Stuart Dill, Judd Nix, a 23-year-old unpaid intern at Elite Management, welcomes the chance to become the paid assistant of Simon Stills, one of country’s biggest managers, but he soon finds himself a witness to an assassination attempt. When a gunman takes aim at megastar Ripley Graham, Stills’s most important client and the last hope for the troubled recording industry, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, the shooter misses and seriously wounds Stills instead. Nix and his co-worker, Megan Olsen, decide to investigate on their own, but with music executives plotting a major merger, they can’t be sure whom to trust.

“Remember your first John Grisham? Country music veteran Dill (he served as a personal manager for Minnie Pearl, Dwight Yoakam, and other greats) doesn’t miss a beat in this debut high-adrenaline thriller full of twists and turns.”
Library Journal, starred review

Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller has more twists and turns than a spring tornado in Tennessee. This book will have you diving under the covers — with a flashlight, of course. A terrific read.”
Marshall Chapman, critically acclaimed musician and author

Read a book club guide, watch interviews with the author, and more >>

For the memory lane walker

Tales from a Free-Range Childhood, a memoir by storyteller Donald Davis, will have you hootin’ and hollerin’ at his youthful misadventures in rural North Carolina in the 1950s. Among this collection of 18 stories, Davis explains why 28 second-graders petitioned the school board to reestablish paddling as their preferred form of punishment, instead of the new policy of “suspension.” He also spins family tales about how his mother was finally convinced to give his brother Joe’s naturally curly, “wasted-on-a-boy” hair its first cut; and how he and his cousin Andy got fired from their job of “watching the baby.” Through his tender, often humorous stories about his life experiences, Davis captures the hearts and minds of readers while simultaneously evoking their own childhood memories.

“From the photo on the cover…to the strings of hilarious and touching stories, Donald Davis takes us on a journey. This is not just his story, however, as a master storyteller, he not only tells you about himself, but also strikes familiar notes that reach into each listener’s memory bank.”
New York Journal of Books

“…a well-told true story is comfort food for the soul, and Davis’s book is nourishing.”
Foreword Reviews

Read an excerpt, visit the author’s website, and more >>

For the soul food aficionado

Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook is recipes – recipes from the restaurant, recipes from the families of Chef Stephanie Tyson and co-owner Vivian Joiner, recipes that are Southern, plain and simple. The cookbook is also the history of the two women who started a locally and nationally acclaimed restaurant (Our State, Southern Living, New York Times). As Tyson says in her introduction, “Every part of me is a part of Sweet Potatoes.” In Well, Shut My Mouth! she shares a culinary experience that has been a favorite of Winston-Salem natives and visitors for years. Now, patrons have the tools to re-create the Sweet Potatoes dining experience in their own homes.

“Everything about this book is correct except the title. Anyone with a taste bud in their mouth should follow these recipes and open their mouth.”
Maya Angelou

Watch cooking demos with the author, and more >>  

For the adventurer

The 21 tours in Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads, by Carolyn Sakowski, cover the entire mountain region of western North Carolina and provide numerous opportunities for seeing unspoiled landscapes and pastoral scenes. But scenery is not the only focus. Once you’re on the backroads, you might speculate about the history behind the old white clapboard farmhouse that dominates the valley ahead, or you might wonder about the rest of the story behind the two sentences on the historical marker at the side of the road. Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads fills in those details. Drawing from local histories and early travel writings, each tour is designed to be a journey through the history of the area. Tales of eccentric characters, folklore that has been passed down through the ages, and stories about early settlers combine to present a perspective that makes the scenery come alive.

“Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads by Carolyn Sakowski is the book to consult for Thanksgiving. No, it doesn’t have recipes but it has more important help. It will help you entertain your out-of-town guests.”
— Danny Bernstein, Hiker to Hiker

“Sakowski doesn’t choose routes simply for the scenery; almost any mountain road presents visual delights. She finds stories about people and places, then connects them, guiding readers along a narrative path as well.”
— Doug Clark, Greensboro News & Record

Find tours at the author’s website, learn “best-of” sites chosen by the author, and more >>

For animal lovers of all ages

In Animal Adventures in North Carolina, Jennifer Bean Bower shares 70 animal attractions that she has personally discovered throughout her travels of the entire state. Each entry provides contact information, driving directions, possible fees, hours of operation, and useful travel tips, accompanied by photographs and detailed descriptions of the attraction’s offerings. An extensive appendix lists additional opportunities for viewing and interacting with animals in North Carolina, including wildlife refuges, farm tours, nature preserves, and working farm vacations.

 Discover the 10 best N.C. animal adventures you didn’t know >>

Thanksgiving with Stephanie Tyson, author of “Well, Shut My Mouth!”

We already shared our chicken-frying experience with you (more on that here), so we figured we’d give you the recipes for sides that should go with it (or your Thanksgiving turkey): sweet potato cornbread and greens. Stephanie Tyson, author of Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook, shared these recipes in a cooking demo with WCNC in Charlotte last week–check out that video here.

Spicy Greens
Serves 10 to 12.

This dish can be as spicy as you like. If you are faint of heart (burn), eliminate the red pepper altogether. Either way, don’t forget the cornbread!

8 quarts chicken stock or water
1 or 2 pieces smoked turkey necks or legs
1 tablespoon dried thyme
4 or 5 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 onion, chopped
3 bunches collard greens, cleaned
1 bunch mustard greens, cleaned
2 bunches turnip greens, cleaned
¼ pound butter
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Boil the chicken stock or water in a large pot. Add the smoked turkey, thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and onions. Reduce the temperature and simmer for about ½ hour to sufficiently season liquid. Add the greens and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 1 hour until the greens are tender. Remove the smoked turkey. Remove the bones and return the meat to the greens. Stir in the butter, vinegar, and sugar.

Sweet Potato Cornbread
Makes 12 muffins or one 9-inch pan.

Nothing is better than cornbread and greens—except Sweet Potato Cornbread and greens! This cornbread is also the base of great stuffing (or dressing).

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1¼ cups milk
½ cup mashed sweet potatoes

In a large bowl, loosely sift the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the lightly beaten eggs, oil, and milk. Add the sweet potatoes and mix well. Add the sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients and combine, being careful not to overmix. Pour into a greased 9-inch baking pan or spoon into a 12-cup muffin tin. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes until the cornbread is golden.

(And you know what’s even better than sweet potato cornbread? Sweet potato cornbread stuffing! You’ll have to check out Well, Shut My Mouth! for that recipe though.)

Check back tomorrow for the prefect cocktail to kick off the holiday season.

SIBA 2011–Better late than never!

This post is a little late, but with three authors on tour and new updates in publicity for Stuart Dill’s Murder on Music Row every day (see the latest here and in the current issue of ForeWord Reviews), we’ve been too busy to tell you about our trip to Charleston for The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show.

As always, the show was a success. It was so great to see our friends from other presses and our sales reps and meet new booksellers and media contacts. I grabbed this shot of Angela with Emily from Lookout Books as soon as we got the booth set up.

Guess who stopped by our booth to speak with booksellers about her latest, The Ballad of Tom Dooley, and the new reprint of Ghost Riders we’re publishing in March?

Sharyn McCrumb, that’s who! We had a blast with her. I credit her with my favorite line of the whole weekend: “Writing is like being a hooker. Make sure you’re good at it before you start charging.” Good advice, no? Sharyn, it was wonderful to spend some time with you last weekend.

Wendy Dingwall, author of Hera’s Revenge (you’ll have to read her Library Journal review) joined us for a signing as well. It was so great to finally meet you, Wendy!

Stuart Dill, our debut mystery author, came to SIBA to speak to booksellers at a luncheon. He stopped by the booth for a quick photo op.

We ended the weekend with an author auction, where booksellers bid to take authors to dinner. Chef Stephanie Tyson, author of our latest cookbook Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook, provided sweet potato pies for the event. Yum…

That’s all I’ve got for you, folks. If we missed you at SIBA this year, hopefully we’ll see you in 2012!