WORDS…With a Dash of SABOR


So far, it looks as if the new year is off to a good start. I hit send on four easy-read manuscripts–a mini-series–on Monday. My lovely agent already is circulating those, so I’m hopeful they will land in the right editor’s inbox. Meanwhile, I think there are four PB manuscripts circulating that haven’t found the right editor yet. I’m finishing up the dreaded Source Notes and Index (especially dreaded/hated) for the major nonfiction project I’ve spent the last year and a half developing. Revisions on that saw me cutting about 15,000 to 20,000 words–so don’t ever tell me that every word is vital to a story. My expert reader helped me to see I had all this junk that could be summarized in a paragraph or two. (Thank you, Barbara.) I should be able to hit send on that by early next week.


As for what lies ahead, I have two nonfiction proposals I’m working on. Thirteen easy-read titles (The Corner Kids series) will see new life as ebooks. A new picture book–Puppy and Bear: The First Day of School–will be released in July. Also, Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 is coming in the fall. I’d post a cover picture of Twelve Days–it’s stunning (Thank you, Barbara Grzeslo!)–but I don’t have one in a format I can share yet. (Hint!) I do hope one arrives in the near term so I can include it on next fall’s postcard mailing, which is being designed as we speak.(Hint! Hint!) Besides the usual school appearances, I’ll be signing books at the Scottsdale (Arizona) Public Library on Saturday, January 21 (10:00 – 2:00) and joining Cynthia Levinson and David Rice in Corpus Christi (Texas) on Saturday, February 11, to speak at the TALE conference. I hope our paths cross somewhere along the way this year. And for those who’ve asked if I’ll be at the conference of the American Library Association in June, I haven’t heard yet. Finally, I’ll be part of a stellar faculty line up–https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/workshops/master-class-in-writing-nonfiction-for-children-and-young-adults-2017/ –for Highlights Foundation’s Master Class in Writing Nonfiction from July 16 to 20. You don’t want to miss it.


P.S.: Schools interested in booking an Author Visit with me this spring or next fall, my calendar is filling fast. Contact me by email to secure your slot: ldb@brimner.com.






On the Winter Solstice poet David Harrison declared it to be “Couplet Day.” The day before a praying mantis somehow managed to get itself between the window and outside screen. Hence . . .

Dear Mantis, perched between window and screen,

What meal awaits unaware, unseen?

© Larry Dane Brimner, All Rights Reserved, 2016




Happy Boxing Day to all my British friends.

Sending love…


It has been a while since I’ve posted anything related to the “Sabor” portion of my Journal. Herewith, two recipes I served at a small Christmas brunch in mid-December.

Beet-and-Pear Salad

3 medium-sized fresh beets
1 pear, peeled and sliced

1/4 C olive oil
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 C loosely packed salad greens–arugula or butter lettuce work well
¼ C coarsely chopped pistachios or pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
Feta cheese (optional)

In an 8×8 pan, roast beets in ¼ C of water for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until tender in a 350-degree
oven. Cool. Peal. Slice. Prepare fruit.
Arrange beets and fruit over greens on a serving platter. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle pistachios
or pepitas over. Optional: sprinkle with feta cheese.

The original recipe appeared in Southern Living magazine as “Beet-and-Citrus” salad, but I can’t eat grapefruit, although I love it.

Cornbread Casserole with Ham and Kale
(modified from a Food Network recipe)

Corn Filling

3 Tbs butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish (2 ½ quart dish)

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp if using dried)
½ tsp kosher salt
A few grinds of pepper
2 16-ounce bags frozen corn, thawed
1 ½ C heavy cream
½ lb ham, diced
5 ounces frozen kale (or any other greens substitute – I used collard greens)
¼ – ½ tsp of Aleppo chili for a little heat and smokiness

Cornbread Topping

¾ C yellow cornmeal
¾ C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp each of salt and freshly ground black pepper (I used less)
1 ½ sticks of butter, cut into pieces
¾ C heavy cream
1 C shredded sharp yellow Cheddar, divided
Hot Sauce for serving

Coat 2 ½ qt. baking dish with butter
Preheat oven to 350

I made the corn filling a day ahead.

In a LARGE skillet over medium heat, saute onion in butter until translucent. Add thyme salt, pepper.
Add corn and cream, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces in volume
and bubbles rapidly. (About 15 minutes) Transfer 2 C of the hot mixture to a food processor and puree.
Return the pureed corn to the skillet. Add Aleppo chili, if using, to taste. Fold in ham and
kale (or other greens). Set aside (or cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator overnight if
preparing ahead).

Cornbread Topping: Pulse corn meal, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper to combine. Add
the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add cream and ½ C of the
Cheddar, pulse until mixture just comes together.

Place baking dish on a sheet pan. Drop cornbread in lumps over the corn filling. It will puff and
spread out, so don’t worry about covering the corn mixture from side to side. Sprinkle with
remaining ½ C of Cheddar. Bake at 350 until the filling is bubbling and the cornbread is puffed
and golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.  






Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! May your hearts be overflowing with happiness.





Reviewers have noted that my nonfiction is well researched, and I do spend a lot of time reading memoirs, letters, diaries, and other books about my topic. But there’s another step in my “process.” Yes, I have an eagle-eyed editor and copy editor who go over my work, and I’m grateful to them. Long before they receive it, however, I send an early draft of my manuscript out to an expert reader for comments and corrections, and to get feedback on the general flavor of a project. This morning in the wee hours, the expert reader for my 2018 title responded with her comments. In this case, the expert reader is a film historian and while her comments are generally positive, she offers much to consider as I sit down to revise the work in progress. Sometimes it just takes another pair of eyes to help me find my focus. And so, positive comments aside, it’s back to the drawing board . . . or computer, as the case may be.


AT the launch of December, I had the privilege of visiting a class of second graders who attend Northern Hills Elementary in San Antonio, Texas. Such a delightful, bright group of eager learners!


We talked about ideas and my age (a higher math problem turned back on the students), Christmas traditions (they had read Merry Christmas, Old Armadillo — now celebrating its 21st season), Kubric (my schnauzer), my role in the creation of a book, and what my editors do. I’m grateful to have been able to share a little bit of their morning. Being around young people is always a great way to begin a month.




WE used the weekend after Thanksgiving to see the movie, Loving, because it’s the topic of my next book. It is brilliantly acted by Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving and Ruth Negga as his wife, Mildred. The movie portrays the poverty of the rural South with accuracy, while Edgerton captures Richard’s rather shy way of interacting with the world. He is man most comfortable among his black friends. Negga gives a powerful and Oscar-worthy performance as the woman who makes contact with Bobby Kennedy to eventually strike down laws barring marriage between races. It is rare anymore for an audience to break out in applause at the end of a film, but this is exactly what happened. But as J. pointed out, in a theater that holds 100 to 150 movie-going folk, it was “disappointing not to see any African Americans among them.” I hope this changes, because it’s a movie well-worth seeing by everyone.


In the waning days of November, I always look back over the year to take stock. Did I accomplish any of the items on my 2016 “goal” list? Was I more disciplined in my writing? Did I exercise as much as I hoped (or as much as I led my doctor to believe I did)? Did I visit as many schools as I wanted or needed to keep this roof over my head? Was I joyful and, as importantly, did I contribute to making other lives more joyful?

I succeeded on some counts, and failed on others. That’s life. But I won’t beat myself up over those things I failed to achieve. That’s the difference between resolutions and goals. Resolutions are fixed in the firmament, while goals are fluid, subject to change. Last December when I made up my goal list, which consisted of three things I thought I’d like to work toward, they were important to me then. As we dive into December, I now have a chance to look over that short list to determine which ones I achieved, which ones are still important enough to me to slide over to the 2017 list, and which ones to abandon. I achieved two of the three goals I’d worked on, which isn’t bad. The thing I didn’t accomplish is still important, so I’ll slide it over to my 2017 list.








I write. I write about racial intolerance and injustice. I write about honorable people wanting and deserving a fair shake. I write about America behaving badly. Aided by a media caught up in a sideshow and a political party that refused to stand up to acrimony, hypocrisy, and crudeness, America has behaved badly once again. Radio talk show hate-mongers, media, and Republicans, you own this.

I am signing off for the time being, or perhaps for good. I cannot be part of a nation so filled with enmity for others.