Definitely One For the Books

One sticky August Virginia day, my boyfriend and I sat on an open tailgate, snacking on apples and trying to beat the heat while a legal representative from a nearby bookstore read us a subpoena. What kids get up to these days, right?

This is the story of my mother’s book launch,


featuring a bunch of literature-loving yogis, an overdose of sugar, and a bookstore that doubles as a law firm. After a couple years of arduous editing and nearly two decades of subjecting her children to her foodie Frankenstein kitchen persona, my mother’s first book (of many), Dear Opl, was published. (Shameless plug: go buy it if you haven’t already. If you have children, they will find it funny. If you don’t, the cover art is pretty. Also, my name is in the dedication. So, it’s worth it.)

Flash back four hours. I sat in the kitchen, next to the carefully packed box of 100 apples that the glorious Whole Foods–health grocery store supreme– had kindly donated to support the fresh fruit cult. Mom waltzed in and asked if I thought 9-13-year-olds, the intended audience of her book, would find her look approachable. I told her to maybe switch out the “eat good food or you will die alone” shirt, and with that, we were off, rocketing along the back roads with a box of books and apples.


We got to the bookstore, (I won’t name names, so let’s just call it Yarns & Global), unpacked and settled into the throne that had been allocated to the signing. My mother immediately began walling herself inside a fort of brightly colored books while I set up the box of scrumptious apples. Two minutes later, a wild customer service employee appeared, eyeing the apple box skeptically. Apparently, in the kingdom of Darns & Mobile, only packaged food may be served at events. Especially when the event in question centers around replacing packaged food with fresh food. But hey, who doesn’t love a bit of legalistic irony with their grassroots campaign? And my mother, being the resourceful person she is, simply relocated me to right outside the kingdom’s borders, where I was to sit, with a stool and a box of apples, to reward purchasers with a healthy snack.

Inside Narnia & Bobbles:

My mother greeted arriving family members and tried to prevent my grandmother from stuffing half of the gardening section into her purse.

Outside Narnia & Bobbles:

I was just preparing to cart out the apples when curses, foiled again by customer service. Apparently, the kingdom’s borders extend beyond its four walls. I reassured them I would move farther out into the wrath of the burning hot sun with my fifty-pound load of poisoned apples.

Inside Brawns & Foibles:

Half of my mother’s yoga class stood in line for a signed copy of the book. People purchased copies for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews on the other side of the country. Mom signed and signed, making up a different spelling of “Bon Appétit” each time.

Outside Brawns & Foibles:

Another genius idea: relocate to the back of Mom’s car in the parking lot, in plain view of exiting customers. I recruited the loyal boyfriend to keep me company as I sat on the tailgate, handing out free little parcels of arsenic while the sun threatened to knock me out.


Inside Narnyness & Boblitude:

Small, eager children swarmed around my mother, attracted by the scrumptious chocolate bar on the cover. One child told her about the mermaid novel she was currently engrossed in while another inquired about library availability and stuffed his pockets with some signed bookmarks – prime merch. If she keeps this up, she’ll have the weirdest little fan club of third graders sporting “think global eat local” bumper stickers on their lunchboxes.

Outside Narnyness & Boblitude:

Some poor guy sent by the evil overlord of the kingdom’s legal department stood in front of me, hands shaking, reading me a cease and desist. With heavy hearts, we conceded the victory of World War III to our enemies. May we live to solicit another day.

When the lady could sign no longer, we piled into the car, down a bucket of books, and headed off to a celebration dinner of burgers and milkshakes. Then additional festivities ensued where Grandma provided a massive fondant cake in the shape of the book. And finally we landed in our kitchen, where I test-baked three batches of different cookies. Her campaign slogan may have been “connect with your inner good food dude” but mine (and Grandma’s) was “free the free sugars.”



*dons serious face*


It is a truly marvelous thing to see a community united in support of a well-intentioned project and its pioneer. If I know my mother, I know that she will never stop engaging everyone she meets in good books and good food. I hope to see all of you at her second book launch, which will most likely take place upon an actual launching rocket ship and … there will be cookies.

On an unrelated note, if anyone would like some freshly made applesauce, we have a few tanks to spare.


*ROBIN GOTT’s NEW POST* (click) 

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.


70 thoughts on “Definitely One For the Books

  1. Great post… So the book launch … was strictly (i.e literally) a book launch! , 🙂
    Secondly… as I read your musings related to food and so on… I could not avoid thinking of the classic quote: Mens sana in corpore sano… Cheers to that!… *she says whilst she grabs a bunch of french fries*
    Love and best wishes, dear Shelley! Aquileana 🙂

    • Hey, I am literally typing with one hand and stirring brownie batter with the other. This particular batch is to help my corpore with my mens’s structural mechanics homework. Good food is good food. 😉

  2. Oh, I wondered when your third blogpost would arrive and here it is! What a wonderful picture you paint of the proceedings – I can just imagine it, although the secret identity of Smarms & Ignobles shall be forever a mystery, I’m afraid. No matter, I laughed anyway in spite of not knowing and loved the whole thing. 😀

  3. Lol! Sounds like a roaring success, despite the cease and desist order. Who knew apples could be so controversial? Clearly you and your mom have the same fabulous sense of humor, Chloe. 😀 Your desserts sound frickin’ awesome, and I’m sure they’re all very wholesome and healthy. 😉 YUMMM….

    • I mean, apples are obviously going to be one of the hot button political issues this election. Every debate basically boils down to red vs green.

      As far as the desserts go … one of them had pumpkin in it … so, that had some vitamins, I’m sure.

    • As much as it pains me to say it, the apple police were just doing their job. (A weird and confusing job, albeit, but still.)

      I’ll pass on the well wishes to Madre. 🙂

  4. Chloe, you are every bit as funny and talented as your mother. What a team! Shelley, wish I lived close enough to solicit a signed copy of ‘Opl’ (and a few cookies) – hilarious that the apples were seriously considered a dealbreaker in this instance!

  5. Blah and Gobble sound like total ogres Chloe, I should set up your bakery right next door, in fact Blah & Gobble could be a cool name for the bakery and you could do book signings, book clubs and apple sauce as a sideline, go for it! 😀

  6. Apples ain’t apples obviously to the militaristic Take Arms and Go Global. I would have come for a free Apple fer sure and more importantly, to celebrate your Motherships fantabulous new book. I have been thinking that she maybe should run for President as your potential next President could be a dude who appears to be the same shade of orange as a pumpkin.) Not that we seem to know what we are doing here either.) Keep baking, everything in moderation I say. 😁

    • My mom as president … every campaign speech would just be one long stretch of puns and side tangents about the hound dog.

      ..Still better than a presidential pumpkin, though.

  7. Strangely reminded of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Marcie in a coat of flowers…steps inside a candy store…reds are sweet and greens are sour…. ‘Perhaps a new theme for the several re-launches? Great post. I have yet to manage anything resembling a launch…more a plop is my experience…splattered and squished. We have the equivalent of Yarns and Gobble here (UK) but Stepping stones conceal a deep current that drowns any hopes for equality between the ‘officially launched’ ( aka Big Five- like the game in South African reserves…lion, rhino et al) and the struggling ‘self published’ those warthogs hardly worth a glance!

  8. Dear me. This makes me want to boycott Barnsworth and Nobble! Except they gave your a mom a good experience, inside the doors, and I guess that counts for a lot! And, yes, if you can make BROWN BUTTER OATMEAL WALNUT COOKIES STUFFED WITH PEANUT BUTTER AND CARAMEL, college is superfluous. Simply not necessary. At all.

    • Ooh that sounds delicious. And I think so long as you weren’t attempting to lure people from the path with muffins, it’d be alright. 😀

  9. I wish I could have been there! Would love to help catapult your mom to fame and fortune! Love the little girl with her mermaids – hey, an idea for book two? ; )

    • It’d certainly be an interesting historical fiction with a cast of mermaids…and seeing as she’s currently on book five or six, I think there would be a fair bit of rewriting involved.

  10. Very funny Chloe,

    Actually it’s rather sad when packaged food trumps an apple. The Kingdom of Narnes and Boble have a lot to answer for. May I suggest sealing the apples in cellophane next time? Great post Chloe, you are every bit as funny as your mum.


  11. So, Chloe, is your mom paying you for any of this? Not only did you have to suffer under the hot burning desert sun for hours to hand out produce, you were forced to write about it in the funniest possible way. In fact, you made me laugh so hard I think I’ve injured something…I’ll be sure to send over a Narnia & Bobbles legal rep with my lawsuit. Clearly they have everything well in hand to protect me from dangerous stories about apples.

    I need those catapult specs so I can use them for those future book launches I have seen in my wildest dreams. Or maybe Amazon can use them instead of drones. Quick, patent it, Rob! You’ll make a mint!

    • Not a dime – but that’s okay, I volunteered for both tasks to help lessen her workload. I think I owe her that after years of clean laundry and yummy dinners. The nightly bowl o’ corn flakes really drives home the comparison. 😀

  12. Hee, hee. I’m going to be laughing about this one all day. Who knew apples could be so poisonous? And I just went apple picking a couple weekends ago. Oh, the shame of it. I wouldn’t quit college, but you should definitely open a bakery. Those cookies sound out of this world.

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