There are two most excellent new things in our house right now.

1. A box of freshly printed copies of my new novel, The Opposite of Geek.

2. A bottle of freshly brewed cherry soda.

First things first. I’ve already revealed the cover of the book and talked a bit about it, but this is the first time I’ve held the actual thing in my hand and seen how wonderful the cover looks, as they say, in real life. I love the choices my publisher made. I love that my editor emailed me last week to exclaim that her copy had just arrived. I love that when we went to Purolator to pick up the box of books, Little e said, Mummy books, even though I hadn’t told her what was in it. (When we got home and I handed her a copy, she smiled, opened it up and bent the front cover in half. So, yeah.)

This book started out as my Master’s thesis, so in a way it’s my first baby–all grown up and gone off to make its own life. When I start a book, I have no idea what the final package will look like. I might have a few vague images in my head that are connected to the characters or setting, but working with a design team and talking through concepts with an editor is a totally different game. This book is about lots of things: poetry, friendship, acceptance and rejection, (It’s also about food, but more on that another time), and all those themes needed some creative visuals. Getting a novel written in free-verse published is hard enough. But asking a publisher to create diagrams and posters to slot between the poems? That’s quite the request. I’ve been so lucky to work with Scholastic on this book; they’ve embraced the idea and really let me (and the designers) run with it. [Sneaky tidbit: One of the diagrams is a comparison of “geek” vs “cool” as relating to chemical structure.]


So it seemed apropos to celebrate with something else I’ve been working on, though not for nearly as long. I’ve been, um, fermenting a few things. I don’t want to spill all the kitchen news at once (don’t you love kitchen news?), but let’s just say there’s a not-insignificant portion of my counter top now devoted to glass jars of various sizes containing all manner of bubbling, gaseous substances. It’s alive!

It was perfect that the day the books arrived was also the day we uncorked our first bottle of lacto-fermented soda. (Pop. Fruit cider. Whatever.) I’ve said before how much I like fizz (the non-alcoholic kind), and a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade, naturally carbonated soda that is made from fruit juice and something charmingly called a ginger bug. I don’t love the idea of Little e drinking cups and cups of juice, but fermented juice, made with the help of beneficial yeasts and bacteria, most of the sugars converted in the process? Yes, please.


Making the ginger bug was easy–just water, chopped ginger, some unrefined cane sugar and time. It’s kind of magical, actually, to watch the enzymes do their thing. After three days, you get a quietly fizzing jar of soda starter, and you really didn’t do anything! Making the soda itself is just as simple: add some ginger bug to good quality fruit juice, wait a few days, let it carbonate, and voila! The result is a lot less sweet than the original juice, with a pleasant warmth and fizz at the back of your throat. Little e was all about it. I’ve already got jars of pear, grapefruit and grape juice lined up for my next batches…

Learn how to make your own natural soda here.



Now to wrestle that tattered copy of my book out of my daughter’s hands…