Reminder that I’m teaching writing classes locally

Quick reminder that I’m teaching writing classes locally this coming week through Maram at Oak Park Works — it’s rare for me to teach outside of the university, so this is a great opportunity to dip your toe in, if you’ve been thinking of trying some writing. I’m teaching with Alec Nevala-Lee, and we’re offering some intro to fiction / nonfiction classes, along with some writing coaching sessions (2 left).

Class prices are significantly discounted from normal (due to my birthday fund drive on Facebook — thanks, folks!), and we also have scholarships available; just ask if you could use one, please! It’s also a great opportunity to check out this new co-working space!

Instructor Bios:

Mary Anne Mohanraj has published over a dozen books with big presses (HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin) and small presses, and has even indie-published a few books too. She’s run multiple successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo arts campaigns. Learn more at

Alec Nevala-Lee is a novelist and freelance writer who has sold over a dozen stories to the magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact. His group biography Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (HarperCollins) was recently named one of the best books of 2018 by the Economist. Three of his suspense novels have been published by Penguin, and he contributes occasionally to the New York Times Book Review.


Sunday 10/20:

9 – 10:30 — INTRO TO FICTION: LANGUAGE & STYLE: Writers of all levels welcome for a workshop focusing on language & style, with a focus on inventiveness, creativity stimulation, and fun (poets also welcome for this one). Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, $30 (limit 12)

11 – 12:30 — INTRO TO FICTION: CHARACTERS, with a focus on exploring various aspects of identity. Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, $30 (limit 12)

1 – 2:30 — INTRO TO FICTION: PLOT & STRUCTURE. Instructor, Alec Nevala-Lee, $30 (limit 12)

3 – 4:30 — PUBLISHING OVERVIEW: INDIE AND TRADITIONAL — a review of the current state of affairs of both traditional and independent publishing, from big presses to small presses to hybrid & self-publishing, including crowdfunded. We’ll look at what your options are for short fiction, essays, and novels, with a discussion of why you might want to choose one approach or another for a given project, and what are some effective steps towards your publishing goals. Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, $30 (limit 25)

25 minute COACHING SESSIONS (4 available)
We can discuss any aspect of writing / publishing that you’d like. I’d love to help talk through areas where you might be stuck, advise on further study (classes, retreats and residencies, MFAs, etc.), discuss publishing options, answer questions about agents, etc. and so on.
Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, $30 each, limit 1

6 – 6:30 — Coaching Session #3

6:30 – 7 — Coaching Session #4



Monday 10/21:


An overview of the process, from collecting family recipes (and navigating family politics), researching and developing your own recipes, deciding how you plan to share / publish the recipes, reviewing various publication options; snacks will be provided, and Mary Anne will have some of her cookbooks available for purchase.

Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, FREE, but registration required (limit 25)


We’ll use prompts to explore different types of nonfiction writing, from food to travel to memoir to reported articles, and will celebrate and critique each others’ efforts.

Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, $30 (limit 15)


HOW TO WRITE A COOKBOOK: Saturday 10/26, 12 – 1:30 p.m.

An overview of the process, from collecting family recipes (and navigating family politics), researching and developing your own recipes, deciding how you plan to share / publish the recipes, reviewing various publication options; snacks will be provided, and Mary Anne will have some of her cookbooks available for purchase.

Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj, FREE, but registration required (limit 25)

These women.

These women. Cee Gee came over and told me all kinds of things about fundraising that I didn’t know (Carollina, you need to meet her sometime soon re: Maram), and Karen Murphy has agreed to take on Managing Director of the SLF (!!!), and Stephanie Bailey is here right now opening Feast boxes to make sure we have enough books for shipping, after first making me go through my task list and take actual note of what is urgent, as in must-do-right-now-MA, and don’t-you-dare-start-another-project, and Heather is off in Ann Arbor, sending e-mails to the Kickstarter backers to confirm their addresses…

Kel, you were right, what you said at WisCon. I was in desperate need of a tribe. And I’m not saying they all had to be women, or mamas, but so far, the mama tribe has been an amazing enhancement to my life.

Many updates for Feast and events!

Feast production & event updates, many! Kickstarter ordering is officially closed! Kickstarter backers (THANK YOU), please do update your shipping addresses if needed, as we’re going to be shipping out SOON.

1) LOS ANGELES: First and most time-sensitive — if you’re going to be in L.A. on Halloween weekend, I’ll be there for World Fantasy, and will be delighted to hand-deliver signed books to you! The convention is at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, so we can meet for a drink in the bar, and I can hand you a book!

Some will be available in the dealer’s room at WFC at the Book Universe table (along with The Stars Change and Perennial), but Kickstarter backers should contact me if they’d like to pick up their copies, so I’ll be sure to set your copies aside. And ditto for anyone reading this who’d like to pre-order a copy; just let me know.

Kickstarter pricing ended last night, so books will be at the World Fantasy sale price of $37.95 (hardcover) and $22.95 (trade paperback, no photos in book). (Normally $40 / $25).


2) SPRING 2020 LAUNCH: As for the main launch in March, I’ve now paid the thousands of dollars of shipping cost (eep!) for 2000 copies of Feast (Mascot Books edition, not Kickstarter). This is to get it from the book production facility overseas to the warehouse in America. They will literally be coming on a slow boat from China, arriving sometime in mid-January.

I’ll then be paying again to get some copies shipped to me. You’d think I could split the order and send some here and some to the warehouse, for efficiency’s sake, but it’d be an extra $2K or so to do that, just because they’re not set up for that kind of thing. Sigh. Going to try to keep it to a few hundred dollars instead.

Ah well. More unanticipated costs here, there, and everywhere. But on the other hand, Farah just sent me a lovely note about her copy of the book, so that’s at least one happy customer, which bodes well for future sales. Fingers crossed.

(I am learning a LOT in the process; I do still want to do more books with Serendib Press, but big print runs of full-color hardcovers are a major project and serious financial risk, so may not do a lot of those! Ebooks. Ebooks are lovely.)

When it’s time to get books over to me in Chicagoland, we’ll be ordering them in cartons of 14 hardcovers each, and it’ll come via UPS ground — I thought media mail, but this hybrid publisher has stopped using media mail because too many books were damaged in transit. So by mid-February, I think, barring disaster, in good time for launching at FogCon in early March. Look, it’s a schedule! We’re keeping to it. Yay!


3) EVENTS: Next week, Pem Hessing and I are going to sit down and start working on the launch calendar in earnest. There’ll be some local events before that, though — please note the two FREE cookbook classes coming up in the next week at Oak Park Works:

Monday 10/21, 6-7:30, FREE
Saturday 10/26, 12 – 1:30, FREE

They’re free, but do require registration, link in comments. I’ll have cookbooks and curry powder available for sale there, and some milk toffee and passionfruit marshmallows to taste!


4) COOKING CLASS: There’s also a fun event coming up soon, a cooking class at SugarBeet, where I’ll be teaching people how to make hoppers: plain, egg, and sweet coconut. I’m going to make some curries (probably one chicken and one eggplant) and sambols (coconut and caramelized onion) in advance, to accompany the hoppers.

Bring a friend or partner; you’ll make yourselves a delicious brunch, accompanied by mango-passionfruit mimosas. Print books not included, but I’ll have some books available for sale (and $10 off!), if you get inspired, and you get to take home some fresh-roasted curry powder too. What a great date!

I’m not sure how many spots are left, so register quick!

Sunday 10/27, 10 – 12, $45.

A Gluten-Free Cookbook Question

Here’s a gluten-free cookbook question. For the little ebook of Vegan Serendib, I basically took a sampling of recipes from Feast. For the little ebook of The Marshmallows of Serendib, I actually did a baker’s dozen of completely new marshmallow recipes — Feast itself only has a basic recipe.

I’m trying to make sure that the new little gluten-free sampler is not just all the same things that are already in Feast (because after all, most of Sri Lankan cooking is actually gluten-free already). It’s a little tricky, planning it so that it’s useful BOTH to people who already own Feast, AND to people who might pick it up on its own.

For the gluten-free version of Feast, I’m sort of inclined to do a combo approach — some new recipes that aren’t in Feast (some of which are a bit more fusion, like the grilled Sri Lankan shrimp that I put in everything, including Caesar salad), but also some classics, so that people have a good baseline for Sri Lankan cuisine generally.

Does that approach make sense to folks?


FINAL REMINDER for Kickstarter pricing!

FINAL REMINDER and YES it’s time to think about holiday gifting already: Kickstarter-discounted pre-orders for A Feast of Serendib and assorted goodies close TODAY at midnight CST. Eep. Time to start roasting lots and lots of curry powder, making marshmallows and milk toffee (need to put Kevin to work cutting)…

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here:
If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly:
And here’s all the foodie social media:
Serendib Kitchen blog:
Serendib Kitchen Instagram:
Serendib FB Group:
Serendib FB Page:
Thanks for your su

Sri Lankan Dinner & Packing Party

Local friends, just sent out an Evite for a Sri Lankan dinner & packing party for next Wed evening (10/30). If you’d like to get an invitation, let me know what e-mail address to send it to. I will feed you in exchange for packing help. 

Pondering Gluten-Free Serendib

I’ve been pondering gluten-free Serendib some more. One thing I want to do is try to make gluten-free versions of love cake and rich cake — but the tricky thing is that it’s kind of an expensive and time-consuming thing to experiment with, because it’s a really small amount of flour and a lot of nuts and dried fruit for both cakes.

Both cakes use semolina normally, so I’m going to try a simple swap out of fine polenta for the love cake first, I think, and see how that works. From researching gluten-free baking online, it seems like a 1:1 swap is appropriate? But if anyone has any tips on that, they’d be appreciated.

Should I be concerned about adding a corn flavor to the cake?

An alternative option is to do a blend of coconut flour & almond flour, but a) that requires changing the ratios of the flour (complicated), and possibly adding even more eggs to combat the way coconut flour soaks up moisture, and b) it won’t give the characteristic yellow color of love cake, I imagine. So I’m hesitant.

I keep buying food that I don’t have the appetite to eat much of

The combination of being really tired + being in a new city (Montreal) + staying in the heart of a food culture I really haven’t been exposed to much (Chinatown) = dangerous. Willpower is very absent at the moment. Willpower has taken a long walk off a short pier.

I keep buying food that I don’t actually have the appetite to eat much of, but I just want to taste it all. Roshani had to fly home a day earlier than me, so I can’t even make her eat some of it. My hotel room has a fridge, but there is still a limit on how much leftover food I can carry home on the plane tomorrow.

And I have *still* not managed to try poutine. Maybe at the airport tomorrow? I am feeling guilty for all of you who have kindly recommended your favorite poutine restaurants, which I faithfully made note of — the logistics just didn’t work out. I will just have to come back to Montreal. (World Fantasy will be here in a few years….)

Pictured: Spicy hotpot from Chez Chili. Tasty. The shrimp were sweet, the mussels yummy, and there was also lotus root and shiitake mushrooms and noodles tied up in neat ways and various other ingredients including some I couldn’t identify. Good choice. Though even if you ask for very spicy, don’t expect it to actually come that way. It did burn a little though.

We have Feast on a book table here at Scintillation

We have Feast on a book table here at Scintillation in Montreal — I brought one demo copy, and people are SUPER-EXCITED about it. I think if I can actually get this book into bookstores, we will actually sell copies. Must hustle a bit doing all the production prep! Jed has ALMOST finished my ebook; I need to review what he’s sent, probably tomorrow, and then there are just some small bits to finish off. SO CLOSE TO DONE.

Note that we will be CLOSING BackerKit next Wednesday, so we can do a count and get everything we need ready for shipping on 10/31. So if you are wanting curry powder, lovely food notecards, postcards, Kriti Festival tote bags, etc., to be shipped along with early copies of Feast, now is basically the time. They should arrive in time for the holidays. 

The tentative plan is to still take book orders in November for a few more weeks, and then shut it all down for the winter, so we can start prepping for the real launch in early March.