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The Bad Apple Party: We took a bite out of Youth Caregiving!


An edible centerpiece. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.

With the first nine months of 2012 consumed by our wedding and honeymoon, everyone said I was crazy to do it: hold a signing and release party for my emerging dark YA novel Bad Apple, which was published by Vagabondage Press Books on September 25 (the day we happened to be flying home from Walt Disney World). Still, I love a good celebration, and I love to throw good celebrations. And with so much to be thankful for, the opportunity to hold a release and signing party—as well as a benefit for the American Association of Caregiving Youth, which I’d only just discovered—was a thing to be taken.

So, on November 17—the only day I could really do it (I’d have only about six weeks to plan and get the house ready, and any later would railroad into the Holidays)—forty or so friends and supporters gathered at my house to toast to Bad Apple and raise a few dollars for a cause close to my heart. The party alone generated close to one hundred dollars for the AACY: not bad with the biggest spending season of the year about to descend and in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which I know has cut into many of my friends’ wallets, not just with their own repairs but with reaching out to others who didn’t fare the storm as well.

Here are photos. Enjoy!


We have a miniature cemetery we set up every year just outside our front stoop (it has been called “The Cemetery of Dismembered Dolls” in prior entries: It is normally on display between September 15 until just after Halloween, but with the wedding and everything, it only got set up sometime in late October. Because Bad Apple is, after all, a horror novel, I thought it might be fun to leave it up for the party. Each year we add more pieces, but the candles are always present. It looks really neat after dark.





The signing area.


No party is complete without favors (or as my parents used to call them way back in the 1970s, “goody bags.”). My friend Suzanne Zuckerman and I worked hard to figure out what was going to go in them—items relative to the book—and she came over the night before to help me put them together. I had originally wanted the brown handled bags many apple orchards give out to happy pickers, but I couldn’t find any the right size that were in my budget, so I settled for plain brown paper lunch bags (also relevant to the book, since Scree makes brown bag lunches for herself and family members). It worked out perfectly.


A long shot photo of everything that went into the bags. Each item had some relevance to Bad Apple.


From left:
An apple-themed refrigerator memo pad, which Scree mentions: “Her magnetic “Shopping List” pad on the refrigerator reminded me that I was in my summer camp play next Thursday, I needed bright yellow tights, and I had to return my library book on hornets. At the bottom of the page, near some artwork of dancing apples, she had scrawled “beer.” (Page 6). A deck of cards, which feature prominently in the book: “Thanks to her friend Russell, Scree becomes obsessed with Speed Solitaire. I don’t know why I chose this particular card game—probably because it’s the only one I really know how to play, and, in fact, play quite often. Here’s how to play Solitaire Yukon, the type with which most people are familiar (when you really get into solitaire, you find there are several variations—you can learn about them all here:” A Yankee Candle Red Apple Wreath scented tealight, which might be reminiscent of what Scree’s kitchen smells like: “I took over most of the domestic duties and lived in a daily caravan of dishes, cleaning products, and burnt apple pie crusts.” (Page 9)


Suzanne Zuckerman handmade white chocolate hearts to mark one of the most significant phrases in the book: “She got broken, and nobody knew how to fix her…She had things wrong in her broken head, and that was because of her broken heart.” (Pages 182-183). The folio beneath the chocolates contained information about each item in the gift bag as well as instructions on how to play solitaire (one form of it, anyway) and a simplified recipe for Stained Glass Cookies, which are also discussed in the book.


Pretzels: “Finally, she pulled out not a piece of paper, but the back of a pretzel package. “I thought,” she said, “that for our wedding favors, we would make pretzels and tie them with white and orange ribbons… I reached my hand out to take the article from her.
She smiled. “They were a very important part of the marriage ceremony, like, way back four hundred years ago when the world was so much more connected to nature,” she said. “I thought since it was in an orchard and everything—” (Pages 34-35). And Green Apple Candy Corn, Caramel Candy Corn, and Caramels, since I really didn’t have time to make full-blown candy apples (and they would not have traveled well): “I understood needing crates of apples, to eat, to make pies, cider, caramel apples, tarts, spice cakes, cookies, slices for Beckitt—there were never enough apples to supply the masses, because they had so many intricate uses.” (Page 54)


Pushpins: “That was frustrating, sometimes, too, because of the colors of the pushpins. The general store, down by the lake, was an antique, all squeaky boards and the overpowering odor of chicken feed and rusty metal. It didn’t have what anyone would call a diverse selection of products, and that included pushpins: They didn’t carry the clear ones. All they had were boxes of the multi-colored ones. I had to buy several boxes because if I was tacking up a green shirt with green pins, I might need twelve green pieces to do it, and, very often, there weren’t twelve of one color per box. It was okay if I had colors that complemented the color of the shirt, but even then, I had to watch the balance: yellow pins or red pins were okay for an orange shirt, but three yellow pins and seven red pins together were not okay for that one orange shirt. Sometimes, the pushpins popped clear of the wall, and if they did that, I ripped all my shirts down and swore at them and threatened to put them in boxes if they didn’t behave.” (Page 29)


Our foyer, lit for the event. What’s creepy is that this picture almost looks like the Bad Apple cover.


Scott and Trisha Wooldridge came all the way from Massachusetts for the party! Trisha is the President of Broad Universe. Her YA novel, The Kelpie, is forthcoming from Spencer Hill Press in 2013.


The spread in the dining room. We had another table of food in the kitchen, but I don’t think anyone got a shot of that. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


My cousin Maryanne—who has been coming down to help me get ready for parties for at least 13 years, possibly longer—and my friend Manzino, whom I met back when I was doing community theatre in 1995.


A small display in my living room.


Me, Maryanne, and Nathan. LOVE his Dr. Who bowtie!


Nathan and Suzanne.


Oh, my. Let the partying begin.


Scott Wooldridge took charge of thawing the shrimp. He is all kinds of awesome!


A gathering in the living room. From left, Jim—a friend from Pencils! Days—Suzanne and Adam Zuckerman, Nathan, and my dear writing friend Al, who writes under AJ Profeta. He and I also go back to Pencils! In 2005.


A close-up of the signing table. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Adam and Suzanne. I have known both of them since 2001, when I volunteered at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.


Carla and her husband Frank. I have known Carla since Middle School, possibly earlier.


Adam, Manzino, and my friend Jen L, whom I’ve also known since 2001 and my days at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. My favorite memory of hanging out with Jen is watching “Mommy Dearest” in her old West Haven apartment (she hasn’t lived there in many years). Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


AJ O’Connell, who was in the original Pencils! Writing Workshop with me beginning in 2004 and who is now the author of Beware the Hawk from Vagabondage Press Books, me, and Michael Klous, whom I’ve known since probably First Grade.


Me and my friend Dawn. Dawn and I grew up in the same church back in New Milford, and she and her family used to come to our place up in the Adirondacks all the time. She was also my babysitter who corrupted us back in the early 1980s by letting us listen to Hall and Oates while she worked on her Gregg shorthand homework. Ha! The things I remember!




Our friends Melissa and Marc.


Greg Logsted, author of several books including Something Happened, with my housemate, Charles.


From left, Lauren, Maureen, Maryanne, and Rob. Rob and I edit Read Short Fiction together, although this year he had school and I had the wedding so we’ll be getting back on track with it very soon.


Manzino and Jen L.


Another shot of the dining room spread. Half of it has been consumed at this point.


Jim, me, and Al.


Another shot of Jim, me, and Al. This was just before they were ready to head out.


Melissa, Mark, and me.


Me and Mo.


Maureen and Suzanne.


Maureen and Suzanne.


From left, Nanette Blake, Scott, and Jen Connic. Nanette was my editor at Vagabondage Press Books who is responsible for Bad Apple being the book it is today. Jen Connic, at right, is a journalist. Nanette, Jen C and I met way back in Pencils! Writing Workshop days.


This photo of AJ, me, and Nanette is a fave—not only are we all wearing these really awesome hair ponytailers that Nanette and AJ made for the three of us to wear (they are in the “theme” colors of the book Bad Apple—cool, right?), but this represents the coming of the book full circle. Nanette and AJ and I were on the retreat in Maine at which I started the first draft of the book—Labor Day Weekend, 2005. I started the book on that Friday, and on Saturday afternoon, they heard the very first paragraphs of the raw draft.


Manzino and Jen.


Manzino and Scott.


Me and Lori. I have known Lori since 2000. After the second draft of Bad Apple was completed (late 2005), I read the entire thing into a cassette recorder (Spring, 2006), and then took it to a CD conversion place to have the whole book put on audio (ah, the days when you had to outsource everything because you couldn’t do it on your home computer!) Lori listened to the entire CD set. When I told her Bad Apple was coming out, she was very excited to realize it was the same book (which she told me she loved) she had listened to way back when.


Me and Jen L.


The Crow’s Nest Writing Group and then some: from left, Lauren (whom we affectionately call L2—you’ll see why in a minute), Greg, Jen and Rob Mayette (Jen was a bridesmaid in my wedding), me, and Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of several books including Vertigo and, with her daughter, the YA series The Sisters 8.


My cousin Maryanne built her first fire. She was very proud of it!


A color shot of the fire. She did an awesome job.


At some point, we ended up hitting the absinthe. Of course, Nathan did the honors.


Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


The ritual of the sugar cube and water. We have an actual drip pourer for the ice water, but at this point in the night it was just too much work. Let’s face it—sometimes the sink is easier (and after everything we’d been drinking, it didn’t really matter).


My friend Billy—whom I’ve known since grade school—meets my kitchen lamp (I like to call it the E.T. lamp since it’s similar to the one that hangs in their kitchen). Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Billy and Manzino. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Carl, Nathan, and Billy.


Jen and Maureen. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Me, signing a book for Jen Connic. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Maureen and Suzanne.


Me at the signing table—here’s where you get a really good shot of the awesome hairpiece that AJ and Nanette made for me. I am definitely going to be wearing it again, because I love its affect. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Dear Lord. I have no idea what they are doing. But I do know it was probably inspired by strong drink.


Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Manzino and Jen L. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Rob and Jen Mayette. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Me and Carla at the signing table. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Getting ready to read from Bad Apple. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Me and Suzanne.


Adam and Billy. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Nathan wishes me luck. I love this picture—it’s sweet. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Manzino and Suzanne. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


An overhead shot of the display table. The stack of white sheets at the front are copies of the awesome review Sci-Fi Saturday Night gave me for Bad Apple. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Nathan and Maureen. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Me at the signing table. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Manzino and Suzanne. Making fish faces. Or something. I seem to remember pix similar to this at my wedding, but at that time, the funeral flowers that were around our wedding cake were involved.


Jen, Maureen, and Maryanne. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Carl, Nathan, and Billy. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


The flowers at the center of one of the tables. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Reading from Bad Apple. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Listening to a reading of Bad Apple. From left: Maureen, AJ, Nanette, Carla, Frank. Standing: Michael. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


A great shot of Jen. Photo by Suzanne Zuckerman.


Toasting with Absinthe.


Billy and Suzanne.


There’s a story behind this. This candle, which is out front in The Cemetery of Dismembered Dolls, was lit about an hour before the party, at 6 p.m. on Saturday November 17. Here’s a shot of it before the event.


Believe it or not, here is the same candle, burning at 1:13 p.m. the next day. It didn’t burn out until the wee hours of Monday morning—sometime between 1 a.m., when I went to bed, and 6 a.m., when I got up. It was just interesting that this candle burned for the party and the whole next day (when I got up to discover my friends Adam, Suzanne, and Manzino had been up earlier and had cleaned the entire kitchen and that Charles had made cinnamon rolls and coffee), as well as into that evening. A good omen.


Me. Photo by Jen Connic. I think it was Nanette who said, ‘this is the quintessential Kaye picture.’ I’m not sure about that, but I certainly do agree with my sister Missie who said, ‘I don’t know why but you totally remind me of Aunt Sylvia’ (one of my red-haired aunts who always had a bouffant, a cigarette and a glass of wine and died many years ago).

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