My next book, Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York, tells the all-but-forgotten story of Elizabeth Jennings, a black schoolteacher who refused to leave a segregated streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, setting into motion a historic court case in New York City. I have been researching this important, overlooked story for many years, and I am thrilled that it will be published January 2, 2018 by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. This is my first book for middle-grade (and up) readers. To show support for this book, please consider pre-ordering today from your favorite independent bookstore or an online bookstore such as Amazon. This is the link to pre-order on Amazon.
Category Archives: Announcement
When you’re writing a book, the publication date seems so far in the future.And then, suddenly, it’s here.
Today is publication day for my new novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, which I started writing 730 days (or two years) ago.
I’m relieved, ecstatic, and a little scared. Even though this is my ninth book (seven nonfiction, two novels), it’s still an emotional experience to “let go” of the book, sending it out into the world.
Good luck, little book! May you find friends wherever you go.
Okay, enough with the sentimentality. Time to have fun. Time to celebrate.
For the last few weeks I’ve been sharing recipes of food (especially desserts) that are mentioned in the book. Today I’m sharing my favorite, a cake that is to-die-for! This is a sophisticated cake, not overly sweet, and featuring cherry liqueur. The cake, popular in the 1960s in Florida, is being made (in the novel) by Mrs. Bailey White, an eccentric older lady who is one of the members of the Collier County Women’s Literary Society. Mrs. Bailey White has a scandalous past which includes a murder and a jail sentence. At heart, however, she is still a refined Southern lady.
My husband, a native of Collier County, helped me recreate this old recipe as he remembers it.
Collier County Chocolate-Covered-Cherry Cake (also known as Mrs. Bailey White’s Died and Gone to Heaven Cake)
Cake ingredients and instructions presented separately from frosting.
175 grams high-quality dark chocolate
One-third cup cherry liqueur
6 Tablespoons very strong coffee ( or espresso, if available)
One-half cup of sugar (Ideally, this should be finely-ground sugar called caster sugar. Or, you can put regular sugar through a coffee grinder, if possible.)
3 eggs, separated
One-half cup unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
One-third cup almond meal
One-third cup all-purpose flour, sifted.
15 ounces (or approximately two and a half cups) pitted black cherries, drained (Save juice!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9 inch spring-form cake pan.
Melt and cool butter. Set aside.
Sift flour. Set aside.
Put aside 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Separate 3 eggs. Set aside.
Melt chocolate, cherry liqueur and strong coffee in a double-boiler. There should be about two inches of water in the saucepan, simmering. Set aside. (Must cool.)
In a mixing bowl, place sugar (except for the one tablespoon set aside, as instructed above) and three egg yolks. Using electric mixer, beat until thoroughly combined. Add cooled melted butter. Combine by hand. Add almond meal. Using electric mixer, beat until thoroughly combined. Add chocolate/cherry liqueur/strong coffee mixture. Combine by hand.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar (previously set aside for this purpose) and combine thoroughly. Fold egg whites, alternating with flour, into the cake mixture.
Add half of the drained black cherries.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 35 minutes or until center is completely baked. (Test with toothpick.) Cool on wire rack.
100 grams of dark chocolate
One-quarter cup cherry juice (set aside from making cake)
One-third cup cherry liqueur
One-half cup unsalted butter, cut into small squares
Place chocolate, cherry liqueur, and cherry juice in a double-boiler filled with about two inches of water that is simmering. Slowly add butter, mixing gently. Remove from heat. Keep beating by hand until cool. Set aside. (Best to wait at least two hours before frosting the cake. Both frosting and cake should be room temperature.)
Frost the cake and add cherries to decorate. Serve at room temperature.
Special instructions: Eat while reading Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County!
Goodreads and my publisher are hosting a 5-copy giveaway of the galleys of my new novel! Enter soon! Contest ends August 27.
Five years ago I was asked to write a lengthy, peer-reviewed essay on the centenarian Delany Sisters for inclusion in a book to be called, North Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times Vol. II, part of a state-by-state academic series called Southern Women: Their Lives and Times.
That book has just been published by the University of Georgia Press.
I am thrilled.
And maybe – just maybe – a little relieved that it’s done. I’ve written nine books and hundreds of newspaper articles but this was the first time I wrote an essay that necessitated 93 footnotes.
You read that right – 93 footnotes.
And I think I have a gray hair for each one of them.
But I’m proud of the result, and I’m thankful to the two editors, Michele Gillespie, Professor of Southern History at Wake Forest University, and Sally G. McMillen, Professor of History at Davidson College, for encouraging me to participate, even though I am not an academician.
My training is in journalism. That’s how I came to meet the Delany Sisters back in 1991. I wrote a feature story about them for The New York Times. After my story was published, the sisters and I collaborated on our 1993 oral history, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years.
The book made its mark, for it tells the story of race in America in a way that hadn’t been done before – through the eyes of two centenarian sisters. The daughters of a man born into slavery and a woman who could have passed for white but chose not to, the Delany Sisters had a very unusual childhood. They were raised on the campus of St. Augustine’s School (now College) in Raleigh, where their parents were employed. The sisters (and all but one of their eight brothers and sisters) moved to New York City as young adults to pursue opportunities not available to them in the South. Sadie Delany became a groundbreaking teacher in the New York Public Schools while her little sister, Bessie, became only the second black woman dentist licensed in New York.
North Carolina, however, would always be “home.” They are buried there, alongside Mama and Papa, just a short distance from the campus of “St. Aug’s.”
The sisters would have been greatly honored to be included in an academic book about North Carolina women. I’m so delighted that I had the opportunity to help make it happen. I felt their presence, every step of the way.
I’m thrilled to share the cover of my new book, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, a sequel to my first novel! I am ecstatic about the cover and so excited! It’s scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books imprint on September 8, 2015. If you like, you may Pre-order it by clicking here: Simon and Schuster
or by clicking here: Amazon.com.
Here is the publisher’s description:
“In this sequel to Amy Hill Hearth’s “funny and charming” (Publishers Weekly) debut novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society, the eponymous book club reunites one year later, in the late summer of 1964.
“Their mission: to fight a large development along the tidal river where member Robbie-Lee grew up and where his mother, Dolores Simpson, a former stripper turned alligator hunter, still lives in a fishing shack.
“The developer is Darryl Norwood, ex-husband of narrator Dora Witherspoon, who returns to Collier County to assist in the battle. An old land deed, the discovery that one of the key characters has been using a false name, and a dramatic court hearing are just a few of the highlights. Not to mention the reappearance of the Ghost of Seminole Joe.
“Just as Hearth’s debut explored the ways we can find a sense of belonging in other people, her latest novel shows how closely tied each of us is to our sense of home—and the conflicts that can arise when our idea of that home becomes threatened. For Darryl, the river is a place ripe for development. For Dora, who’s known as the Turtle Lady because she rescues Everglades ‘snappers,’ it’s a place that belongs to the critters. And for Dolores, former stripper, it’s a place to hide from the world.”
This will be my ninth book (and second novel)! I look forward to sharing more about it in the months to come.