It is my great pleasure to introduce Alice Oldsford, author of Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen.
Who am I and what do I write?
I wear a variety of hats – wife, mother, grandmother, Realtor, author, herbalist. On reflection I note that those pursuits relate to land use, not as a result of some grand plan, but simply from a conscious connection to the earth we call home.
It is my good fortune to pursue what I love, which is mostly found outdoors, whether walking, gardening or locating the perfect home with a client.
I raised 5 kids in the most self-sustaining environment I could conjure, of home-made and home-grown. My kids remember no one would trade lunches with them because their sandwiches consisted of home-made peanut butter and jelly on home-made whole wheat bread, an adolescent’s version of yucky.
My grandkids look forward to walks in the woods or even the neighborhood seeking traveling gnomes, puzzle rocks and edible wild plants.
And, as for my role as a wife, part of what attracted me to my husband was his love of vegetable gardening.
As a Realtor, I get to help people realize the American dream. Mark Twain said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”
My NJ Trails books:
“You Can Get There from Here: Hiking Hunterdon County Trails” and the sequel “Hiking NJ Trails – Hunterdon County and Beyond: You Can Get There from Here Too”, have been my most fun land use activities yet, sharing my love for the outdoors with folks who want to give it a try.
The NJ trails books are meant to inspire people to enjoy the trails and prepare them for what to expect. It is my contention that knowing what you are likely to encounter enhances the enjoyment. More than maps provide, this book comes from my own perspective and love of the trails. I have walked each and every trail in all seasons.
When I started to write Recipes and Life: Life is too Short to be Stuck in the Kitchen, I thought “Whoops, how does this book fit in with my love of nature and the outdoors.” Then I realized it absolutely reflects my passion for home-made and home-grown as well as embracing what Mother Nature has to offer. In addition, it reflects my desire to get out of the kitchen and embrace the outdoors.
This is my collection of inspirations sprinkled with favorite recipes. My intention is to spark the reader’s imagination and offer practical tips gleaned from a chef and friends/foodies who have shared their recipes and insights. These thoughts confirm for the reader that nutritious and delicious food patterns can be established without dedicating countless hours in the kitchen and outside the fast food forum. It is a jumping off place for adventures in the kitchen.
Writing Challenges and Finding your Voice
When I was writing my first trail book, which was published in 2009, I found staying on track a bit of a challenge. There are lots of distractions in life, which we all experience. I remember moaning about “not having time” and one of my sons reminded me we have time to do the things that are priorities for us. I had offered this advice to my children, and now it came back to me. I got back to work and finished the book. If a writer will do something each day, progress is inevitable.
Recipes and Life was about 3 years in the making. My original vision kept evolving, and I was having trouble finding my voice. Then I moved from NJ to Florida. Oh my, that literally created some technical difficulties as to gardening in Florida and food mores. In the end, I decided I needed to tell my readers who I was, where I had come from and how I got into writing this book. That allowed my voice to come through.
My favorite anecdote/excerpt from Recipes, which actually reveals a lot about me:
In the late 60’s when I was a young married woman, we lived in a duplex with a nice backyard and the smallest kitchen I have ever seen – no more than two steps to any appliance or work space. We had a purebred German shepherd named Mingo. I thought it was a good idea to invite the family for Thanksgiving dinner. I think it’s called “Ignorance is bliss.” I was organized and excited to host my first big dinner party.
The day arrived, and the turkey was awaiting the stuffing and roasting. The turkey proved too much of a temptation for Mingo. While I was in a different part of the house, there was quite a commotion in the kitchen. When I arrived, I found Mingo had wrestled the turkey to the floor with the intention of devouring it. I was able to rescue the turkey and banish Mingo to the yard. Now what? With no experience and only my creativity to rely upon, I washed the turkey then took needle and gold thread and sewed up the torn skin. Why gold thread? I reasoned it would blend with the roasted turkey.
The family came and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. No one noticed the stitched up skin, and I did not tell the story until sometime later.
Why Self Publishing and Promotion
When I was writing my first trail book, I realized the market was very regional, so publishing options would be limited. I contacted a couple of small publishers, which were not as prolific in 2009 as they are today. They were not taking on new titles. I did not feel discouraged, and self-publishing seemed a natural solution. The trail books were never stigmatized as a result of being self-published, and they have done very well in their target market. It helped that I lived in an area where Indie bookstores are embraced.
With “Recipes and Life”, it was just natural to do it my way, so to say. The publishing industry has evolved since my first book in 2009. Established authors are self-publishing and using small publishers, and that gives credibility to those of us who are newbies, who follow their lead. Although there are fewer Indie bookstores in this area, Florida does seem to encourage local authors.
When I published my first trail book, a long-time journalist/family newspaper owner in NJ advised me that I would need to rely on myself to get the word out and market my book. His newspaper had done some local publishing, and he disclosed that sales and distribution had less to do with the quality of the book and more to do with the author’s efforts to promote it. He told me they had boxes of excellent books in the office basement that the author just did not push.
I start with my network, arrange signings and presentations, and ask anyone who might be remotely interested in putting my book on their shelf. Press releases are often helpful in garnering attention and invitations to present. I have a website and blog for the trail books. I am about to create a blog for “Recipes” which will allow followers to share recipes. I always have books in my car. I ask other authors what they do. Check out local authors shelves in your favorite book store.
My advice to new writers: Keep on keeping on!
“Energy and persistence conquer all things” Benjamin Franklin
My website with links to blogs: http://www.aliceoldford.com/
Thank you Alice. Your humor and zest for life is contagious. This has been fun. Come back to Writing Under Fire sometime soon.