Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DIY How to Write and Publish Your Own Family Recipe Book

Do you have recipes scattered all over the place like I do?  Have you ever thought it would be fun to write and publish your own recipe book?  Are you the one who loves to be in the kitchen and have just spend all your waking childhood years watching Mom and Nana in the kitchen with their aprons on? 

Who doesn't remember them in there slaving away with all these delicious meals and desserts passed down for generations.  We all have favorite memories of growing up with our homemaker mothers and all the things that they meant for us.

One of my favorite memories was of Mom in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies for us.  My sister and I would sometimes help.  I'm the oldest of three.  My brother was younger and usually didn't want to help.  We each took a turn learning how to mix the dough with the electric beater.  Then she would make the cookies. 

Our best part of this was getting to all take a spoon to the bowl after.  And each of us would get to take a turn to get to scrape the bowl after or to eat from the wooden spoon.  How awesome was that?  Salmonella?  Who cares? 

And what about that brownie batter?  Off and on, I've told either my sister or sister n law that I just made brownies and had the batter from the bowl.  They would both laugh and say something like, "You didn't wait for us?  No fair."

Or you've just made a delicious meal and you tell all your FB friends and family and then they say, "What time is supper?  I'll be right over."

"I'm coming through the phone lines as we speak!"

This last week is when I decided that yet another one of my projects is going to be writing out a recipe book of all my mother's recipes and getting it published.  My family and friends think it's an awesome idea.  It would be a book to celebrate Mom.  She's been dead for over 11 years to colon cancer.  She died at 54 which is really only half a life.

I know for years that some of my relatives have been wanting me to share some of her recipes and her photos and I just kept putting it off for what seems like such a long time.  Finally earlier this year, I started sharing some of my photos of her on FB for my family.  She's missed every day by everyone.

She was a community person, family girl, the girl next door, beautiful on the outside and more important on the inside.  She was a humble person, kind, compassionate, never greedy for more as she was happy with what she had.  I remember shortly before she died on the last time I saw her, she had brought me into her bedroom and gave me the ring I always wanted.  It was a ring that my Nana had given to her and it was passed down from a relative that had a villa in Italy.  I always wanted the ring and Mom used to say she might give it to my sister.  Well, she finally gave me the ring and a beautiful music box that played You are the Wind Beneath my wings.  She told me she didn't have a lot to give me, but that wasn't the point.  I didn't care.  But, I can tell you right now, as we both listened to that music play from the music box her best childhood friend, Sandra had given her a short while ago, we both hugged each other and cried.  I just have that memory of knowing it might very well be the last time I ever got to hug her as her daughter.

Anyway, I finally decided that I am going to do this recipe book for Mom most of all and then my family and friends will love it.  I think I am doing this for all that knew my Mother.

It will of course be a recipe book, but it's going to celebrate Mom, who she was, where she came from, stories of her and my memories of childhood days growing up in her kitchen.  It's also going to contain recipes and memories of my Nana, my Grammy, my Aunt Harriet and some recipes from other family members.  I also may include a few of our favorite recipes from some old cookbooks.  We loved those Marge Standish cookbooks and The Joy of Cooking.  Those are awesome books.  I won't include too many from those but just a few of our favorites.  Some of those pages are so spilled with food while they were baking. 

So, if you are thinking of doing your own, whether it is for family and friends or to publish and earn some money from it, here are some tips and ideas about how to go about doing it.

First, what you will need to do is gather all your recipes.  Over the years, I have collected her recipes, mine and I've got a few of those blank journals where I have written lots of recipes down in it.  Of course I will include some of mine too.

I've been known for writing them down on those index cards, any paper I have if I'm in a doctor's office looking at one of their magazines and clipping recipes from the newspaper. My mom and my Nana used to do it too.

My Nana also was always baking sweets.  Same with my Grammy.  My Grammy was a home economics teacher.

So after you have your recipes gathered, browse through them all so that you know which ones you may want to use.

Start writing them into your file on the computer.  I think what I am going to do is create a section for each type of recipe:

Main Dishes
Meat Dishes
Pasta and Rice Dishes
Drinks and Smoothies
Cakes and Cookies
Ice Cream
Snacks and Favorites

and more

That's just an idea of how you may want to organize them.  Then it's up to you if you want to have each recipe in alphabetical order or not.  I don't know if I want to bother with that.

You will want a content page, an introduction, perhaps a dedication page, reasons why you chose to publish your book, people you want to thank for making it happen, credits if you use someone else's recipes (like for me, I might want to get the okay to publish a few of the Marge Standish recipes or something else), maybe an index in case someone wants to look up a recipe with a certain ingredient.

Another thing would be to add some of your favorite stories as you go along.  People love reading about the people behind the recipes.  It adds a special touch to the book.

Do add pictures to your book.  People love to see visual images too.  It can make for an exciting book.  But if you aren't big on taking pictures, that's okay.  It doesn't have to have pictures on all the pages.  I think I am going to add some though as it would be a nice way to add some of my photography too. 

I've been reading Tina Fey's Bossypants and thought it was neat how she added some pictures into the beginning of each of the chapters.

The other very important thing you will want to think about is your cover.  This is a very important part of the process as this is what is going to get your readers and buyers attracted to your book.  Of course they are going to want to read inside and to have the recipes at their fingertips, but if you don't have a smashing cover and catchy title, then you are probably sunk.

Seeing as I am a photographer and artist too, I will doing the covers and artwork for all the books that I publish.  I did it for my first novel, Black Roses and I plan to for all of them.

I'm also thinking that I would love to have one or two of my favorite pictures of Mom on the cover along with a picture of her recipes and perhaps a favorite dish of hers.  Which will mean I will need to make some of the recipes and take pictures of them.  People also love to see the actual dish that has been done too.

Which means that you have to get creative with how you are going to compose your pictures.

Have some of your favorite dishes and casserole pans or other old kitchen gadgets?  Use them in your photography.  Like I am suddenly thinking of the favorite bowl we used to scrape the cookie dough from.  Might mean I have to make chocolate chip cookies soon!

Then, what you need to do after you have a good start into your book is to edit and make it perfect.  Decide what fonts you want to use and other stuff. 

I think the really fun part is creating and writing the books.  Now here is the harder part, but it can be done.  We see the world do it and we can too.

Your book is done and ready to go to the public.  Now get your ebook or whatever your format you want and go publish.

I'm going to be publishing all my ebooks with Kindle Publishing from now on.  I don't know a lot about how to go about it yet, but it is free to do if you want to do an ebook.  I'm sure it must cost some money if you want to go the other route.

I've downloaded the Kindle Publishing Guidelines and will attempt to read some of it later today.  Do your homework and know what you need to do before you jump into it.

I do know that they like you to have it in usually a pdf file.  I like my Microsoft Word software.  I also have OpenOffice (which you can download for free by the way).  I've used both and imagine you can turn anything into a pdf in both programs.

I'm not sure what the guidelines for the photos is.  I imagine if it's saved in your pdf file, it should be fine.  Maybe the guidelines for the cover is a little different.

None of my books are established and in with Kindle Publishing yet, but that is where I am going to go with next year and later.

The first one that is getting done is The Glorious Money Tree children's fantasy/adult novel first in the trilogy.  I'm hoping it will be done so I can publish it next year.  At least that's my goal.

We do have to set goals.

Then, I am thinking I would like to do the recipe book next for the family and friends and for Mom.  She would be proud of me I'm sure.  Once before she died, she told me I will do so many amazing things.  I think she was probably right.

It probably would be amazing to look back at all I have done.  I also will say, that there is a lot of it also gone.  I had a habit of ripping up things that I did and later changed my mind that I didn't like.  Or I loved the project at the time and later decided I didn't need it.  It probably would have been something else if I had documented a picture of every little thing I ever did.  But the thing is, I've been always wanting to have more space and would constantly rid myself of things that really weren't my best work.  Artists do that.

Even writings.  Earlier this year, I went through a bunch of old hand writings that I had written and never typed up.  Some of it is gone as I guess I didn't need it.  And some of it was venting and I decided to get rid of things where I vented about something.  When you vent, it can be also hurtful.

Anyway, do your homework before you plan to publish.  Don't go into it blindly like I did last year and fork over lots of money to get it done.  I just didn't do my homework and picked the first of three places I saw that seemed to be advertised on the Barnes & Noble site.  I didn't really know much at all about self publishing.  Read all you can before diving in.

And have fun with your cookbook.

I'm not sure what I am going to title mine yet.

Jennifer Jo Fay

Copyrighted September 11, 2012

PS.  Let's remember those who died in 911 and honor their memories by making our world a better place.

This one I took of myself one year in college at my Aunt Harriet's camp.  I took my tripod, camera and my long squeeze cord into the lake and went to a section that was further away from the camp and secluded and I took a bunch of photos of myself.  This one is slightly blurry but I've always loved the effect that came out of it.

My uncle always loved this little pen and ink drawing I did.

My Nana

My mom as a little girl

My Aunt Harriet's camp in Rumford, Maine.  Three generations of family gatherings all down the drain now.  My ex and I bought it after my aunt died quite a few years ago and about two years ago it was part of the court order to sell it.  What a shame to have to let go of the family camp, but things happen and my family just had to put it all in the past as really fond memories.

The lake below.  We all spent so many hours in that lake, swimming, jumping off the floats, catching fish and frogs, having kayak races around the island, finding the inlet and canoeing in to discover a mother moose and her baby.  So many, many memories.  My Dad remembers going as a little kid.  My Aunt Harriet bought her camp from and aunt and my Great Uncle Tony had the camp next door.  All of the neighbors down the dirt road a dead end one, would come visit often, some bringing baskets of blueberry muffins and other delicious dishes.

One of my drawings.  A woman was visiting from New Mexico when I did a craft show once and she bought this one.

Two of my old childhood dolls and my exes pooh bear and a band box his mother had made.

My Nana and Grampy and some of my cousins years ago.  I took this collage photo before I got married.

My sister's first cat, Ivy.  She was this stray cat she and her friends found and she brought it home!  This is Ivy during a party we had before my ex and I went on a trip to Martha's Vineyard.  My sister had a bunch of her friends over the night before and one of my cousins was visiting.  I think someone was having some fun and let Ivy taste a jello shot!  Doesn't she look a little tired here?  And then my sister was having some fun playing house of cards!

My best friend in college.  She and I did a photo session in a cemetery one year and she posed in the leaves for me.  I also have a picture of her looking really startled as a guy is pretending to shoot her with a plastic gun.  We had a man jogger coming by and we asked him to pose for a few pictures.  I should find it as she looks like she is scared to death!

A drawing I did one year maybe before kids I think.  The one below is the same girl in the leaves.

My hat in my first apartment in Vermont.  The cats had some fun with the hat and it got thrown out.

Jennifer Horton from Days of Our Lives.  These are a few of the pictures that I have chosen to draw from.  This was before the kids were born.  My favorite is the one up top although I like both.

Another collage picture.

My two boys one year.  This is the one I did for the Y2K drawing.  It's a larger picture with lots of words in it too.

My mother's wedding dress.  She used to keep it in the attic and one year she cut it up.  I ended up cutting up patchwork pieces and made a throw blanket for my sister, sister n law and one for me using some of her wedding dress.

My Nana's back room.  I've got the vanity now.  So many good memories in there.  It's where we all used to sleep for the sleep overs.

My Nana and my oldest Aunt.  My mom was the youngest of four children.

My Nana and Grampy's house.  This is what all the houses in the neighborhood looked like, many of them still do.  There's an upstairs and a downstairs.  My Nana and Grampy had the downstairs apartment.  In the picture below, the house in the background was my first apartment.  That's how close I was to my Nana and Grampy and just would walk through the field every Saturday to visit them and all the time when we had relatives visiting for a week.  And relatives were always visiting.  My Mom and Dad's house where I grew up was just up the other street from where my apartment was.  We could see all of our apartments from my Mom's kitchen window.

My Grammy and her little sister.

My Mom hanging out the laundry.  My exes old bus in the back ground.  That was a blast for camping trips.  And there's the pole that I got harnessed to as a little girl.  Remember getting harnessed so you wouldn't go into the road?

My Mom at her baby shower.  She was pregnant with me.

My mom.  She was quite the hottie in this picture.

My Mom with me and BunBun.  Bunbun and Olga Paper dolls got published last year along with another set.  An aunt and uncle gave her to me when I was one year old.  I still have her to this day.  She has no ears now.

Me playing in the sandbox at my Great Aunt Mary's house.  That was an awesome place to go visit and lots of second and third cousins to play with.

My Nana before marriage. 

Mom and Me.  She always loved the clovers.

My mom's family growing up.  She's the youngest one in the middle.

My Aunt Harriet and her little sister.  My Aunt Joanna is still alive, but my Aunt Harriet died of a stroke many years ago.  She died in her sleep at her camp and had to be air lifted out to a nearby hospital.   I think it may run in the family.  This was the old brick house where my Grammy grew up in Durham, Maine.  It became a well known historical house and back in the day had several articles in the newspaper about it.  It got sold before I was born I think.

I went to find where it was last fall and have a bunch of pictures of it, but I'm sure it changed since then.

My mom next to an old boyfriend.  Notice I cut him out of the picture, but it's awesome of her.

My Aunt Harriet as a kid. 

Me at Martha's Vineyard with my favorite hat, hence, before it's chewed up days.  And back when I was younger and skinnier.  This was the summer before I got married and moved to Vermont.

My Nana and Grampy's kitchen.  The door leads to the basement that both apartments share.  Grampy used to have all kinds of nuts and bolts, old jars, you name it down there.  I thought it was fascinating to go down and see a little something mysterious.  Not knowing what was down there.  Also great memories of Grampy coming up with another big liter of Moxie!  We grew up loving that stuff.

My son, Jake with my old doll and my old doll crib.  I know I've said that I wouldn't share too many pictures of my kids, but once in a great while, I don't think I will be able to resist it.  This was light years ago.  I loved that doll and crib.  Bun bun and Olga toys used to sleep in this and many nights they would sleep with me.  This doll used to cry Mama.  I'm not sure if she works anymore.

My Grammy.  She always had the most beautiful smile.  She was so proud of all her grandchildren.  She had six of them.  My Aunt out west has three too, all grown up with kids of their own.

My Nana and Grampy's living room.  Just imagine a crowd of ten-fifteen people in here all summer and at other times.  But summer's would usually be when the ones from further away would come visit for weeks on end.  A few would come out for a week, then the others would come for the next week.  We just had a blast all summer.  What an awesome thing to stay there playing games until 3am and then to just have to walk up the street when we had had enough for one night!  We would play UNO, Liar's Dice, Scrabble, Aggravation, Yahtzee and many other fun games all the time.  We would go on picnics, the beaches, state parks, shopping, etc....

My Grampy outside on his porch.  My Nana and Grampy have been dead for at least two or many more years and that era of visiting down there and life as I used to know it is long gone.  At least we have the wonderful memories.

My Mom at some point during her battle with cancer.  This has to be an earlier picture as in later pictures it is shorter and gray from after her chemo treatments.  When she was growing up her hair was of a beautiful chestnut color and then it got darker.  I've always remembered her with the darker hair.

 Sorry, I can't figure out how to delete this duplicate today.

My Grammy and my Aunt Harriet.  She never had kids when we were growing up, and then the year before my Grammy passed away, she met a family and became really good friends with their mother and took them in and suddenly she had a new family in her life.  The mother also passed away a long time ago to Leukemia.

 My Grammy in High School.

A picture I took at a cemetery once.  My painting class went there to paint on several occasions and I chose to take a break and walk around and take photographs.

Two pictures of me as a little girl.  I might have inherited a little bit of her chestnut hair color.  At least highlights.  It was always a light brown as a kid and then it got darker.  In high school it was more of a dark brown and now it's either a dark brown or closer to my Mom's final color.

The camp, using a fish eye lens.  Those are awesome.  I've got one for the digital camera and should try using it more.  Sean has used it more than me and he knows how to tweak the settings on the camera in order to use it well.

My Mom and Dad when they were either dating or first married.

My Great Nana Frances on the left and her sister, Grace.  Grace was very heavily into Genealogy and was a member of the DAR.  She was able to trace the family line all the way back to the Mayflower.  One year at my Nana's house all of the cousins loved hearing about the history.  And when I was in college I did my own little bit of research on it for a while.  I was able to trace it back to find a story of one of them getting into some trouble with Indians.

My Mom.

A scene from my Aunt Harriet's camp.  There's an inlet over near the mountains that goes way in.  One summer, an old boyfriend and I canoed as far as we could bring it and then we tried to bushwhack further in.  I wasn't a big fan of bushwhacking so I got us to turn around and go back.  He wanted to go further in.  This was the same time that we discovered the mother moose in the water on the way back and the baby was up in the grass.  That made me very nervous as we were very close.

My Mother as a little girl and then below with Sean as a baby. I think he got some of her chestnut highlights too, plus on my exes side of the family there was someone who had some red hair.  All we could think of at the time was, Where did he get the red hair?  Once a stranger pointed out to me of my red chestnut highlights.

My Mom and a friend behind bars!  What did they do?  Steal a soda?  ha ha

My Mom and my Grampy arguing about Money.  I think he may have been trying to hand her money or something of that nature and she probably was arguing to keep his money.  Grampy was always so thrifty and saved practically every penny.  Mom would also be the one to shove some one's five dollars out the car window when they were trying to give her some gas money or money for something else.  This was always funny, as there would be a big argument over it and my Nana's best friend, my best friend's Grandmother would be trying to shove it right back in.

The back of my Nana's house.  My best friend's grandmother lived past the field from that other house.  And her mother was my mother's best friend all through life.

My Grammy with her dad.  I love this picture of her and I think it is one of my favorites.

My aunt Harriet's camp again, that I had a little fun with.

My daughter, Mollyanne when she was little smelling a morning glory at her Gramma's house.

Flowers near my Aunt Harriet's camp.  There used to be a big wide open field as we would come into her driveway.  Once in a great while, we would see a deer there.  And there was a big rock formation that my girls would climb on.  They used to call it Rocky Day.

One of my favorite dolls and a drawing I did of her.  The cats got to her too and she broke.  I do have some other heads like her, but not one with the full body now.

Mom one winter.  Hear no evil?

A picture I took of a little boy at our grammar school one year.  Our college instructor wanted us to go find someone to photograph.  I felt much more comfortable going to find a bunch of kids to photograph rather than an adult.

Winona Ryder.  The one below was a drawing of a doll I did and Mom thought she looked like Joan Benet Ramsey.

One of my favorite drawings of a doll.  I love all the leaves on her.  Maybe she could be Mother Nature in the Glorious Money Tree novel.   hmmm...   That could be fun to add illustrations to that.

Another doll:  Pretty Dolly

This one is a little more Gothic. 

My son, Sean when he was little.

This one is behind my Mom and Dads house.  The smaller tree in the front is her lilac tree.  It used to be a little tiny piece from her Nana's house.  The house in the far distance was one behind a road we used to walk on to go to The Maine Mall shopping center.  Of course way back then, there was only Jordan Marsh and all woods and a pond before we got there.  And there was a little tiny grocery store behind Jordan Marsh.  When we were older the Mall got bigger with lots of shops for us to go hang out at when we were teenagers.  We used to ice skate at the pond.  Years ago, there was no Maine Mall and my Nana remembered going to fairs there and all kinds of other things.  The Maine Mall is so built up now and times have completely changed.  And the road we used to walk on to get to the Mall isn't there anymore because there's all these restaurants and shops now.

My favorite drawing that my Mom always loved.  She used to have a tiny picture of this one hanging on her wall.

Tammy doll.  From the Tammy and the Bachelor movies.

My Blythe doll.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer! I'm following you from the 99% Exposure hop. I went through all these pictures and I think my favorite drawing is the Pretty Doll with the fun curly hair. It has lots of character! My youngest has curly hair and I just adore it.

    Tina - mom of 4 and author of 5 blogs