Musing and Munching: A Memoir and Cookbook It is a collection of memories and stories from my life, plus recipes and menus that have inspired or relate to those stories. The stories make up half of the book, and the other half is a detailed cookbook with recipes from several countries like Norway, Holland, and Indonesia, as well as the U.S.
Tell us something about yourself.
I describe myself as a gray-haired grandma who has survived a number of life-style extremes and can still ride the bumps and smile through it all. I’ve had 3 husbands; was abandoned once, widowed once, and am currently happily married. I have 6 children and 2 step-children, and 20 grandchildren. I’ve lived in Minnesota for my whole life, but have recently done some traveling and I talk about some of those travels in my book. Careers have included being a singer, an actress, a secretary, a communications consultant, an office manager, and more. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
What inspired you to write this book?
Having 3 husbands has led to 3 totally different lives for me, plus surviving a troubled childhood and living in a home for the elderly while I was in high school. My 6 children have long wanted me to document some of the stories that have followed us around. They also wanted some of the recipes that they remember from home, but I’m a cook who uses whatever is on hand at the time and every recipe turns out differently each time I make it. This makes it tough to write down. I just started writing one day and decided to tell the stories as they related to foods through my life.
How did you choose the title?
I wanted to have a little fun with alliteration, and musing and munching is what the book is all about.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I first wrote this for my family only. I wrote it quickly, had it copied and put in a 3-ring binder and it was a Christmas gift for them. Then people read it and made comments like, “You need to do more with this – you really know how to tell a story!” I did many months more of editing, adding stories and recipes, more editing, and then talking with others about how to go about getting published. I got a lot of advice, most of it leading to independent publishing rather than dealing with the rejections and long waiting periods associated with getting a publisher interested in a totally unknown writer. A phone call from a newspaper book reviewer convinced me that going the independent publishing route was the way to go for me.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I was doing quite a bit of technical writing of proposals and marketing materials for my job with an engineering firm. Prior to that I was what you’d call a “late bloomer.” I got my bachelor’s degree at age 55. During the 8 years it took to do that while working full-time, I had some college writing classes as well as some classes on-line and had good response from instructors. I just kept at it.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned that writing is not only not easy, it’s really tough! For me it was a personal catharsis in voicing some really difficult childhood experiences. I also tell about those experiences in hope that others may make better choices than I did. I learned not only that I am a survivor, but I am a joyous survivor! The book has led to speaking engagements where I can share that joy and inspire others. I help them determine what their gifts are and how to use those gifts.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I am a voracious and diverse reader because I want to experience a wide variety of styles and subjects. Favorites are Jodi Picoult, Marie Giordano, John Steinbeck (“The Pearl” is the most perfect writing ever), Penelope Stokes (“The Blue Bottle Club” is delightful), Nora Roberts (she gets better and better and her recent “The Search” has wonderful dialogue).
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am a Hospice volunteer, and I help Hospice patients write their life stories. I’ve recently started to help others capture their life stories for their families. These are not published, but are for private collections only. I am also playing with some fictional pieces now and want to take more classes in writing fiction before I really get into doing it.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Write, write, and write some more. Enter contests, record your thoughts, capture interesting experiences and make notes for future use. Don’t worry about making something complete or final; just make notes and keep them together for use in something down the line.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My book appeals to women. I expected that it would appeal mostly to older women, but am finding that younger women like it, too.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
The book is available through Amazon.com.