Q&A with Veteran Cookbook Collaborator Mary Goodbody

After Mary Goodbody left Cook’s Magazine (now Cook’s Illustrated) in the 1980s, she got her first opportunity to co-write a cake decorating book for a packager. She took the job and never looked back. Since becoming self-employed in 1984, the food writer and editor has collaborated on close to 50 cookbooks.

She lives in Connecticut, inherited a 200-acre sustainable farm in northwestern New Jersey with her seven brothers and sisters, and blogs about her visits there.

We spoke recently about collaborating on cookbooks and her long career. I have collaborated on a cookbook (Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas) and edited recipes for publishers. I wanted to learn more about these jobs as careers for freelance food writers:

Q. How do you define the job of a collaborator?

A. I’m the project manager. I make sure the book gets done. I’m pretty detail oriented and I work and think in a linear fashion, which helps the authors keep their deadlines. The author might do some writing, but I edit it. I keep in touch with the

BlogHer 10 in New York: A Sea of Estrogen

Closing keynote in the Hilton's Grand Ballroom.

Imagine 2400 excited female bloggers, half of whom have never been to a conference before, not to mention New York. Many were away from their kids and husbands for the first time.

They were there to learn, to party, to get swag, and to talk. Sometimes it seemed like they were all talking at the same time. That was sold-out BlogHer ’10: Noisy and thrilling. Think high estrogen count.

According to the founders giving the keynote, there are now 67.5 million women who blog. It felt like ALL of them were at the conference.

Last Friday and Saturday, BlogHer featured two days of sessions on 7 tracks, including the writing lab, geek lab, and the job lab (since we’re still in a recession). My favorite was on humor writing, moderated by Awesomely Luvvie. It featured the co-creator of the Jon Stewart show, Lizz Winstead,¬†and comedian Jessica Bern. These women write and speak on the foolishness of everyday life, and spent a lot of time encouraging the women in the room to have confidence.

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of the Jon Stewart Show

“Curiosity is our greatest asset,” said Winstead, who researches her topics like a madwoman. (Click on her name above to see her rant on Phyllis Schlafly.) “Hone your voice and write about what you care about. Be articulate, creative and smart and people will find you.” She also said “Don’t write about stuff you don’t know about.” Good advice.

Winstead encouraged writers to take a position, comparing it to driving down the middle of the road. “A car in the middle of the road causes accidents. Pick the left or the right. If you don’t you’ll need my self-help book called ‘F**k You,'” she concluded. Keep in mind that someone will always be offended by your position, she said, because “even asserting a point of view will offend.”

So now that you’ve read that, I’m going to take a position. I have never spoken with so many people who [Read more…]