Jul 212015

The 2010 signing of Will Write for Food, 2nd edition, at Omnivore Books in San Francisco. I still have that dress! Now I have to remember not to wear it. (Photo by Heather Luhan)

The third edition of Will Write for Food came out last week, and I’ve been busy with promotion. I love in-person events best because I get to see people in real life versus virtual, and wear dresses. Sometimes friends show up for support, which makes these events even more fun, kind of like parties.

So far my summer book promotion — that all-important six-week window — is going Continue reading »

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Jun 162015

At last! I started working on this edition last year and I couldn’t tell you about it until now. The third edition of Will Write for Food, completely updated and with a new chapter on making money, goes on sale July 14, 2015. Today I’m giving away Continue reading »

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May 302011

Last week at a panel on writing at BlogHer Food in Atlanta, David Leite said he never asks his partner to read his drafts.

“My husband cowers in the corner when I ask him to read something,” he confessed. He suggested people find someone else to review their writing, or just read it themselves.

“Do not give it to your partner to read,” he cautioned. “They’ll either fawn over caca or critique everything.”

I took the mic and respectfully disagreed. My husband reads almost every blog post I write. And I’m thrilled that, after 23 years of marriage, he is still willing to critique my work in a constructive manner.

It takes discipline to be just as respectful as he delivers the news, however. I’m still working on that. If I get out my annoyed voice and say, “What are you talking about? Of course readers will understand,” it doesn’t help.

Here’s what Owen reads for in a blog post:

1. Am I talking to myself? Sometimes I assume readers know, and he has no idea what I mean. In the rewrite, I back up and explain a situation or fill in a gap.

2. Is he bored? My post is exciting to me, but I notice if he’s not getting into it. While he is not my target reader, if he finds it difficult to concentrate, I figure out how to pump up the language, make the beginning snappier, or tighten the delivery. (Miraculously, he found this post riveting.)

3. Do long sentences need untangling? Sometimes he trips over them. That lets me know that I need more variety in my sentence lengths, to establish rhythm and interest.

4. Do I have typos, spelling or punctuation errors, or  extra spaces? He’s great at finding them.

I don’t ask Owen to read everything. For a cover story on food writing for the May/June Writer’s Digest (sorry, it’s only available on a newsstand), I enlisted two colleagues, both bloggers and freelance writers, to review a draft for me. I promised to read something for them in return.

Ironically, I realized recently that Owen doesn’t ask me to read his stuff (he writes product reviews for a Mac website as a hobby). When I asked him why, he said I’m too busy editing other people’s work. Sweet!

If you don’t have someone to read your work, try reading it out loud to yourself. And if you do use a partner or spouse for feedback, I’m curious to hear how, or whether, it’s worked for you.

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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May 032011

Think your readers will make your recipes flawlessly simply because you’ve made them more than once?

Mega-star and cookbook author Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame doesn’t, even though she has worked in the food business for more than 30 years. She still relies on an assistant and her friends when developing new recipes.

In How Easy is That?, Garten says once she’s tested a recipe repeatedly, she hands it over to longtime assistant Barbara Libath. Then she watches Libath make it.

“Every time I do that, I learn something about how someone at home, with only the printed recipe in front of them, might make the dish,” Garten writes. She’s careful not to Continue reading »

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Apr 262011

Are his wares "Perfect for any occasion?"

Yes, recipe writers have to make readers want to rush into the kitchen. And readers need convincing. But must we sell, sell, sell?

I found these 20 terms below in a cookbook I edited recently.

What’s wrong with them? They’re generic. They’re overused. And I feel like I’m getting a sales pitch.

I put my least favorite term (no, not delicious) first. But “Perfect for any occasion” is delicious’s equivalent in value and vagueness. What exactly does it mean? Perfect for a funeral and your kid’s lunchbox? For a wedding or an after-school snack?

I bet the guy in the photo would use this term, if he thought it would work. It’s his job to snow you. But is it your job to snow readers?

Here’s my list of 20 tired sales pitches:

  1. Perfect for any occasion
  2. Minimum of time and effort
  3. You’ll rely on these recipes day in Continue reading »
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Sep 132010

I’ll be in Vancouver, Penticton, San Francisco and Chicago in the next few weeks. Please come by to say hello, or consider attending a conference or event.

  • September 14, 2010
    Book Signing and Talk
    Barbara-Jo’s Books To Cooks
    Vancouver, B.C.
    6 p.m.
    $35 includes a copy of Will Write for Food

    I’ll be interviewed by Nathan Fong, food columnist and TV host for The Vancouver Sun and GlobalTV. 

  • September 16-19, 2010
    Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop
    Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
    $650 (Still a few tickets left!)
    This workshop, held during the grape crush in B.C’s wine country, features part food and wine touring and part professional development for food and wine writers. I’m originally from B.C. and excited to be Continue reading »
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Aug 232010

Photo by Heather Lunan

This is the best part of being an author: when your book comes out and you have a signing at a terrific food-centric bookstore like Omnivore Books in San Francisco.

Photo by Owen Rubin

It also helps to have a great interviewer like food blogger Sean Timberlake of Hedonia, who lives in the neighborhood, to make it fun and dynamic. We talked about food blogging, mostly, but also got in a little bit about restaurant reviewing and freelance writing.

Photo by Kirstin Halgedahl

And it helps to have a good crowd. Among those who came out were food Continue reading »

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