I am SO pleased to feature my very good friend's brand spankin' new book! Christina Dymock is amazing, adorable, talented, and has been very supportive of my career as well. She and I met three years ago at my first LDStorymakers conference in Utah and immediately hit it off and now we spend a LOT of time at the conference hanging out and talking a mile a minute.
Look at this GREAT cover!
And I love these words straight from Christina herself:
"When you cook with kids, don't aim for perfection, aim for smiles."
Table of Contents - Yummy!
The following are words of wisdom about writing fiction versus nonfiction and some kitchen antics from Christina . . . AND I'm giving away a hardcover copy of this book to one lucky winner! Please leave a comment to enter and please share this book/blogpost with your own friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or blog post - and give yourself some more points in the comments.
(Wouldn't this book make a fabulous gift!?)
Take it away, Christina . . . (who is also the author of 101 THINGS TO DO WITH POPCORN)
Thanks for having me on your blog to talk about my new book and about writing a cookbook.
As with any book, writing Young Chefs was a journey that was both rocky and rewarding. I was blessed to spend a lot of time with my kids in the kitchen; enjoying good food while observing their skills and areas where they needed instruction. I learned that younger kids like what I call destruction jobs (cracking eggs, dumping ingredients, chopping) while older kids like to assemble. We’ve had some major spills and some major accomplishments. There really is no end to our lessons because we are constantly cooking and baking.
I can tell you that there are some aspects of writing a cookbook that transfer over to writing fiction, but there are some things that are very different.
Write Then Taste
When I’m working on a cookbook, I get to eat my words. (Yum!) In order to come up with a recipe I need to be away from the kitchen. This may seem strange; but if I can smell a beef dish cooking for dinner, then I have a hard time focusing on a fruit dessert. My office is usually aroma free so I start there. Once the recipe is mapped out, I take it to the kitchen for testing. I personally test and taste every one of my recipes.
They don’t always turn out. (Not even my usually unbiased chickens want the leftovers!) It’s like a scene that doesn’t move the story along – that recipe just has to go. Other times, I get an okay dish. This is like a scene that has merit but needs to be flushed out. I can keep it; I just have to fix it first. Then there are the recipes that work perfectly the first time and every time after that. Those scenes get to stay forever!
Another difference between fiction writing and cookbook writing is that I don’t stress about word count when I’m writing a cookbook. My books have a recipe and photo quota to fill instead of a word count requirement. This can be good and bad. Making sure I get a variety of dishes while staying under my maximum number of recipes can be tricky. Both word count and recipe quotas are based on the book package a publisher will put together. Some packages hold between 30 and 45 recipes while others hold over 300.
Selling a Book
Please don’t sit down and write a 300 recipe cookbook! Cookbooks are sold to agents and publishers based on a few solid recipes and a writing sample instead of an entire manuscript. For Young Chefs, I submitted seven recipes and two photos of each recipe. Once they sent over a contract and book package I knew how many recipes I needed to put together. Check an agent’s website or blog for their requirements before you submit.
Just as there are many differences, there are also a few things that are the same.
When it comes to selling any book to a publishing house or an agent, the number one thing you need is a good hook. What sets your book apart from the rest? There are many children’s cookbooks on the market, but Young Chefs is a cookbook for kids with helpful hints and extras for adults. For example, on each page there is an icon for the type of help the child may need. At a glance you can see if they will be working with the stove, a sharp knife, or the microwave. There’s also a section one how to do things, like measure wet and dry ingredients and spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray, so kids can learn the basics and build their skills.
Both fiction and non-fiction writing is hard work. It’s not something you get lucky at. It takes time and effort on the part of the writer to create a book. I guess as a sub heading here I could put in perseverance. If you stick to it, you have a better chance of getting published.
No matter what type of writing you work at, trust you heart. I’ve found that writing is a work of heart. No one writes books because they have to; they write them because they love to. Sure it stinks like overcooked asparagus at times, but that just makes the chocolate cake times all the sweeter.
SWEET!!! And thank you so much for sharing your talents and recipes and advice with us today!
Dear Readers: Don't forget to comment, share, buy a copy for your own family, and then purchase a second copy to give away!
Me? I'm off to make Lemon Shark Bars! Or Best Nachos Ever!