Drafting Two Books at Once

Though I consistently write fiction, for some reason my nonfiction finds more success. And so it is that I’m working on two regional nonfiction books at once, I suppose. Even with six published historical romances under my belt, and four manuscripts making the rounds, it’s two nonfiction contracts that come my way. I’m not complaining, just marveling at how things sometimes work out.

For those writers out there wading through the morass and confusion of getting an agent and/or getting published, maybe it would be wise to investigate other avenues in your writing. Have ideas waiting. The nice thing about nonfiction is that it can be sold before it’s written. Of course, you have to know what you’re talking about and write a fine proposal for this to happen. Show your expertise, as it were. But expertise can be learned simply by doing your research well.
Writing a first draft of two books at once has been a lesson or two for me. Sometimes I’m not sure which one I’m working on as I research. Post it notes come in handy for making sure that when I get ready to use the research, I know where it was intended to go.
Never having written a cookbook, I wasn’t sure how to draft it out. A good friend, Mary Lane Kamberg, who wrote Homegrown In the Ozarks along with Rolland Love, was kind enough to give me some pointers. Our books are both in the Meals and Memories series published by GoldMinds Publishing. But she’s written other cookbooks.
After taking her suggestions to heart, I began to hunt and type old recipes. These had to meet specific rules. Mine. They had to come from cooks in the Boston Mountains, and they had to be old, handed down by families, so to speak. Of course, I began with my mother’s, grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s, all maternal, and the only ones who handed down recipes. Then a friend loaned me her grandmother’s cookbook. By then I’d learned not to spend more than one afternoon a week copying recipes. It’s a wearing process and soon puts crinks in your neck and shoulders.
Then, I ran across other old recipes in cookbooks I’d bought over the years at fund raisers in the area, so I typed them. Last week I decided to count how many I had, because the editor wanted at least 150. I’d been afraid to count earlier for fear I’d be disappointed.  With bated breath I added up the bread and main dishes, the sides, desserts, pie, cakes and cookies. Even some jellies, jams and homemade soap. 178. What? Yep, I have 28 more than I need. So, off they all went to my proof reader. We’ll have to leave out some, but I think I’ll share them on my blogs as the time comes for the book to come out. Oh, the name of the book has been agreed upon. Raised In The Ozarks: Meals and Memories of the Boston Mountains.
Drafting the Lost Communities of the Boston Mountains is a different matter entirely. Interviews, traveling around the counties, checking out old sites and new, that’s all fun, as is recording what I’ve found and the old stories passed down through family story tellers. I can see there’ll not be room in this book for everything either. I’ve decided to only include the northern counties of the vast Boston Mountains, and even then not every lost community will fit in the page allotment. Could this mean a second and third book? I don’t know. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile I have about 17 chapters laid out, plus each will contain three or four old pictures. No title for this book yet. I’m still struggling with that one. My hope is to get both books out at about the same time and promote them together. A twofer,  so to speak. That should work out well for myself and both publishers. Wish me well with this project.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in Arkansas, Boston Mountains, family stories, fiction writer, history, nonfiction, Ozarks, promotion, publication, recipes, Uncategorized, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Drafting Two Books at Once

  1. Good luck with this project, Velda!I’m not sure I would do well with non-fiction projects of any length. I’ve written some professional articles (under my real name) and can handle that. Anything else might be pushing the envelop for my patience! =)

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