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My Journey in Letters


"Cookbook collectors read cookbooks like novels! They curl up with them in the evening like 
I would with a biography. This is one of the most pleasurable things for them - to find a book 
that is peppered (so to speak) with little-known facts, reminiscences from your childhood,
comments about long-time friends, information about the sources of some
of the ingredients, the history of certain dishes."  ~Jay Lane


Everyone needs a light to guide them. 




I so enjoyed working with an editor and Jay was wonderful. I wanted to share some of the condensed

 letters with you to explain the process of how the cookbook was written and edited.  I hope you will enjoy

 reading the brief excerpts of what originally were very long letters filled with numerous pages of editing

 information. I chose not to include all of Jay's trade secrets. Here is a discussion back and forth between a

 cookbook author and editor. I had just attended Jay's class in "How to Write a Cookbook." 

I cannot thank Jay enough for her excellent editing and advice over the past three years.



November 22, 1997

Dear Jay:

     I wanted to write and thank you for giving such an inspirational class on how to publish a cookbook. I was looking through your “Repasts” cookbook and saw a recipe for fudge, which looks wonderful. I am baking for each family member this year. I am very interested in discussing how we could publish my cookbook within the next two years or sooner.  


January 4, 1998

Dear Rebecca:

     Of course, I would be happy to work with you on your book! Yes, yes, please continue to use the fudge recipe without compunction. I used it because it has been shared for forty years, so I have no proprietary interest in keeping it exclusive. Your recipes look yummy. Before you write too many of them down, let’s talk about quantity abbreviations. It is easier if you make a matrix to look at so you don’t have to keep referring back; just create an all-encompassing list of them and have them posted by your keyboard.  


March 6, 1999

Dear Jay:

     It just so happens that I had completed and printed over 15 pages after my personal editing, so I am sending them to you without further thought. I recently received a letter from Barbara Gibbs Ostmann who wrote “The Recipe Writer’s Handbook.” She has given me some pointers on how to write a book proposal. I will send you my proposal for editing when you have had a chance to review the enclosed recipes. I value your professional opinion and look forward to working with you on the editing of this very long manuscript.


March 21, 1999

Dear Rebecca:

     Such an undertaking! As I said, the recipes sound yummy and you have done a masterful job of getting it all together. I would like to suggest a few things which I think would shorten the process and help you control your editing expenses. 

     Zest is a wonderful invention. Not too long ago, I heard a friend complain that he had found an intriguing recipe for something, which included “zest” but was confounded and confused, as there was never any explanation. Your discussion about “zest” was very good. Here is your proposal. I will be working on the body of the book this coming week.  


May 27, 1999

Dear Jay:

     Thank you for your patience on the last package. I almost wish I had sent you a smaller one. Oh! The joys of writing and then editing a cookbook. I almost prefer getting back the smaller more manageable packages. Let me know when you have sent me everything back. I won’t send anything until I hear you have since I don’t want to “terrify” you with the rest of the recipes until we have this proposal done. 


July 4, 1999

Dear Rebecca:

     I spent lots of time happily reviewing the dozens of clippings you sent over the weeks. Do you want them back? That Zingerman’s looks like quite the place; I loved the Baker’s Catalogue and the Walnut Acres one. Almost makes me wish I was still raising my family and cooking up a storm. Catalogs do inspire, don’t they?

     Your packet was delightful. The aroma of the Sleepy Time herbal tea had permeated everything! I loved the list of paradoxes and found them to be very, very true. Now I get to do the good stuff. I have saved your recipes for dessert.


July 11, 1999

Dear Jay:

     And I thought you would be enjoying the Fourth of July. I catered for 20! We then had a great time at the Chateau Ste. Michelle and sat in the rain on tarps and blankets to watch the fireworks. What a family adventure. I will be happy when we have a larger home to entertain more.  



"Consider the postage stamp. It secures success through its ability 
to stick to one thing until it gets there."  Josh Billings


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