It all began by saying YES!!
This week I shared the history of my column, The Recipe Exchange, with the Inter-Lakes Lions Club of Somerset Center, Michigan. I was excited and honored that they wanted to know my story.
A little over twenty years ago I was working in the accounting department at the Daily Telegram in Adrian, Michigan. I also wrote the news from the various senior centers across Lenawee County along with a human interest story or two. This was published in the newspaper’s monthly Ultra Magazine.
A new publisher had come to the Daily Telegram from West Virginia. His previous newspaper featured a recipe-exchange style column and he wanted the same for the Daily Telegram. When none of the staff reporters were interested in writing the column he asked me. I said, “YES,” and the column has run, uninterrupted, ever since.
That publisher moved on to the Coldwater Daily News. I suggested running my column in that paper. He agreed, saying it was a great idea.
A few years passed. My son graduated high college, I divorced and found I had some free time on my hands. I decided to expand my column readership. I focused on the Hillsdale Daily News. My column ran in the counties on either side of Hillsdale and I wanted to have all three: Lenawee, Hillsdale and Branch.
Negotiations that lasted two years ended when the publisher agreed to run the column on a trial basis for a year. That’s been over five years now and it is in the Saturday paper every week. It was about this time that I published my first cookbook, Farmhouse Cooking.
Two years ago I was able to leave my forty-hour a week job and concentrate on my writing and photography. I entered three craft fairs as a vendor, selling Farmhouse Cooking. I found it was a great way to get in touch with my readers. I did the Hudson Bean Creak Festival, Applefest in Coldwater and the Clinton Fall Festival. It was a lot of fun, meeting and talking to people who enjoyed The Recipe Exchange, and sharing it all with people who weren’t familiar with my column. I picked towns where The Recipe Exchange ran in the local paper. More important to me than any sale of Farmhouse Cooking was meeting the people, promoting the local newspaper and my column.
At the Applefest one of the people who stopped by my booth suggested I look into Farmland News in Archbold, Ohio. I called and had a copy of the paper mailed to me. It was full of great country recipes and I figured there wasn’t room for more. But I noticed an ad asking readers to submit a “Memory” and possibly have it published in the paper. It was November so I wrote about the first and only time I snooped for Christmas presents.
I was twelve and already knew I wanted to be a writer. All I’d asked for that year was a manual Underwood typewriter. I was sure I’d reach greatness equal to Hemmingway or Steinbeck if only I that typewriter.
My essay was published and the editor asked if I did any other writing. I told her about The Recipe Exchange. My column has been running weekly with Farmland News for over a year.
I added three new papers in 2013: Grass Lake Times in Grass Lake, County Press out of Parma and The View in Bellville, all in Michigan. My subscription readership is now up to 25,000. And in January of this year, I published my second cookbook, Country Cooking.
I’m going to continue searching out new publications for The Recipe Exchange and I’m looking forward to meeting more and more readers when I’m selling my cookbooks and fairs and festivals across the region this summer and fall. Keep an eye on my Where I’ll Be page for more information.