Author Q&A: Linda Steele, “Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen”

Linda SteeleLinda Steele, author of Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen: Recipes for Seaside Living, is a baker, freelance writer, and blogger at West Falmouth Baking Company. She teaches baking classes and demonstrations and sells her baked goods locally during the summertime.

Linda Steele talks about writing, publishing, and promoting a cookbook, her favorite recipes, and more in this Author Q&A.

What inspired you to write Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen?

While my youngest daughter, Sophia, was home, I started an at-home baking business, and I was also a freelance writer. I grew up visiting Cape Cod during the summers, and we moved here as a family year-round in 2006. When we first moved here, we spent a lot of time at the beach and cooking good food with friends and family, and I enjoyed our experience so much. When Sophia went off to kindergarten, I decided to go back to teaching. I didn’t want all of that joy and creativity to be lost, so I decided to gather my stories, recipes, photographs, etc., into the book.

What was your process for writing it? Getting it published?

The book was easy to write. I feel that it wrote itself out of my experience and passion for food and family. I wanted the book to be unique and to reflect my style, but I also wanted the recipes to be authentic; ones I either created, used over time, and/or used in my baking business.

I actually had an earlier version that I self-published. When I sold out of that original batch of 200 copies, a local bookstore owner suggested that I contact Schiffer Publishing to see if they were interested in publishing it. They agreed, and it became the book it is today, with the stories, poems, photos, and recipes.

What was your favorite part of writing My Cape Cod Kitchen? The greatest challenge?

Making the food and then taking the photos with a friend and my daughter would be my favorite part. The greatest challenge was good collaboration with the publisher. They made some choices that they felt were best for marketing, although there are a couple of elements that don’t entirely speak to me–so having to accept that. I am proud of the book and I’m happy it is available.

The other biggest challenge is letting go of control of any mistakes. For example, when I submitted my manuscript, there was an ingredient of flour included in my banana bread recipe, but in the book, it inadvertently got left out. Having to accept that I am responsible for any of the minor errors, even if I worked to avoid them, is a challenge. At the end of the day, I am the author. Even if the publisher had a role in errors, ultimately, it falls on me.

Meet Me in My Cape Cod KitchenWhat is your favorite recipe in the book and why?

I have a few! But if I have to pick only one, I would say Celebration Cookies is the recipe I have gotten the most feedback on, like, “Best cookie ever!” And it is one of my original creations. Another one would be Blueberry Empanadas because I entered it into a contest years ago and won first place.

In what ways have you been promoting your book? What promo recommendations do you have for other authors?

I was lucky in that, as a freelance writer, I know the local publications. Both the Cape Cod Magazine and the Falmouth Enterprise did a large spread on my book. Then, when I contacted all the bookstores and libraries locally, I could share the positive press I received. I have given talks at approximately ten places locally: selling the book, giving a talk, and then signing copies.

The best recommendation I can give authors is: be proud of your work and don’t be afraid to get it out there in as many ways, and through as many avenues, as possible. Looking back, I was kind of shy, and there was no need to be. It’s a nice book, and I offered a good talk to participants.

Advice for cookbook writers?

My book is unique in that it has a lot of local, personal stories about what the recipes mean to me. My advice is to don’t try to do too much. My book is, to me, primarily a baking book, although the publisher subtitled it Recipes for Seaside Living, so I think some people were expecting only seafood. Make the food you love, and be genuine in what it is you love about it. Passion and genuineness do matter in the end.

Additional advice for writers?

Write in as many genres as you are interested in. I write poetry, non-fiction, food, fiction, and on many different topics. There are times where people will expect you to only write on one topic, but again, write in as many genres and topics as you want to.

Also, read, read, read! As a long-time writing teacher, I know from personal experience that fostering reading does lead to better writing.

And practice, practice, practice. If you love to write, then everything doesn’t have to have an eye toward publication…just practice.

And read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.

What do you know now that you wish you knew before writing Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen?

My work is valuable, and I can be careful that all the elements I want or don’t want in the book are honored. At the end of the day, it’s my work, and once it’s published, it lives in the world as an entity of its own.

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