Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist


A Real Book Page Turner

Thank you to The Times and Democrat for a nice  article about me and my books as well as the other two authors participating in next week’s sixth annual Page Turner event, the newspaper’s biggest annual fund-raiser. I enjoyed speaking with reporter Dionne Gleaton. To read the entire story, click on the link below.

Otherwise, here’s a short except and quotes from yours truly:

She  said her first cookbook was based on a newspaper column she had written about shopping at farmer’s markets.

“It really hasn’t stopped since then. It’s been fun. I still love going to farmers’ markets or a beautiful grocery and finding something spectacular. It’s about sharing the knowledge and love of cooking and doing it in such a way that everybody will love and enjoy it,” Herrick said. “The goal is to make it inspirational and fun.”

Herrick said perseverance is a critical to the art of writing.

“You just have to do it. Dreaming doesn’t get it done. The actual art of any kind of writing is to be attuned with what is going on around you all the time. The key is to be very observant and to try to be a good listener. Try to get the undertones as much as possible because that sensitivity will come back through your writing,” she said.

She said food writing is as much an art as novel or poetry writing.

“I think of the myriad of examples of experts in food writing like James Beard and Julia Child. They’re all people who described food and had a poetry of their own. I went to one of the biggest cooking schools in the world, but I learn something new every day even in my own kitchen,” Herrick said.

France, French cooking and her current book series are among the topics which she said she will touch on at the Page Turner Luncheon.

“I’m sort of between two cultures right now, but there are similarities between Southern cooking and French cooking, which most people think of as fancy and impractical. But French cooking actually stems from frugality and freshness,” Herrick said, adding, “I promise to make it fun.”

Here’s more specific information about the event on March 4. I hope to see you there!




Writer’s Block

After nearly 20 years playing the writing game, I should not be surprised by the pervasive and prolific stereotypes that are out there about what writers do and how writers live. Yet, when someone I trust and respect said to me (in so many words) earlier this week, “You should get a real job,” I was stunned. I was so stunned that, in spite of my pride, I cried. And, just for some Victorian fun, he threw in “….or marry a rich guy.” Ummmm, last I checked the year is 2012 and I proudly wear a well-earned badge of independence which I have no interest in surrendering to anyone, rich or poor.

All this got me to thinking it may be time to take a reality check on writing misconceptions  and  what writing, at least for me, is not and what it is. Let’s begin with the not’s. It is not about sipping cafe au lait at a Parisian cafe, sporting a beret and scribbling mindlessly on a note pad. It is not Carrie Bradshaw going to glitz and glam parties in NYC, seemingly every night, wearing $800 shoes. It is not sleeping ’til noon every day and slipping in a couple hours of work here and there. It is not glamorous, it is not easy, and it is not another name for dilettante. And, finally, it is not just about the writing – there are contracts to pursue, books to promote, blogs to write, platforms to build, and lots and lots of editing.

Writing cookbooks, ultimately, is very hard work.  It is long days in the kitchen creating and testing recipes, and that includes the shopping before and the clean-up during and after. It is sitting down and doing the job, not just dreaming or talking about it, which requires extreme discipline.  It’s long periods between royalty checks and reaffirming  conversations with editors and agents. In short, it’s tough!

But, the reason I do it is because I love it and it’s one of the things, besides cooking, that I do best. I can do the cooking in my cheerful kitchen with my best friend and dog Tann Mann at my feet, and I can do the writing in my cheerful office over-looking my pretty garden while listening to the sounds of the neighborhood kids laughing or a distant dog barking. As wonderful as all of that is, it doesn’t touch the satisfaction of holding each new book for the first time, or hearing from appreciative readers about their favorite recipes.

These are the things that make my job utterly worthwhile and very, very “real.” I am very thankful to have it.

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