Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Planting Hints and Good Eating

Courtesy Amazon.com

Pumpkins are magical. They herald in the autumn; they fulfill our needs to create art related to the season and to celebrate it. We fill them with light to welcome others to our homes, and to provide the way from home to home as we gather treats for the season. We have all kinds of celebrations for them from competitions for the largest or best pumpkin to the best decorated pumpkins to pie baking and pie eating competitions. We listen in awe to their amazing history and laugh at their folklore. We begin to invite friends and relatives to luscious dinners featuring this wonderful orange treat. Pumpkins warm our hearts as the autumn begins to bring the chill air. We invite you into the welcoming pages of this book, and to fill your souls with all the good things you remember, and your stomachs with the most delightful pumpkin treats.

I first published this book in 1986, believe it or not. Publishing was different back then. In case any of you ever get discouraged trying to publish your books, don’t. I went through (no kidding) some 600 publishers in the U.S. and overseas. Everyone pretty much liked it, but they didn’t publish specialized cookbooks so much then, or they were afraid it was too seasonal . I kept careful notes of every letter I sent to a publisher. That was how we did it back then. And if they showed an interest, we had to send them a manuscript to review. It was a ridiculously long process, and expensive too. But in the end result, none of them turned down the book for any personal reason (i.e. you can’t write).

Finally I took a second job to get the book printed, exchanging my work as editor of a small community newspaper in Long Beach, California. I worked at my regular job by day and then went to work after I got off my other job to get the paper out every week, and working all weekend. When I had earned enough to have my book printed (5,000 copies), I took the covers and all the pages, and I held a collating party with friends, who helped me collate it after a potluck dinner in a part of the Old Fort MacArthur, where we had an old barracks building we had rented as a gallery.  There we exhibited the work of some potters my former significant discovered. The building overlooked the ocean in San Pedro, CA. It was an incredible time to be in that town. I had rented a comb binding machine and so we took care of everything, and of course I gave each person who helped me to get it all together a signed copy.

That was just the beginning of the work. I had to schlup the book around to bookstores. Some of them paid me up front and then would get their money back with sales. Others insisted on taking the book on consignment, which meant me driving back to their stores each month to see if they had made sales. And those people put the books out where they wanted them, and that was not where they would get the best viewing and perhaps sales. This was common in those days.

My book was not high priced; I don’t remember what it was, but I remember that by today’s standards it was cheap. And they were more obliged to the big name publishers. So pricing and where your book ended up on the shelves were other things that made selling a genuine challenge. The comb binding was ok. A number of cookbooks were sold that way, but the problem was that without printing on the outside edge, if the book was on the shelf among other books, it would be overlooked. Libraries would not take it because of that. It would be easy to take it out of the library without checking it out legally, and also people would sometimes overlook it because they ignored something with no printing on the spine.

I had a Library of Congress Number besides the ISBN, which is all many self-published  books have these days it seems. Anyway, it would end up in their Books in Print, and that did bring a number of orders. The problem with that was that I had to get them ready to ship, pay for postage, and mail them out for the price of the book plus shipping. That part would have been ok if I had not had to get them ready to mail and get them to the post office each time. So again, it was ending up costing me money to get my own book out.

I can’t remember what the Internet was like, but I had no one to help me promote the book. I definitely do not remember blogs. So I did what I could, and between giving away books to people who were friends and selling what I could, and soon they were all gone. I have one old and really battered copy, but it is a good memory of another time and place and how things used to be.

Life is a joy now related to the books we write and publish. I think the “Print on Demand” publishers have much to help worthwhile authors to get their books out there and in a way that is not environmentally a challenge in that we don’t have to worry about remaindered books. I don’t know if book pirating is still an issue as it was way back when. Seems to me from some of the movies I have seen that countries like China and other parts of Asia have some pretty good writers and producers of film these days, and there seems to be a big market for them now too, so pirating may have slowed down.

Thank you one and all who have been so supportive. It is wonderful the way the bloggers help to support each others’ efforts in publishing. Never give up. Keep writing. Everything today is geared to helping you to succeed. I want to thank my good friends, Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books.com who does editing, and David Dvorkin, who made my beautiful cover and got the book into print, and handled all the technical chores. And I also want to thank my friend Patty Fletcher, who seemingly never sleeps while she helps us all to get publicity for our books as she works with David and Leonore. They helped my friend, Barbara Williamson and me with our last book, Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating. I love the way the book business is today. It is a true community involvement, and you never have to feel alone the way I did years ago as I did what I could for my book.

41 thoughts on “Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Planting Hints and Good Eating

    1. That sounds like an absolutely wonderful book, Roberta. Congratulations! Back in those days I was the most persistent person you would likely meet in my area. It was funny because when Edition 2 came out, I had just had a knee replacement and the doctor wanted to give me tons of meds for pains. I am not good with meds, and I told him no. He kept at me to take some but I never did. Instead, when my knee would hurt (most of the time), I would get a big bowl of apples, my knife and other ingredients and some ready-made crust, sit there and work on my revisions and take breaks to make sugarless apple pies. I ate a lot of sugarless pies, but I did not take any pain pills. And I got that 2nd Edition done. By then, we already had “Print on Demand,” so things were so much better. I’m going to have to look up your book. The title is truly intriguing.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so kindly. I am glad in some ways that I had that experience, even though it took a lot of work. I really learned a lot, and I think one of the most important lessons was that too often we are afraid that publishers won’t like our work because it is not good. I am sure that DOES happen, but more often, at least in those times, it was because I selected the wrong timing or wrong publishers. It definitely helped me to be stronger related to my own writing, and also to realize that writing a book does not end there. Thank you again. It is very appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly, Alethea. I have never regretted any of the life experiences I have had, even the bad ones. We need those so we can ultimately grow up and see what we need to see, and it shows how the earth and we keep evolving. Thank you again, and happy Autumn.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Anne, if this post doesn’t bring a gorgeous autumn, I don’t think anything will. I love pumpkin, and your post makes me want some pie, cookies, bread and one little orange one to hug with my hands. Thanks for the reminders about what self-publishing used to be like. I had one little book out in the 90s, but I got a grant and they were given away to people who attended a specific convention, so I missed all the fun stuff you had to do. It was much the same with music, though. I schlepped vinyl records, cassettes and then CDs around Philadelphia to get them in local record/music stores. It was all consignment. Hugs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you found it. Yes, it seemed a bit complex to me to try to find it. I know it is listed by Amazon.com and they are the ones selling it, but it may be that you have to go through https://kdp.amazon.com. I had trouble finding it and had to go through them but it may be because they had not finished their work – ISBN, etc.??? Not sure. Well, it should be available now and thank you for writing about it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly, Steve. I think the best part about all of this is how wonderful it is that such a variety of human beings can come together and help each other in whatever ways they can do. This will always be appreciated, for it shows us the best of mankind for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I have your eggplant spaghetti poem picked out for another reblog when I can get to it. I have to do a couple of welcoming in the season blogs, but I LOVE that poem. I picked it as one of my favorite dishes to prepare is Ratatouille. We found my little dog, whom Richard named at first Ratatouille because he thought that the dog might be part Rat Terrier. He was very tiny, very ill, and deaf. He has a collapsed trachea and also has heart issues. But he loves us and his newfound family (after he was dumped, very ill, outside our mobile home park). We got him medicine and his shots, and he follows us around and does whatever his brother and sisters do, and he sleeps with all of us, so he is now a happy little fellow and we renamed him Little Man. He is a joy for us, and we are thrilled to have him be part of our family. Anyway, this is deserving of being a post about your poem and your book.

      A lady is coming now to interview me about my book, and I am thrilled to tell her what I can. This week has been a whirlwind of more bloggers contacting me about the book and reblogging me, and so it goes. As a little community, the bloggers are by far the best people – always kind and helpful and we learn so much. So moving forward . . .

      So good to hear from you and I think you have had a lot to do with all the wonderful things happening. Thank you forever from the bottom of my heart.

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  2. I appreciate this comment so much, Jennie. Yes, it was hard work, but I am glad I got the opportunity to experience it, just as I got an opportunity to deal with those really huge computers before personal computers came out. What a learning experience that was. It’s funny, but as I am growing older, I can truly appreciate so many things I lived through when I was younger. I miss a lot of them like the real letter writing I commented about once to you (the pen pan and I know your children got to do that). It is something I am really sad to see go. Have a beautiful Autumn and a great weekend.

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  3. Love this story, Anne! Didn’t want to include a link but if you look up my poem on WordPress titled Before Kindle Direct Publishing, you will see my home-spiral bound book and my print one from KDC. Every time someone says something negative about Amazon or the internet, I think of how it was and those “good old days” weren’t really all good. Like Carly Simon sings, “THESE are the good old days”!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, I love it! Sisters of the publishing path. You are definitely one of my new forever soul sisters! It feels wonderful to be connecting with a bunch of sisters who have been there, done that and who know what was what. And I LOVE Carly Simon. Somewhere on my blog, you can find my hippy car that I covered with cloth of all colors and types. Sure made a difference in how people treated me on the street. People who used to yell at me to get that old (22 year old Honda Civic Hatchback) suddenly gave me high fives, etc. I am going to go and look at your poem. Yay!!! Someone who’s been where I’ve been too. I sure will!!!

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  5. What a wonderful week! Old friends who blog and new friends showing up every day and it feels a lot like the comfort of living in a tiny New Mexico town and being able to leave our doors unlocked. Neighbors would come in and we always had a pot of coffee (the old perkolators) sitting on the stove ready to heat and perhaps a little baked treat. The neighbor would come in, make themselves a cup of coffee, and wait for us to return. Or after a bit they would write us a little note and go home. What a joy it was to live through those days. Perhaps not all of life was like that, but a whole lot of it was, and it far outweighed anything that was not perhaps something we would want in life.

    I remember one Christmas, neither my good old lady friend in Deming, New Mexico with two strapping grown sons from her husband who came from South Africa had a cent between us. We walked the streets of downtown Deming, NM, and we each would pick things in store windows and then tell the other, “I picked that out just for you.” I think it was the best Christmas I remember. At home we tried an old recipe from an antique South African cookbook for pumpkin soap, and I think we made some delicious pumpkin soup for our dinner. When I say antique, it came from the 1800’s and they used wood-burning stoves to cook things, and there were no measurements for any recipe. They were all cooked in big black iron pots with a handle over the top. So there was an art to cooking then. You had to become one with the things you were cooking to really have it come out right.

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