With Christmas coming very soon, we wanted to share this guest article written by Lynda Bouchard, who grew up in St. Albans, Vt. and now lives in North Carolina. We hope you enjoy it!
Every Christmas I return home to the rural Vermont town of St. Albans where I grew up and couldn’t wait to leave at 17. I wander side streets to Taylor Park where snow often covers the verdant landscape. The park overlooks Main Street. It hasn’t changed one bit. But I have. I may feel the same age as when I left, speeding into the unknown, never giving a backward glance – except now I am more thankful for having grown up here. It has shaped me forever.
There is a sureness of a small town, a certainty that traditions will be honored. My mother’s custom was to encourage my sister and me to make something for Christmas dinner. I remember the weathered rolling pins, rustic mixing bowls and an old wooden recipe box with dog-eared cards written in my mother’s flowery script. Those cards, splattered and yellowed with age, connect me to my mother and my grandmothers. The recipe box is full of cherished memories of times shared.
Each card is a piece of flash fiction with revisions, crossed out words, notes in the margins (‘use for cocktail parties’), random pieces of paper, historical insights (‘Uncle Bob’s original concoction. A favorite’), editorial comments (‘could use more salt’). They have the unique ability to transport me back to those family celebrations. A handwritten recipe stirs emotions and tells so much about the intent and life of the cook. Something that sleek digital files can’t match.
I’m sure my mother never thought of herself as a writer. She thought of herself as a housewife, living her entire life in the town where she was born, a place made of dreams, a drowsy village bordering Canada and tucked next to Lake Champlain. But a writer she became with each recipe she made her own – through testing, revision, improvement and luck. The remnants of her writing will outlive her – as is true of all great stories.
The recipe box is part of a writing life – the creative life of memory makers and keepers.
At the core it’s Lynda’s sense of humor and nimble ‘outside of the book’ thinking that drives her best work. She believes that book marketing is all about collaborative story-telling. Her client list includes award-winning authors Nicholas Sparks, Ken Burger, Dorothea Benton Frank and Cassandra King Conroy. She collaborates with New York publishing houses on Southern publicity campaigns and serves as an ‘author concierge’ for authors on tour throughout the South.
She shares advice about publicity and marketing on Where Writers Win blog, and has been a featured speaker for the S.C. Writers Workshop and panel moderator at the South Carolina Book Festival.
Lynda holds a Masters Degree in Public Relations from Boston University and did post graduate work in Literature at Oxford University in England.
When she isn’t busy thinking of creative ways to pitch Anderson Cooper, Lynda spends time volunteering for Literacy Councils in North and South Carolina. She also supports her local chapter of Donate Life – helping create awareness for the importance of organ donation.
Work in progress: Trying to figure out her new iPhone.
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