Monday, September 12, 2016

Kitty Morse | From Casablanca to Anchorage

Kitty Morse is visiting Anchorage Sept. 24 - 28, 2016 through an author exchange program sponsored by Adventures by the Book. In partnership with the Alaska Writers Guild, 49 Writers is featuring these visiting authors in workshops at the AWG conference on Saturday, Sept. 24 and also at a members-only salon event on Sunday, Sept. 25. Kitty will also conduct a special program called "Sprinkle Flowers on Your Plate" as part of the Alaska Botanical Garden Lecture Series, conducted in partnership with 49 Writers (buy tickets here).  

My life as a writer developed by accident. Never in my wildest imagination did I think upon emigrating from Morocco to the US, and obtaining my master’s degree in French, that I would end up three decades later the author of ten cookbooks and a memoir. And now, I’ll visit Anchorage on a book tour!

In the beginning, I freelanced, opting to write about my passions – food and travel. My first byline plastered on the front page of the food section of the San Diego Union-Tribune sealed my fate. I was hooked. I submitted query upon query to every publication I could think of. Most queries were rejected, and I learned rule #1: Never take rejections personally. The next published article would send my spirits (and my ambition) soaring.

A strange thing happened over time. I fell in love with the process of writing. Magazine and newspaper assignments gave me the liberty to satisfy my curiosity about any subject that struck my fancy. I can still remember how excited I was one particular month to have a byline in 6 different national publications simultaneously. I learned rule #2: It takes perseverance, perseverance, and more perseverance, as well as timing and luck.

To this day, I advise beginning writers: “Practice the vow of chastity. NEVER sleep under the same roof as a rejected manuscript.” As a freelancer, a rejected article repackaged in a new envelope and shipped to a new address left my house the next day. Rule #3: DARE to query! You have nothing to lose.

My love of food led me to write cookbooks, and I have written 10 to date. Since I was born in Morocco, I focused on what I knew: Moroccan cuisine. The first book, Come with me to the Kasbah: A Cook’s Tour of Morocco, was hatched at the request of cooking students. I met the challenge, though it took over a dozen years to get it into print.

Closer to home, I frequented my weekly farmer’s market. The California Farm Cookbook eventually took me around the state to interview hundreds of farmers and request their favorite recipes. What a deal! And what a trip!

Tired of writing recipes, I set myself a new challenge in 2002 to write a memoir of Dar Zitoun, the historic Moroccan mansion my father willed me in the medieval town of Azemmour, 90 kilometers south of my native Casablanca. But how to make the switch from cookbook writer to memoirist? I took courses in poetry and creative writing at my local university. Once again, I fell in love with the process.

I think of Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories, as a cookbook with very long headnotes. To get it into print, I sought the help of professional editors and a book designer. Then, off it went to China to be printed. Mint Tea and Minarets turned me into an author/publisher. My new “job” is marketing, and to that end, I publish a monthly enewsletter called The Kasbah Chronicles.

The path I took to become a writer, then an author/publisher, has been arduous at times. But 10 published cookbooks, a memoir (and a very supportive husband and food photographer) allowed me to follow my heart. For that, I thank my lucky stars every day.

Kitty Morse’s writing and cooking career spans more than more than three decades. She is the author of 10 cookbooks and a memoir. She has been a guest on radio and television around the US and abroad, and her articles have appeared in a number of national and international publications.

Kitty hopes to meet up with some of you at one of the following events:

Saturday, September 24: 2:10 to 3:10PM
Alaska Writers Guild annual conference, Anchorage, Alaska, in partnership with 49 Writers
Kitty Morse on How to write and market a cookbook.
2:10 pm to 3 10 pm:
BP Energy Center
900 E. Benson, Anchorage, Alaska 99519-6612
Saturday, September 24: 6PM. Reservations required.
550 S Alaska, Suite 100, Palmer AK
Call: 1-907-355-3242
Books for sale provided by David Cheezum, Fireside bookstore, Palmer, AK.

Monday, September 26. 6-8PM. Reservations required.
Cooking Class: A Taste of Morocco
Allen and Peterson Home store
3002 Seward Highway, Anchorage AK

Tuesday, September 27. 6PM. Open to the public.
Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture
Anchorage Public Library
Chugiak-Eagle River Branch

Wednesday, September 28: 6:30PM to 8PM. Fee charged.
Sprinkle Flowers on your plate!
Alaska Botanical Gardens Lecture Series in partnership with 49 Writers
September 28 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
BP Energy Center
900 E. Benson, Anchorage, AK 99508  

Thursday September 29, 7PM
Presentation on Moroccan cuisine and culture
Anchorage Public Library, Loussac Branch

Kitty Morse, author

Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion with Recipes

Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories
Best Book/Arab Cuisine/USA
Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

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