I had the opportunity to ask Angela England some questions about her new book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less). Angela is the Founder of Untrained Housewife, co-founder of the new Homestead Bloggers Network, and managing editor of Blissfully Domestic online magazine (One2One Network’s sister site in Blissful Media Group). Before writing Backyard Farming, Angela wrote and published ebooks. She lives in Oklahoma with husband and five children and yes, she has a backyard farm.
Space is a common concern but as I like to say – any area with at least 6 hours of sunlight can be used to grow food. And even if you can’t grow 100% of your food you can provide delicious, fresh food for your family more easily than you might think.
What is a common myth or uniformed belief you encounter about backyard farming?
It’s definitely the idea that producing your own food somehow “ties you down” while buying food from stores all the time is somehow more freeing. In fact both have their elements of being tied down – in one scenario you are tied to your own systems and food producing things. In the other you tied to price fluctuations, availability, recalls, and a trust that everyone who handled your food from the moment it was grown, shipped thousands of miles, stocked and sold, did so in a manner that was legal and safe.
How many hours a day do you put into your backyard farming?
That’s really hard to estimate because it’s such a routine part of our lives woven into every day being. What is the difference between playing with your kids in the playset or playing with your kids in the gaden harvesting fresh veggies for the day? The time is the same, and the sunshine and togetherness are the same but the focus of the activity is the only thing that changes. I would say we do most of our daily “chores” in about 30 minutes but often linger to watch a cool bug, beautiful bird, or the antics of the chickens scratching around their yard.
What is the key takeaway from your book? Or what do you hope people gain by reading it?
I really want people to become aware of the possibilities and doability of the backyard farming lifestyle. It’s less about where you live and how much land you have, and more about your mindset. If someone reads my book and thinks, “Hmmm….maybe I COULD do this” my job will have been accomplished.
On the same theme as the questions above…
What is the most common excuse you hear from people on why they think they can’t write a book?
Time. But really most of us waste so much time each week that when you make it a priority you will be able to carve out the time by reprioritizing. It’s true – I did miss a season of Once Upon a Time. Thankfully we have Hulu so I could catch up later, no problem. It’s worth a short term sacrifice to produce a piece of work that is going to stand for such a long time.
What is a common myth or uniformed belief you encounter about writing or being an author?
There seems to be a mystique and sense of glamour around being an author. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very cool thing and huge way to build your platform for sure. I’ve been advocating the benefits of writing your own ebook for 3 years now, and a traditionally published book has a higher sense of credibility tied to it.
It definitely isn’t glamorous or simple though – there are a lot of hands that touch your book other than you, and while that has many benefits, it certainly gives you less control over some of the presentation elements than I was used to having. And I’m still not wealthy enough to retire so there’s that myth of fame and fortune debunked as well. But it was worthwhile for the opportunity to share my thoughts on a broader level.
How did blogging prepare you for the process of writing a book?
Blogging gave me the opportunity to develop my voice, my writing style, and hone my skills so the process of writing the book would be less frustrating. I also became more familiar with using social media tools as well, which helped me tremendously in developing a website and Facebook page before the book was even launched. And in my case, my book agent actually found and contacted me through my website, Untrained Housewife.
What is your best piece of advice for bloggers who want to turn their writing skills and passion into a traditionally published book?
I know I’m biased because of the success I’ve had with ebooks, but creating a larger piece of work will help you towards the goal of publishing in several ways. For one, it is very different to write a piece of work that is tens of thousands of words, compared to a blog post that’s just a few hundred words. The other thing you get to do when creating a book-length piece of work, whether a manifesto or topical ebook, is that you can hone your own skills and really narrow down on what it is you want to cover.
In a practical sense, find an agent or friend who’s been through this process and ask them questions once you’ve done as much of the work as you could do on your own. Let people around you know you’d love to write a book on a certain topic so they can keep that in the back of their mind. And don’t wait until you know exactly how everything is going to turn out to get started. In many ways it is like starting your backyard farming adventure – you have to plant the seeds and spend time watering before you ever know exactly how that harvest will bear fruit.
Are you intrigued by the thought of backyard farming? I know I am! Angela has graciously offered up a signed copy of her book to an O2O Blog reader! Tell us in the comments, “What do you hope to learn from Angela’s book?” We’ll choose a winner, via random draw, next Thursday (December 20th)! Entries close at Noon (central time). Winner will be notified by email.
***GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED***
And be sure to check out all the book release prizes available at BackyardFarmingGuide.com!