Fund my Next Book: Food and MURDER

$4,080 of $3,500 goal

Raised by 62 people in 24 months
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Friends!! I've made my goal! Any donations above the goal will continue to support expenses for this project--travel, research, ingredients etc etc. You're just making the project better by allowing me the financial freedom to actually work on the thing. I'll be accepting donations through Wednesday, April 19th. I am genuinely grateful for your support!

Who am I? Hello Friend-Fans! You probably know me as the author of the popular book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. Or maybe you know me from my long-running blog, Four Pounds Flour, or my podcast and live show Masters of Social Gastronomy. You know I love telling human stories through food history.

But TBH, I invested so much of my personal money to create Eight Flavors, it's left me in debt. I need some seed money to get my next project going.

What's my next project? I need to fund my next book proposal. The working title is OHIO 1910, and the concept combines food history and true crime.

I'll be telling the story of a handwritten recipe journal created by a husband and wife from 1880-1910. The journal starts with recipes for the perfect lemon pie, homemade yeast, and chocolate cake. Then, there are chapters on medicine (like cholera cures and PMS aids), beer and wine (root beer, rhubarb wine, blackberry brandy), and finally mushroom foraging.  The recipes in the book abruptly stop being recorded in 1910, because the man writing it was brutally murdered by his son-in-law in a crime so scandalous, it made national news headlines.

As the author, I'll take you along with me as I experiment with these recipes and use them to reveal how a loving, food-focused Midwestern family unraveled--and ended up the focus of a tragic crime.

Here are a few images from the original recipe book:

You can find the original New York Times article about the murder here .  In it, the murderer claims the victims "exercised a mysterious influence over him."

What will your donation fund? In order to sell this idea, I need to write a few chapters of the story; those chapters will be used to pitch the story to a publisher and secure a book contract. I need funds to cover research expenses. Your money will be spent on: ingredients for recipe testing, travel for research, and fees to access historical documents.

What will you get out of it? I know rewards aren't necessary on Go Fund Me, but I'd like you to feel personally involved in this project. For a donation of just $40, I will send you a signed copy of OHIO 1910 when it's published. If you liked my first book, think of this fundraiser as a very early pre-sale. For a donation of $100, I will send you a book and thank you in the acknowledgements of the book. And there are more rewards for donation amounts beyond that. Reach out to me directly if you have questions.

But for a donation of any amount, you'll get a personal thank you note. Because I will be so grateful to accomplish this project with the help of my community when I was unable to do it by myself.

Much Love,

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Hey All! You can email me at if you would like your reward as a part of my new book, Endangered Eating, or if you would like to stick it out for whatever comes with Ohio 1910.

Thank you for your continued support!
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Hello Supporters! I have some BIG NEWS and you're hearing it FIRST! Please read down to the bottom of this update for a special offer regarding your rewards.

I've reached a deal with W.W. Norton & Co to publish my next book, "Endangered Eating: Exploring America's Vanishing Foods"!! I'll be working on the manuscript over the next year and the publication date will be two or so years from now (book are slow). I'm not allowed to say too much more other than that; the idea is so hot my publisher has asked I keep it a secret until closer to the date of publication.

But I know--this book is NOT "Ohio 1910". I worked for two years to build that proposal and try to sell it, but I couldn't convince an editor the public was interested. But there is some good news on that front: there has been interest in producing "Ohio 1910" as a podcast! Again, I can't say much more about it now, but I will continue to provide updates here.

All that being said, I want to thank you, my supporters, and give you a chance to collect on your rewards sooner rather than later. If you would like a copy of "Endangered Eating" when its published, signed or signed and with your name in the acknowledgments (depending on what rewards level you selected) respond to this update with "YES gimme that copy of Endangered Eating!"

If you would like to hold out, and get your rewards when "Ohio 1910" turns into whatever its going to turn in to, please respond with "NO! I'm in it for the long haul, let's see where this thing goes."

You can email me directly at

Thanks everyone! I'm excited about this new project, and I hope to be able to share lots of behind-the-scenes research and adventures!

With love and appreciation,

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HI All! You must be wondering what the heck is going on with this project. WELL.

I completed the proposal: an overview, chapter outline, supplemental materials, and two sample chapters. 60 pages of research and writing in total, and approximately 1/4 of the entire book.

Five of the top editors at five major publishers read it; and I had two in person meetings, one with a senior editor at Little & Brown and one with a VP at Norton.

And in the end? All five editors rejected the proposal. Sigh.

I have not given up on this project. I am considering self publishing, serializing through a subscription on Patreon, and/or pitching the idea as a podcast series. Your rewards will carry over.

But if you are feeling impatient: I am working on a new book proposal that my agent and I are confident will sell, working title The Ark of Taste: Delicious & Distinctive Foods Facing Extinction in America. When that idea sells, I'm going to check in to see if you would like to receive a thank you in or signed copy of this new book, or if you'd like to hold out for the eventual publication of OHIO 1910.

Thank you all for you continual support, and I will be in touch again soon!
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I am THRILLED to announce that I met my goal and surpassed it!! I am so happy to have the funds to work on a project I care about. In the coming months, I'm going to be baking 1880s cakes and cookies, I'm going to go mushroom foraging, I'll be fermenting rhubarb and elderflower wine, and heading to Canton and Columbus to dig through the archives and research this murder. And I can do it thanks to you!

Follow me on instagram, twitter or facebook @fourpoundsflour to follow along on all my adventures.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support--and your encouragement. It has meant the world to me.
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$4,080 of $3,500 goal

Raised by 62 people in 24 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created March 20, 2017
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Mara Saxer
23 months ago

I'm excited to read this book!

Jess Tsang
23 months ago

go Sarah!!!!! can't wait to read it!

Melinda Montelauro
23 months ago

Keep it up, Sarah.

23 months ago
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