The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 23, 2012

Pie Lady to launch new book March 31

ELDON — Armed with a rolling pin, a pitchfork and a laptop, author Beth Howard of Eldon knows how to heal with deep-dish pie and deep feelings.

Howard will launch her new book, “Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie,” 2-3 p.m. March 31 at the American Gothic House Center.

Gothic House Administrator Holly Berg said Thursday that she always tells people how great it is to have Howard living in the Gothic House, which is short walk from the Visitors Center.

“We work together to promote Ottumwa and to support the center,” Berg added.

Howard’s book tells the story of how her young husband died suddenly and how she packed up the RV he left behind. She was gone for six weeks, and her travels included the Ottumwa area, which is where she was born and reared.

Her journey of pie therapy started on the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. While cruising the four-lane highway, Howard saw the Gothic House sign and had to stop there.

“I fell in love with the space around the center,” she said. “The house itself is a darling cottage.”

Howard soon learned the Gothic House could be rented and the local committee accepted her.

“I wrote the book while I’ve been here,” she said. “I make the pies to signify life.”

Howard has been a journalist for more than 25 years and has specialized in personality profiles, adventure, travel and outdoor sports.

She has written for Shape, Elle, Travel & Leisure, Fitness and many other magazines.

But she wearied of her “dot-com,” 16-hour job and decided she needed to “live simply” for a while, and writing the book helped. During that process she learned making pies was very meaningful for her.

“It’s a survival tool. I make pies, and it makes people happy,” Howard said.

She’s comforted by Jack and Daisy, her two terrier-mix dogs.

As for her grief, she’s learned to live with it and the “acute sharpness” of her husband’s passing has subsided. “Making Piece” covers grieving, optimism and hope, and now she’s ready to move forward.

“I stay busy,” she said. “I function better with a busy schedule.”

She runs the Pitchfork Pie Stand, writes for magazines and is developing a TV/web series about pie.

Howard will be touring again soon. After her book launch party at the Gothic House, her next stop will be April 3 at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City. The rest of her schedule includes Portland, Ore., Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and several other cities.

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