The first potpourri of April

  • If I believed in omens, I would see it as a good sign that my riding mower started on the first try when I mowed the yard earlier this week. Now I have to get the older car started after it sat idle all winter. I don’t want the newer car smelling like gasoline after I refill the gas cans for the next lawn mowing adventure–coming soon to a blog post near you.
  • As I finally finished re-reading Richard Powers’ The Overstory, my favorite quote is:  “You and the tree in your backyard come from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways. But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions, that tree and you still share a quarter of your genes. . . .” I also liked: “This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.”
  • In her post, “My Creative Process,” a favorite author Julianna Baggott describes an approach to writing that sounds very familiar to many of us who write. For me, her lead paragraph says it all: “My creative process doesn’t have edges. I am writing all the time. I experience the world as me but simultaneously as an artist looking for moments when the story world and the actual world bounce light off of each other. I am constantly running a story in my head, sometimes a few of them. I am constantly collecting moments from life to hoard for the next story. “ And then, too, “There’s the moment, inevitably, when the project leaves me—and the process that story has carved out inside of me ends—and the project becomes a product. Art, when money is involved, becomes a commodity. This is when I say goodbye to it emotionally. It’s hard and at the time when a lot of people start to get excited about sharing it with the world, I tend to say goodbye and snip all the wires that connect the story to my heart—like I’m diffusing a bomb.” 
  • I often use my Facebook headers for pictures of the locations of my books. This one shows a scene very typical of Florida Panhandle where I’ve set Conjure Woman’s Cat and the subsequent novels in that series. I try to show prospective readers where my words will take them–and remind myself about the environment where I grew up.
  • When I used the name chow chow in my novel in progress, I wondered how many people–even in the South–know anything about this traditional Southern relish made from the last vegetables (except hot peppers) in the garden. Years ago, everyone here knew what it was and put up a lot of veggies by making it. In “real life” the relish looks just like Sally Vargas’ photo. If you want to experiment, you can find a good recipe here.
  • And, I’ll finish with a hearty “welcome back to the States” for my brother and his wife who spent about a month touring Australia and New Zealand. When they said they came home experiencing a lot of jet lag, I mentioned that when I came home from the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, there wasn’t any jet lag, and I’m betting we had better chow (not chow chow) than Barry and Mary were served on the plane.