A Quick Update

Whew!  I am swamped with a revision, two magazine article assignments, and a new job teaching writing to sophomores at a very cool school.

But, I had to mention that I’ll be appearing at the U.S. Botanic Garden on the Mall in Washington, D.C., this Saturday, 9/10 at 1 pm. I’ll be doing my usual program of spreading the language of flowers, reading/ discussing my novel, and demonstrating how to make a tussie mussie. Here’s hoping for a big crowd!

And for anyone interested in YA books — especially aspiring YA writers — mark your calendars for Sunday, September 18th at 4 pm. I’ll be appearing with several local YA author buddies — Valerie Patterson, Jon Scovron, Pam Bachorz, and Susan Collins Honenberger — at One More Page Books in Arlington. I absolutely love this bookstore, and the program is all about YA. How to write it, sell it, and promote it! Hope to see you there.

Now back to work.  Is there a flower for energy?!

Indianapolis Bound

I am very excited to be heading to the Midwest this week.  I’ll watch my son row, hang out in Indianapolis, and speak the language of flowers at two bookstores:  Barnes & Noble, IUPUI and Bookmamas. Then I’ll head to one of my favorite places in the world for vacation, the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan. I’ve had enough of this DC heat and humidity and hope my plants will survive without me!

So if you live in Indianapolis or have visited, what should I be sure to do while I’m there? They have to have gardens, right? Should I take my rollerblades?

In other news, I’m thrilled to be a new creative writing instructor at WritopiaLab DC. It’s a fabulously supportive program for budding writers, ages 8 to 18. I wish it was around when I was that age! Fingers crossed we expand into Arlington and McLean soon.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a wonderful, native vine, I just planted some native honeysuckle and it’s so lovely. It will grow up over the chain link fence between my and my neighbor’s house .(see below) And, of course, it’s not invasive and great for birds.

Library Flower Fun

To kick off their summer teen reading program, the Chinn Park Library in Woodbridge, VA, invited me to give my language of flowers presentation this Tuesday at 2 pm. I’m super-excited, because a local gardening group is going to bring flowers and herbs, so everyone can make her own tussie-mussies at the end. I’ll be circulating and helping out too.

In my yard, I have tons of mint (for virtue, and it makes the bouquets smell amazing), sweet basil, rosemary, giant blue hydrangeas, purple coneflowers, butterfly bush, and lots of amazing lace cap hydrangeas. I may have to go scavenge in a few friend’s gardens to find some great flowers for demo tussies….

I’m also thrilled to have a new regular freelancing gig at a new glossy magazine, called Arlington magazine. It’s pretty much a perfect fit for me, and I’ll be writing about lots of fun stuff. Novels take so long to write from conception to sale to shelf that it will be fabulous to write something, get paid, and have it published within months, not years.

There was also a lot of Twitter chat this week about an article by a YA writer that appeared in Slate magazine. In it, the authors basically insult the entire YA reading and writing community as slap dash and not serious about good writing. Aside from the fact that this is just plain wrong, I’m amazed that otherwise respected author Katie Crouch couldn’t see how this would alienate her readers and lots of bloggers and YA consumers. I found myself in a bookstore, holding her book in my hand and thinking I’d have to have a gun to my head to buy it.  Her portrayal of her editor at a major, respected house was also disconcerting. All around — bad form.

Summer Blooms and Invasive Species

I just potted my geraniums and put some new herbs in (more rosemary, lavender, and sweet basil), so summer is here. The pansies are leggy and fading, while my hydrangeas are just opening.

Gardening definitely teaches the virtue of patience. Five years after I put them in, my peonies were finally magnificent this year and will only get better. One of my favorite spring traditions is when my wonderful neighbor, who has scores of peonies which are over 25 years old, brings me a huge handful of pink and white double blooms. Their gently sweet scent fills my house for the week.

I’ve also been very involved with neighborhood invasive species removal.  The stream behind my house is slated for restoration — the erosion is something fierce, as are the invasives that have taken over — so we’re trying to get native species established. One Sunday afternoon in May, about twenty-five neighbors from ages four to seventy-five worked for a few hours to remove the ivy and multiflora rose that had taken over the yard of an elderly neighbor. Then the following week, people kept dropping off wonderful plants — ferns, blue-eyed grass, cardinal flower — in my back yard, so I could replant the cleared space. I feel like I pulled an all-nighter to get all those planted, but it looks great and will only get better. Sharing is another one of the joys of gardening.

I’ve also been revising away. Who was it that said, “There’s no such thing as good writing, only good revision?” That’s definitely true for me. I feel like I finally got all the layers and icing and decorations right on String Theories, so fingers crossed I can share good news soon.

Also, check out my appearances page for some fun new updates. I’m very excited to be back at the U.S. Botanic Garden this fall for a language of flowers workshop! I’ve also had a great time visiting garden clubs and book groups all over the DC area. If you’re local, invite me to come!!

Books, Blooms, and a Fro

The wonderful Skyanne at Harmony Book Reviews, the force behind BringYA2PA, has chosen a library to receive my Library Loving Challenge donation. It’s Wyalusing Public Library in Pennsylvania. I’ll be sending them a check for $100 for their young adult book section and a signed copy of Forget-Her-Nots. Overall, through Jenn Hubbard’s efforts, more than $1600 was raised for needy libraries across the country.  Yay, Jenn!!

Also, I will be giving my Philly Flower Show talk on the Language of Flowers at a wonderful new indie bookstore right in my home town.  I’ll be at One More Page Books on April 30th at 2 pm. This great little bookstore has an excellent selection of both adult and kids’ books. Plus they sell wine and cheese! Hope to see you there.

As always, I’m amazed by spring time in Virginia. The dogwoods are so lovely, my little cherry tree is covered with blooms that will turn into yummy cherries, and I have all kinds of cool native plants and ferns opening on my wooded hill. And yes, I am that crazy lady pulling out the invasive garlic mustard along the paths of Arlington. Here’s my cherry:

And my dog got a fro cut too. She has naturally curly hair, so I swear they must have blown it dry. My husband thinks she looks embarrassed.