Our crossvines are blooming heavily this week--gorgeous orange blossoms with deep throats, shading to yellow. It's a lovely native ornamental that you might prefer to non-native climbers. You might enjoy it more when you know that crossvine is also medicinal: it was used by Native Americans to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, arthritis, edema, headache and sore throat. The hummers and butterflies love it, too--the nectar must be very sweet. You can propagate it from cuttings, but watch out: this is one of those kudzu-like creatures that grows like crazy. We cut it almost to the ground every few years, or it would become too heavy for its trellis.
HOLLY BLUES was released last week, and is doing very well. Penguin and Amazon still haven't resolved their differences over the eBook edition, but Barnes & Noble has it. And of course the print edition is available everywhere. Let me know if you'd like a signed/personalized copy for a Mother's Day gift. (Book sales through our website benefit Story Circle.) On Saturday, Bill and I went to Houston, to Murder by the Book, where we had a SRO crowd. On Sunday, I signed at the Wildflower Center, and sold out of books (nice!). This week, I'll be at The Twig in San Antonio (Friday) and at the Texas Library Association conference (Saturday). You can check out the details here.
Other than these travels, it's been business as usual at the writing desk. MOURNING GLORIA flew off to NY, and the galleys for THE TALE OF OAT CAKE CRAG arrived by FedEx. I enjoyed re-reading it (love that dragon!) and sent the corrected pages (not too many) back to NY. We're using Word Track-changes now, and finding that it really cuts down on errors in the galleys: another good reason (in addition to reduced postage costs) to use it.
And the next Dahlias book finally has a name! It's to be called THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE NAKED LADIES, a title that everybody (I, editors, and marketing) could be enthusiastic about. I'm sure that many of you are growing Naked Ladies (Lycoris, or surprise lilies) in your gardens. I worked on the backstory for the book yesterday. The "naked ladies" of the book title are an ex-Follies pair who have moved to Darling and are presenting their (slightly) risque act at the local dance hall--much to the chagrin of the Baptists, Methodists, and the more proper Dahlias. I'm looking forward eagerly to writing this book, which is good, because it's due at the end of June. So I'd better stop fooling around with this blog and get to work, huh?
Oh, but there's something else to tell you. Bill (husband, co-author, as Robin Paige) is also a woodwright. He's decided to offer some of his best work for sale. We'll be putting up a new website in the next few weeks. So watch for it, please. I think you'll enjoy the photos of the vases and bowls he has created from the native woods he's harvested from the pecans, elms, ash, and other trees that grow here at MeadowKnoll. True artistry!
And for another kind of artistry, I'd like to introduce you to book-and-paper artist and maker-of-natural-dyes Velma Bolyard, who lives and creates art in the Adirondacks. In this blog post, Velma writes about making dye from bloodroot, something you will appreciate if you have read China's BLOODROOT.
Reading note. Artists don't talk about art. Artists talk about work. If I have anything to say to young writers, it's stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work . . . hard physical work . . . You have an original, fresh concept; you want to fulfill it as precisely and as completely as you can, and in the effort to achieve that, the constant self-demand is, in essence, what art is.--Paddy Chayefsky