The cover of the next China Bayles mystery (Mourning Gloria, April 2011) has been posted and Peggy and I are working on the book's webpage. The first-pass typeset pages arrived via FedEx on Monday, and I've been reading and doing minor corrections--truly minor, I'm glad to say. In the past, I've sent back as many as 30% of the pages to be corrected. There are likely to be fewer than 10 with this book. That's due to Berkley's new system of electronic copyediting, which I hated (to start with) and now appreciate. I'll fax back the corrected pages tomorrow.
And then I need to start thinking about Cat's Claw, China's 20th book--something of an anniversary, wouldn't you say? The first book, Thyme of Death, was published in October 1992, at the same time as Work of Her Own, my first book-length nonfiction. (That turned out to be a big mistake. It was hard to promote both at the same time. Work of Her Own pretty much disappeared, even though it was a good book, ahead of its time.) This was before the Internet, too, when books lived only in print and on shelves and newspapers published pages of book reviews. The world we live in is very different, with online bookstores, e-readers, and book blogs.
I've been promising a book about Sheila Dawson, and Cat's Claw is it. Several herbs go by that name, but the one I have in mind is Cat's claw acacia (Acacia greggii), which is native to the Southwest. It is also called Devil's claw and Wait-a-minute tree (once you're snagged, it takes you a minute or two to get unsnagged). Native Americans had several medicinal uses for it. Several other herbs go by the name of Cat's claw, and I'm sure that China will include as many of them as she can think of. If you know of one, mention it in a comment and I'll give her your list to work from.
Reading. The long-awaited Post Carbon Reader arrived on the weekend, and I've been gobbling it. The subtitle, Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises (yes, "crises" is plural) tells you what you need to know about the essays in the book, from some of the most important writers on the key issues that will shape our lives over the next 90 years--food, water, energy, population, and climate. A serious book for readers who are seriously interested in looking ahead and getting ready to meet the challenges.
Gardening (speaking of challenges). I just came in from picking the last of the peas. I know--I keep saying that, and more keep showing up. The rest of the fall garden is finished, but the wintering-over plants are . . . well, waiting for winter. (It'll be 75 today, and a warm, dry winter is predicted.) There's kale, chard, spinach, carrots, and cabbage. Oh, and rhubarb, which we grow as an over-wintered annual here in the Hill Country. I moved the two new fig trees out of their patio containers to a spot near the garden, where I hope the deer will overlook them. Only a few figs this year, but I've told them I'm expecting great things from them next summer. They've told me to be patient.
Reading note. Our starting point for future planning must be the realization that we are living today at a critical moment in the long arc of human history when numerous crises are not only converging simultaneously, they are interdependent and affect virtually ever living thing on the planet. . . . The success or failure of the human experiment may well be judged by how we manage the next ten to twenty years.--Asher Miller, The Post Carbon Reader