The meadows are purple this week, swathed with blooming gayfeather (Liatris punctata). This beautiful plant is said to be edible (if you're really, really hungry), but it was mostly used as a medicinal. Plains tribes brewed up a tea that treated kidney, bladder, and, um, sexually transmitted diseases--also sore throat, colic, laryngitis. It was also used to treat heart ailments: makes sense, because the roots contain coumarin. Oh, and it was also used as an abortifacient. When you read that a plant was employed to treat "menstrual problems," think contraceptive/abortifacient. For centuries, women taught one another what worked to help them avoid pregnancy when they couldn't support another child.
Book report. The General's Women (biographical fiction: the story of Kay Summersby, Mamie Eisenhower, and Ike) is finished and in the hands of a highly-competent copy editor, Sandra Spicher. Sandra was recommended to me by an editor (now retired) at the University of Texas Press, and I was glad to find her--really, really glad, I mean.The novel includes an epilogue that's heavily documented, because Kay's later-life story, after her affair with Ike, has never been told. So there's a lot of note-checking, which I truly detest. Before we started, Sandra sent me a multi-page sample of her work. She's picky, which I love--but she also is willing to leave alone, when I feel strongly about something. I'm so glad to have her on the publishing team, and looking forward eagerly to seeing her first-pass pages. This is one of my (three, so far) author-published projects: it will be published via my own imprint, Persevero Press, and available for sale online after March 1. Librarians, it will be available through Ingram.
One of my traditionally-published mysteries is moving forward, too. I worked on the copyedited file of Last Chance Olive Ranch (China Bayles #25) a few weeks ago, and yesterday saw the book's cover. Very nice! As soon as I get the go-ahead from my editor at Berkley Prime Crime, I'll post it for you.
Homestead report. The potatoes I planted 3 weeks ago are putting out green leaves. Kale and spinach go in this week--I should have put them in sooner, but the soil was very warm. It's cooler now, and the cool-weather plants should do better. The Barred Rocks are molting and the chicken pen is awash in feathers, so egg production is down. But there's enough for quiche tonight. Yum!
Reading note. I will continue to write what I love to read, and the fact that it doesn't sell as well as romance or sci-fi or fantasy [or mystery] isn't the point.--Joanna Pen