I love the maples in the Midwest and the aspen in the West. I miss them, here in Texas, where we don't have a lot of bright fall foliage. But this 30-year-old crepe myrtle is a colorful stand-in--plus, it shows off pretty pink blooms all summer, so it's a winner all around.
Crepe (or crape) myrtle is a world traveler, brought from Korea to Charleston SC in the 1790s by the French botanis Andre Michaux. It is happily at home here in our Zone 8 Texas Hill Country winters and can probably survive as far north as Zone 6. Because it's deciduous, it sheds all this pretty foliage in the winter, making its beautiful peeling bark more noticeable.
Homestead report. Sadly, another chicken catastrophe. Last week, we lost our senior hen Buffie, a Buff Orpington. She didn't come back to the coop with the rest of the Girls after an afternoon's free ranging. Old age, I thought. C'est la vie.
But this week, we lost two Barred Rocks, so I've revised that thought: C'est la guerre. Coyotes, I now believe, and probably plural. At first, it appeared that we had lost three Girls. But a survivor made her way home the next morning and seems to be recovering.
Judging from the evidence (feathers), this latest raid took place in the yard, just ten yards from the house. The raiders are bold, coming so close. haven't seen the wild turkeys lately either, so maybe they're among the battlefield losses. Nature, red in tooth and claw. And while I mourn the lost Girls, coyotes have to eat to live, just like the rest of us. But the Girls will have to stay in their pen for a while--no more afternoons out.
Book report. In my last post, I told you about the new writing project: a series of novellas (short novels) featuring Ruby Wilcox, a spin-off from the Pecan Springs/China Bayles series, to be published in ebook format. Chris left a comment that has me thinking. She writes: "Although I prefer print books for larger works, I love that my favorite authors are doing short stories and novellas on e-book. I get to see work I would never have seen otherwise."
That seems to me a really smart observation. From a writer's point of view, shorter work gives us the opportunity to experiment with new ideas, different voices, new ways of seeing our fictional worlds. In this project, the character (Ruby) and setting (Pecan Springs) are familiar. But I'm playing with first-person, present-tense narration. And since Ruby is psychic (as you may remember), this mystery is a paranormal. I'm seeing a 3-novella character/plot arc here--not sure where it will go after that.
In addition to the possibilities for experimentation, the ebook format allows us to publish our work quickly. Publishing in print is a 12-month calendar (finished manuscript to finished book) if you're working with a traditional publisher. Ebook publication is simpler and faster, so I can plan a Ruby trilogy on a 12- to 18-month calendar. As you can tell, I'm excited about this new project, which is an add-on to my ongoing print projects: China Bayles and the Darling Dahlias.
As a reader, I still love print books. But there's no room for another bookshelf in our small house, and every shelf is already double-stacked. This is a new world, with new opportunities. I'm adapting. And I love it.
Reading note. Ask anyone with a big book collection, and they'll tell you moving them was the hardest part of the move. Take down a bookshelf and there's often no less than four, possibly up to eight, good Lord if it's over ten, boxes of dense material. This is the single greatest argument for welcoming ebooks. Abandoning print and having your Kindle on display instead doesn't sound like such a bad idea while carrying book box number seven to the car.--Lauren Leto, Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere