The meadows are swathed with purple. The gayfeather (Liatris punctata) is blooming this week. 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--as well as sore throat, colic, laryngitis. It was also used to treat heart ailments; the roots contain coumarin, a blood thinner that has cardiac effects as well as being an antioxidant. The FDA considers coumarin (also contained in Mexican vanilla) to be toxic, and you'll often hear warnings against its use.
Not incidentally, gayfeather is one of a large group of native North American plants which are used as abortifacients. 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. They used local plants. Gayfeather is one of them.
Book report. The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle (#8 in the series) comes out next week! If your library or local bookstore doesn't have copies, please ask them to order it. I'm publishing this series under my own imprint, Persevero Press. It's available from the usual distributors.
The book is set at Christmas, 1934, and as usual, the Darling (Alabama) Dahlias are up to their pretty eyebrows in mysteries. So far, the response has been excellent. I'm delighted to tell you that the first printing has sold out! We've already gone back for a second, so books will be easily available through the holidays. HOLIDAY HINT: You could probably fill several holes in your gift list with this one.
Also in the works: The manuscript of A Plain Vanilla Murder (China Bayles #27) has gone to the copy editor, come back to me, and gone back to her. (There are always several passes in this process.) Next steps: interior book design and cover art. This book will be published under the Persevero Press imprint, and will be printed/distributed by Greenleaf Book Group. I enjoy working with the folks there, especially Justin, Dan, Kristine, and Stephanie. They smooth the kinks out of a very complicated project. Look for Vanilla on April 2, 2019.
And one more project: a trilogy of Ruby Wilcox novellas, to be published in ebook-only format next year. Lots of challenges with this one!
Reading note: Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.―