Sunday, May 12, 2013

Art & a little mystery in the garden

Me & Felder Rushing's Classic Truck Garden on Wheels!

Yesterday, I was honored to be included among other artists at the annual Art in the Garden event held at THE ARBOR GATE in Tomball, Texas. I was there signing copies of EVIDENCE OF LIFE. There was worry the night before that it would rain, but early that morning, driving over, the sky began to clear, and by the time I arrived and set up at around 9:00 or so, there was a light breeze, and the clouds weren’t more than tattered white lace breaking over a field of clearest blue. The setting was absolutely gorgeous, a lush fantasy of floral color and texture. The thing that is so unique about the nursery, or one of many things, is that everything they sell is suited to this area. Every plant can take the tough Texas heat and humidity. Of course it’s still up to the gardener to find the right place and to take the proper care. And for advice on that you’ll find plenty of folks there who can help you, really help, I mean. Because they know this area and they know plants. But here’s something else about the Gate as it's fondly called … even if you don’t garden, it’s worth a trip. There are the shops, of course, filled with the most unique assortment of home and garden accents, everything from beautiful to whimsical to practical. But the real reason to go is for the atmosphere, just to soak up the beauty and the warmth and congeniality of the people who work there. You come away with such a lovely feeling. It’s all that joy that’s loose in the air. It makes you feel like champagne bubbles. I think I was one of Beverly Welch'’s first customers. We won’t talk about how long ago it was, but I’m so thrilled she’s here and for what she’s
accomplished. I can’t thank her enough, either, for the enthusiasm, support and encouragement she's shown me in honor of the debut of EVIDENCE OF LIFE, and I was thrilled that she made a place for me to sign copies and do a wine and book giveaway yesterday. (Winners will be emailed.) Thank you so much, Bev!!

She made a place for Felder Rushing, too. Felder is the fun and quirky author of Slow Gardening, A No-Stress Philosophy For All Senses & All Seasons. According to the Wikipedia definition, slow gardening is a philosophical approach to gardening which encourages participants to savor everything they do, using all the senses, through all seasons, regardless of garden type or style. The method applies equally to people growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruits, as well as those who tend to their own lawn, or have an intense garden hobby such as topiary, bonsai, or plant hybridizing. (I have all these intense hobbies except the lawn one!) It actively promotes self-awareness, personal responsibility, and environmental stewardship.

Given the breadth and depth of the definition, it sounds to me like the way to live your life. Felder spoke at the event yesterday and I had the privilege of hearing his talk and also of meeting him and shaking his hand and laughing at his jokes. The classic truck in the background of the photo of me belongs to him. There’s a garden planted in the back of it, a real, living garden. He planted it there, he says, because he wants people to understand when they say they have no space for a garden, it’s a matter of choice. You can have a garden anywhere. Visit Felder’s websites here, Felder Rushing of Slow Gardening. It is worth the time, and it’ll make you smile. He is the living embodiment of Joseph Campbell’s quote about following your bliss.

I also got to meet and visit with Lynn Herbert, the author of A Garden Book for Houston & the Texas Gulf Coast and what a lovely person she is! We talked about plants and books and the work we do. We talked about aquaponics with my son David and daughter-in-law Christy who are working on building an aquaponics farm, Smithwick Aquaponics Farms, in the Hill Country. That was in between signing copies of our books.

It was such a lovely day with music and laughter. Thank you to everyone who came! If you missed it this year, you should make a plan to go next year. The photos Christy took are gorgeous, but photos can’t do it justice. And huge thanks to David and Christy who spent a wonderful pre-Mother’s Day day with me! Love you both!! HAPPY MOTHER"S DAY to all moms everywhere. Wishing you joy! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little Night Magic!

Jink, our lovely hostess, and I
There is nothing quite like it in my experience, the occasions when women meet to discuss a book they have read. I’ve had the luck and the good fortune to have my novels selected for this honor on a few occasions now. Last night I met with the Happy Bookers of The Woodlands to discuss EVIDENCE OF LIFE, and it was such a special event. You could say it was the beauty of the surroundings, Jink Willis’s beautiful home and garden, or perhaps it was the lovely weather. We’ve had the longest, coolest spring; there was a delightful breeze, and the mosquitos have yet to come out. Definitely the company would be part of it … a lovelier assembly of woman couldn’t be found, and there was a delicious assortment of salads and desserts, not to, mention wine, but still, that doesn’t quite explain the magical quality there was to the evening, at least for me.

Even when we don’t know each other well, when we have all read the same book, that experience bonds us; it softens formality, bringing with it a certain familiarity. After all what we’re discussing are people we know in common, right? Characters whose experiences we have shared through reading about them, and in talking about them, and the feelings they inspire in us, we know each other. Speaking as an author, I can’t begin to quantify the gift
A few of the 28 Happy Bookers & Guests who attended
of such discussion. Last night we shared our personal stories in relation to Abby’s story in EVIDENCE OF LIFE. I heard from readers all the different places where aspects of her story resonated with them as the result of having a similar experience. We talked about the pain of betrayal and the effect of divorce on older children, how difficult it can be, especially for boys. We talked about a son’s need to protect his mother. We talked about the difficult subject of forgiveness, and the quirks of human nature, how they can lead to odd, even manic, behavior. We talked about what we would do if we were confronted by the choices Abby faces. What would we be willing to do, to sacrifice, to find our missing family? Would we ever stop looking?

Mojo, the flirt!
We touched on so many elements that are intrinsic to the plot that unfolds through Abby’s point of view in EVIDENCE OF LIFE, and it was so gratifying as the author of the book to listen, to join in, to offer my own experience in the flow of conversation. To me, this type of discussion by its very nature brings about a sense of camaraderie, the feeling that we aren’t alone in how we feel as wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, friends. It makes the entire experience, from the conception of the novel, to its writing and seemingly endless editing, to its inevitable and so hopeful public debut, come full circle. There aren’t words to say how meaningful that is for me as the creator. I love hearing, too, how readers view a character’s motive, what they see as that character's agenda. I'm surprised at what I hear, especially when it means I've added a clue or a red herring I didn't intend in that way, at least not consciously. I was surprised and intrigued last night at the variety of insights into the story and characters that were offered. I learned so much! And that is the real gift, what I took away, experience I can bring now to my next book.

Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your experience of EVIDENCE OF LIFE with me, Happy Bookers! And thank you, too, to the Women Readers at Barnes and Noble with whom I met in April, and to readers everywhere, who have taken time to read and to share their thoughts with me or through their reviews of EVIDENCE OF LIFE and my other novels. I am so hopeful that we will continue to grow this connection we’ve established through the next book and the next and the one after that!

I would love to hear from you, and you can reach me here, through the contact page, or through my fan page on Facebook, which I would be thrilled for you to visit. Let’s keep talking!