by Ellen Byerrum
It’s summer. How does your garden grow? This year our pink roses look pretty spectacular, and our lilacs were lovely and fragrant. Still, we lost other flowers to a late spring freeze.
In many ways, I suppose, cultivating a garden is like writing a book. It takes time for everything to bloom. If you force it, it won’t flower in the right way. At least for me. I know I’ve said this before: I am not the kind of writer who can churn out a book in a month or two. And gardening? Not to be “Mary, Mary quite contrary,” but it takes time for both books and gardens.
When writing a book, or nurturing a garden, you must work on the plot, and there’s a whole lot of digging and weeding involved. You have to move dirt and feed the seeds (with water or ideas), so the flowers can grow. You want both your book and your garden to look perfectly composed and feel so easy that people think they just materialized. Or simply blossomed, like your garden. Readers, and flower watchers, really don’t want to see the blood, sweat and tears involved.
Gardens have been on my mind because we are spending so much time at home during the pandemic and specifically outside in our glassed-in patio/sunroom, which was built by Bob’s late aunt. This sunroom has become our summer office. To make it comfortable day and night, we added a couple of office chairs at the large table. There’s a standing fan and we brought in a small swamp cooler. There is also a small heater for evenings when it gets cool. We have strings of lights in the room and outside on our patio and in our buckthorn tree, under which we dance on Friday nights when the weather and our energy permits. It makes a very pleasant work environment. And we find we are working later into the nights to avoid the heat. I hope that translates to progress on books and plays.
Should We Talk About Writing Projects? Okay, Books and Plays
First, I am delighted that my children’s book, Sherlocktopus Holmes: Eight Arms of the Law is finally out in the world and receiving positive reviews! You can read more about it below. And please feel free to order a copy or two. I’m told it makes a wonderful gift.
In more book news, I put together a Kindle Collection of the first five books in my Crime of Fashion Mysteries, Killer Hair, Designer Knockoff, Hostile Makeover, Raiders of the Lost Corset, and Grave Apparel. See details below.
You may be aware that over the past two years, I’ve spent time writing, rewriting, and polishing two plays, Father Jeremy’s Christmas Jubilee and The Angel of Death Rises Early. One comedy and one drama. I am finished with them, for now, until a theatre company decides to have a reading and/or a production. Until then, I am posting these works on the National New Play Network New Play Exchange (NPX) and submitting them to various venues for consideration.
Now, for all of you who have asked when I’m getting back to my Crime of Fashion Mysteries, rejoice! I am working on my prequel to the Lacey Smithsonian series, with a book featuring Lacey’s “Great aunt Mimi.” This one’s about Mimi Smith when she was a young woman in her early twenties working in Washington, DC, during World War Two. There’s a suspicious death, a convoluted mystery involving honey, bootleg hootch, wartime rationing, ladies of the evening, and lots of style. To be titled The Brief Luminous Flight of the Firefly.
The Joys of Research
My research has taught me a lot about Mimi’s life and times, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy that period is through vintage magazines, such as this Mademoiselle Magazine from August 1938, just a few years before America joined the war. Not only do you get a feel for the era, you can also dip into the lingo, learn what they did for fun in 1938, and see what everyone was wearing (and how much it cost). For instance, a skirt, $6.95, and a matching sweater, $3.95. I’m loving it and I haven’t even read the short stories yet.
I am also writing notes and dialogue for the next Lacey adventure, White Lace and Homicide. It will feature all the usual suspects, including those wacky lovebirds Harlan Wiedemeyer and Felicity Pickles, who have been dancing down the aisle for a while. Will they make it? Who knows.
While I can’t predict an estimated time of arrival for these books, I will gladly accept all good wishes, positive vibes, and prayers to help me capture (and write) this mystery as quickly as possible! Thank you all so much.
For a little fun, you might want to check out my recent Fashion Bites video on what to wear during the pandemic. The link is below
Sherlocktopus Holmes: Eight Arms of the Law
Solving mysteries under the Sea.
Told with clever rhymes and meter,
introduces basic mystery concepts and includes amusing definitions that rhyme. It’s a great storytime/anytime book for children ages 6 to 10 and beyond. And their parents!