It’s Tulip Time in our beautiful Skagit Valley Washington! After two years of pandemic woes, it is truly exciting that the annual Tulip Festival is once again in full bloom. Our valley will once more be welcoming thousands of visitors to come feast their eyes upon hundreds of acres of brilliant tulips.

I want to share some fun facts about this beautiful flower. Tulips are actually wildflowers native to central Asia where they spread west and were cultivated and highly prized by the Ottoman Empire. In the 1500’s a botanist in the Netherlands received a gift of tulip bulbs from a sultan. The botanist, Carolus Clusius, planted the bulbs in his private gardens and, unwilling to share or sell his bulbs, his gardens were frequently raided, and the bulbs sold at exorbitant prices only the wealthy could afford. And, viola, Holland’s tulip industry was born. There are now over 3,500 varieties of tulips. And in Skagit County, more tulips and daffodil bulbs are produced here than in than any other county in the United States. 

Tulips, in general, symbolize love and the color of a tulip can signify different meanings depending on their color. Red is the color is you want to foster romance, white conveys an apology, purple denotes royalty, pink for caring and good wishes, and yellow is meant to express hope and happiness. 

Adventures in Writing and Reading

And Easter is right around the corner as well! And what better way to celebrate than giving someone you care about a bouquet of gorgeous tulips and a basket of great books!  April is also the time when lavender farms across the country are preparing for a season of visitors and readying their fields for the summer harvest. Now that my manuscript for my new cozy mystery, The Book of Rules, is with Editor Sally, I have been upping my marketing efforts and reaching out to more lavender farms. I am hoping to place my books in their farms’ shops or in their standalone stores in surrounding cities and towns. It is always challenging to find businesses willing to carry your books on consignment but, once they do and they see how well the books sell, very collaborative and happy relationships are established. 

I have been reading a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Some fiction choices always include experiences of women during years of wartime. I am continually amazed at the resilience and courage of the human heart. I am equally horrified by the degree of brutality and cruelty humans can inflict upon one another. What an awful dichotomy. 

The non-fiction book, The Savage Continent, Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Leith Lowe, is providing historical insight as I continue to conduct research for my new series of books.

Gardening and a Recipe

Ah, and now to talk about lighter fare for the soul. This last weekend, when there was actually ONE day – Saturday, with no rain and bright sunshine, I continued to prep my flower beds and vegetable gardens for planting. This coming weekend I will plant sweet pea seeds and drop some zinnia seeds into another space. As you can see from the picture below, the next day we had an incredible wind and hailstorm, and many were without power well into Monday. These vastly changing weather patterns are typical for our springs and why I should NOT become to overly zealous in wanting to plant my gardens!! 

Now that I have three books out there in the world, a fourth in edits, and another as notes in my writing journal, I have been thinking about the essence of writing – the act of putting words on the page. Many people with stories in their souls (and everyone has at least one to share) often ask how does one start to write, where do you begin and how do you organize it into a story? So, my recipe for this month is about writing. There are excellent books about how to write but, if you are reading this and thinking that maybe you would like to tell a story, here are a few heartfelt suggestions to give you the confidence to just begin:

Recipe for Writing

  • Acknowledge and embrace your desire to write. It can be about anything! 
  • Secure a blank notebook and write your name on it. Or open a new file on your computer. This act alone makes your intention real.
  • Don’t think too hard about what to write, just write what is knocking on the door of your heart wanting to be written.
  • Single words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs are a great place to begin.
  • Think about answering “wh” questions with just a sentence or two as an answer to each question. Where and when does the story take place – ie. New York 1940 (setting), who is in the story – ie. a young woman and an old man (characters), what happens in the story – they randomly meet in Central Park (just a few words or a sentence)?
  • Let these initial ingredients of your story blend together. Let them marinate, let them rise to double in size, let it bake in warmth of your memory or imagination. There is no judgement only an exciting new journey of discovery. You never know what will appear on the page. Now go find that notebook!

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