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My Writing Process – an author chain

Good friend (and big fan of Mandolin Whiskey) LK Hunsaker, author of several literary romance novels, asked if I’d like to participate in a blog chain. I’m not at all familiar with what a blog chain is and had never been a part of one till now. I decided that doing something that might help me tap out a few more words would be beneficial. I like to think of myself as a writer, but I know I don’t write near as much as I should! So, while I’m doing this blog chain thing, I’m also self-analyzing a few things about my writing process. Here then, are my answers to four questions.

1. What are you working on at the moment?

I might actually be multi-tasking, but at this very moment I’m working on the post for this blog chain thing. Ok, not funny.

I have two things I’m working on at the moment – a novel (or short story, haven’t decided which yet), and a children’s book. The novel is an attempt to write in the female voice, which I hear is quite difficult for a male writer to pull off. It’s geared toward young adults, 18 to 25-years old. And it’s my first serious attempt at writing fiction. At a little over 5,000 words, it’s still in the early stages of development (click here for an excerpt).

My children’s book is also in the early stages, and probably won’t be much over 30 pages long, it’s an alphabet book with illustrations by Don Conner, my brother (click here for an excerpt). Writing a children’s book is another first. And then there are the “regular” gardening articles I write once a month that are featured in Life & Times: A Magazine with Senior Flair. I’ve been writing gardening articles for close to 10 years. (I’ve been in touch with the folks at Life & Times about a link to their publication, it’s not been an easy task.)

2. How does your work differ from others in the genre? 

I’m not sure about the differences between my writing and the writing of others. Simply because I don’t read a lot of other stuff. I’ve been told that my garden writing voice is much like the voice I use when giving lectures or just talking to folks about gardening. The main character in my young adult fiction novel/short story/whatever it turns out to be, can fly, and there are other fantastical goings on as well. I often think of a favorite book that I read in college, “Like Water for Chocolate,” by Laura Esquivel, and try to create a magically thrilling, and maybe a little bizarre, journey for the reader.  Ms. Laura created just such a journey with her book and you should read it.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Why do I write what I write? Gardening is such a huge part of our lives, my wife and I, that writing about it comes almost as naturally as planting zinnia and cosmos seeds. I write about it because it’s something I love doing. It also pleases me to know that others are gaining knowledge about gardening when they read my articles. I self-published a collection of some articles, Through the Seasons with The Write Gardener, perhaps you’d like to order a copy? Please. 🙂

I think the best part about writing fiction is the freedom. I had never given it much consideration before meeting Ms. LK. She’s full of the freedom of fiction, and it seems like she’s always writing and/or editing something new. And that’s a good thing if you’re a writer. I write about other things: a book review here and there, guitars, music, and whatever comes up in my Facebook feed that sparks a comment. Sometimes I’ll choose something controversial to post, which usually generates about 100 comments if it rubs someone the wrong way (which happens more often than not). I decided to write fiction just to see what would happen. Something did, it’s just taking its own time getting to wherever it wants to go.

4. How does your writing process work?

My gardening articles work themselves out, for the most part. I get suggestions from my wife and friends that often lead to an article. Other times I’ll just happen to see a flower, tree, or shrub, or a pot in a gardening catalog, or even something on TV that will spark a topic idea.

I can’t quite explain how I write fiction. It just happens. There is, I suppose, something that be might called a muse that knows what it wants me to write. But that directive comes and goes without warning. The writing for my “young adult fiction novel/short story/whatever it turns out to be” is most always controlled by the muse, I’m just the medium it uses to get the words out.

If reading my answers caused a writing spark within you, then please fuel the fire! We need more good writers.

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Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ Grow Project

It’s the first Sunday of the month and that means it’s time for an update on my progress growing nasturtium ‘Spitfire,’ a “climbing” variety of the popular summer annual. Climbing isn’t quite the term I’d use though as I’m discovering that this particular variety requires help as it has no climbing, grasping or clinging capabilities of its own. It’s been a bothersome task keeping the little guy from falling and spilling out of its birthing pot, but I suppose if you’re one who wants a trailing specimen, this won’t be a problem. And since it’s still a bit risky weather-wise putting mine out in their permanent spots in the garden, keeping the thin dangly stems in some type of climbing order is a bit of a task right now.

As you can see from the photographs, the stems of ‘Spitfire’ curl and twirl, and unless you position them and then secure them to some type of structure, they fall over. When all danger of frost has passed (usually around Mom’s Day here) I’ll transplant mine to their permanent home at the base of a weed-tree tepee I’ll make. I still have some evaluating to do as I’m a little concerned about the job of keeping the stems tied as the flower grows. It’s something you should be aware of when you grow vining plants – method of travel – does the plant require ties or does it have its own method of clinging (i.e., prickles, sticky hairs or small follicles, or some such other method of self-propelling).

Regardless of the effort it takes to help ‘Spitfire’ find its way up the tepee, I’m almost positive it will have been well worth it once flowering starts. And just to see the trailing effect, I’m planning on allowing one or two to spill over in pots I’ll place on the back porch and around the yard, and some will be allowed to find their own way around the garden with nothing more than mulch to cushion their walk.

At this stage, I’m pleased with the ease of starting ‘Spitfire’ from seed and the progress they’ve made. I didn’t scar or soak seeds, I’ve not used any fertilizer (and don’t plan to), and all four of my seedlings are thriving and anxious to get outside.

Nasturtium 'Spitfire'
Stems of N. 'Spitfire' twist and twirl.
For climbing, you'll have to assist 'Spitfire' attach itself to a trellis or tepee.
For a climbing nasturtium, this variety requres a little help from gardeners.

“I’m growing Nasturtium ‘Spitfire’ for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”