I am an editor for HCS Publishing, a very unique independent publishing house that's based in Gloucester, VA. We look for stories that are exceptionally well told, and steampunk elements are always a plus. Check us out at hcspublishing.com and you might see my name on some books, as I'm an author too. My fantasy novellas "Civil Dusk" and "First Watch," and my historical fantasy novels "Hollow Thunder" and "The Loyalty of Dew" are available on amazon.com (and the Buy My Books link in my blog here) and my short stories have been featured in two anthologies from HCS Publishing.
December 3 and 4 is approaching faster than you think! Come experience a really unique festival that combines Viking- and Victorian-era winter festivities – plus gentlemanly duels, kids in shield walls, and VENDORS LIKE ME!
I’ll be there signing and selling my books!
Here are the schedules for each day. I’ll see you next weekend at my booth!
I will also be appearing at the Newport News Local Author Showcase on November 5, 2022! Come make this a memorable event and help out a great public library system by purchasing my books.
AND THEEEEEEN There’s SAVGR’s Yule! I’ll be vending my books there. December 4 & 5, 2022, in Yorktown, VA! Come get a copy of First Watch, which has both Viking stuff AND Yule stuff in it! And read Civil Dusk and First Watch so that you’re ready for the upcoming release of Nine Hundred Leagues, the next book in the series, which is in draft NOW!!
Come see me at the Williamsburg Book Festival in Williamsburg, VA on October 1! I’ll have an outdoor booth and, depending on the weather forecast, maybe a DOG WITH ME!!! Come see a dog! If I can have a dog with me, weather permitting, it will likely be Aggie The Fierce Rottweiler, the cover dog of First Watch! Maybe she’ll even paw-tograph your copy of First Watch that you buy at the Williamsburg Book Festival!?!!
No promises. Many possibilities. You’ll have to attend to find out!
So, in case you haven’t guessed already by the several book reviews I’ve posted recently in this blog, I am tackling a new writing project. In the past years I’ve really become quite practiced – and, according to my friends and some Internet strangers, quite skilled – at gardening. I’ve made some posts here and there about random strategies and tips for gardeners, but these have all been teasers really. Today – YES, TODAY! – I will start lending my voice to the first real work of nonfiction that I’ve ever written. I’m going to write a ghardening book.s
I’ve left the typos in the last bit up there because, honestly, it’s how I feel about it right now. I’m headbutting a thick wall of Imposter Syndrome. I’m, what, 35?! I’ve been gardening for….well, thanks to my mother it’s honestly been a lifelong interest, but solid actual WORK IN THE DIRT it’s been…..maybe…I want to be generous to myself and say 21 years? On my own in my own space, 8 years. And here I am, about to write a tome that will seek to not only introduce new folks to the joys of gardening and all the different things it entails, but to also change the minds of The Older Folks about certain things they Think are right and actually aren’t. Who the hell am I to do that? What the hell gives me the authority?
Short answer: the dying world and my passion for preserving it not only for future human generations but for future wild generations. There’s a saying my mother shared with me recently: “We are only borrowing this world from the next generation.” But that’s not true. We are the Stewards of this world for the next generation(s) – parenthesis because if we don’t start trying to heal the world then science says there aren’t going to be a lot more generations – AND for the other animals, insects, single- and multi-cellular organisms, plants, bacterium, etc! with which we share this ridiculous marble. We aren’t the only ones here! And we need to stop pretending that we can exist without the other ones that are here.
So I’m gonna write a gardening book. This means Nine Hundred Leagues (my third book in the Civil Dusk series) might be on hold for a little bit, but don’t worry, I am absolutely NOT dropping it forever. I’ve just got something to do first.
“Nature’s Best Hope” delves more into the conservation topics raised by “Bringing Nature Home”, Tallamy’s other book that I reviewed previously in this blog. This book has a more scientific voice than the conversational one held in “Bringing Nature Home,” but it is the opposite of a dry read. Tallamy lays out strategic steps for how the regular homeowner (yes, that’s right, boring people like you and me!) can – and SHOULD – assist in the reversal of the demise of our world. Where “Bringing Nature Home” is more the story of WHY, “Nature’s Best Hope” is the straight-forward HOW of our changing role in backyard stewardship.
Are you a person that likes wild things? Things like flowers and songbirds? Things with sweet scents and sweet tastes? How about the burning orange of a maple tree in autumn and the brilliant beryl of new leafy growth in spring?
If you said yes, great! If you said no, then honestly what the actual fuck is wrong with you. I bet you know somebody that would say yes. Pretend it’s you.
Well the best way to help the wild things survive in our fast-changing world is to plant native species in your yard, garden, balcony container, window pot, whatever, ANYWHERE. In Douglas Tallamy’s book “Bringing Nature Home” he lays out why we should plant native species, who can plant them (spoiler: it’s everyone, including you), where to plant them, and what to plant in your area. I learned so many fascinating things about insects from this book that I now want to experience in real time. This book has truly opened my eyes to the necessity of restoring native species to our individual lots. Tallamy presents his information in an easy-to-read guide to this process, making what otherwise seems like a doomed or insurmountable task completely approachable. Read this book. You will not regret it. All you’ll regret is that you didn’t read it sooner.
Have you ever wanted to grow vegetables in your own backyard? Have you ever wanted to roam a food forest, the surrounding branches loaded with fruit? Have you ever lost an entire crop of lettuce to rabbits, or berries to birds? Do you have a swath of land that isn’t doing anything for anybody? Are your knees and back aching from hours of pulling weeds? Are you a farmer who’s tired of fertilizing and weary of all the damn costs?
PERMACULTURE IS THE ANSWER!!
And hands down THE BEST book to learn about it is “The Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture,” by Christopher Shein. Shein makes the lofty principles of permaculture attainable for anyone, from the large-scale farmer to the home grower. Whatever your goal, this book has the tools you need to achieve it. He even shares strategies for off-grid gardeners, because the whole point of permaculture is to grow with the Earth, not against her. If you’re looking for a better way to garden, this is absolutely where you need to start, and likely also where you will finish. And if you’re not looking for a better way to garden, well, you should be! Permaculture cuts down on the work of the gardener by revealing low-maintenance secrets that nature is already using all around us.
Hi friends! You may or may not know that I took a series of classes in the early part of this year about growing medicinal herbs. One of the books recommended by the teacher is “Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies,” by Maria Noel Groves, and I picked up a copy of it like the dutiful student I am. And, let me tell ya, I was NOT disappointed.
This book is an absolute must-have if you’re interested in herbal remedies. Not only does Groves include an encyclopedic appendix of various herbs and their uses, benefits, and in some cases dangers, but she includes snap-shots of healing gardens designed for every ailment that the herbal medicine cabinet could ever think to aid. Her descriptions of preparation methods, from teas to tinctures, are incredibly approachable for anyone from the beginner herbalist to the experienced chemist.
Here in zone 8 my blueberry shrubs are loaded with fruit! I have five different shrubs, each a different variety of blueberry and they’re all ripening at different rates! I couldn’t have planned it better. Each morning and evening I pull in a handful or two of delicious berries. Looking at the shrubs I’ll manage this for another month at least!! Delightful.
Gardening, whether in ground or in containers, outdoors or indoors, requires four things to maintain healthy plants: growing medium, light, water, and nutrients. As long as you have those things, you’re on your way to being a gardener!
If you have space constraints, or you’re moving at some point and don’t want to walk away from your work, or if you don’t have an outdoor area with growing medium, or if you want to grow indoors, container gardening might be just the perfect thing for you. I choose to grow primarily in containers because I move every few years and like to take my plants with me. Some people garden with containers in water, which is generally called hydroponics. Others, like me, focus on containers filled with soil, because I primarily grow plants that naturally grow in soil and I think they deserve that natural medium. This is the style of container gardening on which this series will focus.
Perhaps the first thing to consider with container gardening is how much soil you’ll need and what size container is best. For a plant which is currently smaller but will grow larger, start with a smaller container and increase as necessary.
This plant is a young (1st year) blackberry plant that I started from a root cutting off a larger shrub. It is, consequently, in a smaller container than its parent plant (3 years old).
There they are next to each other. If you give a smaller plant a larger container straight off, its roots will never reach the water that will pond in the soil at the bottom of the pot. This can cause all sorts of problems from rot to bad fungus to insect infestation. As your plant grows, increase its pot size once a year or when you see the ends of the roots peaking through the drain holes. Repot to a container roughly a half size bigger than the current container, or no more than twice as big. You want enough room and fresh soil for the roots to spread and delve, but not too much room that you’ll have lingering water.