07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tending Your Garden—and Your Writing

By Linda Lovely

Spring is easy for gardeners. Practically everything blooms. At least in the South, it’s hard to have a garden that doesn’t look gorgeous in April. Flower beds filled with crocuses, daffodils, and irises paired with feathery white dogwoods, azaleas in every hue, and purple rhododendron.

Autumn is tougher. Yes, I just bought a flat of pansies to give a splash of color that will last from now until next spring. But, since I like to get maximum payback on my elbow grease investment, I concentrate on planting perennials and bushes that flower at least twice a year.

Here are some of my garden favorites. These pictures were taken on September 20 in my yard. (Well, I did crop out a few nearby weeds.)

Miss Huff Lantana-Comes up faithfully every year and blooms for me until frost.
Variegated Liriope-Great edging to brighten a shady path. Hard to kill. Drought tolerant. Blooms late summer into fall. Year-round leaf color.
Encore Azaleas-Bloom twice a year. For me, fall is always the more prolific bloom period. Blooms last for WEEKS.
Knock Out Roses-Start blooming in May and keep right on chugging into October. Disease resistant and pretty forgiving. A beaver chewed my largest bush down to a couple of jagged stumps. Came back next season.
Orange Tea Olives-We have three kinds of tea olives in our yard. Terrific privacy hedge. The bushes (ours are about 10-feet tall now) have green glossy leaves year-round. PLUS they bloom multiple times a year, including right now. The smell especially from the fragrant variety is unbelievable and heavenly. 
Loropetalum-I love these bushes (can be trees) with their green/purple foliage and feathery pink flowers. In spring, they look like cotton candy. But, depending on the year, they also bloom in fall.

What do gardening and these plants have to do with writing?

Just like perennials and flowering bushes continue to provide enjoyment season after season, series—novels that feature the same main characters and themes—pay continuing dividends for authors and fans. With a little tender-loving care, the same characters can prosper for many years as we follow them in new stories/adventures. A bonus is that we get to know the characters better with each new book in the series. That’s why I write two series: Marley Clark Mysteries and Smart Women, Dumb Luck Romantic Thrillers

So why is my new novel, Lies: Secrets Can Kill, a standalone historical suspense novel? Stories my relatives told me about life in the 1930s and the colorful Street Fairs that were a tradition in my hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, called to me to write a story set in that time and place.

Colorful annual flowers and one-of-a-kind books sometimes captivate me as a gardener and a writer. Sometimes it's impossible to resist intriguing departures from the perennial/series rule.

Do you read/write series and stand-alone books? What’s your preference?

For more info about LIES:  http://windtreepress.com/portfolio/lies/ 



Ashantay Peters said...

Stand alone books are like specimen plants or annuals - they provide color and interest but don't require a long-term commitment. I like all types of plants and shrubs - flowering and nonflowering. Best wishes with Lies!

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Ashantay. I agree completely. I don't have an idea right now for another stand-alone, but I'm sure down the road some idea will grab me and make it impossible to resist.

Judith Ashley said...

In my Sacred Women's Circle series each novel is stand-alone in that readers can pick up any one of the books and read a complete story that contains all the characters. Of course the heroine the story is woven around is center stage. I foresee, once the main series is finished, writing other stories about the secondary characters and children of the women.

I'm thinking my books fall more under the quaking aspen grove analogy. Each story is intrinsically connected to all the others and while separate as with the aspens they're part of the larger grove.

Personally I like to read books that have recurring characters.

Linda Lovely said...

Judith, love your quaking aspen grove analogy. That's exactly the right image for my Smart Women, Dumb Luck series. There are three friends and a different woman is featured in one book as the heroine, but the other two friends play key parts as supporting cast.

Sarah Raplee said...

I write books in series. Like you, I get pleasure from old friends returning year after year. And I'm all about gardening bang for my buck!

Anonymous said...

Love your garden and your metaphors. I love to see the flowers grow and don't mind tending to the weeds, but on the whole I am not a great gardener. I love diversity, many colors, and seeing how new opportunities bring a wildness and excitement.

In writing I love diversity even more than in gardening. I enjoy series because it rarely seems that one book is enough and want a deeper exploration of a world or a group of people. However, I cannot stay with only one series at a time. Just as in real life, I sometimes tire of that which I know--or get bogged down in the way that my characters think and act. I'm always wondering if there is something more on the other side of the fence--something that I'm missing. This has driven me to write in four genres, both short and long fiction, as well as non-fiction.

There are days when the weeds of writing seem to overwhelm me, but then there are days when I simply sit in awe of the variety of colors and shapes that provide the makeup of my work. I'm certain that it is not all my doing. So many hands have tended my garden with me and it always makes for more than the sum of its parts.

There is a magic to gardening, a magic that sun and rain and pollination provides. I believe there is also a magic to writing if you don't control it too tightly. And the end result is always more than I dared to imagine.