This morning while I was making muffins, my husband told me there was light on my plants. The light patterns in our yard change quickly due to the dense tree cover, so still wearing my cooking apron, I grabbed my camera, slipped my feet into my husband's boots (that happened to be by the sliding door) and went out to see what I could get. Tiptoeing through the tulips in my husband's size-13 hiking boots isn't easy, but the morning light on the caladium was worth it.
I was tagged in a Facebook game that challenged writers to post the first lines
of the first three chapters in their work –in-progress then name other writers
to do the same. I didn't play because I have a personal rule about not doing
chain-letter type things. But I did examine the first lines of the chapters in my
new project. They needed work.
easy to begin a chapter with the time and place and a description of what the
character is doing, but this game got me thinking about sentences that I wouldn't mind posting for all of cyberspace to read. Several of my first lines could
be modified to become more compelling. A dull first line gives busy readers a
chance to put the book down.
is much written about ending chapters with a cliffhanger, a poignant moment or
an unresolved subplot. That’s great, but an interesting chapter ending is only
half the job.
a gardening survey asked me to name my favorite plant. That’s difficult because
I think hard about all my garden purchases. Between the shady conditions in my
yard and the abundant local fauna, very few plants survive here. I considered
naming something brief and showy like a stargazer lily, or something romantic
and rambling like deep purple clematis. Perhaps my favorite plants are the
reliable foundations of my flowerbeds, like fairy roses, that produce pale pink
blooms all summer while their brighter companions have a moment of glory then
fade. The appearance of many plants is enhanced by what is growing next to
few days later, I found an online form that asked writers to post their favorite
sentence in their manuscripts. Every sentence in my manuscript has faced
numerous revisions. Only the necessary survive. Should I choose a
straightforward hook or a poetic enticement? Some sentences provide necessary
structure. Every sentence relies on the ones around it.
the end, I took different approaches. For the garden survey, I chose a reliable
steady-bloomer, and for the literary questionnaire, I used a poetic enticement.
Perhaps I would make different decisions if asked again.
winter in the depths of the polar vortex, I mushed the dogsled to the trading
post to get supplies. They had a garden display that caught me hook, line and
sinker. I bought fourteen caladium bulbs for $10. When I got home, I researched
caladium and learned the bulbs cannot be planted until the ground temperature
reaches 60o. I put the bulbs in a plastic bowl and settled in to
wait five months until the frozen Michigan turf warmed. During that time, my husband almost threw them
away, thinking they were spoiling food.
planted them a couple weeks into June and waited. At first, only one came up. I
thought it was an expensive annual. Then a few more sprouted, and a
few more. One even produced a flower. They look gorgeous among the ferns and
astilbe. Next winter, I’m going to start them inside, so I have a longer time
to enjoy them.