Wednesday, November 30, 2016

100 Plants to Feed Bees -- Xerces Society

Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Published December 2016 by Storey Publishing, LLC
ISBN-10: 1612-12701-0
ISBN-13: 978-1612-12701-9

While this book is a handbook of plants insects need, it is an important book for every gardener. The book begins with a very interesting short version of the multi-million-year history of how plants and insects evolved into essential partnerships. For those who have ignored environmental problems, bees have been disappearing, and bees and humans also have an essential partnership. The DNR claims bees pollinate approximately roughly 75% of the vegetables, fruits, and nuts we eat. Personally, I love those plant products and want to keep bees around to do what they do best. Unfortunately, I’ve also noticed a distinct decline in the number of honeybees visiting my plants.

100 PLANTS TO FEED THE BEES offers an extensive list of plants whose flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees, and not only honey bees but native bees and other pollinators such as moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Each plant section contains a photo of the plant, the plant’s botanical name, and some basic information on the plant, plus a map of where it grows. Interesting information and sometimes warnings about the plant are also included. An example of a warning is mustard, which is considered a noxious weed in some locations, and illegal to grow.

Included in the 100 plants are native wildflowers and non-native or introduced wildflowers (weeds), garden plants, herbs, trees and shrubs, and even pasture plants. I was glad to see many of the plants I’ve recognized growing in my area, and my garden holds many other recommended selections. I was surprised to see Tilia Americana or the common basswood tree, until I remembered standing under my trees when in bloom and hearing myriad bees busy in the tree’s unseen upper stories. I appreciated the list of insects each plant attracts far beyond bees, too. I looked over an online version of the book, and then pre-order a volume. I recommend all gardeners purchase a copy of 100 PLANTS TO FEED THE BEES, and a big thanks to Xerces Society authors Eric Lee-Mäder, Jarrod Fowler, Jillian Vento, and Jennifer Hopwood for this work.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wording--Intent and Purpose

Any word creates communication. Most words hold multiple meanings and connotations, especially in the context of the words mixed with it. This makes word choice essential in presenting purpose. The understanding of every communication depends on this, and it works.
Visual communication includes more than words. Appearance, body language, topic, tone of voice, facial expressions, and specific words used all play a part. Tone, delivery speed, and loudness assist with audio communication. Real-time conversations are often off the cuff. Due to this, even with expressions and tones, spur of the moment wording frequently creates misunderstanding.
When only words are used, the choice of words must make up for all that is missing in other forms of communication. Depending on genre and intent, editing of recorded communications of any type can correct or distort words. All writers use this inherent quality of words to load them with intent. Factual writers most often work to avoid such ambiguity, but storytellers develop it to exploit character and meaning. In turn, the readers interpret meaning according to their understanding of the words. In fiction, this can change the reader’s perception of characters and their actions.
For instance, Dr. Bob (one of the writers listed below) gave this example for this blog topic: She had to be the sexiest-looking 42-year-old on the planet, the best that money could buy.
Is this loaded language? Yes. Is it good or bad? Actually, neither and both; it depends on the writer’s purpose, which depends on who makes this observation within the story, and the writer’s intent for the character so described. The ultimate interpretation depends on the reader, their empathy and perception of the words’ purpose.
Every story is just a compilation of words used to expose character and situation, yet every reader’s personal experiences and imagination respond to the framework of the words used. Based on both the author’s word choices and the reader’s interaction with those words, their acumen, biases, perceptions, and sympathies give either understanding or confusion. Furthermore, a writer might use a word’s meaning to clarify, or even to lead the reader astray, with the intent for an emotional effect that increases the readers' interest. Luckily, whether the author uses commonplace or unusual wording, or desires to clarify or introduce uncertainty, the language lets the author play within the reader’s mind. The words build a sense of place and reality, allowing each reader to understand a character or situation, which grows the story’s purpose.

Wording is important. Yet I have to admit, in my fiction writing, I sometimes use ambiguous wording to encourage reader involvement. As a reader, I have found this a very useful technique either to cement a character's qualities or to mislead the reader temporarily for a better understanding later; however, authors need awareness of their wording choices without overdoing it.

Check out these blogs for more insight on word choices:

Skye Taylor
Marci Baun 
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich 
Rachael Kosinski
Judith Copek
Helena Fairfax
A.J. Maguire 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nearest Thing to Heaven -- Lynnette Austin

Maverick Junction, Book 2
Forever Yours
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2838-7
January 2017
Contemporary Romance Review for Romance Reviews Today

Maverick Junction, Texas – The Present

Sophie London lives in Chicago near Wrigley Stadium, a city she loves as much as their baseball team, the Cubs. She has been daydreaming and needs to hurry to get to O’Hare airport to travel to Texas and her wealthy cousin’s wedding to a cowboy. Everyone thinks she is an heiress like Annelise, but she isn’t, the wealth is all on her cousin’s side of the family. She works hard designing greeting cards to keep her apartment. She is glad to leave, even temporarily, the city’s current bad November weather and the specter of Nathan, who keeps plaguing her with calls even after she politely told him she wasn’t interested. On her one previous visit to the town filled with handsome Texan cowboys, she remembers one cowboy, a widower, one of whose triplet sons spilled a cherry soda on her white silk dress. Of course, the handsome Ty Rawlins will attend the wedding.

Ty Rawlins lost his wife four years ago shortly after their triplet sons were born premature. He and Julia had been best friends since first grade. Since losing her, taking care of their boys and his ranch has kept him busy and his grief at bay. Yet his friend Cash’s fiancée’s cousin, Sophie, stirs him up in a way he didn’t think possible. She looks like the fairy Tinkerbell, and he calls her ‘Tink.’ Yet his boys are probably more than any woman wants, and he has to put them first.

NEAREST THING TO HEAVEN is a re-release of a book published in 2013 and part of a three-book series. Sophie believes in fairies and magic, and charm certainly fills the story making it enthralling. Ty and Sophie have many obstacles to overcome besides love of rival baseball teams. Memories of Julia still haunt Ty. Mischance frequently sabotages his come-on to Sophie. Sophie refuses to believe Nathan is stalking her, but is very uneasy about her situation. She finds Maverick Junction an alien place after the big city, but the stars at night are spellbinding. And once she gets to know the triplets, she discovers how much she will miss them…and Ty. The attraction they both feel is more than physical, but both know it is only temporary…and they do separate.

This is a story of attraction, an unlikely romance, and new beginnings, but includes the power of family and community. Wonderful characters inhabit Maverick Junction, so if you haven’t read this before, read it now; if you have, re-read it! Then read the first book in the series, SOMEBODY LIKE YOU, and the third, CAN’T STOP LOVIN’ YOU.