Thursday, July 21, 2016

Back from San Diego- Karen Miller, a Golden Heart Finalist, Reports on The 2016 RWA Convention

My guest today is a Karen Miller. She’s a Golden Heart Finalist and that’s a pretty big deal if you’re a romance writer. The Golden Heart is the biggest contest for unpublished romance writers. Every year about 500 manuscripts are entered. The competition is fierce. There are a lot of talented authors and super stories out there.

Karen’s book SAVING COLUMBINE RANCH was selected as one of the top ten Historical Romances. 

Karen attended the 36th Annual Conference for Romance Writers of America and she graciously volunteered to share her experience with us. 

I just got home from San Diego last night, and I’m still trying to organize my thoughts and impressions about it.  I had a wonderful time, and there are many images flipping through my mind right now, as though I am fanning the pages of a picture book.
One thing I can tell you for sure – the level of friendship and support shown by everyone there is nothing short of amazing.  I have known it for a while, but going to the conference reminded me again that the (mostly) women in the romance writing industry are the nicest, most helpful, non-diva group of people you will ever meet.  All week, I saw authors (some of them names you would recognize) freely giving of their time and talents to help other writers.  They were doing everything from volunteering for menial tasks during the conference to conducting workshops – and always with a smile.

Jaci Burton and Jill Shalvis giving a workshop
Leslie Kelly (left) volunteering to introduce Dee Davis (right) at her workshop.  (The four silver pins on Leslie’s name badge are all RITA finalist pins.)
The camaraderie was never more obvious than during the awards gala on Saturday night.  The entire room – hundreds of people – clapped and cheered for every single finalist as they were announced.  The cheering and clapping for each winner as they walked across the stage was nothing short of astonishing.  This was not polite golf clapping because it was required – it was a loud and enthusiastic outpouring of joy.  I suspect the people watching via the live stream could not get a proper sense of the remarkable energy in the room.
Sign announcing the gala.
Robyn Carr accepting her award.
I was even a little surprised at my own enthusiasm for the winners, especially for the Golden Heart winners.  This group of fantastic women bonded together in the weeks leading up to San Diego, and even more while we were there.  I didn’t win the Golden Heart in my category, but I knew the woman who did, and I was super excited for her – almost as excited as I would have been for myself.  It was the same for the winners of the other categories.  These women weren’t competitors; they were my friends.  And I was very happy to see my friends win.
I am glad I went to the RWA conference in San Diego, and not just because now I can cross it off my bucket list.  It was an incredible experience, and one I will never forget.  My biggest takeaway?  The reminder that I am surrounded by an amazing group of giving, talented, supportive romance writers.  I couldn’t be in better company.

Karen writes under the pen name Karen Marcam. To find out more about her, check out,  Twitter (@Karen_Marcam) or her Facebook page

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Amazing Ways Historical Reenactment Can Help You Part Two- A Caring Connection-How It Bleeds into Stories and What Molly Actually Does

Last week Molly Maka gave us a thumbnail sketch of Historical Reenacting. She mentioned that by acting as a character in time, you can more accurately portray the details, thoughts and feelings of your hero and heroine. By doing your research and having the facts right, she said, you can add plausibility to your retelling, but she didn’t elaborate on one of the biggest reasons I and many other readers are drawn to her stories, and that is her commitment. It comes across in her scenes and in her so-lifelike-they-almost-breathe characters.

She cares and we readers sense that in her prose. Molly is a self-described 1940s girl at heart. She’s been reading and researching that time period since at least the 3rd grade. For most, we might stop there, but Molly has used her interest in Historical Reenacting to help others. She is involved with the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and she’s kindly allowed me to interview about her experiences.
What is the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight?

The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight (SSHF) is a hub of the Honor Flight Network and one of five in Wisconsin.  The Honor Flight Network’s mission is to fly veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials built and dedicated in their honor.  SSHF flies World War II, Korean War and terminally ill veterans of other wars to Washington D.C. to see their memorials at no cost to them.

There is a great urgency to fly as many of these men and women out to D.C. as we can.  Many of them returned home with no fanfare and simply went back to work, continuing where they left off.  World War II veterans are dying at a rate of 1,000 per day.  In this final chapter of their life, we try very hard to give them the honor and welcome home they may not have received when they came home.

What do you do with them?
My role with SSHF is twofold.  First and foremost, I serve as a volunteer.  On a flight morning, you can expect to see me at the airport before dawn in a neon yellow shirt ready to help get the vets ready for their trip and boarded on the plane.  But I have helped in other aspects as well including helping at guardian training (each vet is assigned a guardian for the trip), making that very special phone call to let a vet know that he or she has been chosen to fly, serving as a guardian to walking in parades.  The other part of my role is that of SSHF Bombshell.  Remember what I said about getting up at the crack of dawn?  Well, in addition to my neon uniform, I come with a scarf on my head hiding pin curls underneath that are drying (Everyone thinks Rosie the Riveter, I prefer to think of myself as a normal 1940s civilian girl).  Before the vets come home, I make a transformation from volunteer to Bombshell.  My best friend pinup model Pamela Marie,,  and I dress in period accurate attire all the way down to our underpinnings with our hair and makeup styled appropriately.  We walk around the airport interacting with the crowds waiting for their loved ones, but the magic begins when the plane lands.  As the vets begin their homecoming parade, Pam and I are there to welcome them home with a cookie, a personal thank you…and maybe a little red lipstick on their cheek.  It is the neatest thing to see the age drain off the boys’ faces for just a moment and give them a little bit of love and joy.

How did you get in contact with them? 
I learned about them from someone on social media and thought it would be fun to go to one of the homecomings.  Pam and I showed up dressed up to one and asked if we could hand out little Hershey’s bars (something they received in the K rations).  Long story short, they liked what we did, asked us back, and after our second flight, we were invited to become volunteers.

To find your closest hub, I recommend going to the Honor Flight Network’s website (  They list all the regional hubs all over the country.

How long have you worked with them? 
I have had the pleasure and the honor of working with SSHF for about 6 years.

Besides the veteran, who all goes on a flight?
Besides the veterans, members of the SSHF board go along, sometimes local media, and sometimes we have local celebrities.  We’ve even had baseball player Jonathan Lucroy come on a couple flights.  There are always at least a pair of photographers from a local photography studio that donates their time to capture every flight.  Each veteran, as I mentioned above, is assigned to a guardian.

 Sometimes it’s a family member, other times it’s a stranger.  This person does just what their title states.  They are there to help the veteran every step of the way, to watch over them while ensuring they have an amazing time.

What does your participation/ getting ready for an Honor Flight involve? 
It’s funny you ask that.  We were told once that it couldn’t possibly take a long time to get ready for a homecoming.  In truth, it does.  We call it a labor of love and one we do gladly.  Flight day starts the night before.  We traditionally wet-set our hair (in either pin curls, which is preferred, or rollers).

 This can take anywhere from about an hour to longer if our hair is not cooperating.  I’m at the airport in the morning with my pin curls covered up still drying.  If I can, once the vets are D.C. bound, I come home and catch a nap.  Pam arrives about 3:30 in the afternoon where we have an early dinner and then we start ready.  Getting ready entails, getting dressed, doing our makeup and brushing out our wet set. We aim to be at the airport by 6 PM as the flight is always scheduled to arrive at 8:30 PM.  Our biggest rule of thumb is attention to detail and as close to historically accurate as we can manage.

On average, how many Honor Flights take flight from Milwaukee per month?  SSHF aims to fly 4-6 flights per year.  We had three this past spring (April, May and June) and we have two scheduled for fall (September and October).  In total, we have successfully sent 34 flights to DC and have flown almost 5,000 veterans since SSHF began flying in November 2008.

What’s a typical schedule for one of your Honor Flight outings?
After the vets leave Milwaukee, they fly to D.C. where they are met with crowds welcoming them.  They then board buses and head for the memorials.  Everywhere they go they have a police escort.  It’s a really neat experience to see traffic parting like the red sea.  The key places they go are the World War II memorial, the Korean War memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the Lincoln memorial, the Iwo Jima memorial and usually wrap up the day at Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard ceremony.  Some flights deviate from that and have gone to the Air Force memorial, the FDR memorial and the Women’s memorial to name a few.  One thing to note about the World War II memorial: It is not uncommon to find Senator Bob Dole and Mrs. Dole sitting outside the memorial meeting veterans and chatting with them.  Senator Dole was one of the key players in making sure the memorial was built and I think it is such a selfless, wonderful thing he does to meet his fellow brothers-in-arms.

Once they are on the flight home, someone on the flight announces “Mail Call!”  Mail was hugely important to the soldiers because that was their one connection to their family and friends.  Families and SSHF put together packets for each veteran.  These contain letters from family, friends, and strangers, letters from elected officials, cards and drawings, and sometimes even pictures or memorabilia from the vet’s time in service.

After they land, they begin the final leg of their day’s trip with the homecoming parade.  Active duty servicemen and women line part of the concourse creating a wall on either side of the vet and offer him or her a silent salute.  There are bands, cheerleaders, the USO, etc. there to welcome home the vets.  Just before they go out into the proper airport to throngs of people (sometimes up to six to eight thousand people), they meet Pam and I for our little welcome home.  The parade concludes with the Milwaukee Police Pipe and Drum Corps.

I highly encourage everyone to go to at least one honor flight homecoming if they can.  Describing it or watching a video of it does not do justice.  The positive energy, the love and joy permeate the entire space.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight October 2015 Credit to Visual Image Photography

Can you share an encounter with a veteran that touched you? 
Goodness, I have several.  But, I have a recent one that shook me to the core.  I’ve only had one other vet that has done that to me.  There was a Korean War vet named Jerry.  He had had a stroke and was nonverbal.  I shook his hand in the morning and told him I’d see him when he got back.  He just stared blankly ahead.  When I saw him again what a difference!  I saw him when he came through for his homecoming, gave him a great big kiss and hoped he had a good time.  His daughter remembered me from the morning and then he was off into the crowds.  When I was leaving the airport after the homecoming, I saw him sitting near the door waiting for his ride.  I knelt down and talked with him.  You could tell he wanted to tell me something and could see the frustration at not being able to.  The homecoming had had an effect as a tear had trickled down his face.  He had an American flag and kept handing it to me.  His daughter told me that he wanted me to keep it, she thought.  So I took it and kept talking with a big smile on my face.  He reached for my hand and squeezed…and squeezed tighter than I’ve ever had my hand squeezed, locking eyes with me.  I will never forget that moment.

 My mom, who is a nurse, told me that that was his way of saying thank you.  I will treasure that moment always.  And, yes, I still have the flag.

Would you like to share a scene from one of your World War II stories? 
Sure! This is from my latest story, REVENGE, which I am currently in the query stage with.  it’s about an Allied spy who is out for revenge and a deserted German soldier.

May, 1944
Somewhere over Poland

Jenny Dabrowska waited in the shadows. The belly of the aircraft that would take her back to the homeland she narrowly escaped rattled and shook so hard it wouldn’t have surprised her if it fell apart from under her jump seat. Yet under all that she was numb.

“We’re nearing the drop zone,” George Barnes, her fearless leader, yelled into her ear.

She nodded, staring at the round hole in the floor. Her exit. The landscape below her whizzed by, as shadowed as her surroundings. Soon, she would be down there, making her way towards her objective. The anger she fought so hard to control rose like bile in her throat.

Not yet. Not now. There would be time to exact her revenge.

It had been so long since she had been this close to home. The memories of that fall morning when chaos descended on her family’s tiny hamlet swirled around like the gusts of wind flowing through the cabin. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear the yelling, the shots fired, the screams. The acrid scent of smoke wafted across her nose and her stomach flip-flopped. It was the worst day of her life and all she could do was stay hidden and watch.

“Are you ready, Jenny?” Barnes’s crisp British accent never wavered, even as his voice raised to be heard. This was not his first jump behind enemy lines. She shoved the memory back into the recesses of her subconscious.

“Yes,” she called back over the deafening thrum of the propellers. She ignored the jitters she got every time she had to jump out of an aircraft. She had a job to do and she had to be in top form. There could be no error. Errors meant death. She would not fail in her task.

Where can readers find out more about you?
Readers can find out more about me at my website.  My favorite part of my page is my Pin Curl Adventures section.  It shows some of the fun things I have done as a 1940s girl.  Otherwise, I am very active on social media and you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Molly has used her interest in history and writing to connect to others. I hope that she’ll inspire you as she inspires me to use time and talents similarly. We can all be the positive change in our world. Thanks. Molly.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Amazing Ways Historical Reenactment Can Help You Part One- What it is? How It Can Ramp up Writing and what goes into historical reenactment?

Want to improve your writing and perhaps your life? Consider Historical Reenactment.
Molly Maka, a gifted writer of World War II Romance and an avid historical reenactor has graciously agreed to tell us about historical reenacting.

First, what is historical reenacting? It’s recreating a time in history either as one moment in time or an entire era. Some examples might be the D-Day Landing at Normandy during World War II or the Regency Era.

How do regular people (non-reenactors) usually participate? They watch and ask questions. Most reenactment events are done with the audience looking on.  The audience is encouraged to learn but not necessarily take part in the event.
However, places like the Bristol Renaissance Faire feature a kind of reenactment known as environmental theatre, which encourages the audience to be part of the time period, and its performers look to include watchers.

What does Historical Reenacting have to do with Writing? Reenacting allows you to touch the past in ways that your characters would have experienced. Aspiring authors are often encouraged to show not tell. Reenactment has its participants living the event. They taste, feel, see, hear, smell and react in the moment which is exactly what writers are trying to share with their readers.

Also, reenacting gives you a community of resources—experts, materials and sources. Just as in writing, you have to do your homework to make your story or character plausible. If you don’t know your history, then it’s not really reenacting, it’s just getting dressed up.
Make my character plausible? What exactly do you mean? Well, you’ve got to know dates, places, events, important people – each of these help create the impression that you are who you say you are and where you say you are. Your characters MUST know what is going on around them to make the story ring true in the reader’s mind.

Credit to Ginger Breo

Can you share some examples?  I’ll give you three from the American Civil War.

  • Your character would have a very real understanding of how war affects every aspect of daily life.
  • Godey’s Ladies Book, Peterson’s and Harper’s Bazaar would be familiar to your character.  These were well known periodicals of the time period.

  • All of your characters would have an opinion on President Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. These were key political figures at the time.  Much like we have thoughts about politicians today, people back then would have an opinion about these two.

What’s another way historical reenacting could help my storytelling? By immersing yourself in the past, you start to think about how people might have thought about things, reacted to events, or handled situations. This makes your story richer and more real.

Can you share tips on how I’d start researching? Start with primary sources. They are the greatest window to what life was like. Some examples are: books, diaries, media, propaganda (yes, even the politically incorrect stuff) and important places that might mean something to your character.

One of our greatest primary sources are the people who lived during the time periods you are writing about (even if they were children at the time) because they can offer you a glimmer of what it was like to live then. Talk to them!

A word of warning: Be careful with modern adaptions and movies set during the time period you are interested in.  A lot of times, the historical accuracy is not as accurate as you would hope.

How does reenacting help historical writing? Reenactors do tons of research to be able to pull off someone from another time period. They try to get under their characters’ skin. They have to know the back story, the current events from before and during the period, as well as knowing how people moved (walk, sit, dance, bend, etc.) in their clothing.

Wearing the clothes of the era give you more of an appreciation and understanding of what went into daily life.

Getting into period dress will also help you figure out how their clothes affected their movements and how they viewed beauty and the human form. Every period had a silhouette that was the foundation of the period’s look. For example, women in the 1860s dressed to have an hourglass figure whereas a woman of the Elizabethan Renaissance aimed for a flat front to create two triangles touching point to point.

Credit to Mark Meier

Because reenactors recreate a moment in time, they care about using the correct language, slang, and idioms as well as following the proper etiquette. A good writer recreates a scene as well with compelling description and well-paced dialogue as well as manners and actions from her world.

If you’re struggling to make your fiction more real to readers, consider taking some of Molly’s advice. Do some research and then possibly try out reenacting or find a reenactment near you.  

If you’d like to find out more about historical reenactment or you have a question for Molly, please post it in the comments and she or I’ll get back to you. Thanks.

Also you can find out more about Molly by visiting her website.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cooking Essentials for a First Kitchen

A lot of my non-writer friends ask me where do you get your ideas?
My easy answer—from my life. Things happen and I’m inspired to do research. Then sometime later the experience shows up in my stories.

Right now, a couple of close relatives are getting married while a few more are moving into apartments, and I’d like to help. Most of my nieces, nephews and cousins will need to set up a first kitchen, so here’s my question—what will they need to begin cooking in their new place?

Here’s my list of kitchen essentials, so far.
1. Baking Dish
2. Sauté Pan with a lid
3. Can Opener
4. Vegetable Peeler
5. Knives
6. Cutting Board
7. Measuring Cups and Spoons
8. Mixing Bowls
9. Storage Containers
10. Tongs
11. Cookie Sheets and cake pans
12. Cheese Grater
13. Spatula
14. Colander
15. Salt and Pepper Mills

Can you think of any other must-haves for a startup kitchen? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Father's Day Facts

Happy Father’s Day! We all are fathers, know fathers or have had a dad. Want to celebrate dads by learning some of the facts behind this holiday?

1. Sonora Dodd thought of Father’s Day to honor her father, William Smart.

2. William Smart was a single parent. He raised six children after his wife’s death.  He was also a Civil War veteran.

3. The first Father’s Day happened in Spokane, Washington on June 17, 1910.

4. Sonora and the mayor of Spokane chose June as the month to celebrate because William Smart’s birthday was in June.

5. In 1966, President Johnson picked the third Sunday in June for Father’s Day, but it wasn’t until 1972 when President Nixon was in office that the holiday became permanent.

6. Just how many dads are there? In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the number of fathers in the nation to be 70.1 million.

7. Also the U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2013 there were over twenty-four million fathers living in married couple homes and had children under the age of 18.

 8. In 2013 survey the Bureau found that two million fathers were single parents.

9. That sounds like a huge number, but it’s actually only 17 percent of the single parents.

10. About 4.2 percent of the single dads were widowed while 33 percent had never married,
44 percent were divorced and 19 percent were separated.

11. In 2011, stay-at-home dads took care of 18% of all preschoolers.

12. These stay-at-home fathers number around 214,000.

13. What will fathers likely do this Father’s Day? Well, it’s a good bet they’ll barbecue.  In 2010, 79.1 million Americans participated in a barbecue.

Dads are pretty important. I hope that you’ll have a chance to celebrate with one or more of these great guys this month!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What Scary Creatures Are Part of Your Culture?

By Elizabeth MS Flynn, w/a Eilis Flynn
I’m taking a break between editing gigs and starting to think about the workshops I’ll be teaching next year (plan far ahead and you won’t panic as much. Some, but not much), and prime among those are a couple I’ll be doing on Asian myths and legends. Because, you know, they’re fun and I’ve got all this source material staring me in the face every time I turn around in my office (since I’m writing this instead of cleaning my office, because after all, you’d do the same), so I might as well. Right?

Anyway, I have conducted quite a few workshops of myths and legends around the world (“Along the Silk Road and Beyond,” looking at faeries, dragons, vampires, werewolves/shifters, angels, demons, ghosts, water beasties, even “bigfeet”—if you’re interested in any of these, let me know!), examining how those myths are presented and change depending on where you are in the world, and how they’re similar and different, even compared with a culture that may be right next door. So I’m taking the Asian component of those workshops and merging them into data that works for Asian only.

I’m also prepping for this by reading this book called The Book of Yokai by Michael Dylan Foster, about mythical creatures specific to Japanese culture. Foster is an ethnographer, so the presentation and topic is right up my alley (anthropology major, many years ago). Foster notes how some of those creatures he’s looking at may have non-Japanese origins, but they have definitely been shaped into distinctively Japanese myths. How’s that, you say? (Of course you did. I heard you!)

I could tell you…but let me ask this: What kind of scary creatures did you grow up hearing about? Let me explain why I’m asking. In my ghost workshop, I looked at ghost stories (yeah! It was fun), and I was amused and fascinated to discover there was a story about a spectral woman in white in many, many cultures and regions. In the US alone, I counted half a dozen, and I didn’t look that hard in American culture (because I was looking around the world and had limited time and resources). Of course, the stories about those women always had the female wearing an outfit appropriate for that culture and region, no matter if the sighting was in Malaysia or Texas or New Jersey. The stories are all similar, from sighting to realization (because there’s always contact with the living, a brief interaction, the disappearance, and then the realization that the woman was dead all along!). Ghosts are ghosts, no matter where you are.

But this isn’t the fairest of examples, because there are ghost stories wherever there are live people, with memories to remember the dead. Or history in general, actually. But the flip to that is the myth of the werewolf, which morphs into the myth of the shapeshifter in regions where the wolf isn’t native. (If you run across a story about wolves in regions like the Pacific Rim, you know you have a borrowed myth because—can you guess? That’s right, there are no wolves around there.)

So what are the scariest stories where you are? Why do you think those are unique to where you live?

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Footprints and baby steps #amwriting #IRink @liviaquinn

There's an analogy that's used to describe how writers should approach the marketing of their books. A single "Footprint" vs. many feetprints if you'll pardon the misnomer. But the analogy holds true and has a great deal of merit.

Late in 2011 I decided to self-publish after a series of weather mishaps that threatened to end my writing for good. That book, under a previous pen name ultimately became Undone. It was the right decision for me at the time and I'm not sorry I went that direction, even though there have been so many changes in the market since. I seem to always be at the end of a trend. ;)

So, I published my little book expecting big things... then pretty much walked away. Not on purpose; my business required my time more than ever, but honestly, I didn't know what I was doing. Finding one little book on Amazon is like finding a particular grain of sand on that beach.  I was learning about the footprint theory, and I learned a lot from that experience. In 2014 with more books under my belt, both partials and final drafts, I decided to restart my writing career. I started fresh with a new pen name, set a goal to publish three books before the Romance Novel Convention in July and three by the end of the year. I accomplished that goal and didn't see any reason why I couldn't continue at that pace for a couple years.

I made a small spreadsheet to brainstorm my prospective minimum and maximum word counts for the year (by month). It was an eye opener. It can be adjusted on the fly when you see something coming up like a two week trip, busy summer plans, or a heavy workload. It's a wonderful tool to encourage you when you think your writing isn't getting anywhere. When I convert my smaller total into books, I get two or three novels, one or two novellas, or a possibility of 3-5 books for the year with the minimum written.

I anticipated being able to follow my "maximum" guidelines but then it was like Tom Brokaw came on TV saying, "We interrupt this lofty writing plan to announce some major changes in your dayjob, your husband's health, and the hit to your writerly budget. Oh, and by the way, did you forget to factor in the maintenance of your published books? social media? promo? newsletters? new covers, formatting and uploading revised books and new books?  Add to that, scheduling of events and followup with readers and other authors?"

Boy, did I!  In 2015, I only published 4 books (the reason for that second column ;) It took seven months to write the first one but it got done.)

In December, I decided to remove my books from KDP select and put everything on Kobo, Nook, Itunes and ARe as well to widen my readership and hopefully increase sales. This took almost three months because there was constant correcting of files, pricing, descriptions, formats, links, "also by" pages... the list goes on.

By mid March my business was in FULL swing and I was again behind on book 5 of my paranormal series. So here I am having just put my newest book, Take These Broken Wings, up for preorder on those sites for September.

Once again I'm reminded that I can only do what I can do and have a semi-balanced life. Still the long range plan is to keep adding to that footprint. As of now, I have published eleven books. Hopefully, by the end of next next year, I'll be closer to twenty, but who knows? Life has a funny way of getting in the way.

Self-publishing is very hard work. You're the "man" no matter how things go. And if you're in it for the long haul, you just gotta keep plugging until you look over your shoulder and see a nice wide footprint.

Can you share your experience with publishing either traditional or self-publishing? Do you struggle to stay on track? I'm here to tell you - You CAN do this! Just don't give up.

Baby steps are better than no steps.

See all my books at
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Think You Know Tulips? Thirteen Surprising Tulip Facts

This looks like a rose, but it's a tulip.

Tulips are probably one of the most recognized flowers. Currently, you can see the late spring bloomers in gardens and in grocery store bouquets. Tulips are a pretty common sight in April and May, at least in Wisconsin, but there are things about tulips that may surprise most of us.

This is rose.
1.Did you know that parts of the tulip are edible? You can eat the petals.
2. Supposedly, they have a range of flavors. I’ve not snacked on any myself, but several of my sources say the petals might taste like a bean or like a lettuce leaf or they might have no taste at all. 
3. Apparently, during WWII there were many food storages, so people resorted to eating tulip petals.
4. Most people though don’t value tulips for their taste. They like the tulip’s bright colors and the tulip’s almost perfectly symmetrical shape.
5. In fact, it’s the tulip’s shape that inspired its name, delband, a Persian word for turban. I’m not sure how that became tulip, but I suspect that it may have happened as tulips were carried from country to country. 
6. Originally, tulips grew in Asia. 
7. They still are very popular there. In fact, they are the national flower for both Turkey and Afghanistan.
8. But most people think of the Netherlands when they think of tulips. 
9. That’s probably because the Netherlands is still the world’s leading producer of tulips. 
10. One of my sources claims that the people in the Netherlands grow as many as 3 billion bulbs every year.
11. The man most people credit for starting the bulb industry in the Netherlands was a Flemish botanist named Carolus Clusius. 
12. When he became the director of Leiden University’s botanical gardens, he planted some of the first tulips ever grown in the Netherlands. That was around the year 1593.
13. And that was just the start. Carolus Clusius discovered a virus that altered the shape and color of tulip petals. He experimented and created a number of unique tulip varieties. This inspired tulip mania, an enthusiasm for bulbs, which caused what one source dubbed “an economic frenzy” around 1637. During the time, bulbs were sold at hugely inflated prices. It seems everyone wanted some tulips. 
This might be an example of one of the "broken tulips" Carolus Clusius developed 

I have to confess. I’m a bit of a tulip maniac, myself. I really enjoy growing them and I love sharing them. I hope that you’ll enjoy the virtual bouquets.