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.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

An Oldie But Goodie

We're going into writing conference/pitching season, so I thought these tips from a horror convention way back in 2005 - while old, are still timely - would be helpful to you all.  Feel free to ask questions if you have 'em...

Ten Things We Learned About Pitch Sessions

1. Don't be late for your pitch session. Editors and agents hate "dead time." Besides, it's really hard to tear them away from talking to Peter Straub or whoever else came along to shoot the breeze in the meantime when it's time for the next guy's pitch session.
2. Don't open your briefcase in front of you and unpack as though you were moving into a hotel room. They aren't going to take everyone's material home with them, and they don't need it to hear your pitch. Besides, they want to see your face, and they can't over your briefcase lid.
3. Do dress the part. If you dress like a clown, sure they'll remember you. But not necessarily the way you want them to. Remember, to an editor, horror is only a genre, not a way of life.
4. Don't pitch seven things at once--but do have a couple of backup things ready, in case the agent or editor is clearly not interested in your main choice.
5. If they ask for the manuscript, SEND IT! Don't try to second guess them as to whether or not they're really interested.
6. When they stop talking, it's time for you to leave.
7. If you butt in without a pitch time, it will annoy the agent or editor, so don't do it.
8. If you don't have a pitch time (and do have a con membership), and really, really meant to schedule one, but forgot, and are willing to hang out and wait, people will try to get you that session you really, really need now. Especially if you help.
9. Hang with the pitch organizers, and you may get to eat lunch with the editors.
10. If you need the room cleared, Mr. Harlan Ellison will oblige (or we can find someone who will).

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Building Workshops Are Fun!

A while ago, I was invited to give a workshop in another state. The invitation came from a writers' organization, and I had to come up with a workshop. They pretty much gave me carte blanche, and after some addled thought (I was on deadline), I pitched one, and they accepted.

Mind you, I have a list of a couple dozen workshops I've given in the past (I like doing them, both online and in person; I come from a long line of grouchy academics, so coming up with this stuff is second nature), but for this occasion I decided to come up with something new. The workshop was in April, so I began research. It was fun! Well, research is always fun.

And research can be all-absorbing. As much as I wanted to keep going on, I had work to do, work that took precedence. And so I did the work, kept making notes for the workshop, until I finally had a week to do the work I needed for the workshop. Only a week.

Now, I don't like rushing for a deadline. I do deadlines all the time, but I plan for them. But I also had work that took precedence. But I finished the work for the workshop, in plenty of time and days to spare, but I figured I would take this opportunity to ask: How people deal with deadlines? Do you plan for them, or do you ignore them as they loom, forcing you to go crazy at the end? Inquiring minds want to know!

Eilis Flynn writes, edits and presents.