Climbing Mount TBR

Most of my friends have a pile of books in the house that we call Mount TBR (To Be Read). I bet you have one, too … books from your book club, maybe, that you didn’t get around to. Books that folks at the office are reading. Books that grabbed your attention as you were walking past in the bookstore.

I fall into the third camp, and also a fourth: Books That Feed My Brain and Might Come in Handy Someday. Here is a picture of that TBR pile just at the moment (its size fluctuates depending on what I’m working on):

To Be Read pile How To Read Water. Now, there’s a title. I was walking through a train station bookstore in London and that one grabbed my eye. From puddles to oceans, it’s about how to read liquid movement and the effects of wind and tide. As a person who grew up on an island on the west coast, the tides become part of you. Can we do such-and-such today? The tide will be low at noon. Okay, then let’s do such-and-such!

When you’re writing about Corsair’s Cove, water and tides are part of life, and can make interesting details in a story. They can even affect the plot. And how about American Sailing Ships? That one ties right in with water and tides. I’ve loved the sight of sailing ships since I was a child. From the shape of a hull to the names of sails, I look forward to learning about the ships that our characters might have spent their lives on.

And the books about the supernatural in New Mexico and the southwest? Well, those are for Mysterious Devices, my new steampunk mystery series, written as Shelley Adina, launching around the end of this year. Because you never know what’s going to happen in the Weird West!


Coastal kindness and Lady Ferns

Last week I wheeled up to my office building on my trusty bike, Sister Bertrille, and discovered one of the gardeners culling ferns that had volunteered all through the bed of shrubs. They had to be thinned for the sake of the other plants.
“Are they native?” I asked.
“I think so,” the gardener said.
“Are you moving them?”
“Composting them.”
“Can I have them?”
“Sure.” He looked doubtfully at Sister Bertrille. “I’ll stash them behind the magnolia until you can get a vehicle to haul them home.”
Imagine my excitement! There were six or eight big lumps of fern roots – which are actually more of a solid fibrous mass, and they weigh a ton, but what a find!
The next day, Soul Matey and I carted them home (in the car) and I paged anxiously through my coastal-plant book.

Lady ferns can be mistaken for golden ferns

I scanned the entry…. No mention of native-to-Eurasia or does-not-occur-naturally-in-our-region. And then finally: “The leaves of lady fern were used by aboriginal people for laying out or covering food…fiddleheads were eaten in the spring…”

Yes! A tall, beautiful, evergreen native plant that will perfectly fill a particularly bare patch in my back yard.
And to make it even better, every time I look at them I’ll remember how kind that gardener was.
He doesn’t live in Corsair’s Cove – but he could! I think he’d fit right in.

Lady ferns and books – a perfect pair