Category Archives: Blog

Much Ado About…Something

How was the eclipse viewing in your neck of the woods? After weeks of warnings to be prepared with food, water, and gasoline as crowds descended on the hill country, there were a few spots of heavy traffic but nothing too terrible. Here at Casita Marron the eclipse was marred by thick clouds that obscured the view. We  stood on our back porch as darkness fell and the birds went silent. My neighbor’s security lights came on. The wind came up. Peering through our eclipse glasses we caught fleeting glimpses of the outer edge of the sun as the moment of totality arrived. 

Some people said ah well all those prep warnings, all the hype about the eclipse itself were much ado about nothing. Honestly I was disappointed not to have a better view, but these few moments when Americans across the political, religious, and economic spectrum came together in parks and parking lots and along roadsides, drawn together to witness a once in a lifetime event —was not nothing. It was a reminder of shared history.  A moment of shared humanity when we all stilled to experience together the wonders of the universe. 

It was something. 


Bluebonnet Legends

Just as the rose is a symbol of England and cherry blossoms are a symbol for Japan, the bluebonnet is known around the world as a Texas symbol. Even before the Texas legislature, after considering the cotton stalk and the cactus pear named the bluebonnet the official state flower in 1901, the state’s school children learned the legends of the bluebonnet.  One story goes that after a drought led to near starvation, the Comanche people built a fire and sacrificed their most important belongings. A little girl tossed her favorite cornhusk doll, adorned with a blue feather, into the flames. The next morning, the legend goes, the fields were full of blue flowers. 

Another story from the 1700’s claims that a blue-cloaked nun working among the people in New Mexico one day appeared to the Jumano people in Texas. On the last day she appeared to them the fields were suddenly carpeted with blue flowers.  

This time of year, our fields and roadsides are ablaze with these beautiful wildflowers. Thankfully, the Texas Legislature listened to the cadre of Colonial Dames of America who lobbied for the bluebonnet as the state symbol. Without them, we might well be watching each year for the first cotton bolls to open. 

Better Late Than Never

As my literary hero Pat Conroy used to say,  Hey Out There.

I hope your summer is going well. I’ve been AWOL from the blog for the past couple of months because there are big things afoot here. First, my new novel, Mrs Lee and Mrs Gray released in mid June to very good reviews, and I’ve been  busy writing several articles about various aspects of the story and giving interviews. I love to talk about historical fiction but the interviews take time and my blog posts kept getting moved further down the list.

Secondly here at the Money Pit, we’ve have several big projects going on and there has been a constant parade of plumbers, tile setters, landscapers, and painters coming and going for weeks now. I keep telling myself the inconvenience and expense will be worth it.

Last week our golden retriever Jake fell ill, just a few weeks after his 9th birthday and off to the vet we went. A flurry of blood tests, organ function tests, and several sets of x rays failed to pinpoint the problem. He was very dehydrated from constant nausea and they kept him overnight to give him fluids. He came home and got sick again so back we went for a sonogram. We still don’t have a definitive diagnosis but so far he’s doing well on a new medication and a low fat diet.

Books read: Too few! But I enjoyed a couple of light beach reads including Shelley Noble’s Forever Beach, and Mary McNear’s The Space Between Sisters and Dorothea Benton Frank’s lighthearted romp, All Summer Long. It wouldn’t be summer without a new DBF novel, all of which are set in my beloved Charleston and her sea islands. I’m reading David McCullough’s Greater Journey about Americans in Paris during the 19th century. He’s my favorite historian. He says he writes for the ear as well as the eye and really so many of his sentences just sing. Reading his work is such a pleasure.

At the end of July we went to East Texas to spend a long weekend with Mom as she celebrated her 85th birthday. She’s having a hard recovery after a fall last September that fractured her hip. She’s our family’s treasure.

Happy August everyone.

Ready For Launch!

Even after publishing twenty books, I still love the anticipation and excitement of launching a new title. During May I spent most of my “office time” preparing for the June 14  launch of  Mrs Lee and Mrs. Gray. I’m  thrilled to have received great reviews from the major journals including Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times Reviews, and a starred review from the American Library Association’s  Booklist.

Booklist_StarReview_badgeHere’s the cool badge they sent.

I’ve loved writing all of my books for different reasons, but writing the story of Mary Custis Lee and Selina Norris Gray has given me the deepest pleasure of all. I hope readers will sense my passion for the true story of  these two courageous women and for the friendship they shared. To help publicize the book  I’ve been writing a few articles and giving interviews which is great fun as I love the chance to share this story with readers who may not know that Mary was an accomplished painter and editor, for instance, or that Selina took care of Arlington, Mary’s home, during the Civil War, and stopped looters from taking away all of President Washington’s belongings.

Outside of “office time” Ron and I explored a couple of new restaurants. The Bread Box is a tiny place inside Artisan’s Alley, one of the coolest collections of antique stores, pottery shops, and galleries in the city. They have a beautiful shaded outdoor area perfect for a long lunch. The food is fabulous. We ended up buying cupcakes and Napoleons to bring home. We went to Sewasdee, a Thai restaurant not far from our house where I tried something new–a pumpkin curry. The best curry I’ve ever had, with just the right balance of sweet and spicy.

Our outdoor plans for the month have been thwarted by rain so I had a chance to catch up on reading.  Coming up: We’re collectors of old maps and can’t wait see an exhibit of antique maps at the Witte Museum, including a map made by the father of Texas, Stephen F Austin. And now that June is here, the outdoors beckons. We’re planning a couple of short trips to the Highland Lakes region of Texas, and a trip to Stonewall, the home of President Johnson, to buy some luscious Texas peaches. The growing conditions this year were excellent and we’re expecting an outstanding crop. Peach cobbler and peach ice cream are on the menu this month. I wish you all could join me for dessert and conversation on the patio.

Till next time, here’s wishing you a great launch for your summer plans.