Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gardening during drought without irrigation

Yeah, I know the title seems unbelievable, but apparently it actually works. I ran across this free ebook (sorry, you have to read it from the website) called Gardening Without Irrigation, which I found here. The author, Steve Solomon, said he lives in the Oregon cascades, which frequently go eight weeks without rain, and his irrigation system is less than reliable. Apparently he's able to grow a lot of crops with no water once they're established and some with only infrequent water or over spray from less-hardy plants.

The key seems to be in spreading the plants far apart (four times as far apart as is recommended on the seed package), getting them established while you still have spring rains at your disposal, and ruthlessly keeping the weeds down. This doesn't work unless you have decent dirt at least a few feet deep (eight or more is best) because rocks and gravel don't hold the water content that dirt does, and hard pan is almost impossible for roots to break through (though he gives tips on how to fix this problem.)

While this wouldn't work on my property--I have to do raised beds because the first hundred-plus feet of ground past my back door is far more rock than dirt--it's an interesting concept. I'd be interested in hearing if anyone else tries it and what they think of it.

There are a lot of other books on gardening, permaculture, and self-sufficiency on the site, so check them out!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review: "Transcendence" and giveaway!

Transcendent is a terrific book full of YA paranormal short stories--these are all clean with no swearing or sex and no extreme violence (though there are one or two that are fantastically creepy.) The stories range from ghosts to spirit guides, to vampires, and so much more. I don't usually go in for short stories, but these kept me interested from the start with great characters and some terrific plot twists. And several of them have a romance line mixed in the story (which I'm always a big fan of). Perfect for a quick story fix, I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys clean paranormal stories.

My friend Wendy Swore, who has two stories in this anthology, will be listing the publisher's big giveaway on Monday with a whole bunch of giveaways as part of the book release ranging from SWAG to bigger prizes (including a copy of my book Blank Slate). The giveaway goes through January 3rd, so check out her blog here for details. Also, you can enter to win a copy of the Transcendent ebook from Amazon by commenting here on my blog between now and the end of the month. This is currently available only in ebook, but a paper copy is due out soon. Check out these links for more information:

eBook on Nook: Coming Soon!

And below is a list of the other stops on this blog tour if you want more chances to win this ebook.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter gardening, the permaculture way

I’ve spent a lot of time lately studying landscaping and gardening sites again—something that would probably gratify my neighbors since I was a total slacker last summer and hardly even watered, never mind weeding my flower beds (grass, what grass?). Anyway, I ended up on some permaculture sites, studying it again. Maybe it’s the anal retentive part of me, maybe it’s the writer who loves research, but I tend to get a little obsessive when an idea really strikes me and study the heck out of it. Permaculture was this way for me five years ago, and it’s grabbing me by the throat again. Unfortunately the actual classes to study the theory are light years outside my price range (not to mention the drive), but there’s a ton of useful information on the web. I spent days watching Youtube videos about permaculture practices—there’s a terrific series out of Australia, the home of permaculture. I can't find it on Youtube anymore, but you can find it here.

What is permaculture? I’m glad you asked! I know most people have never heard of it, but essentially it’s a way of organizing your landscaping to promote healthy diversity, ease of maintenance, and oh yeah, food production when possible. Of course, there’s a whole lot more to it than this, because the principles of permaculture are as applicable if you’ve only got a balcony, as if you have ten acres and can be applied to city planning or building design. And it’s not just about food, but about using natural systems in planning.

Yeah, so it’s ecologically sound, but it thinks outside the box—okay, outside the box of current agricultural trends (of monoculture—like hundreds of acres of wheat) to more natural systems like in forests. Instead of planting a big spot with pumpkins, and another with peas, and a third with corn, you mix things together, grow plants that complement each other (often called companion planting), and encourage bugs and animals into the garden that eat the bugs that want to eat your prize tomatoes. We call this bio diversity—and it works for many people without bug sprays, and with careful planning, you won’t have to buy fertilizers, either. It means planting flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds that discourage some pests right alongside the veggies that those pests like the best.

I did mention bringing in predators and birds right? Well, this doesn’t just apply to song birds. I opened up my garden fence a week or so ago (and then it snowed), but this morning I cleared the snow off of one garden bed and then my poultry went to town eating the weeds and scratching it all up. Chickens, geese, ducks, guineas, and my lone Tom turkey were out there most of the day. Yeah, I get eggs from my chickens (theoretically, but their lack of winter eggs is a topic for another day). But they’re way more useful than that. Last spring I let them into the back yard—which is totally unlandscaped—and they kept my weeds in check. Now, letting them into the garden when I have plants there would be a Very Bad Idea (I learned this the hard way a few years back) but in the off season they can be seriously useful.

That’s permaculture in action.

PS If you'll notice, I'm holding a Goodreads Giveaway for my book, Blank Slate right now. Click on the box at the top of the page to enter. It runs through Christmas Eve. And come back for another Goodreads Giveaway next month for Family by Design.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My new book cover for Family by Design!

I've been sitting on this exciting news for a while, waiting for my final draft of the cover to arrive in my inbox, and for the back cover copy, so I'm totally excited to be able to share it now. My next book, published by Cedar Fort, inc. is at the printers right now and will be available for purchase in early January.

Cute, isn't it? I'm totally excited! And here's the back cover blurb:

Before he could think better of it, he blurted out, “I understand your concerns. I’m going to speak to my commander about getting an early discharge. My girlfriend, Rena, and I have talked about getting married. There just hasn’t been any rush.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wondered what he was thinking. Yes, they had discussed marriage, but not to each other! He and Rena had never even dated.

Tucker’s on his way to the biggest challenge of his life. Rena already has it all—except a family of her own. But neither one expected their friendship would take such a dramatic turn.

When Tucker becomes the guardian of his newly orphaned niece and nephew, he knows he can’t handle them alone, not when he might be shipped out with the Marines at any moment. Desperate, he turns to Rena for a major favor. His marriage proposal would give her everything she wants, but can she learn to live without the romance she’s always dreamed of?

As time, prayer, and a life-changing kiss work a little magic in her heart, Rena wonders if someone up there has a plan for her that’s better than anything she could’ve come up with on her own. And though it seems crazy at first, this could become her chance for a marriage that will last for eternity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: "Bound" by CK Bryant and giveaways

The blurb:

When a photo shoot ends in tragedy, K
ira discovers her best friend, Lydia, has been keeping a secret. Knowing the truth, and accepting it, will change Kira’s life forever and thrust her into a world of ancient curses, magical objects, and savage enemies. What happens next will challenge everything Kira knows about her world, herself and the shape-shifting warrior she’s falling in love with. No longer the timid mouse her mother accused her of being, but a woman who finds the mental and physical strength to endure and survive.

BOUND is a heroic tale of true friendship, infinite sacrifice and untamed love.

My take: I read this story the first time several years back when CK and I exchanged critiques on our manuscripts and enjoyed it even then. There have been significant rewrites since, including switching it from adult to YA and some great plot changes. The story starts of strong and keeps the action flowing at a good clip all the way through. The characters are interesting and well rounded, and the story is unique. I'd definitely recommended it to young women who enjoy clean paranormal stori
es that veer away from vampires, werewolves and the like.

About the author:

Christine has always been a writer. Even before she could compose a single word with pen, she scribbled her version of cursive along the open page just to see what it looked like. As a teen, she swiped her dad's old Royal typewriter so her muse could breathe life into what her vivid imagination had created.

She's spent the last twenty-five years married to the man of her dreams and raising their two sons. After helping run the family restaurant for most of their marriage, Christine finally broken away to pursue her dream of being an author.

When she's not with her family or tickling the computer keys, she loves camping, reading, scrapbooking, listening to all kinds of music, and making new friends.

Christine currently living in the middle of sage brush and lava rock with a spectacular view of the Snake River Canyon in South Central Idaho.

Bound is available in paperback from and in ebook nearly anywhere ebooks are sold.

You can read a first chapter, order an autographed copy, and learn more about the author here. Bound is part of the Dark Carma tour, featuring three clean paranormal books that all launched last week. stop by and check the others out as well. You'll find them here, along with how to enter their giveaways--which ends in a few days, so don't wait!