My Writing Process – Q & A of The Writing Process Blog Tour

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27 Aug 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Joseph E. Lerner invited me to blog about my writing process as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour. Four questions are posed: 1) What am I working on? 2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 3) Why do I write what I do? and 4) How does my writing process work?

1) What am I working on?

I write both fiction and non-fiction and swing between one and the other as the mood strikes. Right now on the fiction front what I’m working on is finding an agent for a fantasy novel I just finished (Symbiosis). I have one short story in submission and if it is rejected, I’ll be submitting it to other magazines on my list. I have another novel to begin, too. The ideas are there and the first 8,000 words or so are down. I find it hard swinging between fiction and non if there’s something on the non-fiction side unfinished. Like it is at the moment. On the non-fiction front there’s always my blog. I write articles for the blog and to publish to Amazon and our online store. But the thing I’m working on that keeps my mind in this realm is a collection of Companion Plant cards. Here’s one of them: Bloodroot.

bloodroot collage by madison woods available as 4 x 6 prints or postcard from Wild Ozark

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the voice of my writing? I sure hope readers can tell me apart and want to hear my unique voice if that’s what it is. I have a very strong relationship to the earth around me, to Nature, and I hope that’s what sets my writing apart from others. Going forward my fiction will include more herb and nature lore, and more influence of the hills surrounding me in real life.

foggy sunset in the Wild Ozark valley

foggy sunset in the Wild Ozark valley

3) Why do I write what I do?

What I write is what’s in my heart to be written. I’d find it very difficult to write on demand for any other reason than that there’s an idea I want to explore and express. I write fiction because I can fully explore my imagination. There’s another, more honest reason, though. There’s magic in nature, I’m sure of it, and if I try to write about it outside of fiction I just sound insane. That’s the real reason I write fiction. I write non-fiction because I want to share the beauty and as much of the magic of these Ozark mountains with others as I can.

stormy skies at wild ozark

Storm coming in from northeast

4) How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a regular schedule to write. Whenever I have spare time, I’m usually writing. Writing usually takes precedence over housework … until the dishes and clothes piling up begins to bother me too much, or I start to feel guilty for being a terrible wife. My husband and I joke about my lack of domestic leanings and we both wish we had a domestic goddess to come do those things for us. I consider designing our online store and website writing. Well, it’s more “marketing”, but without it the writing doesn’t reach much audience. I also consider my blog posts and definitely the articles I post to the blog to be part of my writing. When an article seems particularly good, I’ll usually put that one up for sale at the blog rather than giving it away free, although the ones I give away free are good ones too. I get ideas and then become obsessed with making them real. This happens with both fiction and non-fiction. Right now on the home front we’re pretty busy working on homestead infrastructure projects so my time to write is more limited than it will be when we get caught up with these things. Maybe then I’ll have some sort of a schedule, but for now I write whenever I can.

when a writer isn't writing


Click here to view Joseph E. Lerner’s answers, published last week. For next week (Sept. 3 2014), I’ve invited three more writers to participate:  Alice White (, Velda Brotherton (, Joanna Gawn of Lazuli Portals ( Joanna mentioned she might be a bit delayed getting to her questionnaire but I’ll be looking forward to what all three of them have to write.

Little River – a book by James L’Etoile

This entry was posted in Genre, thriller on by .

The few weeks ago I won a book in a contest sponsored by the author. He’d gotten a few copies of his print books that were less than perfect, so he decided to “make lemonade from the lemons”. A duty of winners of this contest was to take a pic with the book and make a post about it… and that took me a little while because lately my dress code has been “homestead work mode” and I wasn’t about to post a photo of myself in that garb!

I’m looking forward to reading this book. Human trafficking is an issue we should all be concerned with and probably happens far more often than we like to consider.

me with book

About the Book

The back-of-the-book blurb:

“A college fling on an exotic Caribbean island usually leaves little more than a sunburn and a hangover as souvenirs. This time, the vacation takes a dark and deadly turn. When two girls disappear from a Jamaican resort, local officials and police are more concerned about the impact of a scandal on the tourist trade than in searching for them. It happens all too often in the Caribbean, where fun and sun hide the sinister secret of human trafficking.

What would you do if your daughter disappeared?”

About the Author

James L’Etoile is an author whose crime fiction work has been recognized by the Creative World Awards, and Acclaim Film. Little River is his debut novel and he’s currently working on his seventh novel. Additional information about the author and his twenty years of experience in criminal justice operations can be found at the author’s website:

Black Cohosh – the next card in the set

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Herbalism, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, Wild Ozark Products, Wild Ozark Store on by .

The Companions

The Companions, a collection of cards featuring ginseng’s companion plants, are coming along nicely. Here’s the front of the second card. On the back will be a write-up about the plant. Here’s a link to preview the first one, Bloodroot.  If you’d like to know when these are available in the shop, join our mailing list:

#2 in the collection of cards from wild ozark - black cohosh is a ginseng companion plant

Black Cohosh, #2 in the set of companion plant cards soon available from Wild Ozark

Bloodroot – Gathering Ginseng Companions

This entry was posted in american ginseng, Ginseng, Herb Walk in the Ozarks, Herbalism, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .
22 Aug 2014

Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis 

Went out to the woods yesterday to see about gathering seeds and berries and dividing ginseng companions. I’m building our nursery stock so when the inspectors come in spring they’ll actually have something to inspect. Wild Ozark is going to be a licensed ginseng nursery and we’ll also get a limited nurseryman’s license so we can ship plants legally, in the United States anyway.

Our focus will be on the woodland herbs, most of which are also ginseng companions.

One of the most popular companions is bloodroot. Here’s a pic of a clump I divided this morning:

bloodroot being divided at wild ozark by madison woods

A clump of bloodroot

When you snap a bloodroot, it actually bleeds – which of course is how the name was derived. The collage below shows the roots “bleeding”. This is a sneak peek at a collage I made for postcards and 4×6 prints of the bloodroot. When the whole collection is ready (a collage like this for each of the main companions), they’ll be available in the online shop:

bloodroot collage by madison woods available as 4 x 6 prints or postcard from Wild Ozark

Here’s a link to the second card in the set, Black Cohosh. If you’d like to know when these are available in the shop, join our mailing list:

Here’s a short video clip of me digging bloodroot a couple of years ago. I have to learn how to use our new GoPro camera to make some better videos. This one was made using my iPhone:

A Song of Life by Margaret Warner Moreley

This entry was posted in A Song of Life, Nature on by .

19 Aug 2014

a song of life cover

a song of life at wild ozark annotated by madison woods

An original copy (I think) of A Song of Life, published in 1897

This book is one of my new old treasures. Just got it out of the mailbox today. It was published in 1897 and is now in public domain (well, it’s been there a while). “A Song Of Life” is composed of essays by the author about nature and I can already tell from the first page that I am going to truly enjoy going through this book page by page.

My plans are for more than simply reading it. Each week I’ll take a paragraph or a page from the book and pair it with a photograph of my own. Each excerpt is going to be summarized with a word I think best fits the passage. I’ll give those posts a special category tag of the title so they can be easily retrieved from the blog. At the end, if the collection of posts seems worthy, I’ll collect them into a book to republish as a new edition.

The first excerpt is below. I’m excited by this new feature of my blog and I hope you’ll enjoy and want to follow along too. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Kinship: An Excerpt from the first page of “A Song of Life” by Margaret Warner Moreley

dogwood blossom to illustrate A Song of Life

“We all love flowers. Most of us love them as we love jewels and sunshine and color; they gratify our love of beauty and by their presence make us happier. But some have a deeper reason for loving them; to them the flowers are one expression of that life of which man is but another expression. They do not think of man as something apart by himself, but rather as a part of the universal life which the plants and birds and all living creatures share with him.” – an excerpt from A Song of Life by Margaret Ward Woreley

Nature Journal – Orchids Aplenty!

This entry was posted in Herb Walk in the Ozarks, Madison Woods, author, Nature, Outdoors, Plants, Wild Ozark's Nature Journal on by .


stormy skies at wild ozark

Storm coming in from northeast. The trail leads into the trees.

Yesterday as the thunder started booming I decided to see if I could get to my latest discovery and back to take some pictures before the rain came. The day before I’d spotted a plant growing on the wooded hillside beneath the pond. It looked a lot like orchid leaves from the trail but at the time I was in a hurry and didn’t take time to inspect closer. Rob and I went back out there later on that day but I didn’t bring the camera, but did determine that the plants did indeed look like orchids.

3 1

I’d hoped they’d turn out to be Lady’s Slipper, but I don’t think they are. John Moore from the Arkansas Native Plants group over at FB tipped me off to what they might be after I’d posted these pictures there. What they are most likely is Lily-leaf Twayblade, but until they bloom again in spring, I won’t know for sure. Either way, it’s an exciting thing to find a plant I’d not known existed here, and to find it so plentiful. According to the USDA map, depending on which species they turn out to be, they might not be documented in Madison county yet, either. There were probably more than 100 of them in that spot.

Also saw what I think is lousewort, or wood betony, but this too will have to flower before I can be certain. I’ve never seen either of these two plants out here before, so all in all, an exciting day for a plant nerd in the wild Ozarks!


Oh, and the rain arrived just as I did back at the house. Had my camera inside a plastic bag, just in case.

Trading Bounties – Eggs for Tomatoes

This entry was posted in Gardening in the Ozarks, Homestead Journal, Homesteading, Organic Gardening on by .

16 Aug 2014

Eggs for Tomatoes (and peppers)

Traded a dozen eggs the other day for some tomatoes and bell peppers. Wow, I should have given more eggs! And I should have taken a photo before coring and putting the tomatoes into bags, but here’s where I was when I thought of taking a picture. Drinking coffee, listening to Wheel of Time on audiobook, coring tomatoes and putting them into bags to freeze whole.


traded eggs for tomatoes

Good trade!

red bell peppers at Wild Ozarktomatoes at Wild Ozark

Garden Journal: Seasonal Delights

This entry was posted in Gardening in the Ozarks, Homestead Journal, Homesteading, Organic Gardening, Permaculture on by .

16 Aug 2014

This is the first year I’ve had a garden in many years. Though this one is tiny, it brings me much in the way of pleasure and reward. I wish there were a way to share the scent of this with you. Yesterday I harvested a bundle each of dill, parsley, tarragon, sage, and basil. A wonderful scent trail wafted behind me all the way to the house from the garden.

dill, sage, parsley, tarragon and basil

dill, sage, parsley, tarragon and basil

After getting them properly tied into the bundles, I hung them under the stairs with the beebalm.

dill, sage, parsley, tarragon and basil and beebalm


The garden doesn’t get many honeybee or bumblebee pollinators, but I did spot this tiny native bee on a bean blossom so maybe we’ll get beans:

bean flower pollinated

I don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers in the garden, never have, so whatever is killing off the pollinators affects even our pollinators here in the remote Ozark wilderness. I have spotted a few honeybees and bumbles this year, and this morning one came past laden with pollen from somewhere (hope it was the squash!).

squash flower zuchinni and beans

We have one cherry tomato plant that’s produced quite a few tasty orange fruits and two more vines that’ll produce larger slicing tomatoes if they manage to finish before the cold weather sets in.

green tomatoes orange cherries


How has your garden grown this year? Share links to your pics in the comments below!

Homestead Journal: Online with Propane

This entry was posted in Homestead Journal on by .

Whoo-hooo! The tank and lines passed the pressure test and we now have propane to the house. I can’t tell you how much better it’ll be to have a continuous source instead of hauling little bottles to be refilled all winter long. Rob did a great job installing the pipe and it checked out on the first test, no leaks. We’re two happy people right now. That was a major project we’ve actually finished in a few days rather than a few weeks.


Homestead Journal: Gas Lines

This entry was posted in Musings on by .

We got a lot of rain recently and although the ground is dry now, Rob started working on our gas lines while the ground was too wet to work on the wall. Now we have to finish that project before going back to the retaining wall.

Here’s what the wall looks like right now. It’s a shuttered project for the next few days:


This is the current project. I’ve found a new unbelievable level of exhaustion. I know I’ve said that before, and from the looks of it I’ll likely say it again at some point in the future. All I did today was help finish out the trench with the shovel after Rob used the backhoe to dig it. The spots he couldn’t reach with the backhoe had to be done by hand with pick-axe (not my job, thank God!). Depth of trench had to be 18″. Tomorrow the gas company will be out here to do a pressure check and fill the tank. At least this one project will be done!

1 2 4

Short post, I know. Tired. Might lie down on the floor for a spell now.