"I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more."

- Richard Lovelace, Off to War

Award-winning novels!

Jessica James won the John Esten Cooke Award for Fiction in 2011 AND 2014.

Find out more about this Virginia writer on my Life in the Past Lane blog.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Busy with butterflies

What a whirlwind month August was! And next month is shaping up to be no less busy. Looking at my schedule, I have something going on every weekend in September, so in the blink of an eye, it will be October!

I can't say everything I've been doing relates to the Civil War or writing historical fiction, but some of it has. September will take me to some beautiful parts of Virginia for book signings - and I always make it a point to visit Civil War sites when I have the chance.

When I was filing some photos the other day, I came across pictures I took in July of the Butterfly Bush right outside my door. I had started the day trying to get photos of hummingbirds. They will eat from a feeder two feet above my head - except when I have a camera in my hands, so I turned my attention to the Butterfly Bush.

On any given day, the bush is literally covered with butterflies, including Yellow Swallowtails, Monarchs, Red Spotted Purples and Zebra Swallowtails.

The Zebra was the hardest to capture since it flits from flower to flower instead of sitting around with its wings open like some of the others do. Since it is a little rarer, here is the photo. You can see its tails are not that long. They apparently grow longer as the summer goes on. I saw one on the bush the other day that was a perfect specimen.

Here is a picture of a Yellow Swallowtail for comparison. I still have these on the bush every day - sometimes four or five at a time. They are beautiful to watch. In addition to the Butterfly Bush, I have tons of wild flowers planted at different locations so I guess that helps draw them in as well.

My brothers used to catch butterflies and identify them, but I can't really figure out the next two. I think the one here to the right is in the Admiral family, and the next one, below, is in the Fritillary family - maybe a Regal Fritillary?

I've found that butterfly watching is a bit like bird watching. It's fun to look up and see something that is both beautiful and unusual.

One thing for sure, it is a relaxing way to let my mind wander and spark the creative juices for a day of writing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book signing at Virginia 'Ole Time Festival'

As many of you know, I just returned from "The Valley" in Virginia, and I will be heading back in September for a book signing at the 29th Edinburg Ole Time Festival.

Edinburg is a quaint little town nestled along US-11 that will come alive on Sept. 18-20, with music, arts, crafts, entertainment and great food. The goal of the festival is to transport people to another time - when things moved a little slower and people took the time to visit with each other. This year they have a Civil War theme, so I will fit right in signing my historical fiction novel Shades of Gray.

The entertainment schedule for the Festival includes a parade, sing-along, old timers baseball game, street dance, and lots of music - ranging from barbershop quartets to bluegrass, to celtic and string bands.

If you're in the area, stop by and say hello between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sept. 19!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Little garden still producing fruit

I love summer - not so much for hot weather - but for the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

My little patch of strawberries is still producing a huge bowl of fruit every other day, so I've been eating fresh strawberries (and Cool Whip) every day. It's so nice to go out each evening and see more bright red berries hanging there begging to be picked. Amazingly enough I still have blossoms, so expect I will continue to have fruit for a few more weeks.

Don't they look great? (And no pesticides or fertilizers of any kind were used).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

On a wing and prayer

Wow, I didn't know little birds grew that fast! They are gone. Their little house sits empty now after so much activity over the past few weeks.

I'm very disappointed that I didn't get to witness their first flight, but I'm not really complaining that their gone. The last few days were a little rough. If one of the cats so much as walked onto the porch, the mother bird would sit on the butterfly bush right outside my door and put up such a racket that I would have to go out and retrieve the cat.

Locking up three adult cats that are accustomed to roaming over 15 acres is no picnic either. When I say adult - I mean they are more than four years old. That doesn't mean they don't still climb the curtains after imaginary game, or ambush one another from the back of the couch. Racing each other around, over, and under my desk was another way to burn off the excess energy caused by their lack of freedom.

The black and gray ball of fur you see are two of my cats sleeping after play (Yes, the gray one only has three and a half legs. He showed up at my house that way).

Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done on my next historical fiction novel this week. But somewhere out there are some little wrens getting a chance to make it in this big, fast-moving world.

"Noble Cause" Book Trailer