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Monday, January 2, 2017

Fresh Start and Featured Follower for January

Last year I said I wanted to change up my blog to keep me interested in blogging and hopefully to keep my readers interested as well. So here we are in 2017, and while my look is the same, some of my content is different.




Featured Followers in Review


In April 2016, I started this feature on my Email Connect, and nine authors played with me. Here they are again:

Chris Ledbetter

If you're interested in joining my Email Connect,  just sign up. The form's in the right margin of this blog.

January's Featured Follower


Welcome Sandra Cox, author of the three book series Mutants. I'm featuring her and book #1, Love Lattes and Mutants, but be sure to check out her other work.



Like most seventeen-year-olds, Piper Dunn wants to blend in with the crowd. Having a blowhole is a definite handicap. A product of a lab-engineered mother with dolphin DNA, Piper spends her school days hiding her brilliant ocean-colored eyes and sea siren voice behind baggy clothing and ugly glasses. When Tyler, the new boy in school, zeroes in on her, ignoring every other girl vying for his attention, no one, including Piper, understands why.




I read this book in an afternoon. It's fun. It's light with adventure and some clean teen romance. Who can resist a story about a beautiful girl with a dolphin blowhole?



Connect with Sandra.




Let Me Tell You A Story

Over the years I've heard or read stories about other people's lives. I've also had a few experiences that have entered into my "Let me tell you about the time" category. Some of these stories have crept into my books. Others are waiting in the wings. Here's one I remember from a trip to visit relatives in Switzerland.

My Swiss cousin was a great hiker, so we hit it off right away, and I couldn't wait to follow her up into the mountains that are the backdrop for Bellinzona (my fraternal grandparents' home). 

We started early while the sun was out and only the hint of snow clouds in the distance. But because we're hiking nuts, we went farther than than we should, and before we stopped and looked overhead, the snow was already floating down on our heads and shoulders. We'd never make it down before the storm hit. I had visions of freezing right there above my ancestral home, but we had water and some food, so we found a small wooden shelter along the ridge and ducked in for the night. She told me that as a kid she and friends often camped in shelters like these. "The trick to a really comfy, deep sleep," she told me, "is the ferns." They'd cut them and put them on the floor. She said none of them stayed awake very long, and they slept late into the mornings on their fern beds. 

We tested her fern beds that night, and they worked! Although it was cold and the ground hard, I don't remember a better night's sleep--even after a good hike. It seems ferns give off a dose of hypnotic flavonoids that induce sound sleep. 


When I did some research, ferns are the plants recommended you have in your bedroom. Here's a quick list other sleep-enabling plants I found online. 

The shelters themselves have an interesting history having to do with WWII, and I'll tell you about that next week.



Did You Know. . .Plants can suffer from sudden blasts of light and that it can affect their growth? Scientists are working to mitigate those negative effects and boost efficiency of photosynthesis. So what does this mean? People like Professor Niyogi, UC Berkeley, are working toward increased crop production to meet the food needs of future generations. Sci-fi writers, how can you use this little bit of science news in your next book? I'm imagining The Plant That Ate New York.


Quote of the Week: "Only spread a fern-frond over a man's head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in." John Muir






50 comments:

  1. Wow, stuck in a snow storm in the Switzerland! That's definitely scene material for a story. I get your email, and I thought I'd signed up... but maybe not. Anyway... HAPPY NEW YEAR, LEE!!!

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    1. I do remember being darned cold! Happy New Year to you, too, Bish.

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  2. That is quite the adventure. I think we need some ferns in our bedroom now. Happy New Year!

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    1. They're guaranteed to be more efficient than pills. Also no side effects.

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  3. Such a cool story, and love the idea of ferns! On my shopping list. I love decorating the house with plants, thanks for the info!
    Happy 2017!

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    1. No dusting to speak of if you have plants instead of tables. :-)

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  4. First and foremost Lee Happy New Year.
    Loved your post, getting stuck in a snow storm in swizterland must have been an experience.
    Enjoyed your book review.
    Excellent start to the new year.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Hi and happy 2017 to you, Yvonne. Glad you enjoyed the story and the review. All my best as always.

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  5. Sounds like i should get a fern plant for my bedroom. I toss a lot, so am always looking for ways to calm my sleep.

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    1. The more ferns the better! Give us a report post fern acquisition.

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  6. Love the cover of that book and the title's adorable.

    I need to get some ferns in my bed! :D

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  7. That was amazing news about ferns. Glad you were able to get a good night's sleep despite the cold. But a scary adventure, all the same, being caught out on the trail in a snowstorm. Did you ever work that one into one of your stories?

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    1. I haven't found a place for the snowstorm/fern experience, but it's in the wings! Happy New Year, Elizabeth.

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  8. That's so cool! I'll definitely have to find some ferns to help me sleep! Awesome. What a great adventure for you - glad it turned out so well :)

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    1. My cousin's an Alpine Swiss Miss! She knows the ropes when it comes to snow. Thank heaven. I'm a CA girl and only speak sandy beach.

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  9. ferns are so pretty too! Happy New Year!

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    1. They are, and they live a long time! Back at you with the good wishes.

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  10. I will be looking into ferns! Thanks for the tip. :)

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    1. Let us know the results as soon as you wake up!

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  11. That's quite an adventure! I didn't know that about ferns.
    I like your new content. The featured follower is a good idea.

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    1. Just don't let Schultz near them. I think I read that ferns are poisonous to dogs. Or was that periwinkle? Check it out.

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  12. What a great story! Now I want to get some ferns. I like your new content ideas.
    And it's great to meet Sandra - following on Twitter now.
    Happy New Year to you, Lee. :)

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    1. Hi Julie. Thanks for the vote of confidence. See you lots in 2017!

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  13. Hi, Cheryl!

    I enjoyed reading about your hiking adventure and winding up snowbound in a shelter. How exciting! Those are fascinating details about the benefits of ferns. I will pass the info along to Mrs. Shady because she has trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. Maybe we would both benefit from ferns in the bedroom. They are a much better idea than popping sleeping pills every night, don't you think? I was an avid houseplant collector in the 80s and 90s and was fascinated with ferns. At one time I owned a Rabbit Foot Fern.

    I hope your shoulder and arm are much better by now, dear friend. Happy 2017 to you and your family, Cheryl!

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    1. I love ferns in the house and, yes, they're much better than pills for inducing sleep.

      I'm still doing therapy for this darned arm, but I'm seeing results. I can now raise my arm to should level without crumpling to floor in a heap. Thanks for remembering.

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  14. Happy New Year!
    I like your follower feature.
    Your hiking/snowboarding adventure sounds novel worthy. Hope you're feeling better. Glad to learn something new about ferns; oh, and sleep enducing plants. Thanks.

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    1. Not exactly snowboarding, which I've never attempted, but there was some slogging through snow that did occur.

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  15. What a fun book. I must say, I've never seen a character like Piper before.

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  16. Wow! That must have been scary having to make shelter in a storm. I had no idea about the ferns.

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  17. That is so cool about the ferns! I've never heard of anything like that. I think your highlighting one author a month is great. You're such a generous person! Wishing you and your family a happy, peaceful, and prosperous 2017!

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  18. Wow, I never knew that about ferns. Nature sure has a way of helping out if we let it. Getting stuck in a snow storm though, I'll avoid haha

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  19. You're off to a great start for blogging in 2017, Lee. I'm still getting over Christmas, LOL! Loved your spotlight on Sandra. She's a great writer. And I love your story about ferns and hiking in the snow. Now I want to pick some ferns and put them in my bedroom. Might help my husband's insomnia! Anything. Anything...

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  20. Hello Lee, thank you for such an interesting post a great start to 2017. There were masses of ferns on the farm where I grew up, they were fun to hide in, and they made excellent ‘camps’ but I had no idea about the hypnotic flavonoids. Perhaps that has something to do with the dreamy way I recall my childhood. The days were long. The sun was always shining, and life was good. Now I wonder if I was under the influence of all those flavonoids. ;-) Happy New Year to you and your family.

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  21. I seem to recall ferns being the go-to plants in the '70s. What happened with that?

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  22. Yay for featuring the very generous and productive Sandra.
    And yay for a good nights sleep.
    Here in the sweaty season the snow sounds wonderful, with or without the soporific ferns.
    A very happy and productive New Year to you and yours.

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  23. I love ferns, and the name Fern. Most hikers seem to have had at least one misadventure like that. The most important thing is that it ended well.

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  24. That's amazing about ferns. I know people liked them but I never knew about their supposed properties for well being. Very cool.

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  25. Happy New Year! I'm glad you switched things up to keep yourself more interested/motivated in blogging. It's needed sometimes!

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  26. I had no idea that ferns can do this but glad you had a nice sleep and your worries went away. I'm also glad your friend knew bout this. Happy New Year,

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  27. Congrats to Sandra. The book sounds intriguing.

    Great hiking story, too. I'm definitely looking into adding ferns to my bedroom. Happy New Year.

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  28. Sounds like a fun adventure in a beautiful area of the world. Happy New Year!

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  29. You know I'm down with plant info! :)

    And, uh, Love Lattes and Mutants just went on my TBR list and it pushed up to the top--cause dolphin mutant? Totally cool.

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  30. How interesting about ferns. They sound exactly like what I need. May have to try some. You always tell such fascinating stories too. Congratulations to Sandra. A dolphin blowhole. What a neat idea.

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  31. Plants are so amazing! I guess ferns should be kept out of the office and in the bedroom then. :)

    Excited to see Sandra here!

    Wishing you a wonderful, happy, and healthy 2017!
    ~Jess

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