Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Christmas Book's Website

Oh happy happy, joy joy.
Please bear with me folks, since this is my first book I am celebrating this journey to publication.
I wrote the book "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories To Warm Your Heart and Tips To Simplify Your Holiday" with 5 writer friends, and it will be published in September 2008 by Leafwood Publishers.
Today the publishers have created our book's website, and it is full of fun and useful things, including free recipes from us, right there.
My Spanish steak recipe, Leslie's Taco soup, Brenda's Scalloped corn and scads more.
Check it out please.
Suggestions for the website are appreciated it, as we will add more to it, even Christmas music.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pizza Garden

Pizza Garden July 2007
Originally uploaded by Sally J.
A fun project with children is creating a PIZZA GARDEN.
This involves finding a spot in your yard that ideally gets 8 hours of sun a day, or six hours minimum, and laying out a garden in the shape of a round pizza pie.

Using string to guide you, mark out pie shaped slices, dividing your pizza into 6 or eight slices.
Fill each slice with pizza ingredient plants: cherry tomatoes, Early Girl tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and oregano, and anything else your family loves on their pizzas.
You can edge the pie with white stones, to look like crust, and add yellow flowers like marigolds to stand in for cheese.

When the tomatoes and other veggies are ready, cookup a tomato sauce on the stovetop, and create a pizza.
I often use Boboli crusts available in a lot of grocery stores, or you can use a frozen crust or make your own if you are talented in that arena.
I found this photo on Flickr.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cantua, brilliant red flowers

Cantua buxifolia
Originally uploaded by philipbouchard
Cantua buxifolia is in full flower in my yard right now, with glowing bursts of red fire from its 3 inch long trumpet shaped flowers, at the ends of gracefully arching branches.

My two plants are each 6 feet tall, and I learned about the Cantua from my Chilean gardening friend. We went to a plant nursery and had the manager order five plants for us.

This plant is beloved in Chile, and for good reason. These long lived shrubs develop thicker trunks and branches, and even reach second story windows in Chile, she told me. Here in California they top out at 5 to 10 feet tall. Hummingbirds are attracted to them.

Each year prune back branches since the flowers appear at the end of branches with new growth. Since they can be a bit bedraggled in the cold months, and lose some leaves, I have other plants growing on and through them, including a flowering sage.

Some Cantuas have flowers of varied hues; I am so happy that my two shrubs are loaded with the brilliant red flowers I wanted.
Ideal for zones 9b to 11, or overwinter them in a greenhouse.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Traditional Bouquet

I found this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson to share with you.
"For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father we thank Thee:
For tender grass so fresh and sweet,
Father we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee."
This is from the final page of a book I bought yesterday "Time Began In a Garden", by Emilie Barnes, with lush watercolor illustrations by Glynda Turley.
Some books are just made to start readers garden dreaming.

Friday, May 16, 2008

free copy of Healing Promises by Amy Wallace

I am happy to announce that author, Amy Wallace and her publisher, Multnomah Books, have given me a copy of her newest suspense/thriller, “Healing Promises”, to give away to one of the folks who leave a comment on this blog between May 16-18.
Like me, while reading, do you enjoy being scared while also meeting characters you care about?
This book is a thriller with some love and friendship stories among the serial kidnappings and shootings. The main character, Sara is an oncology doctor, and her husband, Clint, is an FBI agent so the scene is set for some intense and emotional events.
When Cliff’s life is hanging by a thread, after he is shot and faces an even more serious threat, a patient of Sara’s who is a wise man gives Sara profound advice: “God is still on His throne. And He is good. Always.”
The main characters are good people with foibles and flaws, which make them likeable. For me, all of the best characters in novels have flaws.
The author shares her insights into the creepy thoughts of a serial killer, as he carries out nasty plans, and hides and plots revenge. “Healing Promises” also gives readers an array of characters, each one with hopes and dreams of finding someone to love.
The book includes Sara’s medical practice which gave me a glimpse into the world of patients and doctors as they fight to heal and be cancer free.
I am a new enthusiastic reader of Amy Wallace and this is the first book I have read by her, in this Defenders of Hope series. The first book is “Ransomed Dreams”, a tale of Stephen Kessler, FBI agent, and Gracie Lang, a young woman seeking justice and healing, so if you are intrigued you can decide whether to start with “Healing Promises” or the earlier title. The author has a delicious chocolate colored website titled Heart Chocolate (she admits to being a chocoholic) at
Leave a comment on this post and be eligible to win the free copy of "Healing Promises". You will love reading it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Free copy of Healing Promises offered

Hi All,
A heads up that the author, Amy Wallace, and her publisher have given me a copy of her new book "Healing Promises" to give away to a lucky commenter on this blog.
The book is a Christian thriller/suspense novel, and WAIT until May 16-18 to post a comment here.
I plan to post a review written by me here May 16, and a photo of the cover.
Until then, happy gardening.
Hey, any garden authors out there that have a gardening book to give to Terra Garden readers?

Monday, May 12, 2008

English tea pot and Lemon verbena

My English tea pot
Originally uploaded by scottfeldstein
Do you grow herbs for tea? Lemon verbena is a favorite of mine. Here is a bit about it, from my article "Herbal Teas" in the June/July 2008 issue of Country Woman.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) has a clean, fresh scent that was said to have been Laura Ingalls Wilder's favorite fragrance.

This herb thrives in containers, where it reaches 2 to 3 feet high, or in the ground, reaching heights of 5 to 10 feet where winters are mild.
It grows best in zones 5-9. Pinch it to keep it thick and bushy, or train it as a standard, where it can reach small tree heights. The leaves brew into an excellent hot or iced tea, and also add appealing accents in black tea or mint tea.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

joi choi

joi choi
Originally uploaded by Zoe52
In early spring I planted Joi Choi and Japanese Red Mustard; and six weeks later the leaves are huge and healthy, and their strong flavor repells the snails.
Joi Choi must be in the Bok Choi family.

My husband creates a delicious dish with these wonderful leaves. Pick a lot because they cook down. In a skillet heat olive oil, chopped garlic, Joi Choi, Japanese Red Mustard, and if you have them, add in red cabbage and onion.
Cook a few minutes on the stovetop.
They have a strong edgy flavor, and are yummy as a side dish with steak and potatoes or anything else you want.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Winner of Meghan Rose is ...

Parade Trophy
Originally uploaded by lancefisher
Hi All,
The winner of the book giveaway for Meghan Rose Has Ants In Her Pants, by Lori Z. Scott, is Ta Da:
Brenda Hyde.
I wish I had more of these books to give away.
Thanks to all who left a comment and later this month I will give away a copy of a mystery/suspense book by a Christian author. She has published many books, so stay tuned.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Meghan Rose book giveaway

Author of the fun series of books about Meghan Rose is joining us here today, and I will select at random a reader to receive a free copy of Meghan Rose Has Ants In Her Pants, from the people who leave comments here.

Do you yearn for a Christian based fiction book geared for younger elementary children?
If so, then check out the Meghan Rose series. This new series from Standard Publishing introduces Meghan Rose, the bounciest first-grader in the world! Young readers will get to share Meghan’s adventures, laugh, and learn important life lessons. Each title also includes a bonus section with discussion starters and fun activity ideas.
I am excited to welcome author Lori Z. Scott, joining us today to talk about the newest releases in her Meghan Rose series—Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret.

Since 2000, Lori has published over fifty short stories, devotions, puzzles, poems, and articles for children, teens, and adults. She has been published in Focus on Your Child, MOMSense Magazine, Spirit Led Writer, Pockets, and Devozine. She is the author of Busy Moms’ Devotions to Go and four Meghan Rose titles. In addition, Lori has contributed to over a dozen books including Real Moms, Cup of Comfort Book of Prayers, and 2007 Eppie Award winner Infinite Space, Infinite God.
A graduate of Wheaton College, Lori has worked with children for over twenty years, both as a teacher in the classroom and as a volunteer for local churches, museums, and schools. When she’s not busy driving her two children to various church, sporting, and artistic activities, she moonlights as a speaker for women’s groups and schools.
Lori, welcome. Thanks for taking time to be with us today.

My pleasure.
You often introduce yourself as first a mother, then a teacher, and finally a writer. Why is that?

I feel like being a mother is my highest calling in life. And that means I’m a caregiver, nurse, tutor, cheerleader, counselor, transportation expert, and nutritionist. Doing all those mommy things is a bit like filling a jar jam-packed with marbles. I pursue my own interests in the empty spaces around those marbles because being a mommy trumps all.
I call myself a teacher second because working with kids has been such a huge part of my life. Just as God gifts different people for different tasks, I feel like God has given me a special ability to understand and work with children. Or maybe I’m just not ready to give up playing and comics yet.
I call myself a writer last because I often feel like writing too much fun—and pays too little—to be a real job. But then again, writing is another interest in my life I have felt called to pursue. God blessed me there too. When I decided to start writing, my first submission won second place in a science fiction writing contest. My second submission won MOPS International story writing contest.

I guess what I want moms to realize is, it’s okay to put the mommy part of our lives first and to trust that God will still bless, fulfill, and lead us in other areas as well.

Why would parents like your series?

A good question—one that I have to answer from my own experience. When my daughter was in first grade, her teacher started reading the Junie B. Jones books in class. Since Meghan liked them, I picked up a few copies.
Well, I enjoyed the humor in those books, but had to edit out some of the grammar slips, name calling and attitudes. I thought there had to be an alternative choice—a book that was just as funny, but also had a good take-away value. I scoured the Christian bookstores. I couldn’t find any fiction for that age group, only devotional books and Bible stories.
When I asked about it, bookstore owners often commented that they wished they could offer such a book. In fact, they’d had numerous parents come to the store, all asking the same thing: Do you have a fiction book my young child will enjoy reading? And, like them, I walked away empty handed.
So I wrote the book I couldn’t find—a book for my daughter AND for all those other mothers just like me. I put in everything she wanted—an interesting story filled with giggles and characters worth rooting for—and everything I wanted—good moral values (but with nothing preachy about the story at all). And because I don’t believe I’m alone in those desires, I’m convinced other parents (AND THEIR KIDS!!!) will like the series too.

Why did you include discussion questions and activities at the end of each book?

That’s the teacher part of me flaring up big time! LOL. But seriously, how many times have you as a mother read a book and thought, “There’s a good lesson in here” but didn’t know how to draw your child into a discussion about it? I remember reading Where the Red Fern Grows with my daughter and wanting to talk about the tender topic of death that book touches on. Since I didn’t know where to start, I couldn’t fully take advantage of that teachable moment. (Instead we both just cried all the way through the last few chapters.)
That’s why I included questions for parents or teachers to use after they read the story, so they can capitalize on the book’s underlying message. (Although I hope people laugh through the last few chapters of Meghan Rose instead of cry!)
And the activities are all for the kids. They love extending the story experience by creating their own volcanoes or whatever. I also put a ton of other ideas for parents and kids on my website under the BLAM (Brilliant Little Activities to Make) link (

So each book has an underlying message? Tell us about that.
As I mentioned, I wanted the stories to do more than entertain. I wanted them to have takeaway value. Each book’s message is very subtle but still evident throughout the book. While Meghan Rose on Stage! talks about discovering your talents, it’s ultimately about friendship. Meghan Rose Has Ants in Her Pants explores the idea of patience—a difficult area for most kids to deal with. The newest two books—Meghan Rose All Dressed Up and Meghan Rose Has a Secret—address inner beauty and kind words. But again, none of it is preachy. It’s heavy on the humor and very, VERY light on the lesson…yet neither quality is lost on the child.
Are the books just for girls?
Not at all! One mother of two boys emailed me about how much her sons enjoyed reading them with her. She said they could hardly read for laughing so hard—they were all HOWLING!! The youngest one loved it so much he started sleeping with the first book under his pillow at night.
In fact, the comment I hear most from people who read the books is, “I laughed out loud.” The second comment I hear most often is about how much kids (and parents) like the discussion questions and activities. How can all that just be for girls?
Where do you get the inspiration for the humorous parts of the books?
Most of that comes from my upbringing. My dad was always coming up with puns and jokes. He made them up on the spot, and they were hilarious! I can’t tell you how many hours we spent laughing around the dinner table. I think dad influenced all my sisters. In fact, one of my sisters was part of an improvisational comedy team. (She’s also a pastor’s wife—it’s a fun combination.)
I also grew up on a steady diet of comic books. Peanuts and Garfield were my favorites, and later Calvin and Hobbes. And we’d also watch comedy on television, especially The Carol Brunette Show.
That said, some of my inspiration just comes from everyday life. My kids crack me up. They both have a great sense of humor.
The main character in the Meghan Rose series shares your daughter’s name. Why is that?
She was the foundational basis for the character. When I started the series, I needed someone likable, outrageous, clever, spunky, and sensitive all rolled into one. Well, that’s my Meghan. And since I originally wrote the books just for her, I simply used her name. You’ll also see the names of other people I’ve met, although the character they’re named for is totally fiction. Mrs. Arnold, for example, was the name of Meghan’s real first grade teacher. But she’s not like the Mrs. Arnold in the book.
Are any of the characters like you?
I think maybe there’s a little bit of me in all of them. Certainly a lot of me is reflected in the teacher, Mrs. Arnold. Then Ryan shows the jokester side of me, Kayla has the goofy side, Lynette has the rule-following, show-off side, and Meghan’s Mom has the practical side. The Meghan character herself is about 80 percent of the “real” Meghan, 10 percent of me and my creative musings, and 10 percent total fiction.

Do you ever visit schools to talk about the books?

Yes! I’ve visited several schools and talked about the steps a writer goes through to get from idea to published book. I’ve also shared ways to boost everyday creativity and develop writing ideas. All three presentations seem to fire up everyone, even the reluctant writers. Kids tell me that what they enjoy most about the time we spend together is learning my two-handed drawing trick and discovering how to write their own jokes.

As a teacher, I value school visits. I think it’s important to inspire and encourage all children…to help them see opportunities and possibilities. As a mom, I can’t help seeing my own children reflected in the faces I meet. That gives me extra incentive to make kids want to reach their dreams, whatever they might be.

Can you share one idea for mothers to help their children be more creative?

Sure. Hmmm. Hard to pick one. I guess one great idea is to encourage your children to be involved with artistic endeavors. That can include a whole variety of options, like drawing, painting, or making things out of shoe boxes. Children can listen to or dance to music. Or make their own music. They can dress up and put on a show for family or friends, or memorize a silly poem. And it should be fun, not work.

Where can readers learn more about you and the Meghan Rose books?

They can visit my website at My award-winning illustrator, Stacy Curtis, designed it. It offers jokes, puzzles, and activities for kids and great ideas for teacher and parents (on Mrs. Arnold’s BLAM page). It also introduces the books and characters, provides links to book reviews, and gives ordering information. I posted a retold fairy tale reader’s theater that gives visitors a good feel for the style of humor found in the books at .

You can also purchase a copy Meghan Rose on Stage!, Meghan Rose Has Ants in Her Pants, Meghan Rose All Dressed Up, andMeghan Rose Has a Secret by clicking on the titles here.

That sounds great. Well, thank you for your time!
Thank you for letting me visit with you.

Kids Book Giveaway

Hi Terra Garden Readers.
I am posting here an interview with children's book author, Lori Z. Scott.

Post a comment here for the chance to win a free copy of a fun children's book "Meghan Rose Has Ants In Her Pants".
I read this book and it gives both giggles and some good ideas.