First Page!

I’ve finally gotten around to starting to finish the first page of “B is for Bluebonnet”-doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is to me. In fact, this is the second go ’round, and I have twin boys, okay? Hopefully the rest of the pages will come rolling in sooner, rather than later, but who knows when the next wave of colds will hit us…

agave-page-copy

Stay tuned!

 

Lauren

Plant Facts: Agave

While I bide my time, here are some fun facts about the plants in my book. (If you’re just now joining me, check out my other blog post, where I talk a little about my book.)

The agave is a succulent plant native to the hot, arid regions of the Southwest US, Mexico, and tropical parts of South America. It has several adaptations that allow it to not only survive, but thrive in these conditions:

  • Thick, tough, and waxy leaves, allow it to retain as much water as possible and prevent evaporation through transpiration. The leaves are also very sharp and have spines along the edges to ward off any animals that might try to eat its leaves….gotta guard that water!! (think, cactus)agave_americana_r01
  • A shallow root system comprised of rhizomes (continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals), which allows the plant to soak up as much water from rainfall, dew, and any other moisture. 

    euphorbia_rhizophora2_ies

  • In addition to producing seeds, agave also produce little offshoots of new plants from their runners, called “pups”.
  • When an agave blooms, it’s stalk rises high above the plant, in order to be out of reach of anything that would attack it. The stalks can reach up to 30ft in height! After the bloom finishes, the agave dies.DCIM105GOPRO

Here are some more fun facts:

  • Agave are not cacti, nor related to cacti…or even aloe. They are hard to place in the phylogenetic tree, because the variations between species are huge, and some species could simply be variations of other wild species. It’s just confusing.
  • Agave spines are so sharp and tough, ancient peoples often used them for sewing needles.
  • The agave (and saguaro–a cactus) rely on bat pollination for survival. Two species–the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat–migrate from Mexico into the Southern United States every spring. These two species are listed as endangered, and you can read more about them here.

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    Lesser long-nosed bat Wikimedia Commons

  • Agave nectar, as we know it, is derived from the sap of the plant, not the flowers. (Although, there is nectar in the flowers as a treat for pollinators.) Once an agave has been growing for 7-14 years, its leaves are cut off, and the juice is extracted from the piña–or core–of the plant. It then goes on through processing for human consumption. (Now you know why it’s so expensive….)

  • Four major parts of the agave are edible: the flowers, the leaves, the stalks (or pups), and the sap–in Spanish aguamiel (“honey water”).

Stay tuned for fun facts about Texas bluebonnets!

Peace

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Alphabet Book of Plants!

Since I’ve had my little twin boys, I’ve fallen in love (again) with children’s books….especially picture books…board picture books. 😉 Eric Carle is probably one of my all time favorites, and I’ve been collecting his books every time I get the chance. Whenever my husband and I go to Half Price Books, I head straight to the special shelf dedicated to Eric Carle to see if there are any I don’t have yet. I love his books. So much.

Anyway, so I decided I wanted to write (and illustrate) a children’s book, because I love reading them to my boys, and….I just really wanted to do it. I love the age group 0-2 ish, so I decided I wanted to write an alphabet book (yeah yeah, like the world doesn’t have enough of those….shut up.)…..of plants! I love nature (surprise!) and pictures, and books, so it just worked.

As of right now, I have the manuscript ready, I just need to get the pictures. Funny story: I was planning on drawing each plant, but after drawing after drawing, I decided that my skills are not good enough for what I wanted on the page. (I’m actually a decent artist….just not decent enough!) I though about IF my book were to be chosen by a publisher, what kind of illustrations would I get? Do I want do self-publish and hire an illustrator? No. I want this whole book to be MINE. [insert Gollum quote: “my precious”] Long story short, I decided to use photographs. I want to use mine, but no way on earth do I have the time or resources to go around photographing every plant (many of which don’t even grow where I live…) with twin baby boys. Then I thought, “Hmmmmm…..is it kosher to use stock photos in books?”. Screw it, yes it is. The only problem is finding high quality stock photos…which I like to think I’m pretty good at…..I may be mediocre at many, many things, but the Internet is not one of them! Just ask anyone close to me: I’m pretty much the Queen of Finding Things on the Internet. So I’ve found what I need, I just need to buy the licenses. $$$….well, not actually that expensive, but one thing I’ve realized: after you have twins (or any kids, for that matter), you will never have money ever again. Tangent–let’s go through the list:

  1. Get AC repair guy to come inspect and fix AC unit
  2. Twins get hand foot and mouth (THE WORRRRRRRRRSST)
  3. Different AC unit breaks (two story house…in Texas…in July)
  4. Pay $$$ to fix old car so it can pass inspection enough to last another year (maybe)
  5. Buy a minivan (I literally couldn’t fit two of the next size car seats in my tiny little car)
  6. AC breaks again…different part replace
  7. Replaced leaking water heater
  8. Root canal for momma, because she put her face too close to Baby-With-A-Huge-Plastic-Cup
  9. AC breaks again….completely different part
  10. Need a new tire
  11. Etc.

You get the point. Now I sound super complainy, but that’s what’s happened. I’m waiting until we aren’t paying a bajillion dollars every month to spend a little money on some pictures. (which I’m super excited about!!! I found pretty much exactly what I had pictured–no pun intended)

After that, the plan is to set up a Kickstarter project so that I can publish the books myself. I looked into self-publishing with Amazon and others, but it just wasn’t what I wanted. I’m going to print the board books with Print Ninja, and hopefully sell lots of them on Amazon and whatever website I decide to set up. I really like the book, and I hope y’all do too! (But hey, if no one is interested in funding me, I’ll just make some for myself and my friends…..but I really want other people to be interested….because I’m normal. Ish.*)

Peace

*No. I am not normal. Not even “ish”.