Saturday, June 02, 2018

This weekend's guest blogger: Cathy Ace

My use of plots (garden ones)
for plotting (writing ones) 

One of the questions I receive from readers which I particularly enjoy answering is “What do you do when you’re not writing?” Of course, the same as everyone, I live a life filled with “MUST DO” lists, but I am also an avid gardener, and – I admit it – that’s my passion-filled, all-consuming hobby. This time of year, from June through to September, is when most of us who garden would love to be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors; but we all know it’s the time when we really have to apply ourselves because it’s peak growing season…and that, unfortunately, includes weeds!

Cathy’s garden in the spring.
I have come to terms with the fact that dandelions are just yellow flowers in the grass which the bees enjoy, and that I should therefore allow to flourish until they reach the seed-head stage, when I can happily mow the living daylights out of them. I have also accepted that buttercups in flower beds must be viewed the same way – as a natural phenomenon feeding the insects and they can look exceptionally good when the wind makes them sway, their yellow heads fluttering attractively. Then I rip them up. Roots and all.

When I’m mowing I find myself in a sort of Zen state; my mind is focused on doing a good job with the creation of stripes on our acre or so of grass, whilst it’s also able to play with plotlines, come up with devilish methods of murder, and offer me the chance to consider the intricate patterns of behavior my characters might display to allow readers to spot a real clue, or be taken in by a red herring or two. Ripping up weeds is a similar occupation – needing just a certain ruthless part of my brain to work in concert with my hands to ensure weeds come up and plants I want to protect remain undisturbed…all while figuring out how the suspects will be challenged by my protagonist, and finally brought to face justice at the denouement.

Cathy's garden in the fall – with Cathy on the mower!
So I would suggest that – for anyone struggling with plotting – a day or two working in the garden might help; I certainly find it allows me the mental freedom I need to be able to plot more fluidly. And then there’s the garden you get to enjoy as a result…not to be sneezed at (unless you, like me, suffer from allergies, so that a daily dose of antihistamine is required).

Happy gardening, and happy plotting!

Cathy Ace is the author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. You can find out more about Cathy, her characters, and her work at her website:


Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

I have two brown thumbs -- I have even been known to kill hostas! Thanks for sharing your lovely gardens with us.

Sybil Johnson said...

What a lovely garden you have! I like going out and working on my roses. I've come up with many plot ideas while pulling up weeds and deadheading. We garden all year round here in California. Lots of time for thinking while working on the garden.

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Judy - oh dear, I pity green thumbs give me great pleasure (especially when supported by a couple of splinted wrist-supports!). I didn't know it was possible to kill hostas. Well done???? ;-)

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Sybil, how fortunate to be able to grow year-round. We're always busy in our winter garden, but mainly limbing trees, cutting shrubs back, dealing with hard landscaping and clearing piles form the previous growing season! Enjoy plotting in your plots!

Frankie Y. Bailey said...


Welcome to Type M. You're inspiring me to once again think of a vegetable garden. . .and maybe even more flowers in the front yard. I need to get outside more.

Rick Blechta said...

Interesting post, Cathy. Thanks for stopping by. I'm the vegetable and water garden guy in our family. My wife does the flowers and shrubs. Right now we're both dealing with "Raccoonzilla", the largest darn animal of its kind we've ever seen. We have raccoon pool parties every single night, it seems. And we can't get rid of him! Time to call in the pros, I think...

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks Frankie...I know folks get a lot of fun growing veggies, though we don;t due to water shortages during the summer months when our well invariably runs dry so we have to get water delivered in a it seems a bit counterproductive to plant things that need water (and lots of it) at that time of year. Our garden tends to look its best in spring and autumn because of that. But I would always encourage anyone with the time (and water) to "grow their own" because all that hard work makes veggies and fruits taste so much better (no fruits for us because of the bears!).

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks for having me along, Rick. Racoonzilla sounds like a bit of a nightmare. Good luck with that!