Tag Archives: Zera and the Green Man

Please Don’t Piss on the Petunias—a Memoir

NOVEMBER-19-FINAL-GREEN-2018.jpg

 

My memoir is coming out this month!

Yes, I know. I announced that it was coming out “soon” in JUNE (over six months ago). This baby is late, very late. As some of you know, I’m a self-taught publisher. Over the last eight years, I’ve published six issues of Greenwoman, a YA novel (Zera and the Green Man), a book of short stories (Fifty Shades of Green), a few e-books, and many articles and posts. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with many talented writers of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. I’d published so many things, but I’d never published a memoir—so here, once again, was another huge learning curve.

I thought I had all the material, all the stories I’d written over the years, and it could be easily put together. Oh, ha ha—wishful thinking! Luckily, my daughters (thank the heavens for them, always bringing me back to reality and keeping the bar set high) told me that the first draft was too incomplete and too inconsistent.

Those were not words I was hoping to hear.

My daughters urged me to rewrite several of the stories in past tense. A significant undertaking.

Then I discovered that the book, about our menagerie of pets over the years (among other things), really needed a story about our dog Chancho.

More importantly, the book needed an “origin” story.

That story took another month of writing, but first I had to time-travel back twenty-five years. (And let me tell you, time-travel is not easy!) The process was difficult emotionally, reliving those days, the tough times back in the early days, before all the fun started with raising kids, chickens, and a garden. Andy and I were just starting out in business and in parenthood, paying student loans and the mortgage on two houses for an entire year, living paycheck to paycheck (having to borrow money at times from his brother Danny to keep the utilities on), as Andy worked seven days a week to fix up a beautiful yet humble home with (finally) a space to garden . . . Oh, and did I mention I was pregnant with Lily and we had no health insurance?

I wrote the origin story. We went over the manuscript, again. And then again, reading it aloud this time and making over 600 more editing changes.

Two days ago I received what I hope will be the final proof. One more fine-tooth comb reading and a only a few (I hope!) minor edits.

I was reminded: Anything worthwhile takes time and thought and care. More than you imagine!

But today, finally, a sneak peek! Here she is. Almost born!

(Consider this an invitation to the baby shower.)

6x9_Cream_280-PETUNIAS-FINAL-KDP_edited-3

Now for the backstory on the title, because some of you might remember that it was going to be titled The Chicken Chronicles. A good friend alerted me (thank you, V. G.!) that there was already a memoir with that title, by the illustrious Alice Walker (the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Color Purple). Her book was also about chickens. So . . . I had to think of another title. Not easy, as that was my “working title” for years.

For a while I was stuck on Mother Hen . . .  but no one seemed thrilled about that one, and the only male beta reader (hello, Geno!) gave it a thumbs’ down in appeal to male readers. A clever friend (again, G. V.) , suggested a few alternatives. Her favorite was Chicken Scratches, which had its charms, but as I always prided myself on good penpersonship, it didn’t connect with me the way it needed to.

Sidenote: Wow, while writing this, I just thought of another title . . . Clucked Up. Ha ha! Maybe that will be the title of the sequel! Goodness knows there have been many more challenges and harrowing adventures this last decade— and especially these last two years!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand: One day I was rattling off title suggestions to Lily, including “Please Don’t Piss on the Penstemons,” the original title of one of the stories about our dog, Broonzy, and his destructive puppyhood. The back story on that title is that it’s a play on the old book/movie title Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, a work I’d never read, but I remembered vividly from childhood.

Lily said, “I like that one.”

Image result for please don't eat the daisies

I said, “I do too, especially the alliteration, but . . . I don’t know. It has a swear word. And I think there are a lot of people who don’t even know what penstemons are!”

Lily said that readers could look up penstemons—and that it wasn’t a big deal about “piss.”

I still thought it could be a dangerous move, a title with both “penstemons” and “piss,” so I decided to change penstemons to another “p” flower. What would sound best? We asked friends their preference: poppies, pansies, petunias or peonies?

“Petunias” won.

Now, to take a look at “piss” (ha). I researched: “book titles with swear words.” It seems that it can actually help sell a book these days!  Who knew? I brought it up to a media-savvy friend (hello, Mary Ellen!) a decade older than I am. She was, to my surprise, very enthusiastic. She said, “Our book club chose to read The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu  because of the title. Do it, Sandy!”

Still searching for a bit more reassurance (this was a big move!), I brought up the subject of swear words in book titles in Facebook-land. My mother immediately commented that she would never have a book with a swear word in the title on her coffee table! (Protecting the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you see. I didn’t even disclose what the colorful word would be, but she was against it.)

So “Piss” it was!

The book is very sweet (and only slightly pissy). More than anything, it is a love letter to our home and garden, our family, and Nature.

I hope you’ll make a note to buy a copy this month. I’ll let you know when she is born!

With much love and appreciation to all who have helped bring yet another dream to fruition,

— Sandy

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Today through Saturday, October 1st – ZERA AND THE GREEN MAN – 99 Cents!

Zera Pin - Green Woman I'm a Firm Believer

Quote from Zera and the Green Man (drawing by Mike Beenenga). All posters are by Lisa Repka.

 

I should have told everyone about this Monday, but it’s been one of those weeks.

Anyhow, my young adult novel is on sale, Kindle edition, and I think you should download it today or tomorrow! I really want you to read it!

I’m currently making notes for the sequel, and will be writing it this fall and winter.

Here’s the link! Tell your friends!

XO,

—Sandra Knauf

 

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Zera and the Green Man Interview with Sandra Knauf

Now on sale (over 25% off!) at Amazon.com.

Now on sale (over 25% off!) at Amazon.com.

 

This week I decided to make a new press kit for Zera and the Green Man. GMO labeling is on the Colorado ballot this November, and, as some of you know, this book’s all about GMOs. It’s a hot topic and I’m hoping there are journalists and bloggers (and readers!) who will be interested in learning more about the book.

I’ve also put Zera and the Green Man on sale for the soon-to-be-upon-us holidays.

Let me know what you think of the interview. I’d love to hear from you!

—Sandra

 

GMOs Gone Wrong: An Interview with Sandra Knauf, Author of Zera and the Green Man

By Cheri Colburn on September 21, 2014

 

Sandra Knauf’s Zera and the Green Man is a sci-fi fantasy for the YA market, but I and many other adults have reveled in it. It is “right on time” with current events—plenty of GMO Franken-creatures—and it features the timeless themes of love for nature and family. I recently spent an afternoon interviewing the author, and this is what I learned.

In your young adult novel, Zera and the Green Man, biotechnology has gone awry, and nature is in jeopardy. Fifteen-year-old Zera Green is called to save the world from genetically-modified creations designed by her own uncle. How did you come up with that plot line?

The spark for the story came over a decade ago when I started reading about GMOs. At the same time, I became interested in the mythology surrounding the green man. To me, GMOs seemed like a bad idea from the start, and the more I read about them the more I was convinced that we were playing with something that had repercussions beyond our understanding. At the same time I was reading about how the green man was an ancient symbol of humankind’s oneness with nature. It seemed like two sides of the same coin, and those ideas merged into a story.

How does the green man mythology figure into the story?

The protagonist, Zera Green, discovers her family’s centuries’ old ties to this ancient god. He returns to modern times because the plant world’s in trouble. And when plants are in trouble, so are we.

A Zera and the Green Man Pinterest pin by Lisa Repka. Green Man drawing by Mike Beenenga.

A Zera and the Green Man Pinterest pin by Lisa Repka. Green man drawing by Mike Beenenga.

Can you tell me a little about the green man?

The idea of the green man, a man who is one with the plant world, is thousands of years old and takes many forms. His image is all over Europe, in centuries’ old churches, but he goes back further than that. For example, the Egyptian god Osiris is a green man. He has green skin; he’s known as the god of the underworld, yet he is also the granter of all life, including vegetation. The green man is also a symbol of resurrection. Robin Hood, fighting for the underdog and living in the forest, is said to be another incarnation, and so is the modern day Jolly Green Giant. In the story, Zera discovers this history and begins to see how her family is connected with it.

This story is a rollicking ride. It takes place in various places in Colorado, in L.A., in a secret laboratory in the desert, and even on Colorado’s famous Pikes Peak. How did you choose the settings?

I’ve spent most of my life in Colorado, and my children were born here. So I wrote about what I know. Both of my daughters went to elementary school in Manitou Springs, which appears in the book as Ute Springs. The chapter with Zera’s vision quest takes place on Pikes Peak, which is called by its Ute name in the book, Tava. The biotech firm that creates the genetic monstrosities is in L.A. because L.A.’s a big money/commercial center where people can afford to make their own realities, realities that are often contrary to nature.

Even though the book’s about GMOs and our connection with nature, the heart of the story is really Zera’s relationship with her scientist uncle and her grandmother.

That’s true. This family’s relationships, with all its problems and secrets, are at the heart of the story. As in life, regardless of what else is going on, it’s the connections with those we love that matter most and give us the most trouble.

Zera rings true as an angst-filled teen. She’s struggling with the issues of losing her parents and having to live with her uncle, but also typical teen problems about boys, fitting in, etc. How did you model Zera?

Some of Zera’s personal struggles were based on struggles I experienced as a teen, such as having other adults besides my mother and father involved in my upbringing. Writing about those feelings through a character was cathartic. As my own girls were teens during the writing process it was easy to create a strong and smart teenage protagonist—I had excellent real-life examples at home.

Why this book now?

It has taken many years for GMOs to get into the spotlight of public concern in this country. Because of GMO labeling initiatives on ballots in several states, many previously oblivious consumers are finally learning what GMOs are. Once they learn the science they have questions. While my story is a sci-fi fantasy, it accurately shows the science and some of the real concerns behind GMOs. It’s kind of like how Jurassic Park dealt with cloning. I hope my book will help readers understand the science and the dangers of GMOs and the bigger picture of nature.

What are you working on now?

I have my own publishing company, so there are several projects in the works, but I am making notes for the next Zera Green novel. It’s going to be set in the British Isles, where Zera learns about her family history and, of course, runs into more trouble. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that Zera’s powers increase dramatically. She is, in fact, well on her way to becoming an American superhero.

Cheri Colburn

    Author Information: Cheri Colburn is editor of Six Years in Mozambique and Fifty Shades of Green.

Cheri’s previous projects are many and varied. You can see a business- and education-skewed sample of her work at her website, TheFinishedBook.com.

 

 

P. S. For those of you who don’t know what a GMO is, I highly recommend this video by Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.

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Greenwoman Innovation: An Interview with a UCCS Student

Quote from Zera and the Green Man (drawing by Mike Beenenga). All posters are by Lisa Repka.

Original drawing by Mike Beenenga. Poster design by Lisa Repka.

These last few months I’ve had the pleasure of working with a team of students from the local university (UCCS). They are among the first in UCCS’s new Bachelor of Innovation Program. The students major in several disciplines but all have Innovation Core classes in common—27 credits geared toward innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of that core includes opportunities for students to work with a business on a project during a semester. I signed up (as I could use plenty of help on my usually-one-person publishing venture) and was accepted!

We decided to focus on trying to market my new novel, Zera and the Green Man, through social media and the internet, using methods that were, basically, no cost. The four students I’ve been working with Jordan Yee, Courtney Hammock, Lohitha Aayyanar, and Lisa Repka. All but Courtney are computer science majors (Courtney is a marketing major).

The team’s work spanned a variety of tasks—from working on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on all the websites, raising Google rankings, and installing and interpreting Google Analytics, to working on promoting the book through social media, including Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. They also participated in a Sustainability Fair, made posters of the book, helped me with writing scripts for a series of commercials, and the list goes on.

I learned a lot from these bright students and they learned from me, too. I was impressed with most of their work, but I have to say that the one thing that really stood out for me was the artwork that Lisa Repka created for Zera and the Green Man‘s Pinterest pins. We thought it’d be great to have some artwork with quotes from the book to share that would hopefully be eye-catching and thought-provoking. Without much input from me, Lisa did just that—times ten!

Since it’s only a few days before the end of the semester and I don’t have the time to do a post on each of the members of the Innovation Team, as I would like to, I decided to interview Lisa for this post and show some of the work she’s created.

Lisa Repka - her first "selfie" - at Manitou Springs Arcade Photo Booth!

Lisa Repka – her first “selfie” – at Manitou Springs Arcade’s Photo Booth!


Lisa’s 21 years old and is in her third year of college at UCCS. She lives in the dorm, which she says is much quieter than living with her two younger siblings (both sisters) at home.

Flora’s Forum: You told me earlier that you came to Colorado from California. What part of California and when did you get here? What did you like/dislike about your change of home?

 Lisa Repka: I came to Colorado from the Silicon Valley back in 2005. At first it was hard to get used to the snow (the most I remember it snowing for in San Jose was for 5 minutes), but after shoveling so many snowstorms I’ve gotten used to it. I’m still perplexed by the sudden weather changes, however. The mountains are pretty cool, too.

Flora’s Forum: What made you choose to enroll in the Bachelor of Innovation Program?

 Lisa Repka: It sounded interesting to me. I liked how it united the fields of business and computer science, which have both become hugely important in the workplace, and how it encouraged creative thought and teamwork. With knowledge of a lot of different fields, I feel it can help me make changes to the world through innovation. I am passionate for a lot of different fields so it felt like a loss to choose a single topic of interest and stick with it. It also allowed me to take some classes I enjoyed under the Communication Core that I wouldn’t have normally considered taking, such as creative writing and computer music. It acknowledges that it is important to discover multiple subjects and to think from different perspectives.

Zera Pin - Zinnias

Flora’s Forum: You’re a computer science major but you revealed at our first meeting that you had an interest in publishing. Do you still, after seeing some of the difficulties in today’s market? Especially with self-publishing? If so, what area of publishing are you interested in?

Lisa Repka: I don’t think there’s anything in the world that can discourage me from wanting to publish a novel, but it does worry me about what it will take me to get any work out there—mentally and financially. My expectations are certainly changed. I see now that self-published authors, especially those just starting out, could dedicate all of their time to promoting their book and it still may not reach a point of national bestseller that many of us dream about. It comes down to research and commitment, and to marketing to the right audience in the right way, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear path to success that works for everyone. From what I learned, I see that the platforms for selling and marketing books are still rapidly changing, and so are the audiences on these social networking sites. I really need to continue to watch the trends of online publishing very closely from now on. One day I want to publish some urban fantasy and science fiction work. I see that the path to get to a successful book might become frustrating at times, but overall I don’t feel discouraged.

Flora’s Forum: I’m relieved to hear that! What type of books do you like to read? And what were your favorite books from childhood?

 Lisa Repka: I’ve been slowly becoming more of a visual person when it comes to books due to having so little free time (yay graphic novels!), but I always enjoy a good fantasy story. I love to be immersed in the rich worlds that people create, and I love to experience it along with complex characters. I have a very fond memory of reading children’s encyclopedias to look at outer space images and types of trees. I remember wearing out those books with those plastic transparent pages with flowers on them after so many reads. At one point I loved to look at the types of trees so much I started collecting pine cones.

Zera Pin - Plants They Supply

 Flora’s Forum: You decided to work on Pinterest and Twitter in this project and you created these marvelous images with quotes from Zera and the Green Man. Do you have an arts background? Can you describe the process on creating these images? (In case others might want to do the same!)

 Lisa Repka: After I picked out a quote I found inspiring, I would begin with a solid background and add a few layers with some Photoshop layer effects to create subtle borders or gradients to make it slightly more interesting. As the focus was on the text, I had to try not to get too carried away and overdress the images. I tried to keep them very minimalist, but to have bright colors (except then the tone was very anxious, and then I used black). I wanted not only the text to be noticeable, but the mood and theme. And most of all I wanted them to add a little fun to a Pinterest or Twitter page. The hardest part about making them was choosing which font out of hundreds was the best to use. That alone could take 15 minutes.

Zera Pin - Three Nights Ago the Guardian Visited

Flora’s Forum: What are your hobbies/interests/obsessions? 

Lisa Repka: I definitely enjoy art as a hobby, especially painting and mixed media work. I am particularly enthusiastic about painting flowers. I just love working with bright colors, and flowers seem the most fit for that.

Spring Flowers by Lisa Repka

Spring Flowers by Lisa Repka

Flora’s Forum: Does anyone in your family garden? (Had to ask!)

 Lisa Repka: Unfortunately, no one does any gardening. I don’t think they’d be very good at it, either, given that the few trees in my backward have been browning for years.

 Flora’s Forum: In your work on Twitter you tweet a lot of great information and quotes about our food supply these days. Before you started this project, were you aware of GMOs and the issues that surround them? 

 Lisa Repka: I had known that produce was being genetically modified but I used to think it was to make food healthier or to make it last longer. I had no idea that pesticides were being added to the DNA of foods we eat. It really opened my eyes to be more mindful of what’s in our food. I am also quite surprised how little testing has been done on these GMOs, especially in the wake of many studies that strongly suggest that GMOs can be harmful for both the environment and human body. I am glad to see so many social networking movements taking action to label GMOs.

Green Man image by Mike Beenenga; poster design by Lisa Repka

Green Man by Mike Beenenga; poster design by Lisa Repka

 Flora’s Forum: What are your dreams for the future? 

Lisa Repka: I haven’t thought about my immediate future, but one day I would love to work in computer animation. I’ve always been fond of animation as an intersection between art and storytelling, and with a computer fascinating things can happen. It even has very practical uses from making everything from flight simulators to educational games. And if it’s not already, maybe it can be used to promote a greener world. With innovation added to the mix, a lot of new ideas are possible.

California Poppies by Lisa Repka

California Poppies by Lisa Repka

 

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The Green Riddler

What type of book commercial would appeal to YA readers, I wondered. Readers who might dig a story about a girl with magical powers, a socially awkward but brilliant biotech scientist, some intense environmentalists . . . super-weird and scary GMOs  . . . the green man . . . and plants.

My self-published book needed to be promoted and I had to come up with something affordable (i.e. practically free) that would get some notice.

But what?

For our first commercial I found a young actor on Fiverr—for those of you who don’t know about Fiverr, here’s the description:

“Fiverr is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services, referred to as ‘gigs’ beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed, from which it gets its name. The site is primarily used by freelancers who use Fiverr to offer a variety of different services, and by customers to buy those services.”

Adam Russell freelanced there, creating videos for individuals who wanted to sell a product or send a humorous message to a friend. One of his specialties was impersonating Harry Potter. He was funny, creative, energetic, adorable, talented. I wrote to him, told him what I had in mind. He said he’d do it. I sent a copy of Zera and the Green Man to England. We sent him the first commercial, cleverly scripted by my friend, writer Rebekah Shardy. We  had great results—I promoted the post on our Zera and the Green Man page on Facebook and it received over 1,100 hits!

That was at the end of January.

Recently, Lisa Repka of the Innovation Team I’m working with at UCCS suggested more videos for our Zera and the Green Man website and Facebook page. She thought they’d be great promotional tools.

I’d thought that too, but had hesitated because of the time it would take to create a series of videos, and, always, expense was an issue. Having her bring it up convinced me to put it on the to-do list.

I wanted something fun, but educational. I came up with an idea. How about “green” riddles? Riddles about plants? If you solve the riddle, your name is entered in a weekly drawing for a book.

The first hurdle was seeing if Adam was up for it. He was. (He’s terrific in every way. 100% professional.)

I researched riddles and found a few in old books, but we needed more. Another member of the Innovation Team, Jordan Yee, came up with three good ones. Zora and I created several more.

I drafted six short scripts and then thought—wait a minute—I need to create a character for Adam. What kind of character should Adam play? What would he be comfortable doing? First I thought of “The Green Wizard,” then, aha, “The Green Riddler.”  “The Green Riddler” might be a fun character in the book’s sequel, too! Hmmmm. A film student that Zera meets in Britain while she’s trying to find out more about her family’s history. He could be a film student with a secret identity. Adam liked the idea and brought his own brand of comic zaniness to the mix.

Now, honestly, we don’t know where we’re going with this. It’s an experiment. We don’t have a market research team or anything fancy like that. It’s just a few people with a next-to-nothing budget coming up with the best ideas we can. We don’t know if anyone will even like these videos!

But we like them. We hope you will, too! And if you do, that you will share our little endeavor with friends—and have them go to our Zera and the Green Man Facebook Page and enter in the contest!

If you have the time, we’d love some feedback, too. On Wednesday I promoted this first riddle on Facebook. I spent over $100 on promoting the post to a particular audience (young readers of fantasy, environmentalists, etc.). I’m sorry to say we had dismal results. Dismal! Completely opposite of that first video’s success. It’s a different look, yes, the Harry Potter vibe isn’t there, but the numbers should be better. I’m going to give it another go this next week (and instead of coming up with the new video on Wednesday, I may change that to Saturday). I’ll come up with a catchier one-line post, I’ll see what the Innovation Team thinks . . .

Wish us luck!

And, if you can, please visit our page.

—Sandra

 

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Posters, a Riddle Contest, and More

Johannes Florentius Martinet (1729 - 1795)

The image above is an antique Dutch print (c.1799) of seeds including rosemary, chicory, dandelion, sundew, geranium. The artist is Johannes Florentius Martinet (1729 – 1795).

When I started to think up ideas for the Greenwoman Bookstore, one idea was reproducing some interesting prints into posters, so I could share them with other plant & nature/paper/antique freaks. The store still has very few offerings. It’s hardly fair to even call it a store, yet, but I have managed to get three posters printed. I’m debuting them this week and offering a one-week-only “Grand Opening” special: All three are half-price, $7.50 instead of the regular $14.99.  See them here!

Here’s another poster. It’s French and the image came from a turn-of-the-century dictionary:

 Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe Siècle  (Great Universal Dictionary of the 19th Century) Artist i H. Millot

Champignons from Grand Dictionnaire Universel du XIXe Siècle (Great Universal Dictionary of the 19th Century) Artist is H. Millot.

I have a cool egg poster (German) as well. You can see them all at the Greenwoman Store and read about them there, too.

* * *

Now for the riddle contest. Which is connected to the posters. Backstory: Zora and I are working with a team of students at UCCS (hi Courtney, Lisa, Lohitha, and Jordan!). They are in the Bachelor of Innovation program, where students work with businesses and come up with innovative ideas. They’re helping us with marketing this semester.  They meet with me and Zora every couple of weeks.

We’ve only just begun, but already we’re hearing some great ideas. One was holding contests on our Zera and the Green Man‘s Facebook Page (if you haven’t “liked” it, I hope you will today). I loved the idea of contests, but I wanted to make sure they’d be something unique, memorable, fun, and educational. I mulled it over and the next morning I woke up early with an idea.

What if we came up with some entertaining botanical riddles, videotaped someone reading them (I’m trying to get Adam, from our first commercial), and then gave away prizes for correct answers? My daughter Zora, who just studied riddles in a class on Old English literature last year, loved the idea. She shared some rather bawdy riddles that monks wrote back in that time (check these out, from the famous Exeter Book. Quite shocking! Yet entertaining. And goodness, I just took a closer look at that embroidery!).

Of course I needed something rated “G” for a general audience, so we did some research and are working on creating some ourselves.

Then just yesterday, I had another brainstorm—maybe you, clever readers, would like to try your hand at . . . riddling?

As a bribe, I’ll give anyone who writes an original riddle, that we accept and publish, a free poster. (And, of course, attribution.) Come up with three great riddles, get three posters. Or maybe more if you want to do more—heck, I see no reason to impose a limit. My mind even goes further—maybe if the idea takes off, I’ll put them all in a book!

The deadline for this contest will be next Friday night at midnight, March 14th, as we want to get the contest going soon. We’ll contact winning riddlers (ha, Batman reference) the next week and will have an update on the 22nd.

Send riddles to sandra@greenwomanmagazine.com.

What should the riddles be like? Well, not too long. I’d say four to six lines, though I’m flexible. We want high quality, maybe funny, leaning toward the poetic more than the one-liners, though one-liners can be cool, too. Here’s a Hawaiian riddle I read this week:  What is a man with three eyes and yet can cry out of only one? (Answer below.)

Coconuts, photograph by Tahir mq, via Wikimedia Commons

Coconuts photographed by Tahir mq, via Wikimedia Commons

This particular riddle was a little confusing to me as I don’t have a lot of experience with coconuts (couldn’t the milk come out of all the holes?) so I looked it up on YouTube  and learned two of the holes are harder (they have ridges or “eyebrows” above them), and the third eye is softer. So soft it can be pierced with a paring knife or corkscrew.

That one’s fun, but our ideal riddles would be more educational. For example, a coconut riddle could include clues that the seed contains both “meat” and “milk,” and that the seed can travel great distances, floating in the ocean, to plant itself at other lands. I also read this week that coconut milk was used in World War II as “a sterile intravenous drip for the wounded during WWII.” Fascinating stuff.

Here’s another example, that I took from a longer riddle/poem. It’s over a century old:

Emblem of youth and innocence,
With walls enclosed for my defense,
I boldly spread my charms around,
‘Till some rude lover breaks the mound,
And takes me to his breast.
Here soon I sicken and decay.
My beauty lost, I’m turned away.
What am I?

If you haven’t guessed, the answer is a rose. This style of plant riddle is rare; most that I found were one- or two-line children’s riddles.

As far as finding information on a plant, fruit, vegetable, etc. that you’d like to write about, it’s easy as the Internet chock-full of plant lore and information. If you want to read more and learn more about riddles, a great site to visit is Good Riddles Now.

I do hope you’ll enter the contest!

* * *

One last thing. I would really like to share my novel, Zera and the Green Man, with all of you. As many of you know, it’s a self-published work, it’s received some good reviews, and I’m trying very hard to get the word out. So I decided to offer another download promotion (Kindle) for just 99 cents. This special (click here) will be going on only through next Sunday, March 16th.  Check it out, tell your friends. Many adults love YA (young adult) and this is a book that plant lovers especially will find appealing.

And, if you read it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon. As I said before, self-published authors need all the help they can get!

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon.

—Sandra Knauf

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It’s like Jurassic Park and Cloning (but with Plants and GMOs)

Some of you may have heard of it by now, my new novel, ZERA AND THE GREEN MAN. Thirteen years in the making, it was inspired by our connection with the Earth—and more than a little alarm over what we are doing to that connection.

From Monday through Friday, January 27th – 31st, I will be offering FREE downloads of ZERA AND THE GREEN MAN on Amazon. Here’s the link.

I hope you’ll mark your calendar and tell ALL your friends! I really want to get this story out into the world. (Otherwise, what’s the point of writing a story you’re passionate to share? Or, at least that’s the way I look at it. I want to make that connection—to share my mad, green love.)

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If you haven’t heard about it before, here’s the book jacket synopsis:

On the eve of Zera’s fifteenth birthday, she’s finding little to celebrate. Her guardian, Uncle Theodore (who she’s nicknamed “the Toad”), and his frilly girlfriend, Tiffany, are dragging her to the opening of a fast-food restaurant. The menu features genetically-modified products, including the Toad’s creation “beefy fries,” a concept that both sickens and intrigues Zera.

As if that were not enough, Zera is in trouble at school for mysterious events that she neither caused nor understands—and her classmates think she’s a freak.

The single light in Zera’s dark birthday is a gift from her grandmother that awakens Zera’s passion for plants and helps bring to light her family’s ancient connection to the natural world.

From there, the battle between those who would violate Nature in the name of greed and those who would protect it evolves—with Zera Green at its center.

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If you’re a plant freak you’ll like it. (Plus, what have you got to lose? It’s a free download!)

Thanks for helping spread the word!

—Sandra Knauf

P. S. If you do decide to download and read ZERA, I would love to have your feedback via an Amazon review!

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Filed under DIY, Garden Writers We Love