You say tomato, I say hard work!

See these little guys? This was their 'before' shot. That was before I planted them in somewhat roomier accommodations. I was too tired to get their "after" shot. 

For those that can't recognize my shaky camera artwork, these little guys are tomatoes. They are my pride and joy. I show them almost like a proud grandma would show off pictures of her grandchildren. Really. I eagerly share pictures of them with total strangers.

This is, if you haven't guessed it, the first time I have ever been able to grow tomatoes from seed. I have what is known as "Black thumb." 

But when you have a kid who has food allergies, and a lot of processed foods are no longer available, and fresh produce is pretty expensive, growing a garden is what you do. 

Also, to put my editor's mind at rest, this was book research as well. My characters will be busy growing tomatoes in my contracted books.  Scout's honor.

It's true. A lot of my life and my experiences show up in my books. I don't tattle on other people. But I hate to waste a perfectly good experience. It helps me get the details right. Like the sweat trickling down between my shoulder blades and the crescent of dirt under my fingernails as I potted # 43 of my tomato babies.

Now, granted, most of the things in my books only happen in my head. But I tend to incorporate some of my daily challenges into my characters' daily challenges. Another thing I try to do, but can't always, is to start my book in whatever season I am currently in. That helps me avoid having my character's petunias bloom at the wrong time of year.

I wonder if I'm the only author who does this. Do other authors tuck tidbits of their lives in their books? Do their character share the same interests as they have? Or am I the only one?


  1. Cynthia - you're not alone! I once bought a yogurt maker because of a series I was involved in where the heroine raised goats and started a goat milk yogurt business to save herself from foreclosure. I had more fun! Generally, I'm not 'handy,' or domestic, or good at things that are difficult, but I even managed to develop a cheesecake recipe using this yogurt! I think we can often do for our books, what we can't do for our own lives. I guess - at the heart of it - that's what we're trying to do for our readers - give them some of what their lives are missing. Good luck with the tomatoes. That's wonderful. (I'm one of those who is looking for green-tomato-relish recipes in the fall!) Fun post.

  2. Great post. I try not to tattle on people, either, but I'm shameless about using what they know.

  3. I wind up going places more than doing things. I'm be going to a wolfdog rescue next Tuesday as I'm writing a book with a wolfdog :) Nope, I'm not going to adopt one like my heroine does. My research says that owning a wolfdog would be harder than growing tomatoes (I'm from Nebraska. We pretty much threw seeds at the ground and tomatoes grew LOL)

  4. You are most definitely not alone, Cynthia, LOL. "I" am always creeping into my characters, in fact at one point, one of my CPs, she wouldn't do that--that's you. Learning to see past my own perspective has been a huge learning curve when it comes to creating characters. And I have to admit--I"m jealous of your tomatoes! I kill plastic plants. Great post! Thanks for sharing. :)

  5. A little bit of me creeps in, but like Anna, I always try to make sure it's in the character's perspective/tone.

  6. I used to grow things and canned things, and made jams and jellies. But when I moved to Texas I found the things I grew in Washington and Oregon didn't like me or Texas. Now things like tomatoes to grow them in Tucson I'm told you have to dig holes fairly deep and set the plants in the hole so they stay hydrated enough to grow. Too much work for me. I try to go to Whole Foods and buy organic things other people grow. But kudos to you Cynthia.

  7. Cynthia, you've already planted tomatoes? We plant them every year, but we never have any harvest to speak of. Last year, ants ate them before they were ripe. Ants!

    I have definitely added parts of my life. I had a great-aunt who used to wear pieces of tape between her eyes on her forehead, so that when she smiled, it would crinkle and remind her to stop smiling and avoid making wrinkles. :-) She was a lovely woman with a few other quirks as well--and I loved her like the dickens. She went in a book. :-)

  8. I do too, Cynthia! And I love your seedlings. I'll start mine indoors soon...


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