Hello there, friends. I’m sorry for my lapse last week. I had an outrageously slow internet connection (now partly fixed – it’s only somewhat slow) that made even a simple email check a struggle. Today, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to.

We went a bit crazy with the tomatoes, this year. It was our first year starting them from seeds and we planted a lot, thinking that only about one in three would make it. Ahem. We have about 30 tomato plants producing right now. I’m not sure what we’ll do with them all: we’ll either learn to can, or take to leaving them on neighbours’ doorsteps in the dead of night, I guess. Anyway, the tomato bed was a million-tentacled green monster, and it took me most of a day’s work to prune and stake them. I hope that doesn’t sound like a complaint: it’s a strangely addictive job, and it pains me to admit that there are two sad, drooping, crawling plants I haven’t yet found the time to attend to.

Here’s another gratuitous tomato shot:

Isn’t it exciting? We’ve had a few cherry tomatoes already and they’re lovely: sweet and complex, and all the more delicious for being the (literal) fruit of our labours.

And then there’s the garlic: 50-odd cloves planted last autumn, which we harvested last week. They’re currently drying out and I think the effect is like oddball musical notation.

Apart from frantically trying to reclaim the garden, I’ve also begun work on The Next Book. Here are the 3 novels I’ve ordered from the public library to read next:

Tan Twan Eng’s The Gift of Rain

Tan’s sequel to The Gift of Rain, The Garden of Evening Mists (2012)

Madeleine Thien’s Certainty (2006)

If you didn’t already know (or perhaps if you did), can you guess what I’m working on next?

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6 Responses to “Ahem”

  1. MelodyJ says:

    The tomato plants bring back memories of my grandmother’s garden. I would love to read about what you guys decide to with all those tomatoes. Canning, give them to neighbors, family and friends is a good idea. There a lot of recipes out there you can try. I’ve read that some people donate the extras from their gardens. Are there any organizations in your area that except fresh produce?

  2. Elaina says:

    We’ve had the same problem with tomatoes! We gave a ton of them away and then used a whole bunch of them to make homemade tomato sauce. That’s one recipe that will take care of at least part of your plethora :)

  3. Saima says:

    Our family grows tomatoes as well, one year we actually had to freeze bags of them so they wouldn’t rot!! I thought of checking your blog because I’m retreading your series right now …. I love how your books actually have an interesting plot – I am just so fed up with all the mainstream YA romance with fighting over super-perfect love interests. Mary is an amazing character with admirable wit and courage!! I really love her stubbornness because it kind of reminds me of myself. The only thing that is irking me right now is Mary’s laid back view on all the dallying James carries on with girls. I just wanted to ask, do we ever get to find out what happens to Cassandra and Angelica? Also, do you have any tips for improving vocabulary? I find that there are many words in your books that I don’t understand and I hope to be an author one day as well (one with good vocabulary) which is a very far off dream!!

  4. E.G.Randolph says:

    Your tomatoes look absolutely delicious. It truly is one of the most satisfying feelings to begin picking those juicy red orbs off their stalks. Congratulations.
    On another note…
    Does your new work have anything to do with the far east shortly before, during or after, WWII?

  5. Starstruck says:

    I wanted to try canning tomatoes this year but my plants are all struggling. Maybe we can team up!

  6. Ying says:

    Homemade tomato sauce is definitely in the plans, Elaina, and MelodyJ, that’s a great reminder. We can indeed donate to a local charity that distributes fresh food (and home-canned too, I think) to soup kitchens and shelters. So glad you mentioned it! Salima, thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad you’re enjoying more than the romance aspects of the Agency. As for vocabulary, the only tip I have is to keep looking up words you don’t know, and trying to use them yourself. Hope that kind of learning is fun for you! E.G. Randolph, you are spot-on. I’m researching Malaya (now called Malaysia) right now. And Starstruck, it’s not that I don’t want to share the fun, but have you tried feeding your tomato plants? We’ve been using fish emulsion.

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