The Birds and the Bees… and Julia Child (#WritersLife)

At the end of March, I mentioned we were getting bees. Yep, bees. As in honey bees and a hive. As in a Queen Bee and her whole brood of hard-working sister-bees. Lots of bee jokes here for a while. (“What kind of bee can’t make up its mind? A May bee.” “What did the sushi say to the bee? Wasa Bee?” hahaha — where is WordPress’ Face With Tears of Joy emoji?) In any case, I’m NOT a fan of stinging insects (seriously, who is?). But I love raw honey and the thought of having my own little bee box was appealing. Also, not to get too environmentally preachy, but colony collapse disorder is no joke, and while returning to a one beekeeper, one hive system probably won’t cure it… it can’t hurt either. Most people’s reactions were along these lines:

“We’re getting bees.”


“Yeah, bees.”

“You have bees? Because I know somebody you can call…”

“No, we’re getting them. Craig built a bee box for them and the queen and hive are being delivered this Saturday.”

[blank look]… Then an [you’re OUT OF YOUR MIND look]

Then: “Well, sign me up for some honey.”

LESSON: Honey is better than cups of sugar for winning over skeptical neighbors. 😀

So the bees arrived. The first drawer or flat or whatever it’s called arrived with a bunch of bees and no queen. They were doomed for sure. So they had to be sent back to the bee farm (where, presumably the High King of the Bees will get them a new queen. Somehow…? Not really sure how that works.) But the next drawer arrived fully stocked and we were off!

Except for this damned weather!!!!!!! No good for the bees… or me! 😦 I joked last Friday that I felt like we were living in Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day.” Well, that day was Mother’s Day. One brief, 24 hour burst of sunlight. Lawns were cut, gardens were weeded, and bike rides were taken. And now… we’re back to rain and fog and clouds. If you live somewhere like Oregon, you may be used to it, but we Marylanders are not! (My youngest said that Mother Nature must be going through a break up because she’s been crying a lot. 😀 )

Despite the weather, there are other signs of spring… like the catbird nest in the hanging flower basket on my front porch. Every year, this happens, which we don’t mind, although the bird’s nest ends up killing the flowers eventually and the mom bird raises holy hell whenever anybody gets near. The pic below was taken when she was not in situ. See that speckled egg? I think it’s a cowbird egg. Sly, lazy cowbirds! 🙂

[UPDATE 5/17/16: Craig tells me I mixed up my birds’ nests and their eggs. Pretty sure the bright blue eggs in the flower basket are robin eggs (see pics below) and the others are…? That nest is in our backyard. Regardless, the speckled egg is definitely a free-loading cowbird. 😀 ]

Last Friday, I also mentioned that the only thing I wanted for Mother’s Day was for my husband and older daughter to cook something for me out of Julia Child’s MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING. (They love to cook.) But — Wow! Okay, I should have known — you know, it’s Julia Child for crying out loud; her reputation was earned for a reason — but those are some serious recipes!! I chose the one I thought would be the least difficult (are there any in that book??): Chicken Fricassee. (Which, btw, always reminds me of Sebastian singing “Under the Sea” in The Little Mermaid).

SIX HOURS. That’s how long this recipe took to make. Now, granted, some of it was shopping time, and this was the first time either of them had made either fricassee or a Julia Child’s recipe. But still… Six. Hours.

The verdict? Fricassee was clearly the inspiration for the term awesome sauce. Because it was… AWESOME! 😀

In other news…

It’s Friday the 13th! Hug your black cat, pitch a tent under a ladder, and say Happy Birthday to Suzanne Johnson! 🙂

Blog theme update: I’ve had the same theme since I first started blogging – Elegant Grunge. So I decided (on a whim) that it was time to refresh the look of my site. I switched to Rowling and, so far, love it. Everything transferred (posts, pages, links, photo gallery, etc.), but I had to redo my menu, widgets, and fix the formatting on the front page. I’m still getting to know Rowling, but two things that I liked immediately were the social media button menu option and the featured photo option for blog posts. I also love that when you click on my “BLOG” page, there’s now a menu of my recent posts instead of just the latest post. Check it out and tell me what you think!

Revisions: ongoing. I’m always stressed about how long it’s taking, whether it’s any good, whether Noon fans will still be around to read it, and what they will think of it (Pocket Full of Tinder is both lighter and darker than past books). In any case, I feel constant pressure to GET IT OUT THERE balanced by my stubborn insistence to try to publish something that’s at least as good as the other three. I realize, business-wise and in hindsight, that continuing a series my publisher declined to may not make sense, but I’d already put a lot of work into the manuscript (not to mention the series as a whole) and I want to wrap things up in a way that feels satisfactory to me.

Cover: ongoing. My illustrator is behind schedule (that makes two of us), but she’s shared some sketches and a preliminary mock-up. I’m REALLY excited to have an original cover and I think the final is going to look amazing. If she agrees (I don’t have rights to the sketches, etc., only the final), I’ll share the sketches in next month’s newsletter. Sign up if you haven’t already!

That’s it for now. I’d apologize for the long, rambling post but this is partially what you signed up for, people. 😀

So, how about you?

Are you superstitious? Love or hate Friday the 13th? 

Love or hate bees? Honey bees? Honey? 

Are you a beekeeper? Would you ever become a beekeeper?

Thoughts on catbirds versus cowbirds? (I’m waiting for the superhero movie… they make one for everything else).

Love or hate cooking? Have you ever made something out of MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING? What did you make? How did it go?

Reading anything fun or interesting?

How’s your writing going? Are you making headway on your 2016 resolutions?


Do you use Snap Chat? Did you see Zootopia?

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

5 thoughts on “The Birds and the Bees… and Julia Child (#WritersLife)

  1. Hahaha–here I am reading about bees (that is totally cool) and chicken fricassee (are you insane?), and there I am! Thanks for the birthday wishes! I’ve so far managed to escape anything that involves cooking!

    1. This made me laugh. Most people think I’m insane bc of the bees, not the fricassee. 😀

      I had no idea (bc I cook easy things like mac & cheese, meatloaf, and tacos) that chicken fricassee would be so complicated!

      Hope you have a wonderful birthday full of all the things you love!!

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