Hi Valerie! Welcome to Stuff & Nonsense. I appreciate you taking time to answer a few questions so my readers and I can get to know you a little better.
Hi Anne! Thank you so much for inviting me here.
I know that you are a big advocate for eating homegrown or organically grown foods. Do you have any advice for a beginning gardener?
Start small. For some people that might be a few pots of herbs on the windowsill or a potted tomato plant on an apartment balcony. Others might be able to manage a single raised bed in the backyard, but do take a year or two to experiment at that level before digging up the whole yard and planting forty kinds of vegetables! Gardening is a lot of work—very satisfying work, most of the time, but definitely work. Oh, second tip: look for organic seed.
We made that mistake the first year we grew a garden. It was huge and we could hardly keep up. Enthusiasm does not weed a garden :)
How many acres do you and your family farm and what types of veggies do you grow? A favorite?
We farm 40 acres. Most of that is in pasture for our cows and a few pigs (and hay for the cows over winter). We have two kinds of nut trees (hazelnuts and walnuts) and grow a bit of fruit (plums, raspberries, rhubarb, and strawberries). We also have about a dozen hives of bees. Most of the rest of our efforts go into our vegetable garden, where we grow tomatoes, potatoes, a few kinds of squash, eggplants, beets, kale, peas, and several varieties of beans. I'm sure I've forgotten a few things!
One of my favorites is Blue Lake Pole Beans. They're a heritage variety of green beans that we eat several times a week while they're in season. I love to sauté them in a bit of olive oil and a splash of sesame oil, with a bit of garlic and a dash of salt added in. A slosh of lemon juice just before serving kicks them up a notch. Yum.
Your homestead sounds like a great place to grow up. We have a greenhouse, 25 chickens, five pecan trees, a lone pear tree, and a couple of peach trees just on an acre and a half. I can't imagine what my husband would do with 40 acres!
You’re known for your trademark ‘Farm Lit’ stories but you have written a novella about Geocaching. Do you Geocache? If so, what’s the coolest thing you’ve found or left for someone else?
Yes, my hubby and I enjoy geocaching. We've discovered some local history we might not have found without this hobby. One of our favorite local hikes these days is to a set of pictographs in our valley. We're not particularly into "swag." Meaning we rarely participate in putting items into the cache or removing them.
A few years ago, I got to thinking how fun it would be to use geocaching in a story. When Barbour placed a call for novella anthology proposals in the fall of 2010, several friends and I created a proposal around a fictional geocaching contest put on by a church as an outreach event. It became Rainbow's End and released in May, 2012.
Geocaching sounds like a fun family activity. I think my teenagers could get into it if there was "swag", or maybe that would be my motivator ;)
Your books have some of the cutest covers! Are you the designer? If not, do you have any input into the design?
Thanks, I love my covers! I'm not the designer, but I bought crayons, chalk, watercolor paint sets, and sketch books for my designer when she was a small child. Yep, my daughter creates my covers, and I'm so very thrilled to be able to collaborate with her! She reads the novel, comes up with a rough idea for the cover, and runs it past my publisher and me. We toss in some input and Hanna http://bookcoverbakery.com goes to work. My publisher and I get another round or two of tweaks at the end. So far, it's worked very well for us.
That's wonderful that your daughter designs the covers. I have an artist child as well, and know all about buying those colorful supplies.
I love the term ‘Creation Care’ on your website. Can you share a little of your testimony with us and how you came to know the Lord?
I grew up in an old-school Mennonite family and became a Christian as a small child. The journey since, of course, has had many ups and downs, but I'm so thankful for the life God allowed me to lead. One of the joys has been that both my husband, Jim, and I had parents who gardened, cooked from scratch, and preserved food for winter. We didn't have much money in our early married life, so continuing those habits served us in good stead.
As culture became absorbed with convenience "foods," GMOs, and pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides on everything, Jim and I started pulling back even further. How could all that possibly be good for our bodies, for our health? What was it doing to our environment? What would happen when landfills were, indeed, filled? When all the planet's water supplies became so polluted they couldn't sustain us?
I wouldn't call us environmentalists so much as conservationists. We're Christians who think believers should be taking care of creation, not exploiting it. We don't worship creation, but we believe that caring for it is an act of worship to the Creator of all.
That's the place most of my writing comes from: trying to share, through fiction that will make you laugh and cry, the challenge of looking at God's world through His eyes.
I love your philosophy. I'm sure the Lord is pleased by your efforts. It's amazing what each of us can do to better care for His creation.
What’s next on the horizon? Where can my readers connect with you?
I'm in the midst of two big projects right now. One is the third novel in the Farm Fresh Romance series, Sweetened with Honey, which releases in March 2015. The first chapter is tucked into the back of book 2, Wild Mint Tea, and I've got a fair idea where the story line will take me. Of course, there are always surprises!
I'm currently doing edits on a Christmas novella that will release this September in a book called Snowflake Tiara. My co-author, Angela Breidenbach, is writing the historical half to this volume, and mine is the contemporary part, both set around a Christmas beauty pageant. And before you ask, the answer is yes. Yes, this project does tie directly into my farm lit and creation care brand. You'll have to read it to see how!
There are a few other very exciting things on the horizon as well. The first people to find out about them will be my newsletter subscribers, so, if the ideas of farming, food security, and sustainability wrapped up in contemporary romance appeal to your readers, Anne, I invite them to sign up! http://valeriecomer.com/connect/enewsletter/
I blog where food meets faith and fiction at http://valeriecomer.com/blog as well as being a regular contributor on several other sites. My social media links can be found on the header of my website. I'd love to connect!
Thanks so much for having me over, Anne. I appreciate your enthusiasm for my stories, and I enjoy visiting with you!
Thank you for being here today, Valerie. I always enjoy learning more about my favorite authors!
Read an excerpt of Wild Mint Tea, click here.
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