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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Tomato or The Bamboo? Who Are You?

The Tomato or The Bamboo?  Who Are You?

By Barbara Tiller Cole

 (I am honored to be invited to join Dianne Venetta's Authors in Bloom Hop again this year!  If you are new to the hop there are some great prizes available including a grand prize of a Kindle or Nook.  If you want to win the grand prize, you need to visit and comment at ALL stops on the hop.  Most of the individual destinations will be giving away something as well.  I will be giving away two eBook copies of either of my novels including international winners, as well as either Tomato or Bamboo seeds to a USA winner.  To win one of my prizes join my site, friend me on Facebook and like my author page as well as comment below and be sure to let me know if you think you are a tomato or a bamboo person.  Be sure and include a way for me to get in touch with you in your post unless I am already your friend on Facebook.  Be sure and read to the end of this post for more information.  )

A father took his two sons aside and asked them if they were interested in having a contest.  He wanted both of them to develop a plan, a plan to grow something from seed that would benefit the entire family.  He didn’t tell them anything other than that.  Both of the brothers contemplated what they would grow.  He gave them a week to return with a plan including the reasons for why they selected it.
One of the brothers decided to grow tomatoes.  He envisioned the first bite into a fresh tomato, as well as the grin on his dad’s face when he ate a tomato sandwich from the first crop. The first son had been watching cooking shows and loved to try out some of the recipes.  He wanted to try to make some special salads and even some tomato bisque.  His mother would love to be able to have fresh homegrown tomatoes to make her special tomato sauce for pasta and pizza.  It was going to be perfect.
The second brother loved to spend time in their backyard.  He and his dad had an old Mustang that they were rebuilding.  The entire family loved to grill out and have dinner on their patio, and they were considering installing an above ground pool. His mother was longing for the day when they could have a Jacuzzi as well.  His older sister loved to sunbathe, but there was no barrier between their family’s backyard and their neighbors’.  He thought that by growing bamboo he could have privacy between the family and their neighbors.  The entire family would benefit and it was going to be perfect.
Dad approved both plans and let them both know that the contest was not over until he said it was over (which neither of them understood at the time) and they were off to the garden store to get everything that they were going to need to grow their plants from seed. The first brother decided on Heirloom tomatoes and the second decided on Chinese bamboo.
(I won’t go into all the steps of growing each plant but will give you some links at the end of this article in case you want to grow your own tomatoes or bamboo.)
Within a month the first brother was thrilled with his progress he had moved from seedlings to beginning to grow full-grown plants. The second brother had barely had his seeds sprout.  His father told him to have patience that bamboo would take more time, more patience and perseverance.   “Hang in there,” the father told the second son.  “It will be worth it in the long run.”

The first brother went from being proud to gloating.  He teased the second brother and even went so far as laughing at him.  The second brother didn’t understand why his plants weren’t growing but did as his father told him to do and remained patient. 
The tomato plants grew and grew until they bloomed and the blooms turned into little small green tomatoes.  After a week of rain, the first brother noticed that his tomato plants were wilting.  The tomatoes did not look healthy. His dad told him that it was due to fungus.  They went to the garden store.  They listen to the experts and did what they could do, but in the end the plants all died.
The younger son didn’t understand why his plants weren’t growing, but the father took him to visit with a kind old Chinese gentleman who specialized in bamboo.  What he learned was that bamboo grows under the ground at first.  The root system has to be extensive before the bamboo plant begins to grow above the ground.    The Chinese man told him, “Be like bamboo.  Trees break in the wind.  The bamboo will survive by bending in the wind.  Do not worry young one.  The bamboo will grow when its roots are strong.  And when the roots are strong you cannot stop the bamboo from being all that it wants to be.”
The next year the first son tried again with his tomatoes.  He had a modest crop, but the tomatoes were wonderful when ripe and fresh.  The second year the bamboo was still setting its roots.  The second son was tempted to dig it up and look, but he remembered he needed to bend and be flexible and willing to do what it took to wait on the bamboo.  
The third year the first son took classes with a master gardener.  He learned all he could about potential threats to his plants.  He prepared and planned and had a wonderful crop. 
Two months into spring of the third year the bamboo began to grow, and it grew and it grew and it grew.  The privacy fence of bamboo grew up sooner than anyone could imagine.  And the second son had to then visit the old man and learn how to manage his bamboo and crop it and began selling part of the crop it grew so fast.  Before he knew it he had enough money to give his father to put the down payment on the above the ground pool.  By the next year, he was able to finance his mother’s Jacuzzi.
What kind of gardener are you?  Are you patient enough for bamboo?  Or do you want a quick crop?  Learn from the first brother.  Study and learn what you need to know about possible dangers before you plant.
What does this teach us about life?  You may remember the quote, ‘Pride goeth before the fall’.  Which actually comes from the Bible verse: Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."   The younger son had much to learn about pride.  He also had to learn that even when things are going very well, sometimes we fail because of unforeseen events or challenges.  However, we can learn how to plan for those things to begin with and often have greater success when we look at the potential pitfalls we may face along the way.  That was why the first son was eventually successful.  It is how we can often be successful by looking at the potential ‘what ifs’ we may encounter along the path.
But often success and life is like the bamboo.  Our project, our life endeavors may not look like they are doing much.  But by putting down roots and allowing them the time that they need to grow (there were many different forecasts of how long it takes for the bamboo to take root, so I used an estimate in my story) with patience it will bear fruit.  No success will come without a healthy, vibrant root system. It may look completely fruitless at times.  We may want to give up all together.  If we are willing to put in the patience to wait, with time, it will succeed.  And life is so much better if we have a good attitude and live in the moment while the growth takes its time.

So what kind of life gardener are you?  Are you a tomato or a bamboo?

I Am A Life Gardner, Not a Real One!  So if you want to plant tomatoes or bamboo you might Start with the following Links...:

  GRAND PRIZE: We are giving away a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card.  Be sure and check out Diane Venetta's site for the Rafflecopter entry location.  For my prize, check out the instructions in italics before my post.  And be sure you post at ALL locations on the Hop if you want to be considered for the 1st or 2nd prizes.:


Monday, April 16, 2018

Living Large With the Ladies of Rosings Park

 Living Large with the Ladies of Rosings Park:

William Collins Exclusive Interview with Shannon Winslow

Darcyholic Diversions is very happy to welcome Mr. Collins as he shares his interview with Shannon Winslow 

[Legendary literary figure and talk-show host Sir William Collins returns to the set after the commercial break to commence his weekly Meet the Author segment. Today’s guest is Shannon Winslow, mildly successful author of Jane Austen based fiction. Collins politely shakes her hand, smiles for the camera, and then nods several times to the studio audience until the applause finally dies down. He takes his seat and turns his attention to his guest.]

WC:  Well, well, Ms. Winslow, how kind of you to visit us again here at Meet the Author.
SW:  Thank you, Mr. Collins, but the pleasure is mine. When I was here last, we ended with such a good understanding that you graciously invited me back anytime I liked. Do you remember?
WC:  Oh, yes. I can truthfully say this much for you Ms. Winslow; your visits are always memorable. And I must tell you that I was very intrigued when I heard the title of your new book: The Ladies of Rosings Park! How those words warm my heart and take me back to a time I remember with great fondness.
SW:  It is the same for me Mr. Collins. It seems I am always drawn back to the world of Pride and Prejudice, wanting to spend a little more time there with the characters I so admire.
WC: Ah, no doubt in this case you mean my noble former patroness, Lady Catherine, and Miss Anne de Bourgh. I assume they are the ladies to whom you refer in the title.
SW:  Primarily, yes, although there are also a few contributions by Mrs. Jenkinson and Mrs. Collins as well.
WC:  Ah, dear Charlotte. Yes, this all sounds very promising. It is high time that someone paid the Rosings family the homage they deserve. I presume that Lady Catherine herself is the heroine of the piece. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? But here I must confess that I haven’t actually read the novel. You must understand that I am extremely busy. You would have no way of knowing this yourself, but when one has achieved a certain level of fame, one’s time is not entirely one’s own anymore. My public clamors for more and I must not deprive them.
SW:  Of course. As for who is the heroine of my book, that’s not as clear cut as you might imagine. Lady Catherine certainly gets her share of space on the page – she would stand for nothing less – and I must say that she has most if not all of the best lines.
WC:  That is only right, for nobody can deliver a line like Lady Catherine. What timing! What a noble air! What a commanding presence!
SW:  As you say. But you know as well as I do that there must be a courtship story in a Jane Austen style book, and Anne is the focus there. So, strictly speaking, the daughter not the mother is the heroine.
WC: [gasps] Oh, dear! Does her ladyship know? I cannot help thinking she will not approve of anyone upstaging her, even her own daughter!
SW:  She may know it by now… and some other things in the book she will like even less. In any case, she did not hear these things from me. I interviewed her early on in the process, and I’m afraid we did not part on good terms. She seemed very annoyed when I asked her about her late husband, Sir Lewis.
WC:  Oh, Ms. Winslow, you didn’t! That subject is strictly taboo. It was one of the first things I learned when I came to Hunsford all those years ago.
SW:  Apparently, Mr. Collins, the subject is no more palatable to Lady Catherine today. Even if I had been forewarned, however, I would have had no choice. It was imperative to establish some background information on Sir Lewis, for how he and his early loss affected his wife and daughter. All we know from Miss Austen is that he is absent, and, so we must presume, dead. But I asked myself if that really were the whole story. Then I asked Lady Catherine. That’s when she terminated the interview. I can’t say as I blame her. From what I learned later through other sources… Well, let’s just say I now understand why she was so touchy on the subject.
WC:  I cannot imagine Lady Catherine had anything to hide, so fine and upstanding a woman as she is!
SW:  I suppose we all have things we would prefer to conceal, Mr. Collins. If I were to look closely into your background, for example, who knows what I might discover?
WC:  No, you mustn’t! That is to say, surely there can be no occasion for your going to so much unnecessary trouble. After all, I am but a minor character in these events, and such idle speculations are profitless. Now, Ms. Winslow, one final question. It occurs to me that, by coming back to revisit events in Pride and Prejudice and what followed, it might have given you the opportunity to revise what you had written before. That upon further reflection, you might have thought better of the unfortunate choice to prematurely eliminate…
SW:  Excuse me, Mr. Collins.
WC:  Yes?
SW:  Forgive me for interrupting, but I could see where you were headed. I’m sorry, but you must understand that events in this new book had to agree entirely with what I wrote in The Darcys of Pemberley. The same is true of Return to Longbourn and Miss Georgiana Darcy of Pemberley. They’re all part of the same series, you see. So despite my personal fondness for you and how sincerely I value our friendship…
WC:  Still dead, then, am I?
SW:  I’m afraid so. But if it’s any consolation, I actually have sometimes regretted being so hasty in bringing about your character’s demise. You truly are one of a kind, sir, and a delight to write for. That’s why I always look forward to opportunities like this to renew our acquaintance. Plus, in The Ladies of Rosings Park, there are about a hundred and fifty pages prior to… the unfortunate event, so you have plenty of opportunity to shine before…
WC:  Before I go out in a blaze of glory. I think that is the phrase you are looking for.
SW:  Yes, thank you, Mr. Collins. And of course, that was not the end for you. You have not allowed yourself to remain trapped in the past. You have moved on and made a huge success of this, your second career, as well. I find that very admirable. Very inspiring. In fact…
WC:  Ms. Winslow, you cannot outdo me at my own game. Besides, I’m afraid we are out of time for today. [Mr. Collins turns to address the audience.] Let us take this lesson from Ms. Winslow’s visit: make the most of every day, because one never knows when some lunatic person or event will come along to cut one down in one’s prime. Until next time, then – if indeed there is a next time for any of us – I thank you all for being here.
[The ‘applause’ sign lights, and the studio audience responds tepidly, looking a little uncertain. “Cut,” shouts the director. “That’s a wrap.” Mr. Collins’s personal assistant hurries to his side to blot his brow, offer him a cold adult beverage, and, at his instruction, escort Ms. Winslow away. Thus ends another memorable day on the set of Meet the Author.]
At first glance, Anne de Bourgh doesn’t seem a promising heroine. But beneath that quiet exterior, there’s a lively mind at work, imagining how one day she will escape her poor health and her mother’s domination to find love and a life worth living.
Now Anne finally gets the chance to speak her mind. But Lady Catherine demands equal time. Even Charlotte Collins and Mrs. Jenkinson get into the act. Chapter by chapter, these ladies of Rosings Park take turns telling the tale from the moment Elizabeth Bennet sets foot in Hunsford, changing everything. Is Anne heartbroken or relieved to discover Mr. Darcy will never marry her? As an heiress, even a sickly one, she must have other suitors. Does Lady Catherine gracefully accept the defeat of her original plan or keep conniving? Will Anne’s health ever improve? And what really happened to her father?
Complete in itself, this work expands The Darcys of Pemberley series laterally, beginning during the timeline of Pride and Prejudice and carrying beyond to reveal the rest of Anne’s story. When a young lady is to be a heroine… something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way. (Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey)