Love, Death, and Lonely Bouquets

A conversation between Elisheva Heit, flower artist, and Tali Himmel, author

Elisheva Heit grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her mother used to forage for edible and medicinal plants “deep into the country and on the edge of forests.” Medicine was hard to get, and her mother treated their childhood illnesses with teas she steeped from dried plants and flowers. To this day, dry flowers remind Elisheva of medicine. Fresh flowers are a whole other story.

“When you were invited over for dinner in Russia, you always brought a bouquet of flowers with you.  It was the appropriate thing to do.” Elisheva explains, as she works on her day’s creations at Flamenco Flowers and Sweets. “There was no flower delivery, you went to a specialty flower store or to one of the little stands that dotted the streets of St. Petersburg. Flower choice depended on what was in season.”

Photo Credit: Shev Green – Used with permission

“Were there other customs you remember?”

“On the first day of school, each child would bring flowers for the teacher.”

“A single flower?”

“Oh no!” Elisheva laughs. “Every child brought a bouquet.”

“What would the teacher do with all those bouquets?”

“You know, I never thought about it. What I remember is that most of the kids would bring Gladiolas, but my Mother hated Gladiolas, so I brought Asters.”

It’s interesting to me, what we associate with flowers, and what social norms are at play whether we are aware of them or not.

“People use flowers to commemorate the big events: Birth, Marriage, Death.”

“What do people usually order flowers for?”

“Love, marriage, birth, death: the big occasions. What other big occasions does a person have? What else is there?”

“Are there certain flowers that are associated with specific events?”

“For funerals, you’d need a big display, vivid, big pieces – so you’d use cheaper flowers. Carnations for example, are very popular for funeral arrangements. And so I get a lot of people who tell me not to put carnations in their bouquets – it reminds them of death and loss. Although I think carnations are lovely. Look,” she opens her cold storage, “see how many colors they come in: the purples, the reds. Those are not painted, those are all naturally colors.” Continue reading

Requiem for a Bookworm

Abigail scours the web for interesting news so you don’t have to! This week:

After twenty years, Science Fiction and Fantasy Net (SFF Net) has announced that it will be shutting down operations this Friday, March 31st. Founders Jeffry Dwight and Steve Ratzlaff cited increasing costs and falling revenue as the reason for its closing. In a statement on the site, they claim,

“our deep regret is that we will be unable to continue serving our loyal friends. SFF Net has…been about online friendships, shared interests, and shared lives.”

A SFF Net Facebook page has been created to keep the community in contact.

The news is dishearteningly reminiscent of recent closures of other like-minded bastions of bookworms and SFF fandom, including some Hugo award winners. I’d like to take a quiet moment to remember all the good times we’ve shared together. Cue sappy song.

In Memoriam:

Ranting Dragon

A Dribble of Ink

SF Signal


Like Dwight and Ratzlaff of SFF Net, many creators just can’t afford the time or money to keep their sites afloat.

Reviews were the backbone of many of these sites. And the future of book blogging is only looking bleaker. Recent updates to the Amazon affiliate program could drastically reduce the commission they stand to earn from directed traffic.

It’s more important than ever to show our support to the creators who are still plugging away. The next time you enjoy a post from your friendly web-borhood bookworm, send a little love their way.



And if the option is available, send them a tip. Who knows? You just might pay for the coffee that fuels your favorite new read.

The Titans would love to know who are your favorite SFF bloggers?


Abigail’s Favorite 2016 Technology

Abigail’s scoured the web for tech updates in the world of reading and writing fiction. Here are her top seven news stories from 2016!


As the intern for Sell More Books Show podcast, I spend a lot of time with my nose to the ground sniffing out the latest news and author tips in the publishing industry.

Because there’s never a dull day in the wide world of books, we always have fascinating and informative stories that don’t make the final cut for the podcast’s line-up.

In the spirit of giving these discarded stories a second chance, I’ll be sharing them here.

I’ll start with a recap of technological advancements made in 2016. Over the past year, authors and readers enjoyed new ways to create, interact with, and analyze books.

Here are my top seven picks for technology that could revolutionize the publishing industry.

My first four picks are proof that creating and consuming stories became more interactive in 2016:

1) CNET published a “massively multi-writer” sci-fi novel with over fifty authors working at a time on a shared document.

2) Amazon introduced choose-your-own adventure audio stories on Alexa. Continue reading

Nanowrimo Love Letters: Reconciliation

Abigail has seen the error of her ways! Will NaNo take her back? Read part one, part two, and part three!


NaNo, my old flame,


What I’m about to say may sound crazy. But in memory of the love we once shared, please hear me out.

Forgive me. I’ve been such a fool.

I was scared. Fifty thousand words seemed a herculean task, and I felt so small, so wholly unprepared and inadequate. And yes, there were some dark days when I couldn’t call myself a writer.

But now I realize that I was never alone in my struggle. You and a community of 500,000 wrimos were there by my side showing me that I’ve been a writer all along.

Even though our story is imperfect—even though our characters stumbled, even though the world we put them in was hollow, even though our plot was misguided—it was better to have written and lost than to never have written at all.

If all I have to show for my hours spent with you is a broken-hearted story, I’ll take it. I will gladly sign my name to it.

But I have a feeling that this is not the end. November still draws breath, and there’s still life left in our story.

I’m asking for a second draft, a second chance.

I know we haven’t seen each other in a week. I know that we only have 33,340 between us, but who needs a fat wordcount when we have each other?

Let’s run away together. Let’s make this a shotgun love story.

We’ll escape all the distractions of day-to-day life. We’ll hole ourselves up in a cheap motel or an isolated cabin deep in some forgotten woods. Just you, me, and an old trusty typewriter.

We’ll abandon food, sleep, and an internet connection. Writing will be the only sustenance we’ll require.

Let’s pledge our undying devotion to one another. Let’s word sprint headlong into the dwindling hours until, at long last, we reach our story’s happily-ever-after.

Nano, if you feel the same way, put on a clean shirt and your best pair of jeans and meet me on November 30th at the courthouse. I’ll be waiting for you.

Forever yours, forever a writer,


P.S. Um, about that internet connection, we’ll probably need it on November 30th to upload the word count. Bring your hotspot.

P.P.S. A bottle of bubbly would be nice too. And don’t forget the ice! (Partly because I’ll need something to cool down the carpal tunnel.)

P.P.P.S. I have a sudden craving for Funyuns. Bring a couple bags. On second thought, make that a couple dozen bags. Writing makes me peckish.

P.P.P.P.S Slight change of plans. Instead of the whole courthouse-isolated-cabin-thing, let’s meet at the local library. Much less likely to run into hungry, Funyun loving bears.

P.P.P.P.P.S Drats! The local library is closed for renovations. Don’t they know what month it is? Let’s just meet at my place. After all, we write best in house slippers and pajamas.



<< Part 3