What do a plague of grasshoppers and reviews for Artemis Awakening have in common? Well, the most obvious link is that they were the two most interesting things to happen to me this last week.
I think it was last Wednesday when I walked out into my yard to put some coffee grounds in the compost bin and the ground underfoot appeared to explode upwards. I literally jumped back several feet, nearly scattering coffee grounds to all sides. When I recovered from my surprise, I discovered what you (courtesy of the spoiler in the title) already have figured out. My yard was inundated with grasshoppers.
I know the word “inundated” is most commonly used for liquid materials like water and mud, but I use it deliberately here. There were so many grasshoppers that they seemed to flow up from the ground like water, moving away from me in a wave that was only interrupted when they hit the side of the house or one of the fences. It was positively creepy.
In this first encounter, the grasshoppers and I didn’t make physical contact. However, as the week went on, their numbers increased. Now, when the grasshoppers erupted from where they were hidden among the foliage, they went any which way. The majority still went away from me, but a fair number – probably reacting to the space in front of them being filled by their fellows – bounced back in my direction. I had to be careful to check my hair and clothing before going into the house, lest I carry along an unwelcome hijacker or two.
Unwelcome, I should say, to me. My four cats thought the grasshoppers were the best toys ever, better even than the occasional lizard that slips in under the porch door or the impossible to capture flying creatures. Two year-old Persephone even forewent meals if she even thought a grasshopper had gotten into the house. I’m not sure what was more interesting: watching her hunt an actual grasshopper or watching her search for the grasshopper she was certain was there, but wasn’t. Cats certainly have at least as much imagination as do writers. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.
Despite being soundly annoying, so far the plague of grasshoppers hasn’t been too terrible. They are much smaller than the ones we normally get in late summer. So far, they haven’t shown much interest in my plants. I blame them for the vanishing of a couple of beet seedlings, but that could be unfair. I’m sure we have other predators that would find tender beet greens tempting.
But we’re definitely in a “wait and see” pattern. For one, I have no idea if these grasshoppers will mature into the big green ones that do eat my plants – especially, for some reason, scarlet runner bean pods. The other is that we took advantage in a lull in the winds (which picked up again) to put some young plants in the ground: two types of tomatoes, several varieties of peppers, and ichiban eggplant. So far, the grasshoppers are ignoring them. The birds are also beginning to show an interest in adding grasshoppers to their diet. I’ve seen a few birds pick a grasshopper right out of the air. Maybe Nature will step in and provide a biological control.
As I mentioned, the other new development this past week was that Artemis Awakening received more reviews from major reviewing organs. Both Library Journal and Kirkus weighed in on the “favorable” side of the balance. I understand that Artemis Awakening has a solid following on Good Reads as well. It was an io9 “pick” for May. What really makes me happy is that the reviewers seem interested not just in this one book, but in the promise of more to come.
I’ve also had queries from readers asking if I’ll be selling Artemis Awakening directly. The answer is “not now.” If you’re interested in a signed copy, you can either buy one and arrange to mail it to me (with SASE included) or contact one of the bookstores where I’ll be doing a signing. Right now, that includes Mysterious Galaxy, Borderlands Books, Page One Books, and Bookworks. Complete information as to dates and contact information are available on my website: http://www.janelindskold.com. Many independent bookstores (such as these) will arrange with you to have books signed and personalized, then ship the books to you. They’ll also have some signed stock afterwards.
However, if you’re interested in some of my older works – including many of the increasingly hard to find Avon mass market paperbacks and hard covers of most of my Tor novels (I’m sold out on some of the Firekeepers) – I have a bookstore page on my website. Unlike with sports and media stars, signing and personalization is done for no extra charge in archival quality ink, often in color! Do consider a signed book as a gift for that difficult person on your list. You can be sure to provide something no one else will!
Now to consider… I often hang my laundry outside. I wonder if I do so how many grasshoppers will it pick up?