Q is for Queen Anne’s Lace and Questionable Publishing Opportunities #AtoZChallenge
On April 20, 2015 | 18 Comments | gardening, writing |

We’re headed into the home stretch of the AtoZ Blogging Challenge. I’m posting early because I am traveling Monday morning, back to hearth and home after a visit to The Big Apple. Besides, it’s Monday somewhere!


Sometimes things are not what they seem.

We had finished our terracing and had all our plants installed. They were growing beautifully. However, so were the weeds. With other projects, such as a major remodel, we were overwhelmed, so I didn’t get outside to weed as much as I should. By the time I did, it was hard to tell which were plants and which were weeds.

When life settled down, our landscaper walked the property with me to help me sort out my dilemma. Having moved from Houston, these plants were new to me. I had, and still have, a lot to learn. My enthusiasm for gardening far outstrips my skill.

Anyway, one tall, leafy plant caught our eye. “That’s a weed,” he said.

“Can we eat it?” If you’ve followed me at all this month, my question will not surprise you.

“I’m not sure.”

Afterwards, I did my research. One possibility? Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot. It is highly edible, and one can use the roots, leaves, and flowers in soups, stews, and teas.

The more I read, though, the more convinced I became that I this was not the lovely and nutritious Queen Anne’s Lace, but the deadly Poison Hemlock, which has a similar appearance. Turns out PH is a noxious weed in Western Washington. I don’t know for sure, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. Much as I enjoy my food adventures, I’m not totally nuts.

I removed it carefully while wearing long sleeves and gloves, and had to throw it out in the trash instead of the yard waste. Afterwards, the gloves went straight into the wash.

This reminded me of the many publishing scams that exist. There are predators out there who just love seeing new, naive authors who want so badly to publish a book that they don’t bother to read the fine print.

When I was shopping When a Grandchild Dies, I queried publishers listed in The Writer’s Market. I was piling up the rejection letters when I received one that expressed glowing interest in my work. Naturally, I was thrilled! I mailed the manuscript out immediately.

Some time later, I received an equally glowing acceptance letter…and if I would pay them $6,500, they would publish my book.

Nowhere in their information did they mention being a vanity press. I said no to the deal, but I was crushed.

I wrote to The Writer’s Market and alerted them to the scam. They, too, were unaware, and thanked me for letting them know.

A few years ago, one of my online writer friends got caught up in a different sort of scam. The company published her book but priced it so high no one would buy it. She was able to buy her rights back…for a hefty fee, of course.

These days we have websites such as Predators and Editors to help protect us, but new authors are still getting scammed.

Word to the wise: wear your gloves when weeding so you don’t accidentally poison yourself…and wear your emotional gloves when querying publishers, too. Queen Anne’s Lace is lovely and nutritious. Poison Hemlock will kill you.

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