My book comes out on December 4th, and the next step on the road to publication is apparently building a community. I remember when building a community involved family night supper at Carmel Presbyterian Church and a block party in the neighborhood. Now it’s all about the social platforms. How can I describe my inability to cope on this level? Let’s just say that while the rest of the world is out there running in the Kentucky Derby, I’m over here trying my hardest to stay upright in a game of donkey softball.

Not really knowing how to begin this phase, my marketing team at Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press recommended I get online and just kind of…go seek… I think that means look for readers and writers who may be interested in my first book, Lily Barlow, The Mystery of Jane Dough, and interact with them. So I went. I sought. And to my delight I found an organization called Tall Poppies.

I’m not sure exactly what sequence of keystrokes transpired for me to land amongst the Tall Poppies, but once I did, I began exploring in my usual way—cracking doors and peeking through curtains. Nothing that would scream commitment. However, it only took a few left turns before I was sucked in.

The Poppies themselves are not adding new members to their ranks, which came as a monumental disappointment. They have a sidekick group, though, called Bloom, and it’s open to all of us. I joined Bloom on Facebook. I also subscribed to the email list, so I get meaty messages that arrive during the wee hours, and I devour these over my first cup of coffee.

I’m infatuated with the organization, and I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure why. They’re writers. I’m a writer. They’re women. I’m a woman. Is that it, or do I have some secret poppy passion that’s been lying dormant all this time? 

By way of investigating, I decided to peel the poppy (Get it? Cute twist on peeling the onion…). Well, that is until it dawned on me that the cutesy phrase was uncomfortably close to the process of harvesting opium. Stepping back from the drug trade, I dropped my cutesy phrase and focused on this overwhelming desire to become a Tall Poppy. What’s with me an the poppy?

In a flashback to my childhood, I realized it was my Pap who first introduced me to the flower while we were running an errand of some kind for Gram. Coming out of a store, there was a group of volunteers passing out red crepe paper flowers. Pap made a donation in memory of those who died in World War One, and as he twisted the flower’s wire stem around the button on my shirt, he told me about a field in Europe where hundreds of soldiers died fighting. Later, poppies took over the field en masse. As a kid, I was mesmerized by the stories that sprang from the symbolism, like how it was Nature’s way of reminding us that the field once ran red with the blood of people at war. 

Forty-plus years later, I still look for the volunteers passing out those crepe paper flowers in front of the grocery store, and every time I see one I make a contribution in memory of Pap. That’s not my only poppy connection, though. I have two paintings of poppies in my house. And the bakery in my book is called Poppy’sBakery. Oh, and did I mention I’m tall? Five feet ten inches. It’s so obvious! I should be a Tall Poppy!

Or should I? Maybe I’m not supposed to be a Tall Poppy, in spite of all the signs. Maybe I’m just supposed to be a Purple Carnation of Average Height. Or a Low Growing Dandelion. Or a Tattoo of a Daisy. Or a State Flower of North Carolina. Or a Hydrangea That Didn’t Get Eaten By the Deer. Or a Simple Bouquet of Zinnias. Or a Fern Frond. Or a Shishigashira. 

My quest to join the Tall Poppy community dovetails with my quest to create a community in support of my book, but that really shouldn’t overpower the real reason I’m here—the quest to write the next book in the series. Sure, I’ll still enjoy the Tall Poppies—their group, their books, their posts and their blogs. But I’ll do it from my side of the garden, while I write and build my own little online group…me and the other random flowers growing along fences, on jungle vines and up through cracks in the sidewalks.

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