I worked in the vegetable garden early Sunday, before the spring winds arrived, to see what needed to be done. Lifting the straw I placed on the planted beds, I saw tiny shoots crowded together. I had to fix that.

I learned the hard way not to plant warm-weather vegetables before the end of May. (It did snow several inches last week.) So what I have in the ground already are cool-weather crops such as peas, potatoes, onions, greens and the like. 

So I spent an hour on my knees plucking seedlings so the others may have enough room to grow big and lush. I tend to broadcast seeds rather than plant in rows. And even though I thought I was light-handed this year, I still had to thin.

Then, there were plants that seeded themselves like dill and coriander, which would take over the garden if I let them, and mint, which spreads too easily from the row of herbs. I have to keep them under control.

As I picked what would go and what would stay, I was reminded I do this with words. 

Recently, I finished The Twin Jinn in the Land of Enchantment, my third novel for middle-grade readers. My agent said he thought I used the word “chuckle” a lot. Did I run the ms through the word frequency website he sent me? Yes, I did chapter by chapter but not the whole ms.

I discovered I used the word “chuckle” 40 times in a 48,000-plus word ms. Then, there were other faves such as good, like, etc., which I used much more. I considered each one. Yes, many instances warranted their use. But some were unnecessary. I found another word or eliminated the sentence entirely. 

In the end, I only cut 200 words, but I feel my thinning lets the story grow nicely.