Explore, report, repeat. It’s the recipe for an interesting life.

I know a small-town newspaper editor who says that he can walk from his office to the other end of town—a span of about ten blocks—and collect enough stories along the way to fill his daily paper.

Interesting stories are everywhere, if you just look for them. For twenty-five years, I’ve made a living doing exactly that.

I’m the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books. I’ve written about earthworms, the global flower industry, pioneering lady cops, obscure cocktails, and botanical poisons. In the pursuit of these stories I’ve gone around the world, behind the scenes, and deep into archives.

Along the way I take a lot of detours, side trips, and dives down rabbit holes. I even pick up weird stories on walks through my neighborhood. Some of these odd digressions—and often the best ones—never make it into one of my books.

But I put them in my sketchbook, and I share them here. I want to encourage you to do the same. Explore, report, repeat.

Subscribe for free and get the good stuff!

I’ll send you hand-illustrated stories, brimming with obscure research, unexpected digressions, and the good stuff that gets left on the cutting room floor. Lately I’ve written about haunted brewpubs, why I turn book research into collage, and the relationship between the botany of plums and Frida Kahlo’s early paintings.

I often recommend a book, a movie, or a podcast. I answer your questions about writing, books, art, or really anything you’d like to ask.

Paid subscribers go even farther— in a sketchbook

Curiosity fills a sketchbook. There’s no better way to observe the world than to carry a sketchbook and a pen. Whether you’re going around the globe or down the street, drawing and painting is a fantastic way to make new discoveries, tell stories, and fall in love with the world all over again.

These art lessons are a window into my travels, my process, and my art supplies—and now you can make them your own.

For the price of a couple of colored pencils, you’ll get:  

Here’s a free preview of the kind of thing you’ll see if you’re a subscriber.

These art tutorials are for everyone! Beginners welcome! Also, there’s no such thing as talent. Drawing and painting are technical skills. Anyone can learn how. Join us! Try it out for a month and see what you think. I hope to see you there.

About Me

I’m the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including Wicked Plants, The Drunken Botanist, and Girl Waits with Gun. My books have sold over a million copies worldwide and have been translated into 18 languages.

I’ve appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and Fresh Air, as well as CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, the PBS documentary The Botany of Desire, and–believe it or not– TLC’s Cake Boss. (The cake was delicious.) I’ve won a a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

I’ve also been a painter and drawer of pictures for over twenty years. I teach both writing and art classes online right here. I live in Portland, OR with my husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer who has his own Substack right here.

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I explore my world with a sketchbook and encourage you to do the same. Hand-illustrated, with art lessons for paid subscribers.


Telling illustrated stories and sharing small doses of wonder. I'm the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Girl Waits with Gun. I live in Portland, OR.