New year, new beginnings

This was the most beautiful rainbow I saw in the parking lot, the day I turned in my manuscript for Flame Tree Road
The incredible rainbow I saw in the parking lot, the day I turned in my final revisions for Flame Tree Road

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I am shocked to realize it’s been a whole year since I posted anything. 2014 was a crazy year! I turned in my final manuscript for Flame Tree Road (my second book) in mid-December – just before my editor went on maternity leave. That same evening I saw the most glorious full-arc rainbow in a parking lot. Being an incorrigible optimist, I take that to be a good sign.

Now to clear up some confusion: there has been a name change for book #2 from Song of the Flame Tree to Flame Tree RoadThere’s also a new cover in the works which I will share soon. The pub date for Flame Tree Road (as of now) is 30th June, 2015. These are very exciting times but more updates in separate post. Right now, I am trying to ease myself back into blogging as it feels like I’ve just returned from a long expedition to the North Pole.

Beautiful tea party setting for my author event put together by the West Side Stories and CELC Book Clubs of Goodyear.
Beautiful tea party setting for my author event put together by the West Side Stories and CELC Book Clubs of Goodyear.

Added to my writing deadlines  were a string of author events last year. Teatime for the Firefly has drummed up some serious interest in Assam tea. Readers want to drink the same tea I drink, even though I insist it’s no fancy tea– just good, strong Assam CTC. Several events I attended  this year served Assam Tea. Some groups went to extraordinary lengths to plan elaborate tea parties complete with exquisite table settings, fine bone china and dainty treats. Seeing all the excitement and appreciation over Assam Tea, I am convinced the days of the frufru herby teas are numbered.  America now wants earthy and good, strong Assam tea is right up there with the mud-clumped beetroot, goat cheese, pork belly and crusty bread.

If you want to try Assam Tea try this Assam Tea Sampler from Upton Tea
If you want to try Assam Tea, check out this excellent Assam  Sampler from Upton Tea. There are some nice varieties here. The CTC is the kind I drink because it brews stronger and takes milk well.

There’s breaking news on the caffeine front as well. New medical research shows Caffeine is good for you and a regular caffeine intake can prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimers. If you consider the copious amounts of high-octane Assam Tea I drink, I should be sharp as a stiletto, yet I can never remember where I last set down my tea-cup! There are half-drunk cups of tea all over the house, and possibly a dead one trapped in the microwave.

But nothing brings more cheer to a winter’s afternoon than the old cuppa, don’t you think? I will need plenty of cheer, I tell you, as I roll up my sleeves to tackle Book#3 this year. The electric kettle has just come to a rolling boil, as I write, and here comes the welcome “ting” as it shuts off. So join me dear friends to welcome this beautiful new year and thank you for your continued love and support. You keep me bushy-tailed and wanting to tell stories. Cheers!

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23 thoughts on “New year, new beginnings

  1. Dear Shona,                   
    Thank you so much for your new year greetings! I am looking forward to your new book. I do not know why my mind is conjuring up a ghost in the book. Is there one? Do not tell me yet.I gave a few copies of your Tea time for the firefly to friends including one to  one of my sisters who was born in Assam. A very popular upscale brand of jewelery one that I  found out last week only  at the  jewelery shop  called “The Shady Lane” is called Firefly. It has exotic vibrant colors. You became alive once again because I was thinking of drinking tea from the  only tea shop in town called” Tea Lovers Shop ” a few streets from the “The Shady lane” while looking at the firefly jewelry. Thus, I told the lady behind the counter to read  “Tea time for the firefly.”I pen off now to get my drink.”The cup that cheers but does not inebriate“.
    Best wishes,
    Harmeet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello dear Harmeet,
      Thank you so much for gifting Teatime for the Firefly to your friends, especially your sister. Hopefully she will be able to connect with the Assam of her childhood. As for wearing fancy firefly jewelry and drinking fancy tea at a fancy tea shop…I know you didn’t do that – but you know me and my imagination 🙂 I just can’t help it!
      Best wishes to you for 2015.xx Shona

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      1. I was making a connection with the Firefly brand of jewelery and the tea shop.I enjoy Assam tea in this shop and was about to visit it.. You know I grew up with the best brands of tea. As for jewelery I never wore it a s a kid.It was simply not done.The jewelery was not designed as a firefly rather evocative to my thought process creating associations between tea and firefly. .So, your name jumped like a genie in a pill box only after “Shona the author” had been languishing for months in the crevices of my grey matter . The result was introducing yet another person to your book.. What does it tell about you AS AN AUTHOR? You know the answer.YOU ARE GOOD!

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  2. Dear Shona,
    I read your book with a great deal of interest and also posted this review in Goodreads. Your Comments? Souri

    I did not wish to complete reading the book “Teatime for a Firefly” by Shona Patel! I always wondered what a book solely based on Assam and the Tea Plantations would be like! Having witnessed the life of a Tea Planter (albeit the Tea Garden Doctor) during my childhood I could so identify with the locale and through Layla, witness the life and times of the local plantation workers as they face racism, poverty, superstition and even politics.

    The plot is divided into two locales- her Hometown and Aynakhal Tea Estate where she lives post marriage. Layla, born under an unlucky star, (though this is not a tale of avoiding ones predestined fate) is raised by her British educated Grandfather Dadamoshai who is a District Magistrate in Assam during the per-Independence Days. Her liberal upbringing helps in her marriage to Manik Deb who despite being engaged to the daughter of the richest merchant in the same town, chooses Layla instead. They then start their new life in the midst of the Tea Gardens in their manorial Bungalow surrounded by incompetent servants and witness her adjustments to life as the only Indian Memsahib on an immense tea plantation in the remote jungles of Assam. Layla in narrating the story seamlessly incorporates many details on the geography and traditions of her homeland to enrich the story, from the politics of leopard hunts to the gossipy expatriate culture she was witness to.

    The depiction of the life of the Memsahib is well researched and genuine. I also found some characters of the novel very interesting. Firstly the servants- Halua the cook, the ringwormy paniwalla (kitchen help) Potloo the Night Watchman, not to mention the Kalua the Bearer. For a newly wed bride it would be so exasperating to have to deal with this motley crowd of thieving and conniving workers, as well as ensure that the Household is run efficiently and to the satisfaction of her husband who seems so disinterested in matters of the Home. The wife would be expected to adopt two different personalities-one a hard and uncompromising one towards the menials, and another one which would be soft and loveable towards her partner.

    Likewise when interacting with the expatriates like Rob Ashton the Champion Tennis player who they meet at Silchar’s Paul & Sons (who can forget this store with all its magical goods!) and his wife Debbie, who has turned Indophile and wants to learn to wear a sari, to typical Burrasahibs Ian & Audrey McIntyre baking Dundee Cakes, to Alasdair the Shikari (hunter) who married a local girl- Jamina the ‘hot chutney chokri’ (girl) despite being of blue blood, Layla being the sole Indian lady officially married to a Tea planter is expected to present an urbane and equally sophisticated face and hold her own with the bunch of gossipy and clannish ladies at the Marriani Club called the cat gang by Manik. She is also Indian in many of her ways and holds on to her value systems such as wearing Saris and writing to Dadamoshai often to narrate her experiences at her new location.

    The thread that holds this story together is Dadamoshai who assists Jimmy O’Conner another expatriate Shikari who chased after a rogue tusker that killed his wife, and is about to be imprisoned after killing a Rhino, but saved at the last minute as the officiating judge in the case is known to Dadamoshai. Jimmy teaches Layla the magic of growing tomatoes-plant them in October and water them with diluted milk and chant a spell learned from his Celtic grandmother! Again because the liberal Dadamoshai had extended shelter and assistance to Jamina’s brothers wife who were Muslims, Layla herself is saved from a terrible slaughter as she seeks to return to her injured husband at Aynakhal now in the midst of the bloodbath surrounding India’s Independence.

    Layla is however in my view the most interesting character in the Novel. Layla could so easily have turned expatriate herself (many did in those times-trying to be more British then the Brits themselves!) but chooses to hold her Indian background and befriends Jamina the waif who was expected to fetch a handsome sum when her virginity would be sold at the Aunties brothel. She also displays exemplary toughness in fetching her drunk husband from his drunken revelry with his chums as indeed in returning to Aynakhal during the turbulent riots.

    To conclude therefore read this book to savour the authenticity of life as we knew it in the midst of the remote Tea Gardens of Assam in North East India. It has its flavour of myths, of daring as well true grit that makes so many of us proud to have shared this legacy.

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    1. Dear Souri,
      Oh my, what arousing tribute to my humble book: so wonderfully summed up. Thank you for your excellent review on Goodreads. I am very honored. Best wishes to you and yours for 2015. Cheers!

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  3. Is this a sequel to the Teatime for the Firefly? Would love to read it. I am a tea drinker too though I seem to gravitate more to Earl’s Grey and Darjeeling which are slightly milder. Tea usually reminds me of whatever little small snacks and crumpets that I have with tea but should be giving up..sigh.

    What do you do when you have copious cups of tea in the day ( I assume a writer would )? Do you have accompaniments with it? In Bengali, we call it “ta” with the “cha” 🙂

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    1. For me the “cha” is often the excuse for the “ta”. One is no good without the other. I try to stick to good old Marie biscuits or Digestive and when panic strikes (as it often does with writers) I give in to chocolate covered hobnobs. Chocolate cake spells disaster because I have no defense against it. I try not to have cake lying around. But life is short so here’s to cha-ta and adda in 2015. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello and Happy New Year!!

    I am excited to learn that you have a new book coming out soon!! I am looking forward to reading it. I too am a lover of tea, particularly strong, sweet spicy chai with milk. Yumm!! Welcome back to bloging.

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  5. What a beautiful rainbow. It’s lovely to hear from you again and many congratulations on finishing your second book. It’s wonderful how well Teatime for the firefly is doing, although I’m not surprised as it’s a cracking read. I’m looking forward to reading Flame Tree Road when it comes out, you’re really on a roll. Does book 3 follow the same characters? I was just saying to my mum yesterday, after a fall of snow, that the great thing about winter weather is that you need to drink more tea. Here’s to another productive year for you, and an endless supply of good strong tea. 🙂

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    1. Hi dear Lorna, I have thought of you more often than you know and it’s so good to hear from you. Please give your (our) parents my love and thank you for your good wishes. I hope the best that can be comes your way in 2015. xx Shona

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    1. Hello there! Thanks for popping by my blog. No worries I am sure our paths will cross in the future. FYI I have another event at the Gilbert Public Library on Saturday, 9th May (2-3PM) May be I’ll see you there. Cheers! 🙂

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