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


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!

No, I have not died…


This can happen only to a monkey who is not tech savvy. I did something only monkeys do: pressed the wrong button and all my half-finished drafts that I was loud-mouthing about (remember?)  D-I-S-A-P-P-E-A-R-E-D!!


This was my first reaction.

Uh-oh, something’s wrong.

Followed by:

This can’t be happening. All gone? WHAT!!

Next I went outside and kicked a few rocks (no pix available).

Then I drank 3 cups of tea (no pix available).

Finally I put an ad on Craigslist to the effect: Monkey messed up WordPress blog. Ate drafts. Please help. No money. Only good karma. Will pay it forward.

Guess what? Tons of folks wrote back. TONS!! I got back emails saying “How can I help?” “Whats wrong?” “Send link” etc. Then one very fine fellow  patiently helped me figure out where I goofed up. Sadly the damage cannot be undone but never mind, I am deeply gratified to know there is sweetness  in this world.

This is where I am now.

Lost drafts=renewed faith in humanity.


Never tell your resolution before hand

– John Selden

In other words no need to blab about what you are planning to do. Just do it for God’s sake. GO NIKE!!

Yo folks! It’s good to be back. Will post as soon as my head settles.

Cheers !

Beautiful Blogger and Very Inspiring Blogger Awards!

Woohoo, bring out the red carpet folks – I have been nominated for two Blogger awards, thanks to Kathryn Martins, Trinidad writer who lives “in a valley surrounded by the backs and shoulders of hills, against which corbeaux* and corn birds and shock-green parrots, hawks and white egrets and God knows how many other feathered beasts cast their shadows.” Can you tell she is a writer of fine literary fiction, or what? Kathryn writes the most intriguing short stories: the kind that will either leave you hanging by a fingernail or buzz inside your head for days. You can check them out on Kathryn Martin’s blog here.

In order to keep my award and not have it snatched away by those lurking Oscar mongers, I need to say seven  things about myself. So here goes.

1. I can write backwards.

2. I am clueless about wine – I lean towards sweet and cheap

3. My dream job is to be Prank Manager on Candid Camera

4. I don’t like flavored teas but will drink anything if I like the company

5. My favorite spectator sport is Sumo Wrestling  (the cheapest seats are closest to the stage)

6. I can burst bubble wrap all day long

7. I laugh an awful lot: my humor is pathetically low brow (the banana-peel-falling down-pie-in-you-face kind)

And since I am already up here on stage decked out in my guccis and puucis, I may as well nominate  a few of my favorite bloggers for the same two awards (**may I have the envelopes please**)

Here they are in random order:

Write it Sideways

Cynthia Robertson’s Blog

Leanne Shirtliffe Ironic Mom

Shubhakar Das: Fic-fac

Julia’s Blog

Alexis Grant: The Traveling Writer

Enjoy your awards folks. Let’s toast each other with a glass of corbeaux* – this sounds like a fancy wine to me but I suspect it may be something feathered that may not fit in a glass. Oh, never mind, stay well & blog happy!



How do you feed your blog?

The blog is a beast! It has to be fed. Regularly. The portions have to be right. The food healthy. No junk. Beware of the dangers of over-feeding your blog! Blogging is addictive. Novice bloggers blog every cough, sneeze and whiff of air that blows through their lives.  It’s easy to overindulge the beast and just as easy to starve it. Actually overfeeding will lead to starvation and it’s eventual sad demise. Restraint and portion control are key.

Nothing depresses me more than the cry of a starving blog. It’s like that cute little thing I took for a walk, played around with, then shamelessly ran away when it was watching a squirrel. If you find abandoned blogs crying out my name, please say you don’t know me. I have nightmares about them. It is easy to father a blog, but hellish hard to mother one. It takes time and commitment: two godawful words that make me want to eat chocolate or take a nap.

Is Blog Neglect a crime? What about Blog Abandonment? An ethical dilemma, maybe,  but rest assured, the wild, wild web is alive and well. There is still land, lots of land under starry skies above and nobody gets fenced in, even though countless bloggers have wandered off into the sunset, after a joyful ride or two.

But I have a plan folks and laugh not, dear ones…

I will stock a wondrous pantry to feed this voracious blog. I am collecting canned goods to the stock the shelves. The plan is, when the fresh produce runs out, I will pull out the preserves. In other words, I want to prepare for periods of drought, when the brain runs dry and inspiration at a low ebb. I have an index file of blog ideas and articles. Colored index cards, no less. Green for TEA, orange for WRITING and pink for BLOGGING and yellow for OTHERS. I am writing in snips and pieces and filing the posts in draft mode. Is that sheer genius, or what? Before I hurrah myself into self-sabotage – this is the plan, folks. THE PLAN. Not choo-choo train chugging ahead.

If you must know me, I am erratic, unduly excitable and over-anxious. When I do – I do too much. I am the type who laughs till I cry. I have a morbid attraction for chocolate. I love some people so much I want to bring them home and keep them as pets. Not good is it? The middle path, the middle path, Shona, I remind myself. But why is it so hard? Stock up, breathe deep, be patient. I have a nice  collection in my blog pantry. Sometimes I wander in, just to admire the shelves. I have to fight the impulse to pull out all the goodies at once. Each post is like sharing a cup of tea with friends. I just have to remember not to bring out all the cookies at once.

How I stay on track with my writing
Shona’s much-neglected KARMACHEF cooking blog

How do you manage your blog? How do you guard against brain drought and burn out? PLEASE TAKE THIS FUN POLL. Remember, your answers are anonymous.