Last Saturday I was in Ajo (pronounced ‘Ah-ho’) a wee mining town– a stone’s throw from the Mexican border. Ajo is as cute its name (population 3,500). The other Arizona town that rivals Ajo in its teeny name is the town of “Why”. I learned from the folks at Ajo the residents of “Why” wanted to name their town “Y” because it is located at a Y-shaped intersection – but the post office does not accept a single letter for a town name and that is why Why came to named Why! So much for trivia.
The “Friends of the Ajo Library” – a volunteer organization had invited me to give a talk. Ajo is a 2 hour drive from where we live, and what a beautiful drive it was through a highway lined with wildflowers. I wished I had stopped to take pictures but I worried I’d be late, so we drove straight on. The quaint little Ajo Salzar Library is located right in the middle of the town plaza and the Friends of the Library gave me a very warm welcome. After my slide show and Q&A there was small reception with the most delicious baked treats and tea. We drove around the town and up to see the big open pits and a cute little historical museum. Here is a picture of me in my rather loud dress standing outside the mining museum. What a gratifying day! Thank you Ajo!
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 Road. There’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.
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.
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!
“Patel’s remarkable debut effortlessly transports readers back to India on the brink of independence, with intriguing details about the tea industry in Assam while Patel deftly incorporates into the story add yet another layer of richness…enthralling characters, exotic setting, and evocative writing style.”– Booklist, starred review
“Debut author Patel offers a stunning, panoramic view of a virtually unknown time and place—the colonial British tea plantations of Assam—while bringing them to life through a unique character’s perspective.” Kirkus Reviews
“The historical detail makes this debut novel a rich reading experience.” Library Journal