Feather in a Bubble: thoughts on crafting a novel

 

Rainy day. Good for writing. Good for contemplation. And I’m doing more of… guess what?

There’s a fragile glass ornament hanging from my floor lamp. It’s an ostrich feather enclosed in an oval glass bubble. I love this piece. It makes me think. The sunlight from my window makes every furry tendril of the feather come  alive. It lives and breathes. The feather wants to fly.

My biggest challenge as a writer is learning how to contain the story. I am chock full of stories. They roll right off the top of my head. No problem there. To harness the stories, thread them on a central vein (the theme) and keep my writing airy and alive   takes work. The enclosed glass form holds everything in. That is the form of the novel.

Hopefully with a little luck  I can pull this off.  What a miraculous feeling it is to get the feather inside the bubble. How do you contain a story? There are tricks and techniques, but most of all, it takes hard  work. That reminds me– time to get back to my writing.

But first tea…

Happy Tuesday, dear friends!

Sound of old tea factory machinery (funny imitation!)

Alan Lane, my dear friend and a retired tea veteran of Assam fondly remembers the start-up sound of the Lister diesel tea machinery of bygone days. Here is an amazing and ingenious imitation by two little Indian kids.  Please turn up your sound to enjoy. You won’t believe it! Thank you Alan, for sharing this lovely video.

Flowers and my Mother

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My mother in her late forties

Mother’s Day has come and gone but not a single day goes by when I don’t remember my Oma. Oma loved flowers. She grew them, she studied them, she painted them. She was curious and imaginative. She delighted in nature. Today when I see the colors of a fallen leaf, study the bark patterns on a tree and thumb through Ansel Adam’s photographs…. I remember my mother.Om in garden

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I am cleaning mom’s silver medals using this baking soda and aluminum foil method I found on Readers Digest
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Medals my mother won at the Cacher Club Flower Show in 1958

Oma was an avid gardner. Back when we lived in the tea gardens she won many medals at the Annual Flower Show at the Cacher Club: once 10 in a single year (1958). That year she took Best of Antirrhinum, Dianthus, (I never  heard of these flowers I had to Google them: Antirrhinum BTW is another name for Snap Dragon – who knew! ) Pansy, Gladiola, Carnation, Dahlia, Gerbera, Lettuce, Brussel Sprout and Celery! Quite a remarkable feat considering she was the only Indian memsahib competing against British ladies who are passionate, skilled gardeners and fiercely competitive! My mother gave them a run for their money by walking off with all the medals that year. Dad said everybody got tired of clapping. These medals are old and tarnished. Today I will give them a good scrub. I googled “how to clean silver,” and came up with this method using baking soda and aluminum foil. Let’s see if this works.

After mom passed away. I brought back her favorite book with me to America: Flowers of the World by Frances Perry. It’s a hefty authoritative volume and mom’s copy is much thumbed and covered with gift wrap for added protection over the dust jacket. Mom would put homemade dust jackets on all her favorite books to protect them from wear. Sometime she used pictures from old calendars. flower book inside pageflower book coverI was reminded of this many years ago when I loaned a book to a Thai friend of mine, here in Arizona. She returned my book covered with a homemade dust jacket with a picture of an Arctic wolf. I will never forget that. It touched my heart. That kind of care and reverence for books belongs to older cultures. We don’t see that in America.

ceramic plateHere is a small ceramic dish my mom made by molding clay over a glass form. I fired it in my kiln (I used to be a ceramic artist back then) and my mom painted a sprig of chrysanthemum in deft free-hand brush strokes completely from memory! IMG_4700Today I use this dish for my guitar picks and I remember my mother as I drink my cup of tea every morning.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends.  Please remember to make time for the ones you love. I have to constantly remind myself of this. It’s so easy to forget. Cheers!

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

Flame Tree Road (a prequel to Teatime for the Firefly)

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FLAME TREE ROAD is now available on pre-order from Amazon and will be in stores on 30th June, 2015.

Published 30th June 2015 (Mira/harper Collins)

A question I get asked a lot is: “Was the second book easier to write?” The answer is  complicated.

Teatime for the Firefly my first novel slipped out easily into the world. I wrote it in my own sweet time: I never imagined I would get a 3-book deal. That was two years ago. Teatime has gone on to become a favorite of book clubs, garnering rave reviews and I have my readers to thank for that.

With the second novel, not only did I have a publishing deadline but I was plagued with a  barrage of self-doubt and fears. The only way I could get past all that and write this book was to pretend nobody would ever read it. It worked!

Braiding the plot and characters together had its usual challenges but the revision process was easier the second time around. I now knew what to expect. I learned a lot when I worked with my first publishing editor on Teatime for the Firefly. I shared my experiences in an article I wrote for the Writers Digest:“Working with a Publishing Editor.”

So here we are: another milestone. Thank you all for your love and support. I could not have done it without you. I can’t wait for you to read FLAME TREE ROAD. Cheers!

🙂 Shona

CHECK OUT MY REVIEWS  goodreads-badge-read-reviews-2091036a1480ef4dec9cf59676584050

*Book will be shipped to you on June 30th 

FLAME TREE ROAD: Book Launch at the Poisoned Pen: 30th June, 7PM
FLAME TREE ROAD: Book Launch at The Poisoned Pen: 30th June, 7PM