Tea and books - a perfect pairing for a Christmas gift
Let me start by giving the news. I have published another novel. This one's very different from the previous book, which was a mystery novel - ok, with lots of romance thrown in as well. This one's more on the gothic side, because it features witches and werewolves and vampires. This one's more me. You can find it here, in case you're interested, and let me say that it makes a great Christmas gift, as it is an eBook and can be read in any portable device (mobile phone, tablet, laptop...). I'm considering having a paperback edition as well, but it's something I need to study better. Anyway, for the moment, it is out there, and it was a pleasure working on it. Not that it hasn't given me headaches, it has, but I had a blast writing it, and I can honestly say I lost myself completely to the world in the process. I would find myself so immersed in the writing I didn't even stop to breath - nearly.
But this wasn't an easy book to write. Well, it was easy, once I finally found its voice, but it has been a years' long process in the making. I remember twenty years ago, sitting on a huge bed with a notpad over my knees and a pen in my hand, a mug full of tea on the table by the side of me, and my head trying to make sense of all the ideas swimming inside it. I jotted them down hurriedly, and they were the basis for this novel. I tried my hand at it many times, I have written different versions of it - some focusing more on the supernatural, others more on the occult, some where the vampires were the important factor, others where witches ruled the stroyline. None sounded like what I wanted. Some weren't even finished (maybe because they were far too much Anne Rice - i??? Because I have a version of this where it's like you're reading The Witching Hour by a lousy author, you know?) Still, they all paved the ground for this novel. And now it's there. The first volume, at least.
As I'm nearly wrapping up the first draft for volume II, I find myself immersed still in the continuance of this storyline. The same characters still need their voices, and there's a few new ones that get to play mean, as well. I still sit down to write, but now on my laptop - I had an awful time of it, transitioning from writing in a notebook with a pen to writing directly on my laptop, but now I wouldn't have it any other way!! I still have the cuppa sitting close at hand, and somedays I forget to drink my tea, that's how into the writing business I am! But I find it comforting, having a tea next to me while I work, I find it peace inducing as well. When I need a break, a very small one, I pick up the tea, reread the last few lines, drink, sigh and breathe. To me there's nothing quite like tea and books to make life pleasurable. Ok, so wine helps too. Good red wines! But tea and books are the quintessence of cozy, of warmth and home. They spell home, to me.
Nowadays I find myself much more on the writing end of the books than the reading side. Itend to read at night, when I go to bed, before I go to sleep. I love reading in bed, it's a habit that's been with me since I learned how to read, and I hope to keep it up for many more years. There'll be no tea, then, but when I was younger and time seemed to stretch further, I used to curl up on a sofa with a book and a cuppa. Now I curl up on my desk chair and write a book as I drink a cuppa, and it's all good. So, and because tea is as important to me as books, since I write my own books, I figured why not make my own tea blend? It's the kind of tea you can gift tea lovers and it's a tasty one, a real zinger. I like my tea blends to have punch, this one has a definite kick, and it's full of flavour. It does have caffeine, as the basis is a good ceylon black tea, but I find that you can also substitute for rooibos if you prefer to leave out the caffeine.
So here you go, my 'Writer's tea blend' was done this way:
- four tea sachets (I used ceylon, but English Breakfast works well, and rooibos too)
- star anise (one, one and half)
- one tbsp finely chopped dark chocolate
- ground allspice (five to six grains, ground with a pestle and mortar)
- one cinnamon stick broken into small pieces
- about half a dozen dried cranberries, chopped
- a small scatter of chilli flakes (really small, you don't want it to be too hot!)