Michaeline: The Parable of the Black Tea

A young lady and gentleman having tea at five-clock.

For a bunch of leaves soaked in hot water, tea provokes a lot of passion, and a lot ideas about “doing it right”. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Green tea, of course, is a fine art in Japan and people study for years to do it right. There are special costumes, special bowls for the tea, and even the tea itself is a special blend, especially powdered for the tea ceremony.

You can enjoy the “way of tea” club in some high schools, and pick up a very esoteric hobby (and possibly a part-time job, as you progress, pick up a teaching license, and start to instruct others in the “way of tea”).

Green tea is green tea; my friend’s friend was doing a ceremony with black tea, and I’d been drinking black tea all my life. My father, in fact, had developed several rituals over the years, which finally settled into putting six teabags (Lipton’s) in boiling water, turning off the heat, and letting the whole thing steep for exactly 20 minutes. Then, the super-tea was diluted with a quart and a half of water, and put in the fridge for the next day’s consumption. (Sorry, Jilly, to describe that so graphically, but that’s how it was.)

Well, we didn’t have to cosplay in frock coats and pelisses for this tea party my friend’s friend was holding, but it was marked by ritual. Water was brought to the correct temperature, pots were rinsed and warmed, and all sorts of rules were observed. And the milk! Oh, so many rules about the milk, now eroded in my mind by contradictory internet arguments about how to serve milk with tea (or tea with milk). This party took place before we got internet, so I couldn’t double check the rules later and preserve them in my memory. All that faffing about did make a good cup of tea, but not a out-of-body-experience-inducing tea. There are only two parts I remember – the water must Continue reading

Michaeline: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Ships and Bicycles, Too

A history of transportation from reindeer through trains to the motorcar.

People may remain fundamentally the same, but as their technology changes, so does the form of their stories. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

There’s an old writing adage that says every story is either about someone coming to town (the mysterious stranger!) or someone leaving town (a quest! a quest!). But sometimes, the story isn’t about the arrival or the departure, but the journey itself.

Summer is the perfect time to write a travel story! You could set your story on a plane, a train or an automobile. Being trapped in a small space for a period of time promotes a sense of desperation . . . but by virtue of being in a MOVING space, you know the story is going to end with a release (let’s hope, though, that release isn’t a fiery crash! Although, it’s summer! It certainly could be. Disaster stories are popular. Look at the Titanic, or books about people who survived a plane crash in the Andes.)

Let’s take a quick look at five common modes of transportation, and what they could bring to your story.

First, the plane. You’ve got planes of all shapes and sizes to choose from, and more than 100 years of aviation. But they all fly above the common worries and fears of ground-bound folks. They get there fast, and there really is no escape (except by parachute, death or magic) until the plane lands.

The Dream Bible says to dream of airplanes is to dream about Continue reading

Michaeline: Twittering Tropes for New Book Promotion

There’s a new Twitter marketing strategy that caught my eye recently. List a bunch of tropes that describe your book, and then add the links for purchase or preorder.

Jackie Lau's Ice Cream Lover offers: 1) opposites attract, 2) paint-your-own unicorn party, 3) unicorn onesie, 4) dumplings, 5) foodie six-year-old and 6) grandmother who discovers texting.

Jackie Lau caught my attention with the ice cream, and the foodie six-year-old was a joy, and not just a plot moppet.

I haven’t seen this before, but then again, I don’t get around much, so maybe it’s a thing. Maybe everyone is doing it, and I just haven’t seen it before. But . . . it looks like a really good idea, and I’m going to pretend that you are as in the dark as I was.

I first noticed when Jackie Lau did it for Ice Cream Lover. Jackie just showed up suddenly on my phone Twitter feed, and I was in the mood for ice cream and romance . . . and that’s how I ended up following her. She had me at ice cream; add in an #AsianRomCom, and I bought her book. And boy, it was good! Ice cream, sexy scenes of the like I’ve never seen in romance before (do note: I don’t get around much), a bi-cultural heroine and Continue reading

Michaeline: Caturday and Puzzle Answers

Well, last week was a bust as far as my priming experiment. I provided a word search Saturday with special words meant to prompt my subconscious into a writing mood . . . but, you know. It was busy. I was tired. I don’t have a story that urgently needs to get written down. And, on the happy side, my daughter and son-in-law are visiting! I’d rather have a nice dinner and chat with them instead of holing away and writing.

So, today, I give you the answers Continue reading

Michaeline: Writing Word Puzzle for Priming the Pump

 

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Some days, you just need a little psychological boost to get started. I’ve talked before on this blog about the power of priming at least twice, and here is a puzzle with words I associate with good writing. Give it a try and see if you like it!

Or, if you’d like to try your own hand at making a personal puzzle with words that are meaningful to you, visit Discovery Education to create your own game.

Happy Saturday!

 

Continue reading

Michaeline: Fictional Mothers who Kept a Sense of Self

A Japanese woman with an open kimono sits with her small son behind her. They are both looking into a mirror.

Motherhood in fiction: can the mother still see herself after she has children? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

In genre fiction, many heroines and heroes have lost their mothers. Before medical advances, moms died. A lot. Childbirth, exhaustion, diseases that we can fix with a round of antibiotics . . . people in the 19th century knew about motherless children and orphans. Everyone had a cousin or a friend who had lost a mother (or had lost one themselves), so as a literature plot point, it packed a lot of punch and came with built-in baggage.

When mothers do appear, they are rarely the main character.

This is somewhat understandable. As a mom myself, I didn’t have the energy or the time to be a hero, unless it was the Hero of the Gastroenteritis of 1997 (when the child was exploding out of both ends), or the more everyday adventures of Dinner on the Table. Nobody wants to read a 75,000 word novel about that.

However, moms often have great reasons to go beyond and above the call of duty. After all, these “mama bear” chestnuts don’t get thrown around for no reason. If you mess with a woman’s kids, you can’t predict the results. Moms get proactive, creative and, to be honest, sometimes irrational when their children are in danger. They’ll push their kids out of the way of cars, donate a kidney, fight a pouncing cougar or rush into a burning building to rescue their children.

Two fictional mothers stick in my mind. One was the fiercely independent Stella Johnson (played by Barbara Eden) of the Harper Valley PTA. I was only nine or ten when I saw the movie, but I still remember how this mom kept her humor and was true to herself. Being a mom wasn’t integral to the plot (except, perhaps, that she needed a reason to be part of the Parent Teacher Association), but it was an essential part of her identity. She was a make-up saleswoman with style and flair, and she bested all the fuddy-duddy conservatives in town with the help of her free-spirited neighbors who were also sick of the oppression.

The other mom I admire greatly is Continue reading

Michaeline: Wasted Time? Or Not?

 

Lady taking notes in 1920s Manicure advertisement originally so lovely hands

I should take better notes as I go along. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I just had a long, lovely holiday at home, thanks to the Emperor’s Birthday, but you know how when you were a kid, and you spent the whole weekend doing nothing, and then suddenly the Sunday Afternoon Boredom hit? After In Search Of (a TV program devoted to exploring mysteries of history and fiction, like Atlantis or Bigfoot), there was NOTHING to do until Lawrence Welk. And that is a measure of how dull and deadly the afternoon was, when Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music was something to look forward to. (I’m not dissing LW; I’m just saying that the show was no American Bandstand.)

OK, back to this century. What with the internet and DVDs and everything, the blahs didn’t really hit until Friday afternoon, when I realized that I’d WASTED an entire week. This was going to be my chance (one chance in a lifetime, I believe I said in last week’s blog) to try out a new lifestyle. Continue reading