Tea and Books Tuesday – October 1st

Note: The Plum Deluxe links in the post are affiliate links. I was a contributor to the book anthology featured today.

So, I may have mentioned my short story, “The Librarian Who Would be King”. I may also have mentioned that it ended up in an anthology titled Heroes of the Realm with some of my very favorite speculative fiction writers, and published by Realm Makers Media. I may be just a little bit excited about that… OK, more like completely freaking out, but trying to be professional and play it cool.

I signed on with the Kickstarter campaign for this anthology well before I ever considered submitting. I was familiar with the writers who had already been brought on board and I knew that I wanted to read their stories. (Their stories did not disappoint, by the way!) When I found out that being a supporter of the campaign meant that I could submit a story for consideration, it took two people to convince me to submit something. My IT staff reminded me that doing the things that challenge us is what makes us grow and get better at our work. And my sister told me what Mom would have, that I was trying to talk myself out of submitting something, but if I wanted to I should just do it. I needed that push!

The first draft of my story was so awful that I don’t think you could even call it a first draft. (Don’t laugh! It really was terrible and I think I broke every rule of writing and grammar, and went a few thousand words over the max word count.) A sea of red ink later, I sent it to a couple of writer friends for advice. I got some great suggestions back and went back to the keyboard for a couple more drafts before sending it off. The night before Mother’s Day, I got an e-mail that it had been accepted for publication in Heroes of the Realm. Then it was on to more edits, including a fantastic suggestion from editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail that resulted in one of my favorite lines in the story!

The day I held a print copy of Heroes of the Realm in my hands was the most amazing feeling. I admit that I did flip to “The Librarian Who Would be King” and took a peek at that first, but who could blame me? After that, I started at the beginning and read through the stories in order. I love the variety of genres and writing styles featured in the anthology, and there’s a reason why I admire the other authors–they write great stories! You can order the anthology in either digital or paperback, and I think it would make a great Christmas gift for someone who enjoys speculative fiction and short stories. The theme for the anthology is heroes, so each story features some kind of hero. It was fun reading everyone’s interpretation on that theme!

The mug that’s made an appearance for the last three weeks is one of the Kickstarter perks, but you can order one for yourself at the Realm Makers website. The tea in the cup in my tea of the month from my Plum Deluxe subscription. It’s a wonderfully fall-ish tea, but the tea of the month is a subscriber exclusive. If you’re interested in learning more about their tea subscription you can check out the details here. At $10/month, it’s the most affordable tea subscription I’ve found, and their tea blends are delicious!

So, what have you been reading, or writing, or drinking this week? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Tea and Books Tuesday – September 24th

Note: The Plum Deluxe links in this post are affiliate links.

I started Nadine Brandes’ book Fawkes on, ironically, November 5th of last year while the power was out. I barely got through one chapter when the power came back on, and the book sort ended up getting shifted further down on my Kindle book list. (I can’t be the only one who has so many e-books that I forget to finish them sometimes, right?) I re-downloaded it to my tablet recently and wow, I wish I’d gotten back to it sooner!

I love learning about history, and was somewhat familiar with the history surrounding Guy Fawkes and the 5th of November. I absolutely love the speculative twist that Nadine put on the story though! At the end of Fawkes she includes info about what parts of the story are true, and what isn’t. I definitely appreciate it when a historical fiction writer includes that information.

Fawkes is technically a YA book, and while it’s appropriate for teens, I enjoyed reading it tremendously. I liked how Nadine re-framed the religious strife of the time period as opposing schools of thought on White Light, the source of color magic, and whether or not anyone should have direct interaction with White Light. The fact that she presented a balanced view of “both sides” showing that people on both sides of the ideology did terrible things is another thing I appreciated about Fawkes. A study of the actual religious conflict in that time period shows that to be very true. Some of the questions of prejudice that were raised were appropriate to the story and the time period. It was thought-provoking without being preachy.

If you aren’t familiar with the history of the time that Fawkes was set in, I hope this story will pique your interest enough to make you do some more reading on the real life history, because it is fascinating!

The tea in my mug this week is another Plum Deluxe blend–Chocolate Hazelnut Dessert Tea. Seriously, it’s the next best thing to a spoonful of Nutella! And since it’s an herbal tea, I can drink it before bed and not worry about caffeine keeping me awake. It’s the perfect blend to go with a good book after a long day.

What books have you been reading, and what tea have you been drinking this week? Let me know what you recommend in the comments or on social media!

Tea and Books Tuesday – September 17, 2019

Note: The Plum Deluxe links in this post are affiliate links.

When Audible suggested the book Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski, it caught my eye because I recognized him as the creator of the TV show Babylon 5. Being a fan of the show, and wanting to hear how Joe Straczynski became a writer in the first place made this an audiobook that I couldn’t pass up.

Becoming Superman started out with Joe’s childhood, and some of the truly horrible abuse he grew up with. It was not exactly what I’d expected, but I had to find out how he got from there, to being a successful sci fi writer. It was hard listening at times, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through. Every time something positive happened with Joe’s writing, I couldn’t help but smile because no matter what, he just didn’t give up.

That was one of my biggest takeaways from Becoming Superman, the importance of just not giving up. I know it sounds trite, but in practice, it’s harder than it sounds. I have to admire Joe’s willingness to stick to his principles, even if it appears to be a bad move career-wise. Whether or not I completely agree with every stand he took, it sure took a lot of courage to stand by something that you think is important, knowing that it can cost you dearly.

I also appreciated the part in the book near the end where he encouraged people dealing with mental health issues, addictions, or abusive situations to get help. There’s still an awful lot of stigma around those things, and parts of Becoming Superman highlight the cost of not seeking help because of that.

Becoming Superman gave me a lot to think about, and some of it was even related to writing! One big aha moment was when Joe talked about when he finally understood what a writer’s voice is. I’m still rolling that idea around in my head, but something really clicked and I had to re-listen to that part a couple of times. The advice he received from Rod Serling about not letting anyone stop you from writing the stories you want to is going to stick with me for a long time too. That, and of course, the not giving up part!

Sci fi writers, and fans of J. Michael Straczynski’s work would likely enjoy his memoir. There is some amount of profanity, and there are some things that are hard to listen to, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to listen to (or read) it for yourself.

The tea in my mug is a Plum Deluxe blend that is a particular favorite of mine. I love black teas with a butterscotch flavor and Sweet Spot Butterscotch Black tea is one of the best I’ve tried. It reminds me of the buttered rum Lifesavers that my great-aunt used to favor!

So, what’s on your reading list or in your mug this week? Let me know what books and teas are topping your favorites list in the comments or on social media!