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the weekly tea
Gardenia Flower Oolong
from eco-cha
weekly tea: gardenia flower oolong
As a general rule, I’m not a fan of blended teas or flavored teas or any of that stuff, mostly because a lot of blends and flavors are there to mask poor quality rather than enhance good tea. But I do love a blend made with excellent tea, where the thing that's been added really enhances the flavor. This gardenia flower oolong from eco-cha in Taiwan is a pretty nice example of an infused tea that works for me. The gardenia flower scent and flavor is not overpowering, and the oolong is golden and rich.
The end result is a tea where the flower infusion is just one note of many, making for a smooth, drinkable blend. This probably isn’t the kind of tea that I would use for a gong fu session—one with six or seven steeps, where I pay attention to each and every steep. But it’s a nice morning tea that pairs well with breakfast. 

writing differently
It's been an interesting week for me for a number of reasons.
One of them is that I've been trying a slightly different writing process this time around. I know that at some point I've given an interview on my past writing process--I tried to find it, but basically, the long and short version of it is that everyone I've ever described my process to has shrieked in horror.
I write out of order; I write scenes that serve no purpose and get discarded. (Someone always says “keep them! you can reuse them!” and no I can't; they get tossed because they're generally not any good!) I have no idea what's happening until I write a scene that makes me think I need another scene half a book away and I write that one. When I finish the first draft, I have a big messy pile of steaming… well, anyway. Stuff.
I then have to go through many, many multiple drafts, which sometimes verge on near rewrites, in which I dump 40,000 words and write 60,000 more trying to make the thing I assembled look vaguely like a book.
Some parts of this are wonderful; I wouldn't be an author if I didn't think so! Other parts are soul draining. When I finished The Marquis who Mustn't, I sat down and asked myself if there was any way I could minimize the awful parts and maximize the fun parts, and I took some time to dissect what I was doing and ask myself hard questions. My answer was “maybe.”
“Maybe” because it did look like there were things I could do that would work with the brain I had, not the one I wished I had. “Maybe” because I hadn't tried it, and I didn't know if it would work.
It's still a maybe, but I just completed step one of the process streamlining. I have no idea how fast the other steps will go. I still don't know if this thing will result in a viable book (please, brain, please!) but I'm pretty happy about the fact that my brain did a thing.

The Duke who Didn't (in audio)
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If you don't have the audio version of The Duke who Didn't, this month is your chance--Chirp Books is having a $1.99 sale until the first week of March. The audiobook is great (in my personal opinion)--Mary Jane Wells did an amazing job as narrator. Audio is typically more expensive than digital or sometimes even print, so if you want a version to take with you, this is the one!
(It's still available in audio other places, but Chirp is the only place that's running the sale.)
Get The Duke who Didn't in audio from Chirp Books.

A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic
A suffragist's guide to the Antarctic by Yi Shun Lai: a woman in a puffy jacket with a wrecked ship and mountains in the back
I met Yi Shun when I was thirteen, in the summer before I started high school. She was a rising junior and I had a pretty serious case of hero worship. I thought she was extremely cool, and it was super exciting to me when we actually became friends. Yi Shun was the very first person who ever made me a mixtape, which I proceeded to listen to so much that sometimes, when I hear a song that was on it, I expect to hear what would follow on her mixtape, and am surprised when it's something different.
Anyway, imagine my surprise when I saw a month ago that Yi Shun had a book coming out--and it was a historical novel! About suffragists! HOW. How had I not known this? I wrote an email begging for a copy and she was kind enough to send it to me.
There are so many things I love about this book: it's a reimagining of the Shackleton expedition to Antarctica (which went both badly and well: badly, because the ship went down and they were stranded; well because everyone survived despite being stuck for over a year) in which one of the 28 men who went on the journey was a woman and a suffragist.
The meticulous research tells in every sentence: from what the explorers ate to what they wore, to the material of the tents to the time period in which they lived. Yi Shun went to Antarctica to be able to write about it, and it shows in descriptions of what happens to your vision when all you see is shades of white.
The story is written about a first-wave feminist, but acknowledges their shortcomings within the text in a way that feels organic to the time period. Clara rails at American choices to snub Ida B. Wells, but also has to grapple with her own classism. And the book does something rather extraordinary at the end: using both the context of the (ongoing, in the background) first world war and the fate of the expedition to subtly take on the question of “women's work” and what that means to help soften earlier first-and-second-wave typical valuations.
Finally, this is a book where nothing is won easily: where the heroine (who is 18--this is technically a YA but the heroine is old enough that I think she'd be believable as anything between 18 and 24) cares incredibly deeply about what she's doing, where her memories of what she has done as a suffragist (drawn from history) serve as a reminder that rights were not given after polite requests, but demanded and won with blood and fire. This feels ever more relevant in these times.
(For those who need to be prepared for such things, there is an attempted rape that ends swiftly.)
Buy A Suffragist's Guide to the Antarctic on:

Until next week!
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