<![CDATA[Books By Deanna - BLOG: Selling Books]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2017 06:47:57 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:25:13 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog3756595School Visits
Holy Trinity School, Murrell's Inlet SC
    I’ve had more fun than I could imagine since 2010, visiting schools with my books. The audiences, from Pre K to grade twelve, are fun, funny, and inspire me to keep writing for them. Students ask the most interesting questions and make the most revealing suggestions!
    Many authors I know have lovely brochures produced for schools, glossy, full color, and it lists their prices per hour, or per session. I don’t have a brochure, though I do have a nice looking catalogue from my local printer. When I’m somewhere talking to a lot of kids and I get one that’s really into reading and books, I ask that child to take a card and catalogue to her school librarian and tell the librarian we met, and that I do school visits; show her your new book! The messenger is happy to do that. Sometimes I pass a library in a town and I stop, meet the librarian, tell her why I’m in town, give her the catalogue and my card, and ask her to tell the teachers about me. A library sale frequently follows, or an inquiry from a school. It helps that I have a wide audience, Pre K to adult. I email school librarians with information about my books and visits. Sometimes an invitation comes following a presentation I’ve given to a group or an appearance at a conference. I give out my expensive cards like penny candy!
    I don’t charge schools. If they have a budget for it, then I’m happy to accept whatever they offer. But, if there isn’t a budget, I only ask to be able to send a pre order form home with the students so they are prepared if they wish to purchase books the day of my visit. The school often purchases books as well; I usually sell and sign a bunch of books.
    I’m not making a lot of money. But, my books are making it out to the kids I write for. That’s the important part of what I do. And school audiences are so appreciative and gracious. I’ve never left a school wishing I hadn’t gone. I’m always glad I was there, whether it was a Title I or a private academy, public or private, charter or parochial, suburban or rural, inner city or in a prosperous town. Kids are kids, and I try to inspire them all to read and write. It’s what I do. And I love it when a little one slips his hand in mine, and says he likes my books.
    I’ve eaten some really awful cafeteria lunches, (worse with each passing year), and I’ve learned a lot about generalized education and the kids our system serves. Seeing all grade levels, in all kinds of schools and neighborhoods, in different regions of the country, has given me a wide-angle lens on our educational systems. I’ve met some wonderfully professional educators, and some who should have chosen a different line of work. It’s been interesting. It’s been a privilege.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:36:00 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/february-20th-2017Battle of Olustee
Battle of Olustee 2017
    Olustee, Florida, was the destination last weekend. This reenactment commemorates the only major Civil War battle engaged in Florida.  A Union force of 5500 men moved from Jacksonville toward Lake City, following the Florida Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad in Baker County, February 20, 1864. The railroad is still active. Loud trains, pulled by roaring dual diesels haul through there at least five times every day. This is one of the largest and best-organized reenactments I attend. It involves thousands of reenactors, a festival in town, parade, ceremonies, music, and a large battle on the rough plain of the original.  This was my fifth year to be included in Sutlery Row as a book seller and author.
    In spite of being there five times, I’ve seen very little of Lake City or Olustee. This event begins early in the morning, with set up and cars out by 7 am. The half-hour drive from the hotel in Lake City begins and ends in the dark. Dave accompanies me on this trip as we normally combine it with our annual February trip to Jacksonville to visit friends. We went to Jacksonville, but returned home because of a death in the family, then returned for this weekend. I can’t tell you much about the area, there’s never any time to sight-see.
    But, I can tell you about the reenactment. The organizers of this event are the friendliest, most down-to-earth, most reasonable and hospitable of any I’ve attended in 6 years. The go-to guy is Eric Hague. Saturday I was visiting with another author and we agreed Eric is a great guy. Then I said to him, “Since you are from Illinois, do you happen to remember Herb Shriner? He was a humorist from Indiana on TV in the 50s.” Bob thought about it, and said, “Yeah, I do. Yes, yes, I remember him.” Then he caught me staring at Eric who was chatting in another tent. He looked at him, then me, and a grin moved across his face. “You’re right!” he said. Eric looks like Herb Schriner, his voice and speech patterns, the way he moves, it’s all there in Hoosier-style humility.  The other thing I can tell you about Olustee is, it’s the worst food on the reenactment circuit! But, I don’t go there to eat, so I don’t care.
    I go there to meet the folks and sell my books. On my table this weekend were Avery’s Battlefield, Avery’s Crossroad, The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber, and McIntosh Summer. I also display a book for another author about reenactment artillery. A man came up to my table and said “That’s my name.” “Avery?” I asked. I get that a lot. “No,” he said, “McIntosh.” His large McIntosh family, descendants of Chief William McIntosh, are in Live Oak, FL, just a short trip up 90. “A long time ago,” he said, “a few of them escaped from Georgia and hid out here rather than go to Oklahoma. And here they stayed.” Wow! That was worth the trip for me. Frederick Douglass came by and learned the story of Jim Limber. He’d never heard that story. Perhaps it rounded the edges a bit on his feelings toward Jeff Davis. Well, maybe. I met some teenagers who’d bought the Avery books “as kids,” and raved about them. Authors need to hear that now and again. It was a good weekend.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:41:23 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog2559424Hemingway House
Hemingway House in St. Augustine, FL
    Last Saturday, I spent a delightful, and warm day in Saint Augustine, Florida. Saint Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental United States, founded in 1565, by Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who became Florida’s first governor. He first sighted the land on August 28, the Feast of Saint Augustine.  The lovely ancient city now has a population of around 13,000, and hosts world-wide visitors coming to see the old fort, lighthouse, historic jail, and the beautiful campus of Flagler, all right downtown. If you like “old” stuff, you’ll love charming St. Augustine. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
While my friend and I drove through the narrow streets of town, again and again, looking for a place to park, I spotted a sign on an old house that said Hemingway House. My author pulse quickened and I made a mental note to research. Was he here, too? Did he write from that house? Is it a museum? I love museums.
    It’s not a museum. Well, not really a museum. It is an old restored house, now a B & B. And apparently the owner is a literature fan. The B & B is designed to be “causal, but nice, relaxed, but complete, fun, but behaved. Like a throw-back,” he says, “to the lazy days of summer I vacationed in Florida with my family.” Evenings are salon-style, with guests discussing Hemingway and books over glasses of wine. Writing is encouraged and the verandas are calling.
    The guest rooms are understated elegance of the Hemingway era. The Hadley Richardson Room is named for E.H.’s first wife Hadley, The Paris Wife. Pauline Pfeiffer, his first of many affairs, became his second wife, and is the name of the second guest room. The Martha Gellhorn Room is named for Martha Gellhorn, an American novelist, travel writer and journalist who is considered to be the greatest war correspondent of the 20th century. The Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is named for her; she was also the third wife of Ernest Hemingway. Mary Welsh, whose name is on the fourth guest room door, was also an American journalist and author. Mary Welsh Hemingway was the fourth wife and the widow. Next is the Pilar Room. Pilar is the name of Hemingway’s 38-foot fishing boat he acquired in 1934. Pilar is also a nickname he gave to Pauline, and a character in For Whom the Bell Tolls. The boat influenced his writing of Old Man and the Sea, as well as Island in the Stream. The last guest room is called Papa’s Room. Hemingway’s nickname for himself began when he was only 26 or 27 years old. It lasted his lifetime.
    The breakfasts at this establishment look like they should have their own blog. If you’re hungry, check it out. http://www.hemingwayhouse.net/ and if you’re looking for a place to shed stress, book a room. Bring your pencil and tablet. I’m sure you’ll feel like writing. Overhead fans, verandas shaded by palms …
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 13 Feb 2017 12:09:44 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog4728975When Someone Dies
When someone dies, they leave behind a hole in your heart where memories can be stored forever.

When someone dies, you strain to hear the voice you thought you’d never forget.

When someone dies, you try to remember the petty thing you quarreled about, but can’t recall.

When someone dies, you look at their shoes on the closet floor and wonder if you alone can fill them.

When someone dies, you put away their favorite recipe that you think you’ll never want to taste again.

When someone dies, you sort their clothes and smell them and tuck the scent away in that hole in your heart.

When someone dies, you wonder if you will ever laugh, again, or dance, or taste or sleep.

When someone dies, you pray. You cry. You take a step toward normal, and walk one step at a time, until you realize you didn’t die.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 09 Feb 2017 02:47:33 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog8487967Who Is Jim Limber?
​    Since this is Black History Month, it’s a good time to tell you about Jim Limber. He’s not a slave. Jim was a freed boy, but he was an orphan in 1864, in Richmond, VA.
    Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy and a slaver in Mississippi, saw Jim being abused in town. So, she took him home; her home happened to be the White House of the Confederacy! She didn’t take him to be a servant or house boy. She took him in to raise in the nursery with her children. Jefferson Davis filed guardianship papers, which was the closest thing to adoption in 1864. They intended to raise Jim until he was eighteen and had a trade of his own.
    That didn’t happen, because fourteen months later the Confederacy collapsed and the Davis family was fleeing for their lives. When they left Richmond, Jim was with them. He was with them when they were arrested in Georgia. He was still with them in Port Royal, SC, when they were put on the prison boat to go back to Washington. This is where they parted company.
   Varina Howell Davis was a wonderful writer. She kept journals, diaries, and she wrote letters to her husband every day. These are in the archives of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, which was the White House where the Davises resided. This is where I researched the story. Personal letters reveal a lot about the author of the letter. I learned a lot about the Davis family from Varina. I told this story from Jim’s point of view, but it came from Varina’s personal documents.
    Last November, I blogged about attending the African Cultural Heritage Festival in Port Royal, St. Helena Island, SC. The venue is known as The Penn Center. That building was one of the original buildings of the Port Royal Experiment. Jim went to school here following his separation from the Davises. That was a heart-wrenching scene and difficult to write, looking through my tears, and feeling the mother’s anguish. But, being there completed the story for me, to walk where Jim walked.
    The mystery of Jim Limber, is where did he come from and where did he go? Because history is confounded by Jim’s vanishing, I wrote the book as a “choose your own ending” for young readers. Then the strong suggestion that, now that you know who Jim is, what do you think happened to him? Write your own ending. Send it to me and I’ll publish it on my website.
    The story of Jim Limber and the Jefferson Davis family shows us how incomplete our history lessons are. I visit Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Museum & Library in Biloxi, MS, twice a year and they carry the book in their gift shop. There’s a statue of Jim Limber in the side yard with Jefferson Davis and one of the other Davis boys. So, of course, visitors are interested to know about him. I’ve learned a different side of Jefferson Davis and his wife. It’s the humanity that’s missing in history. This is why I write historical stories for young readers. History is more than names, dates and battle casualties. It’s about real flesh and blood people who laugh and cry, and whose interesting lives are vastly different. 
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 06 Feb 2017 12:32:50 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog5911667Five Days to Live
My husband Dave with our daughter Laura and his brother Tom
    I remember a writing assignment from many years gone by. It was a school essay, “If I Had Five Days to Live.” I still have it somewhere in my stash of memoir, but I’ve recalled it several times in my life, in times of great rejoicing and in great sorrow, times when one feels her mortality and gratefulness for life. As years go by, I can see how values have changed and understanding grown. What was so important when I wrote that essay, has changed many times. I can see how spiritual growth has taken place more in difficult times than in easy times. Perhaps it’s a time when one draws closer to God, and stays there, stronger for the next time.
    This is one of those times of great sorrow. A few weeks ago our niece’s husband, a young man, by today’s standards, in excellent health with the best habits of eating and exercise, unexpectedly, suddenly died, leaving behind a devastated wife and daughter. Everyone wonders why, how could that be? And everyone grabs on to their own mortality.
    My mother, 95 this year, in a health care facility, is slipping away from me. She is content, and in good health, generally, but very frail and lives in a different time and place, alone with her jumbled thoughts and words. I know we will say goodbye soon. I sit with her nearly every day.
    Three weeks ago, my husband’s younger brother Tom, had a severe stroke. Based on his eating and exercise habits, this shouldn’t have been unexpected. Yet, it was. His wife and other family members rallied around; he wasn’t expected to live. But, he did. We had a week to laugh and remember the good times, and he talked with loved ones he’d not seen for a while. He was ready to be moved to a physical therapy facility to begin recovery. And then, the unexpected words, “He has five days to live.” His wife spent the night beside him in hospice and he gently stroked her arm, before falling forever asleep. We were all grateful to have had a week to celebrate his life with him. One day after the 5-day sentence, he slipped beyond our reach. What will we do with four more days?
    We will be present for the living, for each other, facing the imminent death together. Denying death makes it harder for people to grieve and support one another, I think. Using euphemisms, like “passing” I don’t find helpful. Healthy grieving depends on facing the reality of death. People of faith can express grief, rather than fear or despair, and face death with hope because faith gives comfort. I don’t know how people without faith deal with death, do you? Perhaps they repress grief. But those who do suffer more emotional problems in the long run. In Ecclesiastes we read that everyone needs time to laugh and dance, but also need time to weep and mourn. It’s part of living.
    Many times when someone dies, the survivors suffer regret of guilt about things they said and did or didn’t say or neglected to do. But people of faith know God doesn’t want that. Instead, they repent of their sins and look forward to a reunion. They know grief is temporary; but joy will be forever.
    No one knows that hour, that moment of the end of life on earth. No one expects to hear those words, “You have five days to live.” The thought has occurred to me that if everyone lived as if they had five days to live…how different our lives would be.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 02 Feb 2017 12:28:34 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog9905151Cutting Quilt Pieces
​    I’ve spent the afternoon cutting quilt pieces in the home and studio of friend Carol Daniels. Carol is the wife of Steve Daniels, the illustrator of my picture books and a talented artist. Carol is also a painter and has created folk art pieces, china paintings, jewelry, and hand-painted ceramic tiles. Following a stroke several years ago, she gave up painting and moved into a new medium, fabric. Carol started as an “old-fashioned” traditional quilter, but she’s stepped out in many directions, taking classes on every new technique and mastering them skillfully. Some of her new techniques are thread sketching, thread painting, and shredded fabric landscape, amazingly intricate crafts. Thread painting involves hand drawn stencils filled in with free-arm stitching on water soluble paper, washed, then appliqued onto the background. Shredded fabric is exactly that, then held in place by tulle, creating a dimensional work of arr.
    Several of her traditional quilting masterpieces have shown at juried shows. “The awards don’t matter,” she says. “They don’t mean anything to me. I just love doing it!” One visit to her studio and it’s apparent that is true. Bolts of fabrics, jars of beads, buttons, and findings, share shelf space with patterns and fabulous works in progress. Her work table, large enough for cutting and measuring, is padded and doubles as the ironing table. Beneath the table top are cubbies for storage, designed and built by Steve to meet her needs.  Her top-of-the-line sewing machine has its own table.  A beautiful white bedspread, completely hand quilted in four years, covers her bed in the next room.
    Carol considers it an added blessing to be able to work with her husband on some of the projects, marrying their skills in a beautiful creative way. Steve paints some of the background detail work on Carol’s designs. Carol quilts some of Steve’s book illustrations making lovely wall hangings. The picture above is the cover of his book, Do Turtles Have Talent? It’s a combination of painting and quilting using their combined talents.
    Sharing her talent and skills is also a blessing to others. Carol is working with a group of women from her church teaching fourth and fifth grade girls to make simple quilts for homeless children in Philippines. The girls belong to an after-school group called God’s Girls and have met the missionary who will take the quilts. Carol says, “They’ve never sewed before and they are so excited to learn and to do this.”
    The girls are lucky to have Carol as their instructor. They will realize as adults how much she added to their enjoyment in life by teaching them these skills.
Carol and Steve sell their work in Steve’s studio at 142 Whitewater Road, 281 South, Sapphire, NC. Their business is called Original Custom Creations by Steve & Carol Daniels. 
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 12:32:05 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog6970850Juanita and Eddee
The Gullah Bible
    I want to share a story with you, but first I need to “straighten oon thinken on sumpin.” This story is not a political or social commentary, nor is it politically-incorrect or a mean stereotype satire. The Sea Islands have a distinct and unique African culture and dialect, studied and documented by Smithsonian. The language is beautiful, like wind chimes with multiple tones, changing with the sea breeze, rising and falling like the tide. It’s the language of place. I might not have all the spelling correct, but I wanted you to hear the story; hear the women speaking. You may need to read it more than once to get the rhythm of the language. Once you get it, it will flow, and you’ll be able to read the pages of their St. James Bible.
   Saturday I finish at the museum. Still in 18th century attire and having missed lunch, I stop at the restaurant attached to my hotel. It’s still early for dinner and a major storm is heading our way, so the place is empty. My server, Juanita, introduces herself and offers the menu, but I’m rudely staring at the TV seeing news clips from the Women’s Marches that morning, the first I’ve seen.
   Juanita says, “Oon bin worken at musay tday?” “I have,” I answer, still glued to the TV. “Lawsy, I don knows wa dem women thinken bout tday. On Taey dis mo’nen da wo-man say she be speaken for all da womens. She don need be speaken fer mer. My mama raise me up bettern dat.  Doins in public, tsk tsk.” She shakes her head.
    Eddee comes to my elbow with the water pitcher to fill my glass. “Oon see dat one gots herself up like a giant va-gyny? Goodness Lord Jedus wa she thinken to do wid dat? I tells oon dis. If my mama see dat, she be gitten out her whoopin stick like jus bout right now.”
     Juanita bends down and points her finger in my face. “When Eddee mama get out her whoopin stick, Girl, oon bedder be payen TEN shun!” The two women laugh and slap their palms together. Their wide hips sway and the rest of them just rolls like the waves, their laughter like the echo of the ocean. I want to laugh, too, but I can’t stop watching the “Taey” with all the women and their signs.
      “What do you think was accomplished by all this today?” I ask them. They look thoughtful, perhaps just to dignify my question. Then Juanita says, “Well… I think it do make da one ting clear.”
     "Dat be right,” Eddee says. “It clear womens don need mens to put em down no mo. Dey gots da handle on dat, all by deyselfs!” It takes me a second to process. These two beautiful women are dancing and laughing at themselves. 
   “Need be trowin down dem debil hats!” Juanita hollers at the TV.
     “Now wa I gon bring oon fo supp, Baby?” Juanita says, all business. Eddee says “She wahn sum my swait tay. I be back wif it.” She leaves to fetch up the pitcher of sweet tea and I study the menu. The sky turns black and the storm is upon us. “Ol’ Noah bes be gitten his lazy self movin,” calls Eddee from the kitchen. "We gon need a bote!"
      Just another Saturday selling books, laughing with the folks, and learning.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 26 Jan 2017 12:23:53 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog6122641Mother Babble
Mom and I
    I’m sitting with my 94 year-old mother at the Living Center that is now her world. She’s babbling the language of dementia in a voice I don’t recognize.
    I remember a soft voice and gentle words of days long gone. Don’t get me wrong, my mom was never a push-over. But, no one ever saw her lose her cool, feminine approach against the world.
     We lived in a small bungalow. No one had his or her “own space.” When mom had something private to impart to me, we went into the bathroom, shut the door, and sat on the edge of the bathtub. My brothers were probably listening on the other side of the door.
   When the vicious playground sent me home in tears, mom told me, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Unless you let them.”  In my grade school this boy hassled the girls. Today he’d be called bully, and the mom infantry would be marching in defense of their victimized daughters. My mom said, “If you didn’t run, could he chase you?” He demanded our candy at the store after school, threatening to beat us up. We girls wanted to beat him up! Mom said, “Then you’ll be no better than him. Girls need to be smarter. Stay above the fray.” We tried to think up vile things to call him. Mom said, “You’re giving him more ammunition. Do you want to be called those names? If you don’t want to hear them, don’t use them.” We wanted to get even. Mom said, “Fighting fire with fire isn’t the way to put it out. The best way is gentle dowsing and firm raking.” One plan was to throw tomatoes at his door and when his mom came out we’d tattle on him. My mom asked, “Have you seen David’s mother?” No, we hadn’t. “She had polio a few years ago and is bedridden.” I can still remember the taste in my mouth from my mother’s words. She never said don’t do it. She convinced us we could put our heads together and come up with something that was worthy of smart girls above the fray. Jewel made taffies and wrapped them in waxed paper and brought them to school sometimes. So we all helped Jewel come up with a new flavor, wrapped them in twists of waxed paper, and put them in our pockets. After school, pretending the victims, we surrendered our Cayenne-Pepper- flavored taffy. It was the last time the bully demanded candy. Mom laughed and said, “I guess he’ll respect you girls for being so smart.”
   When middle grade gossip broke up friendships and brought out the worst in girlfriends, my mom advised me to stay off the phone. “Talk one-on-one to each girl involved. When you can see each other, it helps to understand,” she told me. “It’s easier to forgive, and move on. Don’t add fuel to the firestorm. Don’t talk to a phone. Talk to a person.”
     In high school we had “those talks” on the edge of the tub. I rolled my eyes at mom’s old-fashioned babble. She told me, “Somewhere out there is your future husband. When that day comes, on your wedding night, you will want the best for him. The best you; pure, a woman no one has ever met before. If you’re patient, the best is yet to come.” I didn’t want to listen, but her words clung to me like a charm bracelet jangling on the wrist. Her words followed me to ballgames, school, dances, and dates. “Just because others are doing things, doesn’t mean it’s the best for you, or for them. Don’t let others write your endings for you. You are above the fray.”
     My mom worked hard. She was a war bride of the Greatest Generation, with a high school diploma. I was the oldest of her three children. The youngest was born with arthrogryposis, a serious birth defect affecting all the limbs. Some of her own family thought she should let him die. She never considered it. She was a small woman, but she hauled her boy around in his wheel chair, figured out where to get the best care, how our poor family could pay for all the surgeries, and how without a car we could get him there. She was resourceful, and tough. From her I learned compassion.
    She never visited another country, never lived in another state, didn’t learn to drive until I was in high school. She didn’t have friends or “do” lunch. She taught me how to pray, but she never attended church. She told me in later years she never felt she had the proper clothing or good enough shoes for church. But she always made sure I did, and I was in church every Sunday. Which church, was my choice. I went to all of them!
    She took in ironings to help the income. Most of my memories of her are standing over the ironing board where she was when I left for school, and where she was when I came home. My middle brother was embarrassed that people brought their laundry to our house and that she was the ironing lady. But mom believed all kinds of work were important and should be respected, and she taught me that “women’s work” was noble and dignified. She was never embarrassed by work. She hummed. She knew the words of many songs, but mostly she hummed, while she ironed, worked in the garden, cleaned the house, took care of my brother, she hummed. She’s humming now.
     From this humble woman I learned how to make my own happiness and find joy in my life, whatever I chose to do. She taught me I could color my pictures any color I wanted, and not to worry what others said or thought about it. She taught me if I wanted or needed something, I had to work harder to get it, and be willing to sacrifice for it. And I would never be a victim; my feelings aren’t hurt. I respect, and expect to be respected. Words spoken softly in a feminine voice, spoken with conviction and dignity, taught me what it means to be a woman. “Just try to do what’s right,” she said, “and think of others. Don’t take offense when none is intended. Women need tough skin.”
   I hope I remembered to say thank you while the words still made sense to her. I wish I’d told her how much I admire her. Because now, she doesn’t know this woman beside her that she’s babbling to, is proud to be her daughter. 
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:32:43 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog1455322This Tour is My Cup of Tea
Camellia sinensis, hundreds of thousands of tea plants
    I just learned that the 2nd most consumed beverage in the world, after water, is tea. In the U. S., 80% of that is iced. Here in the Coastal South, where the temperature is hot and the water is awful, it’s probably more like 99%! And most of that is sweet. REALLY sweet.
      I learned a lot about tea last Friday afternoon at The Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, SC.
      Now, in January, the tea plants are winter-dormant wearing a light green, slightly yellow color. From April until October the plants are a vibrant and lush green. The small new leaves are harvested from the tops of the plants every 18-20 days. One section of the field is done each day on rotation. They flush rapidly, thriving in the heat and the ample rainfall of 1” a week, or 52” a year. If rainfall is short, water from the ponds are transferred to the fields. Drainage ditches and the sandy soil prevent soggy roots. The tap root of the mature plant is deeper than the 5-foot water table, making this a very hardy plant. Plants known to be 600 years old are still producing healthy tea leaves. These particular plants came from China more than 100 years ago. New plants are started from cuttings and kept in a computer-automated greenhouse at 65-85 degrees, 90% humidity. The plants are transferred to the outside after 8 months, where they are hardened off and watered with a drip line.  
      In addition to being weather hardy, the tea plants are also disease resistant, insect resistant, and have no predators. Deer and rabbit sleep among the hedges of tea, but they don’t eat them. No pesticides, herbicides or chemicals of any kind are used in the growing, harvesting or processing of tea.
      As you can see in the picture, the plants are kept at a relatively low height. Traditionally, tea is harvested by hand and since the new leaves are taken only from the top, they must be at the pickers’ height. Here on Wadmalaw Island, a machine called “Green Giant” does the harvesting. This is the only machine in North America. It does the work of 500 field hands and enables the Charleston Tea Plantation to be economically competitive.
       The factory is also automated and the entire four-step process is completed by one factory worker. The drying process changes the green leaves to brown. Black tea, Oolong tea, and Green tea, are all the same plant. The amount of oxidation during the processing determines the color and strength and which kind of tea it will be. Fifty minutes of oxidation produces Black tea; 15 minutes produces Oolong. With zero oxidation, it’s Green tea. The stems, stalks, and other fibers are sieved away and returned to the soil as nutrients. Five pounds of fresh tea is reduced to one pound of packaged tea.   Thirty four countries in the world produce tea, but The Charleston Tea Plantation, the home of American Classic Tea, is the only tea garden in North America. The Bigelow Tea Company has recently partnered with Charleston Tea to begin world-wide distribution of American Classic Tea, from the heart of South Carolina’s Low Country. I also learned:

            How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
                          Using Loose Tea

Step 1. Use fresh, cold water. Bring to a good rolling boil.
Step 2. Measure 1 teaspoon of tea per cup.
Step 3. Pour boiling water over the tea. NEVER add tea to the hot water.
Step 4. Brew to desired strength, approximately 2-6 minutes.

    If you visit the Sea Islands, or Charleston, SC, this is a very enjoyable tour. Amazing what one can learn while on the road selling books!