Tea Time at Reverie: Teasenz’s Fujian Silver Needle White Tea

With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to try some refreshing white teas. One lovely choice from Teasenz is their Fujian Silver Needle, a prized Chinese white tea named after its abundance of silvery, down-covered buds. Find out more about Teasenz’s Fujian Silver Needle White Tea, including why it’s an ideal companion beverage for journaling and meditation, at my latest Tea Time at A Bibliophile’s Reverie!

A Bibliophile's Reverie


Few white teas are as well-known as China’s Silver Needle. Consisting almost exclusively of silky, unopened buds, Silver Needle leaves are plucked by hand during a few select days in the spring harvest. This tea is so prized in China that locals often save their reserves for weddings, the New Year, and other special occasions. Teasenz graciously sent us a sample of their Fujian Silver Needle White Tea for review, and I’m happy to tell you more about this light-as-a-butterfly infusion today.

The Basics

Teasenz Silver Needle loose Photo courtesy of Teasenz

Teasenz’s Description:Enjoyed exclusively by the imperial family in China for centuries, the Silky Silver Needle is a top-grade white tea with a soft, smooth, and silky-sweet taste experience. An ethereal cup with a lingering fragrance and refreshing aftertaste. Pure and refreshing.”

Ingredients: Silver Needle white tea leaves

Steeping Instructions: Use 1 tsp of tea for every 3 oz of water…

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COVER REVEAL – The Violinist of Venice!

Here’s the cover reveal of one of the books I’m looking forward to most in 2015!! “The Violinist of Venice” is the debut historical fiction novel by Alyssa Palombo, a Buffalo-based writer I met on Evanescence’s official messageboard several years ago. I’m so excited for her and can’t wait to read the book once it’s out in December. 😀

And look at the cover. Isn’t it purdy?? 🙂

Alyssa Palombo

I am SO thrilled and excited to reveal the cover for my debut novel, The Violinist of Venice, out 12/15/15 from St. Martin’s Press.

I am absolutely in love with this cover and am just so happy with how it came out. I was having trouble even envisioning what I would want the cover of my book to look like, not being a visual artist myself, but this cover is absolutely everything I wanted and didn’t even know it 🙂

So without further ado, here it is!

Violinist of Venice cover FINAL

I hope you all love it as much as I do!

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The Color Thesaurus

Found this recently while I was looking for websites and articles about describing colors – and I knew I had to share it ! I hope other writers out there find this as helpful and creatively stimulating as I did. 🙂

Ingrid's Notes

I love to collect words. Making word lists can help to find the voice of my story, dig into the emotion of a scene, or create variety.

One of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to stop in the paint section of a hardware store and find new names for red or white or yellow.  Having a variety of color names at my fingertips helps me to create specificity in my writing. I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair as the color of rust or carrot-squash, rather than red.

So for fun, I created this color thesaurus for your reference. Of course, there are plenty more color names  in the world, so, this is just to get you started.

Fill your stories with a rainbow of images!













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Hindsight and Foresight (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you safely enjoyed your celebration last night, regardless of whether you partied it up or opted for a quiet evening. Also, I wish that 2014 is full of love, friendship, good health, joy, peace, and creative inspiration for you. 🙂

This time of year has always been a period of reflection for me. And as I look back on 2013 – the accomplishments I made, the events I attended – I see a year of progress, bolstered confidence, and inspiration. Here are some of the highlights, most of which have been covered here at my blog:

  • New poems were published in two literary magazines: “Elegy” in the Summer 2013 edition of Soul-Lit, and three pieces in the 40th anniversary issue of The Curry Arts Journal in October.
  • I passed the 5-year mark as a staff writer for the Sonic Cathedral WebZine and celebrated with a four-part countdown of my favorite artists I’ve covered to date. (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4)
  • I attended two literary events (2013 AWP Annual Conference & Bookfair, Massachusetts Poetry Festival) and participated in several open mic nights as well as my first poetry slam.
  • I attended a one-day character development workshop at Grub Street and learned how a protagonist’s goals, conflicts, strengths, and shortcomings are instrumental in storytelling. I also picked up techniques to help with character-building that I plan to use for my work-in-progress (WIP) and for future novels.
  • Finally, at this time last year, I began writing a new fantasy novel that has now passed 34,000 words. I have also developed a significant amount of world-building and backstory in separate documents to make the story as real and authentic as possible.

I’ve also learned a lot from these accomplishments and experiences:

  • Persistence truly pays off. Sure, it’s easy to be discouraged by writer’s block or frightened by the risk of rejection, especially if you’re an up-and-coming writer. And once your work is finally published by an outlet, you have to maintain that momentum by submitting to and (hopefully) getting published in others – which can be struggle in itself. All you can do to remedy this is to keep on trying. I still receive rejection notices from lit mags sometimes, but I don’t let the bad news tear me down. Instead, I say, “That’s OK. [Name of poem] will find a home somewhere else someday.” And then I move on. It sounds much easier than it really is, but having this mindset has helped alleviate the disappointment of rejection and keep me motivated and hopeful.
  • Immersion is equally as important to creative success and fulfillment. If you want to be a writer, you have to go to events where writing, literature, and/or the publishing business are the main focus. Open mic nights, conferences, festivals, workshops – I recommend you invest time and (in some cases) money in any or all of these, depending on your genre of writing. Not only do you acquire invaluable knowledge and techniques at these and other events, but you feel like you’re at home. You meet people who share your passions. Above all, they’re so much fun! It allows the writing student / geek / “inspiration sponge” within to play for a day, or longer.
  • Perfectionism isn’t worth your energy. Think about it. Perfectionism can be one of the bricks in the wall of writer’s block. It can kill your motivation and cause you to doubt yourself as a writer. It can even squash your desire to write altogether. This past year, I taught myself not to let writing-related concerns of all kinds drag me down. For example: “I don’t have time to submit poetry to dozens of lit mags or to work on my WIP every day. That’s OK. I accept that fact and fit in either when I can.” Another example: “I’m having a hard time writing dialogue for a specific scene in my WIP. But that’s OK. It’s only the first draft. I’ll revise it later.” This isn’t so much a do-now-fix-later attitude as it is accepting and being grateful for your progress, whether it’s in baby steps or giant leaps. And it’s incredibly liberating, too.

2014 has only just begun, but I already know this year will be one of change, accomplishment, and joy. I can’t divulge much about the possible changes yet. What I will say, though, is some new opportunities are on the horizon and I’m excited to see how things play out. In terms of accomplishment, my creative priority for this year (note that I didn’t call it a resolution) is to finish the first draft of my WIP. It’s a reachable goal, as long as I put in the time and effort to get there. And I believe I can do it. Finally, because of the lessons I described above, I enjoyed writing in 2013 more than I ever had before, and I see that trend continuing in 2014 and for years to come.

What are some of your creative highlights and/or accomplishments from 2013? Or your creative goals for 2014? Feel free to share them by commenting on this post.

(Belated) Tribute to International Book Week

Apparently, International Book Week is the third week of September. I’m not sure how I didn’t find out until the end of that week… Anyways, many of you may have seen the International Book Week meme that went around the Internet recently. It goes something like this:

“It’s International Book Week! The rules: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence as your status. Don’t mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your status.”

I did exactly this for a Facebook status towards the end of International Book Week. And then an idea came to me: Why not do a blog entry with several fifth lines from Page 52s from several of my favorite or recently read books? You don’t have to guess any of the book titles, unless you’re compelled to or recognize any of these lines. But I thought it would be interesting to see how different each excerpt could be.



“I wonder what sort of girl she is – whether good or naughty.”

“He was a little bored and lonely among the uninterested tourists, and when he found me a willing listener (surely not the first or last, but currently the only one) he took pleasure in telling me about his people, as we sat with a tall glass of iced ü in the long, soft evenings, in a purple darkness all aglow with the light of the stars, the shining of the sea-waves full of luminous creatures, and the pulsing glimmer of clouds of fireflies up in the fronds of the feather-trees.”

“Do people really pay you to spell things?”

“The butcher would buy my rabbits but not squirrels.”

“You will remind me that woman must be still as the axis of a wheel in the midst of her activities; that she must be the pioneer in achieving that stillness, not only for her own salvation, but for the salvation of family life, of society, perhaps even of our civilization.”

“How those lines sing!”

“I stood on the place, bracing myself against the waves, so that I would not have to look for it again.”

“Peaceful Sunday would come in-between when she would think long thoughts about the nasturtiums in the brown bowl and the way the horse had looked being washed while standing in sunshine and shadow.”

“Vary the construction of your sentences.”

“Then I heard Bilbo’s strange story of how he had ‘won’ it, and I could not believe it.”

“My mother is from Ardea.”

“All my siblings, myself included, had some sort of color confusion at one time or another, but Richie dealt with his in a unique way.”

“Well, when I took my sheep through the fields, some of them might have died if we had come upon a snake.”

“Then be off with you.”

“Would he be married, with a family?”

“‘Harry, your eyesight really is awful,’ said Hermoine, as she put on glasses.”

“On top of the engine, I place my face in my dirty hands.”

“They are composed like music.”

“He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.”

“‘I have a very good idea who I am speaking to!’ Merit replied, rage shaking her small, fierce body.”

“‘It’s Christmas Eve,’ she said, as if that explained everything.”

“But I said that it wasn’t a proper book because it didn’t have a proper ending because I never found out who killed Wellington so the murderer was still At Large.”

“‘The earth has a mouth?’ Buckley asked.”

“This is, admittedly, an odd venture for anyone not involved in a witness-protection program: to leave home and companionship and plop down nearly two thousand miles away in a place where I know almost no one and about which I am ignorant right down to the most elementary data on geography, weather, and good places to eat.”

“So when are you going to talk to me again?”

“It was an attractive garden, if one did not dwell on the statue, and an attractive courtyard – but not a peaceful or private one, with the entire court roaming the passageways above.”

“And we got it for nothing.”

Review of Forward Shapes’ “Legacy” at Sonic Cathedral

I like to deviate every now and then from the normal “femme metal” fare at Sonic Cathedral and cover something different that our readers might like. Forward Shapes is a good example. This project out of Orange County, California performs piano-driven progressive rock that will appeal to fans of piano rock (Tori Amos, The Fray, Coldplay), progressive rock (Rush, Anathema), or female-fronted rock with soaring melodies (Within Temptation, Evanescence).

While I found the music to be too intricate at times and the ballads unable to grab my interest, I couldn’t help but admire the musicianship and ambition of Forward Shapes’ debut album Legacy. The musical style, vocals, and lyrical subjects all contribute to the album’s spirit of hope and optimism. That’s why I called Legacy “smart,” “upbeat,” and a “decent summer record.”

Click here to read my full review of Forward Shapes’ Legacy.

Poetry news is coming later this week! Stay tuned!

~ Sara

Two More Reviews at Sonic Cathedral

Two more reviews I wrote have been posted at Sonic Cathedral recently! They cover the debut albums by two bands from neighboring countries in Western Europe, and my opinions on both CDs are vastly different.

First up is my review on Antalgia’s Perception of Reality. It’s difficult for me to comfortably compare this Spanish symphonic progressive metal band to more well-known female-fronted bands. Maybe a cross between Epica, Diabulus In Musica, Evergrey, and Seventh Wonder would be appropriate…? Anyway, it was also difficult  for me to decide how to grade Perception of Reality. I enjoyed the dynamic instrumentation, which features a wide range of guitar techniques and keyboard sounds that altogether create evocative and mature soundscapes. Despite this, a number of songwriting and production miscues made me want to shake my head in bewilderment.

Click here to read my review of Antalgia’s Perception of Reality.

I had a much easier time writing about Astral Tears’ Hypnotic. It took me only three sittings of maybe 2 hours apiece to write the article. That’s quick for me! But I know the writing came easily because I’d been listening to this fantastic album almost non-stop for the past couple weeks. This melodic metal quartet from France combines gritty, powerful alternative metal with progressive traces, Middle Eastern influences, and entrancing vocals that bring to mind Lacuna Coil’s Unleashed Memories / Comalies era. Turkish-born singer Beyza has mastered the famous Arabian vocal technique, and this gives an authentic touch to the more straightforward metal anthems and sounds right at home with the more ethnic-flavored tracks.

Click here to read my review of Astral Tears’ Hypnotic.

Poetry-related news will come later this month! Until then, hope you’re all well – and Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow Americans!

~ Sara

New at Sonic Cathedral: Review of 69 Chambers’ “Torque”

Time for another CD review at Sonic Cathedral!

I’m starting to see a trend with up-and-coming female-fronted metal bands: Most of them are evolving their music in a heavier direction. We can now add 69 Chambers of Switzerland to that growing list. Their 2010 debut album, War On The Inside, showcased the band’s guitar-driven, pop-melodious brand of alternative metal. With their latest release Torque, 69 Chambers flirt with more dynamics and intensity. The riffs are sharper, and singer Nina Vetterli-Treml uses more grunts in addition to her sultry, delicate normal voice – all while maintaining a catchiness that keeps the music accessible. But, does this tweak in style actually work in 69 Chambers’ favor?

Click here to read my review of 69 Chambers’ Torque.

~ Sara