Little Tea Reader and Book Club Questions.

Little Tea Reader and Book Club Questions

An author’s intention is telling, when they reach out to readers with questions to consider after reading their book. Because my 4th novel, Little Tea’s, themes are universal– the strong ties of long lasting female friendship, the search for home, and the power of resiliency after weathering family tragedy, my hope is the reader will view these topics through their own lens. And because Little Tea explores the racial divide in the 1980’s Deep South and packs a surprise ending, there is is much for readers and book clubs to discuss!

Here are 12 topics for readers and book clubs to discuss, as they appear on the last page of Little Tea:

1. Celia, Renny, and Ava have a friendship that spans decades. What is it that keeps their friendship thriving? Do you have similar ties with your childhood friends?

2. Ava’s marriage hangs in the balance at the center of this story. Do you find Ava’s reasoning understandable?

3. Can you discuss how it might be that Celia and Renny have different views of Ava’s marital predicament? What is it about their personalities and life experiences that shape their opinion?

4. What do you think about the appearance of Ava’s ex-boyfriend, Mark Clayton in the story? Is Ava trying to avoid her marriage by revisiting her lost youth? Can you relate?

5. What are Celia’s feelings for Tate Foley during this story? Does she experience resolution at the end?

6. Discuss Celia and Little Tea’s relationship. What are their differences? What is their common ground?

7. Celia has left the South to start anew in California. Do you find this reasonable? Can anyone ever outrun their past?

8. Celia’s backstory is set in the 1980’s South. What were the racial attitudes in the 1980’s? How have they changed now?

9. Discuss the nuances of the relationship between Hayward and Little Tea? What draws them together? Why, do you suppose, did they keep their relationship under wraps from Celia and others?

10. How do the members of Celia’s family shape the dynamic to this story?

11. Were you surprised by the ending?

12. What do you consider to be the point of the ending?

Little Tea without preorder

The Spirit Behind Little Tea

I’m forever pondering the magic of life-long female friendships, the kind formed in childhood, or perhaps early high school that, for whatever reason, stay. On one hand, when we’re young, we’re in a state of becoming, but on the other, our early years are the set-in-stone template of who we actually are. We grow from there. We build our lives. We add and subtract what is and is not working. We shape and adjust and mold our lives as best we see fit but, in my mind, we never fundamentally change our core essence. We can move far from home, forge brilliant careers, marry, have children, divorce, witness sorrow and tragedy, and death, and it shapes our experience, perhaps informs our wary attitude, but the vagaries of life don’t re-define us. In a matter of speaking what happens in our lives refines us.
At the beginning of Little Tea, I said it this way: “There’s a side to the unions made in high school that has perpetual resonance, a side that remains in arrested development that will never let you forget who you essentially are.”
Our friends anchor us. They keep us on center page. They’re the ones who know our history, the characters in our dramas of cause and effect, and they never forget. This keeps us honest. Our friends are a touchpoint to see us through the ages.
I went into the writing of Little Tea wanting to make this point through the power of story. I began with three women friends who reunite after many years at Greer’s Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

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I set Little Tea in Heber Springs because of its close proximity to Memphis, where the characters, Renny, Ava, and Celia grew up. They each live in another location and had to travel to the lake, and the thing I liked about setting the story near water is the idea of fluidity and fluctuating tides. Such is life, and the element of water is alive, ever-changing, and emotional. Sometimes we sit near water and reflect, other times we dive right in it. For the three childhood friends in Little Tea, Heber Springs Lake is a neutral ground.
Little Tea is the story of three women friends who reconvene because one of them is in trouble. If you take one problem and put it in the hands of three different women, you’ll receive three different solutions, each based according to who the woman is—her background, her history, her perception of the world. Great wisdom and sage advice are borne from the heart and souls of women, and it is this I wanted to capture in the story.
I like the idea of a group of women friends as an insular, secret society. This subject was the entire impetus behind my writing Little Tea, and I hope readers relate to it in the spirit I intended, which is to say there is great value in friendship.

Let’s vow to never take it for granted.

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https://www.clairefullerton.com

Where I Find Inspiration

May 1, 2020 | By Claire Fullerton
I was recently asked the following question in an interview: “As a writer, where do you go to find inspiration?” The interviewer cited the habit of Charles Dickens, who took to the streets of London every day in a five to six-mile stroll while looking for source material. I love the evocative image of this world-renowned writer cruising through London, his eyes darting as he tallied impressions, experiencing the common place of that city, taking mental notes.
Because I wanted to answer the question to the best of my ability, I visualized myself in Dickens’ place and pondered what he was really doing. I realized it wasn’t so much where he was as it was that he had his eyes open. The way I considered it, Dickens allowed himself to be influenced, and this is key for writers. The most seemingly inconsequential things can affect a writer, and by this I mean strike an emotional chord. That it typically happens in the blink of an eye doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
In the essay, Honeymoon: The Romance of Umbria, by Pat Conroy, which appears in The Pat Conroy Cookbook, Conroy writes of catching himself writing in his head instead of living in the moment as he stood inspired by an Umbrian sunset. With regard to writers, I believe this is a common habit. It’s a particular way of being in the world and at the heart of it is the desire to communicate coupled with love of language.
There might be shades of the longing to be understood, but I think it’s more a labor of love to help readers understand the world. After all, a writer’s task is to articulate, to put their impressions into words along with what they think and feel through the power of story.
I’ve heard it said that artists view the world through with a peculiar, particular lens.
They have the ability to engage with the world from the outside looking in, to be in it but not of it, stand apart in the middle of a crowd and act as witness. To many artists, this ability is a calling, be it acting, painting, dancing, or writing. In my opinion, writers are the archivists of the world, the interpreters of life who record events and impressions and are driven by the need to share their gift.
And yes, it all starts with finding inspiration, yet inspiration doesn’t so much reside without as it does within. The trick is to keep wide-eyed and aware as one goes about their days, to grab hold of inspiration’s cord once it’s struck and hang on until it resonates. Inspiration doesn’t have so much to do with location as it does the ability to access what’s within once it’s triggered. When it comes to writing, inspiration is a prompting that travels from the spirit of a writer to a blank page and results in a painstaking commitment to work built on hope and blind faith that it’s worth sharing.
In answer to that interviewer’s question of where I go to find inspiration, I tried my best to articulate my experience. I said rather than cite a locale, I can share what I do when inspired, and it has everything to do with discipline. I can be anywhere doing anything when inspiration comes from sight, sound, thought, mood or feeling. To me it’s all about listening to the voice within. The discipline starts with finding a pen

For Release news of my novel, Little Tea, the rest of this post continues here: http://booksbywomen.org/where-i-find-inspiration/

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Little Tea’s Universal Link:  https://books2read.com/u/3nvz0R
Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Mourning Dove is a five-time award winner, including the Literary Classics Words on Wings for Book of the Year, and the Ippy Award silver medal in regional fiction ( Southeast.) Claire is also the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel, a Kindle Book Review and Readers’ Favorite award winner that is set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral ( because something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral.) Little Tea is Claire’s 4th novel and is set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, and a finalist in the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary

Follow her on Twitter @cfullerton3
Find out more about her on her website https://www.clairefullerton.com/

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Never Sit If You Can Dance: Book Review

Who among us hasn’t said, “I could write a book about my mother!” We often say such things in jest, though the quip’s foundation is actually complimentary. We study our mothers throughout most of our lives trying to piece together the enigmatic variables that result in their particular formula. For many, it takes a lifetime, yet author Jo Giese has done just this in her delightful book, Never Sit If You Can Dance, which, as you might suspect, is a line she learned from her mother.
It is baby-boomer times, simpler times that began in innocence only to explode into the roar of changing times, and author Jo Giese is raised by a stay-at-home mom named Babe. She plans to rise above her mother’s station and believes she has actually done so until later years give her the time to pause and reflect.
It is the little things in this collection of first-person stories that weave nostalgia so touchingly and seamlessly. It is the commonplace, the every day, the mortar of life that matters, and author Jo Giese tells us why in a series of chapter heading, numbered lessons as demonstrated by her mother—“Don’t be Drab;” “Never Show Up Empty-Handed;” “Go While You Can;” and “The Happiness of Giving and Receiving Flowers” are cases in point.
A wonderfully written, quick paced gem of a book, Never Sit If You Can Dance strikes the middle ground between heartwarming and entertaining. It is an important book in that it gifts the reader with the opportunity to ponder their own mother. In the hands of any book club, there is much fodder to discuss.

An enjoyable book trailer is here: https://youtu.be/LzNj97Rs-pE

 

https://www.clairefullerton.com

A High Honor ( photo: at right, Georgienne Bradley of Sea Save, with the author. White shepherd: Denali)

Because I’ve grasped the concept that there are no guarantees in life, I’ve relied upon positioning myself for the happy accident in the manner of showing up, doing the work, and turning it over. I believe in the unpredictable timing of the manifestation of good intentions and have been rewarded by what I view as the uncanny actualization of strange convergence. Here is a case in point of disparate variables fallen to alignment: I was blessed to grow up in Memphis, where I went to an all-girls school named Hutchison, whose hallowed halls were graced by the likes of the Jehl sisters: three charming, affable characters with smiles that don’t quit. I am closest in age to Cary Jehl, and although our lives came to spin in separate orbits, I consider Cary “one of my own.” I have followed Cary’s doings in the world with awe-struck admiration. I could knock your socks off with her accomplishments, but for the purposes of sticking to my point, I’ll keep this in the present by sharing a quote about Cary from the Cinderella to CEO website: “A long-time advocate for women, Cary speaks to audiences coast-to-coast and globally about how to successfully navigate issues of integrity, personal and professional development.”
This quote is in reference to a book Cary co-authored, From Cinderella to CEO, which was translated into ten languages and is now the backbone of a nation-wide, yearly event that honors significant “women in the work-place,” as in women who are out there making a contribution to a larger sphere. The Cinderella to CEO organization issued a national call-out for nominations of women worth shouting about under the guidelines of nine, well-defined categories. As I read the category descriptions, two women sprang to mind: Kathy Murphy of The Pulpwood Queens, who, in the name of art for art’s sake, unselfishly created a labor of love for countless authors by serving as the rallying point of The Pulpwood Queens Bookclub, which currently has 785 book club chapters, and holds a yearly, three-day author/reader lovefest in Jefferson, Texas that I call the Mardi Gras of the book world. That’s just for starters on what Kathy Murphy does, for her labors go into literacy advocation and, in her spare time, she makes heartwarming moves such as putting bookshelves in churches. The other woman who came to mind is Georgienne Bradley, who is the mastermind behind a foundation called Sea Save, which is dedicated to campaigns that help educate and advocate for ocean conservation. Georgienne is a scientist. Let’s just say she travels the world to speak before thousands, calling attention to saving the ocean and everything that swims in it. Her magnanimous impact is unending.
It occurs to me I’ve been used as a cosmic facilitator. I met Cary Jehl Broussard in 1970’s Memphis; Kathy Murphy three years ago through a couple of authors who can’t sing her praises loud enough; and Georgienne Bradley in Malibu through a mutual friend. All three women inspire me, and here’s where the idea of strange convergence comes in: Little ole me nominated Kathy Murphy and Georgienne Bradley in two different categories for Cary’s creation: the Cinderella to CEO Awards, which will be held at the JW Marriott Essex House on August 8th in New York City. Both Kathy Murphy and Georgienne Bradley are finalists in their categories, both women will attend the NYC ceremony, and the way I see this, everyone wins!

Cinderella to CEO website: http://cinderellaceo.com/

Sea Save Website: https://seasave.org/

Pulpwood Queens Website : https://www.thepulpwoodqueens.com/about/