The Solstice MFA In Creative Writing Program introduced me to many talented writers. I am lucky to count Joyce McPherson among them. Today Joyce guest blogs in celebration of her newly released children’s book The Dickens Connection. Her full bio is below.
Read on to learn why Joyce loves Tea And Scones.
When my oldest daughters were twelve and ten, we moved six hundred miles. It was the greatest tragedy of their lives, and my daughters grieved for the friends they left behind.
During those sad days we read books aloud together, escaping into stories. I watched and waited for new friends to materialize, but replacing lifelong friends takes time. Almost by accident we stumbled on a solution.
“In books people are always having friends for tea,” my daughter said. “Why can’t we do it in real life?”
At the time real life was a lonely place, but we soon discovered that we can change our own story.
We began with a few mothers and daughters and invited them to a mother-daughter book club. We were pleased to find that many of them liked books as much as we did, and they invited their book-loving friends to join us. As we talked about our favorite stories, we discovered kindred spirits. We tried new books and delved into deeper discussions. Our tea parties became fancier as everyone contributed their tea items, and slowly our group grew.
This is what we learned…
An invitation is an offer of friendship.
The preparation is a gift to our guests, but…
Burned scones or weak tea are barely noticed when friends are there.
We grow through talking together, and hard topics can be discussed where friendship is.
The things we read about in books, like tea parties and kindred spirits, can happen in real life.
At Valentine’s Day we dressed up as our favorite characters and passed out our Valentines from Peter Rabbit, Felicity, Lucy Pevensie and Galadriel. Over the years we had Christmas parties and treasure hunts, and the girls began their own writing club. Many of these girls walked down the aisle as bridesmaids at my daughter’s wedding.
When my daughters were grown up, I put all the things they loved best into a children’s book: The Dickens Connection. Tea parties and vintage dancing, fencing and treasure hunts, Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes. It was released this month as part of the Camp Hawthorne series, which in a way is another proof that stories do come true.
Here is Joyce’s favorite scone recipe, which makes an appearance in The Dickens Connection. (It also works with miniature chocolate chips in place of raisins.)
½ cup raisins
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup chilled butter
½ cup yogurt
1/3 cup honey
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare the raisins by soaking them in hot water for 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into the dry ingredients until crumbs are the size of peas.
Add yogurt, honey, egg, and drained raisins, and mix about 15 strokes until dough forms.
Dust a cutting board with flour and knead the dough lightly ten times.
Divide into three balls, and flatten each ball into a circle so that it is ¾ inch high.
Cut each circle into four quarters and place on the baking pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire cooling rack.
Invite your friends for tea!
Joyce McPherson is the author of books for children as well as a director of Shakespearean theater. She is also the mother of nine children who help her keep the focus on conversation around the table.
I’ll be back next week with a true ghost story for Halloween.