22 October, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: The Legend of Parshu-Raam

*** Special Feature - October 2017 ***

About the Author
Dr. Vineet Aggarwal is described by many as a doctor by qualification, manager by profession and artist by temperament. Born in a family of doctors, he successfully completed an initial stint with the family occupation before deciding to venture into pharmaceutical management and currently pursues writing and photography as a passion.

He is the author of popular online blogs ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ and ‘Fraternity Against Terrorism and Extremism’ and the author of books ‘Vishwamitra – The Man who dared to challenge the Gods’ and ‘The Legend of Parshu-Raam’

The Legend of Parshu-Raam

Legends, they say, are hyperbolic versions of historical events. Yet, they remain immensely more popular than authentic verifiable history. Throughout the world, stories of legends occupy more mind-share than the lives of historically documented people. 

The exploits of Robin Hood and King Arthur are arguably more popular than those of Churchill or Thatcher from Great Britain and the labours of Hercules and Hanuman excite more children in Greece and India respectively than those of Alexander or Chandragupta. As the title of my second book suggests, this as well is an effort to bring to my readers one such powerful legend - the Axe-Man - Parshu-Raam. 

Parshu-Raam is recognized, and even dreaded as the man who decimated the entire ruling class in a bygone age, not once, but twenty-one times! I refer to him as the original X-Man since he was perhaps the first person in world literature to show such superhuman strength that only someone blessed with other-wordly powers could have exhibited. His name was whispered in hushed tones by Kshatriya Kings till not very long ago and the Bhaagvat Puraan mentions him as a Shaktyavesh Avatar of Lord Vishnu – a human invested with special powers of the Supreme Lord.

You may have heard of him from your grandparents or seen a brief glimpse in some television mythological but seldom is his life story detailed to an extent that it could become an epic in itself. The purpose of this book is not to harp about his later achievements that many are aware of, but to bring in front of readers the events from before his birth that slowly but surely lead this simple Brahmin boy to become the legend that we know him as. His footsteps have marked the length and the breadth of the country from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Maharashtra in the West and Himachal in the North to Kerala in the South!

The fight for supremacy between two powerful classes of ancient India – Brahmins and Kshatriyas, is reflected even today especially in countries where the intelligentsia and military exist at loggerheads. Even as you read this, some military leader somewhere in the world is surely planning a coup to snatch power from the bureaucrats while somewhere else, the literati is preparing for a protest against the authoritarian regime in their country. The struggle has played itself many a different times in many a different ways and this book shall introduce you to the clash that completely transformed India’s social structure in a bygone age. 

The mission of Parshu-Raam’s life is to help humanity find its way whenever it gets lost and thus he is counted as one of the Seven Immortals or Chiranjeevis. Besides all his military accomplishments, he is also destined to become one of the Saptarishis in the next Manvantar along with Vishwamitra who is related to him by not just ties of blood but also a powerful bond of magic. 

This book is my attempt to bring to you the legend of the most popular Brahma-kshatriya known in the history of India, and a fitting counterpart to the saga of Vishwamitra, the only Kshatriya in history who became a Brahma-rishi. It is the story of the boy who was forced to take difficult decisions in order to fulfill his duties not just to his parents but also to the idea of a fair and just society. It is the story of the man who rose to the level of divinity, the story of the making of a legend - The Legend of Parshu-Raam.

About the Book:

He was the guru of Bhishma Pitamah…

An avatar of Vishnu but a disciple of Shiva…

And he shall be the martial guru of Kalki, the last Avatar in this Yuga!

When the Chandravanshi emperor Arjun begins expanding his empire to cover the entire world, the Asuras hit back with an insidious plan. Caught in the crossfire is Raam, the son of rishi Yamdagni and scion of the Bhargava clan.

Will the machinations of Asura, Naga and Urag tribes affect the Brahmin boy and his family? Will the political intrigues of Nabhi-varsh let Bhargava Raam find his destiny or push him towards a future he never envisioned?

This is the story of a man who rose to the level of divinity to establish a fair and just society; the story of the making of a legend. 

1 Paperback Copy of Bharat by Vineet Aggarwal for Indian Residents

20 October, 2017

Read an #Excerpt from Corporate Avatars by Disha

About the Author

Disha is an IIM Calcutta alumnus and has spent over a decade with corporate giants like Paytm.com, Yatra.com and Mentor Graphics. She is currently a senior leader with Amazon India. Besides her corporate career, Disha loves to write and has authored many books. 

Mr. Excuse
“The whole world is a conspiracy.”
It was my first experience as a manager. Mr. Excuse was part of my team. As soon as the deadlines approached, Mr. Excuse was ready with a new set of excuses.
I had just too much to do.
Mr. X did not cooperate with me and hence I could not prepare this document.
I believe that I was born to climb Mt. Everest. Can you assign this work to someone else?
I did not get a written email from you. So, I did not start the work.
This assignment is going to take long. So, I decided to de- prioritize it.
Requirements were not clear.
I had to leave early because my wife’s uncle’s son’s granddaughter was moving houses. And of course... I had to pitch in.
Etc., etc., etc.
Mr. Excuse had no dearth of reasons why his work was never done on time. Even the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme was not spared as an excuse for making him late for work. A part of me wanted to empathize with him for the nthe time. The other part wanted to yell at him and tell him he was not paid to give excuses but deliver results.
Why had he been sleeping till the last minute only to come and tell me it could not be done?
Because of this stupid person, I too am going to miss out on my promotion.
Are we working like the Planning Commission that he wanted an elaborate documentation before starting his work?
Does he think he is the only poor guy who has been chosen by the Almighty to be loaded with work?
I boiled with anger until steam practically poured out of my ears. I had a twin problem at hand; finding a way to get things done on an urgent basis and managing Mr. Excuse.
I found a way to create a culture of accountability and ownership in the team like this:
Tip# 1 Give him the bene t of doubt, but only once.
It is so important to first know if the person’s concern is really genuine or if he is simply taking advantage of your genuineness. If it is the former, give him the bene t and try to and a solution to his concern. If it is the latter, kick yourself for being too nice with this person on earlier occasions. You can give someone the bene t of doubt, but only once. Being too nice can be a problem, especially if the other person isn’t so.
Tip# 2 Ask probing questions.
One of the most common excuses people make is to pass
the buck onto someone else.
Mr. X did not hand over the le on time. And so, I am delayed now.
Ask questions like: Did you follow up with Mr. x instead of patiently waiting for him to get back? If you did not receive the document on time, what action did you take?
Why did you not escalate the matter right then so that some corrective action could have been taken well in time?
One of my colleagues came from a bureaucratic organization where there were set processes for every small thing. When he joined us, he was confused about how he could move forward without proper documentation and with mere discussions taking place on a white board. It was only when I delved into his reason for giving excuses that I realized this and coached him for adapting to how things worked at our organization.
Asking the right questions does two things — first, it implicitly conveys your dissatisfaction and second, makes you figure out if the reason being given is really justified or a mere excuse. Delve deeper than just accepting anyone’s words at face value.
Tip# 3 Stop tolerating excuses and express dissatisfaction. Okay, so you figured out that the person was only taking
advantage of your kindness.
Stop tolerating the excuses right then and there. Express your dissatisfaction to him.
I had a member in my team who was ill practically every week. This impacted our timelines. But then how could someone fall ill every week and yet keep sharing weekend party pictures on Facebook? On one such post, I could not resist commenting, “Seems you are all set to now take on the world. How about some deliverables next week?”
A friend of mine works in a bank and had a month-end closing cycle where she was bombarded with work. The Mr. Excuse in her team would walk up to her and cite some or the other reason for taking leave around that time. Sometimes it was his wife’s relatives coming home, sometimes the kid’s exam and sometimes ‘personal’ work.
One day, my friend decided she could not take this anymore and told Mr. Excuse how she was really banking on him to deliver, and how his absence put extra pressure on everyone else in the team. She politely asked him to not schedule personal appointments around the month end.
Unless you express dissatisfaction, do not simply assume the other person would fall in line. Tell the other person how his lack of ownership can impact his future ratings and the projects you can possibly assign to him. Cite examples of how some of his peers had been in similar situations and had managed to and their way through. Motivating through the examples of peers can set the expectation and put the message across.
Final Tip When Nothing Else Works: Mr. Excuse just figured out he had not been included in a critical project that he wanted to be a part of. He walked up to his boss to ask the reason. His boss gave him the excuse, ‘I did not want to overburden you. I see you are already overworked and missing deadlines.’

If you have ever worked in a corporate world, you are likely to have been confounded by some of its more curious characters – the sentimental dame with her sappy reminiscing, the bumbling accountant who can never seem to figure it out on his own and the freshly minted management graduate who is a walking encyclopedia – to name just a few.

Getting along is not always easy. But don’t lose hope just yet. Corporate Avatars tackles the oddities at the workplace in an exhilarating read, giving you just the smart essentials you need to survive such folk and make your way up the ladder.
Spirited and saucy, this undeniably helpful book reveals the quirks of more than 40 colorful personalities you are likely to meet at the workplace. It is the perfect compass with which to navigate the rough seas of the business world.

19 October, 2017

#GuestPost :: Thriller Writing and its Growth by Aparna Sinha

About the Book:

"You have to dethrone a powerful man to become the most powerful. I was itching to defeat the single most powerful person, but there wasn't any. I was left with only one choice — to create one."

Little does Ashwin Jamwal know that the last twenty-five years of his life have been controlled by a master manipulator, who wanted to make him the most powerful man on earth, though for a reason! Ashwin steps up to take oath as the youngest Prime Minister of India and is unknowingly thrown into a vortex of power and authority as the entire world is threatened by a faceless enemy — Hades.
The world starts to look up to Ashwin as the savior, but he was just a pawn, reared only to be sacrificed in the end.
A story of greed, lies, deceptions, manipulations and corruption, Ashvamedha is a thriller revolving around the infamous game of power in a maddening bid to seek absolute control.

Buy Link:

Thriller Writing and its Growth

-         F Paul Wilson

Thriller continues to be the most popular genre after romance. Due to the element of realism, the adrenaline rush from the suspense, the strong character portrayal and simple narration, thriller/mystery genre takes fair share of fiction market, across globe. 

Thriller has come a long way, with the scholars putting Odyssey- an epic poem by Homer, and Mahabharata, in the category of earliest known thrillers, owing to the adventure and action narrated in both the epics. Traditional and mythological text aside, first noted thriller could very well be fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood or many folk tales from all over the world, which were able to bring in element of suspense in their stories. The story of Plipka (Byelorussian folk tale about a young boy who was able to get out from trap of a witch using his intelligence and wit) or some popular stories from Arabian nights are well crafted thrillers. 

From mythological stories to folk tales and even plays by Shakespeare like Hamlet and Macbeth qualify as thriller. The classic The Count of Monte Cristo- set up during Bourbon restoration period is a tale of revenge and adventure, is also a thriller novel

However, famous Welsh author Ken Follett had called The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service, published in 1903, as first modern thriller novel. The inclination towards thriller writing started taking shape from early twentieth century, because of the change in the global dynamics and political systems due to World War I & II.  The scene changed completely after WWII and the thriller books became more intense and robust in nature. Espionage thrillers were incepted and were on the rise during that time; prominent one being James bond by Ian Fleming. However it was the cold war era that gave us the premise of modern thrillers as we know it today. Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Identity was the first such popular novel; it had changed the thriller genre completely from what it was earlier. The settings and characterizations started to become more realistic, the stories and narration became vivid and strong and were capable of hooking a reader from start to end.

While many prominent names started emerging post WWII, thriller remained a male dominated genre for a long time, with female playing very small (sometimes insignificant) part in the story. The original story of A Riddle of the Sands had no female character, whatsoever; Erskine Childer the author of the book, however later added the character after his publisher pushed him to do so. Things started changing after advent of second wave feminism and Vietnam War (post 1975). It was only when the threat of conscription lessened that major female characters and female writers were allowed into the thriller field. This time period also coincided with dwindling numbers of male readers of novels of any kind. So it probably had a marketability side, as well. Whatever be the reason, thriller genre has seen a significant gender shift in readership- many recent surveys now suggest that the female readership of thriller genre is much more than the male. This lead to the rise in female thriller authors across globe; besides introduction of various subgenres helped the writers in connecting with the female readers better; appealing to the female readers who might not be interested in the war or political thrillers but had penchant for  psychological suspense. Due to increasing popularity of thriller genre in female reader, some new subgenres also took shape, one such subgenre is that which deals with the action taking place at home or workplace; Author Julia Crouch coined Domestic Noir for this category. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl established itself as most popular book of the genre, being the 25th bestselling book of all time.

While Thriller across the globe is evolving rapidly; thriller writing in India is still growing at very small pace. The fiction scene in India is predominated by romance and mythological/historical fiction. Besides ‘Readers in India read authors and not necessarily the books’  While Indian Writers in English (IWE) are favored choice when it comes to pop/romance fiction; for thrillers, readers prefer to invest in foreign authors, because of this characteristic of Indian readers not many authors venture into thriller writing. Having said that many authors like Ravi Subramanian, Mukul Deva, Ashwin Sanghi, Vish Dhamija- were able to make a significant impact on Indian readers

However the prospect of Indian Thriller writing looks good; debut authors are willing to take risk and tell a story which has action and excitement. Many have shifted from pure romance and drama to fast paced romantic thrillers which cater to the need of both readers of romance and thriller.  IWE, as we know today, rose to new heights only after 2004. It would be unfair to expect a change so fast, but as days will pass and new sub genres will be added, the acceptability of thriller genre among readers will increase as they will allow debut authors to flourish. I am hopeful as the days will go by Indian thriller will establish itself as prominent genre in India

Yes thriller has come a long way and I am sure it will go further.

About the Author:

Aparna Sinha wrote her first poem when she was seven, which she recited on All India Radio.  Since then, her literary work and industry specific articles have been published in various mediums, including reputed business magazines across Asia.
Equipped with a Master’s in management, when she was forced to quit her lucrative job because of a chronic disease, she focused on her sole passion – writing.

Contact the Author:
FB Page * Twitter

18 October, 2017

#Interview with Annamarie Musawale, #Author of In Search of Paradise

About the Author:

Annemarie is a writer of several published stories as well as a ghostwriter of many more. She enjoys writing stories about love, life, and relationships in a way that is real, relatable and possibly a little uncomfortable. If any of her stories provoked thought in her readers, then she's done her job. She's still waiting to make the New York Times bestseller lists though.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer / a storyteller?
Is there really a moment of realization? In my case I was writing stories from such a young age it was just a way of life. There was no one moment of realization, just a constant feeling of happiness when I write stories.

What inspires you to write?
Everything around me is an inspiration. You just never know where a story might come from. For example in the world of supernatural fanfic, which I write, I saw this tumblr post about Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki being interviewed about the new season of Supernatural. 
And Jensen said, “Well for one thing, Jared makes an excellent wet nurse.”
And that right there is already a writing prompt which undoubtedly sprouted loads of J2 fanfic. It’s like that with any writing. Anything around you might just hit home and the next thing you know, you have a new story.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Well, funny you should ask because it actually came about because of supernatural fanfic. I love reading dystopian stories and one of them had a character who was thinking about demon dean being rehabilitated into normal society. In fact that was my working title for a long while. Instead of demon dean though, I felt like my characters wanted to be Africans and I wanted to explore what post apocalyptic Africa would look like. Given our fabled ability to endure hardship, would we endure better or worse than others? And then just to add a supernatural twist, what if the Egyptian gods rose again in the wake of all this upheaval? The premise excited me tremendously and I think almost a year later, the book is available for pre-order.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene in the book In Search of Paradise is actually the last one I wrote where my two gay characters are dancing together at a concert, in public under cover of darkness. It really brought home to me the reality of being gay in a country in which it isn’t acceptable. Simple things that heterosexual couples might take for granted like dancing in public is a big deal when you’re gay and in the closet.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Yes, Zawadi, the sister to one of the characters is a pretty badass, outspoken female.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Well according to my beta reader, I tend to strip the meat from the bones and do away with anything extraneous. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I have a shelf full of books and I read at least one fanfic update daily. Diana Gabaldon has definitely taught me a lot about writing sex scenes and one of my favorite fan fic writers has taught me a lot about writing stream of consciousness. I think I write angst a lot better too since I started reading fan fiction.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Keep writing. That’s what makes you a writer. Diana Gabaldon told me that.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Don’t talk about, look for a special laptop or writing pad. Just start.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Oh man, Alisha Wainwright as Mya and Matthew Daddario as Leo in my Child of Destiny series. For In Search of Paradise I guess Aldis Hodge as Ben and Diddy’s son whose name I can’t remember for Anders.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
My son, my laptop and toilet paper.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I like to swim or sleep or watch TV in my time off. 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
New York Times Bestseller list.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I am addicted to tea.
- I love Shadowhunters the show but can’t stand the books.
- I like to watch movies by myself.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
In Search of Paradise is available now for pre-order. All preorder proceeds will go to the national gay and lesbian human rights commission because gay rights in Kenya are not where they should be and the NGLHRC is working to improve that. It’s my way of giving back. 
This book, In Search of Paradise is really the first of its genre – a post-apocalyptic gay African romance - and I’m really proud of how it turned out. I hope you will support it.

About the Book:

Ben and Anders were not prepared for the apocalypse. How could they be? They couldn’t even decide if they were boyfriends or undercover lovers. But then the earth opened beneath their feet and everyone they knew was gone except for Ben, Anders and Anders’ sister, Zawadi.
So now they have to find a new place to call home, a new way to be. Zawadi and Ben are fighting like cats and dogs, and there’s no privacy or lube to be had for love or money.
They really do not need this.
Just when they thought they were getting the hang of this apocalypse thing, the excrement really hits the fan. If they thought they were in a life or death situation before, they didn’t know the half of it.